Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Whitbread's Ales in 1955

I've had this post for a while. It's not been posted yet because I noticed some more stuff about Brown Ale. In particular, what Whitbread got up to in WW II.

I have the first results from my archive trip this week. A comparison of Whitbread's Ales in 1955.

Since I got back from London, I've been thinking a lot about Brown Ale. I lead such an exciting life. Whitbread's postwar logs are very revealing about Brown Ale. Maybe I've been a bit hasty.

I do like Whitbread's logs. Much easier to understand than some of the others. Maybe it's just because I've got used to them. I probably wouldn't have spotted this straight way in Truman's of Barclay Perkins logs. It's something about Brown Ale.

Whitbread started brewing a beer called Double Brown in the 1920's. It was pretty strong, at around 1054º. Quite heavily hopped, too. Not at all what you would expect from a Southern Brown Ale. Sometime in the 1930's they introduced a second, weaker Brown Ale. I'm not exactly sure when or at what OG, because it doesn't appear in the brewing records. I've seen it in their price lists, but nowhere else. The first gravity book entry for it is 1934, when it had an OG of 1037.9º. In 1946 it was a pretty pathetic 1029.2º.

So I was pretty excited when I spotted a beer called FB in the 1955 logs. Why didn't it turn up before? I can think of two explanations. It could have been brewed at another brewery they owned. It could have been their Mild bottled. In the 1930's, Whitbread X was around 1036º. In 1946 Whitbread's XX Mild was just 1027.6º. Both are a couple of degrees weaker than Forest Brown. Could they have just been adding primings to the Mild before bottling, boosting it's OG a bit and making it sweeter? I'm not sure where I could look to check.

See what you make of their 1955 Ales:

Notice the two Brown Ales? Pretty different, eh? Forest Brown is clearly just a slightly stronger version of their Mild. In the logs there are brews of the Best Ale and Forest Brown that have exactly the same quantities of exactly the same ingredients. Just slightly more water in the Best Ale.

But what about Double Brown? It's a funny one. It was brewed from very similar ingredients to the PA. The only difference was a touch of chocolate malt in DB and some crystal malt in PA. And the sugar in DB was dark. Surprisingly, it's much more heavily-hopped than the PA. The PA isn't hopped any more than the Mild, which is a bit odd.

And the IPA - the most highly-attenuated and with the most hops.

I'm still trying to work out exactly what all this tells me. Certainly that there were two very different types of Brown Ale. One that was effectively bottled Mild and one that wasn't.


Kristen England said...

Hmmm...this looks weird to me. The Double brown is no where near the 150 EBC as stated for the ingredients you list. Actually the Mild and FB look off quite a bit also. The garton #3 is about 150EBC or so itself. There is nothing else thats listed in these guys that indicates anything having to do with the color.

Ron, in the extra additions section, do you see any colorant or caramel (E150) added or the like?

Ron Pattinson said...

Kristen, the Double Brown, in addition to 32 cwts. Garton No. 3 has 9 cwts of Hay "M". It only appears in the grists of dark beers, such as Best Ale and DB, not in IPA or PA. My guess is that Hay "M" is a proprietary sugar with a lot of colouring properties.

Kristen England said...

Hmmm...where have I seen the 'M' sugar before. Wasn't it in the info you posted before about the sugars?

zythophile said...

Forest Brown, as I think I've mentioned here before, was named for the Forest Hill brewery in South London. t/o by Whitbread in 1924, which specialised in "bright" (filtered) bottled beers, a technology Whitbread wanted to acquire. Whitbread closed the Forest Hill brewery but in 1927 it took over Frederick Leney's brewery in Wateringbury, Kent, which it used as a specialist export/bottled beer brewery, I believe - quite possibly Whitbread bottled FB in Wateringbury. Kent County Council has their archives ...