Tuesday 31 May 2016

Colne Spring Ale

I’ve been making some sweeps through the newspaper archive. And finding some useful stuff. Including, surprisingly, price lists.

I’ve written about Benskins legendary Colne Spring Ale several times before. I’m saddened that I never got to taste it. But I was heartened to spot it in a Benskins advert from 1890. But looking a little more closely, it told me something very surprising.

What style was Colne Spring Ale? Barley Wine? Old Ale? No. According to Benskins, it was a Mild Ale.

Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette - Tuesday 28 January 1890, page 1.

I’m glad of two things: that they numbered their beers and that they grouped them by style. The numbering means that I can be sure that XXXXA Ale and Colne Spring Ale are the same thing. Who would have thought Colne Spring Ale was a type of Mild?

The price list also tells me something I’d long suspected: that Cooper was just the name for bottled Porter. Nice to have that confirmed.

Here’s my guess at the OGs, based around 1055º being the gravity of a beer costing 36s per barrel.

beer price per barrel est. OG
No. 1 Indian Pale Ale 54 1082.5
No. 2 Guinea Ale 42 1064.2
No. 3 Pale Ale 36 1055.0
No. 4 XXXXA Ale 72 1110.0
No. 4 XXXX Ale 60 1091.7
No. 5 XXX Ale 54 1082.5
No. 6 XX Ale 36 1055.0
No. 7 Double Stout 54 1082.5
No. 8 Single Stout 42 1064.2
No. 9 Porter 36 1055.0

The gravity is too high for the Indian Pale Ale. You had to pay a premium for IPA. My guess would be that the OG was really around 1065º.

Monday 30 May 2016

Mild! Plus fourth edition

Just finished a new edition of Mild! Plus.

What's new? 125 pages of Mild fun. Including almost 80 new recipes, most of which I've never published before.

If you have any self-respect, you'll buy the hardback:

If you're a tight bastard, the paperback:

Should you be a really cheap twat who wants to go for the digital option: I haven't updated that yet.

Brown Sweet Ales

One event in the history of Mild intrigues me more than any other: it turning dark.

I was gobsmacked when I first looked at 19th-century Mild recipes and realised that they must have been pale in colour. I’d imagined Dark Mild stretching back into the mists of history. Only to discover it had developed almost within living memory.

Trying to pin down exactly when Mild started darkening is frustratingly difficult. I’m pretty sure it was after 1880, when sugar usage greatly increased as a result of the Free Mash Tun Act. But, as brewing records give no indication of colour and aren’t always that specific about the type of sugar, it’s hard to find any traces.

Evidence like this is extremely rare:

Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press - Saturday 04 January 1890, page 6.

The description “Brown Sweet Ales” implies something darker than Pale Ale. But how dark exactly? Even after WW I, many Milds were much paler than modern Dark Mild: 20 EBC rather than 40 EBC. My guess is that these “Brown Sweet Ales” were a similar colour to the Milds of the 1920’s.

There was something else in the advert that attracted my attention. The description “Sound Ale for vatting” and the note:

“Vats filled in the Spring and Autumn seasons on the most reasonable terms, and the Beer guaranteed to keep sound. A Cooper sent to clean Vats free of charge.”

It sounds like people were vatting beer at home and ageing it for months. I’m surprised the practice was still going on. Especially as XA, at just 10d a gallon, couldn’t have had a gravity of more than 1045º. Which seems too weak to be a suitable candidate for ageing.

The cooper sounds like an outdoor cooper: someone employed by a brewery to look after vats not on their own premises. I’d assumed the job died out in the 18th century. Evidently not.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Dodgy landlords

Two tales of dodgy dealing in the pub trade.

Seems Vaux had some wrong 'uns as draymen:
"Inn Manageress Not Guilty of Receiving Spirits
Sunderland Quarter Sessions were resumed before the Recorder, Sir Ronald D. Ross. M P., to-day, for the hearing of several cases adjourned from last month.

Mrs Ellen Forster (39), manageress of the Grapes Inn, Easington Lane, pleaded not guilty receiving nine bottles of whisky, one bottle of red wine, and two bottles of rum, worth £14, belonging to C. Vaux Sons. Ltd., brewers, Sunderland. knowing it to have been stolen.

Case for the prosecution, put by Dr Charlesworth, was that Mrs Forster was paid a salary as manageress of the Grapes Inn for Messrs. Vaux Son. and did not pay for the liquor supplied the house by the firm. Draymen employed by the firm had been dealt with at the Sessions for stealing the case of spirits, and it was alleged that Mrs Forster paid the thieves £11 for the bottles on July 15.

When questioned by Detective Buddies Mrs Forster replied "That's right: they told me it was all right.” She told the detective that she paid the draymen £11. When asked, "Do you usually pay the draymen for beer or spirits supplied." she replied ” No; I know it was a silly thing do." When formally charged she said, "Well, that's wrong. On the 21st of July I received a barrel of beer.”

Mrs Forster gave evidence that she paid £11 10s for the case of spirits and bottle if wine when it was brought her public-house by me drayman on July 28. The drayman told her it had been sent by the firm for the holidays. She agreed she made no entry in any book about receiving the spirits or paying £11 10s for it, but she thought it all right, and had no thought that it had been stolen. She paid for it with money out of the till, and when the spirits were sold the money would go into the till for the firm. Mrs Forster was found not guilty by the jury and discharged."
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Tuesday 16 November 1943, page 4.

This and the next case are in the same article. Both seem to stem from the stealing of Vaux's draymen.

Samuel Wass (41), tenant of the Museum Vaults, Silksworth Row, pleaded not guilty receiving a barrel of beer, valued at £19, stolen from C. Vaux & Sons. (Continued in Column 4.)

(Continued from Column 6)
Evidence was given that after a load beer had been prepared at Vaux’s Brewery on July 29 for the Ship Inn, Cleadon, one barrel of Samson beer was found to be missing. Det. Buddies said when he inspected the cellar of the Museum Vaults on August 9 he found the missing barrel hidden by boxes in a corner. It was empty. When he told Wass that this was the stolen barrel, Wass replied; 'Yes, I did buy from them. I gave them £7." Wass also agreed that he only sold ordinary beer and not Samson. "I don’t know why I bought the stuff from them," he told the officer. Wass gave evidence that when the draymen put the barrel into his cellar he did not know that it was Samson, and thought that it was an extra barrel that had been delivered to him the ordinary way. It. was only when he went down the cellar later on that evening that he found it was Samson ale and should not have been there.

In cross-examination, Wass said that next day the two men saw him about the barrel and he told them to take it away. Then they said "Give us £7 for it" and he gave them £7.

Mr W. Temple defending, submitted that in law the prisoner was not guilty of receiving because at the time the barrel was delivered he did not realize it was stolen.

The jury found Wass guilty and he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Tuesday 16 November 1943, page 4.

I came across this searching for Vaux Samson. Have discovered it was once  a strong Mild.

Why did Mrs Forster get off and Mr. Wass go to jail? They both look pretty fucking guilty to me.

Seventeen quid was a lot for a barrel of beer in 1943. 340/-. Assuming this was a 36-gallon barrel. Which it may not have been.

This is a Barclay Perkins wholesale pricelist from April 1943:

KK is 350/- a barrel. And it was 1043º at the time.

Assuming a full barrel and wholesale price: looks like a Best Bitter to me.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Let’s Brew 1937 Greene King XX

Just time to squeeze in one last Mild recipe in May. And a special one.

As this is a brand that still exists. Sort of. Greene King still produce a Mild called XX, but, other than the name, it has no connection with this beer. Greene King rationalised their Milds a while back and in order to decide which recipe to keep, they did a taste off. Hardy & Hanson’s won and was renamed XX.

Thinking about it, it’s strange that they picked Kimberley Mild. Unless they’ve changed the recipe a lot since the 1980’s. It was far too sweet. Very unlike the other Nottingham Milds. One of the few cask Milds I really didn’t care for.

Wondering how come I have a Greene King recipe? I’ve Ed to thank. He visited Greene King recently and in a blog post about it included a photo of a brewing record. I’ll take brewing records wherever I find them. I’m starting to get quite a collection.

The beer itself is a classic 4d Mild. Amongst London brewers, the standard Mild Ale was a 5d or 6d beer of 1037º and 1043º, respectively. But out in the sticks, the standard version was often weaker. I can still remember a few breweries well away from the big cities having Milds of a little under 1030º in the 1970’s. Most bumped up the gravities a degree or two when CAMRA published OGs.

Just looked through my analysis spreadsheet and I see that in 1968 XX had an OG of 1026.8º. Which really is taking the piss. If XX was already under 1030º, I wonder what the hell they did during WW II? It couldn’t have got much weaker. Literally. Because of the way the tax system worked there was no point dropping the gravity below 1027º. However weak a beer was, you always paid a minimum of the tax for one of 1027º.

The grist is what I would expect: base malt, crystal malt, flaked maize and sugar. With Kent and Mid-Kent hops.

Nothing more for me to say really.

1937 Greene King XX
pale malt 4.75 lb 79.17%
crystal malt 60L 0.25 lb 4.17%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 8.33%
table sugar 0.25 lb 4.17%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.25 lb 4.17%
Fuggles 90 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1028.8
FG 1005.5
ABV 3.08
Apparent attenuation 80.90%
IBU 20
SRM 10
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Friday 27 May 2016

Extra Strong Mild Ale

Really strong Milds weren’t killed off by WW I. Quite. Almost, but not quite.

As this advertisement from the 1920’s demonstrates:

we brew an old-fashioned type of Extra Strong Mild Ale.

A revelation to people who have not previously tried Ale of this class; it is far removed from ordinary beer and stout, and possesses the qualities of a fine old wine.

Try a “Nip" “SAMSON” Bottle of ALE, 5.5d, At Hotels supplied by The North-Eastern Breweries, Limited.”
Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Friday 12 February 1926, page 7.

A price of 5.5d for a nip (third of a pint) bottle implies an OG of around 1080º. Unless Vaux were thieving bastards. Which is incredibly strong for a post-WW I Mild. Low-1050’s is the highest other gravity I’ve seen for a Mild in this period.

Hang on a minute. I remember Vaux Samson. I’m pretty sure I’ve drunk it. But it wasn’t a strong Mild. It wasn’t a Mild at all, but a Best Bitter. Clearly at some point Vaux recycled the name and used it for a totally different type of beer.

Vaux Samson 1964 - 1982
Year Beer Style Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1964 Samson Pale Ale 20d 1043.1 1011.1 4.00 74.25%
1967 Samson Pale Ale 24d 1035.7 1007.1 3.58 80.11%
1967 Samson Pale Ale 24d 1035.7 1006.8 3.61 80.95%
1967 Samson Pale Ale 24d 1040.5 1008.1 4.05 80.00%
1972 Sampson Pale Ale 13p 1041.2 1011.1 3.90 73.06%
1977 Samson Pale Ale 1042.3
1979 Samson Pale Ale 1042.3
1981 Samson Pale Ale 1042.3
1982 Samson Pale Ale 1042.3
1983 Samson Pale Ale 1042.3
1986 Samson Pale Ale 1042.3
1989 Samson Pale Ale 1041
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Good Beer Guide 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990
Daily Mirror July 10th 1972, page 15

It wasn’t even consistently a Best Bitter, being relegated to Ordinary Bitter for part of 1967.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Carlsberg in Copenhagen

Let's be clear right from the start. This was a freebie trip paid for by Carlsberg. They paid for my flight and hotel. Plus other food and drink. It must have come to at least 1,000 euros.

I did consider the ethics of accepting. For about 10 seconds. I love Copenhagen. And Carlsberg's project was right down my street. Plus I got a chance to hang around with some beer writer chums.

The head of Carlsberg Laboratory

What was the project? I hear you ask. An historic beer recreation. I told you it was down my street. More down my street, through my front door and into my living room. During rebuilding work at the brewery they found some old bottles of beer, dating to the early 1880's. They were able to isolate and culture yeast from one of the bottles and decided to try to recreate the beer, Lagerol, from which the yeast came.

pilot brewery

And not by halves. I've had a little experience in the area of recreations and they went about as far as anyone has to be 100% authentic. They got hold of a heritage barley, had it floor malted at a Danish whisky distillery then hand roasted some to create Munich and caramel malt. They brewed it in the 2hl pilot brewery in the laboratory, using a triple decoction mash. It was then aged in a stainless steel tank before being transferred to a wooden cask a week or so before the event. Full marks for effort.

Carlsberg's barley breeding programme

I'll admit to a soft spot for Carlsberg. Whatever you might think of their products today, the brewery played a really important role in brewing history, mostly through its laboratory. Where Hansen perfected pure yeast propagation and Claussen identified Brettanomyces. I got a real thrill standing in the same laboratory as those two great brewing chemists. And getting to talk to their modern successors.

They let me root around in the brewing records last year, too. I'm always grateful to brewers who let me do that.

We got a couple of hours being guided around the lab, then a buffet lunch. All leading up to the main event, the tapping and sampling of the beer.

The brewer got to tap the cask. He looked dead nervous, which I suppose was understandable. He had trouble pouring the beer as it only came out in a trickle. I could see why. Rather than a normal cask tap they were using what looked like a sampling tap with a much narrower outlet.

If I'm honest, the beer was a bit of a let-down. It wasn't conditioned enough and a bit cloudy. It tasted OK, but a bit more fizz would have helped. Ironically, if they'd been less authentic and kegged the beer it probably would have turned out better. But I'm reluctant to criticise them for being too authentic. Maybe they should have got someone from the Tetley side of the business who understands cask conditioning to give them a hand.

When it got to the stage when everyone was hanging around wondering what to do next Jeff said to me: "Do you fancy sloping off down the pub?" He didn't need to ask twice. The afternoon programme was a tour of the brewery then a waterways tour of Copenhagen. I got a private tour of the brewery a year ago. And I know what the centre of Copenhagen looks like. Nothing to detain me until the evening dinner. With the Danish crown prince in attendance.

Jacobsen kettles

We kicked off in Jacobsen, the brewpub inside the old Carlsberg brewery. There was the lovely sweet smell of mashing inside, which set the mood perfectly. Jeff bought a round with his card. He hadn't bothered getting any Danish cash. He had an unfiltered beer while I went for the IPA. It wasn't very IPA-like. Jeff wasn't too impressed with his beer, either. "Tastes like a beer that was meant to be filtered."

A good job they paid travel expenses. I was blankety blank cash-wise. The kids are getting expensive. The week before payday is a time of stress and worry. I still spent over 200 euros. Shows what a pisshead I am because I bought fuck all food. And just one bag of sweets each for the kids. A small jar of anchovies for Dolores. Who says I'm not romantic?

Copenhagen isn't cheap. Unlike me. Though Café Grotten, where I bought the only round of my stay - for me and Jeff - was just 70 kr. for two half litres. (About the same as one 40cl beer in WarPigs) Of draught Tuborg we could just about force down. The barman's "You want draught, not bottled?" should have warned us. And the fact everyone else was drinking bottles. I'd like to have seen Jeff try paying by card here.

It's Tuborg, really

Nostalgia time, it was. Me, Jeff, fag smoke and nutters. Like being back in Hebenedanz on that first beer tour with Andy. Me and Jeff share a love of pubs with character and characters. U Rotundy in Prague epitomises that common love. The cast here: a bloke with no teeth playing a slottie, a crazy old Chinese man who randomly grabbed the barman's crotch, a grumpy barman (understandable with the crotch-grabbing), a middle-aged chain smoking woman and - bizarrely - a gorgeous young woman.

It may sound crazy, but I rate the experience higher than seeing the crown prince at the other side of the room. And above most beer pub experiences - Fermentoren is an exception. Meeting the scientists and the brewer and getting to ask my usual questions about lagering times, gravity and ABV satisfied my obsessive side the way bacon fulfils my breakfast lusts.

Fermentoren pretending to be open

Grotten wasn't our first choice. How Jeff peered through the windows on our way past should have tipped me off. Being honest, I was tempted to suggest dropping in, too. We should be more open with each other, I thought. Stop pretending we don't love slumming it. But Fermentoren wasn't open for another half hour.

Not that Fermentoren was in any way crap. Totally different, which is what you want when on a pub crawl, however short. Totally different clientele. But a barman who knew his shit and a friendly local. Then some other beer writers turned up.

I can't help showing off with Jeff. He expects it. Don't want him doubting the hollowness of my legs. That's why I had the 2 pints of Imperial Stout and a double Laphroaig (I asked the price first) in Fermentoren. He'd think me a lesser man if I didn't.

Dinner was a grand affair, held in the villa of Carlsberg's founder. He was a bit of an art collector on the side. Mostly statues of naked ladies, it would appear. The nosh was dead posh, prepared by the former head chef of Noma. Very nice it was. All five mouthfuls. Approximately one mouthful per course. Just as well I wasn't that hungry.

Sitting next to Carlsberg's historian, Bjarke Bundgaard, was pretty cool. We had lots to chat about. And plenty of chance for me to pitch some crazy ideas.

In case you missed it earlier: Carlsberg paid for my trip. For which I duly presented them with my left bollock on arrival.

Husbryggeriet Jacobsen
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11,
2500 Valby.

Café Grotten
Sønder Blvd. 37,
1720 København V.

Halmtorvet 29C,
1700 København v.
Tel: 23 90 86 77

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Let's Brew 1958 Lees Best Mild

Many breweries are dead boring, bashing out the same basic recipe for decades with only occasional minor tweaks. Not so Lees. They liked to swap their Mild recipe around.

That’s my excuse for publishing recipes just a few years apart. Without any war inbetween causing upheaval.

While some earlier iterations were all about the malts, this version is a symphony of sugar, with a total of seven in the original. Several different proprietary sugars, a couple of inverts and lactose. And both flaked maize and flaked barley. And 7% brown malt just to add to the confusion.

Leaving a dead complicated recipe. Even in my slightly rationalised version. Almost a full set of the numbered inverts and lactose, too. They were very keen on their lactose in the post-war period. It popped up in more than just Milk Stout.

As befits a Best Mild, it has a decent gravity. The ABV is a guess, Lees not bothering to enter the FG in this period.

1958 Lees Best Mild
pale malt 3.50 lb 51.06%
brown malt 0.50 lb 7.29%
flaked maize 0.33 lb 4.81%
flaked oats 0.15 lb 2.19%
lactose 0.25 lb 3.65%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.75 lb 10.94%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 14.59%
No. 4 invert sugar 0.38 lb 5.47%
Northern Brewer 90 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1035
FG 1007
ABV 3.70
Apparent attenuation 80.00%
IBU 28
SRM 20
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Random Dutch beers (part thirty)

You can tell I'm busy when I post a lot of this stuff. It's quick and easy to write and requires no research other than drinking a couple of beers. I shouldn't tell you that, really, should I?

Beers from another Amsterdam outfit, De 7 Deugden (the 7 Virtues). A real brewery that was the first of the recent additions to the Amsterdam scene, all the way back in 2010. There're in an odd location, right on the edge of the city out in the wilds of Osdorp. Which explains why I've never been there.

De 7 Deugden Ruw + Bolster, 5% ABV
Despite being undisturbed on my floor for a couple of weeks, it didn't look totally clear in the bottle. It's poured, unsurprisingly, dead murky. Very frothy, too. Smells like orange and Brettanomyces. Slightly worrying, that. Thin and lemony in the mouth, with Brettanomyces hidden away in the boot. It doesn't taste totally unpleasnt, but I suspect some of the flavours are unintentional.

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

"No thank you."

He doesn't sound in the mood for jokes. He has just got out of bed. And it's only 13:30.

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

"Yes, in a minute. I'm quite busy."


"Mmm, quite nice. But a bit sour."

De 7 Deugden Scheeps Recht, 7% ABV
Yippee! I poured one clear. What a clever boy I am. It looks lovely in the glass. A thick head I feel like resting my head on, a golden sparkle below it.  Ah, there's that same aroma of orange and Brettanomyes. That's not a good sign. It tastes very much like the other beer: orange, Brettanomyces, bit of sourness and a jarring, nasty bitterness at the end. Not sure this is how it is meant to taste.

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

"No thank you."

He's still not in the mood. But at least polite.

Brouwerij De 7 Deugden
Osdorperweg 578 achter,
1067 SZ Amsterdam.
Email: info@de7deugden.nl
Tel: 020 - 667 3221

Monday 23 May 2016

Tetley’s Mild Ales in 1920

It’s still Mild month. That’s my excuse for yet more Mild stuff.

Even better, it’s about Tetley Mild. Or rather, Milds. Back then they brewed three. Or four.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 01 May 1920, page 1.

This is how they looked in the Brewhouse:

Tetley Milds in 1920
Date Beer OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp
1st Jan X1 1041.8 1011.1 4.07 73.51% 3.82 0.67 2.08 2 1.75 64º
1st Jan F 1033.8 1009.1 3.26 72.95% 3.82 0.54 2.08 2 1.75 64º
1st Jan X 1028.0 1009.4 2.46 66.34% 3.82 0.45 2.08 2 1.75 64º
26th May X2 1053.7 1014.7 5.17 72.68% 5.70 1.21 2 2 2 62º
Tetely's brewing record held at the West Yorkshire archives. Document number WYL756/54/ACC1903

I’m amazed that they were brewing something as strong as X2 in 1920. It’s a proper full-strength Mild, reminiscent of a pre-WW I London X Ale.

I’m pretty sure F (which I think stands for Family Ale) was a bottled Mild. But it’s far too weak to be Special Mild Ale because it cost the same as Guinness Stout. It has to be the strongest Mild, X2.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Random Dutch beers (part twenty-nine)

It's the weekend. Time for me to drink random Dutch beers and sketch them for you.

Not sure how detailed or long this will be. I'm feeling knacked, despite 10 hours kip. A couple of days in Copenhagen followed by a frantic day of work have tired me out. A nice lazy weekend is what I need.

I'll start with another beer from local contract brewers Two Chefs.

Two Chefs Red Rocket, 5.4% ABV
It's billed as a Red ale. Nevere sure what that really means. Irish Red Ale obviously being a development of Pale Ale. This is much darker than that. 35 EBC according to the label. I can beleive that. It's about the colour of Dark Mild. Holding it to the light, I can see it's poured pretty clear. Oh no. It smells of cabbage. And has an unpleasant bitterness way above the 17 IBUs on the label.

Something has gone very, very wrong with this. Off to the sink it goes.

My random grab into the beer bag has pulled out another Two Chef beer.

Two Chef Funky Falcon, 5.2% ABV
Odd name for a Pale Ale. I worriede it might have been sour from the name. It's certainly pale. Though a little hazy. The aroma pleasantly fruity without going full-on grapefruit. Light and fruity in the mouth and not too bitter. Quite pleasant. Like a Session IPA. I had one of those at WarPigs in Copenhagen that was 5.8% ABV. 5.8% and a session beer?

I'm thinking of creating a new style - Session Imperial Stout. Between the wars, Barclay Perkins brewed two strengths of Russian Stout: a 10% ABV version and one of just 5.5% ABV. Do you think I should trademark the name?

Saturday 21 May 2016

Let’s Brew 1916 Tetley X3

I couldn’t let Mild month pass without a Tetley’s Mild recipe.

And an unusual one. Because it’s a late example of a pretty strong Mild. It’s from Tetley, too. You know how obsessed I am with them and their Mild. The impressionability of youth.

The happy memories I have of that beer. Discovering it handpulled in the Sheepscar. When Sheepscar was a clearance wasteland, with only a couple of lonely pubs still standing. A sad time for Britain’s cities. Bulldozed and bullied.

Tetley, unlike those soft Southern brewers in London, continued to brew stronger versions of Mild. Like this one. Which has double the ABV of their Mild I adored.

I lived for a while in a back to back in Cross Green. Mostly uncleansed and with its pubs intact. One was a former Hemmingway’s pub, that still had their windows and Mild just the way I liked it. I think a day or two more in the cellar before sale.

One pub I drank in had electric pumps. You couldn’t be sure if it was cask of bright beer. I was convinced the beer was bright. Until the landlord went on holiday and a relief manager took over. Then it tasted like cask. My conclusion? The regular gaffer was selling the beer as soon as it dropped bright. While the good ones left it to condition for a few days.

A simple enough recipe. Which doesn’t need any explanation from me.

1916 Tetley X3
pale malt 5.25 lb 42.86%
mild malt 5.50 lb 44.90%
demerera sugar 1.50 lb 12.24%
Cluster 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 2.00 oz
OG 1059
FG 1011.6
ABV 6.27
Apparent attenuation 80.34%
IBU 54
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale Timothy Taylor

Friday 20 May 2016

Random Dutch beers (part twenty-eight)

My Saturday's are so productive nowadays. I knocked off a dozen recipes this morning. I deserve a beer.

Time for one of the beers Dolores picked up for me at the supermarket. Deen, I think it was. They've started having beers from small, new breweries. Mostly from Noord Holland. As is this beer.

It's from Brouwerij Breugem, which is based in Zaandijk. That's just over the water from Amsterdam. And it seems to be a real brewery. One with kettles and all that shit.

Breugem Saens Zoentje 6.8% ABV
I noticed there was a lot of sludge in the bottle and poured it super carefully. But it's still murky as hell. And copper coloured. Smells like perfumed fudge. Bit weird in the gob. Sweet, appley and with the smallest smidgen of bitterness at the end.  Grapes. Sure I can taste those, too. Winey, that describes it best.

I'm free for the next 8 days. Whit Monday, then three days in Copenhagen followed by working from home on Friday. I'm looking forward to the break.

Andrew has just got up. I'm shocked he's so early - it's not even 2 PM yet.

I've already written about three beers in the Veluwse Schavuyt range, brewed at De Vlijt in Apeldoorn. Time for the fourth, which has been clogging up the floor for a while.

Veluwse Schavuyt Blond Bier 5.6% ABV
I managed to pour this one clear. Well, clear enough. There's a little haze but no big lumpy bits. Smells elderflowery. A little sweetness and some tobacco-like bitterness at the end. Tastes a little thin. Then again, I'm used to Abt. A pleasant enough easy drinker.

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


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


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

"I've already said no, Dad."

"I'll just keep asking the question until I get the answer I want."

"That isn't the way it works, Dad."

"Isn't it? That's what our customers do."

"Can I have 20 euros, Dad?"


"Can I have 20 euros, Dad?"

"That isn't the way it works, Andrew."

Brouwerij Breugem
Lagedijk 192,
1544 BM, Zaandijk.

De Vlijt
Vlijtseweg 114/130,

Thursday 19 May 2016

Mine's a Bitter

Here’s some cheering news – a report that sales of Mild are increasing. Just a shame it was almost 80 years ago.

There are a couple of intriguing bits in this tiny article:

"Mine's a Bitter "
According to Mr. C. E. T. Rogers, F.A.I., the well-known authority on the management and valuation of licensed premises, fewer people are using the phrase, "Mine's a bitter!"

Giving evidence before the East Area Assessment Committee at Hastings on Wednesday, said that sales of bitter beer throughout the country were declining and sales of mild ale were rising.

"It is an unexpected result the great 'Beer is Best' campaign," he explained. "The brewers meant that all beer is best, but the public appear to have taken them literally. Mild ale generally known simply as 'beer,' and customers who ask for 'a beer' get served with mild ale. Hence the increase."
Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 19 November 1938, page 4.

It certainly wasn’t true in London that Beer = Mild. The differentiation in London had been Beer = Porter, Ale = Mild. But did anyone by the late 1930’s just ask for “beer” in a pub? I can’t remember anyone ever ordering that way in a British pub, other than foreign tourists.

Beer is Best was a brilliant campaign, with some lovely posters. I have one on my living room wall. But I can’t believe it really prompted drinkers to start ordering just beer.

Was Mild increasing sales at the expense of Bitter in the late 1930’s. If only we had some numbers. Obviously, I do have some numbers. Only for Whitbread, but better than nothing.

Whitbread Bitter and Mild output 1935 - 1939
1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
beer barrels % barrels % barrels % barrels % barrels %
LA 3,225 0.61% 2,852 0.53% 3,251 0.58% 4,237 0.74% 5,747 0.97%
X 187,212 35.43% 199,812 36.93% 210,551 37.25% 216,200 37.96% 232,453 39.35%
PA 49,644 9.40% 49,773 9.20% 52,301 9.25% 51,643 9.07% 50,740 8.59%
IPA 131,729 24.93% 132,339 24.46% 141,373 25.01% 142,476 25.02% 147,177 24.92%
Total 528,370 70.37% 540,995 71.12% 565,230 72.09% 569,532 72.79% 590,695 73.83%
Whitbread brewing records

This isn’t all of Whitbread’s beers, just their Milds and Bitters. Sure enough, sales of X, their main Mild, were increasing in both absolute and percentage terms. While PA, their draught Bitter, was flat in absolute terms, but declining percentage-wise.

I included IPA, which was exclusively a bottled beer, because its sales were so unusually high. You can see that it outsold their draught Bitter by almost three to one and wasn’t that far behind X Ale.

LA, the final beer in the table, was a low-gravity draught Mild. It’s a strange beer. Whitbread never brewed huge amounts of it, almost 22,000 barrels in 1924, the year it was introduced, was the best it ever managed. I assume that it was limited to a small subset of Whitbread’s pubs, where there was demand for a really cheap beer.

To put those total output figures into context, Whitbread brewed just shy of a million barrels in 1912.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Let’s Brew Wednesday - 1917 Wadworth XXXX

I get all sorts of bits and bobs. Brewing records and other stuff. It’s been a great help as there’s a limit to how many archives and breweries I can get to.

This recipe is derived from a materials sheet. That shows each brew in a particular month and the materials used in it. I think Boak and Bailey sent me it. There are a few details missing: mashing temperatures, boil times, pitching temperature. All of those, I’ve guessed. Plus the hops are only defined as English and foreign.

Wadworth were still brewing three Milds at this point. More than London brewers were, who’d mostly slimmed down to just X Ale. While Wadworth had X, XX and XXXX. Odd the way XXX was missing.

The grist is typical 20th century: base malt, flaked maize and sugar. As I’ve often told you before, getting the colour from sugar is typical of British beers. This is quite dark, making it an unusual combination. A Mild that is both quite strong and dark.  By the time Mild had gone properly dark, there were few strong ones left.

I’m less garrulous than usual. Here’s the recipe.

1917 Wadworth XXXX
pale malt 7.25 lb 70.53%
flaked maize 1.75 lb 17.02%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.25 lb 12.16%
caramel 0.03 lb 0.29%
Cluster 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.75 oz
OG 1049.6
FG 1016.6
ABV 4.37
Apparent attenuation 66.53%
IBU 35
SRM 18
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale (Brakspear)