Saturday, 13 June 2009

An early British lager

Did I mention that Barclay Perkins began experimenting with brewing lager during WW I? At first I thought this was pretty weird, given the level of anti-German feeling. But on reflection it makes sense. The war had doubtless cut off supplies of foreign lager.

The experimental dark lager brewed on March 10th 1915 was an odd beast. For a start there are the malts: 83% mild malt, 8.5% amber malt, 8.5% Californian pale malt. I guess they were using mild malt instead of Munich malt. The hops were at least partly continental.: 50% Worcester, 50% Burgundy.

The log form wasn't designed to record a decoction mash and there are several lines of comments in an empty part describing the process. It doesn't seem to gave gone quite to plan:

"Mashed 5.5 qtrs @ 7.5 a.m. Underlet at 7.35 - set taps & ran off 6.5 barrels @ 8.5. Raised to boiling point with boiling liq. & steam by 9 am. & boiled 0.5 hour. Brought back to 165º by 2.15 p.m. (should have been 150º - tun nearly full - could not add any more cold) Mashed in 0.5 quarter Calif. very stiff at 2.30 & raked well, conversion complete & taps set @ 3.20 p.m. - Goods would not drain at all - wort only got off by repeated underletting & raking& by siphoning. No reliable tap heats or gravities obtainable. First wort drawn from M.T. kept at about 190º all the time.
Goods were not sparged at all"

That definitely sounds experimental to me.

The fermentation was more like you would expect - comparatively long and cold. Lager yeast was pitched at 46º F and the beer was racked into an aluminium tank in the cold store after 7 days.

The OG was 1052º and the racking gravity 1023º.


Jim Johanssen said...

The brewer had a long hard day in the brewhouse on this one. Missed mash temperatures, stuck mash and a mash tun that was too full for what ever reason to make adjustments. Setting the grain bed of a Decoction mash does tend to be much more sensitive than an Infusion mash, he did not need a full to the rim mash tun. It also seems strange to me that he added the California (Six Row?) to a full mash tun mash tun, an adjustment intended to add enzymes to the mash I believe. This reminds me why I do not use Decoction mashes any more.

Mark Oliver said...

How long did they lager that one?