Wednesday 31 January 2024

Laois County Archives

I'm trying to arrange a visit to various archives in Ireland. But I'm having great trouble finding any information about access and opening times. Or even location.

Can anyone help me out?

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1897 Fullers Brown Stout

Parti-gyled with the Porter was Brown Stout. Just like back in 1887. Though the gravity has increased quite a bit: by 7º. The Stout was very much the junior partner in the brew, with 86 barrels brewed compared to 190.5 barrels of Porter.

The grist, logically enough, is the same as in the Porter. Meaning that there’s an awful lot of sugar. Coming to over 25% of the total fermentables. Whatever that sugar might be. Probably some sort of invert.

There’s one place the recipe is different from Porter: dry hops. With the Stout being dry hopped and the Porter not.

The kettle hops were Mid-Kent from the 1895 harvest and Californian from 1896. While the dry hops were East Kent from the 1896 season. 

There’s no indication that this was vatted, but my guess is that it probably had a month or two of secondary fermentation in the cask.

1897 Fullers Brown Stout
pale malt 7.50 lb 51.44%
brown malt 2.75 lb 18.86%
black malt 0.33 lb 2.26%
No. 2 invert 4.00 lb 27.43%
Cluster 90 mins 1.50 oz
Cluster 60 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1075
FG 1025
ABV 6.61
Apparent attenuation 66.67%
IBU 56
SRM 28
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 58.5º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Small regional brewers in 1973

At the smaller end of regional brewers were ones with up to 250 pubs. At least, that’s the cutoff point I’ve picked. And is totally arbitrary. But I’m going to run with it.

To put those 4,000-odd total pubs into context, the two smallest of the Big Six (excluding Scottish & Newcastle) had around 6,000 pubs each.  But, due to the higher concentrations of regional brewers’ pubs in specific locations, they could be competing on an equal footing with the Big Six. At least, in terms of pub numbers.

Only around a third of these breweries still exist. Luckily, other than Workington and Carlisle, I had the chance to try beer from all of them. Morland and Morrell were such good breweries, with several excellent cask beers. Both had tasty Dark Milds. As did Darley.

Davenport, other than the beer delivered to Dad, I can remember drinking in one of their few pubs in the city centre. When in Birmingham visiting relatives. I was served a half (I was young) of Mild that was so yeasty that it was totally opaque. I was so young, that I tried to drink it rather than sending it back. When not abused, their cask beer was pretty decent.

Despite the brewery being close to where I grew up, I seldom drank Hardy & Hanson. Way the least of the three Nottingham brewers. Simply because I rarely came across their pubs. Home Ales had pubs in Newark, Shipstone loads in the centre of Nottingham. Hardy & Hanson had no pubs in either.

The Old Kings Arms, a real ale pub opened by former CAMRA chairman Chris Holmes in the mid-1970s, they originally sold Hardy & Hanson. Annoyingly, the only cask beer served by electric pump rather than a hand pull. Despite being a hardcore Mild drinker, I never took to it. Far too sweet.

These Kimberley memories keep coming. Right at the end of my school time, we had a trip to see Tommy in Derby. As the bus arrived early, me and Martyn Young nipped into a handily-placed Hardy & Hanson pub for quick half of Mild. We got to theatre a few minutes before the final curtain.

Mansfield was also fairly local. But didn’t have any pubs around Newark. As they had no cask beer, I wasn’t going to search them out. Everards was another brewer not that far from Newark whose beers I didn’t come across often, Perfectly acceptable beers, with Tiger being the standout.

There was one pub in Leeds which served Hull Bitter: the Town Hall Tavern. Located, surprisingly, directly opposite Leeds town hall. It was owned by Musgrave & Sagar, a former local brewery which still owned a few pubs and bottled Guinness. It had an ancient landlady who could magically hold three nonic glasses in one hand while using the other hand to work the beer engine. Dead impressive. Served the Leeds economiser way, with a tight head, I thought it tasted pretty nice.

Having a caravan in Mablethorpe, we weren’t too far from Bateman country. And, despite Mablethorpe itself not having any of their houses, there were some not too far away. I always really rated their cask beers. The Mild and both Bitters were excellent.

From my time living in London in 1979, I developed a great love of Fullers. In particular, Hock and London Pride. Though it was rare that I came across the former.

Young’s, on the other hand, I never took to as much. Despite, in the 1980, having to walk past one of their pubs, the Railway Telegraph, on my way to and from Thornton Heath station every day. I can’t remember ever seeing their Mild in a pub. I usually drank Ordinary. Which was fine, just not particularly to my taste for some reason.

Lees I drank mostly on visits to Manchester. When I could find one of their pubs. Which wasn’t that easy in the city centre. While at university, me and Simon took a day trip to Oldham, basically just to try the beers of Oldham brewery. I can’t really remember anything about them. Other than that they weren’t crap.

I remember visiting the Higsons brewery tap in 1973 when in Liverpool to see Pink Floyd in 1973. I was only just 17 at the time. Which was no obstacle to me getting stuck into a few very pleasant Milds.

Brains beers I actively sought out at beer festivals. In particular, Dark, a really tasty Mild. Just my type of beer: malty and very drinkable.

On a family holiday to Cornwall in 1974, I did get to sample some St. Austell. But only a couple of times as most of their pubs only sold keg. The far Southwest being a bit of a beer desert (for cask) at the time. St. Austell’s beer made no lasting impression on me, one way or another. 

Breweries with 100 to 249 tied houses in 1973
brewery no. tied houses brewery no. tied houses
Brain 100 Carlisle State Management 170
Darley (Vaux) 100 Buckley 180
Oldham 100 Mansfield 180
Fuller 110 Border 190
Workington 110 Lees 190
Davenport 118 Eldridge Pope 200
Brakspear 130 Hull 200
Everards 134 McMullen 200
St. Austell 135 Thos. Usher (Vaux) 200
Bateman 140 Hardy & Hansons 230
Morrell 140 Shepherd Neame 235
Young 140 Morland 240
Wadworth 148 Total pubs 4,180
Higsons 160 Total breweries 26
The Beer Drinker's Companion by Frank Baillie, 1974.

Monday 29 January 2024

Local brewers in 1973 (part two)

Operating on a slightly larger, but still pretty localised, scale was another group of brewers.

Other than Okell, which was rather inaccessible on the Isle of Man, Ann Street ditto in the Channel Islands and Gray which had stopped brewing by the time I was really drinking, I drank beers from all of this set.

Felinfoel was one of the first beers that I served at the Great British Beer Festival. Lovely stuff – and in great condition – it was, too. King & Barnes. Well, I loved that brewery. Such good beer. I was so annoyed when they closed. Jennings I have very happy memories of from a holiday in the Lakes with my brother.

Holts I only ever drank in their tied houses. Because they didn’t sell their beer anywhere else. Including beer festivals. I drank in one of their Salford houses which had no branding on the outside, no pump clips and I had to lean over the bar to look at the bottles to work out which brewery’s beer was being served. Low-key or what?

Hydes owned one of my favourite pubs, not just in Manchester, but anywhere: The Jolly Angler. The beer was pretty good, too. Straightforward Mild and Bitter.

My time in Swindon left me with a very soft spot for Arkells. Especially BBB. A typically malty Southwestern Bitter.

Despite being pretty small, Adnams beers had a good reputation and started turning up in free houses in London.  Where, sadly, it wasn’t always in as good condition as it was at beer festivals. When looked after well, their Bitter was lovely.

Wards brewed an excellent Dark Mild which was, unfortunately, difficult to find in their hometown of Sheffield. It being very much a Bitter town already in the 1970s. 

Breweries with 50 to 99 tied houses in 1973
brewery no. tied houses brewery no. tied houses
Ann Street 50 Adnams 70
Hydes 50 Felinfoel 75
Gray 52 Jennings 79
Gibbs Mew 55 Holt 80
King & Barnes 58 Okell 80
Arkell 62 Gale 88
Ridley 62 Ward (Vaux) 96
Elgood 65 Total pubs 1,087
Palmer 65 Total breweries 16
The Beer Drinker's Companion by Frank Baillie, 1974.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Local brewers in 1973

A handful of brewpubs had struggled into the 1970s, brewing on the smallest scale imaginable. Others owned just a handful of pubs. Bathams is a good example. And there was a surprising number of brewers with fewer than 50 pubs: 31 in 1973.

How many of these breweries’ beers did I get to try? Nineteen, if my memory serves me correctly. Standouts? Batham, obviously. Top-class beers back then, top-class beers today.

The two Lancaster breweries, Yates & Jackson and Mitchells, were pretty solid. I remember serving the former at the Great British Beer Festival. More beers that were in excellent condition and formed a tight head served straight from the cask.

Paine’s beers? Nothing special, in my memory. Hartleys, on the other hand, brewed excellent stuff. Including a tasty Best Bitter called XB. Maclay’s I got to drink in their one tied house in Edinburgh. And was convinced that 60/- was Dark Mild. How wrong was I? I’m still not sure. Lovely beer, whatever.

I never got why Ruddles beers were so popular. Too sweet and cloying for my taste, even Blue, the 3% ABV Bitter. As for County, I couldn’t drink more than a pint. And that was a struggle.

End of personal memories. Back to the factual stuff.

These small tied estates were usually geographically limited to a small radius around the brewery. Though there were sometimes random pubs miles from the brewery. Houses obtained for obscure reasons.

The three Channel Island breweries – Randall (Guernsey), Randall (Jersey) and Guernsey –Castletown of the Isle of Man and Burt on the Isle of Wight had no pubs on mainland Britain. With their estates being restricted to the island on which they were located. Which would account for their limited size.

Ruddles sold off most of their tied estate to finance expansion. A decision which eventually came back to bite them on the bum.

Sadly, a majority of these breweries, including Ruddles, have since closed. 

Breweries with fewer than 50 tied houses in 1973
brewery no. tied houses brewery no. tied houses
Cook 0 Paine 24
Hoskins 1 Belhaven 25
All Nations 1 Beard 26
Blue Anchor 1 Hartleys 28
Three Tuns 1 Timothy Taylor 28
Ma Pardoes's Old Swan 1 Rayment 31
Traquair House 1 Melbourns 32
Selby 2 Hook Norton 34
Batham 8 Maclay 34
Holden 8 Castletown 36
Burt 11 Yates & Jackson 43
Theakston 16 Ruddle 44
Donnington 17 Guernsey 45
Randall (Guernsey) 17 Mitchells 47
Simpkiss 17 Total pubs 623
Randall (Jersey) 20 Total breweries 31
Harvey 24    
The Beer Drinker's Companion by Frank Baillie, 1974.

Saturday 27 January 2024

Let's Brew - 1897 Fullers Porter

I've finished all the recipes for "Keg!". But I do like to continue writing recipes. In this case for the other book I'm working om, "Free!". This is recipe number 182. Still a long way to go. I'm probably not even half way. It makes sense to knock off a few recipes for it whenever I can. I don't want to end in the same situation as with "Blitzkrieg!" where I spent weeks putting together recipes when the rest of the book was complete.

Though its popularity had seriously waned elsewhere, Porter was still very much a mainstream beer in London. And Fullers produced large quantities of it. This batch, for example, was 190 barrels.

There’s been a bit of shuffling around in the grist. There’s a little more base malt and a little less brown malt. But the big change is in the black malt, down from 6.5% to 2%. Unsurprisingly, the changes leave the beer a good bit paler: 23 SRM rather than 33 SRM.

The sugar is still just described as the very unspecific “saccharum”. For which I’ve substituted No. 2 invert.

The hopping rate has also been reduced. But, as the majority are now Californian rather than English, the calculated bitterness level has actually increased a little.

By this point, ageing Porter was well over and this would have been served fresh, with no more than aa week or two of conditioning in the cask, at most.

1897 Fullers Porter
pale malt 6.00 lb 53.33%
brown malt 2.00 lb 17.78%
black malt 0.25 lb 2.22%
No. 2 invert 3.00 lb 26.67%
Cluster 90 mins 1.00 oz
Cluster 60 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.00 oz
OG 1057
FG 1016
ABV 5.42
Apparent attenuation 71.93%
IBU 46
SRM 23
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Friday 26 January 2024


I stuff the information I harvest from brewing records into a spreadsheet. OG, FG, malts, sugars, hops, boil times, length of fermentation. But nothing about mashing details.

When I started the spreadsheet, it had far fewer columns. I've added extra ingredients and other stuff. Boil and fermentation details. I avoided mashing, because I wasn't sure what I'd record, brewing records being very inconsistent in exactly which details they noted down.

Whilst dodging the dogs and raindrops while walking along the lake, my mind turned to this topic. What would I record?

I'd need a column for each action in the mash tun. Every mash, underlet and sparge. Early 19th-century Porter mostly had four mashes. I've seen plenty of examples of five-step mashing schemes. Best add at least one or two columns to be on the safe side.

What to record for each step? That is, the number of sub-columns. Not all appropriate to every step. And rarely all present in a brewing record.

Action (mash, sparge or underlet)
Volume of water
Strike heat
Initial heat
Time mashed
Time stood
Tap heat
Tap volume
Tap gravity

Nine sub-columns times six or seven columns is far to fucking many. No chance of me retrofitting it to my spreadsheet. It's less work for me to simply look at the brewing record when I need the information, such as when writing a recipe.

Oh. And this is just for UK-style mashing. No use at all for decoction schemes.

Thursday 25 January 2024

A national beer festival for the UK

I’d assumed that the concept of a national UK beer festival originally came from CAMRA in the mid-1970s. But I recently discovered that the idea had earlier been kicked around by people involved in the brewing industry.

This comes from an opinion piece in the Brewers’ Guardian in 1970:

For an industry that is always seeking new outlets - even to the extent of buying small concerns lock, stock and barrel to obtain them - we appear to be rather slow in putting some of the more obvious and attractive sales-boosting schemes into operation.

Take, for instance, a Beer Festival. Such an event could be of enormous financial benefit not only to brewers but to the tourist industry and the country as a whole.

There are many such festivals held throughout the world. The tremendous success of events such as the Munich Oktoberfest need no elaboration, but even the smaller affairs, like the one in Kilkenny, have proved to be just what the public want.

Considering that beer plays such a large part in the British way of life, it is regrettable that in this respect we are even lagging behind wine-drinking countries like Cyprus, who will be holding their first beer festival next year.

Such an idea has often been mooted by individual brewers here, but nothing concrete ever seems to emerge, so surely the time has come to investigate, possibly through a Brewers’ Society committee, the viability of a British Beer Festival on a co-operating company basis.

Objections will come in thick and fast, no doubt, but if planned correctly in conduction with bodies like the British Travel Association and with a balanced programme of traditional dancing, music and good British food there is no reason why it could not become an important annual event.

Choice of venue would be another problem, with Northern and Midland brewers showing a strong preference for a town like Burton-on-Trent instead of London, but inclement weather need present no difficulties, as such a project could very easily be staged in a large exhibition hall like Earls Court or Olympia.

An obvious choice of time would be during one of the off-peak tourist seasons, like early spring or late autumn, when hotels are not overcrowded with holidaymakers and brewers are not faced with peak production difficulties. Why not stage the first one to coincide with Brewex?

With such a heavy burden of continually mounting overheads, the industry must search out new fields for increasing sales and a National Beer Festival might well go a long way to help. The organisational difficulties would be sizeable, but the rewards, in terms of both finance and prestige, would more than compensate."
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, March 1970, page 33. 

Nothing came of this proposal and the task was left to CAMRA. Interestingly, Earl’s Court and Olympia were suggested as possible locations. Something which, a couple of decades later, would come to pass.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1897 Fullers XXK

What was Fullers Burton Ale looking like at the end of the 19th century? A bit different to in 1887.

There’s been a small drop in gravity. Just 2º, so no biggie. And the impact on the ABV is minimal.

In the grist, there’s been an intriguing development. 1887’s crystal malt has been replaced by brown malt. Which is the opposite way around to what you would expect: crystal replacing brown malt. Though, as they were brewing plenty of Porter and Stout, they would have had brown malt lying around.

No. 2 sugar is just my guess for what is simply described as “saccharum”.

In the copper two types of hops were used, Mid-Kent from the 1895 harvest and East Kent from 1896. With the latter also used as dry hops.

Was this beer aged? Yes. Definitely. Because it says in the brewing record: “Run into Nos. 1 & 2 vats”. How long did it stay there? My guess is between 6 and 12 months. 

1897 Fullers XXK
pale malt 12.25 lb 76.56%
brown malt 0.50 lb 3.13%
No. 2 invert sugar 3.25 lb 20.31%
Fuggles 90 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings 60 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1077
FG 1020
ABV 7.54
Apparent attenuation 74.03%
IBU 85
SRM 14
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 57º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Strong Ale 1971 - 1972

I’ve lumped together Scotch Ale with English Strong Ales because I have so few examples of the two types. They are generally similar and, in Scotland, Scotch Ales were usually simply called Strong Ale.

The commonest type of Scotch Ale was a dark beer of 7% to 8% ABV. These were usually parti-gyled with the Pale Ales and then coloured with caramel at racking time. Lightly-hopped, as were all Scottish Pale Ales, and poorly-attenuated, they came across as sweet to very sweet.

In England, Strong Ale was a catchall for anything of above normal strength and which didn’t fall into either the Old Ale or Barley Wine category. Although there was a lot of overlap with those two types.

There’s quite a range of gravities there, 24º. Just like all their other beers, Boddington’s Strong Ale was very highly attenuated. Leaving it the strongest, despite only having the third-highest gravity. The other three beers are all much less well attenuated, none managing to reach 70%.

The three strongest are all over 6% ABV. Pretty strong compared to the vast majority of beer being consumed, which was under 4% ABV.

Far more consistency is shown in the hopping rate per quarter (336 lbs) of malt. All are around 5 lbs. Which is a reasonable enough rate, for the period. Resulting in a fair amount of bitterness. Though, remember, these are calculated values.

Consistency is notably lacking in the colours, ranging from pale amber to dark brown. With a couple inbetween just for good measure. 

Strong Ale 1971 - 1972
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl colour IBU
1971 Maclay Strong Ale 1077 1029 6.35 66.67% 4.95 1.60 76 41
1971 Boddington Strong Ale 1063.5 1011.0 6.95 82.68% 5.14 1.56 103* 36
1977 Adnams Broadside 1068.0 1022.0 6.09 67.65% 5.36 1.91 32 43
1972 Shepherd Neame Bishop's Finger 1052.6 1019.5 4.38 62.95% 5.45 1.22 56 30
  Average   1065.3 1020.4 5.94 69.99% 5.22 1.57 66.8 37.5
Maclay brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number M/6/1/1/46.
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/134.
Adnams brewing record held at the brewery.
Shepherd Neame Brewing book held at the brewery, document number 1971 H-5O5.
Colour values marked with * were taken from brewery sources rather than calculated.

Monday 22 January 2024

Brewing Yorkshire Stingo

In an article by Bishop about continuous fermentation there's an intriguing paragraph about the brewing of Yorkshire Stingo. Revealing it to have been brewed a very traditional way well after WW II.

Here's the passage:

Strong beers.— Until few years ago strong beers fell into two distinct classes — either very sweet and only partly fermented because the yeast had come out too soon, or overdry because they had been fermented completely by the traditional rolling in cask over several months. The latter method was that used at my brewery for producing Stingo — a method which took nine months. Needless to say, the losses of this very expensive beer were extremely high. In contrast, we found we could produce Stingo by continuous fermentation in two days instead of nine months without direct loss of beer or loss through development of acidity—either of the lactic or acetic variety. In addition, the beer could be produced with an intermediate degree of sweetness exactly as required.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 76, 1970, page 175.

Those two classes of strong beers are presumably ones which did or didn't undergo a secondary fermentation. And, with such beers becoming "overdry", it's clear that Brettanomycers was at work. Which is clearly what was happening with Stingo, being rolled around in casks for nine months. During which time it hopefully wouldn't turn into vinegar and need to be discarded.

I wonder what happened to Stingo when the continuous fermenters were removed in the late 1970s? I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have reverted to rolling it around in casks for months. They might well have just quietly discontinued the beer.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Continuous fermentation

A dream of some large brewers was continuous fermentation. Where fresh wort was continuously added to fermenters as finished beer was taken out. A process way more efficient that traditional fermentation.

Briggs described the potential benefits:

there was real hope for the commercial success of continuous systems with the advantages comprising:

•    lower capital cost
•    lower working capital because of less beer in process, as a result of faster throughput
•    lower product cost as a result of lower beer losses, more ethanol and less yeast
•    lower fixed costs because of less manpower as a result of less cleaning and automatic
•    fermenter control.

The first attempts were made in the late 19th century and several different systems were tried in early years leading up to WW I. None proved to be a commercial success. One system involving beer moving from one open tank to another was revived in the 1950s, with experiments in the UK, Canada and New Zealand. It was in the latter two that these trials were put into practice in the 1960s.

In the UK, the process was championed by L.R. Bishop, who worked at the Watney brewery in Mortlake. He seems to have dedicated a good chunk of his career to developing the process, starting in 1925 when he was a post-graduate student. But it was only after WW II that his interest was able to take practical form, in the shape of a 1,000-gallon pilot plant. When this proved a success, a 1,000-barrel plant was constructed.

By the early 1970s, Watney had the system installed in four of their breweries: Mortlake, Mile End, Drybrough and Murphy. Between them, they were capable of producing 20,000 barrels a week. Or around a million barrels a year.  Which was around 22% of their total output.  The bulk of this capacity – 13,000 barrels per week - was at Mortlake.

At its peak in the early 1970s, around 4% of UK beer was brewed using one of the continuous fermentation systems.  Though much of that seems to have been at Watney. With their capacity equivalent to 2.7% of UK production.

I’d always laboured under the assumption that the main reason for dropping continuous fermentation was because the beer produced using it tasted shit. I’m now beginning to doubt this. At least as the main cause of the system being ditched.

According to taste tests carried out by Bishop, continuously fermented beer only scored marginally worse than that produced by batch fermentation. Though with just six tests, the sample size was pretty small.  As further proof, Bishop comments that continuous fermentation beer wasn’t blended with batch fermented, as would have been the case if there were significant flavour differences. And none of the customers complained.  (The least ringing endorsement that you can imagine – no-one complained.)

Yet, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, most brewers abandoned the system. If the beer quality was acceptable, why was this the case? You can probably guess: economics.

Continuous fermentation systems were good at producing large volumes of a single beer, but rather inflexible. Switching from one beer to another could be a complicated and lengthy process. Running the systems proved more difficult than expected, requiring constant monitoring by highly skilled personnel. Making them more expensive to run than batch systems.

In addition, there was big advances in cylindroconical technology, speeding up batch fermentation and providing a more flexible method of fermentation.


Saturday 20 January 2024

Let's Brew - 1910 Fullers PA

Another recipe from the other book I'm working on, "Free!". Recipe number 180, if you're interested. Only a couple of hundred more to go.

The biggest change in Fullers top-of-the-line Pale Ale since 1897 is the name. From which the India has been dropped, leaving it simply Pale Ale. The switch was made sometime between 1902 and 1910. Why? I’ve no idea. Brewers had a habit of using the terms Pale Ale and IPA pretty randomly.

Two degrees have been shaved off the gravity, leaving it at 1054º. Odd to think that this was Fullers standard Pale Ale. A beer which has since evolved to became Chiswick Bitter at around 20º weaker. While the current Fullers beer which looks the most similar is ESB.

The recipe has become a good bit more complicated. There’s around the same amount of base malt, but instead of a single type of sugar, there are now two as well as a little flaked maize. The No.1 is my substitute for something called “pale invert”

There were four types of hops: Oregon from the 1907 crop, English and Mid-Kent both from 1909, and East Kent from 1908. Though the hopping rate is much lower than in 1897, 9 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt compared with 13.5 lbs. Which is reflected in a much lower IBU value. 

1910 Fullers PA
pale malt 9.50 lb 82.47%
flaked maize 0.33 lb 2.86%
No. 1 invert sugar 0.67 lb 5.82%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 8.68%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.02 lb 0.17%
Cluster 105 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 105 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.75 oz
OG 1054
FG 1012
ABV 5.56
Apparent attenuation 77.78%
IBU 51
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Friday 19 January 2024

Irish brewing in 1970

I seem to keep getting dragged back to Irish brewing at the moment. Not sure why. This is something I came across researching my book "Keg!". It's an overview of the Irish brewing scene, from the point of view of the Guinness chairman.

He starts by relating how the types of beer being drunk had changed over the previous decade.

In a review published recently in the Irish financial journal, Business and Finance, Lord Iveagh, chairman of Guinness, points to the expansion of lager as being the most significant feature of his company's Irish activities in the 1960s, with particular reference to the development of Harp. In 1959, total beer sales comsprised 89 per cent stout, 9.5 per cent ale, and 1.5  per cent lager; in 1969, the proportions are expected to be about 73 per cent stout, 20 per cent ale and 7 per cent lager. Lord Iveagh comments that while more stout is being sold than in 1959 it now makes up only three-quarters of Guinness sales in Eire.

Looking forward to the 1970’s, in Eire the chairman expects increased production capacity to meet the growth of home demand for beer and a more rapid expansion in ale and lager than in stout.
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, February 1970, page 77.

The growth of Lager in the 1960s parallels what happened in the UK. Though Lager had advanced a little further in Ireland, with 7% of the market compared to 6% in the UK.* The growth over the course of the decade was truly impressive.

Though lagging far behind the advances of Lager, Ale had still managed to double its market share. Which is interesting. I assume that this was mostly in the form of Pale Ale. I wonder what has happened since? Did its share increase in the 1970s? Does Ale hold as much as 20% still?

This next little bit is very revealing, if you understand what it means.

Guinness has no intention of playing a significant part in the retailing of the company's products but will have to pay attention to packaging and distribution in the ’70’s.
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, February 1970, page 77.

That basically means: we aren't going to buy pubs. Which, indeed, was what they did.

Most intriguing was this:

The company intends to encourage the small hop industry that has emerged in Eire over the past couple of years, that it may make a significant contribution, in the future, to the company’s total requirements.
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, February 1970, page 77.

What happened to the Irish hop industry? Has it ever provided a significant quantity of Guinness's hop requirements? I somehow doubt it. 

* “The Brewers' Society Statistical Handbook 1990” page 17.

Thursday 18 January 2024

Visions of future past

With future prediction season well under way. I thought I'd pitch in with a look at the future from fifty years ago. Where did industry insiders think brewing was headed in 1970? And just how amusingly wrong is it?

We'll kick off with brewing itself. What sort of breweries would exist in the future?

"The current trend towards fewer but much larger breweries, such as Whitbread's at Luton, may well continue until the brewing giants each have only one or two units serving the whole country. At the same time, the continuing rationalisation of brewing materials and the added desirability of preparing them economically in large quantities may mean that these strategically-sited production centres will be supplied with concentrated wort from adjacent new materials "factories".

At first sight, this manner of production may appear to be ideal, but there is another school of thought that says we could well see a return to localised brewing in the future, though with small, highly-automated continuous plant, probably controlled from the company's head office many miles away. An important advantage of this system, of course, would be in the huge savings in transport costs."
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, January 1970, page 33.

As it turned out, neither of those predictions turned out to be true. Whitbread’s ill-fated Luton plant probably wasn’t the best example of a new brewery to pick. Bass Charrington genuinely had a plan of serving the whole of the UK from just two breweries. Neither did concentrated wort factories appear. So, 100% miss in the first paragraph.

The other extreme – small, local continuous fermentation plants – didn’t happen, either. Mostly because continuous fermentation couldn’t be got to work. At least, it couldn’t be made to produce beer people actually wanted to drink.

What really happened? The big brewers did build megabreweries. Bass had Runcorn. Courage had Worton Grange. And where are they now? All closed. And, while the nightmare of just a handful of breweries producing all the country's beer never materialised, the bulk is brewed in just a few large breweries.

What's completely missing are the new arrivals at the bottom end. Not continuous-fermentation plants, but small traditional breweries. Though you can't really blame anyone in 1970, before any new breweries had been founded (other than Traquair House), for not predicting that.

It all goes to show what a mug's game predicting the long-term future is.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1885 William Younger 100/-

No, this isn't another recipe from "Scotland! vol. 2", my award-winning book on Scottish brewing. It's a preview from "Free!", about brewing 1880-1914. A book I keep working away on in the background.

179 recipes I've written for it, so far. I've been chipping away at them. I know from past experience that I don't want to be left with hundreds of recipes to write when the rest of the book is just about done.

The best thing about 100/- is that there’s no modern beer with same name to cause confusion.

It took me a while to get my head around Scottish styles. Especially the Shilling Ales. Then I realised that they are just Ales. The weaker ones being Mild Ales, the stronger ones Stock Ales. It’s really that simple.

100/- is very similar to 60/- and 80/-, just a bit stronger. Three types of malt, with a little less than half made from Scottish barley, the rest from foreign. All very simple. It’s not going to last. By the end of the century Younger’s grists would look very different.

The hopping rate is about the same as for 60/- and 80/-. Consisting of Kent, Californian, Spalt and American, all from the 1884 crop. 

1885 William Younger 100/-
pale malt 17.25 lb 100.00%
Cluster 120 min 1.75 oz
Spalt 60 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 min 1.50 oz
OG 1074
FG 1024
ABV 6.61
Apparent attenuation 67.57%
IBU 52
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 163º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale