Saturday 30 April 2022

Let's Brew - 1897 Hancock XXX

Next up the Mild strength pole is, logically enough, XXX. Another beer which doesn’t appear in the 1887 brewing records.

For its strength, it’s surprising just how much of XXX was brewed. It’s also pretty strong for a Mild this late in the century. While a simple X Ale might have been a similar gravity in the 1830s, stronger Milds had mostly disappeared by this point.

I’m not 100% sure that XXX was a Mild Ale. It might well have been marketed as a Strong Ale or Old ale. Pointedly, the water treatment is different to that for X and XX. With five times as much gypsum, no kainit and two extra minerals, in the form of calcium chloride and sulphate of magnesia. Though the lower hopping rate compared to X and XX goes against it being a Stock or Old Ale.

It’s another very simple recipe. Just a single type of English base malt. Along with two types of English hops, East Kent from the 1896 harvest and Worcester from 1895.

1897 Hancock XXX
pale malt 16.50 lb 100.00%
Fuggles 120 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.75 oz
OG 1071
FG 1015
ABV 7.41
Apparent attenuation 78.87%
IBU 37
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

Friday 29 April 2022

UK brewing 1880 - 1914

Yesterday was dead productive. 

I did quite a bit of the hard slog type of research. Scanning and OCRing tables in The Brewers' Almanack. I can think of more fun things to do. But I've filled in a lot of holes in various spreadsheets of mine.

I also got some writing done. Well, I'd started writing, then realised I was missing some information. Hence the scanning. I do hate incomplete information. Which is why I have to apologise for the patchy import figures in the table below.

The start of the 20th century was a difficult time for brewers. Their costs increased significantly due to tax increases and, more particularly, licence fees. You can see these obstacles reflected in the reduced number of barrels brewed. At least in terms of standard barrels. I’d best explain what a standard barrel is.

A standard barrel was a convenience for taxation purposes. The rate of tax was defined per standard barrel. (That rate was six shillings and three pence in 1881, seven shillings and nine pence in 1914. ) It was defined as 36 imperial gallons of beer with an OG of 1055º (1057º before 1889). For example, beer of 1100º would pay double the rate per standard barrel. As one barrel of that strength would be two standard barrels.

Before WW I, standard barrels matched up fairly closely with bulk barrels, as average OG was only a couple of degrees lower. The situation would be very different after the war.

The general trend of exports was to increase, the 1914 figure being more than 50% higher than that of 1880. Though, at less than 2% of total production, exports weren’t that important to the industry, in general. A few individual brewers were, for example, some in Scotland, heavily relying on them.

Imports increased more than sixfold. From totally insignificant to bugger all. It was pretty much 100% Lager. Everything else could be brewed to an excellent standard domestically, Why would you import a Pale Ale or a Stout into the UK?

UK beer production, imports and exports 1880 - 1914
Year Production (standard barrels) Exports (bulk barrels to 1907 then standard)  Imports (bulk barrels)
1880 30,742,649 412,192 10,742
1881 27,352,361 421,651  
1882 27,870,526 437,273  
1883 27,140,891 456,109  
1884 27,750,091 437,241  
1885 27,986,493 436,765 23,348
1886 27,194,893 420,290  
1889 30,402,298 495,926  
1890 30,868,315 503,221 35,081
1891 32,236,970 462,519 33,728
1895 31,678,486 432,742 44,399
1896 33,826,354 462,960 45,000
1897 34,203,049 470,827 45,752
1898 35,632,629 476,424  
1899 36,498,390 485,032  
1900 37,091,123 510,843 50,875
1901 36,394,827 522,889  
1903 35,978,699 510,896 55,560
1904 35,323,350 518,367 52,059
1905 34,404,287 520,990 51,944
1906 34,109,263 544,014 54,664
1907 34,352,313 604,794 57,574
1908 34,491,415 602,227 53,395
1909 33,348,258 542,084 54,374
1910 32,947,252 570,929 50,927
1911 33,618,935 615,174 53,541
1912 35,094,650 637,301 64,706
1913 34,805,291 659,464 64,346
1914 35,860,291 652,063 74,205
Brewers' Almanack 1912, page 149 and 154.
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 109 and 114.
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 109 and 115.
The Brewers' Guardian 1892, 1892, page 41.
Manchester Evening News - Thursday 28 November 1901, page 3.
The British Brewing Industry 1830 - 1980 by T.R. Gourvish and R.G. Wilson, 1994, page 608.
Dundee Evening Post - Monday 01 April 1901, page 2.
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 51.



Thursday 28 April 2022

Pub opening hours in 1874

This is the period when the opening times of pubs were first regulated. It began with The Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act of 1872. There was a second Act in 1874 which made a few adjustments and which remained in place essentially unchanged until the outbreak of WW I.

The hours were far longer than after WW I. Pubs in London were only closed for 4.5 hours a day. In other urban districts, that was 7 hours. Only on Sunday was there a closed period during the afternoon. Those Sunday hours look very similar to those in operation during my younger days. How frustrating lunchtime session were, restricted to just 2 hours.

The hours of my youth were better in one way: pubs opened on Christmas Day and Good Friday, albeit with Sunday times. In 1874 they weren’t allowed to open at all and the previous day Sunday rules were applied. 

Pub opening hours in 1874
Location Mon - Fri Sat Sun
metropolitan district 05:00 - 00:30 05:00 -24:00 13:00 - 15:00; 18:00 - 23:00
metropolitan police district or town 06:00 - 11:00 06:00 - 11:00 12:30 - 14:30; 18:00 - 22:00
elsewhere 06:00 - 10:00 06:00 - 10:00 12:30 - 14:30; 18:00 - 22:00
"The Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act, 1872, 1874" by James Paterson, 1889, pages 148-149.

In the Act, the hours were defined the other way around, that is when pubs were closed, not when they were open.

"Hours of Closing.

3. Hour of closing premises licensed for sale of intoxicating liquors,. All premises in which intoxicating liquors are sold by retail shall be closed as follows (that is to say,)

(1) If situate within the metropolitan district—

(a) On Saturday night from midnight until one o'clock in the afternoon on the Sunday; and

(b) On Sunday night from eleven o'clock until five o'clock on the following morning; and

(c) On all other days from half-an-hour after midnight until five o'clock on the same morning; and

(2) If situate beyond the metropolitan district and in the metropolitan police district or in a town or in a populous place as defined by this Act;

(a) On Saturday night from eleven o'clock until half- an-hour after noon on the following Sunday: and

(b) On Sunday night from ten o'clock until six. o'clock on the following morning; and

(c) On the nights of all other days from eleven o'clock until six o'clock on the following morning; and

(3) If situate elsewhere than in the metropolitan district or the metropolitan police district or such town or populous place as aforesaid,—

(a) On Saturday night from ten o'clock until half-an-hour after noon on the following Sunday; and

(b) On Sunday night from ten o'clock until six o'clock on the following morning; and

(c) On the nights of all other days from ten o'clock until six o'clock on the following morning. 

Such premises wherever situate shall, save as hereinafter mentioned, be closed on Sunday afternoon from three or half-past two according as the hour of opening shall be one o'clock in the afternoon or half-an-hour after noon until six o'clock.

Such premises wherever situate shall be closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday, and on the days preceding Christmas Day and Good Friday respectively, as if Christmas Day and Good Friday were respectively Sunday, and the preceding days were respectively Saturday, but this provision shall not alter the hours during which such premises shall be closed on Sunday when Christmas Day immediately precedes or succeeds Sunday."
"The Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act, 1872, 1874" by James Paterson, 1889, pages 148-149.

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1898 Hancock XX

In 1887, XX was by far Hancock’s most popular beer, accounting for 75% of their production. Not so a decade later. When XX was only brewed occasionally and was greatly outsold by X and XXX. I’ve no idea why focus was switched away XX.

It’s a good bit weaker than in 1887, having lost more than 5º. And was only a few degrees stronger than X.

Not much has changed with the recipe, other than the proportion of pale malt increasing at the expense of No. 3 invert sugar. Nothing very dramatic. Its presence is enough to guarantee that XX a good bit darker than X. Though it’s a good bit paler than in 1887.

Fewer hops were used, but this was counterbalanced by a longer boil time. Leaving the calculated IBUs almost unchanged. Three English hops were used: East Kent from the 1896 harvest, Kent from 1894 and Sussex from 1895.

1898 Hancock XX
pale malt 8.00 lb 86.49%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.25 lb 13.51%
Fuggles 120 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
OG 1044.5
FG 1008
ABV 4.83
Apparent attenuation 82.02%
IBU 25
SRM 10
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

Tuesday 26 April 2022

London brewing water

Someone mentioned that it would be useful to know the starting point of the water for which I gave the various treatments. So here you go.

I don't have the details for Wiveiscombe, but I do for London.

Both Fullers and Barclay Perkins had their own wells which they used as the source of their brewing water. Such waters were relatively low in sulphate but with reasonable levels of carbonate. The standard water supply, to which brewers would switch in the 20th century when their wells became contaminated, contained significantly fewer minerals.

Burton waters, on the other hand, often contained insane levels of sulphate. Though the exact makeup varied considerably, depending on the well’s depth.

British brewing waters mg/l
  Deep Well Waters  
  highest lowest Old London well water London Metropolitan Water Board supply.
Total solids (dried) 2280.6 1225.8 461.8 319.3
Sodium—Na 51.3 29.9 98.4 24.2
Calcium—Ca 513.1 270.8 49.9 89.8
Magnesium—Mg 81.2 61.3 18.5 4.3
Nitrate—NO3 42.8 31.4 2.9
Chloride—Cl 67.0 35.6 59.9 18.5
Sulphate—S04 1297.1 655.7 77.0 58.4
Carbonate—CO3 1396.9 139.7 155.4 122.6
Suitable for Pale Ales. Sweet, full stout not much used now). Mild ales and stouts; with added gypsum for pale ales.
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E.J. Jeffery, 1956, page 101.


Monday 25 April 2022

London water treatment 1880 - 1914

In London, similar treatments were taking place. The date is a little later, but much the same elements are being employed.

Gypsum appears as an addition in everything, save for Porter and Stout. While kainit is only missing from Fullers Brown Beers, which were brewed from untreated London well water. That London brewers weren’t treating their water much makes sense, as the local water was supposed to be suitable for those types of beers.

Barclay Perkins often included plain old salt. In reality, more than appears in the table. Which shows what was added before the mash. Another ounce per barrel was added in the copper.

I’m not totally sure what function calcium bisulphite served. Its common use was as a preservative. Given it was added prior to the mash, I can’t see that it was its purpose here.

I’ve no idea what SSCC was. Only a tiny amount was used in Fullers beers, whatever it was.

Barclay Perkins water treatment in 1910 (per barrel)
beer style gypsum kainit calcium bisulfite sodium chloride
X Mild Ale 0.25 oz 2.00 oz 0.125 pint  
XLK Pale Ale 3.00 oz 1.00 oz    
KK Stock Ale 1.00 oz 3.00 oz 0.125 pint 1.00 oz
KKK Stock Ale 1.00 oz 3.00 oz 0.125 pint 1.00 oz
BS Brown Stout   3.00 oz   3.00 oz
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/1/601 and ACC/2305/1/602.

Fullers water treatment in 1902 (per barrel)
beer style gypsum kainit SSCC
X Mild Ale 2.00 oz 1.50 oz  
AK Pale Ale 4.00 oz 3.00 oz 1.00 fl oz
BO Stock Ale 4.00 oz 1.00 oz 1.00 fl oz
Porter Porter      
BS Stout      
SS Stout      
India Pale Ale IPA 4.00 oz 3.00 oz 1.00 fl oz
XK Pale Ale 4.00 oz 3.00 oz 1.00 fl oz
Fullers brewing record held at the brewery

Sunday 24 April 2022

Hancock water treatment

The importance of water chemistry had been highlighted by the experiences of brewing Pale Ales in Burton.  At first brewers simply set up shop there or somewhere else with similar water. But as the chemistry became better understood, brewers realised that they could treat their water to resemble that of Burton. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Which is what brewers started to do. Not only did they Burton up their brewing water with gypsum for Pale Ales, but they used different treatments for other styles. It all ended up being quite complicated.

Hancock, a medium-sized brewery in the Southwest of England, had multiple different water treatments.

The only constant was gypsum, which was used in varying amounts for every beer. Unsurprisingly, rather more in Pale Ales than Mild Ales. Other than the two strongest Milds, XXX and XXXX, which received the most of all.

Next most popular was kainit, which was hydrated potassium and magnesium sulfate-chloride, KMgSO4Cl·3H2O. That was applied to all but the three strongest beers. Instead, those three beers were given a small quantity of calcium chloride.

Sulphate of magnesia – or magnesium sulphate – pops up only in the two strong Mild.

Only one beer was brewed from untreated water: Stout. 

Hancock water treatment in 1897 (per barrel)
beer style gypsum kainit calcium chloride sulphate magnesia
Ale Mild Ale 0.63 oz 0.63 oz    
X Mild Ale 0.64 oz 0.64 oz    
XX Mild Ale 1.20 oz 0.45 oz    
XXX Mild Ale 3.79 oz   0.69 oz 0.73 oz
XXXX Mild Ale 3.79 oz   0.70 oz 0.73 oz
XXB Pale Ale 2.53 oz 0.95 oz    
B Ale Pale Ale 2.85 oz 1.07 oz    
SBA Pale Ale 3.92 oz   0.71 oz  
Stout Stout        
Hancock brewing record held at South West Heritage Trust Somerset Archive, document number DD/HCK/5/2/3.

Saturday 23 April 2022

Let's Brew - 1897 Hancock X

I’m not quite sure what had been going on at Hancock. It was odd that in 1888 they were only brewing XX. No X Ale, as well as no XXX and XXXX. But a mere 9 years later they were brewing a full set of X Ales. It’s all a little odd.

Compared to a London X Ale, the gravity is much lower: more than 10 points. Though a very high degree of attenuation means that the ABV isn’t that much lower.

It’s not just the range of Mild Ales which has changed. The recipes were quite different, too. And, against the usual trends, had become simpler rather than more complicated. This X Ale is almost, but not quite, a SMASH beer.

There was just a single type of malt, described simply as “English”. And while most 1888 recipes contained massive amounts of sugar, this X Ale is all malt. I wonder what caused their change in mind. It’s a pretty massive change in how they brewed.

Two types of hops were used, East Kent from the 1896 harvest and Kent from 1894.

1897 Hancock X
pale malt 9.25 lb 100.00%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
OG 1040
FG 1004
ABV 4.76
Apparent attenuation 90.00%
IBU 27
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

Friday 22 April 2022

Bute Dock

I was intrigued by malt entries in the Hancock brewing records which were described as what I thought was Butebock. What a strange name for a maltster.

The mystery was solved when I was sent this paragraph about the William Hancock brewery in South Wales.

"The history of the W.H. Hancock Co Ltd. brewery operations in south Wales can be traced back to 1807 when William Hancock, snr built a brewery in Wiveliscombe, Somerset. By the 1870s, Hancocks were the largest brewers in the west of England. By this period Hancocks were also beginning to enter the south Wales market using an agent to distribute casked beer, brewed in Wiveliscombe, out of warehouses in West Bute Dock, Cardiff. In 1883, Hancocks began brewing beer in Cardiff when the firm acquired the North and Low's Bute Dock Brewery. Over the next decade Hancocks bought up a total of eight breweries across south Wales. The rapid growth of the south Wales brewing operation, prompted William Hancock, jnr to set up a separate company called the William Hancock and Co. Ltd, registered in 1887, by which time it had acquired 46 public houses in Cardiff and 31 in Newport. In 1968 the company was acquired by the Bass Charington Group and became part of Welsh Brewers Ltd."
South Glamorgan archives.

Obviously, the brewery in South Wales also had maltings. And these were supplying malt to the original Hancock brewery in Somerset.

With "Wilscombe" clearly meaning Wiveliscombe, it seems that Hancock were brewing mostly from their own malt in 1888. Did they continue to do so? It's difficult to sat, as the 1897 records only record the country where the barley was grown, not who malted it.

In case you're wondering, a lot of the barley was foreign Either Chilean or "Ushak".

Thursday 21 April 2022

Cartagena pasties

I’ve noticed that in South America that – well, the bits of it that I’ve been to –pasties are pretty popular.

Lunch places often have a heated display sitting on the counter full of these small packets of deliciousness. Yum I do love me a pasty.

At the judging in Blumenau, one day we were served mini-pasties in the coffee breaks. Two different types: one with minced beef, the other with cheese. The former was quite like a Jamaican pattie, just without the spice. Very nice it was. Perfect for dropping on top of a dozen Barley Wines.

In Cartagena, we noticed that a type of pasty was very popular for breakfast amongst the locals. Round, rather than the classic pastie shape. I was intrigued. But not enough to forgo my breakfast eggs.

Then one day, when for some reason I’d forgotten to eat lunch, I happened to be passing a little place that seemed to specialise in these pastry delights. Feeling peckish, I popped in.

With some pointing, I managed to order a pair of these parcels of perfection. And a can of beer. You wouldn’t want to eat them dry. They came with a weird looking brown spicy sauce.

What would I discover inside?

Egg. The answer is eff. And minced meat.

A nice lady came over and showed me something on her phone. She’s translated a description of what the pasties were. Some local delicacy, evidently, eaten by people living on Columbia’s Caribbean coast.

I can highly recommend them. Not the Andina beer, though. That’s a bit watery.

Wednesday 20 April 2022

West coast trip reminder

I'll be taking my ungrateful offspring on another hugely expensive holiday to the US this summer. Please help make it not a total financial black hole.

I'll be available for all my usual beer-related activities. Selling books, talking unstoppably about Barclay Perkins, Scottish beer and the two World Wars.

This is our schedule:

Tuesday 26th July and Wednesday 27th July: Portland
Thursday 28th July to Saturday 30th July: Los Angeles
Sunday 31st July to Tuesday 2nd Aug: San Diego
Wednesday 3rd Aug to Friday 5th Aug: Vancouver 

Get in touch if you'd like me to drop by. I'm sure the kids won't mind. They're getting a free holiday, after all.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1888 Hancock Stout

While it may have been a shock to see a Porter in Hancock’s brewing books, finding a Stout was no surprise. Everyone brewed at least one Stout in the 1880s.

The grist is very similar to the Porter, except that there’s a bit more No. 3 invert and a bit less pale malt. Seeing so much brown malt in a provincial Stout is quite unusual. Though it did disappear later, simply because they ran out of it.

Black malt isn’t listed with the other ingredients, but in the right margin. Presumably because they didn’t really count the extract from it. Or maybe added it to the copper rather than the mash tun. For many brews, they seem to have forgotten to record it.

As with the Porter, equal quantities of Kent hops from the 1886 crop and Bohemians from 1887 were used in the copper.

1888 Hancock Stout
pale malt 4.25 lb 38.36%
brown malt 1.50 lb 13.54%
black malt 0.33 lb 2.98%
No. 3 invert sugar 5.00 lb 45.13%
Fuggles 150 mins 2.50 oz
Saaz 30 mins 2.50 oz
OG 1063.5
FG 1017
ABV 6.15
Apparent attenuation 73.23%
IBU 50
SRM 40
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 190º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Hancock mystery

It's about half way into the article that I started getting puzzled. When the author visits the brewery cellars. 

That the brewery housed so many large vats came as quite a surprise. Not what I would have guessed at all.

"After taking a peep into a vat of gigantic dimensions, where lies a quantity of liquor undergoing fermentation, we again proceed below, and, passing once more the busy yard where stalwart men are busy, steaming and washing empty casks and marking and loading fall ones, next we come to the vaults where the beer is stored away in a perfect army of vast casks waiting to be transmitted east, west, north, and south as orders come in, the storage capabilities of the place being 10,000 barrels. Here, in various cellars, are casks truly Brobdignagian dimensions, holding beer of any age from one day to nine years old, and one. I believe, was said to be very much older. All these have their distinctive apellations; for instance, here, in one room, termed the “Coffee Pot" cellar, is the “Coffee Pot,” holding 390 barrels; the “Canister,” 330 barrels; the “Punchbowl,” 319, and five “Coffee Cups,” having each capacity 25 barrels. Near by is the “Old Hundredth.” which hums to the generous tune of 150 barrels; and in another cellar are “Peace" and “Plenty,” holding 404 and 670 barrels respectively. These were put up after the Crimean War in 1854. In a cellar formerly known as the “Volunteer" cellar are the “Captain.” 1,101; the “Lieutenant," 712; the “Ensign.” 250 barrels; and the “Little Drummer,” parched perkily alongside his superior officers, with 40 barrels inside his waist. Farther on are more of these gigantic casks, the “Bucket” taking the lead of the whole with a capacity of 1,128 barrels, or (reckoning 36 gallons to the barrel) 40,608 gallons, after which the “Pitcher," 638; the “Tub," 700; the “Banbury,” 533; the “Teapot,” 531; the “Tankard,” 525; and the “Barley-corn,” 300 barrels, take but modest back seat. Each these enormous casks stands upright its head on supports, and when it is said that each barrel of beer counts up 4cwt., it may be realised that strong supports are necessary to hold up the “Bucket,” the “Tub, or the “Captain.” All the cooperage, from the modest “pin” to the mighty “bucket,” is done the premises, and it is on record that the men who built the “Captain,” afterwards, together with their friends, to the number of 30 in all, dined inside it, and after the tables were cleared away some of the party indulged in the novelty of a dance at the bottom a beer cask. As the diameter of the bottom is about 20 feet, it may be seen that such proceeding was quite within the range of possibility. All these huge vessels are full of beer of varying age, and underneath are still other vaults holding armies of casks waiting, like prisoners, for transportation."
West Somerset Free Press - Saturday 24 May 1890, page 7.

10, 000 barrels is almost 5 months' worth of Hancock's output. Which seems an awful lot. Though it is stated that some of the beer was nine years old. Given the amount of beer they brewed, it would have taken several years to fill all those vats.

The largest batch I've seen in the brewing records was around 100 barrels. Meaning that the largest vat, holding over 1,000 barrels, would have taken at least 11 brews to fill. Or a couple of weeks, even if they brewed nothing else. It doesn't seem very practical.

The big mystery is which beer they were ageing in vats. I'll remind you of the beers Hancock brewed:

Hancock output second half of 1888
Beer Style OG Barrels %
BA Pale Ale 1060.1         313 2.53%
BB Pale Ale 1052.6         559 4.52%
GA Pale Ale 1039.3      1,406 11.38%
Porter Porter 1052.6           77 0.62%
Stout Stout 1066.3         689 5.58%
XX Mild Ale 1050.2      9,313 75.37%
Total        12,357  
Hancock brewing record held at South West Heritage Trust Somerset Archive, document number DD/HCK/5/2/1.

I can only see two candidates for vat ageing: BA and Stout. But in six months only 1,002 barrels were brewed of the two combined.