Sunday 13 April 2014

Courage Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925

This beer was definitely not brewed Horselydown (the brewery next to Tower Bridge). I can be so certain because in the 1920's Courage brewed no Pale Ale of any description at their original London brewery.

They were slightly unusual in that. Even Truman, which owned a brewery in Burton, brewed some Pale Ale in London. There was something even odder. Several London firms had breweries in Burton to produce Pale Ales. But Courage had one on Alton in Hampshire which was, admittedly, a good bit closer to London. They had bought it in 1903, when it was trading as G. & E. Hall*.

Courage's Alton Brewery from the air in 1928.

From 1872 to 1886 Courage had a contract with Flowers of Stratford-on-Avon to supply Pale Ale**. In 1886 the contract was switched to Fremlins of Maidstone. Now isn't that odd? Both of those breweries were later taken over by Whitbread. The deciding factor seems to have been transport costs. It was cheaper to ship the beer up the Medway (a tributary if the Thames) than shift it by rail from Stratford***.

Alton wasn't a random choice. I addition to being close to London, it also had water similar to Burton's. The Alton Brewery stopped brewing in 1969****, but continued bottling and canning until 1979, when it was bought by Bass. They knocked the brewery down and built a new one*****.

That introduction and explanation made, let's move on to the beer. I'll remind you that the results for Courage so far have been mixed. The Burton came second with an excellent score of 1.25, while the Mild was a slightly disappointing 8th with a score of 0.38.

As you can see, this is a stronger 9d/8d Best Bitter. Once again, the specs are virtually spot on the average for the period, except for the FG being a little high.

Courage Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1009.8 1053.9 5.75 81.82% hazy mawkish -1 9d
1922 PA 1010.5 1053 5.54 80.19% hazy thin v fair 0 9d
1922 PA 1014.4 1056.4 5.46 74.47% fairly bright v good 3 9d
1923 PA 1011.6 1054.6 5.60 78.75% pale v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1015.2 1055.7 5.26 72.71% bright v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1013.4 1056.9 5.66 76.45% bright v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1014.4 1053.4 5.06 73.03% bright v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1007.2 1048.7 5.42 85.22% bright good 2 8d
1923 PA 1010 1052.5 5.54 80.95% v bright v fair 2 8d
1924 PA 1053 fairly bright poor -1 8d
1925 PA 1014.6 1056.1 5.39 73.98% brilliant v good 3 8d
1925 PA 1010.4 1051.2 5.31 79.69% cloudy mawkish -1 8d
Average  1012.0 1053.8 5.46 77.93% 1.25
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Dear oh dear - couldn't any brewery make sure their beer was clear? Just six out of twelve properly bright. Whereas there were only three negative flavour scores. Interesting that this time none of the poor samples was bright. Nice to see the word "mawkish" pop up twice. It means sweet and sickly, on case you're wondering.

The average score -  1.25 - isn't bad at all. A majority of beers score d a 2 or a 3. But I wouldn't expect less of a beer from a specialist Pale Ale brewery. Good Burton, OK Mild, good Best Bitter. Courage pubs are starting t look a good bet.

There's still loads left in this series. Loads and loads.

* "Courage's 1787 - 1932", by G.N. Hardinge, 1932, chapter 3.
** "Courage's 1787 - 1932", by G.N. Hardinge, 1932, chapter 3.
*** "Courage's 1787 - 1932", by G.N. Hardinge, 1932, chapter 3.
**** "A Century of British Brewers Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 46. 

1 comment:

Martyn Cornell said...

Brewing is, of course, still taking place in Alton, for AB-InBev. It's one of the forgotten breweries, like the third brewery in Tadcaster ...