Saturday, 11 December 2021

Let's Brew - 1909 Whitbread IPA

Whitbread’s Edwardian beers are bound to get a style Nazi in tizzy. Because they certainly don’t fit with the modern hierarchy of Pale Ales.  With their IPA being significantly weaker than their Pale Ale.

Whitbread IPA was a latecomer to the party, first brewed in October 1899. They’d been in the Pale Ale game since the 1860s and already brewed three different ones – PA, 2PA and FA, in descending order of strength. With IPA slotting in just above FA.

So, what made this beer an IPA? The fact that the brewery called it that. I can’t work on any other basis. Were British breweries consistent in their use of the term IPA? Like hell they were. And particularly liable to use PA and IPA pretty much randomly. There’s no point searching for a pattern, because there isn’t one.

As was typical, the grist is dead simple. Just pale malt (made from Middle-Eastern barley) and the classier PA malt. Along with quite a bit of sugar, which I’ve assumed to be No. 1 invert.

The hopping was heavier than for their Pale Ale – 11 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt as opposed to 9 lbs. Leaving it a little more bitter. The hops themselves were three types of East Kent, all from the 1908 harvest.

IPA would be a real survivor, eventually becoming Whitbread Trophy, brewed right up until the closure of Chiswell Street in the 1970s.

1909 Whitbread IPA
pale malt 8.00 lb 80.00%
no. 1 sugar 2.00 lb 20.00%
Goldings 90 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1049.6
FG 1015
ABV 4.58
Apparent attenuation 69.76%
IBU 68
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale



Matt said...

I drank gallons of Whitbread Trophy as a teenager in the late 80s (keg, can, bottles). It was easily my favourite beer back then. Haven't seen it for years and don't even know if it's still brewed (or what I'd think of it now).

Michael Foster said...

I'd love to know why they used barley from The Middle east. I can't imagine it being cheaper, and I would think it would be too hot to produce high quality barley.

Mike in NSW said...

Whitbread Trophy was a national brand but not brewed centrally - it was produced by Whitbread's regional breweries and differed region to region.

Living in Newcastle in the 1970s I quite liked Trophy brewed at Castle Eden brewery but when travelling outside the area, some of the others such as the Trophy from Duttons of Blackburn - found further west in the Lake District etc. were pretty ordinary.

Scottish and Newcastle's IPA was the weakest they offered on draught, a watery tank beer for old geezers and still hung on into the 1980s.

Ron Pattinson said...

Michael Foster,

they malted barley from all over the world - Californian, Chilean and Australian were also common. Why did they use foreign barley? At a basic level, because the UK couldn't produce enough. They also preferred some of the qualities of foreign barley, such as its nitrogen content and diastatic power.

The Middle East is where barley originated. This particular lot was from Smyrna, i.e. Turkey.

Ron Pattinson said...

Mike in NSW,

Trophy was just the name given to the standard Bitter of every brewery they took over. Some of the Southern ones - Wethereds, for example - were really good. I think there were more than 15 beers bearing the name at one time.

IPA wasn't S & N's weakest draught Bitter. It was a fairly reasonable 1043º in 1989. In the 1980s, it wasn't a bad beer if you could find one of the few places that had it on cask. XXPS (also called Scotch Bitter) was weaker at 1037º.

Chris Pickles said...

The 1043 brew was Youngers IPA, a pretty decent drink, you could get it in West Yorkshire. There was a place in Hebden Bridge where I used to drink it, also you could get it in the Lake District.

Newcastle IPA was a different beast altogether. The OG was 1030, absolutely piss weak. The only place I ever saw it on sale was at my local pub in Peterlee, I sometimes drank it if I didn't wan't to feel any effects.

Chris Pickles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike in NSW said...

Ron, as Chris hinted there was a fair overlap of Tyneside and Edinburgh brews in the Tyneside "Blue Star" pubs. For example in my local "the Peregrine" in West Denton (over the road, I watched it being built as a lad) the typical taps line up was - going down in strength:

Tank Newcastle Exhibition, around 4.3%
Tank McEwans Scotch, probably 4% ?

Harp lager, later replaced with McEwan's lager.

Tank Newcastle IPA

The tank versions were quite drinkable, unpasteurised and delivered down into the cellar from tankers a couple of times a week.

They were served by electric pump through fascinating little brass-mounted glass cylinders on the bar where a plate would oscillate from one end of the cylinder to the other and back - half a pint per pass.

Tasted fresh, like a halfway house between real ale and keg.