Friday 31 March 2017

Brewing in London in 1869

As you should be aware by now, London was where industrial brewing was born. The big Porter brewers of the 18th century brewed on a far greater scale than anyone before.

London continued to be a major brewing centre in the 19th century. Despite challenges from Burton, Dublin and Edinburgh, London remained the largest beer producer in the UK.

“Beer is one of the chief manufactures of London. Of the total quantity exported from the United Kingdom in 1860. more than four-fifths (383,610 barrels) left London ; but the value of London beer exported (£1,303,248) was within about a fourth of the total value sent from the United Kingdom. In 1869, of 521,272 barrels of beer exported, 316,741 went from London. In England and Wales (1859) out of 39,125 licenses to brew, London contained no more than 149 ; but these seven score and a half consumed one fifth (7,738,113 bushels) of all the malt used in brewing. In 1869, the number of brewers' licenses granted in the United Kingdom was but 34,533. The number of publicans' licenses granted by the excise in 1869 in the United Kingdom was 85,987, besides 52,590 licenses to beer retailers.”
"Brewers' Guardian, vol. 1, 1869", July 1871, page 205.

The UK’s two principal export markets – India and Australia – were both in the Far East and likely to be served by London. North American and Caribbean exports were more likely to pass through Liverpool, which was Britain’s major Atlantic port. Just because the beer passed through the port of London doesn’t mean it was brewed there. Burton Pale Ale destined for India, for example. Though much of the Stout and Porter that was exported did originate in London.

By the second half of the 19th century, publican and small-scale brewers were all but extinct in London, unable to compete on price or quality with the capital’s industrial operators. Hence the surprisingly small number of breweries in London.

Assuming two bushels of malt to a barrel of beer, I calculate that in 1859 around  3.9 million barrels were brewed in London, an average of around 26,000 barrels per brewery. In total, 19,152,564 barrels were brewed in the UK in 1859*, leaving around 15.3 million barrels brewed outside London. Dividing that by the 38,976 brewers outside London gives an average of just 392 barrels per brewery. Clearly brewing in London was on a much grander scale.

“According to the “London Post Office Directory," there are in London 5,690 publicans and 1,883 beer retailers to supply the population. which is exclusive of clubs, refreshment houses. &c.”
"Brewers' Guardian, vol. 1, 1869", July 1871, page 205.

That’s not exactly a huge number of pubs. London had a population of around 3.25 million in 1871, which means there was one pub for every 572 inhabitants.  Though I should really include “beer retailers” as well. I’m sure that means beer houses, i.e. pubs only licensed to sell beer, not spirits. That brings the total to 7,573 and an average of 430 inhabitants per pub. Still not great.

Let’s look at England and Wales. In 1871, they had a combined population of 22,783,541. Dividing that by the 138,577 pubs, gives an average of one pub per 139 inhabitants. About three times the number per head of population as in London. I’m surprised at just how big the difference is. I wonder why that was? Were London pubs larger than provincial ones? Or were the licensing authorities stricter in the capital?

The proportion of fully licensed pubs to beer houses was also different in London. About exactly a quarter of the pubs in the capital were beer houses. While in England and Wales as a whole it was 38%. Again, quite a difference. More surprising because, until 1869, these weren’t licensed by magistrates but directly by the Excise, making them easy to acquire and not subject to the vagaries of the local licensing regime.

* "Hops; their Cultivation, Commerce, and Used in Various Countries" by P.L., Simmonds, 1877, page 133.

Thursday 30 March 2017

UK beer exports in 1869

It’s been a while since I threw a few handfuls of numbers at you. Get ready to dodge.

The figures come from a random article I stumbled upon. Weirdly, it’s a review of a directory: Kelly's Post Office Guide to London in 1871. A rather odd book to review, but it has provided me with some handy statistics.

In the second half of the 19th century the UK exported around half a million barrels of beer a year. Which sounds like a lot. But given that beer production was 25 to 30 million barrels, it means exports were no more than 2% of the total.

Unsurprisingly, a majority of UK beer exports went to parts of the British Empire. The two biggest export markets – India and Australia and New Zealand – took more than half the total. The biggest markets outside of the empire were, unsurprisingly the USA and, rather more surprisingly, Brazil. Add the beer exported to former Spanish colonies in South America and you get close to 40,000 barrels. The figures for Uruguay, Argentina and Chile are approximate. The article just says 6,000 – 7,000 barrels a year for each.

The West Indies always imported a lot of beer compared to their modest size. The favourites here were Strong Ale (often from Scotland) and Strong Stout. To India, obviously, there was a lot of IPA sent, but also rather more Porter. While Australia imported a broad range of British beers.

Not a lot of British beer made its way to continental Europe. Not that it ever did, really, until after WW I when Belgium became a major destination.

London was a major source of exports, particularly in the form of Porter and Stout. The article states that in 1860 80% of exports left through London. Which isn’t to say that all of that beer was brewed in London. A large proportion would have been Pale Ale transported down to London by train and then loaded onto ships.

UK beer exports in 1869
destination barrels %
India 167,660 32.16%
Australia and New Zealand 109,466 21.00%
the Cape and Natal 12,054 2.31%
Mauritius 2,562 0.49%
British West Indies 26,833 5.15%
Ceylon 8,495 1.63%
Singapore 4,117 0.79%
Gibraltar 11,941 2.29%
Total British Empire 343,128 65.83%
USA 21,198 4.07%
China, including Hong Kong 13,623 2.61%
Brazil 18,895 3.62%
Japan 313 0.06%
France 8,754 1.68%
Russia 3,009 0.58%
Spain 0 0.00%
Spanish Colonies 4,327 0.83%
Uruguay 6,000 1.15%
Argentine Confederation 6,000 1.15%
Chili 6,000 1.15%
other 90,025 17.27%
Total 521,272
Brewers' Guardian, vol. 1, 1869, July 1871, page 205.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1879 William Younger 80/-

Now here’s a special treat. No, not because it’s a Scottish recipe. Nor because it’s in my new book. Much better than that.

It’s a beer you’ll be able to taste this weekend. If you’re in Manchester, that is. Because it’s one of the beers that’s been brewed up for my talk at Beer Nouveau in Manchester this Sunday. I’m certainly anticipating drinking it keenly. That is, after all, the main reason I do all of this. To get to drink old recipes.

For those of you not paying attention at the back, this type of 80/- has absolutely nothing at all to do with post-WW II 80/-. This version is a Scotch Ale, in this particular case, a type of Mild Ale. While modern 80/- is a sort of Pale Ale. I hope that’s clear.

It’s a simple beer. But they all were before 1880. This is right at the end of the period when only malt, hops and sugar were allowed. Hence the lack of any adjuncts in the grist. There are, however, two sorts of pale malt. About a third is described as “Chev.”, which I’m pretty sure stands for “Cheviot”, i.e. Scottish barley. The other is “CM oder”. No idea what that means but, given the date, it’s probably some sort of foreign barley.

The hops are listed as Californian, American, Kent and Spalt. I’ve left the latter out of the recipe because the quantity is so small, just 20 of the 220 lbs. Feel free to throw in half an ounce of them if you want to be really authentic.

1879 William Younger 80/-
pale malt 13.75 lb 100.00%
Cluster 90 min 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 2.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.125 oz
OG 1059
FG 1020
ABV 5.16
Apparent attenuation 66.10%
IBU 75
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Champagner Weisse

I continue to be surprised just how many types of top-fermenting beer were still knocking around in Germany on the eve of WW I. Especially the number of regional wheat beers.

Like this one: Champagne Wheat Beer. Though I guess they had to forget that name after WW I.

is a refreshing beer which is particularly liked in Saxony and is mainly produced there (Zwenkau, Leisnig).

The infusion procedure is used. Half barley, half wheat malt is used, it is mashed in cold in the copper, add 5 kilos of oat chaff per Zentner [50kg] of malt, and leave to rest for an hour; then one takes one-fifth (the so-called cold Satz) or the entire mash, and draws it into the lauter tun. - The remainder (4/5) of the mash is then heated to 33° R [41.25º C]i n the kettle, the mixture is left to rest for 10 minutes, and then rapidly brought to 45° R [56.25º C]. Again left to rest (20 min.) and then heated to 60º R., left to rest for another hour and finally brought to a boil, and per Zentner [50 kg.] add 250 g of cooking salt, the mash is boiled for one hour and mashed out in the lauter tun, where the Satz that was held back is located.

This brings the complete mash to 60-62° R [75º - 77.5º C]; this is left to rest for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with water at 68-70° R. [85º - 87.5º C] and add enough so that the Saccharometer shows 6.5% balling. - Now you add 250 gr. of hops per Zentner [50 kg] of grist, let it boil again properly, and then the wort is pumped into the cooler, run over the refrigerator and pitched with yeast at 12°R [15º C]. Fermentation: 3 days.

The beer is clarified, filled into bottles immediately or sent to the landlords in barrels and from these filled into bottles.

Care should be taken that the CO2 content is high at racking time, and on account of this also thick-walled bottles are used and brought up only as required.”
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, pages 67 - 68. (My translation.)

Saxony isn’t somewhere that I associate with Weissbier. I’m intrigued that it was home to this particular type of the style. A lightly hopped variety, obviously.

A metric Zentner is handily almost exactly a hundredweight. Multiply 250 g by three and you have the hopping rate per quarter of malt. In this case, 1.65 lbs hops per quarter. Or bugger all. 4 lbs per quarter is lightly hopped. Under 2 lbs is almost unhopped. Surprisingly, there’s the same weight of salt added as hops.

Hang on a minute. A Saxon wheat beer with loads of salt in it. This is sounding rather similar to Gose. Though without the coriander. It sounds like there were other salty wheat beers in Saxony.

It’s pity that they didn’t mention the OG. The gravity of 6.5º Balling mentioned is pre-boil, meaning post-boil it would be 7-7.5º Balling. Still not very high and, given the poor rate of attenuation, the finished beer probablt wasn’t stronger than 2.5% ABV.

I’m a bit confused by the mashing system. It says that it’s an infusion mash then goes on to describe what sounds like a classic decoction mash, even down to using Satz.

Monday 27 March 2017

Poesiat & Kater

New breweries are springing up in Amsterdam like overpriced coffee shops after a hipster shower. I’m struggling to keep up. Ask me “How many breweries are there in Amsterdam?” and I’d almost certainly give the wrong answer.

Dolores sent me an article from the local evening paper about the latest, Poesiat & Kater, on Friday.

“Do you fancy going there tomorrow, Dolores?”

“Can do. As long as it’s fairly early.”

The brewery has an interesting story. De Gekroonde Valk was one of the city’s largest and best known breweries, before the establishment of modern Lager breweries around 1870, which pushed the old top-fermenting breweries into the background. Their most famous product was Van Vollenhowen’s Stout. A beer that even survived the takeover and closure of the brewery by Heineken in the 1940’s.

Surprisingly, Heineken continued to brew Van Vollenhoven’s Stout into the new millennium, but eventually just weren’t selling enough and dropped it. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The Gekroonde Valk association had the recipe and got permission from Heineken, which retained rights to the name, got permission to have it brewed under contract in 2006. In 2014 a decision was made to build their own brewery, resulting in Poesiat & Kater.

Where does that odd name come from? It’s named after two 19th-century workers at De Gekroonde Valk, master carpenter Bart Poesiat and master mason Klaas Kater. I’d have gone with De Gekroonde Valk, personally.

“What’s the easiest way to get there, Ronald?”

“The closest tram stop is the no. 9. We could change to the 3 and then get the 9.”

“I’m not changing twice.”

“Then we’ll have to go via Centraal Station.”

With all the horror that involves. Half the tourist hot spots on the way in, the other half on the way out. Did I mention I try to keep the hell out of the city centre as much as possible? It’s beyond unbearable. It’s even spreading out as far as here. Yesterday there were four people with trolley bags hanging around outside the local Dirk’s supermarket. Obviously Airbnbers. They hadn’t even taken the Easyjet tags off their bags. Bastards.

It’s a long and slightly irritating tram ride out to the East. The brewery is on the Oostergasfabriek site. Annoyingly, right around the back of it. Getting there isn’t the most pleasant of walks.
The street is called Polderweg, which sounds idyllic. Reality is more prosaic. On the left is the long slab of the Montessori College, to the right a hotchpotch of quite tall and totally bland flats. Combined, they form a lovely wind tunnel. It’s physically hard to keep moving forwards. Dolores is impressed.

The brewery is in one of the few old buildings left on the site. A typical late 19th-century industrial job. Inside it’s basically one big room, from floor to roof. A bit Spartan, though it has only just opened.

“The kids would have loved it here when they were younger.” Dolores says, pointing at the main railway line running just outside. She‘s right. It would have been the perfect destination for them. It’s just 10 or 15 years too late. Typical.

The waiting staff look very young. Probably still at college. A very friendly and enthusiastic girl comes to take our order. I’m excited to spot an obscure old Dutch style.

“I’ll have a Princesse Bier.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t have that one yet.”

“OK, an East Indies Pale Ale.”

“Sorry, we don’t have that one, either.”

This isn’t going well. I want to save the Van Vollenhoven’s Stout for later. Assuming they have it.

“What about the Pale Ale. Do you have that?”


Dolores takes one as well. She would have preferred a wheat beer. But the one they have is a Gose.

What is it with Gose all of a sudden? Every fucker is brewing one. Mostly with only the vaguest of resemblance to the original style. What’s makes it even worse, is that I’m partly to blame. Or am I being too egotistical?

When I first wrote about Gose, it was incredibly obscure. I spent years hunting the style down. Eventually finding it was such a thrill. Now they’re selling something called Gose on every street corner.

A boy who looks about twelve, brings our drinks. Luckily, the Pale Ale isn’t too bitter. Otherwise I’d be getting grief from Dolores.

While not full, there are a fair few punters in. Mostly families with small kids. I hate the selfish type of bastard that drags their kids to the pub and gets pissed while they run amok. Luckily, the parents in today aren’t the same sort of inconsiderate twat I was when my kids were small. I was young back then, that’s my excuse.

Dolores returns from "the place".

"I couldn't work out which was the ladies. There was nothing on the doors. I went through the one that was open. It was all boxes inside. Maybe it was one of those modern unisex toilets."

When downstairs calls, I head upstairs to the bogs myself. Two unmarked doors, indeed. The urinals I discover behind the closed one tip me off that I've correctly chosen the gents.

While I'm washing my hands - I'm shocked how many blokes can't be arsed after pissing - I hear someone outside struggling to work out which toilets are which.

Challeneged to see if there is any indication, I have a good look on exiting. And eventually spot it. Not on the doors, but in the floor tiles.

I have the Stout for my second beer. The waiter is only looking about ten when he brings it over. I’m surprised that he isn’t distracted by the trains whizzing past outside.

The Stout is pretty good. All dark chocolate in the mouth with a little sweetness lurking below the surface and a shot of bitterness at the end. I’d drink it again. I do drink it again, as I order a second.

Dolores wants to take a different route back, She enjoyed the walk that much. If we duck under the railway line, we can walk to Station Muiderpoort, where the no. 3 tram terminates. Meaning we can return home with one change dodging the centre. Which is exactly what we do.

Poesiat & Kater
Polderweg 648
1093 KP Amsterdam.
Tel: 020-3331050

Opening times:
Mon - Fri: 11:00 - 01:00 uur
Sat and Sun: 10:00 - 01:00 uur

Sunday 26 March 2017

A day in Noord Brabant (part three)

The weather has turned for the worse. Rain is coming down at a slightly higher rate than a refreshing drizzle.

We don’t have a printed map because we (well, Dolores, really) only decided on this leg of the trip this morning. Luckily the begijnhof isn’t far from the station. Though we do walk all the way around it before finding the entrance.

It’s a pretty little kitchen garden surrounded by tiny houses. They can’t be very deep because the backs, which face the outside world, have to windows. It’s pretty quiet. Just as and a couple of elderly couples.

“If this were Amsterdam, it would be full of effing terrorists.”

“Don’t swear, Ronald.”

“It’s true, though.”

The town itself is much quieter than Tilburg. It’s a smaller place and it is getting on for 5 PM. Dolores is pleased that there’s some old stuff to look at. Like the stone church. Not that such things detain us for long. The rain is getting worse and there’s a pub to visit.

I noticed when looking for the location of the Begijnhof this morning that De Beyerd, Breda’s principal beer pub, was just around the corner. Seems silly not to drop by. Especially as it now has a brewery.

It’s only a few minutes’ walk. Unfortunately it’s mobbed inside. Must be why it’s so quiet on the street. Everyone is in here. But there is room outside. A garrulous, large man invites us to sit at the table with him and has wife to make sure that we’re under the umbrella and out of the rain. They’re a contrasting pair, him large and talky, her small and quiet. It seems to work.

When we’ve finally managed to order and our drinks are coming, the waiter manages to spill one of our beers all over the women who have just sat at the next table. Luckily the beer misses us.

“He did exactly the same thing when he brought our drinks.” Mr. chatty says, pointing to the damp stains on his wife’s kecks. She just smiles shyly.

The beer the waiter threw all over the poor ladies is Drie Hoefijzers Klassiek. Drie Hoefijzers was the name of a big Lager brewery in Breda which, as part of Oranjeboom, was bought and closed by Inbev. In the later years of operation, they'd introduced a top-fermenting beer called Drie Hoefijzers Klassiek. After the brewery closed, De Beyerd got the rights to use the name and brew several beers under the Drie Hoefijzers brand.

Klassiek is pleasant, but restrained beer. Not one for the geeks, but a nice drinking beer.

We only stay for the one, as it’s getting late. Back at Doom headquarters, when we finally find our way to the platforms, we realise that the service we planned taking to Amsterdam is messed up because of a technical problem. So we go back the way we came, via Tilburg and Den Bosch.

Safely settled on the train, I pull out the spare can of Heineken I bought this morning.

“That’ my emergency pint.”

“I wondered why you don’t go into the shop at the station.”

It lasts me nicely back to Amsterdam.

De Beyerd
Boschstraat 26,
4811 GH Breda.
Tel: 076 521 4265

Saturday 25 March 2017

Let's Brew - 1946 Tetley Mild

Here’s a beer with a very special place in my heart. Something which for seven years was about the only beer I drank.

It’s typical of a type of Mild brewed in Yorkshire, lying somewhere between pale and dark. Weirdly, all those years I drank it, I never realised that it wasn’t really that dark. More of a dark red than brown.

The effect of the war is plain to see in the grist. Flaked barley was forced on brewers as a replacement for flaked maize during hostilities. It’s interesting to see how Tetley’s adjunct usage changed over time. In 1939 it was grits, in 1941 flaked rice, in 1943 flaked oats, in 1944 flaked barley and flaked oats and in 1945 flaked barley. All mostly out of the brewer’s hands.

What I’ve interpreted as brown sugar was listed as Barbados in the brewing record. While what I’ve put down as No. 3 invert was mostly ERC with a touch of G & S. No idea what either of those were but No. 3 is probably the best substitute.

The hops were a combination of Kent and Worcester, with no mention of variety. Chances were that they were Fuggles.

Though there’s not much difference in the OG compared the version I drank, the high degree of attenuation leaves this beer about 0.6% ABV stronger. The gravity is quite high for a Mild of this period. 1027-1030º was more typical.

1946 Tetley Mild
pale malt 4.00 lb 59.26%
flaked barley 1.00 lb 14.81%
brown sugar 0.75 lb 11.11%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 14.81%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.25 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.25 oz
OG 1034.3
FG 1005.3
ABV 3.84
Apparent attenuation 84.55%
IBU 10
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 63.75º F
Yeast Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale

Friday 24 March 2017


Now here’s something you’ve probably heard of: Weissbier. And I think mostly of the Berlin kind.

The beer’s specs: high CO2 content and low gravity, certainly sound like Berliner Weisse.

Weissbier has a high CO2 and low alcohol content, is a particularly refreshing drink, especially in the summer, and has an OG of 7-8% Balling.

To brew it half barley, half wheat-malt are used which makes it tingly, refreshing, and extremely palatable; But can also be made using with rice flour or broken rice up to 20% (and more), but it must first be gelatinised or the decoction method used; however, the infusion method is generally used.

Hops. These are not boiled directly with the wort, but are first boiled and this hop water is used to produce a mild taste. Aromatization. In order to obtain the well-liked flavour, spices are boiled in small sacks shortly before the wort is run off from the copper: citrus or cinnamon peels, cloves, coriander, juniper berries (the latter stir up the wild yeasts and bacteria) or they are added to the barrel when it is filled.

In order to facilitate "settling" in the cooler, vegetable finings (Irish moss) are already added in the copper and the wort is boiled until it breaks. As real finings 2 to 3 gr. of isinglass per hectolitre are added.

Attenuation: 50, or also up to 45%.

Some brewers, to help further clarification, pass the beer through a filter. - Before racking the Weissbier, which has been lagered for longer than 13 weeks (at 4-6° R [5º - 7.5º C]), has 0.5 to 1 liter of Kräusen per hectolitre added to it.

The yeast sits firmly on the bottom.

The clarified beer must have a fiery glow and foam in the glass.”
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, pages 66 - 67. (My translation.)

There are several interesting points in there.

Boiling the hops separately in water I’m sure I’ve heard of before. Not sure in what context. It sounds like another way of avoiding boiling the wort, which later in the 20th century was the case for Berliner Weisse.

The sacks of spices don’t sound very Reinheitsgebot. Nor Berliner Weisse. This book was published at a very odd moment: just about when the Reinheitsgebot was being introduced to the whole of Germany. The author describes several practices which I’m sure became illegal. It’s an interesting collection of spices. Orange peel and coriander sound like a Belgian Witbier. Though that’s probably no coincidence. Witbier is at the western end of a wheat beer tradition that stretched right across North Germany to Berlin.

Interesting that both Irish moss, isinglass and a filter were used. Sounds like they wanted to get a sparkling clear beer.

The section on Weissbier ends with some analyses:

Analyses of Weissbier
ABW Extract minerals CO2
Berln. Weisse I 3.91 4.85 0.17 0.32
                   II  3.33 4.28 0.16 0.2
             „ Export 2.2 6.14 0.18 0.4
             „ Jost  2.6 2.6 0.17 0.5
Potsd. Weisse 3.26 4.72 0.19 0.39
Kölner       3.55 3.71 0.16 0.4
Münch.      3.51 4.37 0.15 0.4

Thursday 23 March 2017

A day in Noord Brabant (part two)

Having successfully negotiated the main shopping drag, we emerge at the entertainment district at its end.

It’s basically a street with wall-to-wall pubs, two of which are in my little guide. But I ignore Café Hoegaarden, having decided that Taphuys looks a better bet beer-wise. If Dolores hates it – as I suspect she might – we can always toodle along to Café Hoegaarden. That will probably be more to her taste.

It looks like they’re still setting up at Taphuys as a waitress is fiddling with the furniture outside and firing up the heaters. Inside, it’s pretty quiet. And very modern, in a hard and metallic sort of way. Quite like a lot of beer places in the US. I’m pleasantly surprised that Dolores hasn’t recoiled in horror yet. I feared this place would be too crafty for her.

Along a long wall is a row of taps. Hence the name, I guess. Here’s the thing, they aren’t behind a bar. The idea, as the waitress cheerfully explains, is to serve yourself. You put money on a credit-card type thing which you slot into the tap. As you pour beer into your glass, it counts money off the card.

Dolores is strangely taken with the concept. “Tickers will love it. They’ll be able to drink a thimbleful of each beer and tick them off.” I point out. She pours herself, somewhat surprisingly, a Boon Kriek. I manage to resist Abt and get some Tripel or other. The beer list is slightly odd, with quite a lot of UK and US beer, but not that much Dutch.

It’s about 3 PM and Dolores is getting keen to head on to Breda. She wants to look at a Begijnhof there.

“How about dropping by Kandinsky? It’s on the way.” Which is true. We’ll have to virtually walk past it to get to the station.

I’ve been to Kandinsky before, obviously. It’s one of Holland’s oldest specialist beer bars, having been around for several decades. As far as I can tell, nothing much has changed. It has the same dark brown and beer memorabilia décor it always had. The beer list doesn’t seem to have changed much, either.

I’m struck by the small number of beer taps – just eight. Time was that 15 draught beers was a big deal in Holland. The newer crafty places can have as many as 50. Like many of the first-wave beer pubs, Kandinsky concentrates more on bottled beer, offering more than 100.

I reflect on the differences between the three pubs we’ve visited today. Anvers attracts a wide audience and had adjusted its beer range to cater for newer trends. Taphuys is a haunt principally of the young with a trendier range of beer, clearly influenced by the tsunami of new Dutch breweries. And Kandinsky, well, seems to be catering for my age group, with a beer range that looks quite old-fashioned. I suspect they’ll need to make some changes to survive long term.

We have just the one then trundle off to the station. Breda-bound.

Tilburg station is weird. Just a roof really, with a few portacabin-like bits underneath. Which would be fair enough, if the roof weren't for display purposes only. It's raining and quite windy. The weirdly-shaped roof soars above the platforms in places, yet doesn't stretch all the way to their outermost  edge. Result: you'll get soaked standing on the one platform if it rains.

Breda station is even worse than Tilburg's. Descending from the platforms, you enter a weird grey twilight world. Like a Doom level, but not quite as cosy and welcoming. I'm gobsmacked.

The exterior is just as bad. Without the NS logo, you wouldn't guess it was a station. More like a failed attempt to build a prison from lego, where there weren't quite enough bricks of the right colour. Leading to random substitutions in other shades.

As I’m taking a photo a couple about my age walk past and the man says “A beautiful station, isn’t it?” obviously mistakenly thinking that I’m snapping it because it looks nice. All I can do is roll my eyes in reply. Not sure if he gets what I mean.

Begijnhof. If you're too lazy to look that up on the internet, I won't be arsed to tell you tomorrow.

Café Hoegaarden
Piusplein 2,
5038 WL Tilburg

't Taphuys
Piusplein 10,
5038 WL Tilburg.

Café Kandinsky
Telegraafstraat 58,
5038 BM Tilburg

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1953 Adnams Tally Ho

Now Scotland is out of the way I can return to that most exciting of decades, the 1950’s.

This is a beer you’ve probably heard of, if you’re British, as it’s still being brewed. I always thinks that makes things more fun. Though my guess is that the recipe has changed a bit over the last 60 years. If only because the strength has dropped a little.

Back in the early 1950’s, this was about as strong as British beer got. I’m not sure if it was available on draught back then. It might possibly have been, as a winter seasonal. Even in my younger days beers like Marstons Owd Roger would appear in a pin on the bar when the weather turned cold.

Adnams were a bit of an oddity in that they didn’t use any unmalted adjuncts, just malt and sugar. The vast majority of UK breweries were enthusiastic users of adjuncts, mostly in the form of flaked maize. They were pretty simple with their sugars, too, using numbered inverts rather than proprietary sugars. Which makes like easier both for me and for you.

The recipe here is much the same as their XX Mild Ale and XXXX Old Ale: medium malt (which I’ve interpreted as mild malt), amber malt, crystal malt, No. 3 invert sugar and a bit of caramel. Amber malt is an unusual ingredient in this period. You don’t see it much in the 20th century and it’s usually reserved for Stouts.

As always, the hop varieties are a guess, A pretty conservative one and Fuggles and Golding accounted for around 75% of UK-grown hops at the time.

1953 Adnams Tally Ho
mild malt 13.00 lb 75.76%
amber malt 1.25 lb 7.28%
crystal malt 80 L 1.25 lb 7.28%
no. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 8.74%
caramel 0.16 lb 0.93%
Fuggles 120 min 1.50 oz
Fuggles 60 min 1.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1080
FG 1016.1
ABV 8.45
Apparent attenuation 79.88%
IBU 47
SRM 32
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Tuesday 21 March 2017

A day in Noord Brabant

Dolores bought some cheap weekend train tickets. Valid for anywhere in Holland. But where to go.

“Harlingen looks nice. I quite fancy going there.” I suggest.

“Too far. And you have to change twice.” Dolores shoots down that idea. “Leeuwaarden doesn’t appeal and I wasn’t that keen on Groningen.” That’s pretty much the whole north of the country ruled out.

“What about Tilburg?” I try.

“What’s there?”

“No idea. Pubs. I went to a couple when I visited with the kids.”

"You probably can't remember it then. I know what you mean by 'a couple of pubs'." Dolores is dishearteningly cynical at times.

Dolores pencils it in as a possible. Then goes away and does some research. It looks a decent-sized place so we can potter around the shops. She gives it the nod. Before giving me the job of finding some nice places to eat and drink. My speciality, really. I produce a map and a list of eight pubs.

Getting the shopping out of the way early, we hop on a bus to Amsterdam Zuid to catch our train. The closest station to us. Which, for operational reasons, keeps getting more and more services. Dead handy for us. No need to endure the tourist hordes in the city centre. Beyond a joke it is. Most Amsterdam residents avoid the centre like Watneys. (There’s a joke that only CAMRA members of a certain age will get.)

Station Zuid is brutally functional. Which is better than functionally brutal or plain disfunctional. Standing on the platforms is a lovely experience. Sandwiched as they are between the two halves of the A10 motorway. Nothing whiles away the time waiting for your train like watching cars race by 10 metres away. And what better way to top up on your exhaust gas toxins?

Before checking in, I tell Dolores I quickly need to visit the Kiosk, without saying why. When we’re safely sat down in the train I pull out a half litre can of Heineken. She doesn’t say anything, but gives me a look. What else does she think I'd buy? We've been married almost thirty years. She must have me sussed by now.

We have to change in Den Bosch, but it’s pretty smooth. Before we know it we’re detraining in the second largest city in Noord Brabant. Proximity of the station to the centre was one of Dolores’s criteria. Which it easily passed.

As it’s 1 PM, we head straight for Anvers Brasserie & Biercafé. I remember it from the visit with the kids. It offers 13 draught beers and around 100 bottled. Plus reasonably priced uitsmijters. Perfect for lunch.

Despite being enormous – there are several rooms spread over two floors – we have to search for seats. The place is bustling with Saturday shoppers of all ages, shapes and sizes. I guess that’s a good sign.

A dozen waitresses dart about like swallows and, despite the crowds, our drinks arrive before Dolores gets back from the toilet.

I suppose I should mention the beer a bit, shouldn’t I? On my last visit, around ten years ago, I recall it being mostly Belgian, with a smattering of offerings from newer Dutch Breweries. Belgium is still well-represented, especially in the bottled selection. But I was pleasantly surprised to see beers from Uiltje and the local LOC brewery. Whereas Dolores was delighted with draught De Koninck, something that’s becoming increasingly rare in Amsterdam.

 €7.50 for a three-egg uitsmijter is pretty good value. But being a fat gutsy bastard, I plump for a four-egg one. It’s going to be a long day, that’s my excuse.

Bellies full, we stretch our legs a little. The main square doesn’t have the most beautiful architecture in the world and it doesn’t detain us long. Luckily the next destination I’ve picked requires a walk along the main shopping drag. Something for us to look at. Like the hollowed out shell of a large shop.

“I bet that was the V & D,” I remark.

V & D was a Dutch department store that went but last year after BHS-like asset stripping. It's left a hole on many Dutch high streets. Literally, in this case.

I’m not sure how much Dolores is going to like the next pub. Sounds like it may be too crafty for her taste. Will she hate it or will she loathe it? We’ll find out next time.

Anvers Brasserie & Biercafé
Oude Markt 8,
5038 TJ Tilburg.

Monday 20 March 2017

Doppelbier, Erntebier, Hamburger Bier and Broyhan

I’ve a whole clutch of top-fermenters for you. Which don’t seem to have a great deal in common, other than being brewed with top-fermenting yeast. And all coming from the north of Germany.

Starting off with something that, for once, isn’t watery:

Has an OG of 11-13% balling.

The fermentation takes place at 7-11ºR. [8.75º - 13.75º C.] and lagering at 5-6° R. [6.25º - 7.5º C.] in large lagering barrels: it is bunged and filled with sediment into transport barrels. The mashing process is as described above.

Kalina Malzbier, showed in analysis: FG 1019.1; Turning v. 22 23; Alcohol 4.99%; apparent extract. 4.77; real extract 7.11; OG 16.12%, Balling; real attenuation 56%; apparent attenuation 62.7%. The mashing process is as for Süssbier.”
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, page 65. (My translation.)

Erntebier means Harvest Beer. In the UK, that usually meant a beer that was lighter and less alcoholic than standard beer. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. I’m pretty sure the alcohol is given in ABV, making this a mighty 6.25% ABV. That’s hugely strong for a German top-fermenting beer.

Here’s a confusing one. I always though the local Hamburg style was a sort of pale Weissbier:

It is this a beer with an OG of 7-11% Balling, dark and sweet, and is brewed mostly in North German cities, especially port towns.

Tun fermentation at 12-14º R. [15º - 17.5º C.]

Lagering takes place in 12-20 hl. Barrels and usually takes 14 days.

Clarification takes place by the use of wood chips; after drawing off there is also an addition of Kräusen.”
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, page 65. (My translation.)

So dark and sweet and probably 2.5-3.5% ABV. Interesting that it was lagered on wood chips, which I’ve always thought of as a Lager-brewing method. The Lagering time is quite short, but the gravity is quite low.

Sadly, the description of Broyhan is rather brief:

Hannoversch Broyhan,
also called Breyhan, Broihan. It is supposed to have been named after a Braumeister Broyhan from Stöcken near Hanover, and, in first brewed in 1526, it was said to be a failed attempt to make Hamburger Beer. Hannoversch Broyhan is brewed with the addition of 20% wheat malt, is sweet, spiced and lightly hopped.”
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, page 65. (My translation.)

It also contradicts, in terms of the colour, everything I’ve ever read about Broyhan. Everyone else describes Broyhan as a Weissbier,  i.e. brewed from pale, air-dried malt. Had the colour changed over time?

Sunday 19 March 2017

Another link between William Younger and Carlsberg

Do you remember me posting about Carl Jacobsen, son of the Carlsberg founder, serving an apprenticeship at William Younger in the 1860's? It seem that the relationship between the two breweries didn't end there.

Because almost 30 years later John Simpson Ford, who set up the laboratory at William Younger, spent some time in Copenhagen. Reading between the lines of the report below, it's obvious Ford must have been at Carlsberg. Kjeldahl and Hansen both worked at the Carlsberg Laboratory.

—The death has occurred of Mr John Simpson Ford, F.R.S.E., F.R.I.C., scientific director of Messrs William Younger & Co., Edinburgh. Mr Ford was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and the Edinburgh University, where he studied as a medical student and after passing certain professional examinations he abandoned medicine for chemistry. After a session in the laboratory of Edinburgh University under Professor Crum Brown, he was awarded the Hope Prize Scholarship as the most distinguished laboratory student of the year. For two years he remained as junior assistant and demonstrator and in 1889 he was appointed chemist to William Younger & Co. In this capacity he had to create and organise a laboratory and devise methods of analysis and control, as at that time there was little or no science of brewing in this country. In 1895 he spent three months in Copenhagen, where he met Kjeldahl and Hansen and was able to bring the scientific methods he learned there into the process of brewing in the Abbey Brewery, Edinburgh. Mr Ford became the scientific director of William Younger & Co., and was largely concerned in organising the scientific development of brewing. His great work in chemical research was recognised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, who elected him a member, and by the Institute of Brewing with the award of the Horace Brown Memorial Medal, the highest honour which it can confer on its scientific and technical members."
The Scotsman - Wednesday 29 March 1944, page 3.

For an ambitious brewing chemist, the Carlsberg Laboratory would be an obvious place to spend time. It was at the forefront of brewing research. It still is today.

I have to admit that I experienced a weird thrill when I was there last year. Standing in Kjeldahl and Hansen's laboratory, which has been left as it was.

The Carlsberg Laboratory isn't just a room or two in the corner of the brewery. It's a whole complex of buildings housing dozens of scientists. It must Carlsberg a fair few bob to run it. And much of their research, as a century ago, is of use to the whole brewing world, not just Carlsberg. It's easy top slag off big breweries, but they have been responsible for most of the advances in brewing science.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Let's Brew - 1984 Maclay SPA

I may as well give you the full set of shillings, now we’ve had 60 and 80 Bob.

SPA, or 70/- or Heavy, wasn’t that old a beer. It only seems to date from after WW II. The first spotting I have of it is 1951. In the later war years, Maclay brewed just two Pale Ales, PA 6d and Export. PA5d, their weakest Pale Ale, was dropped, presumably because the strength of PA 6d had dropped to its level.

There was some rearrangement after the war and SPA was introduced as a new mid-strength Pale Ale.  It had about the same OG as PA 6d had had before the war. The stronger Export was emerged from WW II surprisingly unscathed, with an OG just a couple of points lower than in 1939.

Once they’d moved to this new three Pale Ale set up, Maclay brewed it relentlessly for the next forty years, with only small changes to the recipes and gravities. Incredibly boring, really. Which isn’t to say that the beers were bad, they weren’t. Just that for the historian there’s not a huge amount of material.

And there you have it: the full set of Maclay’s beers from 1984.

1984 Maclay SPA
pale malt 6.75 lb 89.82%
malt extract 0.14 lb 1.86%
No. 1 invert 0.50 lb 6.65%
No. 3 invert 0.13 lb 1.66%
Cluster 90 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1034
FG 1009
ABV 3.31
Apparent attenuation 73.53%
IBU 21
Mash at 148/157º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale