Friday 31 January 2020

A British brewer describes Belgian beers in the 1880s (part four)

We now get onto the precise reason why Belgian beer was so bad. It waws all to do with their excise laws.

I did already know a little about this. Partly because the system in The Netherlands was the same, I think dating from when Belgium and Holland were a single country. It was the main reason why Lager-brewing didn't take off until quite late.

A change in the Dutch tax system in 1867 helped Lager-brewing more financially viable. Until then tax was charged on every time the mash tun was filled. For top-fermenting beers which were brewed by the infusion method, the mash tun was only filled once. With a decocted Lager, it was filled two or three times, thereby multiplying the amount of tax due. After 1867 brewers also had the option to pay tax based on the quantity of malt used. By opting for this new method of taxation, it was possible to brew bottom-fermenting beer much more cheaply.

It seems that such a choice wasn't an option in Belgium. Which could explain why so little bottom-fermenting beer was brewed there.

"The principal fault is to be traced to the ridiculous complexity of the fiscal laws, which would seem to have been devised with a view to absolutely prevent the brewer from producing a glass of wholesome ale; and the wonder is that it should have been found at all possible to cultivate a taste for the beer among the community. It is admitted on all hands that the Excise laws are attended with results disastrous to the production of really good ale, and it is further conceded that they do not constitute such a source of profit to the revenue as they might be made to do; but with an amount of red-tapeism, not altogether unknown or unrecognized in this country, they have remained practically unaltered for many years, and I was informed that there is but a slight chance of their speedily receiving any material amendment."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 14.

The author was clearly unimpressed. He explains exactly why the tax system encouraged the brewing of crap beer:

"The radical evil of the whole system is traceable to the fact that the brewer pays duty upon the contents of his mash-tun, not upon the amount of beer he may choose to produce. If he were to produce ten or one hundred barrels of wort from one brewing, he would have to pay just the same amount in duty, provided he use the same mash-tun to produce it. This being the case, it is obviously to his interest to extract as much as possible from the malt, so as to produce the maximum amount of beer from one charge of the tun. This he proceeds to do in the following remarkble manner:— The mash-tun is filled quite to the brim with grist, and in this condition is examined by the Excise officers. Liquor at a temperature of about 104° Fahr., is next introduced from below, and the rakes are started and are kept revolving during the first three hours. The temperature of the liquor is gradually raised to boiling, and once that temperature has been reached it is continued during the remainder of the mashing, which occupies the day. Upon the average no less than twenty sparges are made at the temperature indicated, so that it will readily be conceded that the brewer extracts as much as possible from his goods. It will generally be found that Belgian brew-houses are provided with two mash-tuns, both of which are filled with dry grist at the same time. When this is the case, the first runnings from the first tun are used to wet the grist in the second tun. This arrangement is demanded by law, though what possible advantage can result from it either to the brewer or the government, is a matter which is certainly not apparent upon the first blush."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 14.

Basically, the tax system encouraged brewers to overfill their mash tun with grain and to use too little water. Hence the need for a ridiculous number of sparge.

Not sure why the weird shit with two mash tuns was demanded by the government. Who knows? Belgium has always been a wacky place.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Shepherd Neame beers in 1947

By the time the war was finally over, Shepherd Neame’s range looked quite different. Not just in strength, but also in scope.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the stronger beers which have been dropped. The two strongest Pale Ales, PA and SXX have disappeared. Though the latter soon returned, as it is present in the 1950 brewing book.  Also gone is DS – Double Stout.  Though they were still brewing four different Pale Ales, as a new one, BA, had appeared. I’m guessing as a weaker replacement for PA.

As a set of beers, they’re quite a sorry bunch. Only two have a gravity above 1030º and only BA is much over 3% ABV. I’m surprised that they still brewed AK, which had started the war piss weak and ended it not that much weaker than the next strongest Pale Ale, BB. It wouldn’t be around that much longer, disappearing in the early 1950s.

The four beers which started the was around 1030º – MB, LDA, AK and SS – all lost around 10% of  their gravity over the course of the war. Not really that bad going, as the average fall in gravity was about double that. I assume that was possible due to dropping altogether the stronger beers. It still left SS looking remarkably weedy for a beer designated as “Stout”.

The same can’t be said of the hopping rate, which, for the Pale Ales, fell from just under 7 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, to a bit under 5 lbs. That’s even more than the reduction mandated by the government. Oddly, the hopping rate of the Mild is almost unchanged at around 4 lbs per quarter.

Shepherd Neame’s beers had started the war a little less hopped than average, but finished it well below. In 1940, the average hopping rate in the UK was 7.22 lbs per quarter of malt. In 1947, that was down to 5.82 lbs.

Shepherd Neame beers in 1947
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
MB Mild 1027.1 1005.5 2.86 79.74% 3.84 0.44
LDA Pale Ale 1027.1 1007.2 2.64 73.47% 4.47 0.52
AK Pale Ale 1027.1 1004.2 3.04 84.69% 4.80 0.53
BB Pale Ale 1031.3 1007.2 3.19 76.99% 4.47 0.60
BA Pale Ale 1034.3 1006.1 3.74 82.26% 4.70 0.65
SS Stout 1027.1 1006.1 2.79 77.55% 4.98 0.60
1947 Shepherd Neame brewing book, held at the brewery.

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1966 Drybrough MBA Brown Ale

I’ve only just twigged what this beer is. I can be so dumb sometimes. The big clue is that Drybrough was taken over by Watney Mann in 1965. MBA obviously stands for Mann’s Brown Ale.

Which explains why the recipe is so radically different from all their others. I say all their others. They only had the one recipe, from which they brewed Pale Ales of varying degrees of wateriness.

It must have been weird for Drybrough’s brewers to suddenly have all these exotic ingredients: crystal malt, No. 3 invert and torrefied barley. The ingredients are so different from the ones they normally used that I can only assume that it’s very similar to the London-brewed version.

With Brown Ale hugely popular at the time, Drybrough must have already had one in their portfolio. Which they doubtless constructed from 60/- plus priming sugars. With Mann’s being a renowned national brand, I’m sure Drybrough’s own Brown Ale was quickly dropped after the takeover.

1966 Drybrough MBA Brown Ale
pale malt 4.25 lb 57.90%
black malt 0.09 lb 1.23%
crystal malt 60 L 1.75 lb 23.84%
torrefied barley 0.50 lb 6.81%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.50 lb 6.81%
caramel 500 SRM 0.25 lb 3.41%
Fuggles 90 min 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.50 oz
OG 1034
FG 1012
ABV 2.91
Apparent attenuation 64.71%
IBU 13
SRM 21
Mash at 145 / 158º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

The recipe is from from my overly detailed look at post-war UK brewing, Austerity!

Which is now also available in Kindle format.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

A British brewer describes Belgian beers in the 1880s (part three)

Our British brewer friend is far from done with sticking the boot into Belgian beer. He really doesn't have a good word about anything top-fermented.

He gets the knife to several more classic Belgian styles:

"What most puzzles an outsider is to account for the intellectual twist which must have actuated the brewer who first took so much trouble to produce a beer so horribly nauseating. The majority of the Belgian beer is what is termed "coupee" - or turned, and strange to say, it is preferred by the consumer, when in that condition. This remark applies to the true running ale or Biere d'Orge, which, as a type of high fermentation ale, would undoubtedly lead to the dismissal of any one responsible for its production in an English establishment. Biere Brune is is very mild, and is not "coupee." Saison is a similar mild ale, if possible somewhat more nauseous than all the others, with the exception of lambic. Uytzet is similar to orge, and is equally nasty."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 13.
In this context, I think "coupee" means sour. While some aged British styles had a certain degree of tartness, they weren't out and out sour. Unlike in Belgium. Strange that Biere Brune shouldn't be coupee, as the name automatically makes me think of the sour Brown Beers found in parts of flanders.

British styles already had some degree of popularity, presumably on account of imports. Local brewers also took these types of beer on. Obviously, not to the satisfaction of our author.
"So-called "pale ale" and "stout" are made in Belgium and supplied under those names the various estaminets, but it certainly needs the name to recall the favourite beverages of England, and they would pass unrecognized, as such, by the most expert of our British brewers."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 13.
It doesn't sound like brewing science had advanced very far in Belgium:

"It may be necessary to assert that there is not a trace of exaggeration in any of the above statements. I have tasted the various beers for myself, and I invite your readers to do the same, but venture to warn them that it would be well to do so upon homoeopathic principles. In truth it must be allowed that in Belgium brewers have much to learn, They would seem to have devoted some attention to the perfection of plant, and have in several instances, produced machinery which we should do well to imitate; but they have scarcely recognized the fact that brewing is a science, and that false ferments should be checked in their growth, rather than encouraged. I went over a good many breweries in Belgium, but in no case could I discover that there was a microscope within reach of the brewers, and in every case I was informed, upon inquiry, that they did not possess one."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 13.
 Next we'll see the explanation for why most Belgian beer was dreadful. That'll be fun.

Monday 27 January 2020

A British brewer describes Belgian beers in the 1880s (part two)

We're back with that very unimpressed British brewer taking a look at Belgian beer.

He lays out his opinion of Belgian brewing very clearly and frankly in the opening sentence:

"THE beer produced in Belgium may be conveniently, and accurately, divided into two classes: that which is fit to drink, and that which is not. The former class is exclusively composed of low fermentation beer, manufactured upon a system, which is practically the same as that in vogue in Germany; and it should at once be stated that the Belgian lager-beer will compare very favourably with that obtainable in other continental countries. Low fermentation beer, however, constitutes but a small fraction of the total quantity of the malted beverage consumed; and the various concoctions, passing as beer, collectively recognized as the national beverage, are to state the case mildly, somewhat peculiar preparations. Lest it should be imagined that the brewer is altogether responsible for the quality and flavour of the many varieties of beer which can be tasted at the Antwerp Exhibition; it is but just to add that he brews to suite the public palate, and if we may judge by the amount of beer consumed, he is successful enough in this respect."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 12.

That's a pretty strong condemnation of the traditional Belgian beer styles. Not really unexpected, though. Belgian styles were too different and weird to be apprciated by someone used to English beers. This quote pretty much sums up his view: "the various concoctions, passing as beer". Ouch.

The author, on the other hand, clearly had a very high opinion of British beers:

"Belgium being one of the very few countries in which the high fermentation system still prevails, it is possible to institute a comparison between the brewing products of that country and our own, and I cannot but think that those gentlemen who recently visited us with the object of inspecting our leading establishments and sampling the best of our beer, must have returned not a little astonished at the superior quality of the article produced in England. It is possible, however, that the English working man has still to be educated up to a standard, which in many cases would certainly be a convenient one, but, to which he, at present, can scarcely be said to aspire; and it may possibly be that beer which is absolutely sour, scarcely ever bright, always devoid of condition, and with a flavour approximating to that of flat zoedone, may, to to those who have been duly initiated into its advantages, be deemed preferable to a glass of sparkling, mild, or bitter beer. However, this may be, it is certain that the Belgian beer corresponding to our ordinary running ale would, in this country, be scornfully returned both by the publican and his customer."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, pages 12 - 13.
If you're wodering, Zoedone was some sort of non-alcoholic drink. The comparison with it I don't think is meant to be a compliment. This is pretty damning: "our, scarcely ever bright, always devoid of condition". He makes it sound lovely, doesn't he?

Sunday 26 January 2020

A British brewer describes Belgian beers in the 1880s

I love those descriptions of British brewers' and drinkers' encounters with Belgian beer. They're unanimous in their views: they taste dreadful.

To be fair, their opinions mirror my own on first encountering Belgian beer. Many years ago at a Great British Beer Festival in the late 1970s. "Is it supposed to taste like this?" was my reaction to Lambic. It just tasted like beer which had gone incredibly off.

While we're on the topic of Lambic, let's see what the authore thought of it:

"A beverage in great demand in the neighbourhood of Brussels, and which is also regarded in a very favourable light in Antwerp, and more especially at the Salon de degustation in the Exhibition is known as Lambic. The chief peculiarity, but certainly not the principal recommendation of this very remarkable ale, is to be found in the fact that not less than three and and sometimes as many as five years are required for its preparation. It is very low in gravity, and in that respect its consumption is possible to be commended; no yeast is added to the wort after it has been boiled, but it is allowed to undergo a spontaneous fermentation by storage iu unbuuged casks, in a cellar probably more remarkable for the number and variety of fortuitous germs floating about it, than for its cleanliness. That some stray yeast-cells find their way into the casks, and alighting upon a favourable medium, multiply with rapidity, is easily conceivable; but it will scarcely be urged, that the fermentation is purely alcoholic. Indeed, the difficulty, from an English brewer's point of view, will probably be to decide as to whether the aroma be attributable to casks winch have grown musty in the service, to butyric acid, to acetic acid, or to genuine putrefactive fermentation. In any case the combination is nasty; and it would be easier to induce an English farmer to cultivate a taste for olives than for lambic."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 13.
Not exactly a ringing recommendation. Interesting that he says it's very low gravity. I've only a couple of analyses of 19th-century Lambic and one is 6.5% ABV.

Now he takes his axe to Faro:

"The second runnings of lambic wort are probably designed to develop a liking for this extraordinary article, for they are retained for the preparation of a beer known as Faro, which is practically intermediate between the running ale of the estaminets and lampic. Faro is not entirely fermented spontaneously, but has a small quantity of yeast added to it. When finished, it very much resembles a weak solution of hydrochloric acid. It may be tonic, but is not palatable, at least from our point of view."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 13.
Not sure I've ever seen it mentioned before that some yeast was added to Faro. I don't think comparing Faro to hydrochloric acid is meant to be a compliment.

"A still more extraordinary product is that known as Biere Blanche. To the uninitiated it is not unlike workhoouse gruel in appearance, and, if one may judge by reports, there is not such a very great dissimilarity between the flavour of the two articles. If white beer be bright it is considered worth the drinking; but so long as it remains thick, it is consumed with evident relish. Your readers will not be surprised to learn that white beer is not adapted for store purposes, when they are told that it is with scarcely any hops, and that only half the wort is boiled, the remainder being conveyed direct from the mash-tun to the cooler preparatory to fermentation. Before pitching, it is mixed with the half that has been boiled, and to which a few hops have been added. This unique beverage has the colour of ginger beer, but is somewhat thicker in consistency. It is no exaggeration to state that the teetotal party might render good service to their cause by introducing white beer into England."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Wednesday 01 July 1885, page 13.
Fair to say that he wasn't impressed with Witbier. Workhouse gruel: what a lovely description.

Amazing to think that some of these beers are so highly regarded nowadays.

Saturday 25 January 2020

Let's Brew - 1853 Reid KKKK

I thought I'd move away from the WW II theme today. With a super-strong 19th-century Burton Ale. From Reid, once a major force in London brewing, now mostly forgotten

The strongest X and K Ales, XXXX and KKKK had both disappeared by 1900. In London, at least.

Though between the wars Barclay Perkins brewed one. It was a winter seasonal and, if the adverts are to be believed, was dispensed from a pin on the bar. Something you still saw in the 1970’s. Marston’s Old Ale was usually served that way. I wonder if anywhere still does that?

KKKK is, as you would expect, an absolute monster of a beer. Over 11% ABV and more than 100 calculated IBUs. The perfect beer for a lunchtime session.

As with all Stock Ales, this would have been aged. In the case of a beer this strong, probably at least 12 months.

1853 Reid KKKK
pale malt 26.25 lb 100.00%
Goldings 120 mins 5.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 5.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 5.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1116
FG 1032
ABV 11.11
Apparent attenuation 72.41%
IBU 128
SRM 10
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

The above is one of the many recipes in my book Let's Brew!

And I've recently created a Kindle version of the book.

Friday 24 January 2020

Whitbread's Ale and Stout

Random price list time. Today it's the turn of Whitbread bottled beers from 1937.

It comes from a bit away from London - Grantham in Linconshire. Which is about 100 miles due North of the capital. I usually refer to Grantham as Newark's evil twin. Especially when speaking with Dolores. She wasn't impressed by Grantham.

Whitbread was one of the small group of brewers whose products were sold nationally. Though it Whitbread's case the more distant trade seems to have been exclusively bottled. Whereas others - such as Bass - also supplied draught beer all overs the country.

Listed below is pretty much the full set of Whitbread's bottled beers. The only one missing is Extra Stout. But there's a good reason for that - it was brewed exclusively for export, principally to Belgium. There's still a beer sold as Whitbread Extra Stout in Belgium

Grantham Journal - Saturday 11 December 1937, page 4.
Here are the details of the beers themselves. Plus the relative price per strength.

Whitbread bottled beers in 1937
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl price per pint (d) gravity points per d
IPA IPA 1037.1 1009.5 3.65 74.39% 10.00 1.58 7 5.30
X Mild 1033.1 1011.0 2.92 66.77% 7.92 1.12 7 4.73
DB Brown Ale 1054.7 1012.5 5.58 77.15% 9.98 2.32 9 6.08
LS Stout 1044.6 1013.0 4.18 70.85% 6.94 1.26 8.5 5.25
LOS Stout 1044.6 1013.0 4.18 70.85% 6.94 1.26 8.5 5.25
MS Stout 1057 1024.5 4.19 57.02% 6.95 1.48 10 5.70
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/103, LMA/4453/D/01/104 and LMA/4453/D/09/125.
Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number TU/6/11.

Surprisingly, Double Brown is the best value, followed by Mackeson. Though there are some caveats. The gravity given for X/Forest Brown is probably too low. From analyses I know that the real OG was higher - more like 1038º. The increase is due to the addition of primings at racking time. In value for money terms. it's prbably really about the same as IPA.

The OG and FG of Mackeson I've taken from an analysis rather than the brewing record. As the lactose added at racking time isn't recorded in the brewing record.

Thursday 23 January 2020

Tetley's grists in 1939

Tetley weren’t ones for using all sort of fancy malts in their beers. In fact, they didn’t use much malt of any kind in many of their beers.

The three weakest Mild Ales, F, X1 and X1 Pale, are only 55% malt. The rest being fairly evenly split between grits and sugar. That’s a very low proportion of malt. Though it did come several flavours.

In all the beers there were four types of pale malt, two made from English barley and two from Californian. It was pretty much an exact four-way split between the different types. Pretty soon the supply of Californian barley would dry up and brewers would revert to 100% English.

The posher beers have very different grists. There are no grits and the percentage of sugar is a bit lower, leaving them over 80% malt. That’s quite a contrast with the three cheap beers. The sugar also seems to be of a different type, though I’m not 100% sure about that as some of the entries are a bit vague.

While some of Tetley’s malt might have been made from foreign barley, the hops they used were 100% English. Mostly from Kent, but also from Worcester.

I’ve already mentioned the low hopping rate at Tetley. That was compounded by the use of a lot of rather old hops.

These beers were brewed in October 1939. So probably a little early to be seeing hops from the 1939 crop. Quite a large percentage – two-thirds, in some cases – were from the 1936 harvest. They had been kept in a cold store, but that’s still getting pretty old.

Not that exactly the same types of hops are used in everything except K, the Bitter. It contains none of the old Worcester hops and mostly ones from the 1938 season.

Tetley's grists in 1939
Beer Style OG pale malt grits caramel A Dem Albion "A" other sugar ARC
F Mild  1034.9 54.82% 23.42% 0.16% 21.60%
X1 Mild  1042.4 54.82% 23.42% 0.16% 21.60%
X1 Pale Mild  1042.9 55.09% 23.33% 0.07% 21.51%
X2 Mild  1055.4 82.25% 0.61% 17.14%
K Pale Ale 1047.9 82.54% 17.34% 0.12%
XXX Strong Ale 1090.9 82.25% 0.61% 17.14%
Tetley brewing record held at the West Yorkshire Archive Services, document number WYL756/ACC3349/557.

Tetley's hops in 1939
Beer Style OG Kent 1937 CS Kent 1938 Kent 1938 CS Worcester 1936 CS
F Mild  1034.9 24.88% 37.56% 37.56%
X1 Mild  1042.4 24.88% 37.56% 37.56%
X1 Pale Mild  1042.9 25.00% 37.50% 37.50%
X2 Mild  1055.4 25.20% 12.40% 62.40%
K Pale Ale 1047.9 37.27% 50.13% 12.60%
XXX Strong Ale 1090.9 25.20% 12.40% 62.40%
Tetley brewing record held at the West Yorkshire Archive Services, document number WYL756/ACC3349/557.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1941 Boddington IP

There’s an eight month gap in Boddington’s wartime brewing records. Because on 23rd December 1940 the brewery was seriously damaged in an air raid. Brewing didn’t restart until 25th August 1941.

There are quite a few differences between this version of IP and the one from the end of 1940. For a start, the gravity has been slashed by 5º. Though an increased degree of attenuation has left the ABV little changed.

The flaked rice has been dropped again and replaced by . . . nothing. I’m not sure if there’s any adjunct in the grist or not. Because the brewing record is a bit vague about the wheat. It could be flaked wheat or wheat malt. I really don’t know.

That aside, the grist remains pretty simple. English pale malt, malt extract and touch of enzymic malt and two types of sugar FL and B. No idea what they were, so I’ve substituted No. 2 invert.

The hopping rate has fallen a little, from 7.25 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt to 7lbs. There were two types of copper hops, both English, from the 1940 harvest and kept in a cold store.

Another change is the yeast, which is described as “Tadcaster”. As they hadn’t brewed for several months, it’s no surprise that they didn’t have any yeast to hand. It is odd that they got yeast from Yorkshire rather than closer by. I’m guessing that it was either from the Tower Brewery (later owned by Bass Charrington) or John Smith.

1941 Boddington IP
pale malt 7.50 lb 86.61%
flaked wheat 0.33 lb 3.81%
malt extract 0.33 lb 3.81%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.50 lb 5.77%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1040
FG 1008
ABV 4.23
Apparent attenuation 80.00%
IBU 30
Mash at 146º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Adnams Southwold bottled beers (part two)

We're back with this 1938 Adnams advertisement.

Diss Express - Friday 30 December 1938, page 8.
Remember how I mentioned yesterday there was a reason for the rather specific claim: "These three Beers are guaranteed now, for some years past, brewed from English Barley Malt, English Hops, and Cane Sugar only."

Odd, as Adnams brewed four beers at the time? Where's PA, their Bitter? This is why:

Look at the entry that goes over the "M" in MALTS. Itsays "Cali" at the end. Meaning it's malt made from Californian barley.

I've no idea why only PA would include malt made from foreign barley.  It's a mystery.

Adnams were unusual in not using unmalted grains. Even for most of the years of WW II their beers were malt and sugar only.

Monday 20 January 2020

Adnams Southwold bottled beers

I'm a bit of a saddo in many ways. Illustrated by my level of excitement about finding this advertisement:

Diss Express - Friday 30 December 1938, page 8.
Why, I hear you ask.? Because I can match it up with the beers in a brewing record. As I have a very full set of Adnams records (thanks Fergus).

But this is even more special, as there are such specific claims about the ingredients used. It claims: "English Barley Malt only". And also "These three Beers are guaranteed now, for some years past, brewed from English Barley Malt, English Hops, and Cane Sugar only."

You see these boasts occasionally in advertisements. Being in the position of check it makes be unresonably happy. You're probably wondering how dull my life is if something like this gets me excited. The answer: not as dull as it appears.

These are the beers from a few months later (May 1939):

Adnams beers in 1939
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
22nd May XX Mild Ale 1029 1006.1 3.03 78.99% 4.93 0.58
24th May XXXX Old Ale 1055 1017.7 4.93 67.77% 6.94 1.53
23rd May PA Pale Ale 1039 1010.0 3.84 74.43% 8.00 1.27
8th Jun DS Stout 1042 1013.3 3.80 68.34% 5.78 1.01
Adnams brewing record Book 26 held at the brewery.

Adnams beers fit in really well with the interwar strength/price matrix. Looking at the gravities, XX, Double Stout and XXXX would sell for 4d, 6d and 8d per pint, on draught in a public bar. Bottled pints went for about 1d more than draughts, so it all makes perfect sense.

But have you noticed something odd? When you compare the advert and my table? All will be revealed tomorrow.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Tetley's beers in 1939

To say Tetley started the war with an unusual range of beers is a bit of an understatement. Four Mild Ales, a Bitter and a Strong Ale.

Some of the Milds had a very long history. X1 and X2 had been around since at least the 1840s. That’s an awfully long time. Managing to survive WW I as a strong Mild was quite an achievement.

K had been around quite a while, arriving in the 1860s. Though it seems to have changed character, and possibly even style, since its inception. Early versions were incredibly lightly hopped – 2 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt – when their Mild were getting between 6 lbs and 8 lbs.

In the 1880s, when the hopping rate of Milds dropped to between 4 lbs and 6lbs, that of K was boosted to 10 lbs. A massive change. Which seems to have transformed K into a Pale Ale. When the stronger PA was dropped towards the end of WW I, it became Tetley’s only Bitter.

F – which surely stands for Family Ale – is a beer I can remember. In the 1970s, unavailable on draught, it was essentially bottled Mild. I’m not sure if this version was ever sold on draught. I suspect it might have, given that it’s around the strength of interwar Ordinary Mild.

While X1 looks very much like a 6d per pint Best Mild. X2 I’m really not sure about. It’s awfully strong for a 1930s Mild. I can’t remember seeing another of this strength. So perhaps it was sold as a draught Old Ale.

The hopping rates are very low. More in line with Scotland than England. Fullers. For example, hopped their Mild and Burton Ales at 7 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) or malt and their Pale Ales at 9 lbs. While Lees over the Pennines hopped both their Mild and Bitter and around 7 lbs per quarter.

What’s missing from the set? A Stout of any description. I could just have missed it. But it’s also missing from the records from the 1920s and earlier 1930s which I have.

Tetley's beers in 1939
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp
F Mild  1034.9 1011.6 3.08 66.67% 3.76 0.51 62º
X1 Mild  1042.4 1011.4 4.10 73.20% 3.76 0.61 63º
X1 Pale Mild  1042.9 1013.9 3.85 67.74% 4.23 0.71 63º
X2 Mild  1055.4 1011.9 5.75 78.50% 4.72 1.08 62º
K Pale Ale 1047.9 1011.6 4.80 75.72% 4.77 0.88 62º
XXX Strong Ale 1090.9 1030.2 8.03 66.77% 4.72 1.76 62º
Tetley brewing record held at the West Yorkshire Archive Services, document number WYL756/ACC3349/557.