Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1942 Whitbread XXXX

The war was witness to some strange recipes. Usually not at the instigation of brewers, but rather the government. Which sought to shuffle scarce resources to where they could be best used.

Whitbread changed the name of their Burton Ale in 1940 from 33 – referring to 1933, the year the tax on beer was lowered – to XXXX. Accompanied by quite a drop in gravity, from 1056º to 1053º. By 1942, a further ten points had been whittled off the OG.

A quick look at the grist reveals the traces of government interference. Whitbread used no adjuncts in any of their beers in 1939.  And here there are now fewer than three: flaked barley, barley meal and flaked rye. The latter is a slightly off one. I assume the Rye was UK-grown, even though it wasn’t that popular a crop. There must have been some lying around that the government didn’t know what to do with, so dumped it on the brewers.

There wasn’t a shortage of barley per se during the war. UK production of barley rose from 17,840,000 cwt in 1939 to 42,160,000 cwt in 1945. True, imports of barley dwindled to nothing, but in most years the increase in local production more than compensated for that. Only in two years, 1941 and 1942, was the total quantity of barley available significantly less than in 1939.

UK barley production and imports 1939 - 1945 (cwt)
year UK production imports total
1939 17,840,000 13,740,000 31,581,939
1940 22,080,000 9,146,000 31,227,940
1941 22,880,000 1,277,000 24,158,941
1942 28,920,000 0 28,921,942
1943 32,900,000 0 32,901,943
1944 35,040,000 0 35,041,944
1945 42,160,000 2,037,000 44,198,945
1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 61.

The good supply of barley most years was the reason flaked barley was so popular as an adjunct during the war. Its use had little impact on the brewing process and flaking consumed less energy than malting.

The hops were Whitbread Mid-Kent from the 1941 harvest and East Kent from the 1939 and 1941 harvests, the former having been kept in a cold store. I’ve interpreted the Mid-Kent as Fuggles and the East Kent as Goldings.

1942 Whitbread XXXX
pale malt 7.50 lb 77.84%
chocolate malt 0.25 lb 2.59%
flaked barley 0.67 lb 6.95%
barley meal 0.125 lb 1.30%
flaked rye 0.25 lb 2.59%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 7.78%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.09 lb 0.93%
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 40 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 20 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1043
FG 1013.5
ABV 3.90
Apparent attenuation 68.60%
IBU 25
SRM 19
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you know how specific the government got when it controlled grain allocation? Did they just say that the brewing industry got X tons, and they could squabble and bid amongst themselves to divvy it up? Or did the government have a much more granular, brewery by brewery rationing system?

Did they look over the shoulders of maltsters and dictate how much crystal, brown and black they could make, or did they just ration out fuel and let them decide for themselves?
In general, I'm just curious how bureaucratic things got during the war for brewers.