Thursday 31 October 2019

Cellarmanship in the 1920s (part one)

I can't remember who pointed me at "The Art and Practice of Innkeeping". I suspect it was Boak and Bailey. I'm grateful, whoever it was. And it's going to come in dead handy when I revise Peace!. (I currently have that pencilled in for 2021, after I've finished Free!.)

I'm particularly interested in the section on cellarmanship. Partly because I know how much trouble there was keeping cask beer in good condition in the early 1920s.

Before WW I, pretty much all draught beer in London was over 5% ABV. Meaning it wasn't going to sour all that quickly, even if not particularly well handled in the pub. After the big fall in strength during WW I, most draught beer was 4% ABV, or even less. And was consequently much more prone to spoiling. Making good cellarmanship vital.

Let's kick off with something about cask sizes:
"Casks of beer are usually in four sizes: hogsheads, containing fifty-four gallons; barrels, containing thirty-six gallons; kilderkins, containing eighteen gallons; and firkms, containing nine gallons.

In some places, and in home-brewing houses, a Tierce is used containing forty-two gallons.

In houses where the trade is large and quick, beer is generally supplied in hogsheads; where it is normal, in barrels; where small, in kilderkins; firkins are more often used for "off" or family trade. Butts, holding one hundred and eight gallons, and puncheons, holding seventy-two, are rarely if ever used nowadays, even for porter."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 198.
The four basic sizes of casks remain the same, though hogsheads are pretty much extinct today and barrels are rare. Large pubs now get their beer in firkins, normal ones in firkins and small ones even in pins. That's quite a downgrading.

When I started drinking ion the early 1970s, some of the larger regional breweries in the North and the Midlands still delivered in hogsheads and the bulk of their beer was in barrels. Does anyone still deliver in barrels today?

The "off" trade is referring to off-licences selling draught beer. Back in the 1970s, there were still offies in Leeds selling Tetley Bitter and Mild this way. The family trade means people buying casks for at home. Though by the time this book waswritten, that practice was dying out as drinkers switched to bottled beer which was less fuss.

I've never come across a tierce in any brewing records. I suspect they weren't very common. But Part does exclude one cask size I've seen very regularly: a half hogshead. These were commonly used in Scotland for beer that was sent out to independent bottlers for bottling.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1940 Whitbread Porter

There’s something very poignant about this recipe. Because it’s the very last brew of Whitbread’s Porter, after an uninterrupted two centuries.

Why did Whitbread drop their Porter at this exact point? There’s a not in the brewing record which gives a clue: “Air Raid Warnings: 5:15 pm to 6:25 pm And 8:40 pm to 5:45 am.” The date was September 1940, when the London blitz was just starting in earnest. The war was taking a bad turn and Britain was effectively under siege. No wonder Whitbread decided to rationalise their beer range.

Their Porter had been in terminal decline for some time. And by late summer 1940 the quantities being brewed were minute. This batch was 16 barrels, from a total of over 600 barrels for the whole parti-gyle. There must have only been a handful of Whitbread pubs still selling Porter by the time it was dropped.

The grist is a fairly classic combination, save for chocolate malt taking the place of black malt. Which was an idiosyncrasy of Whitbread. The minute quantity of oats are there so some of the Stout in the parti-gyle could legally be sold as Oatmeal Stout. Feel free to omit it as I’m sure it had absolutely no impact on the finished beer’s flavour.

The brewing record gives the OG as 1029º. But I know from comparing analyses of Whitbread Porter with the brewing records that there was a big discrepancy in the gravities. My guess is that the Porter was heavily primed at racking time. Or it could have been blended with Stout at racking.

1940 Whitbread Porter
pale malt 5.25 lb 69.54%
brown malt 0.50 lb 6.62%
chocolate malt 0.50 lb 6.62%
flaked oats 0.05 lb 0.66%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 13.25%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.25 lb 3.31%
Fuggles 75 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
OG 1035
FG 1007.5
ABV 3.64
Apparent attenuation 78.57%
IBU 18
SRM 31
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Lees Best Mild grists 1946 - 1955

More on Mild Ale just after WW II. This time looking in detail at a particularly atypical beer, Lees Best Mild.

Mild grists mostly consisted of base malt – quite often mild malt – crystal malt, flaked maize and sugar. Though there are examples of much more complex grists, Lees Best Mild being a particularly good example.

Unlike the vast majority of Mild Ales, Lees Best Mild contained grains darker than crystal malt. In many versions, there were multiple coloured grains. Some of the grain choices seem rather odd. For example, including both black and chocolate malt. Usually, brewers used either one or the other.

In addition, at a certain point there was also that 1940s and 1950s favourite, enzymatic malt. Whose purpose, presumably, was to increase the diastatic power of the grist. Though it seems that this was probably a waste of time.

Less Best Mild was unusual in not containing any adjuncts. At least not after 1946 when the flaked barley demanded by the government during the was and immediately afterwards was ditched. Oddly, from 1953 onwards it contained a small quantity of oats. At just over 2% of the grist, I’m not sure how much impact it would have had on the character of the finished beer.

The easing of government restrictions is evident in the increase in the percentage of sugar, which just about doubled to 20%. During the war brewers were only allowed to employ a limited amount of sugar, much being reserved for use in food.

Lees Best Mild malts 1946 - 1955
Date Year OG pale malt brown malt black malt choc. Malt crystal malt enzymic malt
18th Mar 1946 1033 77.33% 1.33%
1st Apr 1946 1033 72.00% 1.33%
15th Dec 1948 1032 73.85% 2.31% 9.23% 2.31%
20th Jun 1950 1035 82.22% 0.87% 3.50% 1.75%
10th Mar 1952 1034 66.67% 2.38% 2.38% 4.76% 4.76%
19th Oct 1953 1033 71.49% 1.77% 0.88% 3.53% 3.53%
15th Jul 1954 1035 68.27% 1.69% 0.84% 3.37% 3.37%
2nd May 1955 1035 68.27% 1.69% 0.84% 3.37% 3.37%
Lees brewing records held at the brewery.

Lees Best Mild adjuncts and sugars 1946 - 1955
Date Year OG oats flaked barley glucose invert sugar other sugar Total sugar
18th Mar 1946 1033 10.67% 5.33% 5.33% 10.67%
1st Apr 1946 1033 16.00% 5.33% 5.33% 10.67%
15th Dec 1948 1032 6.15% 6.15% 12.31%
20th Jun 1950 1035 2.33% 2.33% 7.00% 11.66%
10th Mar 1952 1034 6.35% 12.70% 19.05%
19th Oct 1953 1033 2.33% 4.71% 11.77% 16.47%
15th Jul 1954 1035 2.23% 2.25% 4.50% 13.49% 20.23%
2nd May 1955 1035 2.23% 4.50% 2.25% 13.49% 20.23%
Lees brewing records held at the brewery.

Monday 28 October 2019

Bismarck drank Russian Stout

Time for another Barclay's Russian Stout advert. With some more interesting claims.

The oddest being that Bismarck liked Russian Stout. Especially as the advert is from just after WW I, when there was still considerable anti- German feeling.

"Bismarck knew and appreciated the full-bodied, seductive qualities of
Matured at least a year in bottle

Its rich, creamy flavour, its warming goodness, distinguish it from any other stout you have tried. This stout was originally brewed nearly 150 years ago for export to Russia, to meet the demand of the old Russian aristocracy for a really choice, full-bodied stout. It continued to be exported up to the time of the War.

The finest winter drink

Barclay's Southwarke Old Ale will also repay acquaintance."
Pall Mall Gazette - Monday 23 October 1922, page 5.

Another claim is that it was matured for at least a year after bottling. That's on top of the time spent maturing in a vat, which I think wqas two years. So you were looking at a beer that was probably at least three years old by the time it was drunk.

"Nearly 150 years" putd the date of the first brew probably in the early 1780s. Which is usually about the date claimed. Not sure how correct that is. I've learned not to trust brewery marketing materials. I've often found the claims - specifically ones about dates - to be inaccurate.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Provincial Mild ale after WW II

Outside London, especially in rural areas, Mild Ale started the war already as a very low-gravity beer. The war didn’t make it any stronger, but also didn’t make it that much weaker. It just didn’t have anywhere much to go.

There remained considerable regional variations in Mild Ales. Particularly in terms of colour, rate of attenuation and strength.

For example, in the Midlands, where the style was probably more popular than anywhere else, Mild Ales tended to be stronger, drier and paler in colour than in London. The combination of relatively high OG and a high rate of attenuation left many examples around 4% ABV, which was very stronger for a Mild in the immediate post-war period.

Midlands Mild Ales 1949 - 1951
Year Brewer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1949 Ansell 13 1035.4 1007.4 3.64 79.10% 50
1950 Ansell 13 1034.8 1005.2 3.85 85.06% 48
1951 Ansell 15 1038.3 1005.7 4.25 85.12% 45
1949 Atkinsons 13 1034.6 1004.8 3.88 86.13% 50
1950 Bass, Burton 15 1041.4 1008 4.34 80.68% 40
1949 Dare 13 1034.6 1006.9 3.60 80.06% 57
1949 Davenport 13 1032 1007.9 3.12 75.31% 57
1949 Frederick Smith 13 1035 1008.6 3.42 75.43% 57
1949 M & B 18 1034.6 1003.9 4.00 88.73% 35
1949 M & B 13 1034.5 1003.5 4.04 89.86% 38.5
1950 M & B 17 1034.5 1003.8 4.00 88.99% 38
1950 M & B 15 1038.4 41
1950 Offilers 13 1031.2 1004.7 3.45 84.94% 71
Average 14.2 1035.3 1005.9 3.80 83.28% 48.3
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.

In the North of England, the situation was more diverse. There was considerable variation in colour and generally lower gravities than in the Midlands. Though there were few examples at the really weak end of the spectrum, that is below 1030º.

What’s most striking is the high degree of attenuation – all are over 80%. Which must have made for quite dry and relatively thin beers. Compare this with the London examples, where only one was over 80% attenuation and many were below 70%. This must have made for beers of a very different character.

In terms of colour, there’s everything from pale amber to dark brown. It’s obvious that Mild wasn’t necessarily assumed to be dark. Again, quite a contrast with London, where all the examples, except one, were dark brown.

Northern Mild Ales 1949 - 1951
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1951 Groves & Whitnall Mild Ale 14 1030.6 1004.1 3.45 86.60% 50
1952 Hull Brewery Mild Ale (bottled) 16 1032.1 1005.6 3.44 82.55% 85
1946 Lees Bot. B 1030.0
1946 Lees K 1028.0
1946 Lees BM 1033.0
1952 Lees Bot. B 1035.0 35
1952 Lees K 1031.0 34
1952 Lees Best Mild 1034.0 100
1951 Mitchell Mild Ale 15 1037.2 1004.8 4.22 87.10% 60
1952 Tetley X 13 1031.3 58
1953 Tetley X 13 1031.4 58
1955 Thwaites Mild Ale (bottled) 16 1032.2 1006.1 3.39 81.06% 40
1951 Vaux Mild Ale 15 1035.6 1002.9 4.27 91.85% 24.5
1951 Wilsons Mild Ale 14 1034.8 1005.3 3.84 84.77% 50
1949 Burtonwood Mild Ale 13 1027.5 1003.5 3.12 87.27% 80
Average 14.3 1032.2 1004.6 3.68 85.89% 56.2
Lees brewing records held at the brewery.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Let's Brew - 1946 Barclay Perkins London Stout

Tracing the trajectory of Stout over a couple of centuries is so much fun. Where it goes from meaning any strong beer, to specifically a strong Porter to simply a black beer of any strength. This beer is about Stout’s lowest ever ebb in London.

Interestingly, the prices seem to have fallen since 1944, with London Stout – now simply called as Stout on the price list – costing just 7d per half pint, down 0.5d from 1944.  LS operated as Barclay’s base level bottled Stout. Unlike Best Stout, there was no draught version. Though, at this strength, a draught version would have effectively have been a Porter.

But let’s start rejoicing just yet. The OG has fallen, yet again. Before the addition of primings it was a mere 1029.4º. Weaker than the Table Beer version of Porter had a century before. It’s an indication of the serious fall in beer strengths in the first half of the 20th century.

The grist remains much as it has been for the last few years. With brown, amber and crystal malt, plus roast barley as the coloured grains. There had been a change in the base grain, which was swapped from mild malt to SA malt. For which I’ve substituted mild malt.

The hops were all very local: Mid-Kent Fuggles from the 1945 harvest, Mid-Kent Goldings from 1944 and East Kent Goldings from 1945.

1946 Barclay Perkins London Stout
mild malt 4.00 lb 52.22%
brown malt 0.75 lb 9.79%
amber malt 0.33 lb 4.31%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 6.53%
roast barley 1.00 lb 13.05%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 9.79%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.33 lb 4.31%
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1032.75
FG 1010
ABV 3.01
Apparent attenuation 69.47%
IBU 25
SRM 38
Mash at 144º F
After underlet 148º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Friday 25 October 2019

Whitbread Mild after WW II

Looking at Whitbread’s Mild as an example, we can observe subtle changes in the 10 years after the war’s end.

Between 1946 and 1949 the OG was constant at just under 1028º. This jumper up by about 4º in 1950, but two years later fell again by 1º. The ABV hovered just either side of the 3% mark for the whole period.

The colour darkened a fair bit over the 10 years, rising from 95 to 115. I’m sure that wasn’t accidental. Londoners had grown accustomed to their Milds being pretty dark.

Despite going up and down over the years, the hopping rate per barrel started and ended at exactly the same level: 0.71 lbs. This is reasonably high for a Mild Ale and reflects the heavier hopping that was typical of all London beers, no matter what the style.

The grist is fairly typical of Mild Ales of the period, except for the lack of adjuncts. Most breweries would have included 10-15% unmalted grains. At the start of the period this would usually have been in the form of flaked barley. As soon as the supply situation allowed, most reverted to the flaked maize they had used before the war. Whitbread, who in normal times didn’t use adjuncts, quickly dropped flaked barley, probably as soon as they could.

Note the lack of any malt darker than crystal, despite the dark brown colour of the finished beer. The colour was mostly derived from sugar. What’s listed as “other sugar” is probably Hay’s M, a type of caramel.

Whitbread Mild Ale 1946 - 1955
Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl colour
1946 XX 1027.3 1008.0 2.55 70.70% 6.02 0.71 95
1947 XX 1027.7 1005.5 2.94 80.14% 6.28 0.72 95
1948 XX 1027.7 1005.5 2.94 80.14% 7.07 0.80 85
1949 XX 1027.5 1008.0 2.58 70.91% 7.26 0.80 85
1950 Best Ale 1031.7 1010.5 2.80 66.88% 7.27 0.89 110
1951 Best Ale 1031.8 1009.0 3.02 71.70% 7.32 0.93 100
1952 Best Ale 1030.8 1008.0 3.02 74.03% 7.35 0.88 105
1953 Best Ale 1030.6 1008.5 2.92 72.22% 6.66 0.83 110
1954 Best Ale 1030.2 1010.0 2.67 66.89% 5.49 0.71 110
1955 MA 1030.9 1009.5 2.83 69.26% 5.56 0.71 115
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/114, LMA/4453/D/01/115, LMA/4453/D/01/117, LMA/4453/D/01/118, LMA/4453/D/01/119, LMA/4453/D/01/119, LMA/4453/D/01/120, LMA/4453/D/01/121 and LMA/4453/D/01/122.

Whitbread Mild Ale grists 1946 - 1955
Year Beer OG pale malt mild malt crystal malt flaked barley no. 3 sugar other sugar
1946 XX 1027.3 75.14% 7.85% 4.49% 10.47% 2.06%
1947 XX 1027.7 82.08% 8.09% 7.71% 2.12%
1948 XX 1027.7 57.30% 26.97% 7.87% 5.99% 1.87%
1949 XX 1027.5 85.55% 7.98% 4.56% 1.90%
1950 Best Ale 1031.7 86.46% 7.29% 4.17% 2.08%
1951 Best Ale 1031.8 86.61% 7.30% 4.17% 1.91%
1952 Best Ale 1030.8 86.61% 7.30% 4.17% 1.91%
1953 Best Ale 1030.6 85.71% 7.41% 4.94% 1.94%
1954 Best Ale 1030.2 79.79% 7.25% 11.05% 1.90%
1955 MA 1030.9 79.44% 6.27% 11.15% 3.14%
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/114, LMA/4453/D/01/115, LMA/4453/D/01/117, LMA/4453/D/01/118, LMA/4453/D/01/119, LMA/4453/D/01/119, LMA/4453/D/01/120, LMA/4453/D/01/121 and LMA/4453/D/01/122.

Thursday 24 October 2019

A podcast of me discussing UK brewing in WW I

Me talking about UK brewing during WW I.

You can read much, much more on the topic in my book on the Great War, Armistice!.

 Buy this wonderful book.

NHC in Nashville next year

I'm wondering about whether I should apply to speak at the NHC in Nashville next year.

It only really makes sense financially if I can arrange some other events while I'm over. So if there's anyone in the Nashville area who would like to do a collaboration beer or have give a talk, please get in touch.