Sunday 31 December 2023

Draught Old Ale in the 1970s

Mostly a bottled beer in its stronger iterations, there were some breweries who had draught versions available during the winter.

Sometimes, served from a pin on the bar. And often limited to halves because of the extreme strength (for the day). Marstons Owd Roger, is a good example. I remember Mogg drinking four pints of it in the Old Kings Arms and having problems with his legs when he tried to stand up. How we laughed.

I’ve used a cutoff point of 1060º for one simple reason: to make sure Old Peculier ends up in the right table.

I can’t really call it the Northern type, as Morrell was in the South and Marston in the Midlands. This stronger type was also available in bottled form

While in the South, a much weaker beer, basically like a pre-WW II Best Mild with an OG of around 1045º, was available on draught in the colder parts of the year.

You can see a few examples below. Most, but not all, are from the South. With a couple, Simpkiss and Hoskins from the Midlands. The big outlier is Timothy Taylor Ram Tam, coming from the North, but looking very much like a Southern example from the OG. Even though it was just Landlord with caramel added at racking time. It’s now called Landlord Dark.

Young’s Winter Warmer is in the London variation on the Old Ale theme, Burton Ale. By 1977, it was the last remaining example (as it remains) after Fullers replaced theirs with ESB in the early 1970s.

Being rather more modest in strength, these beers were usually dispensed by handpump and served in pints as well as halves. 

Stronger style of draught Old Ale
Year Brewer Beer OG
1977 Usher Thomas Usher 1060 1060
1977 Theakston Old Peculier 1060.3
1977 Morrell College Ale 1073
1977 Holden Old Ale 1075
1977 Marston Owd Roger 1080
  Average   1069.7
1978 Good Beer Guide.

Weaker style of draught Old Ale
Year Brewer Beer OG
1977 Hoskins Old 1039
1977 Harvey XXXX 1041
1977 Adnams Olde 1042
1977 Brakspear XXXX  (or Old) 1043
1977 Taylor Ram Tam 1043
1977 Gale XXXXX (Winter Brew) 1045
1977 Tolly Cobbold Old Strong 1047
1977 King & Barnes XXXX 1047.5
1977 Hook Norton Old Hookey 1049
1977 Simpkiss Old 1050
1977 Young & Co Winter Warmer 1055
  Average   1045.6
1978 Good Beer Guide.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Let's Brew - 1899 William Younger S1

Let me take you back to a simpler time. One before William Younger had discovered they could brew pretty much from corn grits. And when they produced a bewildering array of Stouts.

One of the main differences amongst their Stouts was the degree of attenuation. Ones they’d brewed for a while, like DBS, tended to have a more normal attenuation. While some of the ones introduced towards the end of the 1900’s, er, didn’t. These ones seem to be the ancestors of 20th-century Scottish Sweet Stout, a style with incredibly low attenuation and minimal alcohol.

This one still manages to come out at 4.5% ABV, but that’s only because it has quite a high OG. With that FG and getting on for 20% roasted malt, this must have been a pretty thick and gloopy beer. I wonder who the drinkers were of this stuff? Was it invalids looking to restore their vitality? Or just people with a sweet tooth?

For William Younger, the recipe is just packed with different ingredients. A whole three different types of malt, plus glucose and the inevitable grits.

The trickiest aspect of this range of Stouts is the hopping. Which was minimal. Apart from the large quantities of spent hops also used. What do spent hops bring to the party? A Watneys Seven? I’ve no idea, if I’m honest. I’ve been assuming 10% of their value fresh. But that could be wildly wrong.

To add to the fun, some examples of S1 – not this one – included 3 or 4 gallons of ullage beer barrel. That’s 10-12.5% returned beer. Must have added a lovely extra tang. 

1899 William Younger S1
pale malt 10.00 lb 62.50%
black malt 2.00 lb 12.50%
amber malt 0.75 lb 4.69%
grits 1.75 lb 10.94%
glucose 1.50 lb 9.38%
Cluster 120 min (spent) 0.50 oz
Cluster 90 min 0.75 oz
OG 1069
FG 1035
ABV 4.50
Apparent attenuation 49.28%
IBU 25
SRM 46
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 180 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

The above is an excerpt from my award-winning book on Scottish brewing:

Which is also available in Kindle form:

Friday 29 December 2023

The layout of pubs in the 1970s

This is another blatant attempt to get you to do my research for me. I'd like to hear what pubs were like around your way. Did they still have multiple rooms? Were the bogs outside? Was there waiter service? Please let me know.

Pub layout in The Pub and the People.

Looking at the layout of a 1930s medium-sized Bolton pub in The Pub and the People, it’s very similar to that of many of the pubs in Leeds I frequented during the 1970s. Public bar at the front with the bar counter, then a couple of posher rooms at the back, served by a hatch at the back of the bar counter.

The Cardigan Arms, my regular haunt during my university days, retains this format. Except, being double-fronted, it has three posh rooms. Back then, most Tetley’s pubs had variations on this theme. With only the number of posh rooms varying with the size of the pub. Though the couple of Tetley’s 1960s pubs I visited had the typical post-war 50-50 split between a public bar and a lounge.

The public bar of the Cardigan Arms in Leeds, 2023.

Even the pubs in Leeds city centre mostly retained at least two rooms. I’m struggling to think of an example of a pub that was knocked through into a single bar.

In the posh rooms, there were buttons at regular intervals along the walls. These were from the days of waiter and, in Leeds at least, were out of use. Odd pubs still had waiter service in the North. There were a couple in Liverpool. And Grimsby, where I remember visiting one with my brother.

The Cardigan Arms in Leeds, 2023.

Outdoor toilets were the norm in Newark. At least for the gents. Sometimes, they were little more than a shed with a trough at the bottom of one wall. While in Leeds the toilets were mostly indoors. With some magnificent copper and tile extravaganzas. In which it was a pleasure to have a piss.

Interestingly, the ladies’ toilets in Leeds were almost always upstairs. A sign that they were an afterthought? 

Any recollections of your own from the 1970s (or early 1980s) are more than welcome. It'll help me pad out the book from its current meagre 293 pages.

The rise of the can

I've just been knocking some numbers together for my book "Keg!". Ones looking at sales by package. Most of which I had to harvest especially.

I have tables with big long sets of UK beer statistics. Almost all taken from the Brewer's Almanack or its successor, the Statistical Handbook. Such handy books.

Getting a bit carried away, I didn't finish at 1980, but continued on to 1988. Which makes the trend of moving from returnable bottled to cans all the more evident. It also shows a change in the types of beer being drunk. Because some styles which had once been popular in pubs, such as Brown Ale, weren't often canned.

What were the classic canned beers? Bitter, yes. But most pre-eminent was Lager. With canned Lager becoming the archetypal beer to consume at home. Which I'm sure it remains to this day.

Beer sales by package 1971 - 1980 (%)
Year Draught Bottle/Can Returnable bottle Non-returnable bottle Can
1971 73.5 26.5 22.5 4
1972 73.4 26.6 21.9 4.7
1973 73.1 26.9 21.2 5.7
1974 73.8 26.2 19.7 0.6 5.9
1975 75.8 24.2 16.7 0.6 6.9
1976 77.1 22.9 14.4 0.5 8
1977 78.5 21.5 12.8 0.4 8.3
1978 78.2 21.8 11.9 0.6 9.3
1979 78.3 21.7 11.1 0.6 10
1980 78.9 21.1 10.3 0.5 10.3
1981 79.5 20.5 9.5 0.6 10.4
1982 79.4 20.6 8.4 0.7 11.5
1983 78.5 21.5 7.5 1.6 12.4
1984 78.2 21.8 6.8 2.1 12.9
1985 77.2 22.8 6.6 2.4 13.8
1986 75.8 24.2 6.3 2.7 15.2
1987 74.3 25.7 6.4 2.9 16.4
1988 73.2 26.8 6.6 3 17.2
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1980, page 11.
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1988, page 17.



Thursday 28 December 2023

Pubs in popular culture in the 1970s

Pubs play an important role in many soap operas, dating back, well as far as soap operas.

The grandaddy being the Bull in radio soap opera The Archers. Though, it being on the radio, there weren’t many visual clues about the beers on sale or their method of dispense.

In the 1960s the Rovers Return, the pub in Coronation Street, was serving through handpumps. By the 1970s, they had what looked like metered electric pumps. Before later reverting to beer engines. Which sort of tells the story of beer over the period.

The lads in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads frequented a pub called the Black Horse. Which, unusually for Newcastle, had hand pumps.

If you want to see East End pubs, then The Sweeney is for you. Plenty of fairly seedy-looking pubs are featured. 

Are there any obvious ones I've missed? Please let me know.

Mild Ale malts 1969 - 1985

Things start to get quite complicated, even with just the malts.

The total malt content is quite high, averaging around 80%. Mostly in the form of base malt. Of which there are two: pale malt and mild malt. No real surprise that the latter should be used in Mild Ales. Especially at more price-conscious breweries.

I suppose enzymic malt also counts as a base malt. I’m not sure if it was really needed to help mash conversion. But some brewers found it a hard habit to kick.

The most commonly-used other malt is crystal. Again, no real surprise there. It’s more of a shock that there are examples without it. And one of those is from Scotland, where crystal malt was never much used. There’s quite a bit of variation in the percentage, from around 5% to over 13%.

Only three beers contain any roasted malt: one black malt and two chocolate malt. Why so few? Because most of the beers were getting the majority of their colour from sugar, not malt. Which was really typical of Dark Mild.

I’m not 100% sure that Boddington used wheat in malted form. It isn’t clear from the brewing records which form it was in. It could also have been flour or flakes. I assume its presence was for improved head retention. 

Mild Ale malts 1969 - 1985
Year Brewer Beer pale malt mild malt black malt choc. Malt crystal malt wheat malt enzymic malt total malt
1977 Adnams XXX
79.72%     8.30%     88.03%
1971 Boddington BM 65.24%       13.73% 3.43% 2.58% 84.98%
1971 Boddington XX 64.59%       13.60% 3.40% 2.55% 84.14%
1970 Drybrough B 60/- 76.50%   1.82%         78.32%
1975 Elgood MM   67.40%     11.23%     78.64%
1969 Fremlin XX 66.90%     1.05% 9.41%   2.61% 79.97%
1968 Fullers H 75.00%       5.00%     80.00%
1972 Higson H   70.05%     6.43%     76.49%
1971 Shepherd Neame MB 67.49%       4.82%     72.31%
1969 Truman LM 65.49%       9.63%     75.12%
1972 Whitbread B. Mild 69.77%     3.49% 9.07%     82.33%
1985 Tetley Mild 77.50%             77.50%
1985 Tetley Falstaff 77.50%             77.50%
1971 Watney Special Mild   70.00%     5.50%     75.50%
  Average                 79.34%
Adnams brewing record held at the brewery.
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/134.
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number D/6/1/1/9.
Elgood brewing record held at the brewery
Fremlin brewing record held at the Kent Archives, document number U3555/2/F/Bx2/1/93.
Fullers brewing record held at the brewery.
Higson brewing record.
Shepherd Neame brewing book held at the brewery, document number 1971 H-5O5.
Truman brewing record held by Derek Prentice.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/141.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1945 Drybrough Burns Ale

Yes, even the strong Burns Ale managed to make it through until the end of the war. Well done Drybrough.

Not that they brewed very much of it. But it’s the thought that counts. At least some strong beer did still exist all through the war. However few people got to drink it. As a large amount of strong Scotch Ale was exported, to Belgium, the West Indies and Asia, it is a bit of a surprise that brewers persisted with it when foreign markets disappeared.

There remains one slight difference with Drybrough’s Pale Ale recipes: there’s rather more chocolate malt. I assume because, unlike the Pale Ales which came in a variety of colours, Burns Ale was always dark. Even darker than indicated in the recipe below. Based on analyses, around 25 SRM.

1945 Drybrough Burns Ale
pale malt 12.75 lb 75.56%
enzymic malt 0.50 lb 2.96%
chocolate malt 0.125 lb 0.74%
flaked barley 1.75 lb 10.37%
malt extract 0.25 lb 1.48%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.50 lb 8.89%
Fuggles 135 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1076
FG 1031.5
ABV 5.89
Apparent attenuation 58.55%
IBU 28
SRM 12.5
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

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Tuesday 26 December 2023

Inside 1970s Mild Ale

I’m lucky enough to have quite a few brewing records for different Milds. No such a surprise, as just about every brewery was still making one in the 1970s. They come from diverse set of breweries, in different geographic locations and of different sizes. That heterogeneity is reflected in the character of the beers.

The gravities come from a very narrow band – 1030º to 1033º – despite there being a Best Mild (Boddington BM) present. Though wildly differing degrees of attenuation leave a broader spread of ABVs. Ranging from just 2.38% ABV to a mighty 3.9% ABV.

Five of the fourteen examples come in under 3% ABV. Which isn’t great. That’s in the waste of time drinking range. Interesting how many different results there were from very similar starting gravities.

Talking of differences, the hopping rates are all over the place. From a very minimal 2.62 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt to a pretty hefty 6.49 lbs. With the average about splitting the difference at 4.43 lbs. Though there only a couple of beers that really had hopping at around that level.

I’m reluctant to draw too many conclusions from the IBU numbers, as most are calculated. With quite a few unknowns involved. Around 20 IBU would seem to be fairly typical. Though with some examples a good bit lower.

All three shades of Mild are represented: pale, semi-dark and dark. Fallstaff, Boddington and Whitbread being examples, respectively. I find it fascinating that the move of Mild from pale to dark, started at the end of the 19th century, has never been fully completed. With some beers stuck halfway and others not even started on the journey.

Don’t pay too much attention to the colour listed for Drybrough 60/-. It being Scottish, I’m sure that it was coloured up to a variety of darker shades at racking time.

Mild Ale 1969 - 1985
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl colour IBU
1977 Adnams XXX 1032.0 1014.0 2.38 56.25% 5.73 0.78 17 20
1971 Boddington BM 1032.5 1003.0 3.90 90.77% 5.11 0.67 41 19
1971 Boddington XX 1030.5 1003.0 3.64 90.16% 5.67 0.76 75 19
1970 Drybrough B 60/- 1030.8       2.62 0.33 22 11
1975 Elgood MM 1030.0 1005.5 3.24 81.53% 4.00 0.47 60 13
1969 Fremlin XX 1033.0 1006.0 3.57 81.82% 6.49 0.65 56 19
1968 Fullers H 1031.2 1009.4 2.89 69.86% 4.98 0.58 84 17
1972 Higson H 1030.0       3.61 0.46 60 12
1971 Shepherd Neame MB 1031.3 1010.5 2.75 66.45% 3.26 0.44 100 13
1969 Truman LM 1031.9 1010.8 2.79 66.09% 4.13 0.52 105* 17
1972 Whitbread B. Mild 1030.8 1007.9 3.03 74.35% 3.10 0.41 105* 15
1985 Tetley Mild 1032.0 1007.0 3.31 78.13%     56* 24*
1985 Tetley Falstaff 1032.5 1006.5 3.44 80.00%     29* 26*
1971 Watney Special Mild 1032.0 1010.0 2.91 68.75%   0.80 76* 21
  Average   1031.5 1007.8 3.15 75.35% 4.43 0.57 63.3 17.6
Adnams brewing record held at the brewery.
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/134.
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number D/6/1/1/9.
Elgood brewing record held at the brewery
Fremlin brewing record held at the Kent Archives, document number U3555/2/F/Bx2/1/93.
Fullers brewing record held at the brewery.
Higson brewing record.
Shepherd Neame brewing book held at the brewery, document number 1971 H-5O5.
Truman brewing record held by Derek Prentice.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/141.


Monday 25 December 2023

Drinkalongathon 2023 - duck and some red wine or other


Not sure about the time. I'm hitting the point of not really being arsed to continue.

The duck is very nice and works well with any alcohol I can pour into my mouth.

To keep Christmas dinner traditional, I bring up politics after guzzling down my second roast potato.

"Will you be voting for Trump, kids?"

"We live in Holland, Dad. And aren't US citizens. Why not have a lie down for a while?" 

Drinkalongathon 2023 - chardonnay and goats cheese pasties


Starter time. A bit late as Andrew, who went to bed at 1 AM, only just got up.

It's the same starter as every year. As we have our traditions here.

The duck is burning quite nicely. Wouldn't want it to be undercooked. Five hours is about right for a 2.3 kilo bird, isn't it? Mum always started cooking the turkey at 4 AM. A duck does need the same time in the oven as a 12 kilo turkey, doesn't it?