Monday 29 February 2016

The 1952 barley crop (part five)

Almost done with the 1952 barley crop. Almost.

It seems to have been a good year for barley in some countries:

“A record grain crop is reported from Denmark, the barley yield amounts to 2,125,000 tons as against 1,767,000 in 1951.

The crop in Syria was 350,000 tons compared with only 154,700 tons in 1951.

In the United States the final estimate of the 1952 barley crop is 227,000,000 bushels as against 254,300,000 in 1951.

Canada's yield of barley in 1952 was 274,074 bushels compared with 234,000 in 1951.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

Syria, Canada and the USA had at one time all exported large quantities of barley to the UK. Though imports had pretty much ground to nothing during and after the war. 200,000-odd bushels seems a very small crop for Canada. Assuming a bushel of barley to be 50 lbs, that’s only 122,000 cwt. Or bugger all. I’m struggling to believe the crop could be so small. Especially if you look at the table below and see that they exported millions of cwt. To the UK before the war.

I thought I’d take a look at barley imports before, during and after WW II. They make for interesting reading.

(Authority: Trade and Navigation Accounts)
Year ended 31st August Australia Canada Russia Iraq U.S.A. Chile Other Countries Total
cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt.
1936 892,615 2,692,238 6,759,583 2,399,712 3,543,889 331,342 3,098,862 19,618,141
1937 670,199 626,657 322,304 5,270,584 2,031,655 671,605 8,399,527 17,992,531
1938 1,688,126 5,874,209 2,179,080 3,340,149 3,329,499 342,029 3,647,156 20,400,248
1939 835,126 4,707,322 3,141,703 3,783,659 2,461,117 356,867 2,629,013 17,914,870
1940* 9,146,255
1941* 66,688 664,150 540,050 1,276,772
1942* 34 34
1945* Other Common-wealth Countries Argentine Republic 2,036,552
1946* 1 2,194,875 227 2,195,103
1947 191,960 907,563 240 1,099,763
1948 972,814 60 6,064,507 5,508,353 12,545,734
1949 1,293,517 1,674,111 6,174,600 9,142,228
1950 2,068,450 9,366,235 2,286,108 Morocco 4,844,975 18,565,768
1951 2,137,957 74,845 6,037,568 3,153,702 3,393,373 2,207,419 17,001,865
1952 2,952,005 3,239,322 10,428,526 3,752,089 801.347 1,541,926 22,715,214
1953 2,985,396 8,183,753 3,170,909 4,940,632 164,919 8,983,320 28,428,829
1954 2,374,714 8,196,281 713,766 1,886,652 259,988 2,226,233 4,796,646 20,454,290
* Figures of imports from individual countries for the year 1940 are not available; the figures given for 1941-40 are for years ended 31st December. The quantity of barley imported for malting since the early months of 1940 is negligible.
1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 67.

Before we go any further, I’d like to point something out. These figures aren’t just for malting barley. Which might explain the large quantities from Russia. I’ve never seen malt identified as being from Russian barley. Pre-WW II you see the USA, Chile, Australia and the Middle East mentioned in brewing logs, but nowhere else that I can remember.

You can see from the table how imports completely dried up during the war. And some countries never regained their market in the UK. Most notably the USA. Which had been one of the main sources of barley for British brewing for the first half of the century.

Not sure I understand this:

“It is reported from Scotland that more land is being sown under wheat and this, it is thought, will lead to a reduction in the acreage under barley which might tend to a better price for malting samples next season. This remains to be seen, as there is a lot to come out of the stack yet which could easily be against next season harvest with dire effect. There is little improvement in the price for barley to date, and with the quantity still remaining to be threshed, plus the limited demand for malting barley there seems small hope of prices rising. On the contrary it is feared that much of it will have to be cashed in at feeding rates towards the end of the season.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

Why would malting barley be cheaper if less barley were planted? Surely it should be the other way around?

I’ll end with the price of different types of malt in 1953:

“Current Prices for New Season Malts

Pale ale  208s. to 214s.
Mild ale  192s. to 199s.
Black 179s. to 182s.
Brown 171s. to 174s.
Crystal 164s. to 166s.

Per quarter, delivered to brewery.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

The only surprise for in the prices is that crystal malt is the cheapest. I would have expected black or brown malt. As the malt was roasted anyway, it was usually made from inferior barley.

That’s us done with barley in the early 1950’s. What next, I wonder?

Sunday 28 February 2016

Still a few more hours to save 30% on my Lulu print books

until the end of today (28th February) when you buy 5 or more books.

All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


you could buy yourself the whole Mega Book Series  -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! - for a vaguely reasonable price. Though you'll need to thro in a Mini Book, too, to get the discount

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Cornbrook Brewery and tank beer (part four)

Wow. Have I really managed to spin out Hammonds tank beer fiasco to four posts?

You’ll be happy to learn that it all ends here. Doubtless I’ll find something else to pester you with interminably.

Here’s a pretty obvious flaw in installing tanks in every pub:

“In many pubs, doing only about four barrels of beer trade weekly, there would be two five barrel containers, and this would result in over age beer being stocked. It began to be realised that only large trade pubs could take the system. All these problems tumbled one over another at the same time; for a time it was a nightmare situation. The flags and bunting outside the pubs were removed, and the rival brewers put away their share certificates, knowing full well that a revolution was not in the making, and revelled in the discomfiture of UB. Then the licensees and free trade customers realised there was no accurate way of measuring large quantities of a liquid which foamed, so they alleged they were being short delivered. Compensation had to be paid out, on a generous scale because of ignorance of true loss, and that was the beginning of a trade custom which continued for as many years as the system, namely, that a customer received an allowance of four gallons for every thirty six gallons delivered, even after accurate systems were devised.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 78.

One important thing that paragraph tells me: United Breweries pubs in Bradford only usually sold two draught beers, presumably Bitter and Mild.

Four barrels isn’t a huge amount of beer: 1,152 pints. At an average retail price of 1s 6d, that’s £144 the pub would have taken from draught beer in a week. Which is quite modest. Many publicans can’t have been making a huge amount of money. It’s pretty obvious that if you delivered 2.5 weeks’ worth of beer there was a good chance of some going bad before sale. Especially if you didn’t think the tanks needed cleaning before each delivery.

I can think of another problem with having two 5-barrel tanks. If Bitter and Mild were selling in roughly equal quantities, fair enough. But what if one were selling significantly more than the other? Say double the amount. You’d be committed to taking 5 barrels of each, but it would take you twice as long to get through the slow mover. With barrels that wouldn’t be a problem. You’d just buy fewer or smaller barrels of the slow seller. Tanks seem a very inflexible system.

Those four extra gallons per barrel must have cost the brewery a stack. That’s 11% extra beer. And, whereas there’s always some waste with cask beer, presumably the landlord could sell every drop that was in the tank. I’m sure publicans loved having tanks. Lots of free beer to make a profit on.

Another thought: what happened if, say, your tank of Bitter was emptied half way through a session? Unless you had a spare tank to switch over to, you’d be buggered.

It didn’t do United Brewery’s trade in the Bradford area much good:

“Of course, tied and free trade fell in the Bradford area alarmingly as customers lost confidence. Several years passed before all the difficulties were sorted out, and by that time technology had developed other beer storage and delivery systems, notably with traditional draught beer and keg beer. The tank beer system was perfected just in time for it all to be withdrawn from service. Today one may still see the odd rusting tank beer container around and wonder what was its purpose.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 78.

That’s ironic. By the time they’d sorted the system out, it was redundant. Quite a few brewery’s tried out tank beer in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I can remember seeing the tankers driving around. Though I’m struggling to recall any pub I drank in that sold tank beer. Obviously, being a cask fan, tank beer pubs weren’t likely to be amongst my regular haunts.

The fiasco seems to have had a long-term impact on both United Breweries and their successor, Bass Charrington:

“The only beneficiaries of all this uproar were the manufacturers of the equipment and their shareholders; and the relieved rival brewery companies who furled their white flags of surrender in derision. UB, CUB and BC spent thousands of pounds putting the system right, and to their credit, they did it thoroughly and handsomely. Somewhere, mouldering in the document storage cellars of the company, will be the fading minutes of the Tank Beer Committee set up by Hammonds, as on a Plague or War footing, meeting daily to receive reports from the front line and issuing directions to the troops in battle. Gradually, as one reads the minutes, the light of remedy, falteringly at first and then stronger, bathes the stricken field of conflict with the beam of understanding and healing, sweeping through the necromancy of wild surmise and onto the reason of scientific application. A cautious corporate wisdom, unnoticed at the time, grew out of the affair, and it marked the decline of individual, untutored enthusiasm. There remained however, one more contra-orthodox scheme to run its course - the three dozen beer bottle case.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 78.

I wonder how much the whole exercise cost United Breweries? When you add up the initial cost of the equipment – not just the tanks in the pubs, but also the delivery tankers – the cost of lost trade and all the expense of fixing the system, it must have come to a pretty penny. Though I doubt anyone ever added it all up. It would have been too depressing.

It makes you realise the attraction of keg beer. You could deliver it on a normal dray, no special equipment was required in the cellar, other than CO2, and it could be delivered in flexible or small amounts. I understand now why that’s the way big breweries eventually went.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part six)

Back in Guinness’s brewhouse. Looking at their refrigerators in ridiculous detail.

We seem to be jumping about a bit in terms of plant, because now we’re going back to the second phase of wort cooling, using refrigerators. And, no, they weren’t the same as a domestic fridge.

“The wort refrigerators are of the multi-plate type of standard pattern, arranged in six lines on the third floor of the fermenting house, each line consisting of two sections of 36 plates, arranged in passes of nine plates. The plates have a cooling surface of 5.5 sq. ft. each. Each line of two sections has a capacity of 60 barrels per hour, making 360 barrels per hour in all, which allows the worts to be cooled in about 10 hours.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 283.

Remember that they brewed around 3,000 barrels a day. At 360 barrels an hour, I make that 8 hours to cool all a day’s brews. Which seems like an awfully long time. That must be one of the main reasons it took wort so long to get from the mash tun to fermenter.

“To avoid undue scale on the plates, the wort refrigerators are taken down three times a year and the plates dipped in a 26 per cent. solution of caustic soda, after which they are thoroughly brushed and washed. The cooling water services consist of direct water with a winter temperature of 50° F. and a summer temperature of up to 70° F., and artificially chilled water at 45° F., the latter being used in summer. The seasonal temperature ranges are as under:—


Direct Water cooling. Chilled water cooling.
Wort .. ° F. 175 to 78 78 to 55
Water .. ° F. 130 from 70 65 from 46
Water/Beer Ratio 1.6 1.5

Direct Water cooling.
Wort .. ° F. 176 to 66
Water .. ° F. 130 from 60
Water/Beer Ratio 1.5

Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 284.

I was struggling to understand that at first glance. Now I see what it means. In summer they first used water at its normal temperature, then used chilled water to drop it the last few degrees. Obviously you couldn’t get the wort cooler than the water cooling it. While in winter, when the water was cooler they didn’t bother with chilling.  In both summer and winter, the unchilled water rose in temperature to 130º F.

I’m struck by the difference in the temperature of the wort in winter and summer. It looks like they were pitching at 55º F. in the summer and 66º F. in the winter. That’s really unusual. Breweries usually pitched at the same temperature all year round. Then again, most breweries had fermenting vessels fitted with attemperators and could control the temperature of the fermenting wort. If you remember, Guinness’s didn’t have attemperators. Maybe that’s the reason for the different pitching temperatures.

For beer the Strength of Guinness, 55º F. is a very cool pitching temperature. Then again 66º F. is quite high. At most breweries, I’d expect it to be pitch at around 66º F. and hit a maximum of 68º F. to 70º F.

Confirmation that these were the pitching temperatures:

“From the wort refrigerators the wort runs down from the yeast troughs already referred to, to the fermenting tuns arranged on the floor below.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 284.

The yeast troughs, you may recall, were where the wort was mixed with yeast before going into the fermenters.

Next we’ll be taking a close look at the fermenters themselves. 

Friday 26 February 2016

You can still save 30% on my Lulu print books

until the end of the month (28th February) when you buy 5 or more books.

All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


you could buy yourself the whole Mega Book Series  -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! - for a vaguely reasonable price. Though you'll need to thro in a Mini Book, too, to get the discount

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Another new Amsterdam pub

I'm sure I've already mentioned this. I'm struggling to keep up with developments in amsterdam's beer scene. So I wasn't surprised when Mike told me of another new opening.

And a more interesting one than most for me. None of that craft bollocks here. This place combines two of my favourite things: Franconian beer and Dutch jenever.Why has no-one ever thought of that before? You sort of had it for a while in Wildeman, but that's become more of a blur than a focus as the more modern end of Dutch beer has crept in.

Kelkje is operated by people with a pedigree. The father runs Nieuwe Diep distillery and imports Franconian beer. The son, Tin Janssens runs 't Kelkje.

There's a story behind the name. Because it's the Dutch translation of U Kalicha: Svejk's local in Prague. Appropriately, the one non-German draught beer is Czech, from Konrad. Tlking ow which, you' probably like to know what else is pouring. Keesmann Herrenpils, Mahr's Ungespündet plus one rotating tap. At just €2.80 for 25 cl., it's barely more expensive than a glass of Heineken.

I'm getting worried about jenever. It seems to be getting noticed. Which is bollocks. One of the things I love about it are the very reasonable prices. Compared to whisky and other spirits. A very pleasant 1 year will only set you back €3.10, a 3 year €4.20, a 5 year €5.30 and a 10 year €7.90. I call that effing cheap.

I've always liked their Rogge (rye) jenever, both when it was marketed as Janssens and now as Nieuwe Diep. I treated myself to a couple of the 3 year. Spicy, complex and with that alcoholy kick which is the whole point of spirits.

Almost forgot. They have the full Schlenkerla range it bottles. I reckon €5 a pop for a half litre of Eiche isn't a bad deal. But don't expect to find any Eiche there now. I finished off their stock. No more until next year.

Pleasant, simple a really nice pub. And sort of in the Red Light district. Those red curtains on the upstairs windows are a bit of a giveaway.  But in a strangely quiet spot, despite being just 50 metres from Damstraat (technically Oude Doelenstraat at that point).

Who could fail to love this poster?

Or these windows?

A dead handy addition to the pub scene here. The one I've got most excited about for a while. Cynical old bastard that I am. And look: there's a doctor telling me I should drink beer. Who am I to argue?

't Kelkje
Ouderzijds Achterburgwal 164.
1012 DW Amsterdam.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Save 30% on my Lulu print books

until the end of the month (28th February) when you buy 5 or more books.

All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


you could buy yourself the whole Mega Book Series volume -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! - for a vaguely reasonable price.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Random Dutch beers (part twenty-one)

Am I really up to 21 posts of this drivel. Sorry, these considered reflections. How time flies.

I'll have to be quick. I've an afternoon appointment with Mike. At a new jenever bar he's found in the centre of town. He's very much a fan of jenever, Mike. Much like me, really. But, no time to dally. I need to catch a tram in 10 minutes.

It's another beer from Nijmegen. This time from a highly respected one, Oersoep.

Oersoep Blanco Witte Saison 5% ABV (€2.95 fo 33 cl.)
Hazy pale yellow, with a whipped eggwhite head. What is a White Saison? Saison Dupont is about the same colour as this. Smells like coriander. Maybe they mean a cross between a Witbier and  a Saison. Don't they know Saison is very 2014? And Witbier 1983. The justaposition of bitterness, a slight acidity and coriander is, well, a bit odd. But I'll be drinking it, yesirree. Quickly, as I really do need to leave in a minute.

"Do you want to try my beer, Andrew?"


"Then don't ask me for 20 euros again."

Next, one from a highly respected brewer, Kees Bubberman, who cut his teeth at Emelisse.

Brouwerij Kees Farmhouse IPA 6% ABV (€2.45 for 33 cl.)
It a hazy pale copper colour, but not ridiculously sludgy. Has a lovely juicy citrus aroma. Like sticking your head inside a juicer. All passion fruit once in the mouth. A very nice modern IPA. Don't get the farmhouse bit. Doesn't that usually mean some Brettanomyces or something?

Andrew is still in bed, lazy git, so I can't annoy him by offering him a sip. And Dolores is fiddling with some trees in the garden. You'll have to make do with just my opinion. I need to start cooking Sunday dinner soon. I just switched the oven on.

Andrew has just stumbled downstairs. Looking like a ghost with anaemia.

"Do you want to go down the pub with me and Lucas, Andrew?"


"You're getting very negative, Andrew."

"No, dad."

"At least I got two words out of you that time."

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Save $5 on orders of $25 or over

of print books until the noontoday (24th February).

All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


you could buy yourself a Mega Book Series volume -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! - for a vaguely reasonable price.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1948 Whitbread Extra Stout

English Stout. A topic I’ve banged on about at great length. This looks like another good opportunity for a little frothing at the mouth.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Whitbread brewed three Stouts after WW II. Porter and Stouts were where the roots of its success lay. In the first half of the 20th century, Black Beers were a large percentage of Chiswell Street’s output. As late as 1939, 22% of the beer brewed there was Porter or Stout. Clearly an important product line for Whitbread.

Based on adverts I’ve seen, Whitbread sold their bottled Stout all over the UK before WW II. Then there was Mackeson. Which was a huge brand in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Not originally from Whitbread, but a beer they embraced. And parti-gyled with their existing Stouts. Remember I said there were three Stouts? Mackeson was at end of the line-up next to Whitbread Stout and Extra Stout.

I suspect Whitbread Extra Stout might have been an export beer. I’m really not sure. What I do know, is that it looks eerily similar to the pre-war version of another Extra Stout produced by an obscure Dublin brewery:

Guinness Stouts 1939 - 1948
Year Beer Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour Acidity
1939 Extra Stout 10d 1054.5 1013.7 5.30 74.86% 1 + 10 0.07
1939 Extra Stout 10d 1054.5 1013.7 5.30 74.86% 1 + 10 0.07
1946 Extra Stout 1047 1016.1 4.00 65.74% 0.5 R  + 20.5 B 0.09
1946 Extra Stout 1041.7 1010.8 4.01 74.10% 11 Brown 0.08
1947 Extra Stout 1/7d 1041.8 1010.5 4.06 74.88% 1 + 6 0.07
1947 Extra Stout 1/7d 1042.5 1009.6 4.27 77.41% 1 + 7.5 0.10
1948 Extra Stout 1/3.5d 1047.2 1012 4.57 74.58% 1 + 6.5 0.12
1948 Export Stout 1072 1019.1 6.89 73.47% 1 + 10 0.07
1948 Extra Stout 2/- 1045.2 1012.6 4.23 72.12% 1 + 9 0.04
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

I won’t get into a long discussion of the grist and that crap. As this is the same basic recipe as Whitbread Stout. That’s what parti-gyling is all about. For Mackeson, just add lactose at racking.

Almost forgot. English Stout rant. Not low-gravity, not sweet, no lactose. And that Guinness – a bit acidic. 0.04 – 0.05 was the usual level.

Over to me again for the recipe . . . .

1948 Whitbread Extra Stout
pale malt 5.75 lb 50.00%
mild malt 2.75 lb 23.91%
brown malt 0.75 lb 6.52%
chocolate Malt 0.75 lb 6.52%
no. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.52%
no. 2 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.52%
Fuggles 60 min 1.50 oz
Saaz 30 min 1.50 oz
OG 1055.3
FG 1018.5
ABV 4.87
Apparent attenuation 66.55%
IBU 32
SRM 50
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Tuesday 23 February 2016

The 1952 barley crop (part four)

Guinness had a particularly complicated relationship with barley growers. Sufficient to warrant several paragraphs in the article.

New Guinness Barley Prices for Irish Growers
A minimum price of 66s. 9d. per barrel of 224 lbs. and a maximum price of 84s. 3d. per barrel of 224 lbs. delivered to buyers' premises, will be paid by Messrs. Guinness for their contracted quantities of malting barley of the 1953 crop.

This was agreed at a meeting recently of representatives of the Grain Growers' Association, Ltd., and the directors of Messrs. Guinness. Within these limits Messrs. Guinness undertook that their price on a delivered basis would be 3s. 9d. per barrel more than the average price of their purchases of malting barley ex farm in England.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

I can see why Guinness and Irish barley growers would want to cooperate. Guinness had an interest in sufficient supplies of good malting barley being available locally. And Guinness was by far the biggest purchaser of malting barley in Ireland. Farmers couldn’t avoid them, if they wanted to grow barley. So contracting growers and guaranteeing a price made sense for both sides.

But why did they guarantee to pay Irish farmers more than their English counterparts? I’m really intrigued by this. It looks like an attempt to bolster Irish agriculture.

Hang on a minute, it’s explained in the next bit of the text.

“Messrs. Guinness are prepared to make contracts for about 510,000 barrels.

Farmers who offer malting barley under contract and whose deliveries are rejected as being below malting quality will be offered a firm price of 55s. per barrel, delivered, provided the barley is fit for roasting purposes.

Messrs. Guinness reserve the right to make deductions on account of moisture above 19 per cent as determined by the buyers.

Aim of Agreement
The price for the last season's crop was 75s. for malting barley.

The basis of the new agreement is taken as representing an effort to induce farmers to market high quality barley. The farmer who does this could get up to 84s. 3d. per barrel, and if the British price should reach that level he would get 3s. 9d. more, or 88s. per barrel, which is regarded as a tempting price.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

There you have it: Guinness wanted to encourage Irish farmers to grow decent barley.

I love the chance to perform some mathematics. 510,000 barrels is 280,600 quarters of 400 lbs. Assuming 90 lbs of extract per quarter and based on the average OG in the Republic of Ireland in 1953 (1045.21*) I make that enough barley to brew a little over 1.5 million barrels. Which is a huge percentage of the 2,145,110** barrels brewed in the Republic of Ireland in 1953. Not really surprising, as the vast majority of beer came from Guinness-owned breweries. It looks like Guinness were contracting around enough Irish barley to meet all their malting needs for the year.

barrels barley quarters barley total lbs extract barrels @ 1045º
510,000 285,600 25,704,000 1,579,861

Interested in what happened to UK barley prices in 1953? That will tell us how good a deal Guinness gave Irish farmers.

The 66s. 9d. minimum per 224 lbs. is 119s 2d per 400 lb quarter. The maximum price of 84s. 3d. per 224 lbs is 150s 5d per quarter. While the average UK price per quarter in 1953 was 107s 5d. Looks to me like Irish farmers were getting a pretty good deal from Guinness. At least in 1953. It would be interesting to see what they did in later years as the barley price continued to fall.

* 1955 Brewers’ Almanack, page 110.
** 1955 Brewers’ Almanack, page 110.
*** 1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 61.

Monday 22 February 2016

Cornbrook Brewery and tank beer (part three)

I left you in Bradford an a Hammonds pub where no beer was flowing, only froth. Causing a bit of a problem for landlords. And their customers.

The solution wasn’t particularly technical. In fact, it’s the way I might have solved the problem.

“On the following Monday, a cellar inspector reported that one of the pubs had discovered a solution; the frantic wife of one tenant in despair and rage had beaten the metal sides of the beer container with a broom handle to vent her feelings, and the beer had flowed better, with less froth. Much like an unexplained miracle, all flocked to see her in action. It seemed to work. Immediately, Bradford ironmongers were stripped of their stocks of broomsticks and the brewery inspectors delivered supplies by hand to all outlets with instructions to order cellar men to beat the pipes during opening hours. The sound of wood on metal coming from the cellars through the bar room floors was a new experience for customers, the noise not dissimilar from that produced by the music of the popular skiffle groups, but at least some beer flowed. Needless to say, within a short space of time a lot of knowledge was acquired about excessive gas pressures in pipes, poorly calibrated pressure reducing valves and the necessity for quick turnover of the beer - plus the revelation that Cornbrook beer was peculiarly suited to the system, whereas Tadcaster beer was not. The stick beating did have a scientific basis; it knocked the excess gas out of the beer before serving.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, pages 77 - 78.

There you go – hit the tank with a stick. I’m sure publicans were impressed. This great new system, whose introduction had been so heralded, needed broomsticks to make it work.  It sounds as if they had rushed into installing the system without testing it out properly. As well as dodgy technology, education was probably at fault, too. Landlords wouldn’t have been used to CO2 pressure at all, unless they were one of the few outlets selling draught Lager.

There Avis goes again talking about the unsuitability of Tadcaster beer for the system. Why was that? How did it differ from Cornbrook’s beer?

Fobbing wasn’t the only problem. After a while something worse popped up:

“The system limped along for some months, and then it lost its biggest recommendation - that it served up a clear pint each and every time - it was coming up cloudy and with a metallic taste. Enquiry revealed this was because cleaning procedures were necessary after all, and not only of the equipment in the pubs, but also in the delivery wagons, and moreover, complicated cleaning procedures, beyond the competence of the licensee and needing specialist equipment. So, hurriedly, brewery cleaning teams had to be assembled, trained, and sent out. Then the problem of the reaction of the bulk containers' plastic lining on the beer was discovered, which took a considerable scientific effort to solve; the containers themselves began to shew alarming signs of rusting, being made of mild steel, with a coating of paint. The bar counter top dispensers had to be redesigned.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 78.

It seems incredible that they could have believed that no cleaning of the equipment was necessary. Surely technical brewers couldn’t have believed that? Brewing is all about keep everything clean. It seems incredibly naïve to imagine you could keep filling tanks with beer and never have to clean them. Cornbrook must have been cleaning their tanks. Mustn’t they? It all sounds like it was getting very expensive and complicated. I don’t like to think about what was happening in the tanks if the beer was coming out cloudy and metallic.

I’m not surprised that the tanks started to rust, just being made of mild steel. Sounds like they picked the wrong material. Stainless steel, the obvious choice, was doubtless too expensive. Trying to implement a radically new system too cheaply and too quickly looks like the main cause of the trouble.

I’ll leave you with some random information about the Cornbrook Brewery. They were unlucky during the war, suffering war damage, presumably through German bombing. That’s the way you break down a country’s morale, by destroying its breweries.

and the

The Directors of the above companies Pleasure in announcing that they are now again brewing themselves their own NOTED ALES AND STOUT.

They would like to take this opportunity of thanking their licensees and customers sympathetic co-operation during the serious inconveniences, and almost unsurmountable difficulties, experienced since their Brewery was put out of action by enemy activity.

The rebuilding of the Brewery and plant is proceeding and they hope in a few months' time to return to normal business at their own Brewery.”
Manchester Evening News - Thursday 03 April 1941, page 7.

Next time we’ll be rounding off the great Bradford tank beer disaster.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part five)

The fermenting house, that’s what’s next. Where all the alchemy occurs as sweet wort transforms itself into beer.

The Fermenting House.—This had to be designed for continuous daily brewings of 3,000 barrels per day. After the appropriate stand in the wort coolers, the wort is run down by gravity through a 5-in. bore main at a rate of approximately 340/400 barrels per hour to centrifugal pumps which pass the wort through a battery of plate-type refrigerators on the third floor of the fermenting house, where it is cooled to the required temperature. On its way to the fermenting tun, the wort is led to glass-lined troughs below the store, or pitching yeast presses, where the required weight of yeast is dropped into the flowing wort prior to its discharge into the fermenting tuns.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 283.

This is very much like the late 19th-century method of cooling: a few hours in the open cooler followed by a run through the refrigerator. Not sure I’ve heard of mixing yeast with the wort before transferring it to the tun. I know from photos that Whitbread poured bucketfuls of yeast into the fermenter. The Guinness method sounds like a good way of making sure the yeast is distributed through the wort.

This is probably the most surprising paragraph in the whole article.

“There are five 1,260 barrel tuns and six 630 barrel tuns, making a total of 11 in all. This capacity allows three brews to be accommodated simultaneously in the house and still have available one of each size for maintenance and Excise regauging. There are no attemperating coils in the fermenting tuns.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 283.

Remember that the mash tuns had a capacity of 500 barrels. Meaning the fermenters where larger than the mash tuns. Something I can’t remember ever having seen before in a traditional brewery. The fact that there was only room for three days brewing implies to me that primary fermentation only took three days.

So my guess would be that the fermentation was pretty warm. That the fermenting vessels lacked attemperators would tend to confirm that.  I find that amazing. Attemparators were what made year-round brewing possible at the end of the 18th century. I’d assumed that every brewery had them. Evidently not. So how were they controlling the fermentation temperature? I can’t believe they weren’t keeping it cool somehow.

Though in the early 19th century London brewers fermented Porter very warm. Fermentation often peaked at over 80º F, while Ale fermentations rarely got more than a couple of degrees over 70º F.

I’m not sure I quite get what goes on next. See if you can work it out:

“About 12 hours after the tun is full a certain quantity of gyle is drawn off to storage tanks and kept at a temperature of 40° F. by circulation through plate-type chillers cooled by brine at 25° F. When the desired fall in gravity has been attained, which is usually in about 65 hours, the tunnage is started and the beer is pumped up to the skimmers located on the three top floors of the fermenting house. Originally, the skimmers were fitted with attemperating coils for checking fermentation, but in recent years these have been removed as part of a "cleaning up" programme, and the skimmers now really serve the purpose of auxiliary fermenting tuns, the final cooling being carried out in a battery of plate-type referigerators very similar to the wort refrigerators. The beer is in the skimmer about 24 hours, during which time up to six yeast crops are skimmed off at various intervals, the store or pitching yeast usually being taken from the earlier skimmings. Immediately after the final yeast skimmings the beer is pumped from the skimmers through the beer refrigerators and run down to the storage vats in the vathouse.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 283.

That first sentence I think I do get, even though it isn’t fully explained. The wort that they’re taking off and cooling sounds like “heading”, wort that was added to later brews as a sort of kräusen. I’m surprised that they were still doing this after WW II.

They confirm that the wort was less than three days in the fermenting tun. Which is quickish, but not crazily fast. Especially as the fermentation was finished off in the skimmers. You know what this sounds like to me? A classic fermentation followed by cleansing system. It sounds like the main function of the skimmers was yeast removal, as with any system of cleansing. I wonder what size and shape the skimmers were?

Note the use of the word “store” for pitching yeast. It turns up regularly in brewing records.

More about the wort refrigerators next.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Random Dutch beers (part twenty)

Hello again. This weekend is going well. Visited a new pub yesterday. Wrote a couple of blog posts. Nothing to worry about next week, now.

I'm sticking with my Nijmegen theme. Or. as Dolores would put it, finall getting around to drinking the beer that's been clogging up our floor for weeks. Katjelam, one of whose beers we're kicking off with, is another genuine brewery. Amazing. I suspect Nijmegen has at least as many real breweries as Amsterdam.

Katjelam Tam 4.1% ABV (€3.40 for 33cl)
Brown Ale, it says on the label. But it pours black. I thought it was going to be a Porter or a Stout. Slightly sweet, raisiny smell. Like chistmas pud without the sugar. I wondered how long my good run would last. This is the first Nijmegen beer to disappoint. We're back in boiled cabbage country. Not too overwhelming, but definitely not right. Oh well. At least it only cost €3.40.

Let's hope the next one is better. This is from Bierbrouwerij De Arn, which despite the name isn't a physical brewery. The beer was brewed at Sallands Landbier in Raalte.

De Arn Stoute Arn 6.6% ABV (€2.95 for 33cl)
Pretty sure this one is a Stout. It's certainly dark enough. 100 EBC, the label says. Has a nice warm, roasty smell. No cabbage so far. The roast continues in the mouth. Is there some sourness lurking in the shadows. Maybe not. Or at least just a trace.

"Do you want to try my beer, Andrew?"


"Do you want to try my beer, Andrew?"

""I've already said no, dad."

"I thought you were just playing hard to get."

. .  . . .


"Hello Lexie"

"You're really stupid, dad"

"Thanks, Lexie."

"Shut up, stupid dad."

Friday 19 February 2016

You can still save $10 on orders worth over $30 for my Lulu books

until the end of today (19th February).

All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


you could buy yourself a Mega Book Series volume -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! - for a vaguely reasonable price.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Bottled beer in the 1950’s – Bright Bottled Beers (part eight)

Now we’ve got our beer all fizzed up and nice and cold, what do we do with it? That’s a very good question. And one which I think Jeffery is better able to answer than me.

Obviously you wouldn’t want to let it warm up again before you bottled it. Which meant you needed to store it cold. This is all way more complicated than naturally-conditioned bottled beer. Bass Pale Ale just needed to be left in a wooden hogshead in a cellar for a few months. No messing around with cold tanks, artificial carbonation or filtering.

Storage of Chilled Beer
Once beer has been chilled to a temperature of 33º, or thereabouts, it is essential to keep it at that temperature until bottled. It is usual to store the beer in tanks placed in a specially insulated room. The tanks resemble those used for conditioning, to all intents and purposes, except that in most instances they are not fitted with rousers. This omission has its disadvantages. It is invariably necessary to add the finings at this stage, and without rousers it is more difficult to ensure that they are thoroughly mixed in with the beer.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 339.

I assume the main reasons for the constant cool temperature were to keep the beer stable and to keep the CO2 in solution. If the beer got too warm, all sorts of nastiness could happen if it wasn’t totally sterile. I’m sort of surprised finings were added at this point. Hadn’t they got rid of all the sediment in the conditioning phase?

The solution wasn’t just to have a tank kept cool, but a whole room:

“The cold room is usually insulated by covering the walls, roof, and floor by a double thickness of cork slabs. The thickness amounts in all to about 8 inches. The joints should be staggered so that the two layers do not coincide. The whole surface is faced with cement, which should be of special texture to avoid cracking. The most suitable method of cooling is by cold air, the temperature of which has been reduced by its passage over a series of cooling pipes connected with a refrigerating plant. This plant is usually situated at one end of the insulating room, being partitioned off. The cold air is carried into the room by means of ducts fixed to the roof, and passes into the room through various ports. The apertures of these ports can be opened or closed at will. In order to prevent ingress of the warmer outside air if the door is opened it is usual to provide a small air lock, with a door at each end. One of these doors should always be closed before the other is opened. In this way, any large quantity of cold air is prevented from escaping and no hot outside air may enter.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 339 - 340.

You’d be daft not to insulate the walls of a room you wanted to keep just above freezing. What with the insulated tanks, specially constructed room and constant cooling, this sounds like an expensive process. As a brewer, I assume you’d want the beer to be in cold storage for as short a period of time as possible. Any maturation was already done and the beer was just waiting to be bottled. The longer it was in the cold tank, the more it cost. And the more chance there was for something to go wrong. Whereas once the beer was bottled – and no longer needed to be kept cool - you could just store it in a normal cellar.

And here’s another consideration: a room at freezing point wasn’t the most pleasant environment in which to work:

“The question of the discomfort of working in a cold store is being dealt with in some modern plants by having the tanks separately insulated and cooled, so that the working space in the cold room can be at a comfortable temperature. The tanks are covered with six-inch cork insulation (or similar material). Special arrangements are then necessary to prevent loss of heat at the manhole. Cork insulation needs painting with a waterproof finish to prevent absorption of moisture from the air which would impair its insulating properties. In some recently built plants this has been avoided by supplying the cold room with dried air, thus obviating the necessity for any special waterproofing of the cork insulation.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 340.

There must be some sort of regulations about that now. How cold your workplace can be. Come to think of it, most small breweries I’ve visited in Bavaria have a closed, refrigerated room with their open fermenters. They aren’t quite as cold as freezing point, but they are pretty chilly. The lagering cellars at Pilsner Urquell aren’t exactly a tropical temperature either.

Still using natural cork for insulation. How quaint. I’m sure than would be far too expensive today.