Monday 31 July 2017

Pretty Dutch beer labels

Busy, busy, busy. I think I've told you this before. All my own fault, really. If I didn't keep having ideas and try to turn them into reality, I could sloth out on my fat arse all day.

If only I could turn my ideas into realty. Then I could fulfill my dream: stop working. The day job thing, I mean. I'd still be working away on "your own shit" as Dolores calls it.

With a book I need to finish sharpish and a trip to Berlin next week, I need to fill this blog up with some filler fluff. Sorry about that. But my irrational desire to keep up my record of posting every day comes above writing anything meaningful or useful. But, hey, that doesn't stop lots of other bloggers and twitterers.

Now I'm only working 90% and have every other Friday off, I can got on with stuff I can't be arsed with in the evening. Like scanning shit. Yesterday I finally got around to the pile of beer labels on my desk. Very satisfying it was to get the buggers processed.

Right. Need to start cooking. Pretty label time.

Sunday 30 July 2017

Getting carried away

Lack of enthusiasm. It's never been the case for me. Quite the opposite.*

I'm still crazily working away on my new book. It's all got a bit out of hand.

The original idea was to produce a compilation of my Let's Brew recipes from the past two years. I've been writing a lot of recipes and it would be handy (for me, if no-one else) to have them handily in one spot rather than scattered about the blog.

But when I looked at what I'd assembled, I realised it was unbalanced. Lots of Mild recipe, but not many Stout ones. Lots from the 1940s and 1950s, but little from the 19th century. So I started working on some extra recipes to fill in the gaps.

It made sense to try to use some of the brewing records I'd never done much with. Like Reid, for example. Then I thought, wouldn't it be nice to finally publish some more North American recipes. Especially as that might tempt people to buy the book. Then I started thinking about all the Lager stuff I'd accumulated. Why not include some of that, too?

36 Mild
46 Pale Ale
38 Porter and Stout
25 Strong Ale
47 Lager
7 Brown Ale
18 North American

I make that 217 recipes in total. And it probably won't remain at that number. I'm tempted to throw in some DDR Lager recipes, too. If I have time. And I definitely want to include a Crimea Porter recipe. And IBSt and Contract porter. So much to do, so little time.

let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see in the book.

* "You've never been enthusiastic about housework, Ronald." Dolores just remarked.

Saturday 29 July 2017

Let's Brew - 1956 Amstel Oud Bruin

I can guarantee you that no-one you know has ever brewed a Dutch-style Oud Bruin. Because it’s one of the world’s most obscure beer styles. And one that the style guideline writers haven’t noticed.

That said, it’s not the world’s most inspiring style. On my first trip to Holland, I can remember getting all excited in a Deventer bar when the barman told me that, in addition to the standard draught Pils, they also had a bottled dark beer. It looked the part in the glass, but I was horrified when I tasted it: thin and gum-achingly sweet.

I’m not really selling the style, am I? It doesn’t have a long history. Though there was a style of beer called Oud Bruin that went back centuries (and which was closer to the Belgian style) , this type was only invented in the 1930’s. Supposedly by northern Lager brewers who wanted to wean drinkers in the south of Holland off the sweet, dark, top-fermenting beers still brewed down their way.

Several Lager brewers still produce Oud Bruin, but only in tiny quantities. When I wanted to buy some (for scientific purposes) the only one I could find was Heineken. I’ve heard rumours that some breweries just water down, colour and sweeten their Pils to make it, rather than brewing it from scratch.

Surprisingly, it’s one the bitterest Amstel beers.

1956 Amstel Oud Bruin
lager malt 6.75 lb 89.46%
black malt 0.125 lb 1.66%
Candi sugar dark 275 SRM 0.67 lb 8.88%
Hallertau 90 mins 0.50 oz
Hallertau 60 mins 0.50 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1034
FG 1010
ABV 3.18
Apparent attenuation 70.59%
IBU 21
SRM 18
Mash double decoction
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 43º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager

Friday 28 July 2017

Böhmisches Doppelbier

Right. So we’ve already seen Světlý Ležák and Výčepní Pivo. Now we’re onto what is nowadays called Speciální Pivo in the modern Czech Republic.

Braník, my favourite of the Prague breweries, used to brew a cracking 14º Světlé. Which sometime in the later 1980’s was downgraded to 13º. A shame. Of course, nothing like as bad as when they totally shut the brewery. If you wanted to pigeonhole this in an “official” style, I suppose Helles Märzen would do at a pinch. Though Czech Speciální Pivo tends to hoppier than German Märzen.

Let’s crack on with the paraphrasing

Böhmisches Doppelbier is also pale, 14 to 14.5º Balling, highly carbonated beer with good head retention.

It’s brewed from well modified, highly dried pilsener malt. The colour of the beer is pale golden. The malt is prepared in the pilsener way, which is similar to the Dortmund method but is dried at a temperature 5º C higher.

The mashing scheme is a double thick mash where the temperature rises quickly from  50 to 65º C. Mashing in is at 35º C and the temperature rises, either through adding boiling water or fire, depending on whether you prefer to mash in thick or thin, to 50, 65 and 70º C at which last temperature saccharification takes place. Then the first thick mash is boiled for 10 minutes and raises the temperature of the total mash to 56º C when mixed back in. With the second thick mash, which boils for 15 minutes, mash out at 75º is achieved. The whole mash is then left to rest for 35 to 40 minutes and then the wort is run off. In order to create a fine flavour only mellow malt is used which means it lies loose in the tun with only being stirred twice.

The sparge water need to be hot enough so that when the wort is run off it is between 70 and 75º C, so must be not less than 75º C, but not more than 80º C, as this could lead to problems with clarity. Boiling only starts when the first sparge has already been run off. The wort is boiled for 2 hours and the hopping rate is 1.33 pounds of hops per 50 kg of malt. Preferably Saaz hops are used on account of their mild flavour and good aroma. The hop additions are performed like this: the first third are added as the copper is being filled, the other two thirds are blanched with hot water at 80º C and are added to the copper, along with the water, 45 minutes before the end of the boil. When the steam has died down, so 5 minutes before the wort is run off, 8% of the hops are added to the hot wort for the benefit of the aroma.

The yeast is pitched at 5º C and the fermentation temperature shouldn’t rise above 7.5º C. The apparent attenuation (14.5 to 6.5º Balling at time of transfer to lagering vessels) is 55%. The lagering vessels are left unbunged for two weeks then the bunging apparatus is put on. Lagering time is two months.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Bömisches Doppelbier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 59-61, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

From the description, it sounds as if the malt used for these beers is a bit darker than standard lager malt. Which is interesting.

The mashing description is a bit confusing. The first three temperatures of 50, 65 and 70º C  are just for the first thick mash. Not sure why this only has a double decoction when the weaker versions get a triple decoction.

I’m not totally sure what the hop tea technique of adding hops achieves. I’m sure that there must be some point to it. Is it to isomerise the hops without boiling them? The very late addition of 8% of the hops for aroma does make sense. It also sounds very modern.

55% attenuation is pretty poor, but that’s before lagering. I assume during that process it would rise to over 60%.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Böhmisches Bier

Isn’t this exciting? A look in detail at Czechoslovakian beer in the first few years of the country’s existence.

The chapter begin with a couple of paragraphs on malting. The gist being that you need good pale malt. The way you made it was to start with thin-husked, low protein barley. The malt was dried with hot air, starting at 35-38º C, rising slowly to 60º C. The drying process was slow and lasted at least 24 hours.

Fascinating stuff, but probably not what you’re most interested in. So I’ll quickly move onto the brewing method. Which I paraphrase here:

Per 100 kg of malt 260-270 litres of water are used for mashing and 200 for sparging. Meaning it was a thin mash.

Mashing in is at 35º C. Part of the mash is transferred to the kettle and raised to 65º C for saccharification then brought to the boil in the kettle and boiled for 15 minutes. When this is added back to the main mash the temperature is raised to 52º C.

A second thick mash is boiled in the kettle for 10 minutes and when returned to the main mash the combined temperature should be 65º C.

Now the lauter mash is boiled in the kettle for 15 minutes which when added back to the main mash raises the temperature to mash out at 75º C. The wort is run off after a rest of 35 to 40 minutes.

Sparge water should be at 75º C or a temperature such that when the wort is drawn off it’s at most 70-75º C. If the water is hotter it can dissolve starch from the grains and this can a haze, albeit slight.

The hopping rate is 2 pounds per 50 kg of malt. A quarter of the hops are added as soon as the copper is filling, another quarter after 30 minutes boiling and the last half 45 minutes before the end of the boil. Boiling lasts 2 hours.

To obtain the right aroma and mild hop flavour, only the best Bohemian hops are used and just before the boil ends 1 or 2 pounds of hops are added.

The yeast is pitched at 5º C and fermentation is conducted in a way that ensures it lasts at least 10 days. The pitching rate is 5 litres per 1,000 litres of wort. The OG is 12º Balling and the beer is transferred to lagering vessels at a gravity of 5º Balling.

Schankbiers are brewed to a gravity of 10-10.5º Balling, are equally heavily hopped and are handled like Lagerbier except only lagered for two months. The beers are only left with the bungs open for 2 weeks but then are left under the bunging apparatus for a long time.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Bömisches Bier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 59-61, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

That’s a very usefully detailed description of how to brew a pale Bohemian Lager. Or rather pale Bohemian Lagerbier and pale Bohemian Schankbier. The Czechs have long been fond of relative weak Lagers, with 10º Plato beers (around 4% ABV) being the most popular.

Olberg forgets to mention how long the Lagerbier was , er, lagered. Probably 3 months.

The hopping rate isn’t crazy at around 6 lbs per quarter of malt. But it’s a lot compared to most 20th-century Lagers. Even Pilsners, a supposedly hop-accented style, were mostly very lightly hopped in comparison to British beers.

As there are three wort boils, I guess the mashing scheme is a triple decoction. Though it isn’t made that clear in the text, the first two decoctions are thick mash, i.e. containing lots of grains and the final one thin mash, i.e. mostly liquid. It’s a pretty classic triple decoction method.

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1911 Heineken Bok

Unlike some of my Lager recipes, this one comes from a brewing record. Though not a full brewing record.

Because, while it does have details of the ingredients and the fermentation, there’s nothing about mashing or boiling. Which is a bit of a bummer. So those bits are just guesses.

Apart from the shit attenuation, this isn’t a million miles away from a modern Dutch Bok. Reddish in colour, malty and without a huge amount of bitterness. It is a lovely beer. I know because I’ve drunk it. Coronado in San Diego brewed the recipe a couple of years ago. Dangerously drinkable would be my description.

There’s still a Heineken Bok, though 20 years or so ago they changed it to a Tarwe (wheat) Bok. I’ve heard rumours that the current Amstel Bok recipe is closer to the original Heineken one. I can believe that. Or rather, would like to. Amstel Bok is my favourite Heineken beer by a long way. And stupidly cheap. I get stuck into it every Autumn.

This was a beer brewed in Heineken’s Rotterdam brewery, located on the not very might river Rotter. It wasn’t far from where I used to live in Rotterdam. I used to walk past the one remaining bit – offices I think – on my way back from town.

1911 Heineken Bok
pilsner malt 2 row 12.50 lb 80.33%
Munich malt 20L 2.75 lb 17.67%
Carafa III  0.31 lb 1.99%
Saaz 60 min 1.50 oz
OG 1067.5
FG 1029.5
ABV 5.03
Apparent attenuation 56.30%
IBU 16
SRM 17
Mash double decoction
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager

Tuesday 25 July 2017


Erntebier – “Harvest Beer” – is exactly what it sounds like: beer drunk at harvest time. By harvesters.

It was a tradition in the UK, too. Agricultural labourers expected to be served beer during the harvest as part of their wages. Harvesting was reckoned to be impossible without sufficient supplies of beer.

In the UK, Harvest Ale was usually a form of Mild Ale but, and here’s the important bit, weaker. So when X Ale averaged around 5% ABV, Harvest Ale was more like 4% ABV. You wouldn’t want something strong enough to incapacitate your workers.

The Erntebier in Saxony was rather different, being stronger than the standard beer it was based on. How odd.

Here’s my paraphrasing of Olberg again.

In many regions, but especially in Saxony, Erntebier is brewed.

It’s a Braunbier which is usually brewed top-fermenting, except while Braubier and Weissbier in the region is usually brewed to a gravity of 8 to 8.5º Balling, Erntebier has an OG of 9.5 to 10º and must also be lagered longer. It’s also more heavily hopped than Braunbier, at a rate of 1.2 kg. per 50 kg. of malt.

When primary fermentation has finished, the casks are washed and kept completely filled and sealed by hand with wooden bungs, without using a hammer. Through this the beer gets some life and is liked by the harvesters because it tastes powerful and has particular thirst-quenching properties. For a further description see the chapter “Braunbier”
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Erntebier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 68, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

So just like Saxon Braunbier, except a little stronger and a little hoppier. Funnily enough, a beer of 9.5 to 10º Plato is about exactly the same strength as pre-WW I British Harvest Ale. The hopping rate, which is the equivalent of 8lbs per quarter of malt, is pretty much the same, too.

Here are a couple of modern German Erntebiers, both from Bavaria. Note that the one from Grosch is, at under 3% ABV, pretty weak.

Modern German Erntebier
Year Brewer Town Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
2014 Arnsteiner Brauerei Seinsheim Ernte Hell 1044.44 1008 4.80 82.90%
2014 Braugasthof Grosch Rödental Grosch Erntebier 1031.23 1010 2.80 69.26%
Arnsteiner Brauerei website
Grosch website

Monday 24 July 2017

Boddington beers in 1939

Another look at the beers of Boddington. I have to justify the hours I spent snapping their records somehow.

It’s a much sparser set of beers than in 1913, down from nine to four. Though I’m sure that they marketed more. The Mild would have be tweaked to get Brown Ale. And IP probably bottled as a Pale Ale.

Nothing more complicated than this today. Busy writing North American recipes for my new book.

Er, nothing much else I want to say.
Boddington beers in 1939
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp
3rd Jan IP Pale Ale 1045.0 1010.0 4.63 77.78% 6.92 1.39 61.5º F
3rd Jan XX Mild 1033.8 1007.0 3.54 79.26% 7.91 1.15 62º F
4th Jan CC Strong Ale 1056.0 1015.5 5.36 72.32% 8.10 2.17 61.5º F
19th Jan St Stout 1045.5 1013.0 4.30 71.43% 7.54 1.51 60º F
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/129.

Sunday 23 July 2017

Historic Lager festival

Dreams - can they really come true? I've been dreaming of an historic Lager festival for a while. Could it really happen?

I've tried once before. Total and utter failure. But I've learnt from my mistakes. Don't rely on other people. Be involved in the planning.

Anyway, I floated the festival idea on Twitter and there was an enthusiastic response. Now I need to convert that enthusiasm into a room full of historic Lagers. With me sitting in a corner drinking Kulmbacher.

Now all I need to do is work out a venue, sort out brewers to brew the beers and publicise the event so at least a few punters turn up.

To fulfill the first two of those objectives:

- Fancy hosting the festival: get in touch.
- Fancy brewing a beer: get in touch.

Maybe you can help an old man's dream come true.

I'll leave you with some Doppel Karamel DDR labels.

Saturday 22 July 2017

Let's Brew - 1879 Kulmbacher Export

You may have noticed that I've been busy with a new book. And when I say new, I don't mean just a bunc of blog posts stapled together.

Yes, it does contain some blog material. But also a whole load of new stuff. In particular, lots of new Lager recipes, around forty in all. They're a mixture of reconstuctions from brewing text books and analyses and ones taken from real brewing records. This is one of the former

In the early days of Lager brewing outside its traditional central European home, several regional Bavarian styles were imitated abroad. One of these was Kulmbacher.

Even Heineken used to brew this style of strong, hoppy and very dark Lager. But for some reason it quickly fell out of fashion and is today virtually unknown as a style. Which is a shame as I’m sure its bold flavours would go down well with modern drinkers. You could think of it as a Münchener on steroids.

The Kulmbach method of decoction

This is the description of the Kulmbach method of decoction from Otto (("Handbuch der Chemischen Technologie: Die Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Fr. Jul. Otto, published in 1865, page 128).

As soon as the water in the kettle reaches 50º C, as much as is needed is put into the mash tun to dough in.

After an hour, when the rest of the water has come to the boil in the kettle, this is added to the mash. The temperature of the mash should be 53.75 - 56.25º C. A small amount of water should remain in the kettle so that the temperature of the mash is correct. Or a small amount of cold water is added to the mash. When, after resting, the wort in the mash tun has cleared, this is run off and boiled in the kettle. After just a few minutes boiling, this Lauter mash is added back to the tun and mashed for 45 minutes. The temperature of the mash should be 71.25 - 72.5º C.

Usually a small quantity of wort is left in the kettle and boiled with all the hops for 10 to 12 minutes (hopfenrösten).

The mash in the tun is left to rest for 90 minutes, then it is drawn off and added to the kettle where it interrupts the rösten.

The wort from the first lot of cold water poured over the grains is usually used for topping up the kettle.
1879 Kulmbacher Export
Munich malt 20L 15.25 lb
Carafa III 0.50 lb
Hallertau 60 mins 3.50 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 3.50 oz
OG 1065
FG 1018
ABV 6.22
Apparent attenuation 72.31%
IBU 80
SRM 30
Mash Kulmbach method
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager

Friday 21 July 2017

Kulmbacher Art

I can never find out too much about Kulmbacher, a style that’s always intrigued me.

This is a pretty late mention, coming from the 1920’s. Kulmbacher was pretty famous in the late 19th century, but seems to have quickly plummeted to obscurity in the 20th. Not sure why that happened. Perhaps it was all part of dark beers going out of fashion.

Time for me to summarise Olberg:

The foundations for the character of this beer are already laid during the malting process. The germination process is slow and cold. The shoots are well-developed, even if they aren’t that long. Drying is within the limits of the Munich drying method in general and the malt is more highly dried, with the flues either severely restricted or completely closed.

The mashing scheme consists of two thick mashes and one lauter mash. In addition to the highly-dried malt Farbmalz and caramel malt are also used. As highly-dried malts contain less diastase than pale malts, the saccharification temperature of 70º C is held for as long as necessary.

Mashing in is at 35º C, the first thick mash is allowed to saccharify at 70º C, before heating to boiling point and being left to simmer for an hour. When this is added to the remainder of the mash the combined temperature is raised to 52º C. After that there’s the second thick mash which raises the temperature of the combined mash to 70º C and then there’s a lauter mash at 75º C to mash out. Hops are added at a rate of 1.25 pounds per 50 kg of malt and boiled for 3 to 4 hours.

According to an old method from Habich, mashing in is at 50º C and boiling water added to raise the temperature to 54º C. From this a clear wort is run off and brought to the boil then added back to the remaining mash to raise the temperature to 70º C. This temperature is held until saccharification has occurred.

After about 1 to 1.5 hours the remainder of the lauter mash is brought to the boil with hops and boiled for 10 minutes and then interrupted by adding the back the run off wort. The wort boils for 5 hours. Original gravity 16º Balling.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Kulmbacher Art in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 78-79, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

It’s no wonder Kulmbacher was dark if it had a grist of very dark Munich malt, farbmalz and caramel malt. Maybe I should throw together a recipe.

The level of hopping is much lighter than quoted in earlier sources. 1.5 lbs per 50 kg of malt is only around 4.5 lbs per quarter – about the same as a Mild Ale.

Thursday 20 July 2017

Dortmunder Versandbier

An old German beer style, but not a top-fermenter. No, this a description of a classic Lager style: Dortmunder Export.

The type of beer which for a big chunk of the 20th century was the most popular in Germany. Until Pils came along and unseated it from its perch. Export has faced very hard times since. Brewery closures meaning Dortmund no longer produces more beer than any other town in Germany.

Things were very different back in the 1920’s, when Dortmunder Export was both well-regarded and popular. That’s when this description was written.

Our tastiest, but also the strongest characterful, pale beers are the original Dortmunder Versandbiers.

It’s brewed using a highly-dried, but still, pale malt.

Usually a two thick mash method is used, but sometimes also two thick mashes and one lauter mash.

With regard to maintaining a pale colour the first method is recommended and the mashes are only boiled for 10 and 5 minutes. By boiling the malt husks, which have a raw, harsh flavour, for too long the fine, spicy flavour is considerably diminished.

Mashing in is at 35º C, rising to 55º Cand then to 70º C. Where care is taken that full saccharification takes place. Then the wort is boiled for 5 to 10 minutes and combined with the rest of the wort to mash out at 70º C. Later, with the second thick mash, it’s mashed out at 75º C.

In a three-mash scheme, the temperature of the combined mash is brought up to 55º C with the first thick mash, 70º C with the second thick mash and 75º C with the lauter mash.

In order to keep the noble flavour the mash shouldn’t be too thick and should be quickly run off while the temperature is maintained at 75º C; stir the mash only once or twice. During sparging the temperature in the tun should be maintained at 70º C. Boiling the wort should only begin when the second sparge is running, and should last at least one hour.

The hopping rate is 1.3 pounds per 50 kg of malt, depending on the quality of the hops. Only the highest quality hops should be used, with a third added when the copper is filled, another third after an hour of boiling and the final third 45 minutes before the end of boiling. Total boil time should be a maximum of 2 hours.

The OG for Exportbier is 14º Balling.

The wort is pitched with a pure culture of Dortmunder yeast at 5º C, rising to 8.5º C. The wort is then cooled back down to 5 to 4º C.

Primary fermentation lasts 3 to 3 weeks. So that the beer stays sound for a long time a very high degree of attenuation is sought, so it’s logical that a highly-attenuative strain of yeast is used. These beers, which are lagered under pressure at 1º C for a long time, are very highly carbonated and full and elegant tasting.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Dortmunder Versandbier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 66-67, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

That’s a fairly detailed set of brewing instructions. Should be able to knock together a recipe from that. Though my biggest problem would be choosing the malt. Is pale malt more highly-dried than pilsner malt? In which case that, oddly enough, might be the best equivalent.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1837 Reid P

Reid was one of the largest Porter breweries in the 19th century. Never the largest, but sometimes second behind Truman or Barclay Perkins. In the early 19th century, they were briefly the largest in 1907 and 1808, but their production remained fairly stable while others expanded.

Here’s how the London Porter brewers ranked in the 1830’s:

Largest London Porter breweries 1830 - 1839
Brewery 1830 1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839
Barclay Perkins 262,306 330,528 343,328 315,784 343,569 382,063 378,109 354,360 375,466 405,819
Whitbread 144,104 191,040 209,672 187,070 184,100 186,206 190,005 180,512 179,975 183,468
Truman 167,542 199,486 234,665 226,924 254,650 280,075 329,333 303,590 310,193 320,675
Reid 127,220 154,631 165,515 150,865 169,246 181,187 194,656 162,840 178,919 171,650
Whitbread brewing log held at the London Metroploitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/023.
“The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980”. T R Gourvish & R G Wilson, 1994, pages 610-612

This is a pretty typical Porter of the time. With the familiar combination of pale, brown and black malts. All pretty locally sourced. The pale was from Sussex, the brown from Hertfordshire. The hops were all pretty local, too: Mid Kents from the 1835 and 1836 crop.

As a third of the hops were over two years old, I’ve knocked the total hops down from 4.62 ozs. to 3.75 ozs. It still leaves a calculated 44 IBUs.

The mashing scheme was quite complicated: three mashes and no sparge. There was a fourth mash for a return wort.

action water (barrels) water temp. tap temp. time
mash 207 162º F 145º F 90
mash 150 180º F 164º F 50
mash 179 151º F 153º F 40

This was a beer that wasn’t vatted and would have been drunk young. Or perhaps blended with Keeping porter at racking time. As with all Porter and Stout, the fermentation was quite hot, hitting a maximum temperature of 78.5º F.

1837 Reid P
pale malt 11.75 lb 79.66%
brown malt 2.25 lb 15.25%
black malt 0.75 lb 5.08%
Goldings 90 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.25 oz
OG 1061.2
FG 1018
ABV 5.72
Apparent attenuation 70.59%
IBU 44
SRM 30
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 66º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Manchester again, again

A lazy morning staring at Sunday Brunch on the TV. It passes the time.

I have vague plans of eating breakfast in the Wetherspoons on the way to the station. But then I get an email from Jules suggesting we meet at noon in the Sheffield Tap. Bum. No time for brekkie.

Jules has a couple of tickets to Pilcrow’s Summer Beer Thing. Will can’t make it so she asked me yesterday if I’d fancy going. Squeezing in it should be possible. I had no real plans for my few hours in Manchester, other than going to a pub and eating.

Walking to the station is more fun than walking from it. The best thing about it being in a valley, is whichever direction you come from, it’s downhill.

I get myself a sarnie for the train, then try to find Sheffield Tap. After a bit of aimless wandering around, I find a map of the station. Which points me in the right direction and soon I’m standing at the bar staring at a row of handpumps.

“A pint of Jaipur, please.” I’m playing it safe. “Do you have pork scratchings?” I ask, hopefully. “Yes. Which flavour would you like?” Flavour? I thought they only came in pig flavour. Evidently they have barbecue and salt and vinegar. When did pork scratchings go all posh?

I realise this is the first pub I’ve been in since arriving in Sheffield. In almost 24 hours. That’s some sort of record.

It’s pretty empty, giving me time to admire the lovely surroundings. In an old refreshment room, with all the tilework retained, it’s as impressive as any Edwardian pub. After a while Jules turns up and asks: “Do you want to look at the brewery? It’s in the next room.” I hadn’t even realised there was a brewery.

The shiny things are arranged in one half of another equally impressive tiled space. I should have looked more closely at the pumps on the bar. They had several of their own beers on. Oh well, too late for that now. Because we’ve only time for the one before jumping on the train.

It’s a relatively short journey. Made to seem all the shorter by the beers that Jules has brought along with her. I like someone who thinks ahead. Especially beerily thinks ahead.

The event we’re headed to is a beer festival outside a pub. The Pilcrow Pub, to be exact. As we walk over there, Jules tells me the pub looks like it’s been built by hand. She’s not wrong. She could have added “from old pallets” to that description.

It’s a single-story wooden building with a pitched roof. Very modern-looking in some ways. But we aren’t headed inside. After collecting a glass and some tokens we sit inside the tents pitched outside. That’s where all the beer is. Where to start? DIPA, I think. I haven’t a great deal of time.

I’m enjoying myself so much, I cut things a bit fine. For catching my plane. Victoria station is close by. I hurry there to pick up a cab. Which takes a worryingly long time to get through town. But I do remember to snap the Royal (formerly Red Tower Lager Brewery) on the way. Not the most scenic of breweries, but one with a place in history nevertheless.

I get to Manchester airport about an hour before my flight is due to leave. But I need to print off my boarding pass and drop off a bag. Which takes a little time.

The queue for security is scarily long. Luckily they come around and ask if anyone has a flight leaving soon. I can move right to the end of the queue.

It’s still almost boarding time when I get through all the formalities. Just time to gulp down a quick whisky at the bar and hurry along to my gate. I arrive a minute or two before boarding starts. Perfect timing.

Not having really eaten much today, I wolf down the egg sandwich we’re given. Then slowly sip on the red wine.

There’s a huge queue at Schiphol passport control. By the time I’m through, my bag is already circling around on the carousel.

I take a taxi home. Feeling knacked I am. And I need to be up at 6:30 for work tomorrow.

Life returns to its iterative norm.

Sheffield Tap
1b, Sheffield Station,
Sheaf St,
Sheffield S1 2BP.
Tel: +44 114 273 7558

The Pilcrow Pub
Sadler's Yard
Hanover Street
Manchester M60 0AB.

Monday 17 July 2017


Excuse this bullshit post. I've been busy all weekend with my new book. About which I'll be saying more later in the week. I will reveal this: it's a lot more commercial than some of my recent efforts.

More random DDR memories and some old labels. I know it's lazy. But that's the sort of bloke I am.

One of Dolores's university friends lived in Plauen. Quite a pleasant, smallish city in the south of Saxony. The local brewery, Sternquell, was pretty decent. Their Pilsator was a particularly good beer. As were all the Pilsators I tried.

One thing I recently spottedin the William Younger notebooks was that in addition to visiting Carlsberg in Copenhagen, they also made an expedition to a brewery in Plauen. Not sure if it was Sternquell or not, as it had a different name. That's all a bit vague, isn't it.

I'll leave you with the labels.

Sunday 16 July 2017

I've slagged

A letter came today. The result of one of my Dutch tests.

"I've slagged, Lexie."

"What do you mean, Dad?"

"I've slagged my spoken Dutch test."

"Dad, if you say it that way, you'll never pass."

"But I have passed. I know you don't pronounce it like that it Dutch."

"You're so lame, Dad."

"But just one exam away from being Dutch."

"Whatever, Dad. I'm going upstairs."

He's impressed, I'm sure.

Just one result away from Dutchiness.

Saturday 15 July 2017

Let’s Brew (November) 1917 Barclay Perkins Government Ale

This beer shows the direct relationship between government rules and changes to recipes during WW I.

The initial version of Barclay Perkins’ GA was the result of rules introduced in April 1917. These were changed in October of the same year:

Oct. 1 1917: Rate and conditions of previous quarter continued but gravity for one-half of the output raised to 1042º. Prices also fixed at 4d. per pint under 1036º, 5d. per pint under 1042º.
Source: "The Brewers' Almanack 1928" pages 100 - 101.

The result? Barclay Perkins increased the gravity of their GA to 1041.9º. There’s no way that was a coincidence. I’ve even got the letter telling the brewery to raise the gravity. It’s pinned inside the front cover of the brewing book.

The recipe today is that beer from the 10th November.

As for the recipe, there’s been a very significant change to the grist: out goes crystal malt and in comes brown malt. And, at over 11%, a considerable amount of brown malt. With the No. invert sugar dropping from over 9% to 3.5%, too. I’m sure that latter change was dictated by a shortage of sugar for brewing. Being something that could be easily used for food, unlike malt, supplies were mostly allocated for that purpose.

I reckon that the addition of brown malt is at least partly to add colour to make up for the reduction in no. 3 invert. There’s an intriguing note in the front of the brewing book which reads:

“For color
Roasted 1 sack (1/2 Qtr.) = 70 lbs caramel”

That says to me that they were short of caramel and using roasted malt as a substitute. It’s also dead useful for me because it means I can work out the exact colour of the caramel they were using: approximately twice as dark as roasted malt. (Or barley, it isn’t quite specific.)

If I’m being honest, this looks like a more interesting beer than pre-war X Ale. I like the look of that pale, brown and amber malt combination.

1917 Barclay Perkins GA
pale malt 7.25 lb 76.00%
brown malt 1.00 lb 10.48%
amber malt 1.00 lb 10.48%
no. 3 invert sugar 0.25 lb 2.62%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.04 lb 0.42%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1041.9
FG 1011.1
ABV 4.07
Apparent attenuation 73.51%
IBU 22
SRM 14
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale