Saturday, 27 December 2014

More differences between British and German styles in the 1930’s

I’m really proud of that title. One of my least succinct yet. But at least it’s self-explanatory.

We’re still slowly trudging through the marshier sections of the Wahls’ "Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint". Our current station is a comparison of the qualities and production methods of British top-fermenters and continental Lagers.

This is a point that was often made during the 19th century, highlighting the difference in preservation methods between British and continental beer.

Preservative Principles. The characteristic differences between the English and German brewers' products (ales, stouts and lager beers) consist mainly in the high percentage of alcohol in the former, together with a larger amount of hops employed, the alcoholic content of ales and stouts running from about 5 to 7 per cent by weight, that of lager beer from about 3 to 5 per cent. The alcoholic content of weiss beer is about 2.5 per cent.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 158.

British brewers used hops and alcohol to keep their beer sound, while Germans relied on refrigeration. One of the unexpected effects of artificial refrigeration was the gradual erosion of British export markets. Once Lager could be kept cool during transport it opened up huge new markets in the tropics. Light, cold Lager began to push aside the heavier British types. Though never quite completely, as the number of Stouts still brewed in Asia testifies.

Now something about hopping:

Hop considerations. The amount of hops employed for American ales and stouts averages over 1 lb. per barrel and for American lager beers the amount is from 0.5 to 0.75 lbs. When brewing weiss beer less than 0.5 lb. of hops are employed per barrel. The larger amount of alcohol for the English breweries' product, as well as the larger amount of hops employed, are required as preservative principles, the alcohol and hop resins having well-known antiseptic properties. The German breweries employ refrigeration or low temperatures to preserve the beers from spoiling in storage, thus checking the growth of foreign microorganisms. Weiss beer, which has a relatively low alcoholic content and is produced with a relatively small amount of hops and without the application of refrigeration, shows the influences of these preservative principles, inasmuch as this product is made to contain a large amount of lactic acid, produced by the lactic acid ferment, which is left unchecked, during Its production.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 158.

He’s definitely out of date here in reference to British beers. By the late 1930’s average ABV was around 4%, lower than in the USA and in Germany. I suspect that this may be based on British beers exported to the USA. Export versions remained at their pre-WW I strength and had become quite different from beers sold domestically.

Clearly the Weissbier brewed in the US was pretty sour, much like the Berliner Weisse it was inspired by.

I’d love to be able to check those hopping rates with real-life examples. Sadly, I don’t have any such details from this period. We’ll have to make do with some from pre-Prohibition (Amsdell was a brewery in Albany New York):

Amsdell beers 1900 - 1905
Year Beer Style OG OG Plato FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/US brl
1900 Winter XX Ale 1055.7 13.78 1021.6 4.52 61.34% 6.65 0.78
1900 Special Still Ale 1064.4 15.80 1020.8 5.77 67.78% 8.98 1.43
1901 Polar Ale 1054.0 13.37 1019.15 4.61 64.55% 6.01 0.83
1901 XX Ale 1052.6 13.05 1016.35 4.80 68.93% 6.33 1.29
1901 Pale XX Ale 1054.2 13.40 1017.15 4.89 68.33% 5.51 0.73
1904 XX Winter Ale 1058.0 14.30 1019.15 5.13 66.95% 5.75 0.80
1905 India Pale Ale IPA 1077.6 18.80 1029.2 6.40 62.35% 7.93 1.61
1900 Porter Porter 1072.0 17.55 1024.8 6.25 65.63% 10.60 1.56
1901 Sth Porter Porter 1074.0 18.00 1025.2 6.46 66.01% 9.22 1.46
1900 Ex. Scotch Scotch Ale 1066.5 16.27 1034.5 4.23 48.10% 5.48 0.98
1901 Scotch Scotch Ale 1066.6 16.30 1023.55 5.70 64.64% 5.55 1.40
1901 Scotch XXX Scotch Ale 1067.0 16.40 1024.0 5.70 64.27% 5.85 1.02
1900 Winter Stock Stock Ale 1062.3 15.31 1026.4 4.76 57.72% 8.85 1.38
1900 Light XXX Stock Ale Stock Ale 1064.4 15.80 1020.8 5.77 67.78% 7.35 1.27
1901 Diamond  Stock Ale 1081.7 19.74 1028.0 7.11 65.76% 8.08 1.74
Amsdell brewing records.

The average is, indeed, over 1 lb per US barrel. Though I think it’s fair to assume that hopping rates would have fallen by the 1930’s. Unsurprisingly, IPA and Stock Ales are some of the most heavily hopped. What’s unexpected is the heavy hopping rate of Porter. It’s higher than in British Porters of around 1900.Barclay Perkins Porter was hopped at 0.79 lbs per US barrel* and Whitbread Porter at 1.8 lbs per US barrel**. Though the British Porters did have lower gravities.

Here’s some fairly obvious stuff about the different methods of production of British top-fermenting beers and Lager:

Difference in Process of Production
The difference in the process of production of English beers and lager beers consists chiefly in the lesser quantity of materials, both malt and hops, employed in the latter, in the low initial mashing temperatures employed when brewing lager beer, in lower fermentation temperatures, and very low storage temperatures (about 32 to 34 degrees F.) at which lager beer is stored and in the treatment of the beer after fermentation.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 159.

I’d have thought that it was difficult to directly compare decoction with infusion mashing. Yes, a decoction will start off at a lower temperature, but it will also hit a higher temperature than an infusion

The lower fermentation and storage temperature I think we all understand. Here’s more about storage:

Differences in Storage
Ales and stouts undergo a brisk secondary fermentation on storage. Lager beer reaches the storage or stock cellar either thoroughly fermented and then undergoes no secondary fermentation, or it undergoes a slow secondary fermentation, in which case the beers are not chilled on storage to the same extent.

Ales and stouts that are stored for a long period are called "stock beers." Those which are stored for only a short period, undergoing no secondary fermentation, are called "mild beers." These are usually brewed with less extract (about 14 per cent) and less hops than stock beers, and consequently will not keep in storage for a prolonged period like stock ales.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 159.

I thought Lager was still slowly fermenting during the lagering process. At least using the classic method, as that’s how it carbonates. I guess if you’re force carbonating that doesn’t really matter. Bound to affect the flavour of the finished beer, mind.

Finally, proof that not all top-fermenting beers were considered Ales, even in the USA, in the past:

Differences in Ale and Stout Brewing
The difference in the production of ale and stout consists mainly in the characteristics of the malt and in the treatment of the product after fermentation, ale being produced from pale, or low kiln-dried malt, stout from a mixture of pale malt, caramel malt, and black malt.

Stock ale receives, as stated, after fermentation, an addition of hops in the storage cask and it is also primed by adding sugar solution, whereas stout receives no such addition, with the result that ale undergoes a more brisk secondary fermentation and consequently generally has a higher percentage of alcohol than stout of the same original gravity of wort, and is therefore sweeter to the taste than ale.
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, pages 159 – 160.

Is he talking about American Stock Ale here? It’s not very clear. Not sure I’ve heard mention of American Stock Ales being primed with sugar. I don’t get the reasoning that Stock Ale is sweeter than Ale because of its secondary fermentation. Or am I reading that sentence wrong? I’m not sure what the subject is of the final clause. Is it Stock Ale, Ale or Stout?

Next we’ll be looking at American styles in more detail, starting with Mild Pilsener Type Beer.

* Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/1/605.
** Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/094.

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