Monday, 29 June 2009

C Ale

I took the boys to the swimming baths yesterday. We've been having muggy, overcast days for what seems like weeks. It was pleasant to set and read while the kids cavorted in the outdoor pool.

Naturally, it wasn't just the paper or the latest Jilly Cooper novel I was reading. I actually had two books with me. "Brewing" and "Manchester Breweries of Times Gone By, Vol 2". Nice light reading for a Sunday morning.

I realise that I read this stuff a little differently from most. My attention was immediately drawn by the image of a bill from some brewery in Ardwick. It had the beer names printed on it. Or rather beer codes. I', used to these things, so I could work out most of them:

X
XX
PA
P
ES
C
S
CBB

Let's see, that's Mild, Best Mild, Bitter, Porter, Extra Stout, C??? - what the hell is that, Stout, C Best Bitter?

Then there was a mention in the text of a thing called C Ale, which seems to have been peculiar to Manchester. At least half a dozen breweries made one. There was even a label image. The only clue as to what it could have stood for was a beer called City.

I thought I'd been making progress with these letter codes. I'm pretty confident what the X's and K's mean. T as well. Now here's another bloody cryptic letter. Anyone any idea what the hell it stood for? Or what type of beer it was?

Now I've found a label for C Ale, I see something intriguing. The words "naturally mature in bottle". I wonder if that has anything to do with the identity of C Ale?

11 comments:

Oblivious said...

Would it have anything to do with a long conditioning period?

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, I don't think so. But I really have no idea what it could mean.

ealusceop said...

Carbonated ale, maybe, like a remnant of the sparkling ale? Maybe it a was this...

Ron Pattinson said...

ealusceop, "carbonated" in British brewing terminology means not bottle conditioned. And the labels I've found specifically say bottle-conditioned.

Joe said...

Could it have been a beer that was made from the third mash (mashes A, B & C) with a possible double meaning as 'Common Ale'?

Ron Pattinson said...

Joe, the period we're talking about they didn't do three mashes. "Common Ale" was used in the 18th-century to denote a beer of standard strength.

Gary Gillman said...

At first I thought of cooper, which was mixture of porter and stout. But the usage of the joined term "ale" seems to preclude this.

It probably means either city, carbonated, or conditioned. City seems the best bet I think. It might be a term for the basic mild when bottled, and the pale ale version bottled would be CBB, city best bitter. So your own speculation seems closest IMO, Ron.

Gary

Al Capone said...

No way it could be 'Cask'? As in this bottle conditioned beer is like a cask ale?

Barm said...

Very unlikely. The term cask ale wasn't used back then as far as I know, as the vast majority of draught beer was cask ale. What we now call cask ale was ... ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

C Ale dates back to at least the 1890's. That's before you really had non bottle-conditioned beers.

rainoftoads said...

Could it stand for "Cracking"? As in "Cracking Ale, Gromit!"