Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Worthington bottled beers 1944 - 1967 (again)

Just for Zythophile, here are some Worthington bottled beer analyses.

You'll have to wait till I have time for the pre war ones.


Gary Gillman said...

On the point of palate for a moment: in 1985, my first visit to the U.K., White Shield was one of the first beers I tried since I was captivated by Michael Jackson's colouful description of the beer.

Many older houses in the West End (London) still carried it. As I recall, it was light-coloured with brownish hues. It had a rather mild taste, lightly yeasty and acidic.

It seemed to match Byrn's mid-1800's assessment of "ale" as, "light-coloured, brisk and sweetish, or at least free from bitter". It was rather less flavourful than the emerging American Pale Ales. At the time, I remember feeling some disappointment with the palate, but today I wonder whether it may have been rather similar to a Worthington pale ale of 1850 (perhaps a domestic version).

I have not kept up with White Shield and understand it has been brewed in a number of places since that time. I wonder if its palate has changed.


Kristen England said...

WS 2001 - post King & Barnes
OG - 1.054
FG - 1.009
Abv - 5.6% declared; 5.9% actual
Attenuation - 83%
BU - 49
EBC - 30

Malt: Halcyon barley, crystal malt, invert sugar
Hops: challengar, fuggles and northdown
Yeast: WS strain

The aroma is nearly 100% northdown if you were wondering.

Gary Gillman said...

Thanks for this. I couldn't open the chart on this occasion and can't read all the entries but I think BUs or data from which they could be deduced was not included in this round. It would be interesting to know the BUs of White Shield in previous decades.

As I mentioned, in the mid-1980's the beer struck me as quite bland.

I hasten to add, lest I be misunderstood, that my first exposure, in the same era, to U.K. cask ales was of a different order. I found them almost uniformly great and they met all my expectations or more. For example, Young's Special of the day easily exceeded in stylishness and flavour most of the emerging micro ales in North America I was familiar with. In other words, the cask ales outshone White Shield, which struck me as odd.

Maybe White Shield was going through a rough patch at the time. I'll look for it on my next trip to England.


Korev said...

How do you think these beers would compare to an Australian Sparking Ale for the similar period? Any data?? I think that Coopers Sparkling Pale ale today is also highly attenuated down to 1.003 - 1.005 around 6% abv and has a very fruity character .


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, White Shield was a pretty decent beer when I drank it in the early 1980's. No isdea what happened to it after that.

When Byrn says "Ale" he doesn't mean Pale Ale, but Mild Ale. Pale Ales were very heavily-hopped at the time. In fact, even the Mild Ales were reasonably heavily-hopped.

Korev, from what I recall of the two beers, White Shield and Sparkling Ale were generally similar. If Sparkling Ale was served at a resonable temperature and not 1 degree C.

Gary Gillman said...

Thanks, Ron. I thought Byrn was referring to bottled pale ale. Not the kind sent to India though. He makes that clear elsewhere in the book by stating those beers are more strongly hopped.

I would think this because he calls "ale" "brisk" (carbonated. He distinguishes in the same discussion "beer" as being dark, "bitter" and "much less brisk" (so the "still" kind of cask bitter we still know). He states "porter is a species of beer" which seems consistent with everything I've read from your work here.

I would think "pale ale" originally was the bottled form of cask pale ale and always less hopped than porter and amber cask beers. When though the India trade prompted making pale ales more bitter, to last longer, IPA emerged and the boundary between IPA and Pale Ale became less clear at least in the public mind as did the bounday between ale and beer.


Ron Pattinson said...


you have to be very careful about the different meanings of words when looking at old sources. I know the bit of Byrn you're talking about.

By Ale he means Mild Ale. Not Pale Ale, even cask Pale Ale. By beer he means Porter and Stout. Calling Mild "Ale" and Porter/Stout "Beer" lasted well into the 20th century in London.

It's very confusing because what we think of as Pale Ale wouldn't have been classified as an Ale in the 18th century, but a Beer. Early Pale Ales were very lightly hopped. Why did they start calling it Pale Ale rather than Pale Beer? probably because it has a better ring to it and that the association of Beer as something dark because of the enormous success of Porter.

It's a very complicated subject. The easiest way to make sense of it is to keep telling yourself that Pale Ale isn't an Ale.

Ike said...

White Shield was a beautiful drink up until about 1981 when Bass abandoned the Union System. Then the guts were ripped out of it. The taste changed dramatically and it became thinner and less rich.
It slowly got even worse, presumably as the yeast changed in its new fermenters.

Later they messed around with with the yeast in the bottle to make it less likely to stir up. White Shield yeast was a sloppy grey/white sediment but the new yeast was in little grains which fell to the bottom straight away. It has since changed again but what do you expect when it has been brewed in so many places.

This is how you make a truly classic beer with a taste like no other, into a mediocre, but much cheaper to make, drink.

Ron Pattinson said...

Ike, I used to drink Draught Bass and White Shield mixed. But that was in the days of the unions.

Korev said...

Not everyone drinks ice cold mega swill!! Ale served at 8 - 10 C is fine.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, I have learned so much here and appreciate the information and explanations you have provided.

Ike's statement about the abandonment of the Burton Unions in 1981 is interesting. My first tasting of the beer well-postdated that event...

Regarding yeast, I believe the beer for many years has been filtered before bottling and re-yeasted with a bottom-fermenting strain, to facilitate a clear pour.

Personally, I like any real beer to be poured as clear as possible, so in and of itself, that does not disturb me, but the practice resulted in an overall lessening of character that would not be a good thing.

(I find a yeast veil often obscures subtleties of malt and hop flavour, a point understood in real ale dispense in the U.K. but not always in North America, unfortunately. The one exception for me to the "clear pour" desideratum: wheat beers).


Gary Gillman said...

I meant to say in my previous note in the second-to-last paragraph, "... but if the practice resulted in an overall lessening of character that would not be a good thing". That is, I just don't know since I don't think I ever tasted the beer when the Unions was used and it was bottled with its original residual yeast.

I am sure the beer is still pretty good though and look forward to trying it when I can next get to the U.K.


Ike said...


Ike said...

you could get a very clear glass of White Shield Gary, but it involved not disturbing the bottle and pouring it very carefully.

In Burton-on-Trent of course they made a big thing of this.

The place to drink White Shield was in the Midland Hotel(long gone), which had waiter service. You pressed a button to ring the the waiter who would bring your White Shield on a tray with a proper Worthington glass. (You don't see many of those any more).

He would make a show of pouring it down the side of the glass, producing a crystal clear beer and leaving half an inch of yeast in the bottom of the bottle, which some left and some drank from the bottle. (If you drank it you were guaranteed to never have constipation problems).

I'm sorry Gary but filtering the beer and adding another yeast is very sad. especially when you lose so much character, just for the want of being a bit careful how you handle it.

Admittedly you could not chill it without getting a yeast haze but a good ale does not need heavy chilling.

You are right Ron, White Shield and Draught Bass were sisters, they went very well together.