Thursday 3 August 2017

Reid Ales 1852 - 1853

Did I mention my new book? It's just about done. Just the last few recipes to polish off and I can send it off to the printers. So to speak.

Let's Brew! it's called. Containing a couple of hundred recipes, of which almost half are brand new. You could see it as an add-on pack for The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Why am I mentioning this? because one of things I was prompted to do while writing it was to take a closer look at some of the brewing records I had inexplicably neglected. Which included those of Reid.

Reid was one of the big Porter brewers in the 19th cntury and remained one of the largest breweries in London, and hence the UK, in the early part of the 19th. After which it began to fall behind the likes of Whitbread, Barclay Perkins and Truman.

In the frist half of the 19th century they brewed Ales as well as Porter and Stout, though inexplicably dropped the Ales in the 1860's or 1870's. As at other London breweries, their Ales fell into two groups, Mild Ales indicated by a number of X's and Stock Ales indicated by a number of K's.

Even the weakest, X Ale, their lowest gravity Mild was quite a strong beer. Mild Ales of 3% ABV or so are a relatively recent development, only really becoming the norm in the 1930's. Their XXX Ale, at 9.5% ABV, looks nothing like a modern Mild. Waich it isn't, as it was also pale in colour and pretty bitter.

All of these beers, with the exception of X Ale, which contained a tiny amount of black malt, were 100% pale malt. The main difference between the X's and the K's was the level of hopping, which was higher in the latter. Which makes total sense as they were meant to be aged for six months or more.

Reid Ales 1852 - 1853
Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp
1852 X Mild 1069.3 1024.9 5.86 64.00% 12.26 3.63 1.5 3 57º
1852 XXX Mild 1097.0 1025.8 9.42 73.43% 10.72 4.90 1.5 3 57º
1853 KK Stock Ale 1083.1 1018.3 8.57 78.00% 13.42 4.81 1.5 3 56º
1853 KKK Stock Ale 1095.6 1023.5 9.53 75.36% 13.10 5.71 2 4 57º
1853 KKKK Stock Ale 1116.3 1031.6 11.21 72.86% 13.56 7.23 2 4 56.25º
Reid brewing record held at Westminster City Archives, document number 789/273.

Despite closing in 1898 on their merger with Watney and Combe, the Reid name lived on as a brand for Watney Stout well past WW II.


Martyn Cornell said...

"In the frist half of the 19th century they brewed Ales as well as Porter and Stout, though inexplicably dropped the Ales in the 1860's or 1870's."

In 1875/76 they built a new ale brewery - there are newspaper reports of them selling off the materials from the buildings demolished "in consequence of Messers Reid & Co erecting their new ale plant in Liquorpond-street and Leather Lane" (see The Times, Tuesday Jan 4 1876, p16, for example).

Zach said...


Any insight as to why they were called "mild" ales? I'm more familiar with the modern definition of the low hop, low abv style. What was the origin of the name? and why did it shift seemingly completely on end?

Ron Pattinson said...


mild just means unaged.

Ron Pattinson said...


that makes more sense. Dropping Ales did seem pretty weird.