Sunday, 23 October 2016

Shepherd Neame grists in 1956

Time to look at what went into Shepherd Neame’s beers in 1956. What fun that’s going to be.

Let’s kick off with their Pale Ales. Because they’re the simplest. Just pale malt and the merest hit of malt extract. All-malt beers were extremely rare in Britain in the 20th century. I’m trying to think of any others I’ve come across, but am stumped. Just about every beer, other than Guinness, contained some sugar.

Do you see what else is missing? Crystal malt. Most Milds and Brown Ales would have contained some. This is the fun of looking at new breweries. Every so often there are real surprises. Like the malts Shep’s used. Who would have guessed that the four would be pale malt, black malt, wheat malt and oat malt? There’s only one dark malt and that was only used in one beer.

Talking of which, the black malt wasn’t mashed to the Stout but added during the boil. There’s a very good reason for that: the Stout was parti-gyled with BA. The first wort was used for BA and the second wort, which had the black malt and all the sugar added to it, formed the majority of the Stout. Robert Younger did something similar. Presumably they were forced to brew this way due to low demand for Stout. They didn’t need as much as a full brew length.

The Strong Ales, Brown Ales and – weirdly – LDA – all have the same recipe and were parti-gyled together. They contain about 19% sugar, which is towards the high end. 15-20% was pretty normal. No. 3 is what you would expect. No idea what Wortex is, other than a type of proprietary sugar.

The hops all came from their own gardens.

Shepherd Neame grists in 1956
Beer Style OG pale malt black malt wheat malt malted oats no. 3 sugar malt extract caramel Wortex UKCS cane hops
Br Brown Ale 1026.3 76.51% 4.03% 13.42% 0.67% 5.37% Kent
DB Brown Ale 1029.4 76.51% 4.03% 13.42% 0.67% 5.37% Kent
MB Mild 1030.2 88.11% 5.59% 0.70% 5.59% Kent
LDA Pale Ale 1029.4 76.51% 4.03% 13.42% 0.67% 5.37% Kent
BB Pale Ale 1030.2 98.63% 1.37% Kent
BA Pale Ale 1032.4 98.63% 1.37% Kent
PA Pale Ale 1035.5 98.63% 1.37% Kent
SXX Pale Ale 1039.3 98.63% 1.37% Kent
SS Stout 1026.3 74.07% 11.11% 3.70% 1.23% 4.94% 4.94% Kent
AA Strong Ale 1044.3 76.51% 4.03% 13.42% 0.67% 5.37% Kent
ESXA Strong Ale 1052.6 75.50% 3.97% 13.25% 0.66% 6.62% Kent
Shepherd Neame brewing record held at the brewery.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Let's Brew 1932 Lorimer & Clark XXP 8

Here’s another of Lorimer & Clark’s Pale Ales, this time the top of the range 8d one.

You may have noticed something with these pre-war Pale Ales. 6d, 7d and 8d are about the same gravity as post-war 60/-, 70/- and 80/-, respectively. Funny that. I’m still not convinced that 60/-, 70/- and 80/- were ever really the hogshead price of the beers bearing the name. Were they just totally random?

There isn’t much I can say about the recipe that I didn’t bring up when discussing XXP 7. Because their four Pale Ales were all parti-gyled together. So this is just like the XXP 7, but with a little more of everything. Except for the dry hops. All four Pale Ales have the same quantity of dry hops. Odd that. Usually the dry-hopping is proportionate to the strength.

Best Bitter is how I’d describe this. Though with fewer hops than an English version. Er, I’m really running out of stuff to say. Malty, I would guess. Don’t believe me? Brew it up, write in and call me an idiot if it’s different.

1932 Lorimer & Clark XXP 8
pale malt 7.75 lb 77.50%
flaked barley 1.25 lb 12.50%
malt extract 0.50 lb 5.00%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.50 lb 5.00%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1045
FG 1011
ABV 4.50
Apparent attenuation 75.56%
IBU 28
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62.5º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Friday, 21 October 2016

Brewers' Exhibition 1950

It’s an odd thought that the first large beer event in Olympia wasn’t the Great British Beer Festival. Also that beer competitions are nothing new.

EIGHTEEN men with 16,000 bottles of free beer stood in a gallery at Olympia today, at the Brewers' Exhibition.

Almost gloatingly, it seemed to the observer, they raised the bottles to the light and inspected their contents, then had them opened by eager helpers and sipped the contents.

But, to the disgust of the spectators, kept back by uniformed attendants, not a drop was drunk.

The great beer-tasting competition was in progress to decide from where comes the best bottled beer from, north or south. Bottles from all parts of Britain, from 584 different entrants, competed for the honour and there were more from the Empire.

Beer-tasting is a ritual, the chairman of the tasters, Fred J Bearman of Weymouth, stated. "First" he said, "the bottle is lifted to the light to ensure that it is absolutely brilliant. Then it is opened and there come the test for head, aroma, and condition, then the palate takes over.

"Not a drop must drunk. No taster could afford to spoil his palate."”
Leicester Daily Mercury - Monday 02 October 1950, page 7.

Eighteen judges for 16,000 bottles? Though that can’t be 16,000 different beers, it’s still an awful lot. With almost 600 companies entering, there must have been at least a couple of thousand beers. Which is still a lot for eighteen judges to get through. As obviously more than one judge would try each beer.

Though I guess if you aren’t drinking it, you’d be able to get through more. But if you don’t swallow beer, you can’t fully taste it. Especially bitterness on the back end. The use of the word “sip” implies a small taste. I suppose by not drinking they mean not drinking the whole bottle.

Never had uniformed attendants at any beer judging I’ve done. Then again, there wasn’t ever an audience, either.

Here’s a wonderful example of local press homerism:

Brewers' Exhibition
The most typically Scottish stall at the 62nd Brewers' and Allied Traders' Exhibition, which opened this morning, is that of a Glasgow firm which makes labels and show cards for nearly every kind of beverage — alcoholic and non-alcoholic — known to man, and whose designs reach the farthest flung outposts of the world. Gaily decorated in Macdonald tartan upholstery, the stall, which occupied a commanding position in the National Hall at Olympia, is proving a Mecca for the visitors who will throng the hall until the exhibition closes on Friday.

This is the oldest trade show to be held in Britain, and as the years have gone on it has grown in importance. For the first time this year it occupies two halls at Olympia, the Empire Hall and the National. The heavy engineering section is representative of the latest types of brewing and bottling machinery, some of which is exhibited for the first time. Allied industries embrace coopering, brewing ingredients, bar equipment, and materials and machines used in the soft drinks trade.

An important feature is the number of competitions to be judged during this week. They are for the best brew of bottled beer; the best Empire Wine; the best fomented beverages made from apples and pears; and the best barley and hops. Scotland is well represented in the entries, particularly in the grain section, Fife and the Borders being especially prominent.

Other Scottish exhibits include those of an Edinburgh firm specialising in soft drinks and cordials, which has a papier-mache Highlander as a motif; and of two Glasgow firms, one exhibiting refrigerator equipment and the other stationery and labelling devices.”
The Scotsman - Tuesday 03 October 1950, page 4.

Indeed, what could be more Scottish than tartan upholstery and a papier-mache Highlander?

“best fomented beverages made from apples and pears” That would be cider and perry then. Weird to use such a convoluted terms when two simple ones will suffice.

Was it really the oldest trade show? It did start in the 19th century, so it could be true. I’d look it up, but I’m in a bit of a lazy-arse mood.

The show ran 2nd – 6th October, from 10 am to 6 pm and cost half a crown to get in.

You can see how quick some brewers were to show off their awards:

Obtainable in all their Houses at
11d. pre Small Bottle (Public Bar)
Biggleswade Chronicle - Friday 06 October 1950, page 10.

Here’s another:

Another Diploma


in the Bottled Beers Competition at the 1950 Brewers Exhibition, Olympia, London

Yorkshire Evening Post - Wednesday 11 October 1950, page 5.

And another:

Russells' PALE ALE First Prize
Russells' IMPERIAL STOUT Second Prize
Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 18 November 1950, page 2.

I could continue, but I fear it would bore you. I’m yawning as I type.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Shepherd Neame beers in 1956

Last time we looked at Shepherd Neame’s beers from a very grim time, the late 1940’s. With hardly any beers over 3% ABV. Let’s take a look and see what things were like almost a decade later.

In the late 1940’s Shep’s only brewed six beers (I say brewed because I’m sure they marketed more, Brown Ale for example): four Pale Ales, a Mild and a Stout. By 1956 they’d added several more beers, boosting their range to five Pale Ales, two Brown Ales, two Strong Ales, a Mild and a Stout.

Amongst the new beers were two stronger Pale Ales, PA and SXX. Leaving them with what looks like far too many beers in the style. The five only cover a spread of 10 gravity points, 1029º to 1039º. PA is only a little higher in OG than BA was in 1947. It looks like the gravities of both BA and BB were dropped to create room for PA. SXX was slotted in at the top as a new Best Bitter.

Adding a stronger Bitter was common in the early 1950’s. A brewery’s flagship PA would have been knocked down to the mid-1030’s by WW II. When a little more wiggle room was created for stronger beers, many added a new, stronger Bitter. Shepherd Neame must have added SSX and PA between 1947 and 1950. Because they’re not in the 1947 book but are in the 1950 one.

AA is an interesting one. I was wondering what the hell it stood for until I looked at my Whitbread Gravity Book analyses for Shepherd Neame. There’s a beer of 1044º called Abbey Ale. That must be it. You’ll notice that I’ve called it a Strong Ale. Given its strength and colour (8 EBC) it could be a Pale Ale. But it was parti-gyled with their Brown Ales, not their Pale Ales. So I’ve plumped for Strong Ale as style.

Not sure what ESXA might stand for. But it has a similar OG to Bishop’s Finger. Possibly it’s an early version of that. I’m really not sure.

The biggest surprise was seeing two Brown Ales, both under 1030º. I assume DB stands for “Double Brown”, though “Single Brown” or even “Three-quarters Brown” would be more appropriate. I assume that in 1947 their Brown Ale was simply a bottled version of their Mild. So it’s odd that they introduced two new Brown Ales.

The Stout has managed to get even less Stout. In 1956 it was scarcely over 2% ABV, making it look quite Scottish. Though not quite as sweet as those Stouts from north  of the border. When we look at the grist I’ll explain the weird way this beer was brewed. Again quite Scottish, now I think about it.

Shepherd Neame beers in 1956
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermen-tation temp
9th May Br Brown Ale 1026.3 1008.3 2.38 68.42% 4.38 0.52 1.75 1.5 61.5º F 68º F
9th May DB Brown Ale 1029.4 1010.5 2.49 64.15% 4.38 0.58 1.75 1.5 61.25º F 68º F
19th Oct MB Mild 1030.2 1007.2 3.04 76.15% 4.95 0.60 2 1.5 62.25º F 68º F
9th May LDA Pale Ale 1029.4 1010.0 2.57 66.04% 4.38 0.58 1.75 1.5 62º F 68º F
15th Oct BB Pale Ale 1030.2 1006.4 3.15 78.90% 8.82 0.75 2 1.5 1.5 62º F 68º F
15th Oct BA Pale Ale 1032.4 1006.6 3.41 79.49% 8.82 0.81 2 1.5 1.5 62º F 70º F
15th Oct PA Pale Ale 1035.5 1007.2 3.74 79.69% 8.82 0.88 2 1.5 1.5 62.5º F 70º F
15th Oct SXX Pale Ale 1039.3 1009.4 3.96 76.06% 8.82 0.98 2 1.5 1.5 61.5º F 71º F
4th May SS Stout 1026.3 1009.4 2.24 64.21% 1.68 0.23 2 1.5 62º F 68º F
9th May AA Strong Ale 1044.3 1016.9 3.63 61.87% 4.38 0.87 1.75 1.5 60.25º F 70º F
24th Oct ESXA Strong Ale 1052.6 1017.7 4.62 66.32% 5.55 3.67 1.75 1.5 61.75º F 71º F
Shepherd Neame brewing record held at the brewery.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1956 Shepherd Neame MB

It’s a very special beer for a very special day.

For two reasons. Today is my 60th birthday and this beer was brewed on the day that I was born, October 19th 1956. That it’s a Mild just makes it even more appropriate.

In most other respects, it’s not that special a beer. It isn’t particularly strong, though the gravity had increased a tad since 1947. Just about enough to tip it over into intoxicating land. It just manages to scrape in over 3% ABV, usually my bottom limit for bothering.

Shepherd Neame didn’t go for complicated recipes. This one just has a single type of pale malt, a dash of malt extract, No. 3 invert sugar and something called UKCS which must be some type of proprietary sugar. I’ve just bumped up the No. 3 content to allow for this.

At this point Shep’s seem to have only been using hops from their own gardens. At least that’s all that turns up in the photos I have. It makes perfect sense, the brewery being located in Kentish hop country. I am surprised by the modest level of their hopping. I’ve always imagined breweries in Kent being enthusiastic hoppers.

I quite like the fact that it’s such an ordinary beer. One meant for supping by the gallon down the pub with your mates. It seems appropriate for a beer born on the same day as me.

1956 Shepherd Neame MB
pale malt 5.50 lb 84.49%
no. 3 sugar 1.00 lb 15.36%
malt extract 0.01 lb 0.15%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1030.2
FG 1007.2
ABV 3.04
Apparent attenuation 76.16%
IBU 19
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 62.25º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Random Dutch beers (part forty-five)

More Dutch Boks. Not sure how much fun it will be this time, as it's a couple of industrial jobs.

It's been a much quieter week. And this is my second weekend in a row with no travel time to relax. In a beery sort of way.

Despite the name, this is probably brewed at Dommelsch. My joint least-favourite Dutch brewery along with Bavaria.

Hertog Jan Bokbier, 6.5% ABV
It looks the part with a very dark brown colour. Quite an unusual aroma. Which fruit is that? Cherries. Artifical cherry flavour. In the mouth it's sweet and thin, with no discernable bitterness. It's amazing how you can make a beer of 6.5% this blad. It tastes like watered-down cherryade. How bizarre. Not undrinkable, as I'd feared. I've had some real stinkers from Dommelsch in the past.

Both the kids are up and it's only just after 1 PM.

"Do you want to try my beer, Lexie?"

"What is it?"

"Hertog Jan Bokbier."


"What do you think?"

"I don't know. It tastes like it comes out of a barrel."

"Why do you say that?"

"It's a bit woody, sort of. It tastes like the beer they throw into gravy.

"Do you want to try my beer, Dolores?"

"Mmm. It's OK."

It's now Sunday and thebeef joint I picked up in Margate is roaasting in the oven. Even Andrew is back from his mate's. Not looking that lively, mind. And very grey. I can't understand the way these young kids drink to excess. You'd never catch me doing that.

I approach the next Bok with some trepidation. Because despite it being the best-selling Bok, it isn't to my taste.

Grolsch Herfst Bok, 6.5% ABV
I grabbed it in Dirk's yesterday. It can't have cost that much, but I don't remember exactly. Smells of sugar and metal. Really sweet in the mouth, ending with a weird metallic sugariness. Like licking sugar off a cast-iron frying pan. And not in a good way.

"Do you want to try my beer, Dolores?"

"Mm. It's nice that one. Very sweet, but not nasty. Which one is it?"


"It's not as horrible as most of the beers you have me try."

Monday, 17 October 2016

Shepherd Neame beers in 1947

I’ve worked my way through all Shepherd Neame’s beers in 1947. I suppose I should share the details with you.

The six beers are an exciting bunch. Unless you feel like getting tipsy, in which case they wouldn’t be a great deal of use. The strongest is just 3.74% ABV. In fact all of them qualify as genuine session beers, being below 4% ABV.

Having four beers at 1027º is something I’ve not seen before. And all are different styles: Mild, Stout, Light Ale and Light Bitter. I’m particularly impressed by a Stout of that gravity. How the world had changed since the 18th century.

Given the low OG, it’s surprising how high the rate of attenuation is. Quite often you’ll see the FG of low-gravity beers being left quite high, presumably to leave a little body. The AK, at just about 85% attenuation must have been pretty thin. But at least it was just about strong enough to get you intoxicated.

Other defining features: quite high pitching temperatures, though the low OGs partially explain that; quite longs boils at 2 hours; quite a low level of hopping.

To expand on the latter point, Whitbread PA, which had a gravity the same as BA, contained 50% more hops. While their XX Mild, also with an OG of 1027º, contained double the weight of hops that MB did. Whitbread’s beers had between 6 and 9 lbs of hops per quarter, while Shepherd Neame’s were all under 5 lbs.

Shepherd Neame beers in 1947
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermen-tation temp
6th Jan MB Mild 1027.1 1005.5 2.86 79.74% 3.84 0.44 2 2 63º F 68º F
16th Jan LDA Pale Ale 1027.1 1007.2 2.64 73.47% 4.47 0.52 2 2 62.75º F 68º F
15th Jul AK Pale Ale 1027.1 1004.2 3.04 84.69% 4.80 0.53 2 2 2 62.5º F 68º F
6th Jan BB Pale Ale 1031.3 1006.6 3.26 78.76% 4.75 0.61 2 2 62.75º F 68º F
16th Jan BA Pale Ale 1034.3 1006.1 3.74 82.26% 4.70 0.65 2 2 63º F 70º F
10th Jan SS Stout 1027.1 1006.1 2.79 77.55% 4.09 0.49 2 1.83 62.75º F 68.25º F
Shepherd Neame brewing record held at the brewery.

Next we’ll move on to grists.

Shepherd Neame grists in 1947
Beer Style OG pale malt black malt flaked barley malted oats no. 3 sugar WCCS sugar CD JC malt extract hops
MB Mild 1027.1 68.70% 9.16% 9.16% 3.05% 9.92% English, Kent
LDA Pale Ale 1027.1 74.42% 9.30% 15.50% 0.78% English, Kent
AK Pale Ale 1027.1 92.31% 6.29% 1.40% English, Kent
BB Pale Ale 1031.3 85.04% 14.17% 0.79% English, Kent
BA Pale Ale 1034.3 86.90% 12.41% 0.69% English, Kent
SS Stout 1027.1 60.94% 9.38% 9.38% 9.38% 7.81% 3.13% English, Kent, 3lbs hopulon
Shepherd Neame brewing record held at the brewery.

They aren’t the most complicated of recipes. The Pale Ales, with the exception of LDA, were mostly pale malt with some flaked barley and a little malt extract. The other beers all included sugar, some No. 3 invert and some proprietary sugars.

The most complicated grist belongs to the Stout, which has two different types of sugar, the only coloured malt and malted oats replacing flaked barley.

It’s interesting that Shepherd Neame used no crystal malt. I’m not so surprised in the case of their Pale Ales, as it’s only really in the 1950’s that crystal became common in Bitters. But it’s definitely strange that there’s none in their Mild. Whitbread in this period used crystal malt in all of their Ales with the exception of Double Brown.

No surprise that the hops are all English. Shepherd Neame is located in the middle of hop country. Also the UK was self-sufficient in hops in this period. And short of foreign exchange which would have been needed to buy US hops.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Poles and off-licences

It’s strange how often news reports from the past seem to echo the present.

Many today have forgotten that the current influx of Poles into the UK isn’t the first. Large numbers of Poles settled in the UK after WW II, mostly because they didn’t fancy returned to a communist-controlled Poland. I knew vaguely about this, but not the details. I explain some of them after the article.


Morpeth Magistrates on Wednesday granted a request by Edward William Allen, 13 Castle Street, Morpeth, for bottled beer to be sold on the premises known as Morpeth Common Camp Stores. Representing the applicant, Mr. J. Kent told the court that the present residents of Crash Camp were 60 per cent Polish and 40 per cent English.

Since Mr. Allen opened the shop four weeks ago there had been a weekly increase in his sales. He had been approached by both Poles and Englishmen with a view to selling bottled beer. Until Mr. Allen had opened the shop nearly all of the shopping had to done in Morpeth. This meant either walking across fields or going a longer way round by road.

Mr. Kent went to tell the court that the Poles often preferred to drink beer in their own homes rather than going out to public houses. If drink was the cause of trouble in the camp, it would have happened long before now. When questioned by Superintendant Goodfellow, Mr. Allen replied that at present he was under a weekly tenancy. The premises were partitioned off so as allow room for storage, a relative of his also occupied part of the premises. Mr. Allen stated that his sister would take charge of the store while he was elsewhere. The superintendant asked if he thought it would be alright to leave his sister in charge of the stores when 60 per cent of the camp residents were Poles. Mr. Allen said it was alright.

When the superintendant asked the applicant if he knew there were more people in Stobhillgate than at the Crash Camp, Mr. Allen said he knew, but the folk Stobhillgate could visit Morpeth or a public house much more conveniently than those at the Crash Camp.

Mr. Robert Scott Powers, an employee of Morpeth Council who lives at the Crash Camp, took the stand.

He told the court that there were 147 huts in the camp and about 147 families. The greater majority of the families were Polish. There had only been, in Mr. Powers’ opinion, one serious incident at the camp in which the police had to informed. Mr. Powers told the court that the English and Polish families got along well together. but the Poles mostly kept to themselves.

Superintendent Good fellow asked Mr. Powers if he took drink, to which he replied he did. Mr. Powers said he had never tried to order beer, but had recently put in order for mineral waters to be delivered to him from Morpeth. This had been refused because his was in an awkward delivery area.

Superintendant W. Goodfellow said he opposed the application. The huts were only under a weekly agreement and could be terminated at any time. As regards the dwellings they could be done away with at any time the Ministry of Health required.

Mr. Kent reminded the superintendant that most council houses came under agreement where they could be terminated at a week’s notice. It was the Ministry of Works and not the Ministry of Health who had authority to close the camp. This action was not at all probable as alternative accommodation for 500 people could not easily be found.

Supt. Goodfellow continued and stated that the premises in which the beer was proposed to be sold were not suitable. "If Stobhillgate can manage without an off-licence store, then surely the Crash Camp can. If a licence was granted to every 300 inhabitants I don't know what would happen,” said, the Superintendent. Then he continued "If the people at the Crash Camp want beer in their homes they could the same as many other people do and have it delivered.”

The magistrates granted the licence condition that Mr. Allen would undertake only to sell bottled beer.”
Morpeth Herald - Friday 24 February 1950, page 1.

The Crash Camp was a resettlement camp for Poles in a former army camp on the outskirts of Morpeth. It operated between 1947 and 1962 with families living in huts. Eventually they were all rehoused into proper homes. The name Crash is an acronym of one of the army units that had been stationed there: County Regiment of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. There’s a personal account of life in the camp here:

It sounds like it turned into a small Polish town with a chapel, club and community centre. And obviously a licensed grocers, too. The camp was demolished in 1964 and Craik Park is now on the site.

Personally I’m amazed people were still living in army huts in 1962.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Let's Brew - 1947 Shepherd Neame LDA

Now I’ve started I may as well finish the full set of low-gravity Shepherd Neame Pale Ales. And this is the weakest of the set.

In fact, it has the lowest gravity you’ll ever see in post-WW I beers. No-one brewed a beer below 1027º because however low the gravity was, the minimum beer duty was set at 1027º. It made no sense to make a weaker beer as you’d be paying the tax for a 1027º beer anyway. It the late 1940’s you see quite a few beers at this minimum level. Shepherd Neame had three: this, Mild and Stout.

LDA was always parti-gyled with something else. In this case BB, the one step up Pale Ale. Interestingly, this recipe is different from the single-gyle brew of BB in that it contains No. 3 invert sugar. And quite a bit of it: 20% of the grist. Which means the BB from this brew must have been darker in colour.

Or did it? Just had a closer look at the brewing record. It clearly shows that all the No. 3 was in the second copper with the weaker wort. And the BB only had 6 barrels (of 121 in total) from the second wort. Meaning the No. 3 was really only in the LDA. Ah, the joys of parti-gyling.

For some reason LDA is always written in red in the brewing books. Why is that? At first I thought it may have been because it was a bottled beer. But surely the Stout was only bottled, too. And that isn’t written in red ink. Bit of a mystery, that one. Red ink usually indicates something unusual, something that changed in that brew or something that went wrong.

There can’t have been a huge amount of drunkenness in the late 1940’s, judging by the strength of most beers. I doubt anyone over the age of 8 could get pissed on this one.

Almost forgot to tell you what style this is. It’s a Light Ale. LDA usually stands for “Light Dinner Ale” which around this time was shortened to just Light Ale.

1947 Shepherd Neame LDA
pale malt 3.75 lb 67.57%
flaked barley 1.00 lb 18.02%
no. 3 sugar 0.75 lb 13.51%
malt extract 0.05 lb 0.90%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1027.1
FG 1007.2
ABV 2.63
Apparent attenuation 73.43%
IBU 15
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 62.75º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast

Friday, 14 October 2016

London Goose day two (part three)

I’ve been around a lot of breweries in the last few years. To be honest, most of them look pretty much the same: stainless steel kettles, stainless conicals, bourbon barrels stacked in a corner.

The ones that stand out as being very different have one thing in common: they’ve been around a long while and retain lots of old equipment. Which for a historian like me makes them especially interesting. They’re the 3-D reality of what I’ve read in text books.

That’s why I’m so excited to get a look inside Harvey’s. A brewery that, in most respects, is brewing pretty much the same as they did before WW II with equipment that hasn’t really changed since then.  Thirty or forty years ago this wouldn’t have been unusual, even in regional or national breweries.

One of the biggest transformations has been in fermentation vessels. I can count on the fingers of one hand new breweries I’ve visited that use anything other than conical fermenters. Even in these exceptional cases, usually it’s a fermenter or two for special beers, with the bulk of fermentation still taking place in conicals. How much impact has the universal use of conicals had on beer flavour? I suspect a lot.

I’m delighted – but not surprised – that Harvey’s have an old-fashioned fermentation room full of squares and rounds. The squares are indeed almost square and relatively shallow. Inside there are loose devices resembling radiators. Miles Jenner confirms what I suspected: they’re attemperators.

“I prefer loose attemperators because they’re easier to keep clean.” He explains.

I spot another device in a different fermenter, un upturned cone. I know for sure what that is. It’s a parachute, used for removing yeast from the top of fermenting wort. Isn’t this fun? Getting to see all these exotic piece of equipment.

There are fermenters in every phase. Some just cleaned and empty, others full of fiercely fermenting wort, others where the yeast is clearly about done. And everywhere the lovely fresh smell of fermentation. Plus the prickle of CO2 in the nostrils.

We head downstairs to the racking cellar, which is sensibly placed below the fermenters. The beer is run off through the simple expedient of an outlet in the bottom of the fermenter. It doesn’t have any great distance to travel. Not a lot is going on as no casks are being filled today.

On the same floor are the yeast stores. Simply a couple of cooled rooms filled with buckets of yeast. There’s an interesting story about Harvey’s yeast.

They used to get their yeast from a company in Burton that specialised in collecting yeast and selling it on to brewers around the country. When that firm closed in 1957, they had to find an alternative supply. After a bit of experimentation they settled on John Smiths.

Almost 60 years later, they’re still using it. But they haven’t cultured it. They’ve been repitching all that time, for what must be several thousand generations. It’s two strains that work symbiotically. Well, technically three, but we’ll get to that later.

Next Miles proudly shows us his new kegging system. For several years they had no kegging capacity, taking out the old system after the flood. It’s pretty small, the new equipment. Then again the vast majority of their beer is sold in cask form, a staggering 95%. I was going to say that I doubt anyone can match that. Then I remembered Donnington and Hook Norton. It wouldn’t surprise me if cask were a similar proportion there.

Our final stop is the bottling line. Which looks much like any other. Except for the bottles. Harvey’s is the last brewery in the UK to use returnable bottles. I’m amazed to hear that. Returnable bottles are dead common in Holland.

I say the bottling line was our final stop. Final stop before the sampling room, I should have said. It’s a pretty tiny space with a few casks along one wall and a sink. Miles fetches some bottles of Imperial Stout for us to try. Without labels, as they need to know the destination before labelling the bottles. Obviously, ones for the US require different labels with all the US legal requirements on them.

I should remember what Miles tells us about the fermentation. Because I was at his presentation on Harvey’s Imperial Stout in March this year. Harvey’s has a particular and peculiar secondary conditioning. They don’t add Brettanomyces, as you might expect. Instead it’s a third yeast in their pitching blend that’s responsible. It does nothing during primary and during the first nine months in tank it remains dormant. Then all hell breaks loose and there’s a violent fermentation.

The yeast responsible is neither Saccharomyces nor Brettanomyces but Debaryomyces, something I’ve never heard of. It certainly makes a very interesting beer.

Harvey’s have also started making an unaged version of their Imperial Stout called Prince of Denmark. It’s a good bit weaker, much sweeter and without the aged character from the Debaryomyces. But it’s still a cracking drink.

Before we leave, Miles gives some bottles to take with us. Including both versions of the Stout. But we can’t resist diving into their shop on the way out to pick up some more bottles. The others buy other memorabilia, too. But I’m under strict instructions from Dolores: “Don’t bring back any more junk, Ronald.”

We’ve a little while to wait for our train. But handily there’s a licensed buffet on the platform. No interesting beers, so I get us a round of Glenmorangie. “Do you want to drink them here or take them with you?” How civilised.

Despite us travelling against the grain, there’s another scrum for seats. We sit next to a young chap with a bottle of Peroni in front of him. As we’re all brandishing beers, it seems an appropriate place to sit.

After we’ve cracked our beers we get chatting with a woman in her fifties sitting across the aisle. I can see that she’s slightly bemused by our beer obsession. She didn’t even realise there was a brewery in Lewes. We drink a few beers, chat and soon the journey has evaporated.

Back in Victoria, we need to quickly cross town for dinner. Which is with the full Goose Island crew at the Jugged Hare on Chiswell Street. That gets my attention. The home of Whitbread’s brewery, most of which is still standing. The pub must have been a Whitbread house at one time as it’s in the same block as the brewery.

Not that it’s really a pub. Well not most of it. A restaurant really, with a small bar at the front. The food, as you might guess from the name, is mostly game. I have a steak. My third in two days. That’ll be my meat ration for the next couple of months.

It’s been a long and tiring day. But a fun one. I sleep the sleep of the well sated.

The Jugged Hare
49 Chiswell St,
London EC1Y 4SA.
Tel: +44 20 7614 0134