Saturday, 31 July 2021

Let's Brew - 1886 Barclay Perkins XX Ale

Just like last Saturday, I'm providing some relief from the constant barrage of Heineken and WW II stuff. With a recipe from my barely-started book, "Free!".

19th-century Mild Ales can confuse the hell out of people. Especially stronger ones, like this. Pale, hoppy and pretty strong. What exactly makes it a Mild Ale, then? The simple fact that it was sold without any ageing, just a couple of weeks, at most, after being brewed.

XX was considerably more heavily hopped than X Ale: 12 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, compared to 8 lbs. In fact, the hopping rate was the same as for PA and XLK, Barclay’s two Bitters.

The malt bill couldn’t be simpler, just a single type of pale malt. There’s really nothing at all to discuss there.

Equal quantities of East Kent and Worcester hops, both from the 1885 harvest, made up the hops. As this beer was brewed in May, the freshest hops you could get.

Sadly, Barclays didn’t brew this beer for much longer. Like most other large London brewers, by around 1900 they’d slimmed down to brewing just a single Mild Ale. This batch was brewed on their small kit and consisted of a mere 50 barrels. While X Ale was often brewed 1,000 barrels at a time.

1886 Barclay Perkins XX Ale
pale malt 17.75 lb 100.00%
Fuggles 120 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 4.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1076
FG 1023
ABV 7.01
Apparent attenuation 69.74%
IBU 82
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale



Phil said...

I myself have, of course, been aware of the historical meanings of the words 'mild' and 'old' for some time (see also 'stock', 'running', 'keeping'... I've got all the lingo, me), so nothing about that recipe surpr-

wait a minute

7.01% a.b.v.? It's an XX, it's a mild ale, and it's SEVEN PER CENT? Blimey.

Beer really was different then. Presumably pubs and pub life were different, too - not just different from how they are now or how they were in the 1970s, but different from the interwar, post-Lloyd George norm. Fascinating.

Kevin said...

Phil, Search a little deeper in the blog and you will find mild ales at 9% ABV.

Mike in NSW said...

Phil, there are a couple of sites such as Victorian Web where they present documents and published accounts from those times, to do with day to day lives. Probably for the first time the Victorians actually did a lot of "sociological research" and were increasingly concerned about poverty, crime etc.

So one of them is a set of volumes about the London poor, their living conditions and what they did, or didn't do, for a living.

I distinctly remember one page (can't locate it just now) about casual dock workers where their equivalent of an employment agency could pay them partly in beer - a cask at the dockside. Like you I was struck by how strong it was.

Some workers would have one pint, others two or three and some poor wretched souls would sink four pints and end up about comatose. Nowadays four pints of mild would be a tease!

Phil said...

Mike - ta, I'll check that site out. The books you mention will almost certainly be Mayhew's _London Labour and the London Poor_. Classic source - I'd never thought to lok into what it might say about beer, though!

If you put stories like that together with the existence of things like "Family beer" - weak enough to serve to your teenage(?) children - it's hard to escape the conclusion that everyone was just a bit drunk most of the time. (Well, everyone male, at least. Somebody's got to make the beds and light the fire...)