Sunday, 4 January 2009

Bass Pale Ale 1951 - 1993

Here's a continuation of yesterday's post about Bass Pale Ale.

The gravity of draught Bass was gradually whittled away after 1950, falling from 1049.9 to 1043 in 1993. However, for a standard PA, it was still pretty strong compared to other brewery's efforts.


A word about the two bottled Pale Ales, Red Triangle and Blue Triangle. These were essentially the same beer, except Red Triangle was bottle-conditioned and Blue Triangle wasn't. That may account for the higher degree of attenuation in Red Triangle.

I had a question yesterday about the high attenuation of 1901 Dog's Head brand Bass (exported to Asia). Whether this was the result of a bottle-conditioned beer attenuating on a long export voyage. I would suspect that the beer was deliberately fermented out as far as possible before export. One of the advantages of hard, gypsum-rich Burton water was that it enabled brewers to ferment their beers further. High attenuation was seen as a very useful asset to extend a beer's shelf life, there being little fermentable material left for any nasties to start feeding on.

If anyone is interested, the Whitbread Gravity Book volume I has details of many Bass bottled beers, including Princess Ale, Barley Wine (No. 1 Ale) and Imperial Stout (P2). If you want, I could post those tomorrow.

12 comments:

Fatman said...

Some of those finishing gravs look pretty random to me, and some are extremely low. It may well be that blue triangle hadn't been fermented out before bottling, expedience perhaps overcoming technique, but from a brief look at the figures published I'd draw the conclusion that the fermenting, for one reason or another, was conducted with less exactitude than one might have expected.

Can you tell me about the 'acidity' column please? What are the units used here? I'm a tad ignorant and completely baffled.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, thanks. I do recall now that 1800's IPAs were said by many commentators of the day to be dry beers. So possibly they were fermented out before shipment as you suggest, and the same might have applied between the red and blue triangle Bass beers. (If I am not mistaken, Bass for certain periods any used the legend IPA on the label, not always prominently).

I once read that yeast activity in a bottle of beer only continues for a short time after the beer is sent out (a few weeks) and can only raise ABV by a small percentage, so you are probably right for that reason alone.

Gary

David Harris said...

What did the grist look like on those beers? To hit 95% attenuation they must have been using a lot of sugar.

zythophile said...

I'd love to see the No 1 figures, Ron ... anything in your stats about Worthington White Shield? I've long suspected that after the Bass/Worthington "merger" of the 1920s, Bass Pale Ale and WS were the same beer ...

Ron Pattinson said...

Zythophile, I need to check the Worthington entries in the Whitbread Gravity Book. I hope the relevant details are there.

Ron Pattinson said...

Fatman, the acidity number is a percentage. Not totally sure what that means. I know in the early 20th century Guinness had 0.27 as the maximum acceptable level of acidity for their Stout.

Kristen England said...

Zyth and Ron,

I have all the numbers for King and Barnes version and the current version of WS. I'm interested in seeing how it has changed. They only brew a max of 1500bbl a year now at the Museum brewery and not just the White Shield. I thought that that brewery closed when Coors took over?

Fatman said...

Ah, thanks for the lead.

It appears to refer to titratable acidity.

I wonder why they measured that. Perhaps as an infection indicator?

I'm intrigued.

Kristen England said...

Fatman,

The TA is only a measure of overall acid. You will see a decent amount of lactic acid in nearly all beers. Acetic acid, however, shouldn't be found as it is a definite indicator on an infection.

I have a bunch of old data on berliner weiss and such that shows the acidity. One can infer that most of it is lactic acid.

Ike said...

By 1974 Draught Bass had dropped to 1039og. They put it back up to 1044og in 1975/76 and started advertising it again, just in time for their bicentenary in 1777.

Ike said...

Correction

...their bicentenary in 1977.

blur35mm said...

Does anyone know if it is possible to culture yeast from a bottle of Bass?