Tuesday 31 January 2017

Flour in Pale Ale

I'm sure you're bored with me telling you this, but I'm dead busy with my Macbeth book. Which entails hours of staring at - often quite blurry because my camera wasn't quite so good back then - photos of William Younger records.

Little things in brewing records - a brewer's note written on the page, rough workings on the back of an envelope - connect you to the people who wrote them in a strengely direct way. Much more than the routine recording of a brew.

Then sometimes, they just get you pondering.

In case you can't read that:

"Fermentations greatly improved within the last few days so much so that we are going on with pale ale. N. B. We find the use of flour in the pale ale very advantageous, it assists fermentation & keeps it pale. The first brewings had no flours and they got colour."
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/14 (September 1858).

Right. Where to start? When were they adding flour? What sort of flour? (This was in the malt-only days before 1880). Add the big one - how did flour keep beer paler?

Monday 30 January 2017

The Wateringhole

New pubs and beweries are poppoing up quicker than I can keep track of. After decades where there might be one opening every two or three years, now all I have to do is turn my back and there's a new vraft beer bar.

The latest one to be drawn to my attention is in De Pijp, one of my old stamping grounds. My first Amsterdam flat wasn't far away. And De Pijp was an interesting, multicultutal neighbourhood with lots of odd specialist and ethnic shops.

Based on what I saw on Eerste van der Helststraat, those days are gone. The old shops on the short streeet have now mostly been replaced by various kinds of trendy emporia.The same gentrification that's sweeping most of Amsterdam inside the motorway ring.

The Wateringhole, I suppose, is a symptom of that process. I try to look on it in a positive way: another place to buy interesting beer. And it least it isn't another bloody trendy cofffee bar.

This was supposed to be just a photo essay. But I've ended up giving you far more words than intende. Yoiu'd best be grateful. I'll mostly let the pictures do the descriptive thingy. Bit cold looking inside. But that's the way these sort of places are decorated. The taps, in the form of amsterdammetjes, are pretty cool.

Rather too many imported beers in the selection. But that could just have been the day that I was there. And they did have St. Bernardus Christmas beer on draught. Also a snack that mostly consisted of strips of bacon with a tiny token sliver of bread.

The Wateringhole
Eerste van der Helststraat 72,
1073 Amsterdam.
Tel: +31 20 237 4714

Sunday 29 January 2017

The economy through the eyes of beer

I'm still hard at work on my Macbeth book. hence the low quality of recent posts.

I'm pulling together all sorts of tables for the book. Way to many, I'm sure many won't make the final cut. I just love numbers. I can't help clumping them together in tables. Like the one below.

It's a table - rather incomplete at the moment - that will feature in the introduction to chapter two. Just general info leading up to the real meat of the chapter, all the details about beer styles. Who knows how much of this stuff I'll include, Probably time will decide. When it's time to finish off the book, I'll stop adding material.

The first two chapters of the book are somewhere near completion. Chapter three is about half done and chapter four needs a lot of work. While I was checking just now I got distracted and started adding more material. It's like an addiction, really. Except one that's fun. There's an immense satisfaction in seeing a book start to take shape. Even it is a pretty ugly shape. A lot of tidying needs to be done.

Let's get back to the table. What does it tell us, other than how much beer was being brewed in any particular year? We can see the state of the British economy. The numbers begin low because the 1870's were one long economic depression in the UK. The 1890's were boom years for British brewing and you can see that in the numbers.

It's also clear that the econmic downturn hit Scotland harder than England. Because Scottish beer output increased more. After 1904, extra taxes imposed on the brewing industry affected the trade and caused output to fall.

Beer production (standard barrels) 1882 - 1914
Year UK Scotland % Scotland
1882 27,870,526 1,088,000 3.90%
1883 27,140,891 1,122,360 4.14%
1884 27,750,091 1,216,319 4.38%
1885 27,986,493 1,237,323 4.42%
1886 1,236,000
1887 1,322,000
1888 1,392,000
1889 1,485,000
1890 30,808,315 1,666,897 5.41%
1891 30,868,315 1,767,000 5.72%
1892 1,736,000
1893 1,700,000
1894 1,744,000
1895 31,678,486 1,758,879 5.55%
1896 33,826,354 1,970,000 5.82%
1897 34,203,049 2,000,000 5.85%
1898 35,632,629 2,055,000 5.77%
1899 36,498,390 2,179,000 5.97%
1900 37,091,123 2,136,992 5.76%
1901 36,394,827 2,137,000 5.87%
1902 2,075,000
1903 1,939,000
1904 1,877,000
1905 34,404,287 2,021,374 5.88%
1906 1,825,000
1907 1,811,000
1908 1,811,000
1909 1,720,000
1910 32,947,252 1,758,879 5.34%
1911 1,769,000
1912 1,886,000
1913 34,805,291 1,837,000 5.28%
1914 36,057,913 1,977,000 5.48%
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 109.
“A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland” by Ian Donnachie, 1998, pages 147-148.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Let's Brew - 1847 William Younger T

Yet another Scottish recipe. But one there’s a very good reason for. Albeit purely selfish.

I’m steaming through my new Scottish book. Not totally voluntarily. The thing has to be finished – at least a reasonable first draught – by the middle of March. Which isn’t that far away. If I can keep up with this week’s pace (10,000 words and counting so far) that shouldn’t be a problem.

I already have most of the information I need. But there is the odd gap. One pretty glaring one was the lack of any recipes from the 1840’s. I’m starting to put that right today.

The beer is a particular Scottish speciality, Table Beer. Down in London, there wasn’t a huge amount of Table Beer brewed after 1830. Probably because it had disappeared as a tax category. Despite it being specifically against the law, I suspect much Table Beer was brewed to be mixed with Strong Beer. The latter was taxed at 10 shillings per barrel, four times the rate of Table Beer. By blending Strong and Table you could get yourself two barrels of full-strength stuff for 12s 6d tax rather than 20s.

In Scotland, in contrast, Table Beer was a serious product. As can be seen by the fact that not only was it exported to England, it also went overseas. A Dutch newspaper advertisement from 1881* includes not only the Strong Scotch Ales, IPAs and Stouts that you would expect, but also Table Beer. It sold for 12.50 guilders a kilderkins, the same as the weakest Porter in the list.

Now there’s one wee problem in recreating this beer. It wasn’t brewed from barley malt, but from bigg, a primitive type of barley that could grow in harsher conditions. This around the end of the time bigg was still used in commercial brewing. In William Younger’s 1847 records it turns up occasionally, mostly in weaker beers such as 60/-, 80/- and, as here, Table Beer. I’ve substituted mild malt.

Goldings should be right for the hips. The log lists them as East Kent and Farnham. So definitely types of whitebine. Even knocking down the hopping rate a little to take into account the age of the hops, it still comes out with a very respectable calculated 35 IBU.

All in all, it’s a nice, light drinking beer. Probably, as the name implies, perfect for accompanying your supper.

* "Het Nieuws van den Dag", 23rd May 1881.

1847 William Younger T
mild malt 7.50 lb 100.00%
Goldings 90 min 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.25 oz
OG 1033
FG 1010
ABV 3.04
Apparent attenuation 69.70%
IBU 35
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 184º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Friday 27 January 2017

When did Scottish Pale Ale stop being biiter?

I have wondered for a while when Scottish Pale Ales took on their current malty form. Then I realised that I had the information. I just needed to put it together.

For my new Scottish book I've assembled over 250 recipes so far. Including a load from William Younger. Which means I've calculated IBUs for their Pale Ales covering about a century. Isn't that cool?

I assembled the table for the new book. Which is coming along very nicely, thank you. I aim to have a complete first draft completed in two or three weeks. That's if I can keep my current pace. I've managed to bang out 7,000 words so far this week. Another 12,000 or so and I should be done.

Getting back to the topic, the table below makes it very obvious when all the bitterness was sucked out of Scottish beer. And what a surprise - it turns out to be WW I. With a further, smaller drop in the 1930's. Though there was also a considerable reduction between the 1850's and the 1860's.

There's one more question answered. Just another 9,488,277 to go.

William Younger Pale Ale bitterness 1851 - 1949
Year Beer OG IBU
1851 XP 1058 180
1851 XXP 1072 217
1858 Ex Pale Ale 1063 142
1868 XP 1051 73
1868 XXP 1052 73
1879 XP 1052 99
1879 2XP 1046 76
1885 XP 1054 100
1885 XP Scotch 1055 87
1898 XP Scotch 1053 80
1913 LAE 1045 78
1914 SLE 1055 83
1921 XXPS 1046 36
1933 XXP 1043 34
1933 Expt 1054 53
1933 XXPS 1049 33
1039 XXPS 1046 13
1940 XP Btlg 1033 18
1949 XXP Btlg 1031 14
1949 XXPS 1037 21
1949 XXP 1031.5 19
William Younger brewing records held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document numbers WY/6/1/2/3, WY/6/1/2/28, WY/6/1/2/31, WY/6/1/2/45, WY/6/1/2/58, WY/6/1/2/63, WY/6/1/2/70, WY/6/1/2/76 and WY/6/1/2/88.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Brewing waters

I'm working away furiously at my new Scottish book. And I rec ently noted a huge gap in my knowledge of Scottish beer: the makeup of brewing water.

I'm pretty sure that I have searched for analyses of Edinburgh water in the past, but without much luck. I vaguely thought that it was similar to Burton water, but wasn't sure, not having any real numbers. Ed Wray helped me out with a scan from Lloyd Hind. Which prompted me to look in my own copy of the book. Where I found the handy table below.

It sems my assumption was well far off the mark. Edinburgh water is quite different to Burton's. More sodium, but less magnesium, calcium and way less sulphates and carbonates. Though you'll note that there are far fewer minerals in the third Burton sample. As I delight in pointing out - probably to everyone else's great annoyance - there's no such thing as Burton water, as every well produces water with a different set of minerals.

That said, the sulphate content of Edinburgh water is high compared to most others, Burton excepted, of course. Was it enough to help Pale Ale brewing? I don't really know, to be honest. I'm not that up on water chemistry, if I'm honest If you are, feel free to share your expertise.

Classification of Hard Brewing Waters (parts per 100,000)
Carbo- nate ratio Total solids Na Mg Ca NO3 CI S04 C03 Geological formation
1, Burton-on-Trent 13 219.2 4.6 8.2 51.2 4.3 6.7 130.1 141 Keuper marl
2. Burton-on-Trent 25 122.6 3 6.2 26.8 3.1 3.6 65.8 141 Gravel beds
3. Burton-on-Trent 39 81.1 4.3 5.8 15.6 5 7.3 29.3 13.8     "        "
4. Bedfordshire 49 78.8 6 0.9 19 4.8 3.1 30 15 Lias
5. Co. Durham 54 76.5 7.4 3.5 14.4 1.2 11.4 21.1 16.5 Magnesian Limestone
6. Dortmund 60 101.2 6.9 2.3 26 10.7 28.3 27
7. Gloucestershire 60 67.8 4.5 4 13.6 0.3 3.6 23.5 18.3 Magnesian Limestone
8. Bedfordshire 66 55.5 4.6 0.8 13.9 0.6 3 17.6 15 Oolites
9. Lancashire 68 61.5 3.9 4.5 12.1 0.3 6.7 14 20 New Red Sandstone
10. Lincolnshire 69 45.8 3.4 0.4 12.2 4 3 9.6 12.2 Lower Oolite
11. Edinburgh 70 80 9.2 3.6 14 3.1 6 23.1 21 Old Red Sandstone
12. Yorkshire 77 41.2 2.3 1.7 10.5 1.8 3 6.6 15.3 New Red Sandstone
13. Lancashire 78 24.7 1.6 1.4 5.5 1.7 2.4 2.9 9.2     "              "
14. Berkshire 80 30.3 0.5 0.9 10 0.5 3.6 0.6 14.2 Chalk
15. Gloucestershire 85 27.7 0.9 0.6 8.8 1 1.6 2.4 12.4 Lias
16. London M.W.B. 85 32 2.4 0.4 9 0.3 1.8 5.8 12.3
17. Nottinghamshire 85 24.6 1.2 3.2 3.6 0.2 1.6 3.4 11.4 New Red Sandstone
18. Surrey 86 29.7 1.6 0.2 9.3 2.6 2.3 1.4 12.3 Chalk
19. Hertfordshire 92 44.6 3.8 7 11.8 3.2 3.5 4.5 17.1   " 
20. Munich, Dublin 97 27.5 0.1 1.9 8.1 0.3 0.1 0.5 16.5
21. Lancashire 100 23.9 2.7 1.4 4.4 0.9 1.7 2.7 10.1 New Red Sandstone
22. Lancashire 100 38.4 1.9 3.4 8.4 - 1.7 1.8 21.2     "              "
Brewing: Science and Practice 1: by Herbert Lloyd Hind, 1940, page 458.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1938 Maclay’s IPA

For the first time in what seems like years, Kristen is back with a recipe. All I can say is: welcome back Sonic.

We’ve chosen one of my favourite styles. Well, favourite since I invented it a couple of weeks age. English Watery IPA. It’s amazing how many more beers fit my definition than the official BJCP English IPA guidelines.

Maclay’s records are some of the dullest around. Because they mostly only had one recipe, from which they’d parti-gyle four beers. In the 1930’s these were IPA 5d at 1032º, IPA 6d at 1036º and IPA 7d at 1042º and Strong Ale at 1075º. They were still brewing the first three 50 years later, to a similar recipe, just with the gravities 2º lower. Though by then they were marketed as 60/-, 70/- and 80/-. Effectively this is a pre-war 70/-.

Maclay are typical of every Scottish brewery I’ve looked at, with the exception of William Younger. They all had three different strength Pale Ales and perhaps a Strong Ale, depending on the period. After WW II, virtually nothing but Pale Ale was brewed in Scotland. And Lager, I suppose. Scottish brewing was much less interesting than it appeared from the outside.

The attenuation is pretty crappy, but that’s Scotland for you. The Scottish practice of having the FG of all Pale Ales very similar, whatever their OG is partly to blame. In general, the stronger the beer, the greater the degree of attenuation. I suppose that it’s all about body.

If you want to go full Scottish, you split up the batch and colour each up differently with caramel. Then get friends to try them without saying it’s the same beer and see which they like best. You can colour up from as brewed to around 25 SRM maximum.

And with that, it’s over to Kristen . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: Holy crapfilled buckets. Talk about a busy year. I moved, got thinner, then fatter, then thinner, and many other excuses kept me from doing more of these last year. Not just kept from writing, but kept from bloody making! Seriously. I only made a handful of historic beers at the brewery last year which is damn sad. But it changes now. Today. I mean yesterday. Just made a version of this beer yesterday. It felt good. It will be on tap in the next few weeks. Should be fun. Why this beer? Well, frankly, we gotta start somewhere and this beer is weird, for an IPA. The Scots, always the weird ones. Such a small dose of dry hops. When I said I brewed a version of this for the brewery, this is what I meant. I’ll probably end up adding more dry hops in but we’ll see. Its your beer, you do as you like, but don’t be silly. Actually, I’m turning over a new leaf. Be silly and put in the dumbest things you want. Dry hop with 8g/L. Use a Belgian yeast. Make a batch, open a brewery, use this beer. Make sure and say its traditional, no matter what you do to it. I’m sure it will be great. Actually, I’m turning over a newer leaf. I’m going to be fueled by rage, caffeine and alcohol this year. 2017 is the year of the Rage-O-hol…and rye, in whiskey, not beer, don’t be silly. Wait, be silly. I don’t listen to myself often. Seriously though. Yous gonna need to drink an awful lot of this beer to get that alcohol fuel…which is perfect for getting your maladjusted expletive-strewn sense of self-righteousness aligned (e.g. temet nosce)…and plenty of room for some nice Rittenhouse.

Malt:  An American malt, English, Scottish and Egyptian. Yes, Egyptian. So if you have some Egyptian, use it, as it would be sweet and I don’t know anyone that has every used any. Most important, is choose a nice blend of whatever you’d like. This one isn’t so much about the malt as it is about the invert. Most of you haven’t used as much invert in this small little recipe in a whole year, let alone one recipe. Buy it if possible. If not, make it using the dilution method (http://www.unholymess.com/blog/beer-brewing-info/making-brewers-invert). I suggest the dilution because I’m frankly sick of people coming up to me and arguing that a beer is supposed to taste a certain way when they’ve cocked it up completely by trying to make invert sugar and then convincing all their friends it tastes great and having them email me to yell at me. Again, do what you’d like, it’s gonna be great.

Hops: To keep the same tannic grip this will have make sure and use some lower AA hops in the kettle to get your ‘greens’ up. You see the tiny amount of dry hops. Follow it…or don’t. I wouldn’t do more than 1lb/bbl (~4g/L) though. I’d suggest half that if you want to make it bright without destroying the balance of the beer. I like Styrian goldings for this. Nice and bright ones…or any of their variants…Celeia, Bobek, etc etc. Have fun with it. Also, please note that there are these things called scales. You can buy a certain unit (1oz, 5kg, etc) and not have to use it all. You’ll be surprised home many brewers, including pro-brewers, that add hops based on ‘units’ and never even think about how the beer would change if they stopped using whole numbers. Do so, use bits of a number. I can tell you from experience, a beer I do with 2.7g/L dry hop is completely thrown out of balance at 3g/L. It’s the little things. Care about them. Or don’t. I’m sure it will be fine.

Yeast: Really any mostly neutral yeast will do. If you want to play around with a newly offered not POH+ yeast, do so. I’m using a nice Courage yeast. I really like the fruit and the finish.

Cask: Standard procedure:
1) let the beer ferment until finished and then give it another day or so. For me right around 5-7 days.
2) Rack the beer to your vessel of choice (firkin, polypin, cornie, whatever).
3) Add primings at ~3.5g/L
4) Add prepared isinglass at 1ml/L
5) ONLY add dry hops at 0.25g/l – 1g/L.
6) Bung it up and roll it around to mix. Condition at 55F or so for 4-5 days and its ready to go. Spile/vent. Tap. Settle. Serve at 55º F.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Scottish beer exports between the wars

I recently bought an academic tome with the snappy title of "The Dynamics of the international Brewing industry since 1800". All I wanted it for were some statistics on Scottish beer exports.

I need the information for the book on Scottish brewing I’m currently writing. It’s something I often do: buy a book for specific pieces of information. What else can I do if it isn’t available anywhere else?

The book is a series of articles on various related topics, written by well-known academics. The one I was interested in, called “Following the Flag”, was written by Ian Donnachie, author of the seminal “A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland” (an excellent book, from which I’ve nicked loads of statistics).

This section in “Following the Flag” caught my eye:

"Certainly, compared to the period before 1914, export volumes from the United Kingdom halved during the inter-war years, falling to an average of 290,000 barrels per annum in the years 1924-28 and 270,00 barrels in 1934-38. Although there is no  corroborative data Scottish brewers probably continued to account for about a quarter of the total in the immediate post-war years."
"The Dynamics of the international Brewing industry since 1800" edited by Richard George Wilson and Terence Richard Gourvish, 1998, page 130.

It’s the final sentence that made me feel all weird. Because although Donnachie might not have the corroborative data, but I do. Or just about. Because, in addition to beer exported the figures also include other beer exempt from duty. The last column give the real figures for exports, which you can see are 10-20% less than the UK total for all types of duty free beer.

Scotland wasn’t responsible for 25% of UK exports between the wars. It was more like 50%. In some years, such as 1927 and 1928, even more than that.

Beer Exported on Drawback and Free of Duty
England and Wales Scotland Ireland United Kingdom UK exports
1916 581,947 174,595 46,371 802,913
1917 314,333 73,896 30,095 418,324
1918 174,408 30,379 16,185 220,972
1919 470,794 195,995 33,821 700,610
1920 312,868 146,726 16,698 485,292 390,248
1921 215,719 92,193 12,648 320,560
1922 207,882 117,978 10,239 336,099 260,914
1923 176,913 108,544 2,270 287,727 257,454
1924 158,373 132,889 753 292,015 264,003
1925 180,731 145,603 415 326,749 290,824
1926 178,155 168,609 305 347,069 283,033
1927 156,258 179,242 232 338,732 287,445
1928 170,728 193,255 363,983 328,029
1929 176,381 223,638 400,019 352,942
1930 173,988 204,345 378,333 328,524
1931 159,278 147,527 306,805 289,516
1932 136,231 133,240 269,471 244,525
1933 117,363 126,254 243,617 217,981
Brewers' Journal 1919, page 65.
Brewers' Journal 1922, page 71.
Brewers' Journal 1925, page 83.
Brewers' Journal 1928, page 87.
Brewers' Journal 1934, page 162.
Brewers' Almanack 1928, p. 115
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 57

Weird that I should have more data than the academics.

Monday 23 January 2017

Random Dutch beers (part fifty one)

It's the weekend and I'm short a few blog posts. Must be time to sample some more random Dutch beers.

I had a great morning at Ton Overmars. I was able to buy three different beers made from my recipes: Rose AK, Lees Strong Ale and Whitbread X Ale. I just need to get a Stout brewed then there'll be an example of every style.

The first beer today is from Amsterdam's oldest brewery, 't Ij. They're a funny bunch, straddling the worlds of old and new microbrewery*. There older range of beers is very Belgian influenced, while their newer efforts are firmly in the craft camp. I'm trying one of the latter today.

't Ij Mosaic Pale Ale, 5.2% ABV
It's a lovely golden colour and heavily carbonated. I'll soon fix that. The aroma peach, mango and toilet cleaner. I remember that smell. And why I don't care much for beers brewed with mosaic hops. Don't really get the mosiac in the mouth. Just tobacco and a harsh bitterness.

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

"Er, OK."

Takes a sip. "It's OK, Bit of a watery aftertaste"

"Can I try some of your beer, Dad?"

"Of course, Alexei."

"Do you what it tastes like, Dad? It tastes like weed."*

"Modern hops often do. Did you that marijuana and hops are related?

"No, I didn't."

I booked my flights for my trip to Asheville this morning. I'm going for the beer week at the end of May. I'll be doing my talking thing. Not totally sure what about at this point. Only that it will include The Damned.

Next a beer from one of Holland's most esteemed new breweries.

[I couldn't remove the label nicely]
Brouwerij Kees Barrel Project #04/2016., 10.5% ABV (€4.95 for 33 cl. from Ton Overmars)
Black and treacly with a fine tan head. It looks great. Good enough to take home and introduce to Mum. It smells like treacle, too. Or is that just the power of suggestion. Best ask the kids.

"Do you want to try by beer, kids?"

"It's bitter. OK."

Andrew: "Mm. What's in that, Dad? It's something that normally isn't in beer."

"Do you like it?"

"It isn't really a beer I'd choose to drink."

There's diplomatic.

It tastes winey and burnt, to me. Like an overenthusiastically toasted wine gum. So viscous I feel it's staining my teeth as brown as a 60-a-day man's. I quite like it. Molten treacle, without burning the skin off your mouth.

* They've managed the same with their labels, keeping the original theme but crafting it up for the newer beers, Like this one.

** Why does Alexei know the smell of weed? He's lived in Amsterdam his whole life. He'd need terminal hayfever never to have smelled the stuff.