Friday 31 July 2020

Strong! vols 1 & 2 now available

For various complicated and rather dull reasons, rather than update Strong vol. 1, I've issued a new book which includes both volume 1 and volume 2.

The combined book is well over 500 pages of Strong Ale fun.. Including over 130 home brew recipes, covering every decade from the 1830s to the 1990s. As well as a load of other wonderful insights into all sorts of strong UK beer.

Until 31st July 11:59 PM (ET) you can also get 15% off it (and all my other print books) with this code:


Pure yeast culture

I found some tasty titbits on the subject of yeast in a 1924 article by brewing scientist Lloyd Hind. the article in question is called "Beer of the Future".

To be honest, he was a bit wide of the mark in his long-term predictions:

"That the improvement of Continental beers has gone hand-in-hand with the adoption of low fermentation processes does not necessarily imply, that the beer of the future will be lager. In flavour and manner and temperature of serving the two types of beer, top and bottom fermentation are quite distinct, and the choice between the two is one of personal taste. In this country beer drinkers have become so wedded to the flavour of top fermentation beer that they prefer it, and in many cases express dislike for lager. The great majority, however, of those who decry lager have never tasted it as it should be, and generally say they do not like such thin stuff, ignoring the fact that such description does not apply to good lager any more than it does to good English beer."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 319.

Time has definitely proved him wrong on that one. Lager is undoubtedly the most popular type of beer in the UK today'

Lloyd Hind hoped that UK brewers would give pure yeast cultures another try. A few breweries played around with them in the late 19th century, but gave up when they couldn't get secondary conditioning to work. Not knowing that Brettanomyces performed the secondary fermentation.

"The greatest advance in recent years connected with fermentation has been the introduction of pure cultures and their extensive use in the larger lager breweries; in fact, there are now few of any size that do not avail themselves of the advantages in regularity and quality of beer obtained thereby. So far no success has attended its trials in English breweries. It must, however, be admitted that these trials have not been very extensive, and the sweeping condemnation sometimes passed on any suggestion to adapt pure yeast to English conditions is not justified. The only trials I know of were made many years ago and in connection with beers whose distinctive palate depended on a secondary fermentation. This distinctive Burton flavour I have seen produced in beers as different from normal Burton beers as bottom-fermented stout by an inoculation in the bottle of pure cultures of Bretannomyces, as its discoverer, Clausen, called the particular Torula employed. Conditions are now entirely altered. Secondary fermentation in far the greater number of breweries is a thing of the past, and the desideratum now is to prevent the development of secondary yeast. Under conditions such as these, surely it is time to reopen the investigation and endeavour to put fermentation on a sounder and more certain basis."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 330.

Of course, there are still UK breweries which don't use a pure culture. Adnams, for example have two strains in their pitching yeast. Who knows what's in Harvey's yeast. I'm guessing more than just one strain of Saccharomyces and Denbaromyces.

Thursday 30 July 2020

Strong! vol 2 now available

My new book of Strong Ale recipes has now been released.

It's meant as a supplement to my existing book Strong!. It includes over 130 home brew recipes, covering every decade from the 1830s to the 1990s. I think it's pretty damn good.

Until 31st July 11:59 PM (EST) you can also get 15% off it (and all my other print books) with this code:


Newcastle Breweries medal winners in 1928

Thanks to Adrian Tierney Jones's handy book "Brewing Champions" on the history of the International Brewing awards, I know which medals Newcastle Breweries won in 1928.

These ones:

Class IV (mild ale with an original gravity of 1039-1046°)
Class VII (light bitter with an original gravity under 1039°)
Bottled Non-deposit Beers Class XIII (beer with an original gravity of 1033-1039°)
Bottled Non-deposit Beers Class XV (beer with an original gravity of 1046-1060°)


The Champion Gold Medal for beers with an original gravity of 1039° and under was awarded to Newcastle Breweries, Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Brewers’ Journal Challenge Cup was awarded to Newcastle Breweries, Newcastle upon Tyne.

I'm pretty sure I know which beers they were, too:

Newcastle Breweries medal-winning beers?
Year Beer Style Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1925 Pale Ale Pale Ale 6.5 1038.5 1006.4 4.18 83.38%
1928 Brown Ale Brown Ale 9 1060.1 1012.5 6.21 79.20%
1931 Mild Ale Mild   1040.5 1013.5 3.49 66.67%
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number TU/6/11.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

I'm guessing that the Pale Ale which won class XIII was the bottled version of the class VII winner. Newcastle Brown obviously won class XV.

There were 19 classes in all, with 3 medals for each class. Making 57 medals in total. Winning four medals does seem very impressive. Until you realise that two other brewers matched them:

George Gale, Horndean, Hampshire
Nicholson & Sons, Maidenhead

And a further two won three medals:

Tamplin & Sons Brewery, Phoenix Brewery, Brighton
G Vallance, Sidmouth, Devon

I may post on the classes used by the competition, if anyone is interested.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1922 Wadworth XXXX

This is another one where I’m not 100% sure what it was. I have it marked down as a Mild Ale in my spreadsheet. Except 1056º is too strong for a 1922 Mild. Especially one brewed out in the sticks.

Wadworth had four Mild Ales in 1922: XX 1029.6º, XXX 1033º and XXXX 1040.7º

But this wasn’t a standard brew of XXXX. It’s usual OG was 1040.7º, this batch is much stronger. Why on earth suddenly brew a much higher OG version? In the comments section is says “Stk Sep 10”. Not sure at all what that means.

At this strength, XXXX looks very much like a Southern Old Ale. Which is basically just a stronger Mild Ale.

Base malt, maize and sugar. So many 20th-century British beers are made up of those three elements. The type of invest is a guess. I could be wrong. The hop variety is a guess, too. As are the mashing temperatures. The information I have is very basic. Not much more than a list of ingredients.

1922 Wadworth XXXX
pale malt 9.00 lb 76.14%
flaked maize 1.25 lb 10.58%
glucose 0.75 lb 6.35%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.35%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.07 lb 0.59%
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.75 oz
OG 1056
FG 1020
ABV 4.76
Apparent attenuation 64.29%
IBU 25
SRM 12.5
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Bottled Stouts in 1913

When searching for early references to Dark Mild, one I stumbled upon was in a massive catalogue from William Whiteley Ltd., published in 1913.  They billed themselves as "universal providers" and it's no exaggeration.

Bed linen, external blinds, marquees, saddles, furniture handles, mangles, hammers, dog collars, revolvers, model trains, cameras, Russian flags, salad dressing, ham, mushroom spawn, monkeys, coal and beer. In fact, if you want to know the price of just about anything in 1913, this is the place to look. The two volumes run over 1200 pages.

Obviously the beer bit interests me most. Quite a lot of beers are included, mostly draught, but also quite a few bottles.

There's this little notice at the start of the beer section to remind you of the idiocy of UK licensing laws:

Under the conditions of our Licence we cannot supply leas than 3 dozen Imperial Pints; 4 dozen Reputed Pints; 6 dozen Imperial Half-Pints of Bottled Ales and Stout. 2 dozen Reputed Quarts; 4 dozen Reputed Pints of Cyder.
Quantities can be made up, assorted, to suit our Customers' requirements."
While in the revolver section there are no restrictions on sales.

It also claims: "Any Ale or Stout not quoted in these Lists can be procured at short notice." I'm not sure that's 100% true. I'm betting that they couldn't have got hold of the beer from a tint brewery in rural Scotland.

The bottled Stouts they had as regular offerings were mostly from the London area, with the exception of Usher, Allsopp and Guinness. They mostly look pretty weak, based on the price.

I've assumed that Whitbread Copper is their Porter, and Stout is London Stout.  And that seems to tally with their strength. Draught Porter was 2d per pint and bottled beer sold at a premium. So 2s 6d a dozen (2.5d per pint) is about the cheapest you'd ever expect to see a beer described "Stout".

Guinness is probably the strongest beer in the list. And that wasn't super-strong for a Stout. There  were much stronger ones. For example, Whitbread SS and SSS were 1086º and 1095º, respectively. At just 2d per pint, Whiteley's own brand Brown Stout must have been under 1050º.

Not sure why the Guinness bottled by M.H. Foster was more expensive. They must be the same beer, as Guinness only made Extra Stout and the export version Foreign Extra Stout.

Bottled Stouts in 1913
Brewery Place beer price (per doz) Imperial pint OG
Whiteley London Whiteley’s London Brown Stout 2s
Whiteley London Whiteley’s Nourishing Stout (specially selected)  2s 6d
Whitbread London Whitbread's Cooper  2s 4d 1053
Whitbread London Whitbread's Stout 2s 6d 1054
Usher Devizes Usher’s Court Luncheon Stout 2s 6d
Usher Devizes Usher's Oatmeal Stout 2s 6d
Watney, Combe, Reid London Reid's Stout 3s 6d
Watney, Combe, Reid London Reid's Invalid Stout 3s
Watney, Combe, Reid London Reid’s Family Stout 2s 6d
Sedgwick Watford Sedgwick's Stout 2s 6d
Fremlin Maidstone Fremlin’s Stout, Elephant Brand 2s 6d
Fremlin Maidstone Fremlin’s Oatmeal Stout 2s 6d
Allsopp Burton Allsopp’s Luncheon Stout 2s 6d
Waltham London Waltham’s Brown Stout 2s 6d
Waltham London Waltham's S. N. Stout 3s
Allsopp Burton Allsopp's Special Stout 3s 3d
Raggett London Raggett's Nourishing Stout 4s
Guinness Dublin Guinness’s Extra Double Stout 3s 4d 1074
Guinness Dublin Guinness’s Extra Stout (bottled M. H. Foster & Sons) 4s 1074
William Whiteley General Price List October, 1913, Volume 2, page 1196.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/107.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

Monday 27 July 2020

Dark Mild (part six)

Brewers are proud of the awards they receive. However mean8ngless they might have been. Plenty of competitions would give medal of some sort to anyone who paid the entrance fee.

The Brewers Exhibition contest wasn't like that. The oldest beer competition in the world, it was fiercely contested. And still is. Getting five firsts when there would have been hundreds of entries really is an achievement.

"Note the New Label
When you order a rich dark mild, look for this label. It appears on all bottles of Newcastle Ales, and is at once a sign of good brewing and a record of the sweeping success of these Northern brewed beers at the Brewers Exhibition of 1928. See the seven awards (including five “firsts”) shown on the upper part of the label. Then taste the beer itself and enjoy the smoothness and richness that can only come from extreme care and experience in brewing. Try a bottle for supper to-night.

6.5d Imp. Pint
Imperial Pints - 6/6 dozen.
Imperial Halves 3/9 dozen.
Reputed Pints - 5/6 dozen."
Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Thursday 28 February 1929, page 7.
They are a bit coy about which beers won medals. I know that Newcastle Brown Ale did. Not so sure about the Mild Ale.

I'm quite surprised to see them still using reputed points at this late a date. After WW II, pretty much everything was in imperial halves, pints of quarts. A reputed pint was about two-thirds of a pint.

Looking at the illustration, it seems that the bottles were sealed with screw tops of the internal thread type. Not crown corks. A little bit old-fashioned, but OI remember some Whitbread beer still being packaged in that type of bottle when I lived in Leeds in the 1970s.

Sunday 26 July 2020

Dark Mild (part five)

I'm still banging my Dark Mild drum. This new advert I've found definitively answers a question on  an earlier post: did Newcastle Dark Mild become Newcastle Brown?

I'd already said no.  But in the advert below you can see that the two beers coexisted. And, from the price, it's obvious that Brown Ale was a much stronger beer.

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Wednesday 01 April 1931, page 12.
He does look more like a Mild drinkerthan the two rather posh blokes in the last advert. The fag hanging out of a corner of the mouth is a nice touch.

This is the advert text:

Let your holiday drink be BRITAIN'S BEST BEER

However you spend your Easter Holiday this year, you can always be sure of good wholesome refreshment in Newcastle Champion Ales . . . acknowledged by experts as Britain’s Best!
Whether you prefer a strong brown ale, a sparkling bitter, a rich dark mild . . . you will find real satisfaction in any one these famous northern brews.

Pint Bottles - 9/- dozen. Half Pints 5/- dozen.
"Splits" 3/- dozen.

Pint Bottles - 6/6 dozen. 3/4 pints 5/6 dozen.
Half Pints 3/9 dozen.

Pint Bottles - 6/6 dozen. 3/4 pints 5/6 dozen.
Half Pints 3/9 dozen. "
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Wednesday 01 April 1931, page 12.
That's 9d per pint for Brown Ale and 6.5d for Mild Ale. Quite a big difference. Which is reflected in the price.

And for complete confirmation, here are the details of those beers:

Newcastle Breweries beers in 1931
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
Newcastle Pale Ale Pale Ale 1040 1009.5 3.96 76.25%
Newcastle Brown Ale Brown Ale 1059.5 1014 5.93 76.47%
Newcastle Mild Ale Mild 1040.5 1013.5 3.49 66.67%
Newcastle Amber Ale Amber Ale 1042 1010.5 4.09 75.00%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

As you can see, Newkie Brown was pretty strong stuff back then at almost 6% ABV. Also, that they left a good amount of residual sugars in the Mild Ale.

Saturday 25 July 2020

Let's Brew - 1885 Mew Langton XXXX

Another new recipe from my new book, "Strong! vol. 2". Which will be available soon. The book itself is done, but I can't sell it until I've approved a proof copy. It'll be a few more days.

An island brewery, this one. Located in Newport, Isle of Wight. It’s one which almost survived into my drinking days. It was bought by Strong in 1965, who in turn were gobbled up by Whitbread in 1969. Mew Langton’s plant closed the same year.

This beer is a real throwback, resembling Reid KKKK from three decades earlier. It’s extremely simple: one base malt and Farnham hops. That’s it. Not that Mew Langton were averse to sugar. Their Pale Ales and Stout contained some. But neither their Mild nor this Strong Ale did.

Unsurprisingly, given its strength, XXXX was only rarely brewed. This appears to be the only batch in 1885. And it wasn’t even a full brew: it was a parti-gyle of 54 barrels of XXXX and 84 barrels of 4d Ale, a Mild.

A whole load of hops and pretty fresh ones, too, being from the 1884 harvest. This beer was brewed in March. I’ve opted for Goldings as the nearest equivalent to Farnham that you’re going to be bale to get hold of.

1885 Mew Langton XXXX
pale malt 23.00 lb 100.00%
Goldings 120 mins 4.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 4.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 4.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1102
FG 1034
ABV 9.00
Apparent attenuation 66.67%
IBU 127
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 185º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale

Friday 24 July 2020

Why be thirsty?

If you can drink Mild. And at the very reasonable price of 6.5d per pint.

Being honest, the chaps in the illustration aren't my idea of Mild drinkers. Maybe it's the plus fours the one is wearing. Or the knapsack at the other's feet. At least they took a glass with them on their ramble.

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Thursday 06 June 1929, page 7.
"Why be thirsty?
Why be thirsty, when for sixpence halfpenny you can get an Imperial Pint of NEWCASTLE MILD ALE?

It has a flavour that is just right. It comes smoothly and softly to the palate and gives the satisfaction that makes it a drink that’s really worth while.

Try a bottle of this rich dark mild. To taste it is to make it your preference for ever afterwards!"
Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Thursday 06 June 1929, page 7.
It's a very odd advert, obviously appealing to  - or trying to - the middle class. An odd tactic in 1929, when the image of Mild wasn't exactly classy.

Bottled Mild - despite the style's huge popularity on draught, was rare in bottled form. At least in name. The vast majority of Brown Ales were really bottled Mild.

Thursday 23 July 2020

Dark Mild Ale (part four)

I'm still on the hunt for early references to Dark Mild. It's thrown up some interesting stuff.

Like this notice of an auction. It seems to be the stock of some sort of clothes shop. But why the hell would a clothes shop have a football two barrels of Mild in stock?

The more I look at the list of items, the more it resembles my annual silly Drinkalongathon list. Especially as it includes string.

Under execution from the Hanley and Stoke-upon-Trent County Court.
MR. CHARLES ONIONS, Court Broker, will SELL BY PUBLlC AUCTlON, on TUESDAY, 29th NOVEMBER, 1921, at the above address, the Whole of the STOCK IN TRADE, &c., comprising;- One hundred and thirty ladies' Tweed skirts, 2 ladies' coats, 1 lady’s costume, gents.' boots, caps, Tweed hats, hard felt hats, 1/2-doz. collars, quantity of spoons and prongs, doz. balls of string, clothes and hair brushes, 8 boxes of cigarettes, 1 football, two 36 gallons of Younger's dark mild beer, 1 small gas heater, quantity of shelving, &c., &c. The above is all new stock.
Sale at 11 30 a.m. prompt.
Cash on fall of the hammer."
Staffordshire Sentinel - Friday 25 November 1921, page 4.

I'm particularly surprised that the Dark Mild was Younger's - I'm assuming William Younger - as it was never much of a thing in Scotland. Most Scottish brewers abandoned Mild Ale in WW I and instead just brewed Pale Ales of several different strengths.

William Younger was a bit of an exception as they continued to brew Mild up to WW II and beyond. I assume because they had considerable trade in England, where Mild was by far the most popular type of beer. But they didn't brew Dark Mild in the 1920s. They did brew two different strengths of Mild, but both, as brewed were pale. The grists being simply pale malt and grits.

Scottish brewers loved colouring up their beer with caramel at racking time. Which is what I assume Younger did.

These were their two Milds in 1921:

William Younger Mild Ales in 1921
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
XX Mild 1035.3 1009.6 3.39 72.73% 4.55 0.57
XXX Mild 1041.9 1011.4 4.03 72.73% 4.55 0.65
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/63.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1886 Hodgson Kingston Ale

I've just about finished adding recipes to Strong!.  Just one or two more to complete and then I'll be done.

Based in Kingston-upon-Thames in the West of London, Hodgson was a relatively small brewery. Acquired by Courage in 1943, it stopped brewing in 1949.

The grist is quite an unusual one. It’s all malt, for a start. By this date I would have expected at least some sugar.  It also doesn’t use pale malt as the base, but high-dried malt. The closest modern equivalent is Simpson’s Imperial. If you can’t get hold of that, use 20 L Munich malt.

There’s also a bit of crystal and a small amount of black malt which provides a lot of the colour. All in all, a grist quite different to any others I’ve seen for this type of beer.

All I know about the hops is that they were English. And there were three different types. No further details were recorded in the log.

1886 Hodgson Kingston Ale
high-dried malt 18.75 lb 96.77%
black malt 0.13 lb 0.65%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 2.58%
Fuggles 120 mins 2.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 2.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1080
FG 1023
ABV 7.54
Apparent attenuation 71.25%
IBU 75
SRM 27
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 52.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Dark Mild Ale (part three)

It was areal shock just how few hits I got in the British Newspaper Archive for "dark mild ale"' Literally, just a handful.

I had more luck - expanding the search, or rather, contracting it - to "dark mild". Which threw up this one:

 Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Thursday 18 December 1924, page 1.
Weird that they call it "Mild Beer" but "Bitter Ale". Even weirder that I drank a pint of XX, in the brewery tap, Less than two years ago.

I've occasionally seen the term "Mild Beer", but not very often. Being the sort of person who obsesses about this sort of rubbish, I've some data to back up this assertion.

I've spent years dredging information from old UK brewery price lists. Which I've put in a spreadsheet, as you do. It has over 4,000 entries. These are the only breweries I could find using the term "Mild Beer" to describer one of their products:

1902 Brook's Cubley Brook Brewery, Sheffield
1884 Leney, Wateringbury
1884 Adey and White, St. Albans
1890 Shepherd Neame, Faversham
1891 St. Anne's Well Brewery, Exeter
1882 Mackeson, Hythe
1882 Gardner, Ash Brewery, near Sandwich
1875 Devenish, Weymouth
1898 WE & J Rigden, Faversham

It's an extremely small subset. While there are hundreds, probably thousands, of instance of the use of the term "Mild Ale".

Why was I in the Greene King brewery tap? Because I was visiting their archive. Which is why I know exactly how strong all those Greene King beers were.

Greene King draught beers in 1935
beer price per barrel price (per gallon) OG
XX Dark Mild Beer 68 23 1029
AK Light Bitter Ale 88 29 1033.2
IA Best Bitter Ale 114 38 1040.7
S Stout 114 38 1046
BA Burton Ale 130 43 1044.6
BBA Strong Ale 154 51 1059
Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Thursday 18 December 1924, page 1.
Greene King brewing records held at the brewery, document numbers AC93/1/1.

Interesting that Greene King still had a Stout and a couple of Strong Ales on draught. Even more unusually they brewed three Stouts.

Draught Stout and Extra Stout are obviously the same beer. Special Stout really was pretty strong - 1065.4º. There was also an Oatmeal Stout at 1044º. With, as was traditional in most of the UK, bugger all oats in it.

Monday 20 July 2020

Dark Mild Ale (part two)

I didn't expect to find masses of references to Dark Mild Ale before WW I. But I am surprised at how few I'm finding after it.

The next one I can find isn't until 1931. And isn't at all where I'd expected to find it. Given that the Northeast wasn't somewhere where Dark Mild was ever a really big thing. Unlike, say, the West Midlands.
"Have you tried this rich dark MILD ALE?
TASTE it! Enjoy the full luscious flavour!  Note how smooth and soft it comes to the palate. There's character in it... . something better and more satisfying than the usual mild ale. See now clear it it, too . . . . clean, fresh and wholesome to the last drop.

Thanks to skillful brewing from carefully blended malt flavoured with fine selected hops, you have here a dark mild ale you will remember and ask for again and again.

Pint bottles 6/6 doz.
3/4 pints 5/6 doz.
Half-Pints 3/9 doz."
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Saturday 07 March 1931, page 7.
Looking at that price, I immediately starting working out how strong Newcastle Mild Ale would have been. 6/6 a dozen is 6.5d per pint. Knock off 1d and you get the draught price. 5.5d is halfway between a 5d Mild Ale of 1037º and a 6d Mild Ale at 1043º. My guess would genuinely have been about 1040º.

How right I was.

Newcastle Brown Ale and Mild Ale 1931-1932
Year Beer Style Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1931 Mild Ale Mild 1040.5 1013.5 3.49 66.67%
1932 Mild Ale Mild 8 1036 1011.5 3.17 68.06%
1931 Brown Ale Brown Ale 1059.5 1014 5.93 76.47%
1931 Brown Ale Brown Ale 1056 1014 5.46 75.00%
Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

Why is the 1932 version weaker? Because of the budget of September 1931 would have increased the price by about 1d per pint. But instead most brewers cut gravities to keep the retail price the same.

Sunday 19 July 2020

Dark Mild Ale

I've been pondering, as you do, the age of the term "Dark Mild".

In the first half of the 19th century there would have been no need for the term. Because Mild Ale was all relatively pale, being brewed from just pale base malt. Only when some Mild Ales began to darken - sometime at the end of the 19th century - would there be any need for it.

So I went out a searching. In the British Newspaper Archive and Google Books.

The latter turned up the first mention: in 1897. It's from a brewing trade magazine, so a pretty reliable source. Unfortunately, the book is only snippet view. I'm missing the context. But it unequivocably describes a beer as Dark Mild Ale:

"CHART 5.-C. Dark Mild Ale, uncoloured, equalling "B" in the 1-inch Colour units."
Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing, Volume 3, 1897 page 420.
Oldest reference in the British Newspaper Archive is from 1906. In a Fremlin's of Maidstone advert. It got me all excited. Until I looked more closely.

Kentish Independent - Friday 22 June 1906, page 3.
Sure enough, it says Dark Mild Ale. But also Dark Bitter Ale. Which begs the question, how dark was dark?

Dark Bitter isn't as insane as it sounds. After WW I, they basically only brewed Pale Ales in Scotland. Coloured up to all sorts of different shades, including near black.

Unusual to see a Porter being brewed outside London this late. Though they were obviously selling it as Stout, when bottled. Come to think of it, the Cooper, Elephant Brand Stout and Oatmeal Stout look like they were bottled Porter, too. Based on the price.

Most unlikely appearance is Fremlin's Pilsener Lager Beer. Very few breweries produced a Lager at the time, other than specialists with dedicated Lager plants.

Most weird ids that there's just a single beer described as Mild Ale, amongst the multitude of products.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Let's Brew - 1885 Kirkstall KKK

Here’s another brewery I remember and whose beers I drank. Kirkstall is part of Leeds and the like-named brewery was still operating when I lived in the city.

The brewery was bought by Dutton’s in 1936. They fell into Whitbread’s hands in 1953, when they in turn purchased Dutton’s. It finally closed in 1983.

I didn’t initially drink their beers as they produced no cask. They did bring it back in their later years and very pleasant it was, too.

A new Kirkstall brewery was established a few years back. They own one of my favourite pub, The Cardigan Arms.

KKK has a quite interesting grist, with a reasonably high percentage of brown malt. I’ve seen brown malt in other K Ales in this period. For example, from Whitbread.

It’s a good bit weaker than a London KKK. Whitbread’s had an OG almost 20º higher.

All English hops from the 1883 and 1884 harvests. No indication of variety. The dry hops are a guess, as they weren’t recorded. While I’m at it, the FG is a  guess, too.

1885 Kirkstall KKK
mild malt 14.50 lb 90.63%
brown malt 1.50 lb 9.38%
Fuggles 150 mins 1.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1069.5
FG 1020
ABV 6.55
Apparent attenuation 71.22%
IBU 58
SRM 12.5
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 57º F
Yeast Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale

Friday 17 July 2020

My books cheap again

You can get 15% off all my Lulu print books until 11:59 PM July 17th by using this code:


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

Thursday 16 July 2020

Eldridge Pope beers in the 1890s

Been looking at some Eldridge Pope records. And realised that I have a matching price list. Which is always good.

It means that I can match up brew house and trade names. In this case, that's not so difficult as they're mostly the same. Though I'm not so sure about the three different types of XXX, Burton, Old and Mild. I've only got photos of one XXX. Not sure which of the three it is. But they were probably all the same strength as they're the same price.

No surprise that the weakest Mild and weakest Pale Ale are the best value for money. Nor that the top-of-the-range Pale Ale is the worst value.

These are the draught beers. There were also two bottled beers: IPA and Crystal Ale. The former is  bottled PA, while the latter I assume is a version of AK, which is called BAK in the brewing records. More proof of the total lack of logic in the use of the terms PA and IPA in the UK.

BAK, incidentally, was one of the beers in the parti-gyle of the very first brew of Hardy Ale.

Eldridge Pope beers in the 1890s
Advert name price per barrel (shillings) price per º brewhouse name OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
Pale Ale 54 0.94 PA 1057.6 1014.4 5.72 75.00% 10.50 2.56
K Bitter Ale 42 0.82 KK 1051.5 1014.1 4.95 72.58% 6.81 1.50
AK Bitter Ale 36 0.74 AK 1048.5 1011.9 4.84 75.43% 7.03 1.44
XXXX Strong Old Ale 63 0.84 XXXX 1074.8 1023.8 6.74 68.15% 8.95 2.82
M XXX Burton Ale 54 0.83 XXX 1065.1 1018.6 6.16 71.49% 6.25 1.75
XXX Old or Mild Ale 54 0.83 XXX 1065.1 1018.6 6.16 71.49% 6.25 1.75
XX Mild Ale 36 0.73 XX 1049.0 1011.6 4.95 76.27% 4.36 0.91
Stout Double Stout 54 0.88 S 1061.5 1026.9 4.58 56.31% 9.43 2.50
Eldridge Pope brewing records
Hampshire Chronicle - Saturday 25 January 1890, page 2.