Tuesday 20 May 2014

Courage Strong Ales 1920 - 1928 (part two)

It really is the final instalment this time. The last post was getting a bit long so I've split it into two parts.

It's the grists we'll be looking at. As XXX and KKK were parti-gyled together, there's not much point looking at the grists separately. Except for one item: primings.

The logs give full details of the primings used, broken out for each beer in the parti-gyle. Logical enough, since as the primings were added after primary fermentation, when the beers were separate.  Courage primed all their beers except one: KKK. Occasionally they primed it a little, but in general not. Was that because they were leaving it to age a little? Primings are generally used to bring a beer into condition quickly.

There's an awful lot of crystal malt - almost 18% of the grist in one case - in some examples. Coupled with relatively modest hopping, it must have resulted in quite sweet finished beers. Pale is the only other malt used, apart from a tiny amount of black malt in a couple of early examples.

The sugar content, on the other hand, is quite low, never topping 14%. It's in the form of No. 3 invert, which is exactly what you would expect in dark beers like these. The vast majority of the colour would have come from this and the caramel.

Finding some flaked maize is no surprise. Most brewers used it from what I've seen in brewing records. Whitbread is the only notable exception, using only malt and sugar in their grists.

The hops used are interesting. A mix of West Coast US hops and English hops, in every case. Again, pretty typical practice for the time. The fascinating bit is the occasional use of Saaz, a hop which seems to have been held in quite high regard by British brewers.

There. We're finally done. Have to think of something else to bore you with now.

Courage Strong Ale grists 1920 - 1928
Year Beer OG pale malt black malt crystal malt no. 3 sugar caramel flaked maize primings hops
1920 SA 1054.6 83.59% 2.34%
13.54% 0.52% Californian, Saaz and English.
1921 SA 1053.5 64.73% 17.40% 8.35% 6.26% 3.25% Californian and English
1921 SA 1053.5 64.38% 17.60% 8.87% 0.57% 6.44% 2.15% Californian, Saaz and English.
1922 XXX 1054.3 64.45% 17.65% 8.18% 1.02% 6.14% 2.56% Californian and English
1923 XXX 1053.5 65.15% 17.95% 8.32% 0.52% 6.24% 1.82% Pacific and English
1926 XXX 1053.5 64.34% 12.87% 11.80% 1.47% 8.85% 0.67% Oregon and English
1927 XXX 1053.5 62.78% 12.56% 11.66% 1.57% 10.76% 0.67% Oregon and English
1928 XXX 1053.5 62.61% 12.29% 11.52% 1.79% 9.99% 1.79% Oregon, British Columbian and English
1922 KKK 1073.4 84.18% 1.90%
13.92% Pacific and English.
1923 KKK 1073.4 84.18% 1.90%
13.92% Pacific and English
1926 KKK 1073.4 64.69% 12.94% 11.86% 1.48% 8.89% 0.13% Oregon and English
1926 KKK 1073.4 64.86% 12.97% 11.89% 1.35% 8.92% Oregon and English
1927 KKK 1073.4 63.25% 12.65% 11.75% 1.51% 10.84% Oregon and English
1928 KKK 1073.4 64.07% 13.17% 11.58% 1.60% 9.58% Oregon and English
Courage brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/08/251, ACC/2305/08/253, ACC/2305/08/255 and ACC/2305/08/256.


StuartP said...

It looks like they decided to re-formulate their KKK after 1923.
There is nothing really wrong in using flaked maize, but it can leave the beer a bit thin.
It appears that Courage did exactly what I do: add crystal to restore body when using maize.
They did add a lot, though.
Maybe their crystal was lighter than mine. Mind you, they were also using quite a lot of sugar.
Oddly enough, my next brew will be pale malt, flaked maize, crystal and US + English hops.
1926 all over again.
BTW, reading across from Part 1, that 'modest hopping' was still pretty generous by today's standards!

Dan Klingman said...


I brewed a version of the 1923 Courage KKK based on your Let's Brew Wednesday recipe. The alcohol is a bit higher as I had a bit higher OG and it slightly more attenuated than I hoped. It's an interesting beer with an up front sweetness and a bitter finish. I plan to send it to the NHC for club night with the Florida homebrewers and hope you can come by and tell me where I went wrong :-)

Ron Pattinson said...


I'll look forward to trying that.