Saturday 30 November 2019

Let's Brew - 1939 Barclay Perkins Ale

At the watery end of Barclay’s Mild parti-gyle was A (standing for “Ale”), a successor to the Government Ales of WW I.

It first appeared in the spring of 1918 under the name of Ale 4d. 4d (fourpence) being the price per pint. As you’d expect from a price-controlled beer during WW I, it wasn’t very strong, just 1025.6º. It was replaced Barclay Perkins Government Ale and for a while during 1918 and 1919 was the only Mild produced by Barclay Perkins, X Ale having been discontinued.

The biggest surprise is that, even after the return of full-strength Mild in the summer of 1919, Barclay Perkins continued to brew A. Though it quite small quantities. A typical parti-gyle in the early 1920s consisted of over 1,000 barrels of X and just 100-odd of A.

By the time WW II rolled around, nothing much had changed. A was still very much the junior partner in the parti-gyle, though by this point there were two other beers it was brewed with: X and XX.

During the mid-1930s there had been a variation on A called RA (Royal Ale), which seems to have been brewed for George V’s Jubilee in 1926. It was the same basic beer as A, but primed differently. It contained more and darker primings, leaving it a little stronger, and quite a bit darker, than plain old A.

1939 Barclay Perkins Ale
pale malt 1.50 lb 22.06%
mild malt 2.50 lb 36.76%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 7.35%
amber malt 0.25 lb 3.68%
flaked maize 1.25 lb 18.38%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 11.03%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.05 lb 0.74%
Fuggles 150 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.25 oz
OG 1031.5
FG 1007.5
ABV 3.18
Apparent attenuation 76.19%
IBU 18
SRM 12.5
Mash at 146º F
After underlet 154º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Friday 29 November 2019

Scottish Shilling Ales in the 1840s

These beers formed the bulk of production in Scotland until the growth of Pale Ale in the second half of the century. The name derived from the wholesale price per 54-gallon hogshead. They have no connection with the 60/-, 70/- and 80/- of post-WW II.

Though not everything with a shilling designation was what I’m calling a Shilling Ale. You also had things like 54/- Stout or 60/- Pale Ale. Shilling Ales were essentially the Scottish version of Mild Ale. Unlike English Mild Ales, however, they were mostly sold in bottled form. After racking, hogsheads or half hogsheads were sent to bottlers, who repackaged the beer and sold it.

At William Younger in the late 1840’s, there were seven Shilling ales, ranging in gravity from 1043º to 1134º. That’s a considerable spread, but they did have several features in common, such as a poor degree of attenuation and relatively modest hopping, though this wasn’t always the case at the top end of the strength range.

To put the hopping into context, English Mild Ales at this time had 8-9 lbs of hops per quarter. Looking at the hopping per quarter of malt allows the comparison of beers of different gravities. You can see in the table below that the rate was rather lower, around 4lbs per quarter, for most of William Younger’s Shilling Ales.

Scotch Ales in the 1840's 
£3 1080-86 1032-35 6.625
£4 1090-95 1036-39 7
£5 1100-1108 1040-44 7.75
£6 1110-1116 1045-47 8.375
£7 1120-1125 1048-50 9.25
Scottish Ale Brewer, WH Roberts, Edinburgh, 1847, page 117

William Younger Shilling Ales 1848 - 1849
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
19th Apr 1848 42/- 1043 1012 4.10 72.09% 15.00 2.65
19th Feb 1848 60/- 1074 1037 4.89 50.00% 3.33 1.18
13th Mar 1848 80/- 1088 1038 6.61 56.82% 4.00 1.69
5th Oct 1848 100/- 1101 1039 8.20 61.39% 4.52 2.16
18th Feb 1848 120/- 1112 1045 8.86 59.82% 4.17 2.70
11th Mar 1848 140/- 1130 1059 9.39 54.62% 7.61 4.71
4th Apr 1849 160/- 1134 1063 9.39 52.99% 12.96 7.94
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/3.

The above is an excerpt from my book Scotland! vol.  2, the best book ever written about Scottish beer. Get your copy now!

Thursday 28 November 2019

Inside a 1920s bar (part five)

More excruciating detail about a 1920s bar. I do love this stuff. Despite how ultimately useless this information is.

Today we start with something about measures. This was an area where publicans had to take particular are on account of various legal requirements.

"Note: if a half-pint is asked for, a Government Stamped Measured Glass must be supplied.

If a glass is called for, it may be supplied in a five to the quart glass.

All other measures of beer must be sold in pints, quarts, or gallons, and not in fractions.

It is illegal to serve over measure in the sale of beer, and it is equally an offence to sell under measure.

The particular sizes of glasses you use for soda-water, bottled beers, etc., do not signify, as regards measure.

You are bound, by law, to have stamped pint and half-pint glasses or mugs.

Opaque mugs are not now generally popular, as customers take a great deal of pleasure in criticising the condition of the beers they buy. A few tankards for the saloon bar are necessary.

If measures become dented or bulged, they should be taken out of the bar, and correct ones substituted, as a prosecution would result in conviction."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, pages 213 - 214.

A couple of points about the beer measures. I'm surprised that nips (third of a pint) aren't mentioned at all. This having been one of the permitted measures - along with half pints and pints - when I was younger.

And the "glass", well such a vague, unmarked measure definitely wasn't allowed when I was younger. I've seen mention of it as a measure in texts from WW I. I didn't realise it continued after the war. I'd be intrigued to know exactly when it was outlawed. At five to a quart, it's half way between a third and a half pint.

It might seem odd that an over measure was banned. This is a hangover from WW I. Some landlords had deliberately served over measures to attract custom.

Part can be quite cutting at times. I love this: "customers take a great deal of pleasure in criticising the condition of the beers they buy". You can tell some punters really pissed him off.

Why were tankards needed for the saloon bar? Because some middle-aged toss-pots rewuested them?

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Next May in Washington

Hi there. Trying to plan next year's romping aroung the USA in my typical anarchic way.

Here's what's set so far: fly to Seattle, do shit there.

It's all a bit vague after that. Other than return to Seattle, get pissed in airport, fly back to Amsterdam.

Idaho is an option. As a state I've never visited, it's high up my list. But I coild be easily diverted by anywhere in the Northeast USA I've never visited before.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1939 Adnams Double Stout

Despite the popularity of national brands like Guinness and Mackeson, the vast majority of UK brewers continued to make their own Stout. Even relatively small and rural ones, such as Adnams.

Though, in contrast to London brewers, such regional Stouts were available exclusively in bottled form. Draught Stouts was, in most parts of the country, just a memory by the start of the war.

As with most of Adnams other beers, their Double Stout was on the weak side. It’s about 5º lower in gravity than the bottom-level Stouts from London brewers, such as Whitbread and Barclay Perkins. 1042º is about as weak as English Stout got before WW II.

The grist is different from the classic London pale, brown, black malt combination. Here it consists of mild, crystal, amber and chocolate malt. Plus, of course, some invert sugar and caramel for extra colour and flavour.

That the hops were English is about all I can tell you about them. The brewing record has no record of their type or year of harvest.

1939 Adnams Double Stout
mild malt 7.00 lb 73.68%
crystal malt 80 L 0.50 lb 5.26%
amber malt 0.50 lb 5.26%
chocolate malt 0.50 lb 5.26%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 7.89%
caramel 2000 SRM 0.25 lb 2.63%
Fuggles 120 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1042
FG 1013
ABV 3.84
Apparent attenuation 69.05%
IBU 26
SRM 39
Mash at 147.5º F
After underlet 156º F
Sparge at 163º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Christmas gift suggestions

It's that time of year again. When I try to shift some books in the hope of being able to afford Christmas presents for the kids.

First is my most recent masterpiece, Armistice!, which takes a detailed look at the exciting world of WW I brewing. Including some of the most watery beer recipes ever.

 Buy this wonderful book.

To summarise the next book: seemingly the dullest of matt shades post-war period is way more fun than you might think. Or maybe that's just me bigging it up. Buy the effing thing and make up your own mind.

Now my contract limitations have expired, I can tart to my heart's content what  I like to call my expansion pack to The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. Recipes? That's all it is. Loads  and loads of them. With North American and Lager recipes that Idropped from the original book for reasons of space.

My pride and joy. An award-winning book. The truth about Scottish beer and brewing. If I could find some bastard to publish it properly, I'm sure it would shake the world to its very foundations. Or at least joggle the odd noddle. 

You can find more of my lovely books here:

Inside a 1920s bar (part four)

We're back inside that 1920s bar, this time looking more closely at the sale of beer.

There had been many rumpours distributed - especially after the 1880 Free Mash Tun Act - about the dangerous substances used to brew beer. Total bollocks, for the most part. Though the rumours were, inevitably, mostly started by temperanve twats.

"Beers.— A number of people always imagine that beer is brewed from deleterious materials, and retailed at outrageously high prices, as the following impromptu lines written by a famous wit to a no less famous Brewer in days long gone by, show:
"They've raised the price of table drink.
What is the reason, do you think?
The tax on malt's the cause, I hear;
But what has malt to do with beer!"

You can assure your customers that no Brewers of reputation brew from any substance that is harmful to health, and that, if asked to pay more than their share towards the expenses consequent upon the war, their predecessors, in Sheridan's time, had the same privilege. If, therefore, beer seems to be harmful, it must be, as the old lady said, "On account of the exciseman's stick"! The mere fact that the beer in a Licensed House sometimes differs from the same quality at the Brewery is no proof that it is harmful!

Any deterioration in the quality must be attributed to the "tyranny of trade." Is not beer the great irrigator of Conservative principles?"
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, pages 212 - 213.

I can't really argue with that last sentence. Mostly because I've no idea what it means. Sounds good, mind.

The next section gets into some specifics about beer pricing.

"Beer Prices.
Saloon Bars.  Public Bars.
Mild 8d. and 7d. per pint 7d. and 6d. per pint
Bitter  8d.        „ „  7d.        „ „
Best Bitter 9d.        „ „  8d.        „ „

The duty on beer is 100s. per standard barrel.

It has been suggested that it is wrong to rob the poor man of his beer. Is it more right for the Government, as a sleeping partner in the Trade, to rob the poor man through his beer?

Bottled Beers.
0.5 pints 6d. saloon bars only.
0.5 pints 8d. Bass and Guinness.

The average percentage of gross profit in a public bar is 18 to 20 per cent.

The average percentage of gross profit in a saloon bar is 35 to 40 per cent."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 213.

This book was published at a very strange point in time. Price controls on beer had only been abolished in August 1921. Presumably about the time this book was being written.

I would argue about the prices quoted. In London at this point, there were Mild Ales at 5d, 6d and 7d per pint. While Ordinary Bitter was usually 8d and Best Bitter 9d. Mild Ales would be around 1028º, 1035º and 1043º; Bitter 1047º and 1054º. In general, beers would have a gravity just over the minimum allowed for the price.

Price control 1917-1921
Price Oct-17 Apr-18 Feb-19 Jul-19 Apr-20
2d <1019 span="">
3d <1022 span=""> 1020-1026 <1019 span="">
4d <1036 span=""> <1030 span=""> 1023-1028 1027-1032 1020-1026
5d 1036-1042 1030-1034 1029-1034 1033-1038 1027-1032
6d 1035-1041 1039-1045 1033-1038
7d 1042-1049 1045-1053 1039-1045
8d >1050 >1054 1045-1053
9d >1054
The Brewers' Almanack 1928 pages 100 - 101.
"The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980"

This was also the brief period when beer duty was 100 shillings (five quid) per standard barrel. In 1924 it was reduced, but in an odd way. The official duty remained ay 100 shillings, but there was a rebate of 20 shillings per bulk barrel. Something which penalised the brewing of stronger beer. It's effect was to knock off 1d per pint from the pricek

I'm pleased to see the profit margins specified. As I suspected, they were very low in the public bar. Obviously, they were higher in the posh side as the prices were higher.

Monday 25 November 2019

Northern Brown Ale after WW II

The North is probably where Brown Ale was the most diverse. Partly due to the tradition of Strong Brown Ales in the Northeast. For this reason, I’ve split the examples into two tables, one for standard-strength versions, another for strong ones.

Even though these are “standard” Brown Ales, a couple are surprisingly strong, with gravities around 1040º. I’m guessing that these probably aren’t tweaked versions of Mild, as the gravities are just too high. You didn’t really get Mild of that strength in the North.

Some examples are much better value than others. Walker’s Brown Peter is considerably stronger than Duttons Nut Brown – 10º and 1% ABV – yet retailed for the same price. Easy enough for brewers to get away with when there was no indication of a beer’s strength on the label.

There’s quite a range in degrees of attenuation from under 60% to over 80%. Taddy Brown Ale being the poorest attenuated and Brown Peter the best.

Most examples are reasonably dark, though there are a couple in the 40-50 twilight zone between pale and truly dark.

Some Brown Ales from the Northeast of England are in a very different style. Stronger, and at the palest end of the style’s colour spectrum.

Averaging around 1050º and 5% ABV, I assume that Double Maxim was brewed in reaction to Newcastle Brown, a beer brewed by their biggest local rival. As we’ll see later, this type of beer wasn’t just limited to the Northeast of England. Some Scottish breweries produced similar beers.

Standard Northern Brown Ale after WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1952 Duttons Nut Brown Ale 20 1029.9 1005.8 3.13 80.60% 56
1952 Greenhall Whitley Wilderspool Brown Ale 20 1038.7 1008.5 3.92 78.04% 80
1952 Hammonds United Brown Jack Ale 18 1029.5 1005.8 3.08 80.34% 105
1952 Hey & Son White Rose Ale 20 1040.7 1007.9 4.27 80.59% 60
1951 Peter Walker Brown Peter Ale 20 1039.2 1008.3 4.02 78.83% 90
1952 Peter Walker Brown Peter Ale 20 1038.6 1006.7 4.15 82.64% 44
1948 Samuel Smith Taddy Brown Ale 18 1032.5 1013.8 2.41 57.54% 95
1952 Samuel Smith Taddy Ale 15.5 1034.5 1008.5 3.37 75.36% 90
1948 Tennant Bros. Brown Ale 18 1031.8 1010.2 2.79 67.92% 68
1952 Tetley Family Ale 15 1035.5 1009 3.44 74.65% 54
1950 Vaux Maxim Ale 14 1033.5 1009.7 3.08 71.04% 105
Average 18.0 1034.9 1008.6 3.42 75.23% 77.0
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Strong Northern Brown Ale after WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1949 Newcastle Breweries Brown Ale 22 1051.6 1012.2 5.12 76.36% 46
1951 Newcastle Breweries Brown Ale 22 1052.5 1011.8 5.30 77.52% 44
1950 Vaux Double Maxim 19 1048.7 1011.2 4.88 77.00% 46
1952 Vaux Double Maxim 23 1049 1009.8 5.10 80.00% 48
Average 21.5 1050.5 1011.3 5.10 77.72% 46.0
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Sunday 24 November 2019

Inside a 1920s bar (part three)

Still not finished with my glance inside a 1920s pub. It's fascinating stuff. Though maybe a bit too detailed for some.

Some of Part's recommendations make obvious sense. Others are a little more confusing. Why, for example, was he so against advertisements and glass?

"Have no advertisements at the back of the bar, and avoid bevelled glass, if glass there must be.

Included in the bar equipment should be some, at least, of the equipment of a still-room, including a salamander; for light and quick grilling and toasting, and the continuous-flow combined tea and coffee urns, heated by gas."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 210.

The presence of these items make it obvious Part isn't talking about a back-street local, but a more presigious, food-oriented outlet. Until recently, it was exrtremely rare to find tea or coffee served in a pub.

The next section describles kit which is purely designed for the service of food.

"Let me return now to the fitments under the counter. Some of the panels, in the front, should be made removable for the adjustment of the various fittings put into the under-counter. Among the open fixtures should be those for bottles, tea-pots, etc., strong, zinc-lined, partitioned drawers or bins, lead-lined, and cooled wells for mineral water bottles, and spaces for baskets for empty bottles.

The back fitting should be divided into two or three portions by the two doors to the service department, and should comprise a range of cupboards below, with sliding doors, and with show cases above.

The cupboards should be capacious in design, and have panelled and moulded doors, sliding on steel rails, with ball-bearing runners, and specially arranged to allow of quick service.

Each show case should be fitted with glass shelves, adjustable every two inches in height, for display purposes. Between the show cases should be solid panels of the same wood as the rest of the woodwork, with glass shelves on heavy nickel-plated brackets.

Opposite the openings through the counter should be two sliding hatches, communicating with the service department; the hatches, when lifted, should slide behind the woodwork panels, and be supported by counterbalance weights.

Dumb-waiters, and cupboards consisting of two sets (or one set), on the side walls, in the public portion of the room, should be fitted, so that one cupboard is placed on either side of the dumb-waiter. The above, it must be admitted, is a counsel of perfection in bar-fitting for a Restaurant service."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 210.

It all sounds rather complicated and expensive.

The book contains a handy illustration of what such a bar should look like. Does it remind you of anything?

Looks very much like a Wetherspoons to me.

Saturday 23 November 2019

Let's Brew - 1939 Truman B3

At Burton, Truman produced a fairly baffling range of beers. There were, as you would expect, several Pale Ales. But there were also Mild Ales and various numbered Burton Ales. Such as this one.

How and where these beers were sold, I have no idea. There doesn’t seem to have been a great deal of them brewed. As this one has a B prefix, I’m assuming that it was a bottled beer.

The grist is exactly the same as for their Pale Ales: pale and high dried malt, flaked maize and invert sugar. The specific type isn’t mentioned in the brewing record.

It isn’t so strange that the recipe was the same as for Pale Ale, as this was part of a parti-gyle. A rather odd one, which included R4 and P2. What was particularly unusual, is that only B3 was as brewed. P2 brewed at 1036.8 then blended with 175 barrels of B3 to bring it up to its usual OG of 1047.4º. R4 was similarly a mix of B3 and the weak P2, but with rather more of the former.

I don’t know much about the hops, other than that they were English.

1939 Truman B3
pale malt 9.50 lb 74.51%
high dried malt 1.75 lb 13.73%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 7.84%
No. 1 invert sugar 0.50 lb 3.92%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1056
FG 1017.5
ABV 5.09
Apparent attenuation 68.75%
IBU 29
Mash at 151.5º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1028 London Ale (Worthington White Shield)

Friday 22 November 2019

Midlands Brown Ale after WW II

Brown Ale really took off after WW II. It would have been bigger during the war, but shortages of bottles, crates and even crown corks restricted the production of bottled beer. It also profited from the shift from draught to bottled beer, prompted by the often poor quality of cask beer.

As, just like with Mild, there were considerable regional variation in Brown Ales, I’ve split them up geographically.

Beginning with the Midlands. This was a real stronghold of Mild and the examples tended to be a bit stronger than average. This tendency can also be seen in the region’s Brown Ales. No surprise, really, as most of them were doubtless really bottled versions of the brewery’s Mild.

dry beers. The exception being the 1952 Northampton example, which, with a finishing gravity of 1013º, must have been reasonably sweet.  The high attenuation also means that the ABV of a majority of the samples is 315% ABV or higher.

The colours are all over the place. Most fall in semi-dark territory. Though the two from the Northampton Brewery are very dark. The 1952 example being almost as dark as a Stout.

Midlands Brown Ale after WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1952 Ansell Nut Brown Ale 16 1036.2 1005.8 3.96 83.98% 48
1949 Davenport Brown Ale 13.5 1031 1004 3.51 87.10% 60
1948 Everards Nut Brown Ale 18 1030.8 1003.7 3.53 87.99% 62
1948 Northampton Brewery Brown Ale 18 1032.4 1008.4 3.11 74.07% 150
1952 Northampton Brewery Brown Ale 18 1038 1013 3.23 65.79% 200
1952 Shipstone Nut Brown Ale 15 1033.3 1006.7 3.45 79.88% 62
Average 16.4 1033.6 1006.9 3.47 79.80% 97.0
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Southwestern Mild Ales 1949 - 1951

We conclude this series on Mild just after WW II with a look at examples from the Southwest. Which, as I know from personal experience, was one of the first areas where Mild started to become rare.  By the late 1970s many breweries in the region had discontinued their cask Mild. It was difficult to find the Mild of the ones who did continue to brew it.

Looking in the 1980 Good Beer Guide, there was no cask Mild from any of these breweries: Arkell, Blue Anchor, Devenish, Eldridge Pope, Gibbs Mew, Hall & Woodhouse, Palmer, St. Austell, Usher, Wadworth and Whitbread Cheltenham. The only brewery still making one was the Courage brewery in Plymouth, with its excellent Heavy. Coincidentally, this is one of the breweries featured in the table.

Based on my later experience of beers from the region, I’d expected the Milds to be on the weaker side. While, in fact, the opposite is true. This could just be due to the small sample size. In most other parts of England, the West Midlands excepted, Milds averaged just over 1030º, with many examples around 1028º. Here the weakest example was 1032.6º.

As in pretty much every part of the country, other than London, the rate of attenuation is mostly pretty high. Leaving the average ABV only just shy of 4% ABV. Pretty strong for a Mild in the immediate post-war period.

With the exception of the Brain beer, which is from Wales so not really the Southwest, none of the examples is fully dark. A couple are very pale and the others what I would describe as semi-dark.

Southwestern Mild Ales 1949 - 1951
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1950 Plymouth Breweries Mild Ale 17 1038.1 1006.9 4.06 81.89% 42
1951 Plymouth Breweries Mild Ale 18 1040.3 1009.5 4.00 76.43% 42
1949 St. Annes Brewery Mild Ale 13 1034.9 1003 4.16 91.40% 20
1950 Starkey, Knight & Ford Mild Ale 14 1037.8 1008.5 3.80 77.51% 50
1949 City Brewery Mild Ale 13 1032.6 1006.8 3.35 79.14% 21
1951 Brains Mild Ale 15 1033.9 1004.3 3.85 87.32% 85
Average 15 1036.3 1006.5 3.87 82.28% 43.3
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.