Monday, 7 July 2014

British versus Foreign Beer (part two)

We're back with the Burton brewer discussing the differences between British and foreign beer. It's insightful stuff.

First he speaks of how Pale Ales are made in Burton:

"But, I was under the impression that in your own case the system of brewing remained unchanged?"

"That is true. We never vary. The traditions of 1889 were the same as those of '49. The finest pale ale consists of three things only — malt, hops, and water all of the very best. The finest hops, good malt, and first-class water can alone be relied upon to give the finest quality of beer."

"We are told that substitutes are used?"

"By the Brewers of the cheaper beers, yes. I regret, myself the permission which Mr Gladstone was instrumental in procuring for the brewers to use substitutes for malt. It has not been beneficial to beer generally; but it has not affected tbe higher classs of beer very much. The alteration in the incidence of the malt-tax allowed of the employment of maize, rice, raw barley, and raw corn, for malt. Many manufactured malt substitutes — such as saccharum. glucose, malto-dextrfns, and invert sugar - are chiefly made from maize or rice, and are, of course, quite pure and harmless. No great brewer, such as Bass, Allsopp, Worthington, and others, producing the typical and highest class of beer, would, I am sure, ever dream of using a malt substitute. None of them have ever employed hop substitutes and they are very rarely used even by the brewers of the cheaper classes of ales."
Isle of Man Times - Tuesday 31 January 1893, page 3.

It seems that in Burton little had changed in terms of techniques and materials in the preceding 50 years. One thing had definitely changed: the scale of brewing. By the late 19th century both Bass and Allsopp were brewing over 1 million barrels a year.

Would no big Burton brewer use malt substitutes? From what I've seen of 19th-century Pale Ale recipes sugar was pretty common. And in fairly hefty quantities, too. The motivation wasn't necessarily economy, but more concerned about acquiring a very pale colour for the finished beer.

This is something that is clear from looking at brewing records: British brewers used ingredients from everywhere in the world:

"I understand, further, that the high-class pale ales can be brewed from the finest materials only - have you any difficulty in procuring them?"

"We have to ransack the whole world for best barley and hops,"

"How did you find the last season?"

"It was an ordinary year. The yield of hops was disappointing, the actual quantity not fulfilling the promise on the poles. The barley was fair. Owing to the atmospheric drawbacks very fine samples of Englsh malting barley were rare, and we have to supplement the supply from all over the Continent, Algeria, Asia Minor, and South America, and other parts. Now, with regard to hops there is no room for doubt that the finest are to be found in East and Mid Kent, and in Worcester; but persistent rain, cold, and want of sunshine have told very heavily upon the gardens during the last few years, and it has been surprising that so many good hops have been grown. Much the same remark applies to the great Continental plantation, of which Nuremburg is the centre. Hops are chiefly cultivated in Belgium, Alsace, Bohemia, and Bavaria. In America the production of New York state, which represents the finest quality of the United States growths, has not been during the last few years a great one. The Pacific States are producing large crops of hops of good quality."

"Does this country export beer to Germany?"

Yes, and the returns are increasing. The exports to Belgium and to Holland are augmenting very largely, and in these countries English stouts of a heavy character have a firm hold. A great export trade in English beer is done with the Colonies, Australia being the chief customer both for bottled beer and in bulk. There is a very large demand for the highest classes of ale in the United States. They will have nothing cheap in America."
Isle of Man Times - Tuesday 31 January 1893, page 3.
 He's left out one of the main sources of foreign barley: the USA, or more particularly, California. This is obviously when the US hop industry was moving from the East to West Coast. Give it another couple of decades and New York was about done as a significant hop-growing region.

I'm not so sure about British beer exports to Germany being in any way significant. I don't have any real figures, unfortunately. I do know that of the 502,921 barrels exported from the UK in 1890, 150,565 barrels went to "other countries", which is just about everywhere other than British colonies or the USA*.

48,991 barrels is how much beer was exported to the USA in 1890**, in case you're wondering. Making it the third biggest receiver of British beer exports after Australasia and India.

Dutch newspaper adverts confirm that country's liking for British Stout, though Pale Ale crops up quite often, too.

* Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115.
** Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115.

1 comment:

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, I think he is saying - gilding the lily too - that the very best beers don't use adjunct but in effect, others do. Their stored and exported pale ale probably was all-malt. The brewer in circa-1903 who wrote about export IPA in the IOB Journal stated that best practice was not to use sugar for such beer. Perhaps the "heavy stouts" he refers to, again the best ones, were the same. E.g. to this day Courage IRS doesn't use sugar, AFAIK.