Monday, 26 January 2015

Adnams beers in 1890

I’m getting on with trudging through the muddy field of Adnams brewing records while I retain my enthusiasm. You never know how long it will last.

Their beers, in terms of styles brewed, aren’t a million miles away from those of London. Mild Ale, Pale Ale, Old Ale and Stout. You’ve probably spotted the big omission: Porter. That doesn’t surprise me as Porter was rapidly going out of fashion in the provinces. It was only in London that the style retained considerable popularity.

There are a couple of irritations with these particular records. The lack of a fermentation record being the biggest. Despite there being a place for it in the form. Just too damn lazy to fill it out.

At least the mashing details are recorded. Two mashes, then two sparges, if you’re interested. First mash with a strike heat of around 160º F, second at 180º F. The volume of water is much large for the first, so I doubt the second is a complete mash, more like some sort of underlet mash. Sparges at 160º F and 170º F. The volume of water is much larger for the sparges, around 27 barrels, while the two mashes between them were only 8 to 10 barrels.

I suppose I should get on with the beer details. Great to see an AK in there to add to my collection.

Here’s the table:

Adnams beers in 1890
Date Beer Style OG lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl hops
26th Mar SS Stout 1062.6 6.00 1.67 Altmark and Sussex
2nd Apr XX Mild Ale 1043.8 10.00 1.80 Altmark and Sussex
3rd Apr Tally Ho Old Ale 1082.5 11.05 4.16 Boornants?, Worcester and Burgundy
8th Apr XXXX Mild Ale 1059.8 9.29 2.39 Burgundy and Sussex
9th Apr SS Stout 1065.4 7.10 2.02 Altmark and Sussex
15th Apr XXXX Mild Ale 1061.5 7.86 2.06 Skinner Kent and Bavarians
17th Apr PA Pale Ale 1058.2 14.29 3.70 Worcester and Kent
21st Apr AK Pale Ale 1047.1 10.91 2.20 Worcester and Kent
23rd Apr Tally Ho Old Ale 1085.9 11.05 4.38 Worcester, Kent and Burgundy
30th Apr XX Mild Ale 1044.3 10.00 1.83 Altmark and Skinner
1st May PA Pale Ale 1060.4 14.29 3.81 Worcester and Kent
6th May XXXX Mild Ale 1060.4 7.86 2.00 Hants, Skinner and Bavarian
14th May AK Pale Ale 1046.5 10.91 2.20 Clifford Kent, Worcester
15th May SS Stout 1064.3 5.81 1.65 Altmark and Sussex
5th Jun Tally Ho Old Ale 1086.4 11.05 4.50 Worcester, Kent and Burgundy
15th Aug SS Stout 1061.5 7.32 2.26 Altmark, Clifford and Re, P.
Adnams brewing records held at the brewery.

They’re an odd set. Why? Because some have the gravity I would expect, while others are way off.

XX is very weak for an 1890’s Mild Ale. Even X Ale I’d expect to be at least 1050º. Adnams XXXX is only about the strength of a London X Ale. The Stout is very weak by London standards. Closer to a Porter, in fact.

Time for another table to show you what I mean:

Whitbread beers in 1890
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp
19th Jul XK Ale 1069.0 1019.0 6.61 72.45% 8.02 2.46 60º
19th Jul X Mild 1060.9 1015.0 6.08 75.39% 8.02 2.18 60º
20th Oct FA Pale Ale 1054.8 1012.0 5.67 78.12% 11.01 2.73 57º
16th Jul 2PA Pale Ale 1055.4 1010.0 6.01 81.95% 11.69 2.99 57º
16th Jul PA Pale Ale 1060.1 1013.0 6.23 78.37% 11.69 3.25 57º
7th Nov KK Stock Ale 1075.3 1026.0 6.53 65.49% 14.27 4.88 57º
10th Mar 2KKK Stock Ale 1078.7 1029.0 6.57 63.14% 13.99 5.13 57º
10th Nov KKK Stock Ale 1085.6 1030.0 7.35 64.95% 14.16 5.76 57º
25th Jan P Porter 1057.1 1012.0 5.96 78.97% 9.74 2.07 60.5º
29th Jan SS Stout 1083.1 1025.0 7.69 69.92% 10.63 4.76 57º
29th Jan SSS Stout 1095.6 1037.0 7.75 61.28% 10.63 5.47 57º
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/056 and LMA/4453/D/09/084.

Adnams SS is barely stronger than Whitbread Porter. Yet Tally Ho is stronger than any of Whitbread’s Stock Ales and the PAs have almost identical gravities.

There’s something really, really fascinating in this set of Adnams records. Which is another piece in a particularly puzzling puzzle: when did Mild turn to the dark side? Something like this appears in most logs:

Judging by its position in the record, it looks like it was being added in the copper. It’s added to all the beers except PA and AK, the beers you would expect to be quite pale. Obviously it’s intended to darken the colour of the finished beer. I think this is some of the earliest evidence I have of Mild being deliberately darkened.

I doubt it was enough to turn the Milds dark brown, but enough to make them noticeably darker than the Pale Ales. Like I said, fascinating stuff.

I’ve 100 years of their records, so lots more to come.


Martyn Cornell said...

East Anglia seems to have been a strong area for dark mild in the 20th century, so finding early evidence for it is not surprising …

Fergus Fitzgerald said...

I for one hope you keep your enthusiasm for a bit longer. Once you've found something interesting maybe we can look at recreating a brew.

Stonch said...

Ron you wouldn't know this because you live in Johnny Foreigner land, but Adnams are producing beers using "Jack Brand" on the labels again. No connection to historic recipes, I'm just mentioning it.

You mention porter fell out of popularity in the provinces before London. Today there's something similar: London breweries seem more likely to produce dark beers year round, where as brewers in the the provinces tend not to.

That was a boring comment

petalia paul said...

In suffolk even up to the 1990s the three major local brewers ,Tolly Cobbold,Greene King and Adnams still brewed a Dark Mild all the year round.Sadly Adnams Mild is now only a seasonal special ,Greene King beers have changed and Tolly Cobbold is no more
I would love a lets brew wednesday Adnams Mild to remind me of my days before i moved to Greece

Gary Gillman said...

the beers represent a good flavour spectrum whether 15 years ago or now.


Phil said...

Where are "the provinces"? If it means "Cornwall, the West Country, Kent, the Home Counties, East Anglia, the Welsh Marches, the Midlands, the Black Country, the Northwest, Yorkshire, the Northeast, Cumbria and the Borders", your statement may be a bit of an over-generalisation! Here in Manchester one of our local family brewers has only just stopped brewing mild (light and dark), and two others are still going strong.

Ron Pattinson said...

petalia paul,

there's a series of Adnams Let's Brew posts planned. The Mild is bound to be included.

Ron Pattinson said...


when I was down the brewery a couple of weeks ago Fergus gave me some Jack Brand beers.