Monday, 24 September 2007

Guinness 1896 - 1982

I used to enjoy the occasional bottle of Guinness, when it was still bottle-conditioned. A cracking beer, though I never realised how short a time it had been brewed to that strength, 1042.

This may be starting to sound like a broken record, but before WW I Guinness was a very different beer. At least the Extra Stout was. Foreign Extra Stout is still brewed to much the same gravity as 150 years ago. Few today realise that Extra Stout and Foreign Extra Stout used to be basically the same beer. The only difference was that the Foreign version was more heavily hopped and matured for longer, which meant that it was more attenuated and slightly stronger.

Two world wars have transformed the standard Stout into a totally different beer, while, in many respects, time has stood still for Foreign Extra Stout.

Modern style-obsessives classify standard Guinness as a "Dry Stout". But how long has Guinness fitted that profile? I suggest not very long. If you look at the table below, you'll see that there was a significant change in the degree of attenuation in 1950. Before that date it was in the range 72-75%. After 1950, it increased to between 81% and 86%. That must have had an impact on the character of the finished beer.

The normal story goes that English breweries made Sweet Stouts while Guinness and other Irish breweries brewed the stylistically different Dry Stout. Yet, if we look at English examples from the 1940's, some have a similar degree of attenuation to pre-1950 Guinness.

So is Dry Stout just another invented style? Probably.


hey_kevin said...

Well, that and all of the evidence of using roast barley in porters and stouts of all strengths. Thats always been the dogma that I've heard for dry stout, well that and the use of flaked barley, do you have any ideas about the use of flaked barley in both guinness and/or other breweries?

Ron Pattinson said...

Kevin, what's interesting about London is how much Porter/Stout grists varied from brewery to brewery. But one thing I've yet to see is in a brewing log is flaked barley.

I just did a search to see it there's a Guinness archive. It seems that there is and you can email enquiries to them. I've asked them about Porter and Stout grists in the 19th century. I'm not sure how much luck I'll have, but I can try.

If they do have their brewing logs in the archive I would be very tempted to make a quick trip to Dublin to have a look. It would answer so many questions.

I don't know if you're interested in lager. This weekend I went to the Amsterdam archive and found some brewing records from Heineken. God knows when I'll have time to look at them properly, but I do have them.

Lachlan said...

I'd definitely be interested to see some Guinness grists/recipes from the 19th century if you can get your hands on them.

The subject at tonight's BJCP class is Scottish and Brown Ales. The Mild guidelines seem quite reasonable to me; not so sure about Scottish 60/-, 70/- and 80/- and Northern and Southern Brown Ales though... Just thought you'd like to know. ;)

Ron Pattinson said...

Lachlan, I'm hoping to get a reply from the Guinness archive. Knowing their grists would answer a lot of questions. Obviously I'll publish anything I discover in my blog.

There's a great deal of fantasy involved in Scottish beer style. 60/- is indistiguishable from Dark Mild (if you can find one - they are virtually extinct). 70/- is basically Bitter, 80/- Best Bitter. One day I plan looking at some Scottish brewing logs to disprove the crap usually spoken about Scottish ales using far fewer hops than their English counterparts. It might have been true in the 1700's, but I doubt very much if it was still the case in the 1800's. OK, they don't grow hops in Scotland. But they don't grow them in most of the UK. In any case, by the end of the 19th century a large proportion of the hops used in Britain were imported. The Scottish brewing industry, centred around Edinburgh which has easy access to the sea, would have been well placed to use imported hops.

As far as I can tell the "Northern Brown Ale" style has only ever consisted of a handful of beers - Newcastle Brown, Double Maxim, Sam Smith's and a couple of others. All from the North East except for the Sam's. The "Southern" style was brewed everywhere else, including most of the North of England. I'm quite interested in Brown Ale. There seems to have been a type of strong Brown Ale, Double Brown, that appeared between the wars. You can see an example (DB) in the Whitbread beers I posted about a couple of days ago. The Barclay Perkins version, Doctor Brown, was sweetened with something called "sweet" on the brewing logs. I assume it was something like sacchyrine that doesn't add fermentable material.

Ron Pattinson said...

Lachlane, this is the reply O got from the Guinness archive:

"The Guinness Archive does preserve the historical records of the
Guinness Brewery and St. James's Gate, including past brewing records. However, as these brewing records are still used by the brewers of today to inspire new recipes, the brewing records are not available for the
public to consult."

I can't say I've noticed any evidence of Guinness being "inspired" by their old brewing records.

The Beer Nut said...

They're probably talking about the Brewhouse Series. Oh, and lying.

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer nut, if I could take a look I'm sure I could come up with some good candidates for revival. Sadly, those in charge of the brewery seem clueless. Bottle-conditioned Foreign Extra Stout - I'm sure it would be wonderful and they wouldn't have to do hardly anything to produce it. What about 1930's Guinness at 1055º? I'm sure plenty would like to try that. So many missed opportunities.

Lachlan said...

In case you haven’t seen it, check out this article about Scottish beers - It’s great.

It’s funny that you say the “Northern” style only has a handful of examples, because I always assumed that the “Southern” style was written for one beer (Mann’s Brown Ale). When you look at the “classic examples” in the BJCP guidelines there are only two examples: Mann’s and a beer that is also given as an example of a “Northern Brown”!

Anyway I don’t really object to any of these styles as such, it just baffles me that there are so many British styles defined by tiny variations (Bitter/Best Bitter/ESB/English Pale Ale being my favourite example) yet there is only ONE style for the entire Czech Republic! I can only presume this is a hangover from Jackson’s original writings.

Ron Pattinson said...

I had seen theat article. It's by Silk Tork isn't it?

The sweet, weak sort of Brown Ale was made by most regional breweries. Harveys is typical. I guess the guys who wrote the BJCP guidelines have only ever tried a couple of English Brown Ales.

Looking ar whitbread, they had two Brown Ales between 1933 and 1950 - the weak Forest Brown (that sounds like a "classic" Southern type and the more powerful (and quite heavily-hopped Double Brown). In 1933 it had an OG of 1055. I've just published details about it on the post above.

That's one of my main problems with the BJCP guidelines - they are so obviouslt based on Michael Jackson's work. He was just describing what he found in the 1970's. He didn't really dig that far into the past. It's pretty obvious that the BJCP have done no real research at all. German and Czech beers only made sense to me when I looked at their history.

It is a joke that they have a single Czech style. I reckon that there are at least 16. My analysis of Czech styles is the most detailed I've ever seen:

Lachlan said...

I really like how the Czechs do styles. I always just mentally picture a table with gravity on one axis and colour on the other. (Plus pšeničné.) Too easy!

I'm not sure it's entirely Jackson. It seems to me the styles are based entirely on examples available in bottles in the US, so some styles are obviously quite limited. I guess Jackson has (had?) a fair influence on what gets imported so it's all intertwined.

I think that approach works pretty well if you're based in the US (the fact that many bottled beers suck notwithstanding obviously). It's a bit tough when you're trying to do a BJCP course anywhere else and you can't get examples of half the styles they have...

Guess I need to check out some of these brown ales. Someone joked that the style guidelines for Northern and Southern Browns were more like tasting notes (for Newcastle and Mann's) than style guidelines. I liked that.

Ron Pattinson said...

Lachlan, I've made a table of Czech styles like you describe. I see it like a periodic table.

I think you're right about the BJCP guidelines being very much written around what's available in the US. That's why they are so poor for some styles.

The more I look back in time, the more it looks as if Mann's and Newcastle Brown Ales are at opposite ends of a continuum. I'm sure there used to be lots of beers that fell somewhere in between these two.

I may post today about Whitbread bottled beers where you'll be able to see their Forest Brown and Double Brown. I think it was Martyn Cornell who wrote an article in What's Brewing a year or two ago about the Double Brown style. I wonder if I can find it? (My back issues of What's Brewing are lying all around my living room.) I don't think anyone currrently brews one.

Lars Marius Garshol said...

"So is Dry Stout just another invented style? Probably."

What do you mean by that? In other words: why do you think it's "invented", and what's an "invented style", anyway?

Ron Pattinson said...

By invented style, I mean one that has been coined by beer writers but has no historical basis. The term Dry Stout was, I'm pretty sure, first used by Michael Jackson. It's not a term that was used either by brewers or drinkers before then.

I can see why he used it - to differentiate between the type of sweet Stout brewed by English breweries and beers like Guinness. But this split only appeared after WW II as English breweries reduced the number of Stouts they brewed and chose to keep the sweet one.