Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1917 Fullers AK

Bored of the fascinating Light Bitter called AK?  Well I fucking am't. Here's yet another recipe for one.

Dropping neatly between too posts on Fullers AK during WW I, here's a recipe part war through the gravity collapse.

In the middle of 1917 Fuller’s beers became ludicrously simple, pared back to pure malt or near as dammit pure malt. Like their AK.

There’s a tiny amount of caramel colouring, but otherwise the grist is 100% pale malt. As an enthusiastic user of both sugar and flaked maize for decades, I can’t imagine this was a voluntary decision of Fuller’s part. It does make for some interesting beers, though.

The hops, just like in their X Ale, were all English. In fact they were exactly the same hops. All their beers at this point contained the same three types: Cobbs (1915, 1916) and Mid-Kent (1916).

The real mashing scheme was mash of an hour with an initial heat of 148º F, raised to 151º F after 25 minutes by an underlet. Left to stand for a further 1 hour and 35 minutes.

1917 Fullers AK 
pale malt 8.25 lb 99.95%
caramel 500 SRM 0.004 lb 0.05%
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1035
FG 1006
ABV 3.84
Apparent attenuation 82.86%
IBU 37
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1968 London ESB

Let me know if you're bored with all this Light Bitter shit. It won't stop me. Once I get a a grillox in my teeth i rarely let go. But if complaining makes you feel better, that's fine by me. I just love futile actions. That's why I'm a CAMRA life member and a Newcastle supporter.

The above is an excerpt from Armistice,  my wonderful book on brewing in WW I.


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Fullers AK in WW I

Wringing the final drops of joy out of a topic is the way I operate.  No escaping from AK just yet.

I have multiple breweries' AKs from WW I and could turn out a nice big table. Except that it would be confusing, as gravities might change two or three times in a year. To show the changes to AK over the course of the war it makes more sense to concentrate on a single example. Having a shitload of their records, I've plumped for Fullers.

Surprisingly few changes occurred in the first half of the war, with the gravity on;y falling a couple of degrees. The fun started in the spring of 1917 when the German unrestricted U-boat campaign started to seriously threaten the UK's good supply. By spring the following year, the gravity had been reduced to a pathetic 1026º and a mere 2.73 ABV.

I got quite a shock when I assembled the table.Contrary to what you'd expect, the hopping rate per quarter (336 lbs) of malt increased during the war. This is the figure that takes the beer's gravity out of the equation. The rate per barrel was barely lower in 1920 than it had been in 1914, despite the OG being almost a third lower.

Speaking of that reduction in OG, let's see how it compares to the average for all beer brewed in the UK:

UK average OG 1914 - 1920
Year OG
1914 1052.80
1915 1052.35
1916 1051.88
1917 1048.54
1918 1039.81
1919 1030.55
1920 1039.41
fall 25.36%
Brewers' Journal 1921, page 246.

Fullers AK fared worse than the average. In general, beers that started with a modest gravity seem to have been worst hit by the reduction in gravities. Porter, Mild Ale and Light Bitter were all hit hard.

Fullers AK in WW I
Date Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
20th Nov 1914 1044.3 1009.1 4.65 79.38% 7.33 1.34
2nd Jul 1915 1044.5 1009.7 4.61 78.22% 7.84 1.42
1st Jun 1916 1043.9 1009.7 4.53 77.93% 8.20 1.54
3rd Nov 1916 1041.7 1005.8 4.74 86.04% 8.18 1.46
20th Jun 1917 1038.6 1006.4 4.27 83.51% 8.53 1.45
2nd Jan 1918 1035.5 1007.5 3.70 78.92% 9.72 2.24
11th Apr 1918 1026.1 1005.5 2.73 78.81% 9.99 1.10
7th Nov 1918 1025.7 1005.0 2.74 80.60% 9.45 1.09
19th Jun 1919 1028.2 1004.7 3.10 83.28% 9.72 1.14
11th Feb 1920 1030.6 1007.5 3.06 75.59% 9.80 1.21
fall   30.88% 18.18% 34.17% 4.77% -33.70% 9.51%
Fullers brewing records held at the brewery

Next time we'll be looking at the grists.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Heineken grists in 1928 - 1929

As promised, here are the Heineken grists. Not that they are particularly exciting.

Lots of pilsner malt, a bit of caramel malt and a touch of kleur mout (coloured malt). I assume that the last is something similar to black malt. I'm quite surprised to see that there was none in the Bok, just a fairly heavy dose of caramel malt.

I'll be honest, the sugar bit is a total guess. I'm not even sure that it's sugar. In the brewing record it's described as "R. s.". From the context, I'm pretty sure that it isn't a malt. The first thought was that it was some sort of unmalted adjunct. But I couldn't think of any grain type that starts with the letter S. I'm assuming that the R stands for "rauw", the Dutch word for raw. I could be totally wrong. If you have any better ideas, let me know.

Not much else to say, really. So I'll just fuck off.

Heineken grists in 1928 - 1929
Year Beer Style pilsner malt kleur mout caramel malt raw sugar
1928 Li Licht Lagerbier 80.00%     20.00%
1928 Do Donker Lagerbier 78.00% 1.00% 1.00% 20.00%
1929 P Pils 82.76%     17.24%
1928 Bayerische Münchener 92.31% 4.81% 2.88%  
1928 Bok Bok 90.00%   10.00%  
Heineken brewing record held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 834-1753.


Sunday, 18 April 2021

Heineken beers in 1928 - 1929

It's not just the Carlsberg records I've not done much with. The same is also true for the Heineken ones I have. 

I hadn't even bothered to troll down to the Amsterdam city archives to photograph every volume. As it turns out, that was probably for the best. You can request that the archive digitises documents and I've been working my way through them (you can only request 5 documents per month).

If you're into the sort of time-robbing, mind-bending research that I do, you can find the digitised records here:

 Much better quality than my crappy photos. Enjoy.

Why haven't I looked at them more? Because it's hard work. And I'm a very lazy person.They're trickier to interpret than UK records, for various reasons. Also, as with Carlsberg, they weren't relevant to anything I was working on. Now I'm bashing out a talk on continental Lager between the wars, they've become very relevant.

You may have noticed that I've gone all metric, rather than my usual imperial measures. It's not a statement or anything, just me taking the line of least resistance. The brewing records are metric and it's much simpler to leave them as such. Especially as it makes the maths simpler.

These beers are from Heineken's Rotterdam brewery, which closed several decades ago. The offices are still there and I used to often walk past them on my way into town when I lived in Rotterdam, shithole that it is.

The range is fairly modest: two pale Lagers, two dark Lagers and a Bock. The latter being a seasonal beer. 

When I first started looking at this era of Heineken beers I was surprised to see that they had both a pale and a dark Lager at Schankbier strength, 9º Plato. They weren't the most popular beers in Heineken's portfolio, but combined they did account for more than a quarter of the brewery's output.

Heineken Rotterdam production by type in 1929
type no. of brews size of brew (HL) total amount % of total
Licht 95 440 41,800 14.46%
Donker 48 770 36,960 12.79%
Bayerisch 41 295 12,095 4.19%
Pils 491 395 193,945 67.11%
Bok 21 200 4,200 1.45%
total 696   289,000  
Heineken brewing record held at the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, document number 834-1754.

The pale version had the highest hopping rate in terms of hops per 100 kg of malt, even more than the Pils. While the two strongest dark beers, Bayeriche and Bok, have the lowest rate. Not such a shock, that. 

None of the beers is particularly heavily hopped by UK standards. Though the rates are broadly similar to those of Carlsberg. In my usual measurement, lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt they range between 2.4 lbs and 4.5 lbs. Which is similar to Scottish rates.

Note that the Pils has, compared to Carlsberg Pilsener, much more like the gravity you would expect - a little over 12º Plato.

The rate of attenuation is very similar for all five beers, with, unexpectedly, Bok having the highest, at 76%

Heineken beers in 1928 - 1929
Year Beer Style OG Plato FG Plato ABV App. Atten-uation kg hops/ 100 kg hops kg/hl colour
1928 Li Licht Lagerbier 9.0 2.4 3.50 74.03% 1.50 0.11 4
1928 Do Donker Lagerbier 9.2 2.6 3.50 72.48% 1.20 0.14 11
1929 P Pils 12.2 3.5 4.70 72.29% 1.33 0.21 5
1928 Bayerische Münchener 12.5 3.6 4.80 72.20% 0.96 0.17 17
1928 Bok Bok 17.4 4.4 7.20 75.97% 0.80 0.20  
Heineken brewing record held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 834-1753.

We'll be looking at the grists next time.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Let's Brew - 1920 Fullers AK

WW I had a lasting impact on Fullers AK. Its gravity dropped from 1044º in 1914 to a nadir of 1026º in 1918 and 1919. After the war, it recovered a little, but remained 13.5º lower in 1920.

It was still being brewed in quite large quantities: this batch was 100 barrels. In a three-way parti-gyle with PA and XK that totaled 261 barrels. This was probably as a result of lingering restrictions on gravity. That wouldn’t last. By 1925 it was being brewed in batches of fewer than ten barrels.

The recipe, however, remained very similar to that of before the war. A fairly simple combination of pale malt, flaked maize, glucose and invert sugar. In many ways, a classic AK grist. A straightforward, light, easy-drinking beer was the objective and a recipe like this was a good way to achieve that goal.

Half of the hops were from Alsace, from the 1917 and 1919 harvests. Which meant they had been grown in the German Empire. As brewing had come to pretty much a total stop in Germany in the later war years, they wouldn’t have had much use for the hops. The remainder were some undated Oregons, which I assume were very old, and English hops from the 1916 season.

1920 Fullers AK
pale malt 5.25 lb 77.66%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 14.79%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.25 lb 3.70%
glucose 0.25 lb 3.70%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.01 lb 0.15%
Cluster 90 min 0.25 oz
Strisselspalt 90 min 0.50 oz
Strisselspalt 60 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1030.5
FG 1007.5
ABV 3.04
Apparent attenuation 75.41%
IBU 31
Mash at 147º F
After underlet 156º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Friday, 16 April 2021

Ny Carlsberg grists in 1928-1929

As promised, here are Carlsberg's grists from the 1920s. Which turn out to be more interesting than you might expect.

No shock that the Pilsners were mostly brewed from pilsner malt. Along with some maize. It is a surprise, however, to de "Farve malt" in the two weaker ones. It means "colour malt" and, based on its usage in Porter, seems to be something like black malt. Obviously, it's purpose is to darken the colour a little.

Moving on to the dark Lagers, we hit the first major problem in interpretation. What exactly was lager malt? I'm inclined to go for something like pale Munich malt. It can't just be another name for pilsner malt as the two types are kept very distinct in the records. The small quantity of caramel malt wouldn't account for the seemingly much darker colour.

Note that none of the dark beers contained maize.

The there's the next tricky ingredient: something called "Kulör" in the logs. 18 and 25 litres, respectively for 424 hl of Lager and 377 hl of Export. Clearly it's some sort of liquid caramel, but how dark was it? I could only guess.

Biggest surprise is that the Porter had 20% brown malt. That's so old school. Even in the UK almost no-one used it any more in Stout, except in London.

Ny Carlsberg grists in 1928-1929
Year Beer Style Pilsner malt Lager malt caramel malt brown malt Farve malt maize
1929 Ny Pilsner Pilsner 84.24%       0.70% 15.06%
1928 Pilsner Pilsner 79.74%       0.16% 20.10%
1928 Lagerol I Lager   98.08% 1.92%      
1929 Gammel Carlsberg Exp Export   97.94% 2.06%      
1928 Exp. Pilsner Pilsner 70.00%         30.00%
1928 Porter Porter 70.61%     21.41% 7.99%  
Source: Carlsberg brewing record held at the brewery, document number Serie 000000299 000056839.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Ny Carlsberg beers in 1928-1929

I've been too diligent in collecting brewing records. That's how I excuse myself for the mountain of unprocessed ones. Including a hillock of Carlsberg logs. Our perhaps I'm just a lazy git? I'll let you decide.

Ever since I built up a backlog, I give priority to transcribing records which are relevant to a current project. That ruled out anything that wasn't in the time slot 1938 to 1948. After a lifetime and a half of toil, I finally finished off William Younger. I suspect most of it a waste of time. Dead handy for my birthday recipe thing, though. Lots and lots of different dates.

Wandering a bit off the path there. It was years back (May 2015, according to the photos) when I visited the Carlsberg archives. I photographed 20 brewing books from Ny Carlsberg, spanning 1867 to 1934. Quite a lot of stuff. Which would take years to fully process.

There's a good reason I'm looking at them now.  I'm writing a talk on interwar European Lager. Carlsberg is a great example. Getting to use my research here as well makes it a win-win. For me, at any rate. Probably depends on how number-obsessed you are.

One word of warning: the FGs are a guess. I've a couple of analyses of Carlsberg's beers from around this time and they're around 75% apparent, so that's what I've gone with here. It could have been lower for the two dark beers and the porter.

As far as I can make out, Carlsberg brewed six different beers: three Pilsners, a Lagerbier, an Export and a Porter. Not a massive range. If these were German beers, I'd call the middle two Dunkles Lagerbier and Dunkles Export.

The standard Pilsner, which was by far the most-brewed of Carlsberg's range, is weaker than you would expect: under 11º Plato. Checking back through older logs, I saw that it was 12.9º in 1895, 12.6º in 1901, but only 10.9º in 1910. It wasn't WW I, as I suspected, that pushed the gravity down. 

Export Pilsner is simply the same strength as the 1895 standard Pilsner. Looks like Carlsberg lowered the strength of the beer domestically and kept on brewing the old version for export.

Ny Pilsner (New Pilsner) looks like it's fitting into some sort of price class:

"The beers with less than 2.25 per cent alcohol show an even greater increase. The new Pilsener for instance increasing from Kr. 7.5 to 24.25 ore per bottle (about 0.75d. to 2.5d.) and from Kr. 16 to Kr. 60 per hectolitre in cask (or 26s. 3d. to 98s. 6d. per barrel)."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 27, Issue 1, January 1921, pages 26 - 27.

This confirms that Ny Pilsner was a tax category:

Average Original Gravities of Danish Beers 1914 - 1920
Year ending September 30th 1915 1916 1917 1916 1919 1920
Lager beer 1052 1051 1048 1045    
Pilsener beer 1044 1044 1041.5 1032 1038 1038
Stout, tax class I 1076 1076 1072      
Stout, tax class II 1068 1068 1065 1058 1055 1056
Munich beer 1056 1056 1055      
Export beer 1052 1050 1049.5      
New Pilsener, tax class II 1032 1032 1032 1030 1031 1031
Source: Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 27, Issue 1, January 1921, page 27.

You may have noticed the eccentric colour scale used by Carlsberg. The higher the number, the paler the colour. How mad is that?

Lagerol and Export are both dark, but how dark? I'd guess 12-15 SRM. When we get to the recipe next time, I'll explain exactly why I'm guessing that.

By far the most heavily hopped of the beers, in terms of hops per 100 kg of malt, is Ny Pilsner. Probably to cover up how watery it was. Amongst the other beers, Export Pilsner is a little heavier on the hops. As the strongest beer by quite a way, it's no surprise that Porter has by far the most hops per hectolitre.

In general, the darker beers were boiled longer, the exception being Export Pilsner.

Ny Carlsberg beers in 1928-1929
Year Beer Style OG Plato FG Plato ABV App. Attenua-tion kg hops/ 100 kg hops kg/hl boil time (hours) colour
1929 Ny Pilsner Pilsner 6.5 1.6 2.56 75.87% 2.63 0.19 1.75 19
1928 Pilsner Pilsner 10.6 2.6 4.27 76.24% 1.26 0.18 1.75 19
1928 Lagerol I Lager 10.6 2.6 4.27 76.24% 1.25 0.18 2 5.5
1929 Gammel Carlsberg Exp Export 12.8 3.2 5.18 75.94% 1.28 0.21 2 5
1928 Exp. Pilsner Pilsner 12.9 3.2 5.24 76.13% 1.58 0.28 2.25 20
1928 Porter Porter 18.9 4.7 7.89 76.48% 1.41 0.41 2.5  
Carlsberg brewing record held at the brewery, document number Serie 000000299 000056839.


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Let's Brew Wedneday - 1939 Fullers AK

Weakest of Fullers Pale Ales was my old favourite obsession, AK. Yes, a Pale Ale, not an effing Light Mild. The trouble McMullen have caused me by their inexplicable decision to dub their AK a Mild. There’s a large body of US home brewers who now take that as gospel.

Obviously, AK was part of a parti-gyle which included XK and PA, its two stronger siblings. This particular parti-gyle consisted of just 3.25 barrels of AK, along with 136 barrels of XK and 166 barrels of PA. Clearly AK wasn’t a major brand for fullers.

Back before WW I it had been, with Fullers turning out 300-odd barrels at a time. But the war wasn’t kind, reducing AK’s OG to the low 1030ºs. Which may account for its poor sales. Bitters that weak weren’t very common in London. The batches are so small, there could only have been a handful of pubs taking the beer.

The recipe, inevitably, is identical to XK and PA. Despite its low gravity, AK still comes out to a very reasonable 35 (calculated) IBUs.

1939 Fullers AK
pale malt 6.25 lb 81.86%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 13.10%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.25 lb 3.27%
glucose 0.125 lb 1.64%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.01 lb 0.13%
Fuggles 90 min 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1033.5
FG 1006.5
ABV 3.57
Apparent attenuation 80.60%
IBU 35
Mash at 145º F
After underlet 147º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Beers exhibited in 1879

I'm returning to that article on the Brewing Exhibition of 1879. Because, in addition to foreign Lagers, some local beers were also described.

Though first, fitting in nicely with current trends, some non-alcoholic drinks.

"Messrs. Cantrell & Cochrane, through their London agents. Messrs. Findlater, Mackie, Todd & Co., exhibited a large variety of their carefully-prepared mineral waters. The Aromatic Ginger ale made by this firm is an agreeable beverage, and far in advance of the many non-intoxicating drinks now offered to the public."
The Brewers' Guardian, October 14th 1879, page 340.

Now on with beers.

"Messrs. BEER & Co., of Canterbury, sent specimens of light dinner ale and India pale ale. Some very fine old Imperial Ale brewed by this firm was deservedly praised by all who tasted it.

Messrs. GORDON & Co., brewers, of Caledonian-road and Peckham, had in our opinion the best assortment of beers in the Exhibition; their extensive stand contained numbers of casks piled up one above the other, and representing some dozen different kinds of beer brewed by this firm. Their XX at 1s. a gallon is a splendid glass of beer, and so is their KKK or India pale ale at 1s. 4d. a gallon; but as a marvel of cheapness combined with quality, we commend their K or Tonic Bitter Ale at 10d. a gallon. This last-named fulfils all the requirements of those who have raised a cry for a cheaper and lighter beer."
The Brewers' Guardian, October 14th 1879, page 340.

Beer & Co. I've heard of. Hang on, no I haven't I was thinking of Beer & Rigden, also of Canterbury. This is a totally unrelated brewery, which seems to have fizzled out in the 1890s.

Gordon & Co. are nicely messing up my interpretation of alphabet soup. KKK as IPA? Not sure I've seen that one before. At least they seem to have been consistent, using a single K for their weakest Pale Ale.

"Messrs. Herbert Wright & Co., of Dover, contributed samples of their productions. This firm has previously exhibited at London, in 1873, Philadelphia in 1876, and Paris last year, and on every occasion has been awarded a medal. Their light bitter and extra stout were remarkably good, but the finest beer was a cask of splendid old XXXX, which we unhesitatingly pronounce as the best in the Exhibition.

Messrs. Santer & Collingwood, of Caledonian Road, sent some capital samples of ale and porter.

Messrs. T. P. Griffin & Co., of Philpot Lane, who we believe are not brewers, exhibited samples of sparkling pale ale, which was in beautiful condition, and specially adapted for use in hot climates, where it comes in competition with the products of Germany and America.

Messrs. Jones, Lloyd & Co., of Mold, sent a cask of their light Welsh mild ale. This was a clean drinking beet, with an agreeable flavour of both malt and hops, and one of the best samples in the Hall.

Messrs. Pryor & Co., of Hatfield, exhibited some excellent samples of pale ale, stout, porter, &c."
The Brewers' Guardian, October 14th 1879, page 341.

None of the brewers mentioned were exactly big names. It seems they had declined to attend:

"many well-known firms, who from various reasons have taken no part in this year’s show, have signified their intention of bring represented at the next one."
The Brewers' Guardian, October 14th 1879, page 340.

You'll note that there are quite a number of Light Bitters. These were very much on the up in the 1870s. And, considering it was the most popular type of beer, there are very few mentions of Mild Ale. Just one XX and one Welsh Mild Ale. 

The beers exhibited I think tells us something about what brewers wanted to push. So mostly lighter Pale Ales and strong beers like Old Ale or Stout. Very little marketing effort seems to have been put into Mild Ale.

That Sparkling Pale Ale from Griffin & Co. sounds like one of the UK beers which appeared when Lager beer started turning up in Far Eastern markets. They didn't fare particularly well, and Lager eventually pushed out Pale Ale entirely. 

It's amazingly rare to find any sort of discussion of a brewer's products, even in a trade magazine. Making the above vignettes, however brief, of particular interest.