Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Beer code (again)
I've been thinking about that Henry Lovibond advert. It's the sort of thing I do on the tram in the morning. Stare out of the window and think about 19th century brewhouse beer names. That's not weird, is it
These old price lists have a certain fascination. Shall I tell you what strikes me about this one?
The large number of Bitter Ales. Five in all, if you include XXXXB. That's unusual. Most breweries only produced a PA and maybe an IPA. The range of strengths is vey wide, too. The XB, at just 15 shillings for 18 gallons couldn't have been more than 1045º. That's very weak for a 19th century Pale Ale, even a Light Bitter. At the other end of the spectrum, XXXXB at 2 shillings a gallon must have been closer to 1100º I've never seen another beer that strong described as Bitter.
The Milds are pretty much what you would see everywhere. Except that they would usually start at X
It's clear that strength is being indicated by the number of X's. It's unusual to see this system applied to Pale Ales and I can't think of another example where I've seen it applied to AK. The standard method is to add more K's, i.e. AK, AKK
Talking of AK, the term "Intermediate Ale" is an interesting one. I'm not sure precisely what it nmeans. What follows is a guess. The beers are clumped together in four groups: Mild Ales, Pale Bitter Ales, Intermediate Ales, Stout and Porter. I understand what some of the se mean. Mild Ales are unaged, relatively lightly-hopped. The PAle Bitter Ales would certainly have been hoppier and probably had a little age on them. I think we all understand what Porter and Stout mean. So that leaves the Intermediate Ales. The description of AK as "Mild Bitter" implies to me that it's an unaged ("Mild") hoppy beer.
Of course, I could be talking crap again. More investigation is required.
The OG's are an educated guess based on the price, description and similar beers from other London brewers.