Tuesday 30 June 2020

A new book

I've just knocked out a little book on IPA. Not a definitive book, by any means. Just a snapshot of UK IPA around the time of WW II.

This slim volume will tell you all you need to know about IPA during WW II. And, as a spacial bonus, there are a couple of dozen home brew IPA recipes.

If you're interested in IPA and WW II this is the book for you:

Currently it's only available in Kindle format. There will be a paperback Lulu version when O can be arsed.

More beer

More about permitted output, too.

The limitation of brewers' output was a rather bluny instrument. Which didn't always operate fairly. For example in Thanet, which had seen its population increase greatly after the end of the war:


Two days after the Hon. Edward Carson, M.P. for Thanet, had promised local licensees that he would continue his efforts to increase the “beer ration" for the district, news came that he has been successful in a five-months fight on their behalf.

Licensed premises were short of beer this summer because supplies were based on the breweries’ output for the year ended 30th September last year. In addition to the great influx of visitors the population of the district has considerably increased since then — in fact the number of Parliamentary electors has risen from about 44,000 to over 65,000.

Addressing a meeting of the Isle of Thanet Licensed Retailers Protection Society at the Royal Oak Hotel, Ramsgate, on Tuesday, Mr. Carson said he thought that bad distribution was the reason for the shortages. He had already contacted the Ministry of Food and the Mayor of Ramsgate was also taking steps to help them."
Thanet Advertiser - Friday 01 November 1946, page 4.

It seems that the local MP managed to get a concession from the government.

"Dr. Summerskill's Letter
Although Mr. Carson did not tell the licensees, he has been championing their cause since May and on Thursday he received the following letter, signifying his success, from Dr. Edith Summerskill, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food:

"You wrote to Mr. Strachey on 7th and 10th October about beer supplies for the Isle of Thanet . . We have changed the datum year on which the current output of beer was based from the year ended 30th September, 1945, to the year ended 31st March, 1946, when the output was nearer the level of the present day demand. The effect of this change will be that the permitted output of two of the four brewers concerned will be increased and the output of the other brewers whose production on the new datum was less than in the old will (by arrangement with the Brewers’ Society) be favourably adjusted on hardship grounds in relation to the new datum. The general result will be an increase in the supplies of beer for Thanet.""
Thanet Advertiser - Friday 01 November 1946, page 4.
What struck me about this is how it was all about the four local breweries. Which implies that the majority of beer being drunk in Thanet was produced locally. Something which wouldn't have been the case a couple of decades later.

If you're wondering where the Isle of Thanet is, I'd best let you know that it isn't an island anymore. It's the top right hand corner of Kent, and includes the towns of Ramsgate and Margate,

Beer was in such short supply that pubs couldn't open every day. How sad is that?

"Talk to L.Vs.
Mr. Carson told the licensees that, although he was not qualified to speak about beer, he was aware of the position which faced local publicans at the present time. The quota of beer allowed was being based on the war-time census figures  —which was wholly unfair, for the population of Thanet towns had greatly increased since the end of the war. He had heard that some houses were able to open only on four days each week.

"There is a strong anti-drink feeling in the House at the moment,” he said. "It is much stronger than is usual, but I do not hold that view.”

Following his address Mr. Carson was told by one licensee that his custom had increased four times since the war, but he was still only receiving a beer quota based on the population flgures for the war period. Although the shortage seemed to be nation-wide, it looked as though Thanct was being treated very unfairly in comparison with other areas."
Thanet Advertiser - Friday 01 November 1946, page 4.
Those bastard anti-drink MPs.

Monday 29 June 2020

Another discount code

You can get 15% off all my Lulu print books until 11:59 PM July 3rd by using this code:


The perfect opportunity to pick up some of my wonderful books cheaply.

Favourite places to drink

This isn't going to be what you might expect. Because it's not just about where. It's also about when.

My absolute favourite place ever to drink was 1980s Prague. In the communist days. There are several reasons why it was my favourite.

Number one, obviously, was the beer. I've never been anywhere with such overall high quality of beer a s Czechoslovakia. Everywhere else I've been, there's been a mixture of good, indifferent and bad beer. In 1980s Czechoslvakia that wasn't the case. All the beer was at least reasonably good. And some of it was amazingly good.

I got off to a good start. On my first visit to Prague, my train arrived at around 7 AM. Which gave me enough time to check into my hotel and get to U Fleků for opening time. Back then it wasn't the tourist trap it is today. The beer was amazing, dark and rich. And I'm pretty sure at the time it was 14º rather than 13º.

I can still remember my first taste of Pilsner Urquell. One sip changed my ideas about pale Lager forever. Light, crisp, malty and topped off with a wonderful dose of Saaz bitterness. I understood immediately why one beer had changed the world.

But Prague wasn't all about pale Lager. There were some pretty good dark beer, too. Not just at  U Fleků. U Malvaze, a tiny pub close to Charles Bridge served the magnificent Braník 12% dark. One of my all time favourite dark Lagers. Sadly no more. Disappeared, along the the brewery,

U Supa sold another wonderful Braník beer, the 14º pale Lager. Another cracker. And another lost beer.

For those into something more mainstream, U Medvídků sold Budweiser 12º. A famous beer, but deservedly so. Maybe not quite reaching the heights of Pilsner Urquell, but a damned good beer.

The pubs were cool, too. Often pretty basic, but joyful and welcoming. And, even in the city centre, full of locals, not damned tourists.

I'm so glad that I visited several times. Because it's all now disappeared. Or almost. Hostinec U Rotundy is pretty much unchanged. One last reminder of a lost city. Damn you, capitalism.

Sunday 28 June 2020

Backing the wrong horse

Not so much beery today. More 20-2-20 eyesight. Respectively.

More a demonstration of how the world changes. This must have made total sense on 1948.

"There are tremendous developments in connection with the steel trade taking place in Aberavon, a town where fortunately we have a representative number of licensed houses. There are similar developments it Llanelly, although not on quite such a large scale, where we are well represented. But it is to coal that we must look for the future, coal and everything that goes with it such as shipment of coal and the manufacture of steel and so forth. There has been an increase in production, although the returns from South Wales pits are by no means the best, and there has been during the first six months of this year quite a fair increase in the export of coal. Unfortunately I am afraid that the quality of the coal is very unsatisfactory, and the price appears to go up as the quality goes down. It is true that to some small extent South Wales ports are now being used for export trade, and that the modern cold storage plant at the Cardiff Docks, which was installed during the War, has been partially used by the Ministry of Food.

Also, there are new factories completed, some occupied and some not, but the amount of labour employed in these new industries bears no relation to the employment in the coal trade. When producers of coal realise their tremendous responsibility, then we shall have little fear of the future, and the prosperity that should follow and benefit all classes of the community."
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.

Yeah - coal is the future.

I'm off to lie down now. Too long a park bench session with Mikey this arvo. Feeling a bit tired.  But not too emotional. Just tired, really.

Saturday 27 June 2020

Let's Brew - 1847 William Younger 100/-

I thought I'd stick with the 19th century for a while. Everyone must be getting totally fed up with watery 1940s beers. You certainly couldn't accuse this of being watery.

In the late 1840’s Younger was brewing Table Beer, a bit of Pale and Stock Ale, and bucket-loads of Shilling Ales.

They varied hugely in strength, from 42/- at 1043º to 160/- at 1134º. The main difference between the beers at the top and bottom end was the hopping. Up to 60/- was hopped at 4lbs per quarter of malt, 120/- upwards at 8-9 lbs. The two beers inbetween, 80/- and 100/-, seem to have been made in two variations. One with the higher level of hopping and one with the lower. This example is of the latter kind.

In English terms, this would be a strong Mild Ale that was a little light on the hops. 100% pale malt, as almost everything was at this point, and a few quality English hops. A London Mild of this strength would have contained about double the hops.

1847 William Younger 100/-
pale malt 20.25 lb 100.00%
Goldings 70 min 1.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.50 oz
OG 1090
FG 1040
ABV 6.61
Apparent attenuation 55.56%
IBU 30
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 184º F
Boil time 70 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

The above is an excerpt from my excellent book on Scottish brewing:

Which is also available in Kindle form:


Friday 26 June 2020

Post-war legislation and the brewer

Brewers faced many challenges post-war. Some caused by the war itself, others of a more bureaucratic nature.

The late 1940s, like the war years were one of extreme government control. Pubs - and through them the brewers who owned them - were affected by multiple pieces of legislation.

One referred to post-war reconstruction:

"There are two items that I mention as causing some anxiety and they are the Licensing Planning Temporary Provisions Act, and the Town and Country Planning Act. The former usually applies to places that have been very badly damaged during the War, such as Swansea in this area. The position has been met by formation of a Committee of Licensed Property Owners (of which I happen to be the Chairman) which has prepared its proposals for the re-distribution of licensed houses, consequent on the re-planning of the town, and the more equitable distribution of licences into the new housing estates that are now in process of erection. This Committee has appeared before the Licensing Planning Committee, and is now in process of negotiation and confident that before long an agreement will be reached on plans that will be generally satisfactory. It is necessary to take a long term view of the matter, which may involve some sacrifice, but in the end there should be some compensation by the fact that old and unsatisfactory houses will be replaced by newer and better houses. "
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.
Getting hold of licences in new housing estates was a key objective of brewers post-war. They were large, modern pubs with little, or no, immediate competition. And about a brewers only change of either building a new pub. Which is why they were happy to trade in two or three inner-city licences in return.

By "more equitable distribution" they mean making sure that every brewery got its fair share of the new licences. This is more from the chairman's speech at William Hancock's annual general meeting. I'm pretty sure Hancock was the largest brewery in South Wales, hence its chairman landing the top job in the Committee of Licensed Property Owners'

Surprisingly, in 1948 there were more pubs than in 1939:

Pubs in England and Wales 1939 - 1948
Date  Full Beer / wine Total Pubs 
1939 56,112 17,460 73,572
1940 56,047 17,318 73,365
1941 55,961 17,249 73,210
1942 55,901 17,191 73,092
1943 55,868 17,137 73,005
1944 55,856 17,109 72,965
1945 55,875 17,085 72,960
1946 56,009 17,017 73,026
1947 56,305 16,927 73,232
1948 58,850 16,534 75,384
Brewers' Almanack 1971, page 83.

I'm amazed that only a couple of hundred pubs closed during the war, given the number that were either destroyed outright or so heavily damaged as to be unusable.

There was another advantage to building a totally new pub as opposed to enlarging an existing one:

"As to the Town and Country Planning Act. Under this Act no alterations or improvements of more than 10 per cent. of the existing area of the property can be allowed without payment of development charge. That may tend to retard improvements to licensed houses which would otherwise have bean put in hand, but in the case of an entirely new licensed house in a new district that is not the subject of a planning removal it is reasonable to suppose that the development charge will be merged into a charge for monopoly value."
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.
And finally, that bastard Labour government wanted to protect the working conditions and wages of pub staff:

"There had been difficulties during the year concerning the Catering Wages Act, which treated licensed houses and hotels as factories and demanded a 48-hour week for catering staffs. It meant increased expenditure, but the employees generally were satisfied with the former system."
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.

The lazy gits, just working 48 hours a week. See, they'd never complained before about worse conditions. They must have been happy to work 72-hour weeks.

Thursday 25 June 2020

Permitted output yet again

Companies' annual meetings can be great source of information. If you ignore the standard grumblings about the rate of taxation.  Something which features in pretty much every chairman's statement for the whole of the 20th century.

The following is taken from the annual report of William Hancock, one of the large breweries in Cardiff. When acquired by Bass Charrington in 1968, they owned over 500 tied house. Making them a large regional brewery.

"During the year in question the output of the company's breweries has been restricted to at 85 per cent. of the output for the year ended 3lst March, 1946, but in January, 1948, the output was further restricted to 82 per cent. of the output for the year 1946.

As a result of application to the Ministry of Food, an extra allocation was allowed in May of this year to firms operating in industrial areas, so we are now restored to the position at which we started. Even so, it is inadequate for our requirements. It is true, I think, that taking the country as a whole there has been a substantial fall in output of beer in recent months, although in this area, at any rate, the demand exceeds the permitted output for our beers, and the reason for the fall in output is that there is less money about, much less than there was a year ago. When the War came to an end people spent money freely, so that in recent months savings that had been effected in the War had largely been spent. Perhaps the culminating reason can be found in the two Budgets of November, 1947, and April, 1948. In both these Budgets there was a large increase in taxation on cigarettes and beer. There is no doubt that taxation on these two items has reached saturation point, and, in fact, even gone beyond it. There was also an increase in taxation on spirits but as spirits, or at any rate, whisky, has been in very short supply for a long while now, this would only be felt by comparatively few people, and nothing like to the same extent as the effect of taxation on beer and cigarettes.

The resultant cost of beer and cigarettes has now reached a totally unreasonable figure and a reduction in trade, therefore, can be expected, but, in view of the popularity of our own beers, I do not think we shall feel the effects for the time being, and I am hopeful that we shall still be able to maintain our output."
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.
Fascinating that industrial areas were allowed an extra allowance of output. Though it's not clear by what is meant by "restored to the position at which we started". Was that the 85% of 1946 output or was it 100%?

The tax increases mentioned were the first since 1944 when the rate had been set at 286s 5.5d per standard barrel. This was put up to 325s 5d and then 364s 4.5d - quite a considerable increase. The latter rate wasn't in force long, being dropped back to 343s 4.5d in the April 1949 budget.

By 1948, the tax on a pint of beer had more than trebled. As the chairman of Hancock said:

"Col. Gaskell quoted the following rates of duty: Cheaper beers, now 9d. to 10d. (pre-war 3d.)"
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.
The rate of tax had in fact more than quadrupled - in 1939 it was 80s per standard barrel - but lower gravities meant that per pint it had "only" trebled.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1849 William Younger Export

After my little piece on IPA brewing in the 1840s, I thought I'd follow up with a recipe from the period.

It’s odd how names come around again. Younger’s Export was an early Scottish Pale Ale and a century later the term would again be used for a strong Pale Ale.

Just for the record, Export was probably considered an IPA in the day. But I’m going to refer to it as a Pale Ale, as I can’t be bothered to differentiate between the two. It saps my power, man. Younger rarely called a beer specifically IPA in their brewing records. But quite often did in advertisements or on labels.

Like all early Pale Ales it’s just a stack of pale malt and truckloads of top-quality English hops. The short boil could be an attempt to keep the colour as pale as possible. Or just because Younger preferred short boils. Some of their beers had even shorter boils.

The dry hops are my guess. It could even have been more.

1849 William Younger Export
pale malt 14.00 lb 100.00%
Goldings 80 min 6.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 5.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1062
FG 1015
ABV 6.22
Apparent attenuation 75.81%
IBU 126
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 184º F
Boil time 80 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

The above is an excerpt from my excellent book on Scottish brewing:

Which is also available in Kindle form:


Tuesday 23 June 2020

Brewing IPA in the 1840’s

One of the earliest detailed descriptions of brewing IPA is in "Scottish Ale Brewer", by W.H. Roberts, published in Edinburgh in 1847. It provides a unique insight into the brewing methods of the time and, more importantly, the reasoning behind them.

Roberts thought some brewers caused themselves problems by mashing at too high a temperature. Over-attenuated IPA's were the result. 168º to 170º F he recommended as a striking heat when the ambient temperature was 40º to 45º F. If the air temperature was 35º to 40º F, 170º to 172º F was his suggested striking heat. When the wort was tapped at the end of mashing, its temperature should be 145º to 150º F .

Mashing – the process of actively mixing the grains with water in the tun – needed to be as quick as possible, no more than 20 to 25 minutes if using internal mechanical rakes. At the start of mashing the temperature was checked at various points in the mash. If it was much below 145º F, hot water was added to raise it to 150º F. When mashing finished the wort was left to stand for between 100 and 120 minutes .

Roberts recommended kicking off sparging a few minutes before drawing off the first wort, using water between 185º and 190º F. The taps were closed as soon as the first wort had been run off. While sparge water continued to be added until the grain bed was covered again. Because, Roberts commented: "it being highly detrimental to let the surface of the goods to be dry” .

His suggestions for hop additions are very much based around gyle brewing, where each gyle was hopped and boiled separately. For a beer hopped at 22 lbs per quarter of malt (5 to 7 lbs per barrel, depending on the OG), 6 lbs were added to the first wort at the start of a 70 minute boil, a further 8 lbs were added 20 minutes later. The second wort received a single hop addition of 8lbs at the start of a two hour boil.

Rapid cooling of the wort after boiling was important:

"Reducing the temperature of worts in the coolers is now generally accomplished by artificial means, and with great rapidity, it being important that they should be reduced to the pitching temperature, with as little delay as possible."
"Scottish Ale Brewer", WH Roberts, Edinburgh, 1847, pages 165-166.

By artificial, he means that the wort wasn’t just left in a shallow cooler until it reached a suitable temperature for pitching yeast. But that it was also cooled by a simple heat exchanger. This consisted of a washboard of copper pipes filled with chilled brine over which the wort was run. This combined method of cooling was standard in British breweries until after WW II.

The pitching temperature Roberts recommended was 58º and 60º F, depending on the air temperature. He expected a rapid and vigorous fermentation with the temperature rising to around 70º F. After just 24 to 30 hours the beer passed on to the next phase: cleansing.

In this early phase of Pale Ale production cleansing still took place in puncheons, large casks holding several barrels set up vertically on stillions. Wort was ejected from the top of these vessels into a trough, from which the puncheons were refilled every two or three hours . This system of cleansing was common in the big London breweries, but in Burton – and later in Scotland, too - was replaced by the more sophisticated and less labour intensive unions.

The method of dry hopping Roberts proposes is a bit odd. The hops were mixed with a little boiling strong Ale wort, which, after cooling, was added to the casks of IPA.

Some brewers liked to deliberately rack their beer into trade casks with dregs, arguing that it helped prevent the beer spoiling during the long trip to India. Roberts reckoned it was better to rack IPA clear.

The above is an excerpt from my excellent book on Scottish brewing:

Which is also available in Kindle form:


Monday 22 June 2020

Output Restricted

Lots to snack on in this little article. Read attentively because there will be a test later.

Output Restricted

The fourteenth annual ordinary general meeting of Red Tower Lager Brewery Ltd was held yesterday at the Grand Hotel. Manchester. Mr. H. P. Gillow, J. P. (chairman of the company) presiding, said:
The result of the year's working must be considered satisfactory in view of the difficulties we have had to face. I deplore the fact that a further reduction in quality has been forced upon us, and that our permitted output has been restricted, and look forward to the time. which I trust will not long be delayed, when we return to freedom as to quality and quantity.

The restriction on export is particularly unfortunate at a time when we had expended large sums of money on plant to cope with this trade, and we hope for its speedy removal.

Good progress has been made in installing plant to allow for greater production as is evident from the increase of £30,000 under this heading. The post-war refund of Excess Profits has assisted to keep the reduction in the margin by which current cash assets exceed current cash liabilities, due to the above expenditure, to a reasonable figure, and the completion of this programme should cause no embarrassment."
Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 28 September 1946, page 4.

Red Tower was one of just six breweries regularly producing Lager at the time.

Restricted output, limits on export, Excess Profits Tax. How much fun it was to be a brewer in the 1940s.

There was an Excess Profits Tax in both world wars.If a company made too much money, the government simply took it off them. The commie bastards.

Red Tower is still operating, usually called the Royal Brewery nowadays. I think they're still brewing that horrible lagery stuff.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Pub Pub

That's what I used to say to the kids whenever I spotted a pub. Followed, if we were on foot, by:

"Did you know that it's bad luck to walk past a pub that's open?"

"Stop with that bullshit, dad. We haven't believed that for ages."

I'm amazed that they ever believed it.

I went to one of those things again on Thursday. A pub. Bar. Whatever. Somewhere selling draught beer where you can sit down. 18th June, it was. Last time before that? It depends on what you count as a pub.

23rd March I had a few cognacs in the business class lounge. Does that Count? Before that, 21st March.

In Hemingway in Bangkok. I'd just chomped my through a very late full English, when REM's "It's the End of the World as we Know it" was played very loud. After it was done, the owner announced that all restaurants (the bars closed a few days earlier) would be shut from midnight.

Would have been a fitting way to start my pub drought.

Which ended an Butcher's Tears. My local brewery. What's odd, is that it didn't feel all that special. I don't seem to have missed pubs at all.

If I lived in the UK, that might well be different.

"No point going to Britain when the pubs are shut." I said to Dolores.

"Exactly." She agreed.

It was nice to chat to my mates Lucas and Will. At a suitable distance. No problem with distancing. There's plenty of space both outside and inside.

The brewer, a very nice chap, told me all about one of the draught selections, Wooden Shoe. With No. 1 invert and lots of Goldings in it.

They put on the rather nice dub album Lucas brought along. Very relaxing stuff.

All very pleasant. But it wasn't fulfilling some visceral need. Just a nice way to spend a couple of hours. And even get to drink Mild.

What have I become? Someone who has lost the pub habit.

Except when I travel, obviously. (See the comment above on Britain and pubs.)

Soi Sukhumvit 11,
Khlong Toei Nuea,
Bangkok 10110,

Butcher's Tears
Karperweg 45,
1075 LB Amsterdam.

Saturday 20 June 2020

Let's Brew - 1972 Watneys Red

A fun recipe today: the successor to Red Barrel, Watneys Red.

I can remember the advertising campaign when it launched. All this faux-communist stuff. It was launched in 1971. Not the best timing, as it was just before the cask revival. Wikipedia says it was just a rebranding of Red Barrel. I don’t buy that. The recipe and the OG are pretty different. It looks like a new beer to me.

I’ll be honest with you. I’m a bit light on details for this beer. The Watney Mann Quality Control manual lists the ingredients and the OG and FG I got from an analysis in the Whitbread Gravity Book.

The sugar Is listed as something called Fermax. No idea what that is, so I’ve substituted No.2 invert. I’ve no idea how close that is. But, the colour of the finished beer came out right so it can’t be that far wide of the mark.

As with Red Barrel, you’ll need to process the buggery out of it if you want to go for full authenticity. And preferably drink it in a room with a shitty brick bar and a garish red and purple carpet, packed with tattooed blokes who are all chain smoking while watching racing on a black and while telly.

1972 Watneys Red
pale malt 5.75 lb 76.67%
lightly roasted barley 400 L 0.25 lb 3.33%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.50 lb 20.00%
Fuggles 105 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 15 min 0.75 oz
OG 1037.1
FG 1009.5
ABV 3.65
Apparent attenuation 74.39%
IBU 30
Mash at 158º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP023 Burton Ale

The above is taken from my recipe Let's Brew! Please buy a copy.

Friday 19 June 2020

Permitted output again

I've been able to extract a little more information about permitted output just after WW II.

It comes from the annual report of Tennant Brothers of Sheffield. These reports are often quite whiney. Usually moaning about the high rate of taxation and government interference in their business.

In this case, they had a good reason to moan.

"The difficulties that have confronted us during the year have been immeasurably greater than any previous year, not excepting the war years. Our tenants and managers also have done their utmost to carry out wishes of the Justices, and have considered on every occasion the public interest.

There has been, in spite of climatic and economic conditions no relaxation in the demand for our products. The compulsory 15 per cent reduction in brewing materials was not completely offset by the fall of 10 per cent, in gravity brought about by Government order in August, 1946, and the combined effect was a considerable contraction in permitted output compared with the basic year. Brewings had to be further curtailed, due to the electricity cuts and coal shortage Unfortunately, the rationing of our customers had to be strictly enforced throughout the period. The effect of full employment and high wages coincident with a shortage of beer and spirits — particularly spirits — has made the position doubly difficult. Furthermore.

we have already been warned that there will be increases in the price of malt and coal and, in addition, costs of freight, carriage, rates and overheads generally, will tend to rise."
Nottingham Journal - Wednesday 15 October 1947, page 2.
The price of everything was going, the government had reduced the quantity of materials available for brewing and reduced gravities by 10%. Though at least excise duty wasn't increasing. That remained at 286s 5.5d per standard barrel from 1944 to 1948.

The immediate post-war years were difficult for everyone in the UK, not just brewers. Despite workers having money, there was often little for them to spend it on. There wasn't even enough beer to go around. Dark days indeed.

Thursday 18 June 2020

Artificially sweetened Einfachbier

The Reinheitsgebot has been very good at promoting itself. At least the bits of it  German brewers want you to know about it.

The full document, Vorläufiges Biergesetz, as it's called in German, is much longer than you might expect. And contains more ingredients than the much-touted malt, hops and water. The most surprising being artificial sweetener, which is allowed in certain types of weak, top-fermenting beer. Such as the type of beer described here:

"b) Einfachbier sweetened with artificial sweetener
Out of the old brown beers, which were not everywhere expected by customers to be weak, sweet-tasting beers, but sometimes also as moderately bitter beers, today's Einfachbier has emerged, which, as in the past, is still mostly referred to as Malzbier; according to old custom, according to which both these weak dark beers, as well as the stronger dark, top-fermented beers, are usually called by this name in trade and commerce."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135.
In the past, then, there was low, gravity Braunbier which was bitter rather than sweet. That's interesting to know. The following, I'm sure, explains one of the reasons why: the use of artificial sweetener.

"In contrast to its old predecessors, the old Braunbier, today's Einfachbier should mostly have a very sweet taste. However, added sugar will gradually ferment. The requested sweetness would be lost. The demand of the broad circles of customers could therefore only be met by adding artificial sweetener (saccharin or dulcin) for sweetening. The Beer Tax Act expressly permits this use as an exception. It was first approved in the war. However, the restriction has now been made that the sweetener may only be used in beers whose original wort content does not exceed 4% (i.e. practically in beers whose original wort content is between 3% and 4%)."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135.
This is the same reasoning as behind Milk Stout: add something which was sweet but unfermentable. It's interesting that such Einfachbier only developed during WW I. The odd  thing being that even before the introduction of the Reinheitsgebot to all of Germany in 1906, the use of saccharin hadn't been allowed in North Germany.

This is a list of substances banned everywhere in Germany in the late 19th century:

"Precedent, as established by decisions of the highest tribunals, shows that penalties have been inflicted for additions of salicylic acid, liquorice, caramel, and saccharin; also for making use of liquid carbonic acid in the manufacture of what is known as “champagne beer; "while for clarifying purposes isinglass shavings and other "finings” that will not mix with the beer, but the action of which is purely mechanical, are alone tolerated."
"The Brewers' Journal, 1898", page 243.
There were two ways such beers were prepared for sale:

"These light beers are marketed under different sales conditions.
1. As a young beer pitched with a with little yeast, and some not yet fermenting wort; tapped from larger containers by the liter while driving around; or in small barrels with a content of about 6 liters, which are preferred by households. From there it is filled into bottles, where it is ready to drink in a few days.

2. As a fermented, bright, carbonated beer, which is made ready to drink in the Brewery.
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135.
Method one was the traditional way, where bottling and secondary fermentation was left to the customer. Such beer would have needed to be left for a few days to condition. With method two the brewery was carrying out the conditioning and selling the beer ready to drink.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Birthday homebrew recipe.

One of my great ideas. Or at least not such a shit one according to Dolores:

"At least it earns us some money. Though you do spend it all on your stupid trips."

Not any more. As the trips option is pretty much closed off at the moment.

"The money is all going to my research fund now."

"Beer fund, more likely. I've seen how much you spend at Ton Overmars."

What is my bespoke recipe service? You give me your birthday - or other significant event - and I'll put together a recipe for you that was brewed on that date.

You'll get a recipes and text much like one of my Let's Brew posts plus an image of the original brewing record so you can be sure that I'm not pulling your plonker. It's a great deal for just 25 euros.

Make your birthday special - by brewing a beer originally made on that date.
For a mere 25 euros, I'll create a bespoke recipe for any day of the year you like. As well as the recipe, there's a few hundred words of text describing the beer and its historical context and an image of the original brewing record.
Just click on the button below.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1937 Barclay Perkins IBS Export

I felt I owed you this one after last week's watery version. Here’s the full-strength Russian Stout. Brewed to the same gravity as in the 19th century.

You might have expected it to be just a scaled-up version of the weak one. But it isn’t. In reality, the recipe is very different. The percentage of roasted malts is higher and black malt than roast barley. The grist is, in fact, adjunct-free. And there’s only one sugar, rather than four. Rather surprisingly, it’s No. 2 invert and not the No.  3 or No. 4 you would expect.

I wouldn’t pay much attention to the FG. That’s the gravity when the beer was transferred from the primary fermenter to the maturation vessel. Not sure exactly what that was at this point it may have been a vat or it could have been a tank. Whatever the vessel was, there would be a long, secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces. That would knock down the FG considerably.

There were a shitload of hops. At over 15 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt it was hopped at about double the rate of the weaker version. The hops themselves were Mid-Kent Fuggles from the 1936 harvest, East Kent Goldings from 1935 and Mid-Kent Goldings also from 1935. All had been cold stored. The type and age of the dry hops weren’t listed on the brewing log.

1937 Barclay Perkins IBS Export
mild malt 12.00 lb 52.75%
brown malt 3.00 lb 13.19%
amber malt 3.50 lb 15.38%
black malt 1.50 lb 6.59%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.50 lb 10.99%
malt extract 0.25 lb 1.10%
Fuggles 210 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings 90 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1104.5
FG 1041.5
ABV 8.33
Apparent attenuation 60.29%
IBU 121
SRM 50
Mash at 146º F
After underlet 154º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 210 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Tuesday 16 June 2020

No more travelling

At least, for a while.

I was in Brazil when, in March, the US government barred entry to anyone from a Schengen country.

"Well, that's my next two trips buggered." I thought to myself

Seattle and Portland in May. Then Atlanta and Nashville for the Home Brewing Conference in June. All scuppered.

By the time I was in Thailand a little later, the whole world was grinding to a halt. Quite worrying when you're in a different continent to your home.

I'm sort of glad the trips were cancelled. Dolores warned me that I was crazy making two trips to different continents in quick succession. She was right. I was totally knacked by the time I arrived, with much relief, home. Despite having spent my time in Thailand just lazing around.

I don't really expect to travel again this year. It's fun to visit new places and I'll miss that. But I'd rather wait until everything is properly sorted before jumping around the globe again.

Three months it is since I last visited a pub. They've been open a couple of weeks here. With distancing rules. Not been tempted, myself. I can wait. It might have been different if they were a bit cheaper. Or offered cask beer.

My social drinking has been limited to a few cans down at the "beach"* with my mate Mikey. At opposite ends of a park bench. All strictly according to the rules.

Can of choice, for me at least, is Gulpener Gladiator, a cheeky little ten percenter. Much loved by street drinkers due to its very reasonable price: 99 cents for a half litre. Cheaper than that, when on special offer. Less expensive and better tasting than Grolsch Het Canon. Biggest problem is finding the stuff. The shelf in the local supermarket is empty more often than it's full.

The Home Brewing Conference is sort of going ahead and I will be speaking. Just all virtually, meaning I miss out on the free beer. And getting to chat to loads of people, obviously. I'll be on at 11 AM (mountain time) talking about Brettanomyces in British Brewing.

* Westlandgracht.

Monday 15 June 2020

Permitted output

During WW II, UK breweries were limited in how much they could brew, much like in WW I. The quantity a brewery was allowed to brew was called permitted output.

This is in a Boddington's brewing record from 1946, showing the permitted output and actual output:

Permitted output was set as a percentage of of production over a 12-month period. For example, in 1947 it was based on a brewery's output in 1945-1946:

 "Beer Cut in New Year
A reduction in the allocations of sugar to manufacturers has necessitated a cut as from January 1st in the beer output, almost equal to nine pints out of every barrel, announces the Brewers' Society.

The permitted output of beer for each brewery will be reduced to 82 per cent. of the standard barrelage produced from that brewery in the 12 months ended March 31st; 1946. Since May. 1946. the permitted output has been 85 per cent.

The reduction is being made to secure the saving of 23 per cent. in the consumonon of sugar which the Minister of Food announced some weeks ago is to be applied yo all sugar-using industries."
Staffordshire Sentinel - Saturday 20 December 1947, page 1.
I've found a couple of articles in the newspaper archive relating to permitted output, such as the one above. But only for the later war years and a couple of years in the late 1940s. Nothing for the early years of the war. I'd be dead grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of wher I migh find this information.

Sunday 14 June 2020

Malzbier between the wars (part three)

I'll be gradually plodding my way through Schönfeld over the next few months. When I can be arsed to translate sections.

So many beer types to get through. And I haven't even finished Malzbier yet. Well, I will have after this post. Which describes what happened after primary fermentation:

"The beers, which at the end of primary fermentation were almost invariably characterized by a beautiful and fiery break, as long as there were no serious infections or they were brewed poorly dissolved malt, were - if they were not fully fermented in the vat - partly filled directly from the vat  into transport containers and served after a short period of bunging of about 2-3 days, partly subjected to a short secondary fermentation with an open bung in small containers, in which they were sent out immediately, before they came to be bunged."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 134.
A short conditioning in the transport cask, then. Hard-spiled. It all sounds rather like cask beer, doesn't it?

Though something simialr happened with bottled variations:

"The same procedure was followed for the treatment of bottled beer. Under such conditions, addition of Kräusen was not only superfluous, but under certain circumstances harmful due to an excessive formation of sediment."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 134.
Though sometimes there was a more controlled secondary fermentation at the brewery:

"In some places it was customary to transfer strong beers into lagering barrels of 8-16 hl and leave them here for a secondary fermentation with the bung open. If some beer was expelled after eight to fourteen days, they were mixed with some Kräusen, probably with sugar, too, and filled into barrels or bottles."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 134.
A bit of lagering, then filling into barrels with Kräusen, which is the continental equivalent of primings. It's still sounding very much like cask beer. The beer would have needed that to build up condition after being lagered with the bung open.

This next bit answers some of the questions I had a bout the poor degree of attenuation of old German top-fermenting styles:

"The apparent degree of fermentation of all of these beers after the primary fermentation was completed was in most cases unusually low and not higher than 35-40%, although the yeast used was not, at least not exclusively, of the Saaz low-attenuating type.

Mostly they were mixtures of top- and bottom-fermenting strains in different proportions.

However, these low attenuations were by no means the lowest limits at which the yeast stopped in the primary fermentation. On various occasions it stopped fermenting at a degree of attenuation of 30%, even 24-28%, as can still be seen today when using low-attenuating pure yeast. And at the same time, the yeast is able to build up normally and reach full maturity."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 134.
The type of yeast was responsible for the poor attenuation.I'm surprised to learn that they used cultures which were a mixture of top- and bottom-fermenting strains. Especially as the rules were different for beers brewed from the different types of yeast. Sugar and artificial sweeteners only being allowed in top-fermenting beers.

Despite barely fermenting the wort, these strains of yeast were still able to go through a healthy life-cycle.

Poor attenuation could be a useful feature:

"This behavior, which is of course tied to certain preconditions, places top-fermenting yeast in a drastic contrast to bottom-fermenting yeast, which is not able to suspend its fermentation activity even with attenuation that is nearly as low. From a practical point of view, this can be of great benefit insofar as it is possible when using such yeasts to produce beers, and in particular high-gravity beers, with a very low alcohol content, without the yeast being prevented from fermenting by means of artificial, sharp interventions."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135. 

Having looked at hundreds of analyses of 19th-century Lager, it's apparent that many bottom-fermenting strains weren't that attenuative. Few examples hit more than 70% apparent attenuation and there were plenty under 60%.

Saturday 13 June 2020

Let's Brew - 1946 Barclay Perkins IBS (Scotland)

This is beer to set the heads of style Nazis spinning: an Imperial Stout that’s weak enough to classify as a session beer.

Before the war Barclay Perkins brewed two versions of IBS (Imperial Brown Stout): a domestic version at around 1060º and an export version at the full 1100º gravity. Brewing of both was stopped a couple of years into the war. Though supplies of the stronger version would have lasted a while longer, as it was usually aged for at least two years before bottling. At least that’s what old labels claim.

After the war, IBS returned, but initially only in this much weaker form. Given the name, I assume that it was brewed for the Scottish market. A full-strength version appeared a few years after the end of the war.

The basic grist is much the same as pre-war: base malt plus amber and brown malt and roast barley. In this example, the base is 50% pale malt, 50% SA malt. I’ve substituted mild malt for the latter.

To account for the primings, which increased the effective OG by 1.5º, I’ve added and extra 0.25 lbs of No. 3 invert.

There were three types of hops: two of Mid-Kent Fuggles from the 1944 and 1945 harvests and Brewer’s Gold from 1945. Barclays really seemed to have got a taste for Brewer’s Gold just after the war. During the hostilities they had used almost exclusively Fuggles, Goldings and Goldings Varieties. Other than the occasional dab of Saaz.

1946 Barclay Perkins IBS (Scotland)
pale malt 2.50 lb 26.10%
mild malt 2.50 lb 26.10%
brown malt 1.00 lb 10.44%
amber malt 1.00 lb 10.44%
roast barley 1.00 lb 10.44%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.25 lb 13.05%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.33 lb 3.44%
Brewer's Gold 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.00 oz
OG 1045
FG 1019
ABV 3.44
Apparent attenuation 57.78%
IBU 40
SRM 39
Mash at 144º F
After underlet 149º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale