Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1901 Boddington AK

A reader, Russell Gibbons, after I published the Adnams AK recipe recently, made a suggestion. What about publishing a series of Light Bitter/Dinner Ale recipes? Not a bad idea. Hence this Boddington AK.

AK was an incredibly popular designation for Light Bitters, but mostly limited in use to the southern half of England. It pops up a little bit in the northern Midlands, including my home town of Newark. Holes AK was the town’s most popular beer when I was a kid. Boddington’s is the most northerly example I’ve come across.

It has a dead typical OG, most examples being around 1045º. Pre-WW I, this counts as a light beer in the UK. A “standard” Pale Ale at the time was at least 1055º. To put AK into context in Boddington’s range of beers, it was the same strength as X, their weakest Mild Ale.

Little can be said about the recipe, it being simply base pale malt and an unspecified type of invert sugar. I’ve guessed No. 2 for the latter, though it could also have been No. 1. Just under half of the malt was made from Californian barley. Which wasn't unusual. Most British brewers liked to use some, partly because of its higher diastatic power, but also for its nitrogen content.

Four types of hops were employed, one Californian and the rest English. No harvest year specified, unfortunately.

1901 Boddington AK
pale malt 9.25 lb 90.24%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 9.76%
Cluster 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1046
FG 1013
ABV 4.37
Apparent attenuation 71.74%
IBU 43
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 135 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)


Anonymous said...

How specific was the name "Dinner Ale?" Did it ever get applied to other lower alcohol beers like Mild or Lager, or was it pretty much limited to PA?

Daniel Boisvert said...

I'm all in for LBA/LDA recipes! This one seems interesting, but wow, 135 minutes of boiling? Should I try to make this one, I might have to go lower than that, if I want to have something to drink... ;)

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,

How does this compare to a modern Best Bitter?

Ron Pattinson said...


Family Ale was another term, and that was sometimes a sort of bottled Mild. Tetley's Family Ale is a good example. You got Luncheon stout. But Dinner Ale and Luncheon Ale always seem to be a type of Pale Ale.

Ron Pattinson said...


paler, lighter and more bitter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Searching around your site it looks like there was also Table Beer which sounds sort of like weak porter and then mild and lasted into the 20th Century in at least Scotland and Kent. It's always interesting to see the overlapping names for beers and the lack of rigid doctrine about defining them.

Ron Pattinson said...


you don't see much Table Beer in England after it was abolished as a tax category in 1830. The ones which were knocking around later than that were generally weaker than Dinner Ales, only around 1040º at most.