Friday, 27 February 2009

Truman's Ales 1831-1832

This week I finally ordered into directories the remaining photos from my last archive visit. A load of Truman's Ale logs from the 19th century. I thought I may as well take a look at them while I was fiddling around.

I've not spent much time on Truman's logs. Especially the Ale ones. There are a couple of reasons why. Most obvious is that I hadn't photographed many until recently. And their 20th century logs are a nightmare to understand. I can't even work out what type of beer most of them are for. The handwriting is often a problem, too. They only seem to have employed brewers with scruffy handwriting. Some entries are little more than squiggles.

Rather than attempt extracting everything from the logs, I've just gone for OG and hopping rate. For a couple of reasons. Most important of which is that I don't properly understand the mashing details. Boiling is easy. The logs don't give any details at all. Ingredients? Pale malt and hops. Not much to say about those. Occasionally there's a bit more, like EK or white malt. But not often.

In this period, Truman's naming convention was simplicity itself. A number of X's with sometimes a K stuck on the end. Except for Table Beer.

As you can see, they weren't brewing a great deal of session beer. Even the Table Beer had a gravity of about 1040. Take a good look at those OG's. Now think about IPA. Remember that old wives tale about IPA being a strong beer? Take a look at the table below. To be extra fair, I've only included IPA's that were exported to India.

The strongest IPA had a gravity of just 1070. That's weaker than every single Truman Ale, with the exception of the Table Beer. Which was the stuff they let their toddlers drink. Anyone out there still think IPA was a strong Beer? I bet there are. No amount of facts will persuade some geeks that what they believe is fantasy.

Getting back to the real topic of this post, what does the first table tell us? Firstly, that Truman had two parallel ranges of Ales. Those with a "K" suffix and those without. I don't think that I'm going out on a limb when I say it stands for "Keeping". The difference between the K Ales and the straight X equivalent is mostly the hopping. The grists, basically just pale malt, are the same for all the Ales.

X, with 4.5 lbs to 7 lbs of hops per quarter of malt, was the least heavily hopped. No surprise there. (The one with 14 lbs per quarter was party-gyled with XXXX, before you ask.) XX and XXX were both hopped at between 6 and 8 lbs per quarter, a pretty typical figure for the period. XXK had 10 lbs of hops per quarter and XXXK 14 lbs. XXXX was hopped at 10 lbs per quarter, XXXXK 14 lbs per quarter.

Gravities start in the low 1070's for X and go over 1100 for the strongest. It's pretty hard to equate such powerful beers with modern Mild.

If you're lucky, there will be more Truman archive Ale fun tomorrow. That's if I don't overindulge in cask Fuller's ESB tonight.

1 comment:

Bill in Oregon said...

More great IPA myth debunking. I see the source for the IPA gravities is Scottish. Are the IPA's listed Scottish as well or a sampling from all over Great Britain? I know from being a loyal reader that Edinburgh brewed huge quantities of IPA (I believe you've said they were second only to Burton), but were the gravities of the Scottish brewed IPA's comparable to those brewed by London brewers at the same period?