Sunday, 4 April 2021

AK 1878 - 1911

To fit in with my current series of AK recipes, I thought I'd create an overview of the examples that I have from brewing records.

Ten years back, I could only dream of getting hold of so many AKs As you're probably aware, it's long been an obsession of mine. After a decade of research, I've got a pretty good handle on the style. I'm also certain that I understand the origin of the term.

To quickly recap on that, here's my theory on the meaning of AK. The "A" is a strength indication, which is one step below X. The gradations being, in ascending order, T, A, X, XX, XXX, XXXX. The "K" stands for "Keeping" and indicates that the beer is a Pale Ale rather than a Mild Ale. Despite the fact that the whole point of AK was that it was a Light or Running Bitter. Which meant it was aged before sale.

AK is often described in price lists as a "Dinner Ale" or "suitable for family use" or something similar. Indicating that it was a light beer intended to be drunk with meals at home. When you wouldn't wasnt something to heavy or cloying.

All the examples in the have gravities in the 1040's, with the exception of Rose, which is a little over 1050º. A Reasonable degree of attenuation leaves them all between 4% and 5% ABV.

Most are hopped at around 8 lbs per quarter, which is about the same as a London Mild Ale of the same period. But a good bit below the rate of a Stock Pale Ale or IPA. Exceptions to this are the Adnams and Kirkstall examples which have over 10 lbs per barrel.

Next time we'll be looking at the recipes.

AK 1878 - 1911
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp
1878 Adnams AK 1044.3       11.67 2.82 65º F
1885 Kirkstall AK 1049.9       12.42 2.01 58º F
1887 Fullers AK 1049.6 1014.1 4.69 71.51% 7.61 1.66 58º F
1890 Adnams AK 1047.1       10.91 2.20 58º F
1896 Eldridge Pope AK 1048.5 1011.6 4.87 76.00% 7.33 1.50 60º F
1896 Eldridge Pope BAK 1048.5 1011.9 4.84 75.43% 7.03 1.44 59.5º F
1896 Rose AK 1051.5 1014.5 4.89 71.84% 7.23 1.60 59º F
1901 Boddington AK 1046.0 1013.0 4.37 71.74% 8.00 1.48 59.5º F
1911 Russell AK 1041.3       7.52 1.29  
1911 Eldridge Pope BAK 1044.3 1012.7 4.18 71.25% 8.09 1.56 60.25º F
  Average   1047.1 1013.0 4.6 72.96% 8.78 1.76 59.69º F
Adnams brewing record held at the brewery.
Fullers brewing record hels at the brewery.
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/125.
Russell brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/RUS/8
Eldridge Pope brewing record.
Rose brewing record.



Russell Gibbon said...

Thank you Ron, this is excellent info, just what I was hoping that you would share with us about Dinner Ales. That is a nice Wenlock label too. So what does a T mean? I cannot recall you ever sharing a T recipe. Which leads me to conclude that Ts were so weak they must have been a TOTAL waste of time! Russell Gibbon.

Anonymous said...

What did the B mean in Eld. Pope's name BAK? Was there any particular reason they used a different designation?

Ron Pattinson said...

Russell Gibbon,

the T stands for "Table", something probably under 4% ABV. I've very few recipes and the one I have the most of, from Barclay Perkins, is atypical being a low-gravity Porter.

Ron Pattinson said...


the "B" stands for "Bottling". That is, the bottled version of AK. Which EP brewed right through until they closed, I believe. It was sold as Crystal.