Wednesday 6 October 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1887 Fullers XXK

The set of Fullers beers is completed by XXK, described in an 1893 price list as Strong Old Ale. I see no reason to disagree with the name.

Unsurprisingly, being the strongest beer in the range, it was also the most expensive, at 70 shillings per 36-gallon barrel.  A good 10 shillings more than IPA, the second most expensive.

I’m not sure if the term Burton was already in use for Strong Ale in London. But that’s certainly what it would have been called a decade or two later. By which time it was firmly established of one of the standard draught beers in a London pub.

It’s fascinating to see crystal malt making an appearance. It wasn’t commonly used by London brewers. Whitbread only adopted it in the 1930s. Barclay Perkins sometimes threw in a small amount, mostly in Milds. Truman added it to its X Ale just before WW I.

Other than the crystal, it’s just pale malt and our old friend “Sacc.”. Giving it a fairly dark colour. Earlier in the century Stock Ales – KK, KKK and KKKK – had been made from 100% pale malt and fairly pale. Though the strongest ones would have had a little colour, purely due to the massive amount of malt.

There were no fewer than five types of hops, some of which I can’t read. Others where I’ve no idea what they mean. This is how I have them noted down. HB (1886), EK (1986), W of K (1886),?? (1886), Poperinge (1886). The last two were in pretty small quantities, 80 lbs and 94 lbs, respectively, out of a total of 1,100 lbs. About a third were EK, so something Goldings-like. Whatever they were, all the hops were fresh, as this brew was in April 1887.

I know for certain it was aged. There’s a note in the brewing record:

“Pumped over into settling back Tuesday Morning 26th April and run into No. 13 vat, next day very bright”

If they’re taking the trouble to put it into a vat, they’d be ageing at least 6 months. More likely, 12 months. Which would have considerably increased the attenuation and ABV. The latter possibly as high as 9% or more due to a Brettanomyces secondary fermentation..

1887 Fullers XXK
pale malt 12.75 lb 75.00%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 2.94%
No. 2 invert sugar 3.75 lb 22.06%
Fuggles 90 mins 3.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.00 oz
Fuggles dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1079
FG 1021
ABV 7.67
Apparent attenuation 73.42%
IBU 87
SRM 26
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 57º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale



Anonymous said...

Do you have a sense of how that 70 shillings per 36 gallons would have translated into the price a customer would have paid per drink in the end? Or for that matter how it compared to the IPA someone might have bought?

Not that inflation adjustments really make sense over that length of time, but it would be interesting to get the retail price from then to get a sense of how prices compared to today.

Anonymous said...

There was no inflation at the time , in fact prices were generally falling.

Ron Pattinson said...


if the markup was the same as for Mild, it would have been about 4d per pint. A full-strength Burton IPA, which cost 60 shilling per barrel would have been a little cheaper.

Beer prices remained exactly the same 1870 to 1914.