Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Whitbread beers in 1933

It's always worth looking at the inside covers of brewing logs. They often contain some dead handy bits of additional information.

The Ale log for the years 1932-1936 is a good example. Glued to the inside front cover are two price lists. One from before the lowering of beer duty in April 1933, the other after. They are an absolute goldmine of information, especially as they relate directly to the beers in the logs.

Take a look for yourself:

I've combined the information in the price list with details from the logs to come up with this table:

You'll notice how slim the publican's profit was - just 25% to 30%. That's much less than today.

Something that is only apparent by looking at both the price list and the logs together is the nature of Whitbread's Light Ale. Just looking at the price list I would have assumed it was a pale beer. Having seen the log, I know that not only was it dark but that it was party-gyled with the X. It's not what is usually known at Light Ale (bottled ordinary Bitter), but is in fact a low-gravity bottled Mild. Only looking at the log, I would have assumed it was a draught beer.

It has been argued that Pale Ale and Bitter are not synonyms but two distinct styles. This price list shows that, for Whitbread at least, they were exactly the same thing. The name Pale Ale was used within the brewery, Bitter in the pub.

As a special bonus, I've produced a detailed breakdown of the ingredients and brewing process (as much as I can understand it). It may be of interest to homebrewers. Sorry about the lack of final gravities - they aren't in the log. The ones quoted in the table above come from 1940 (courtesy of the Whitbread gravity book). If there's any interest, I may do some more. It takes lots of my valuable time (I could be watching Hollyoaks). Tell me if I should continue. Oh yes, you may need to scale down the quantities a bit.


hey_kevin said...


The last column is a repeat of the London Stout, rather than the extra stout.

I think its a little crazy that I spent some time yesterday calculating the profit margin on the mild as the vessel size increased. Do you have any idea how much waste a pub would have in a pin vs a barrel? I know a pin is 4.5 gallons, how many pints would a pub get out of it? And the same for a barrel. The margin on a pin was only 20% if you got 35 pints out of a pin.

This is great info when put together. Maybe if I'm feeling frisky I can whammy out approximate IBU calculations for some of these beers. I was doing some calculations with 4.5 alpha hops splitting the hops in half. %50 at 60 minutes and %50 at 30 For the whitbread pale ale in 1933 comes out to be something in the vicinity of 64 IBUs according to promash. The only old brewing text I have is DeClerk, and he cites some alpha percentages from the 1930s as being in the 4.5 range for kent goldings. Now that doesn't account for storage/aged hops, but even if you're looking at 50-75 of current alpha, these are really bitter beers.

hey_kevin said...

The 1933 X works out to be 27.9 IBUs if I use effective alpha acid of 3. I kind of pulled that number out of the air, but its 2/3 the alpha of average 4.5 for kent goldings. That's plenty hoppy.

hey_kevin said...

DeClerk also mentions splitting the hops into three portions, one at 90 min, one at 60 and one at 30. But that wasn't specifically English, so I don't really know what to assume for kettle additions. If you boil 1.12 lbs of hops (3% alpha)for 60 min, (one barrel batch) that works out to ~36 IBUs. I know they boiled for a long time, but don't really know when they added the hops.

Ron Pattinson said...

Kevin, I've put the London Stout in twice because I wasn't sure what the draught Stout was. The Extra Stout doesn't seem to be in the price list.

How much did they get out of a barrel? It's difficult to say. For one thing they were still wooden and not necessarily all exactly the same capacity. My guess is that at least a pint or two would be wasted whatever the barrel size. It should be possible to find out because I can't imagine it's changed much over the years.

The IBU calculations are interesting. I don't have the software to do that. You can count on at least some of the hops being more than 12 months old. The figures you quote for the X look like a reasonable guess.

I have a British brewing manual from 1940. I'll look to see what it says about when the hops were added to the boil.

I need to go through the 1933 logs again to pull out the exact weights of malts and sugar used and a few other details. Combined with what I already have and the things you are calculating, it should give pretty detailed specs of these beers. Thanks very much for helping out.

Ron Pattinson said...

Right, I've now had a look in "Brewing Processes" by H. Lloyd Hind published in 1940. In the section entitled "Addition of Hops" on page 685 it states:

"They [hops] may all be added at once, shortly after the commencement of boiling, or in two or three portions at different times. Thus, one half may be added at the start, with one quarter after boiling for half an hour or an hour, and one quarter half an before turning out."

The DB was boiled for one hour, IPA and PA 1.5 hours, LA and X 1.25 to 1.5 hours, XXX 1.25 and 2 hours.

DB, XXX, IPA and PA used hops from the 1930, 1931 and 1932 harvests. LA and X hops from 1929, 1930 and 1932.

hey_kevin said...

The brewing (and calculating software) I use has a hop storage function. It suggests that 45% of alpha is lost in 6 months at 68F for Kent Goldings. Hops wouldn't have been stored cold, would they?

Ron Pattinson said...

I guess hops would have been stored at ambient temperature. Which in Britain isn't going to average anywhere near 68 degrees.

It's a pity I don't have volume I of H Lloyd Hind's work; it covers raw materials and probably says how they should be stored.

The usual place to store ingredients in a British tower brewery is at the top. As they knew they would be storing some hops for long periods, I suppose they would try to keep them cool. I'll see if I can find anything in another book.

BTW, Loftus (writing in the 1860's) says hops are better when at least 6 months old.

I'm working on the grists for the 1933 Whitbread beers. Now I've worked out that 224 pounds of sugar is the equivalent of a quarter of malt, I'm away. The proportion of sugar is quite scary.

hey_kevin said...

Would this have been cane sugar from the West Indies? I don't know how that would end up being cheaper than English barley. Corn I could see from an economic standpoint, but sugar? That puzzles me. As do the astronomical sugar proportions. I need to get my head around the mashing schedule as well. I see that its in the Loftus (or was it one of the others?) about mashing. If you mashed at what seems like a normal temp, 70c/150F, with all of that sugar you'd end up super thin, at least thats the way I would suspect.

I'm definitely going to do the Barclay Perkins 4d ale with all of the sugar. Do you have any idea the form of corn they used? Whether it was grits or flaked?

Ron Pattinson said...

The sugar would have been English made from sugar beet. At least some of the sugar was added in the copper, sometimes all of it.

The DB log I'm looking at has a mash with what looks like a strinking heat of 155º and a mashing temoperature of 146º followed by a sparge with water at 175º. There's a second sparge with a striking heat of 165º, mashing temperature 157º.

PA, IPA, X and LA were mashed at a higher temperature - strike 154º - 156º, mash 149º. XXX at 155º/148º.

I would guess flaked maize.

Ron Pattinson said...

I looked in another brewing book - "The Principles and Practice of Brewing" Sykes and Ling, 1907. That talks (page 207) about experiments in the cold storage of hops. Kept dry and cold (40º - 45º F) hops "could be kept without deterioration, for any reasonable time". These were only experiments, but it was 25 years earlier than we're looking at.

hey_kevin said...

That would give more body than the single step infusion I was thinking of.

I didn't tell you this, you'll find this interesting--The mild and the light ale are the same beer! The difference in hopping rates is fixed by the difference in gravity. Unless I read it wrong, the only difference is volume. Do the logs suggest it was parti-gyled?

This is super interesting!

Ron Pattinson said...

Sorry, didn't I mention that the LA was party-gyled with the X? Whitbread were particularly keen on it. In some years there's hardly ever just one beer made from a mash.

It makes my life much harder. It's much easier to see what's going on when a single beer is made. Barclay Perkins logs specify what amount of hops went into each beer. Whitbread's don't. I have to make some complicated calculations to try to sort it out.

1933 is one of the easiest years. The only Ale that I can't find brewed alone is LA.

A Light Ale that was dark - I've never seen any mention of that anywhere. Is it just an oddity or were there others?

hey_kevin said...

Do the logs suggest that it was boiled separately? You get the correct amount of hops/barrel when you simply dilute the mild to the appropriate gravity. They could have just added water to the mild to make the LA.

Were "Forest Ales and Stout" and "Family Ales and Stout" From another brewery? I see them listed much the same as Bass and Guinness (though much cheaper.) Any ideas?

Ron Pattinson said...

These things can get complicated. In the log of the LA/X brew (sounds like an airport), there are four boils.

I think I'm starting to understand the mashing bit better now.

- Initial mash, 99 barrels of water, 149º for 30 minutes

- 15 barrels of water added to mash, 149º for 1.5 hours

These two from the first wort.

- 90 barrels of water added, after mixing with grains 158º

This forms the second wort. Multipy this by two because of the twin mash tun configuration. So four worts.

After boiling, the two first worts are combined to give 367 barrels at 1049.8º, the two second worts to give 375 barrels at 1021.5º. These two were presumably blended in the correct proportion to get the two beers at the right gravity. If you look in Loftus, you'll see a description of this sort of calculation.

I assume Forest Brown and Stout are from another brewery owned by Whitbread as there is no reference to them in the logs. I was transcribing entries for Whitbread today from the gravity book. There are loads of analyses of Forest Brown and the brewery listed is Whitbread. There are also analyses of Mackeson Stout from four different breweries (this was in the 1950's) - Hythe, Chiswell Street, Kirkstall and Stockport.

The Whitbread gravity book has some weird stuff in it. I noticed today entries for Ballantine's beers from 1939.