Saturday 31 December 2022

Let's Brew - 1812 Truman Stout

Here's a recipe from the earliest surviving Truman brewing book. The one I forgot to process for over 15 years.

With war still raging in Europe, taxes were high in 1812. Which explains the rather modest gravity of this Stout.

In the last few years before the appearance of black malt, London brewers had replaced much of the brown malt with pale malt. But it still made up at least a third of the grist. The result is a colour which today loos awfully pale for a Stout.

Happily, this Truman brewing book didn’t encode the mashing temperatures. Revealing a four-mash scheme. Kicking off with two at around the same temperature, then a hotter one and finishing with another like the first two. Don’t ask me why they mashed this way.

Mash number barrels strike heat tap heat
1 300 162º F 142º F
2 160 168º F 147º F
3 180 182º F 157º F
4 220 161º F 154º F

The fermentation was short and hot, lasting just four days and peaking at 83º F.

One type of hops: English from the 1811 harvest. 

1812 Truman Stout
pale malt 10.25 lb 65.08%
brown malt 5.50 lb 34.92%
Goldings 90 min 2.25 oz
Goldings 60 min 2.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 2.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1064
FG 1012
ABV 6.88
Apparent attenuation 81.25%
IBU 79
SRM 24
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday 30 December 2022


The end of another year has me thinking. About what I'm doing. What is the point of it?

Why do I blog? I've been at it for 15 years. Most of the beer blogs that were around back then have given up. Around a dozen or so are still active. The simple answer is: because I enjoy it. Would I continue if I had no readers? Maybe. I'm perfectly happy to tootle along with a couple of hundred. Just as well, as I'm unlikely to attract many more with the sort of stuff I post.

Posting every day can be a chore. So why do it? Partly, just to make sure I keep posting. If I missed one day in a week, then maybe the next week I'd miss two. Before you know it, I'd be posting once every few weeks. (As an intrinsically bone-idle person, I'm a natural shirker.) It's also an incentive to keep working on my books. Which are my main focus. And inextricably entwined with my blog.

So I don't forget stuff is a dead important motive. That doesn't just cover historical trivia. My travels with the kid, too. Without the blog, I doubt I would have written as much about our trips. They'll be grateful I did, when they get older. And think: "Where fuck did I go with Dad on holiday?"

The first phase of my blog was writing about my research. A few years back, I'm not sure when, I moved over to mostly writing. The blog now records my progress. As I pester readers with half-written excerpts.

It may not look like it, but I do have a plan. Finishing the project I started almost two decades ago: A history of British beer 1700 to 1973. What were supposed to be chapters have ended up as books. I've polished off most of the 20th century:

1914-1920 Armistice!
1920-1940 Peace!
1939-1947 Blitzkrieg!
1945-1973 Austerity!

These are the volumes still to be written:

1880-1914 Free!

Hopefully, I'll live long enough to finish every volume.

That's enough of writing about writing. The most boring of topics. Makes a change from London Stout, though.

Thursday 29 December 2022

I'm a dozy twat

A couple of weeks into writing my book on London Stout, I've just realised that I've never transcribed the five earliest Truman brewing records. One I photographed in 2007. The others in 2009. Why the hell have I never looked at them?

Especially as one covers a key period in the development of Porter: 1816 - 1817. Something I'm seriously looking into for the book. There was me thinking I'd got all the research done. Oh well. Back to transcribing records for a couple of days.

The oldest set are also dead handy because they have proper column headings. And the mashing details are understandable. Unlike the later ones, where the temperatures are in code. The bastards.

They're also quite beautiful. Like this:

Mens Table. There's a new beer style for you. 

Contemplating this record, I thought about a series of posts explaining how to interpret brewing records. Which I could turn into a small book. Except I'm already involved in a side project. Working on yet another book, however small, is a stupid idea. Maybe next year.

War, tax and technology

Porter and Stout were transformed in these decades. And the catalysts for this change were taxation and technology. The former necessitating change and the latter enabling it.

For much of the time the UK was at war. Mostly with France, though they were happy fight anyone else who fancied a scrap. Wars cost money and one of the easiest sources of it was taxing alcohol.

There were hikes in the malt tax in 1780, 1791, 1802 and 1806. It took around two bushels of malt to brew a barrel of Porter, which after 1806 would have incurred a tax of 9s 11.5d. Or just a half penny short of the other tax of ten shillings a barrel of strong beer. Add in 3d or so for the hop tax and you have a total of a bit over twenty shillings. Not far short of half the wholesale price.

For Stouts, which required more bushels of malt, that would be providing more than 50% total tax. Making reduced the quantity of malt needed an obvious way to save money. Not just fewer materials to pay for, also less tax.

All this was happening just as the hydrometer was coming into use. Providing brewers with lots of information about the yield from different types of malt. They soon realised replacing some of the brown malt with pale would reduce the quantity of malt required to brew a beer.

Another technological development, the thermometer, gave brewers unprecedented control over the mashing process. Combined with the hydrometer, it also enabled honing of the procedure for maximum efficiency.

The third new piece of technology, the attemperator, allowed brewing all year round, without the need for a summer break. Allowing brewers to make much better use of their equipment and not having it lie idle for part of the year.

Taxes on and price of beer 1779 - 1816
 Year Tax/bush.malt tax/lb. Hops tax/brl strong tax/brl small tax/brl table Price barrel porter Price quart porter
1779 9.25d 1d + 5% 8s 1s 4d 2s 30s 3.5d
1780 1s 4.25d 1d + 10% 8s 1s 4d 2s 30s 3.5d
1782 1s 4.25d 1d + 10% 8s 1s 4d 3s    
1786 1s 4.25d 1.6d 8s 1s 4d 3s 30s 3.5d
1791 1s 7.25d 1.6d 8s 1s 4d 3s 30s 3.5d
1801 1s 4.25d 2.5d 8s 1s 4d   40s 4.5d
1802 2s. 5d 2.5d 10s   2s 35s 4d
1806 4s 5.75d 2d 10s   2s 45s 5d
1816 2s. 5d 2d 10s   2s 40s 4.5d
The Brewing Industry in England 1700-1830 by Peter Mathias page 546.
A History of English Ale and Beer by H.A. Monckton, pages 203 and 204.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1845 Reid Single Stout

I'm not sure why I never got around to properly sorting out my photos or Reid's brewing records. Especially as they're the first records I ever collected. I've not published many of their recipes, either. Though I have published a few which I thought were theirs but turned out not to be.

Times must have been better in the mid-1840s, as the gravity of Single Stout has increased by 5º.

Most striking about the grist is a massive increase in the black malt content, up from 0.45% to 3.89%. That’s been accompanied by quite a drop in the brown malt percentage, which has fallen by 35%.  The net result is a considerably darker colour. I’m assuming that was the objective. This darkening seems to have been a general trend amongst London brewers.

All change with the mashing scheme since 1821. Most obvious being the addition of a third mash. The first two mashes are now cooler and the third mash even cooler still.

Mash number barrels strike heat tap heat
1 271 161º F 148º F
2 168 182º F 159º F
3 158 161º F 155º F

Reid were big fans of stupidly long boils. Three hours for the first wort and a crazy six hours for the second.

The copper hops were English from the 1844 and 1844 crops. 

1845 Reid Single Stout
pale malt 14.50 lb 83.24%
brown malt 2.25 lb 12.92%
black malt 0.67 lb 3.85%
Goldings 180 min 2.25 oz
Goldings 60 min 2.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 2.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1073
FG 1020
ABV 7.01
Apparent attenuation 72.60%
IBU 81
SRM 29
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 180 minutes
pitching temp 58.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday 27 December 2022

How much Strong Stout was brewed in the 1850s?

The short answer is: bugger all. I have more detail than that, should you be arsed.

There may have been innumerable variations of Stout brewed in the 1850s. It doesn’t mean that they sold in anything like similar quantities. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the exact numbers for each of the different variations? Luckily for us, brewers noted all sorts of extra stuff in their records. Presumably for their own use, but dead handy for me.

An example was someone at Truman writing annual totals for each of their many Stouts at the bottom of a brewing record. These figures exclude the Ales brewed by Truman.

More than three-quarters of the Black Beer they produced was one form or other of Porter. Most of that, the standard Running version. Still fairly decent quantities of aged Porter being brewed, if insufficient to have been blended at the classic ratio of one-third aged to two-thirds fresh. Either less aged beer was used, or, more likely, much was being sold young.

Government of Crimea, in case you’re interested, means Porter brewed under contract for British troops fighting in Crimea.

A decent amount of Cooking Stout was being bashed out. Over 56,000 barrels, taking Running and Keeping combined. While the other five can only manage 14,000 between them. Stronger Stouts were clearly a minority interest. Bottled ones even more so. 

Truman Porter and Stout output 1855 - 1856
Beer OG barrels brewed % of total % of Stout
Runner 1056.5 200,519 61.76%  
Govt. of Crimea 1059.3 5,303 1.63%  
Keeper 1051.2 36,293 11.18%  
Bottling Porter 1057.1 7,413 2.28%  
Export Porter 1057.1 4,190 1.29%  
Running Stout 1072.3 46,648 14.37% 65.76%
Keeping Stout 1073.1 9,983 3.07% 14.07%
Bottling Stout 1069.8 850 0.26% 1.20%
Export Stout X 1070.9 900 0.28% 1.27%
Export Stout XX 1085.9 5,781 1.78% 8.15%
Double Stout & Imperial Stout 1082.5 & 1087.8 6,774 2.09% 9.55%
Total Stout   70,936 21.85%  
Total   324,654    
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/057.

Monday 26 December 2022

London Stout boiling 1800 - 1821

With the worts from each of the mashes being hopped and boiled separately, it means there were three different boil times. Apart from at Reid, where they only employed two mashes for their Stouts.

It was typical for each successive boil to be longer, the final one often crazily wrong. There were a couple of reasons for this. One was to concentrate the weaker last wort. The other was to increase the colour. Something very important for Porter brewers.

Here a couple of examples from Whitbread, showing a very short boil of the first wort of just 1 hour. Then a massive four hours for the final wort.

London Stout boiling 1805 - 1811
Year Brewer Beer boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours)
1807 Whitbread Sea DS 1 2 4
1807 Whitbread Sea S 1 2 4
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/002.

From later in the period, I’ve got a bit more data.

London Stout boiling 1820 - 1821
Year Brewer Beer boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours)
1820 Whitbread Stout 1 2 4
1821 Reid S 3 6  
1820 Reid SS 3 6  
1820 Reid SSS 3 7  
  Average   2.5 5.3 4
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/1/547 and ACC/2305/1/531.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/014.
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/021.
Reid brewing record in private ownership.

Quite a contrast between boiling times at Whitbread and Reid. The latter’s boils were ridiculously long, especially that of the second wort. It seems rather impractical to me, as it would drastically extend the brewing process. I assume the aim was to concentrate the wort.

The process was quite different for Reid’s running Porter. There the first two worts were boiled for 1.5 hours and the third wort 4.5 hours. I assume that, having a lower OG, the worts didn’t need to be concentrated as much.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Drinkalongathon 2022 - South American Shiraz and roast duck

Lexxie is telling me what a depressing film ET is.

"The children have one friend and then he has to go away."

"You can see that's the Hollywood Hills. I'm sure this was shot in the 30-mile zone."

He sure knows how to suck the magic out of a film. Not that I've ever watched ET. Just seen random bits of it over the years.

The duck is full of fatty goodness. Cut nicely by the winey wineynesss of the wine. 

Not sure I can keep up the jollity much longer. Need more whisky.

Drinkalongathon 2022 - Ruby Port and a Nazi Christmas


The kids are discussing what a Nazi Christmas would be. I zoned out when they started discussing Göring's onesie. Would it be Micky Mouse or Santa Klaus on it? Or the sycophantic Hitler option?

"Can I have a port, Dad?"

"Of course. Pour me one, too."

Why not? The spuds are boiling. The duck is blackening nicely. Time for a quick port. Full of fortified wine yumminess.

Drinkalongathon 2022 - Talisker and fussing over the roast spuds


In happier times, I could afford to waste Abt in the gravy. Apple juice now.

The roast is coming along nicely. In the few minutes before I need to peel the spuds, I'm enjoying another Talisker. Its salty smokiness counterpointing my mounting anxiety about getting the timing right.

Talking of which, I'd best take a look at the roast potatoes. They were getting quite grown. Almost crispy golden black.

Drinkalongathon 2022 - Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and those goat cheesy things


Starter time. With a rather nice New Zealand white wine. Whose sweet acidity cuts across the cheesiness of the goats cheese things. So nice I have two. Of the pastry things. A speciality of Dolores.

Cooking is really getting in the way of drinking. Hard to knock much back while you're making stuffing. And preparing your string. I wouldn't want to neglect that.

Drinkalongathon 2022 - Heaven Hill Straight Bourbon and Fairytale of New York


Having a chat with Lexxie while watching Christmas songs on the TV. 

"I saw them play in New York."


"Not every song is fucking George Michael." He thought it was him singing Mistletoe and Wine earlier.

"The Pogues, of course."

"The one with no teeth?"

"That's him. Except he has teeth now. We got in for nothing because we met the road crew in an Irish pub the day before and they put us on the guest list."

"Were you ever in New York at Christmas?"


"Did you ever go to the Rockefeller Center?"


"To go ice skating."

"You know I don't skate."

"Did you ever go to 34th Street"


"Did you see a miracle."

The Heaven Hill was an impulse buy in Ton Overmars the other day. Mike Siegel kindly donated a bottle to mine and Derek Prentice's accommodation in Chicago a couple of months ago. Very nice it was. I just couldn't resist.

Spicy and a little cheeky. Just like Lexxie.

Drinkalongathon 2022 - Talisker Storm and Brewers of the British Isles



I'm very slow this year. An hour into the afternoon and I'm only on my second drink. No Islay this Austerity Christmas. Talisker is the best approximation that I can afford. Have you seen the fucking price of Lagavullin?

The rough smokiness contrasts starkly with the slightly-contentious title of the book. Whatever, I expect it to be as well-thumbed as a plum pudding over the next few years. One of the most useful books ever produced. Along with the Statistical Handbook, obviously.

Drinkalongathon 2022 - fino sherry and bacon sandwich

Apologies for the late start. Been doing a few Christmas household chores. Like cleaning all Andrew's shit off the coffee table. 

I'm starting with the traditional bacon sarnie and fino sherry. I usually go on about the saltiness of the whatsit complementing the brinyness of the whatsit. But today I'm just enjoying stuffing some greasy meat into my gob, whilst slowly easing my body into the boozy assault that is to follow. Yum/

Saturday 24 December 2022

Let's Brew - 1821 Reid Single Stout

Only yesterday I harvested this Stout from some unprocessed brewing records. From a log which isn't available to the public, not being in an archive.

It’s pretty obvious that London brewers had just been waiting for a new way to colour their Stout. Virtually as soon as black malt was developed, they adopted its use.

Which didn’t mean that brown malt was ditched. Substantial quantities were still used, presumably primarily for flavour. As provincial brewers later demonstrated, it was perfectly feasible to brew Stout from just pale and black malt.

Just as other brewers, Reid initially were quite frugal with the black malt quantity. Resulting in a beer that was dark brown rather than black. Basically, aiming for the colour Stout had been when the grist had been 60% pale and 40% brown malt. Just using less of the less economical brown malt.

The mashing scheme was simpler than at Barclay Perkins, with just two mashes. Both with quite high strike and tap temperatures.

Mash number barrels strike heat tap heat
1 300 168º F 152º F
2 207 186º F 170º F

Three types of hops graced the kettle, all presumably English, from the 1818, 1819 and 1820 harvests. I’ve reduced the rate in the recipe to account for the age of some of the hops. 

Reid went in for crazy long boils. The first wort was boiled for three hours and the second for six.

1821 Reid Single Stout
pale malt 12.50 lb 77.78%
brown malt 3.50 lb 21.78%
black malt 0.07 lb 0.44%
Goldings 180 min 1.75 oz
Goldings 60 min 1.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1068
FG 1018
ABV 6.61
Apparent attenuation 73.53%
IBU 65
SRM 20
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 180 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday 23 December 2022

London Stout 1800 - 1840 hops

The Stout book is coming along nicely: 17,000 words and 85 pages.Not bad for just a couple of  weeks. Especially as it has entailed some research, which is a pretty time-consuming activity. It's worth it, though. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing a book take form.

Unlike later in the century, when UK brewers imported hops from all over the world, at this point they were all sourced domestically. Given its close proximity to the capital, it’s no surprise that London brewers mostly used Kent hops. In the examples in the table, in the form of East Kent and Mid-Kent hops.

Note that a couple of Barclay Perkins beers contained hops that were three and four years old. Using old hops wasn’t at all unusual. There was a simple reason: the price of hops varied so much from year to year. At this point they were sourcing most of their hops from Mid-Kent, the rest from East Kent.

London Stout 1805 - 1811 hops
Year Brewer Beer hop 1 hop 2 hop 3
1811 Barclay Perkins BSt MK 1808 MK 1810 MK 1811
1805 Barclay Perkins FSt MK 1801    
1805 Barclay Perkins P Stout EK 1803    
1807 Whitbread Sea DS English    
1807 Whitbread Sea S English    
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/1/525.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/002.

Not much had changed by the 1820s. Still all English hops, but generally more different types. And nothing more than 3 years old. I’m guessing that most of those where the origin wasn’t specified came from Kent.

Barclay Perkins were still very keen on Mid-Kent hops. That just happening to be a region which produced some of the best hops. Only surpassed by perhaps East Kent and Farnham. 

You can see the practice developing of using several different vintages of hops in each brew. This was typical of brewing later in the century, when it was rare to see fewer than two or three types of hops employed.

London Stout hops 1820 - 1821
Year Brewer Beer hop 1 hop 2 hop 3 hop 4
1820 Barclay Perkins FSt MK 1818      
1821 Barclay Perkins BSt MK 1818 MK 1820 MK 1818 MK 1819
1820 Whitbread Stout English 1819      
1821 Truman K Stout English 1819 English 1819 English 1820  
1821 Reid S English 1819 English 1819 English 1820  
1820 Reid SS English 1820      
1820 Reid SSS English 1818 English 1819 English 1820  
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/1/547 and ACC/2305/1/531.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/014.
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/021.
Reid brewing record in private ownership.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Mid-19th century London Stout boiling

As multiple mashes were still the norm, that meant there were multiple boils, too. Were the later boils still as long? Well, yes and no.

At Whitbread the time of the first boils had been extended by 30 minutes and the third boil reduced by 2 hours.

At Reid, on the other hand, long boils were still the order of the day. Even the first boil, in most cases, was 3 hours and the second boil a massive 6 hours. I can’t think what the point of that could be, other than to concentrate the wort and, perhaps, add more colour. It seems rather wasteful of fuel.

Unfortunately, none of the other brewers I have records for bothered noting the boil times at this date. Which is rather annoying, as it’s hard to draw any real conclusions with examples from only two breweries. Especially as both could be outliers: one very short and the other very long.


Mid-19th century London Stout boil times
Year Brewer Beer boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours)
1850 Whitbread KS 1.5 2 2  
1850 Whitbread S 1.5 2 2  
1850 Whitbread SSS 1.5 2 2 2
1845 Reid S 3 6    
1845 Reid S Crs 1.5 3.5    
1845 Reid SS 3 6    
1845 Reid SS Crs 3 6    
1845 Reid SSS 3 6    
  Average   2.25 4.19 2 2
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/09/043 and LMA/4453/D/09/044.
Reid brewing record held at the Westminster City Archives, document number 789/271.