Saturday 20 November 2021

Let's Brew - 1881 Whitbread KK

When London Porter brewers started to dip their toes into the Ale market in the 1830s, they didn’t just brew Mild Ales. They also brewed the keeping versions: Stock Ales. Beers which, in London, came to be known as Burton Ales.

KK was the weakest of such beers, despite weighing in at over 7% ABV. Originally, it was the Stock double of XX Mild Ale. By the 1880s XX was pretty much, while the Stock version soldiered on. I won’t way thrived, as the quantities were modest. Whitbread knocked out 11,663 barrels of KK in 1881 compared with 148,350 barrels of X Ale.

In essence, KK greatly resembles XL, except in one aspect: the hopping. Which was roughly double at 14 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, compared with 7.5 lbs. The grist and OG were much the same.

The hopping was rather more complex, encompassing two types of foreign hops, American and Bavarian, both from the 1881 harvest. Bulked up with English hops from 1880 and 1881.

1881 Whitbread KK
mild malt 13.00 lb 85.25%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.25 lb 14.75%
Cluster 105 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 105 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 3.00 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1075
FG 1018
ABV 7.54
Apparent attenuation 76.00%
IBU 95
SRM 12
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale



Anonymous said...

"KK was the weakest of such beers, despite weighing in at over 7% ABV."

If you ever come across accounts of how much an average person drank of these, it would be interesting to hear. Were people drinking basically the same volume of 3% Milds and Bitters in 1950 as people were drinking 8% beers in 1880, or did later drinkers go through much geeater volumes of low alcohol beer?

InSearchOfKnowledge said...

What I was wondering about, do you have more information on how such beers were handled after brewing? E.g. since these are stock ales, how long were they kept before selling? Were they racked intermediately from the dry hops, or were the dry hops part of the full conditioning?

Ron Pattinson said...


it seems ha hey drank just as much, based on the numbers

UK beer production in barrels and average OG:

1910: 34,299,914 1053.2
1925: 26,734,825 1043.12

Even allowing for population growth and taking out 3 million barrels brewed in Ireland in 1910, it's clear the volume of beer consumed per head declined. As well as getting weaker.

Ron Pattinson said...


aged for probably a least 9 months. As far as I'm aware, London Stock Ales were mostly aged in trade casks - barrels or hogsheads. I assume that the dry hops were left in the cask and that they were served without re-racking.

Unfortunately, I don't have a detailed description of the process.

InSearchOfKnowledge said...


This is very interesting, because in certain homebrew circles it is always complained about grassy flavours if beer is kept too long on dry hop. But it seems that historically, the British didn't have any qualms about that.