Wednesday 28 February 2024

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1900 Barclay Perkins XLK

What changes have the new century brought to Barclay’s Ordinary Bitter? Surprisingly few. To be honest.

The gravity is a little lower, but that was true of pretty much all of their beers. It was a simple question of economics. When the duty increased, the gravity was cut. Brewers didn’t have any option, unless they wanted to cut their profit margin.

When the gravity of a standard barrel was reduced from 1057º to 1055º in 1889, that was, effectively, a 3.5% increase in the duty. On a beer costing 3d a pint, that would have meant raising the price to 3.1d. But the smallest coin was a farthing. 0.25d, so that wasn’t possible. Easier just to reduce the gravity a little and keep the price the same. Customers were very resistant to price rises, beer having cost the same for 30 years at this point.

The elements are much the same as in 1886: base malt, adjuncts and invert sugar. The only difference is that there’s a bit more sugar and there are two adjuncts, flaked maize and flaked rice. This was a transition period when they were moving from rice to maize. A few years later, it was 100% maize.

No foreign hops this time. Just two types of East Kent, from the 1898 and 1899 harvests.

No long ageing for this Running Beer. No more than a few weeks in the cask. 

1900 Barclay Perkins XLK
pale malt 7.75 lb 72.09%
flaked rice 0.50 lb 4.65%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 4.65%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.00 lb 18.60%
Goldings 120 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1051
FG 1011
ABV 5.29
Apparent attenuation 78.43%
IBU 58
SRM 6.5
Mash at 148º F
After underlet 153º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale


Anonymous said...

That bit about the currency making it hard to raise prices is interesting.

I'm curious whether incremental price changes got easier as the price of a pint crept up to the point where adding a penny to the price wasn't a big percentage change.

Ron Pattinson said...


yes, it did.

Rob Sterowski said...

It’s not just the issue of the farthing being the smallest coin – it was the fact that people weren’t used to inflation. Beer prices stayed stable for decades. That’s one of the reasons brewers had a tendency to refer to their beers by price – not just 80 shilling etc but there are beers described as "sevenpenny" or (much later) "1/1" (i.e. one shilling and a penny). You couldn't do that now.

Twenty years ago price increases came in increments of 5p and it still was a big deal.

Nowadays, I still haven’t got used to the concept of £5 pints before being asked to pay £6 for one.

Anonymous said...

I paid just under ten dollars inc tax and obligatory tip for a (US) pint of Guinness in a regular bar in Seattle in 2017. I wonder what that is now with inflation over the past few years?