I love having theories. Finding out what a pile of crap they are is almost as much fun as coming up with them in the first place.
From my recent posts it's easy to guess my current reading matter: the Whitbread gravity book. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the most important source I've found on British beer in the immediate postwar years. It fascinates me.
Suddenly, I'm able to flesh out the beers behind those old labels. J Hole & Co.'s Strong Ale. I have a reproduction of that on my landing. The label gives no clues to the character of the beer, other than that it was "strong", which in British terms could mean anything from 4% ABV upwards.
I'd been hoping to find some Newark beers in the gravity book. Especially ones from Hole's. That's where I had my very first proper job, way back in 1975. Because the brewery had stopped brewing cask ale before the appearance of the first Good Beer Guide in 1973, it's difficult to find out any details of their beers. It took a good deal of digging to even unearth the OG of their biggest seller, AK Bitter. (Yes, AK Bitter. Despite what may have been written about AK being a Light Mild - "Mild Ale" by David Sutula comes to mind - AK was historically a Light Bitter. Of the dozens of beers I've found called AK, only McMullen's has ever claimed to be a Mild.)
Hole's Strong Ale. OG 1080.7, FG 1021.5, colour 9 + 40, 7.4% ABV, 73.36% attenuation. Brown, strong and reasonably well-attenuated. It's a start.
Sorry, I've wandered off-topic again. Imperial is the title, isn't it?
"The term 'imperial' properly only belongs to imperial stout. The name derives from the fact that it was first brewed exclusively for Catherine The Great." Sounds like me, doesn't it? Having a go at the overuse of the word Imperial in the USA. Actually, it's a quote from Garrett Oliver. It sounded like a pretty reasonable statement to me, when I first read it. So good, that I started repeating it. Historically, Imperial was only used to refer to Stouts, wasn't it?
Errr, not totally. Here are some of the "Imperials" I've found in the Whitbread gravity book:
It shows a somewhat eccentric use of "Imperial" in the 1950's. Calling a Stout of around 1040 - like the Bent's and McEwan's - seems a little bit of an exaggeration. Imperial Barley Wine and Imperial Strong Ale, on the other hand, look more like overkill.
No Imperial Milds or Imperial Pilseners yet, but I'm loathe to completely rule them out . . . Let's wait until I've gone through all the entries in the gravity book. I'm up to entry number 902. Only another couple of thousand to go.