Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1958 Whitbread IPA

One of my favourite beers. For one reason: it’s a beer that was called, at various times, the full set of names. At various times and by various people it was known as IPA, Light Ale, Pale Ale and Bitter.

Whitbread introduced IPA in 1900 to complement their existing range of Pale Ales: PA (1058º), 2PA (1053º) and FA  (1052º). The pre-WW I versions of IPA had a gravity of 1050º. Why did Whitbread have four Pale Ales with just 8 gravity points between them? I’m not sure. But the beers weren’t just slightly different parti-gyles of the same thing.

The hopping was different, for a start. PA and 2PA were hopped at 9 lbs per quarter of malt, FA and IPA 11 lbs. That, at least fits in with modern thinking about IPA: it was more heavily hopped than Pale Ale.

WW I, unusually, spread the gravities out more. For while PA had fallen to 1047º, IPA had dropped all the way to 1035.5º by the early 1920’s. A bigger gap in gravities than before the war. The hopping had also grown apart. PA kept its old rate of 9 lbs. per quarter, while IPA had increased to 13 lbs.

I’m not sure about before the war, but in the 1920’s and 1930’s IPA was an exclusively bottled beer. Filling an essential slot in any brewer’s range of the time: Light Ale. Though, confusingly, the labels called it Whitbread Pale Ale. Confused? It gets worse.

The very same year this beer was brewed, the name in the brew house was changed to WPA. At least it matched the label. Even if it was ordered as Light Ale down the pub. It wasn’t the last name change. In the early 1970’s, just before Chiswell Street closed, it starts turning up as TRO – Trophy – in the brewing records. By which time it was also available in draught form.

I’d never have guessed that Whitbread Trophy started life as an IPA. How strange that it ended up as an Ordinary Bitter.

Time to pass you over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: Well well well now. A delicious little watery IPA…just what a growing lad needs. Something one can drink vats of while on the job. This is something that I think everyone should have in their arsenal from big brewer to the smallest. Something that you can pull out as a ‘pub ale’ and make it suit your fancy. Something that turns super quick for a nice little profit. It comes in, blow it out, have some fun. Tailor it to suit your fancy, in as many ways as you’d like. You have coworkers that always bug you to bring all the beer to events. Here you go. Just don’t tell them the ABV or they’ll do what most beer blogger experts do…

Malt: Four. Count them. Four pale malts. All from different malters. All not very fresh (read OLD). However, this is someplace you can pick your favorite few or even ‘kitchen sink’ it if that’s the type of person/brewery you are. A touch of crystal malt for color, but make sure its pretty damn dark to get some color up in this piece. A heavy hand of invert that you can try to make yourself, and even complain that a patent for its production is wrong because you nonced it up because you’re a bellend and don’t understand the correlation between time and temperature. For me, I’d just buy it, or I make it the ‘dilution’ way…or, BLOODY OR, at that, give some nice golden syrup a try. That works wonderfully in this beer. For me, I’m going with a blend of Cocktail, Belgian pale and some nice American pale malt, a really dark English crystal malt and some honey…probably orange blossom or that avocado blossom that has been looking at me longingly from the corner for a while. Oh, have we not talked about honey being an invert sugar? It is. You haven’t been paying attention. Give it a go sometime. For all the vegans out there, feel free to use some of that super expensive apple syrup that kinda tastes like honey but stay away form the Belgian malts. I usually find seashells in mine…

Hops: Goldings. Two Kentish and a Worcester. All rather old. All low in AA%. So lets make a deal, as long as you are using some sort of low AA% hop, pick anything at all you want. Remember those hops your buddy gave you that are sitting around in the freezer for a year or two? Go and throw them away right now. Seriously. Why are you still hanging on to them? They weren’t good when they were fresh. Double seriously, find something nice you like and give it a go. Maybe do a little research on some newer lager hops? We’ve talked about the stuff coming out of Hüll lately so there’s those. Why not go to the USDA hop pedigree page and do a little snooping for parents of hops and find one with some goldings and give them a go. Frankly, there aren’t a ton in this so play around a little. Just a touch of dry hop so I really would make sure that you do use something really nice here.
Yeast: Really your choice. Pick something pleasant or something you have around or something you want to try. It won’t be hard to get this beer to finish, just make sure and don’t over-pitch like the vast majority of brewers out there. There is ‘done’ and then there is fermenting the ever loving piss out of the beer to ensure all of the character is mashed up by the yeast.

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 55F.


Anonymous said...

Recipe lists Scottish ale yeast. Wouldn't wyeast 1099 be more appropriate since it is the whitbread strain?

Kristen England said...


Doesn't really matter. Seeing its such a small beer I like the texture of the Scottish yeast better for this beer but YMMV. Pick something you like and can use. Just don't over-pitch.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough! Thanks!