Right time for some of my bullshitty type stuff. God, I’m eloquent today. Barley Wine? What sensible to I have to say about it? Well, to a great extent the use of the name was arbitrary. You’ll notice that pretty well all the beers have Barley Wine in their name. If they didn’t, I’d probably have classes them as Old Ale or Strong Ale.
You’ll see that I’ve two originals in there: Bass No. 1 and Tennants Gold Label. The former is the first beer to call itself Barley Wine, the latter the first of a new breed of Pale Barley Wines. One of my early beer style theories, which hurled itself from the top storey once I got my hands on real data, was based on Barley Wine being pale. Because I considered Gold Label the archetypal Barley Wine.
It’s a great shame that Bass No. 1 no longer exists. I can remember drinking it in a Bass pub in Mablethorpe in the 1970’s. I wonder when it was discontinued? I’m trying to remember what colour it was. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t dark, but I could be wrong.
Let’s kick of with colour, seeing as I’ve already mentioned it. All of the set are dark, except for Gold Label and Hall & Woodhouse Stingo. The others are all dark. Some very dark. But that’s what was expected of the style back then. It’s only in the 1960’s that the balanced started to tip towards pale interpretations.
There are some classic beers in there, in addition to the two I’ve already highlighted. Ind Coope’s is the descendant of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale, probably the most powerful beer of the 19th century. Then there’s Benskins Colne Spring Ale. There’s been some discussion about the presence of Brettanomyces in it. A glance at the level of attenuation – around 90% - tells me it was almost certainly in the mix. Whether deliberately pitched or picked up.
|Barley Wine in the 1950's|
|Year||Brewer||Beer||Price per pint (d)||Acidity||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||colour|
|1959||Tamplin||Cheer-i-o No. 1 Barley Wine||0.04||1062.6||1016.1||6.05||74.28%||120|
|1953||Tamplin||Cheerio Barley Wine||36||0.06||1063.3||1015.1||6.28||76.15%||16 + 40|
|1953||Scarborough & Whitby||Barley Wine||43.5||0.07||1064.3||1024.3||5.17||62.21%||17 + 40|
|1953||Morgans||Barley Wine||42||0.06||1072.3||1024||6.27||66.80%||12 + 40|
|1953||Tollemache||Tolly Royal||48||0.06||1073.3||1023.6||6.45||67.80%||17 + 40|
|1953||Cobbold||Barley Wine||37.5||0.05||1073.8||1029.5||5.72||60.03%||15 + 40|
|1953||Everards||Barley Wine||51||0.07||1077.1||1017.2||7.84||77.69%||13 + 40|
|1956||Ind Coope||Arctic Barley Wine||54||0.05||1077.1||1019.7||7.49||74.45%||105|
|1959||Hall & Woodhouse||Stingo Barley Wine||0.05||1077.3||1010.4||8.81||86.55%||45|
|1953||Tetley||Imperial Barley Wine||54||0.07||1078.9||1022.1||7.40||71.99%||10.5 + 40|
|1953||Ind Coope||Arctic Ale||54||0.08||1079||1018||7.98||77.22%||18 + 40|
|1953||Watney||Yorkshire Stingo||51||0.10||1089.6||1031.7||7.52||64.62%||17 + 40|
|1953||Benskin||Colne Spring Ale||60||0.05||1090.7||1008.2||10.95||90.96%||1 + 8|
|1955||Benskin||Colne Spring Ale||60||0.08||1091.8||1011.1||10.69||87.91%||75|
|1959||Ind Coope||Benskins Colne Spring Ale||47||0.10||1092.8||1009.3||11.08||89.98%||80|
|1953||Truman||No. 1 Burton Barley Wine||60||0.06||1095.4||1023.6||9.42||75.26%||6 + 40|
|1955||Tennant||No. 1 Barley Wine||57||0.10||1097.5||1022.6||9.84||76.82%||175|
|1954||Tennant||Gold Label No.1 Sparkling Barley Wine||60||0.13||1101.5||1021.1||10.60||79.21%||90|
|1955||Tennant||Gold Label Barley Wine||57||0.08||1102.4||1020.8||10.77||79.69%||45|
|1958||Tennant||Gold Label No.1 Barley Wine||57||0.06||1102.5||1017.9||10.58||82.54%||35|
|1953||Bass||Barley Wine||60||0.08||1104.6||1036.3||8.90||65.30%||10 + 40|
|1958||Bass||No. 1 Barley Wine||63||0.06||1106.8||1039.8||8.71||62.73%||100|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.|
Have you noticed something about the dates? The earliest is 1953. That’s not a random date. Many breweries produced their strongest beers in more than a decade last year to celebrate the coronation. In some ways it marked the end of post-war austerity.
It’s a set of very strong beers for the period. There were probably no beers anywhere else in the world topping 10% ABV back then.
What might come as a surprise is that these were mostly drunk in the pub. To round off the night or to warm the blood on a cold winter’s night. It was the same with Hardy Ale. The vast majority was drunk in Eldridge Pope tied houses. When the brewery lost its tied estate, that’s when Hardy Ale first disappeared. The odd American geek wasn’t enough to keep it going.
That’s all I’m going to tell you. Look at the numbers and come to your own conclusions about the rest. I’m off to toast a breakfast crumpet.
What next? Light Ale probably. It’s another small set.