Tuesday 7 November 2023
The Dinosaur in the room
Don't meet your heroes, they say. My beer-soaked equivalent is: don't look too closely at the beers you love. A bit more of a mouthful, I know. But you try coming up with pissy phrases to order. (Sub. check spellin.) You might not like what you find.
Brewing records only tell so much. Mostly what goes on in the brew house. That was never the end of things. Most of the horrors occurred later. Around packaging time. Most beers were left to roam free-range during fermentation. Then came the rack. Sorry, racking.
I take the piss out of Watney for all the returned crap that they mixed into their beers. Didn't that make their beer rubbish? But I only know that because I've seen their internal quality control document. Which shows 10% of "stuff" added to most beers after fermentation.
Due to the tax system in the UK, adding crap on which there was effectively no tax made a huge deal of sense. Financially. The brewers weren't so keen. Derek Prentice told me of the effort it took to stop Fullers trying to recycle beer, even when it made no real financial sense any more. After the introduction of brewery-gate taxation.
Why a dinosaur? Well, that's what I am and it's bigger than a elephant, Also like me. It's because pretty much everyone was up to blending in various types of rubbish. Even when brewing the beers I loved, like Tetley's Mild. Which, according to the brewery's standards manual, could be up to 12.5% "stabilised beer".
Let's not kid ourselves. There was a lot of recycled beer in the pints we so happily slurped back in the 1970s. Whether it happened at the pub or in the brewery, you were lucky if it was the first time around for all of the beer in your glass. In a Tetley's pub with handpumps, maybe as little as 80%.
And still I loved it.
Keg beer was harder to fiddle with in the retail phase. That didn’t dodge all the dodgy brewing practices.