Friday, 27 March 2015


Amsterdam is really buzzing beer-wise. I'm struggling to keep pace with the openings of new breweries and bars. I can thank Dolores for discovering Frits.

It popped up when she was searching for a place a colleague of hers had mentioned. It looked interesting and we decided to drop by one Saturday afternoon.

It's located on the corner the Jan Evertstraat and Mercatorplein in de Baarsjes. An area of Amsterdam we lived in until the kids came along and our flat started looking rather small. Like much of Amsterdam, it's changed a lot in the last five years.

Going down De Clerqstraat in a tram, I was shocked to see how many trendy eateries had popped up on the street. Fancy coffee places are a sure sign of gentrification. I should know, loads have appeared around our way. Girl cafes, I call them. As opposed to the old bloke pubs I hang around in.

The yuppification doesn't seem to have stretched quite as far as Mercatorplein, with the exception of Frits. Exposed brickwork and industrial ducting make perfectly clear who the establishment is aimed at: the young and the hip. That's me out on both counts. (I do still have both my own hips, so maybe that counts as a half.)

On offer are posh-ish burgers and a small but well-polished selection of beers. First thing I notice is that there are no mass-market beers. Brooklyn Lager Budweiser Budvar serve as Pils. That gives away one of the other feature of the beer list: very international. There are a couple of US beers, Thornbridge Jaipur, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissen and Vedet IPA. So about half the 10 draughts are foreign. The others are not only Dutch, but from Amsterdam: Oedipus and Het Ij.

The bottled list  is similarly a mix from traditional European beer countries and the USA. It runs to around 40 beers.

That's a heartening turnaround from a few years back. When Ij beers excepted, few Amsterdam pubs offered anything from small Dutch brewers. It's good to see local beers getting some appreciation.

"What used to be here, Dolores? I can't remember."

"A pub. The type with carpets on the tables."

"I understand why I'd never went in."

We invest in a shared burger. At  8-10 euros, they're quite reasonable for Amsterdam. Though that is without chips. It's not bad. Fairly similar to the ones you get in US beer places.

Beer prices. I should mention those. Around the 4 euro mark for a draught. Which again isn't that bad for Amsterdam. I'll probably be back. Especially as they stock St. Bernardus Abt.

Jan Evertsenstraat 135
Tel.: 020 233 9796

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Cask beer in the 1950’s – empty casks and cleaning glasses

We’re finally there. At the end of my marathon examination of cask beer handling in the 1950’s. I’m going to have to find something else to write about.

Jeffery has had plenty of veiled (and not so veiled) anger towards publicans and their wastefulness and incompetence. I can understand why. A careless or untrained landlord can ruin the brewer’s work in an instant. It must have been frustrating to confide your lovely, sound beer to someone who would transform it into undrinkable muck. And ruin the casks it came in to boot.

Empty Casks.
If the value of beer casks was sufficiently appreciated more care would be taken of them when empty than is now unhappily the case. The life of a well-made cask with proper usage is anything from 20 to 30 years, but we have on many occasions seen this life reduced to a year or so. The reason was that someone omitted to seal the cask up when it was empty and make it air-tight. Over and over again we have found empty casks thrown into any convenient comer of the yard, without shive, peg, or cork. Blue mould round the tap hole has indicated a similar state, and more often than not rain water, inside. Rain water means irretrievable destruction, because once it attains access to the inside of a cask, the cask becomes what is known as a 'stinker'. Excessive and long infection by mould spores also have a similar effect. So it is urgently necessary to see that every cask is made both air- and water-tight as soon as the tap has been removed, even if the cask is still to be kept in the cellar. If it is necessary to put it outside in the open, let it be stored, if possible, in a shady place.”
Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 260 - 261.

This makes me realise that I had no idea how to handle the casks me and my brother owned. I didn’t realise that you had seal a cask after emptying it. The firkins are well a truly buggered now as they’ve been in my brother’s garden for years

Rain water seems particularly dangerous. Brewers hated stinkers. You read about them in brewing texts all the way back to the 18th century. They could, sometimes, be saved by extensive cleaning and treatment, which usually involved shaving wood from the inside and the application of chemicals.

Casks were a big investment for a brewery, tying up large amounts of capital. They were expensive because they were hand-made by skilled craftsmen. It must have been heartbreaking to see them ruined early in their potential life by an idiot landlord.

I’m starting to see the crap behind the romance of wooden casks. I assume much of this doesn’t apply quite the same way to metal casks. The big difference being that you can easily sterilise them, unlike the porous surface of a wooden cask.

And finally . . . . cleaning glasses.

Cleaning and Sterilization of Beer Glasses.
Although not coming within the category of cellar management, a comment may be appropriately inserted here concerning the treatment of beer glasses. With the increasing public interest in hygiene the question of sterilization of beer glasses becomes important. This is not the place to go into the question of adequate washing and rinsing facilities, but a notable contribution to the problem of removing any danger of spreading infection by glasses is provided by the new class of quaternary ammonium antiseptics to which reference has already been made. By dipping the glass into a weak solution of one of these useful compounds, sterility is rapidly attained. This, if followed by a rinse in warm water, results in a glass which is both clean in appearance and sterile. Some of these compounds have been found to affect the head retention of the beer, but there are special ones on the market which if used according to the maker's instructions are entirely free from this disadvantage. A small automatic dispenser can be supplied by which a suitable dose is added each time the sink bowl is filled.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 261.

I guess the glass is the final link in the chain leading form hops and grains to the beer in the drinker’s mouth. And yet another place where all the good work that has gone before can be messed up. When you look at all the places things can go wrong it’s incredible cask beer has survived. And that it’s ever in good condition.

If you were putting leftover beer back into the cask you’d want to be sure your glasses were clean. Then again, if you were pulling crap like that you probably weren’t that fussed about hygiene.

If you’re lucky, I might pull some other stuff from Jeffery’s book. The stuff about a brewery’s location is especially fascinating.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1925 Barclay Perkins Dark Lager

What is it with all these Lager recipes I've been publishing? This one is on request, mind.

We're back in the early days of Barclay Perkins Lager-brewing adventure. Only a few years after their shiny new Lager brewery had only been commissioned.

I had this odd thought the other day. What if the success of their Lager brewing had been the cause of the brewery's downfall. It struck me that maybe Courage had really wanted to get their hands on Barclay Perkins' Lager brewery? It makes sense, because that's what Courage didn't have. Just a thought. Not sure if it's true or not.

Initially, Barclay Perkins only brewed two Lagers, Export and Dark. The former was a pale Lager in the Export style. The latter a British take on a Münchener. Later a weaker draught Lager called Draught was introduced. Exciting stuff, eh?

I'm intrigued by the differences in the grist of Export and Dark. Our beer today is all-malt, while Export had around 25% corn grits. Making it look more like an American than a Continental beer. Not that Dark has a grist like a Bavarian beer. Yes, it's all malt, but I don't think they would have used black and crystal malt in Munich.

The hopping definitely isn't along German. Pretty sure they would never have used American hops. Or Goldings, for that matter. Though 50% of the total is Saaz.

All in all, a bit of an odd mix of British and Continental ingredients. But still way more authentic than modern industrial British attempts at Lager.

That's me done, so it's over to me . . . . . .

1925 Barclay Perkins Dark Lager
pilsner malt 2 row 10.75 lb 81.13%
crystal malt 60l 2.25 lb 16.98%
black malt 0.25 lb 1.89%
Cluster 90 min 0.75 oz
Saaz 60 min 1.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
OG 1058
FG 1020
ABV 5.03
Apparent attenuation 65.52%
IBU 42
SRM 19
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 2042 Danish lager

For those wishing to go the full decoction hog, here are the details of the mash:

Let me know if you're enjoying these Lager recipes.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

American Weiss Beer

I love finding evidence. Especially when it helps settle an argument. And when it lets me combine two of my running themes.

There seems to be some doubt on the interweb as to exactly what type of beer American Weiss was. The Wahls, as you may recall, were quite definite that it was a version of Berliner Weisse:

"American Weiss Beer. This beer is brewed from wheat and barley malt according to methods described for Berliner Weiss Beer.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, pages 156 - 157.

Some still struggle to believe this and insist it must have been in the Bavarian style. I’m sure they’re wrong. For one thing, when the style emerged in the 19th century, Bavarian Weissbier was incredibly obscure, only produced by a few breweries in the South of Germany. Whereas the North German styles of Weissbier, especially Berliner Weisse, were much better known.

Here’s a slightly more expansive description pf American Weiss Beer from the start of the last century:

The process of manufacture of this beer may be copied from the German methods. However, the material employed and method of mashing is usually quite different. Wheat malt is sometimes, but not generally, used. Instead, grits are employed to the amount of about 30 per cent, together with pale malt. The grits are treated as usual, the mash is started at about 40° R (122º F.), and temperature raised by addition of grits mash and water to about 58º R. (162º F.). The wort is boiled for a short period (about 30 minutes) with hops from one-half to three-quarters pound per barrel.

Strength of wort about 10 to 12 per cent Balling. For treatment of beer during fermentation, see "Berliner Weiss Beer." Ale yeast should not be employed as is often the case but yeast from a Weiss beer yeast should be obtained in case of need. In America the fermentation is generally conducted in vats instead of casks, in which case the yeast is skimmed off. After fermentation the beer is krausened and filled in bottles. Undoubtedly the American article could be much improved by employing the materials, as well as the mashing method in vogue in German Weiss beer breweries, especially the material, as grits will under no circumstances yield those albuminoids that give Weiss beer its character, as wheat malt does. Certainly there seems no reason why American Weiss beer brewers should not be able to procure a good wheat malt.

Weiss beer in America is sometimes stored, bunged, and fined like lager beer, but a brilliant Weiss beer does not seem to catch the fancy of the consumers, who are accustomed to the cloudy, lively article of Berlin fame."
"American handy-book of the brewing, malting and auxiliary trades" by Wahl and Henius, 1902, page 817.

As we’ve learned recently, German versions of the style haven’t always contained wheat either. Though I’m pretty sure they never included corn grits.

Funnily enough, that mashing method isn’t a million miles away from one from 1837 I’ve just translated. Though the earlier one started cooler. At 10º to 12º Balling, the gravity is about the same as in Berlin in the 19th century. Modern German versions are weaker.

The major differences with German methods are the fermentation in a vat and fining the finished beer. I assume they also artificially carbonated it.

Oh yes, that evidence. It comes from I book I’ve had for a couple of years (in digital form) but never properly looked at. Silly me. It’s got some very handy beer analyses. Including these:

Average composition of American malt liquors, as shown by analyses made for New York State Board of Health by F. E. Englehardt, Ph. D.
Kind. Specific gravity. Alcohol by weight. Extract. Ash. Phosphoric acid.
Per cent. Per cent. Per cent, Percent.
Lager, 172 samples 1.016 3.754 5.864 0.259 0.0964
Ale, 199 samples 1.013 4.622 5.423 0.307 0.0832
Porter, 70 samples 1.015 4.462 6.003 0.345 0.0942
Weiss, 28 samples 1.006 1.732 2.356 0.189 0.0491
Foods and Food Adulterants, Part Third: Fermented Alcoholic Beverages, Malt Liquors, Wine, and Cider. by C.A. Crampton, 1887, page 278.

Look at the alcohol content: under 2% ABW, about 2.2% ABV. Not much like the Bavarian style. The low extract tells us that it’s also quite highly attenuated. So we have a low-gravity, low-alcohol, highly-attenuated beer. All characteristics of Berliner Weisse.

There’s that settled.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Edinburgh last week - part three

Let's start with breakfast.

CJ's Cafe
137 - 139 Dalry Road,

Love me them square sausages. Five quid that lot cost.

Firstr pint of the day.

Dirty Dick's Bar
Rose Street,
Midlothian EH2 4LS.

Pint number two - though we did walk in and out of several pubs that didn't sell Strongbow.

Rose & Crown
170 Rose Street,
West End,
Edinburgh EH2 4BA.

Time for some London murky.

The Black Cat
168 Rose Street,
Edinburgh EH2 4BA.

"It's because they don't filter it."

It was the one on the left:

On to somewhere where the beer was clear.

The Kenilworth
152-154 Rose Street,
Edinburgh EH2 3JD.

Time for Wetherspoons.

The Standing Order
62-66 George St,
Midlothian EH2 2LR.

Random pub now:

Auld Hundred
100 Rose Street South Lane.
Midlothian EH2 2NN.

Time to eat.

The Amber Rose
22-26 Castle Street/Rose Street,
Edinburgh EH2 4LS.

Au Bar
101 Shandwick Place,
Midlothian EH2 4SD.

And finally back to:

Dickens Lounge Bar
88 Dalry Road,
Midlothian EH11 2AX.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Beer drinking in Germany in the 1890’s

In keeping with my current Berliner Weisse kick, I’ve been searching the British newspaper archive. It’s surprising how many hits I’ve had.

Though obviously I didn’t search for “Berliner Weisse” or “Berliner Weissbier”. “Berlin white beer” is the term that gets results.


. . . .

The United States Consul-General at Berlin, in his last report, states that the German beer production, which in the preceding year had risen, increased again in the fiscal year 1888-89, although the consumption was interfered with by the unfavourable weather of the summer of 1888, and also by the good fruit crops. The increase in the beer production of 1888-89 was confined entirely to the under-fermented (untergahrige) sorts, the highly-fermented beers having fallen off in amount. This was due in part to the bad weather, which was unfavourable to the consumption of highly-fermented (obergahrige) beers ; but chiefly to the growing popularity of the under-fermented sorts, whose sale by the breweries was increased through depots in other places, discounts to dealers, &c., and particularly through the growing popularity in town and land of bottled beer. As a consequence, the smaller breweries of the highly-fermented sorts decrease both in number and in amount of production.”
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 27 January 1891, page 2.

I’ve missed out the paragraph about France. It’s not really relevant here.

I’ve pointed out the decline in top-fermentation in North Germany in the final decades of the 19th century. And the fact that, in general, the new Lager breweries that were set up in the North operated on a much larger scale. The market for beer was generally expanding in Germany in this period, but all the growth came from Lager. The output of top-fermenting beer was pretty stable.

Here’s another topic dear to my heart: rice in German Lagers:

“Rice in the form of flour or broken grains, the waste from the Bremen rice mills, is used only in the manufacture of the under-fermented beers light in colour. The higher price of this in comparison with barley is offset by the fact that, in the malt process the latter loses 30 per cent. in weight, while the former in grinding suffers no loss. The addition of beer colour serves to give the proper colour to the beer instead of malt. For the same purpose colour-beers are manufactured in special breweries, which beers are not classified as malt surrogates, but are taxed as finished beers of malt and hops.”
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 27 January 1891, page 2.

By “brewing tax district” the author means the Brausteuergebiet, which excluded Bavaria, Baden Württemberg and Alsace Lorraine, but included pretty much all the rest of the German Empire.

“Hop culture is not largely carried on within the limits of the brewing tax district, and only in certain localities is it of any importance. These are the districts of Osterode and Johannesberg in East Prussia; Poerlitz in Pomerania; Neutomischl, Graetz, Wollstein and Mascritz in Posen; the Altmark in the province of Saxony; Luaneberg in Hanover; the Government district of Hohenzollern, part of the grand duchies of Hessen and Oldenburg, and a small part of the duchy of Brunswick. The price of hops in the province of Posen, where the quality was below the average, was tolerably high immediately after the harvest (best 300 marks, middle 140 marks per 100 kilogrammes), but it soon fell (best 180 marks, middle 60 to 80 marks, ordinary 40 marks.)”
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 27 January 1891, page 2.

Hops were – and still are – mostly grown in the South. Altmark hops show up in British brewing records, meaning that they grew enough to be able to export.

Here’s a little something about beer styles:

“Of the under-fermented beers there are three principal sorts - Schank or young beer, common lager beer, and the finer, stronger lager beers. One hundred kilogrammes of malt (used in the manufacture of highly-fermented beers), mixed with sugar, syrup, &c., produce from 6 to 8 hectolitres of common, and from 2.8 to 7 hectolitres of strong beer (porter and double beer). Of the under-fermented beers, 100 kilogrammes of malt make 2.5 to 5 hectolitres of good lager beer, 4 to 6 of common lager, and as much as 9.2 of Schank beer. Owing to competition, domestic and foreign, brewers were compelled to drop their prices, and, as an offset, to lighten their beers. The fall in prices, however, has been chiefly in the form of larger discounts to large buyers. It is also noted that prices vary in the same brewery according to the amount ordered, the responsibility of the buyer, competition, and the price of transportation. Average prices were as follows :- In barrels of one hectolitre, highly-fermented beers, common sorts, 6 to 12 marks; better sorts, do., 12 to 18 ; Berlin white beer, 11 to 15,; Graetzer, 13 ; under-fermented Schank, 13 to 17, common lager, 16 to 20; better sorts, 20 to 25.”
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 27 January 1891, page 2.

Interesting that Schank is defined as young beer, sort of like Mild, I guess. Would comme Lager be Winterbier and the finer kind Sommerbier? Or are they Lagerbier and Export?

The quantities brewed from 100 kg of malt give us some idea of the strength of the beers. As I already knew, German top-fermenting beers tended to be weaker than bottom-fermenting ones. One exception being Porter, which was usually brewed to a decent strength. It was also in general cheaper than Lager.

Strange to see Grätzer mentioned by name. It’s price – in the middle of the Berliner Weiss range – seems about right, as they were of a similar strength.

Finally something about Alsace-Lorraine, which had only been German for two decades.

“From Alsace-Lorraine it is reported that the consumption of beer during the fiscal year 1888-89 was 876,640 hectolitres, against 868,462 hectolitres in the preceding year. The decrease in the number of breweries in Alsace-Lorraine is due to the competition of better-arranged breweries in Baden and Bavaria. Hop culture is chiefly carried on in the district of Hagenau, and on a smaller scale near Strasburg, Colmar, Mulhausen, Munster, Sarrburg, and Saargemund. In the first mentioned district 2868 hectares were devoted to hops, against 2462 in the preceding year, when the average production per hectare was 925 kilogrammes.”
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 27 January 1891, page 2.

Munich breweries – led by Spaten – were the first in Germany to brew on a truly industrial scale, beginning around the middle of the century. It was only when Lager spread to the new industrial centres in the North that brewing there was performed on a large scale, notably in Dortmund. And Bavarian brewers began to face serious domestic competition.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Edinburgh last weekend - part two

More of me filling up the blog with dull holiday snaps.

You can thank a good camera for any of them being in focus. It was doing a much better job than my eyes. Must send them back to the manufacturer for repair.

It's an unusual selection of boozers this time. If you can discern a theme, I'd like to know it. I didn't spot one

Dickens Lounge Bar
88 Dalry Road,
Midlothian EH11 2AX.

Athletic Arms
1-3 Angle Park Terrace
Midlothian EH11 2JX.

Benson's Bar
178 Dalry Road,
Midlothian EH11 2EG.

No photo of this one. Some impressive singing inside. Here's a mood shot of the area:

Bert's Bar
29-31 William Street,
Edinburgh EH3 7NG.

Interesting pies. Watched Scotland lose to England in the rugby. No-one seemed that surprised by the result.

 Lovely Lorimer and Clark mirror.

Friday, 20 March 2015

London book signing

Just realised that I've forgotten to remind you of my one-off London event. Where, along with trying to persuade you to invest in my wonderful new book, I'll be sampling the first of my collaboration beers with Peter Hayden and talking about any sort of crap you'd like me to. I'm a bit of a tart that way.

I'm really looking forward to trying the beer, Doctor Brown. It's a Barclay Perkins Brown Ale from the 1920's. (I can't remember the exact year off the top of my head.)

Come along and chat, buy my book and thrust beer upon me. Not necessarily in that order. It's my only planned apopearance in London this year so it may be your only chance to hear just how little of aan East Midlands accent I've retained.

It's on Saturday 28th March, 15:00 to 18:00 at the The Mad Bishop and Bear in Paddington station.

The Mad Bishop & Bear
1st Floor,
Paddington Station,
London W2 1HB.

*The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

San Francisco to San Diego

I'm almost ready to reveal a project I've been dropping hints about for a while. I'll spill the beans as soon as the arrangements are finalised, which should be this weekend.

In the meantime, I've a question for you: where should I visit between San Francisco and San Diego? Anywhere unmissable? Beer-wise, I mean. Somewher I could spend a happy day or two?

I always seem to be busy with the trip after next. It's just a few weeks until my tour of the South.

Cask beer in the 1950’s – hard spiles, soft spiles and ullage

Can you believe it? We’re just about done with this look at the handling to cask beer.

The correct use of spiles is essential to produce cask beer in good condition. Though it seems brewers didn’t 100% agree on what that correct usage was:

“Use of Hard and Porous Pegs. The injudicious use of both hard and porous pegs will soon spoil beer, however well it has been brewed. Although their careful and systematic use may need time, it is well worth it. A hard and fast rule is impossible, and common sense must be the guide. Each brewery even appears to have its own ideas, and to give its own instructions as regards the use of pegs. These instructions may be justified by the peculiar conditions attached to the brewing and storage of its beers.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 259.

Though I case the state the beer arrived in at the pub had an influence on how the spiles were used. A beer that was actively fermenting would need different treatment from one that wasn’t.

Here are some more detailed instructions:

“For our part, we prefer to bore or punch through the half-bored shive of each cask as soon as it is placed on the stillion, and to leave it for a couple of hours without a peg, provided the condition is not violent. If condition is violent, then a porous peg must be inserted at once. If, however, there should only be a slight blow of gas from the peg hole, it will assist the fining to some extent if the peg is left right out for a time. Some slight emission of sludge may take place, and as soon as this has ceased the peg must be inserted further. It is a safe plan to case a hard peg every four or five hours, especially during hot weather, when internal cask conditions change rapidly. If there is only a slight blow of gas, and no emission of beer follows, it may be assumed that the contents of the cask are in good order, and the peg should be replaced at once. A porous peg should be used at the first sign of any fermentation, and not delayed until the beer is moving violently. The porous peg must not be inserted too tightly, otherwise the pores will be compressed and the peg fail to act as desired. This misfortune is often found to have taken place, resulting in the cask movement being unduly prolonged. Portions of hops and yeast, too, will frequently choke the pores, in which case a new peg should be substituted at once. A porous peg must not be allowed to remain in a cask of beer any longer than is necessary, or the contents will be flattened beyond recovery. A peg should be removed from the cask before any beer is drawn by means of a pump, or a vacuum may result which will upset the clarity. The peg must be replaced as soon as the period for trading has expired. There are several patent pegs on the market for use when the beer is being drawn, the idea of many being quite good. Unfortunately, some of them are very difficult to keep clean.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 259.

That all makes sense: while the beer is fermenting you need a soft spile to stop too much pressure building up in the cask. Once the beer has calmed down, you need to seal it with a hard spile to build carbonation. And obviously you need the peg out when serving so there’s pressure on the top of the beer. If air goes back through the tap into the barrel it’s likely to displace sediment at the bottom of the cask.

I assume that a patent peg was one that let in air as required to maintain pressure inside the cask. Like a non-evil version of a cask breather.

Now ullage. The topic we’ve been leading up to.

It is difficult to describe what actually and exactly constitutes ullage. Some people regard it as the first pint or two drawn off to clear the tap, together with the sludge at the bottom of the cask. Others would include beer drawn out of the pipes which has remained in them between each interval of trading, also any waste from overflow when filling tankards and glasses. Whatever the rule about the allowance for ullage may be, we have very strong opinions about the practice of draining sludge, hops and finings from a cask and putting them into one so-called ullage cask. Sooner or later, this cask becomes a receptacle for other undesirable matter. The system is a wrong one which has ill effects winch may not at first sight be apparent. A beer cask is not a cheap article, and its value is much impaired if every drop of moisture is drained from it. The situation is worse if the cask is then turned out into a yard in the hot sun, when the timber will dry out. This misfortune would not take place if the bottoms and sludge were left inside, and it would also be less difficult to clean than a bone-dry cask. For this reason alone we think it would pay any brewery to make a monetary allowance for such ullage. Included in this allowance should be consideration for loss of beer occasioned when beer is used to remove any traces of soda from the pipes. This beer should be put down the drain and not into any cask.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 259 - 260.
I thought ullage was beer that for one reason or other was unsaleable and which was returned to the brewery for landlord to be reimbursed.

“overflow when filling tankards and glasses” will be the contents of drip trays which, as we learned earlier, some returned to the cask.

There wouldn’t be the same problem today in draining all the liquid from as cask, seeing as they are usually metal. Once again you can sense Jeffery’s exasperation with pub landlords who mistreated casks. Better for the brewery to pay the landlord for the gunk left in the cask than have their casks ruined.

I’ve never heard of this practice before, putting slops into its own special barrel:

“Beer which is drained from pipes between each period of service, together with the overflow from tankards and glasses, also any drawn off to ease heavy cask condition, need not be regarded as ullage, but can either be put into a small cask which the brewery will usually supply, fined down and used when bright, or it may be filtered through an efficient filter, and returned to a cask very slowly through a proper spile-hole pipe. In either case, the beer should be used up while it is fresh and sound, and no attempt must be made to sell any which shows the slightest trace of acidity.

Beer which has been allowed to stand in buckets and exposed to the air, so that a white film of mycoderma yeast has formed upon it, must on no account be treated as ullage or put into casks. The drain is the only suitable place for it.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 260.

My guess is that most publicans put such beer back into the cask it came from. Leaving beer standing around in buckets sounds lovely. I’m sure this did go on. And probably still does in less reputable pubs.

We’ve just a little further to go – handling empty casks and cleaning glasses next.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Edinburgh last weekend - part one

Lazy, busy, bored or just not positively arsed? Who knows. My mind is a funny place. I prefer not to open too many cupboards.

New format this time. Not sure why. As I mentioned, there are parts of my head I don't feel comfortable in. Unlike pubs others call dangerous. (We'll come to that in part two.) New format - pub details then snaps.

Ryries Bar
1 Haymarket Terrace,
Edinburgh EH12 5EY.

The Haymarket Bar
11-14a West Maitland Street,
Edinburgh EH12 5DS.

The Mercat Bar and Kitchen
28 W Maitland St.,
Midlothian EH12 5DX.

No pictures of this one. The reason is available on application. One for the kids instead.

Oak Inn
108 Saint John's Road,
Edinburgh EH12 8AX.

3-5 Rose Street,
Midlothian EH2 2PR.

I'll tell you something of beer I drank. There was lots of it. In lots of different colours. Of varying degrees of quality and interest. But I'll not bore you with the details of every stab wound in a day-long knife fight.

OK. I give in. I'll tell you of one stream flowing into the weekend's river of beer. The one in the glass close-up above. That's a Cameron's 150.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1928 Barclay Perkins Export

I'm starting to feel unstoppable, what with weeks of recipes on a Wednesday behind me. You must be impressed. I know I am.

Spotted the theme of these recipes yet? It's not that difficult to discern.

Once again I'm bundling up several of my obsessions in one rucksack: Barclay Perkins, British Lager, the 1920's and lots more. My catalogue of obsessions is getting as long as Santa's christmas card list. Not all of them even beer-related.

As I've told you many times before, Barclay Perkins dove conficently into the Lager pool just after the end of WW I. To show how serious they were they built a brand new Lager brewhouse and brought in a Danish brewer to run it.

Initially they brewed two beers, a Dark Lager loosely based on the Munich style with a gravity of 1058º and a pale Lager called Export which was a bit weaker. Unlike post-WW II British Lagers, these were unashamedly branded as London Lager. Perhaps lingering anti-German sentiment was the reason.

It's another very simple recipe - pilsner malt, grits, Saaz and Goldings hops. Obviously not very Reinheitsgebot. The grits and cereal mash remind me more of a North American recipe. Though the Saaz - Goldings combination is, er, unusual. And one I'd love to try.

I'm not sure how it compares to a German Export. The gravity is a bit lower than I'd expect, but there's decent level of bitterness.

1928 Barclay Perkins Export
pilsner malt 2 row 9.00 lb 78.26%
corn grits 2.50 lb 21.74%
Saaz 60 min 2.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1051
FG 1014
ABV 4.89
Apparent attenuation 72.55%
IBU 36
SRM 3.4
Mash at 158º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48º F
Yeast Wyeast 2042 Danish lager

I've simplified the mash to a single infusion and sparge. Should you wishing gooing the whole decoction hog, this is the original mashing scheme, kicking off with a cereal mash for the grist:

Just about, but not quite finished, with this particular recipe crop.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Output of Berliner Weisse 1885 – 1937

Nowhere near done with Berliner Weisse yet. This time we’ll be looking at how much of it was being brewed.

I’ll warn you: the figures are nothing like complete. For a start, it’s not everyone, just members of the Weissbier Brewers’ Association (Verein der Berliner Weißbierbrauereien). And it doesn’t even have the output for all of those.

It’s not clear whether the figures are for Berliner Weisse or for all beer produced. Though from the names it’s clear that many were specialist Weissbier breweries. So we can assume at least a reasonable amount of those figures really is Weissbier.

According to Methner (quoting Schönfeld) in 1897-98 there were 71 Weissbier breweries making between them 1.3 million hl of Berliner Weisse.* I make that an average of 18,310 hl per brewery. Which is a fairly modest amount. The 15 breweries for whom the output is given for 1885, produced on average 38,043 hl per annum. I think it’s safe to say that included there are most of the larger producers.

Table 18 Weissbier breweries that founded the Verein der Berliner Weißbierbrauereien E.V. (on the attendance list there is no date!)
Nr. Firm Output year of closure
1885 1890 1900 **)
1 J. C. A. Richter & Co. Weißbierbrauerei 19,600 18,000 X 1920
2 Berliner Weißbier Brauerei Akt. Ges. vorm. Carl Landré 80,000 86,000 V 1927
3 C. Breithaupt Weißbierbrauerei 96,000 90,000 V 1927
4 Berliner Export Weißbierbrauerei C. & O. Fischer - X 1912
5 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei Julius Boehm 16,750 - X 1906
6 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei „Friedrichstadt" Jul. Borsdorf 12,300 X 1896
7 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei Ed. Gebhardt A.G. 9,900 ca. 30,000 V 1913
8 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei und Malzfabrik Albert Bier 15,400 ca. 15,000 X 1910
9 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei E. Willner - - V 1990/91
10 Gabriel & Jaeger Weißbierbrauerei 70,000 - V 1913
11 Hartmann's Brauerei - X 1914
12 Berliner Weißbierbrauerei Carl Richter - V 1964
13 Weißbierbrauerei vorm. H.A. Bolle A.G. 22,100 47,000 V 1932
14 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei Fiedler & Billep V 1912
15 Berl. Bierbrauerei Act. Ges. vorm. F. W. Hilsebein 68,000 62,000 X 1911
16 A. Landre Weißbierbrauerei 58,000 V 1917
17 S. D. Moewes Weißbierbrauerei 57,000 V 1912
18 Verinigte Berliner Weißbier-Brauereien G.m.b.H. X 1914
19 Rud. Frömchen Weißbierbrauerei - X 1910
20 Christ. Stauch Weißbierbrauerei - - X 1920
21 Berliner Weißbierbrauerei Act. Ges.(vorm. Gericke) 30,000 77,600 X 1911
22 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei Max Füllgrabe X 1920
23 Alb. Laue Weißbierbrauerei 10,000 X 1923
24 Rud. Braun Weißbierbrauerei 5,600 X 1920
25 Berl. Weißbierbrauerei W. Bönnhoff - - X 1906
Total 570,650 380,600
**) v label known x no label known
Die Berliner Weisse, by Gerolf Annemüller, Hans-J. Manger and Peter Lietz, 2008, page 115.

By 1913/14, output of Berliner Weisse had fallen to around 500,000 hl**. But it didn’t stop there. In 1933 just 123,000 hl were brewed and in 1937 117,000 hl.*** By 2010 just 10,180 hl of Berliner Weisse were sold in the off trade****, meaning total output couldn’t have been more than 20,000 or 25,000 hl.

You have to wonder how long the association lasted. Because a huge percentage of the member breweries closed between 1910 and 1930. The second table shows when most of those closures occurred. Though care needs to be taken. Breithaupt and Landré are shown as closing in 1927, whereas in fact they merged. In reality, Breithaupt produced Berliner Weisse until 1968.

Weisssbier brewery closures by decade 
year closures %
1890-1899 1 4.00%
1900-1909 2 8.00%
1910-1919 12 48.00%
1920-1929 7 28.00%
1930-1939 1 4.00%
after WW II 2 8.00%
Total 25 100.00%

Not sure where we’re going next. Either some more tables or more detailed descriptions of brewing methods.

* “Über die Aromabildung beim Berliner Weissbier unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Säuren und Estern” by Frank-Jürgen Methner, 1987, page 2.

** "Zur Geschichte des Berliner Brauwesens" by Karl Bullemer, 1963 page 15.

*** "Die Herstellung obergärige Biere und die Malzbierbrauerei Groterjan A.G. in Berlin" by A. Dörfel, 1947 page 3.

**** Deutscher Brauer Bund.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Cask beer in the 1950’s –Secondary Fermentation

Whoever knew handling cask beer was such a complicated process? Anyone with half a brain should realise. That not everyone does is the cause of crap cask.

The following stuff about secondary fermentation – the good and the bad kind – is revealing:

“Secondary Cask Fermentation. In dealing with this subject, we wish our readers to separate in their minds a perfectly usual secondary fermentation from a violent fret which may be the outcome of wild yeast; or may be due to the beer having been insufficiently fermented before racking, to the presence of too much yeast in the beer as racked, or to the use of too fermentable a priming in warm weather. So far as is possible, the brewer arranges for a secondary movement, which is necessary for the development of condition in the cask, to take place in the brewery. There may be occasions when, owing to an unusual rush in the trade, this secondary fermentation may not have taken place in the brewery. It will then take place in the cellar of the licensed house. Indeed, we, personally, prefer to see some movement after the beer has been delivered. If properly regulated and controlled, this movement need give no cause for alarm. In the warmer months of  the year it is unusual to find beer without a certain amount of kick in it, after a journey entailing a deal of knocking about.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 257.

So conditioning of the beer – carbonating it through fermentation – was supposed to happen in the brewery? Though I see Jeffery prefers some fermentation – or “movement”, as he call it – to continues in the pub. I can understand that you wouldn’t want too violent a fermentation in the cask.

I have to smile about wild yeast being a possible cause of a faulty secondary fermentation. A 19th-century brewer’s idea of a secondary fermentation would necessarily been the result of something other than Saccharomyces. Though they didn’t actually understand the mechanics of the process until Brettanomyces was discovered.

Here’s how to handle a secondary fermentation in the pub:

“When a secondary fermentation develops, much C02 gas will be generated. Unless it is allowed to escape by the judicious use of porous pegs, the beer will become super-saturated, and difficult to control. The situation can be eased by drawing off a pint or two, a procedure which will save loss, as the beer may be placed in another cask and used. A normal secondary fermentation can last about 24 to 36 hours, after which time the cask should be pegged up tight. The beer should be allowed to settle and regain its condition. If served before condition has been regained, and the beer is still thick, the flavour will be much impaired.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 257.

Soft spiles – what a wonderful invention. I wonder when they were first introduced? A hard spile is pretty obvious, but a soft spile is a more subtle device. This is quite good advice about the use of the two types of spile.

“Should fermentation persist, and become even more violent, in spite of efforts to reduce that condition, it is advisable to consult the brewer. It may possibly be that a fret has occurred due to the presence of wild yeast.

Violent Cask Frets. Violent frets are usually due to the presence of wild yeast, and may be distinguished from the ordinary secondary fermentation by the persistence and violence of the movement. We have known them to last for a week or even longer, during which time an immense amount of gas will be generated. This gas can and must be released by the careful use of porous pegs, which should be replaced from time to time. Pores are liable to get clogged with yeast, when the peg will cease to function. There will also be a tendency for beer to flow from the peg, causing loss, so that it is advisable to draw off a pint or two to prevent this occurring.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 257 - 258.

Surely the correct procedure would be to return the cask to the brewery as ullage? If the beer is infected with wild yeast, it’s going to taste like shit. What’s the point in messing around trying to rescue it?

This is what you wouldn’t want as a brewer – wild yeast rampaging through your brewhouse:

“Infection with wild yeast is most likely to have been present in the beer when it left the brewery, although carelessness in handling in the house may be responsible. If infection is fairly widespread throughout a particular gyle, the cause should be sought in the brewery itself. The detection and avoidance of this infection is dealt with in the next chapter. If only occasional casks show the trouble, then it is probably due to infection from the cask and the remedy is to be found in more stringent cask treatment. Casks which have been returned with serious wild yeast infection should be specially treated before being put into service again.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 258.

Wooden casks must have been more prone to infection than modern metal ones. Wood is pretty porous and offers plenty of hiding places for something as determined as Brettanomyces. Personally, I’d burn an infected cask rather than try to rescue it through special cleaning.

Here’s a glimpse of what this whole series has been leading up to:

“One possible source of trouble which may arise in the house itself is caused by the return to cask of overflow from the pumps and drainage from pipes. It is quite a usual practice for this to be filtered and returned to cask. In many cases the beer is strained through a cloth in the funnel and the cloth receives merely a perfunctory wash out afterwards. This is asking for trouble. The beer should be filtered through a clean filter paper taken from a pack which is kept in a clean, closed box and of course only used once. The beer should be quickly dealt with and not left lying about in open buckets. Any receptacles and funnels used should be kept scrupulously clean and preferably sterilized by a suitable antiseptic. It would be preferable if such beer could be returned to a special cask and returned to the brewery as ullage, but most breweries consider this to entail unnecessary waste.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 258.

It’s that one little phrase “It is quite a usual practice” that caught my attention. Tales of slops being returned to casks have been kicking around as long as I’ve been drinking. But trying to find out how true they were was difficult. Unsurprisingly, landlords weren’t that keen on revealing the truth. This implies that it was pretty standard practice.

Isn’t this what I just said?

“A fermentation due to wild yeast is generally succeeded by a period of extreme flatness. The cask should be kept under a hard peg. After a time, the addition of a small amount of extra finings will generally result in the beer clearing satisfactorily. Flavour can never be as originally intended, however, and it will always drink very thin. It is far better to return such a cask to the brewery than to attempt to use it.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 258.

Too right – send infected beer back to the brewery. Drinks thin, eh, infected beer? I wonder if that was the reason many beers in 1920’s London (at least according to Whitbread) drank thin? Were these beers infected? I can see why an infected beer would drink thinner. The wild yeast would have chewed its way through material which wasn’t meant to be fermented.

Ullage next. It’s going to be great fun.