Friday, 24 July 2009


I've been revisiting the Whitbread Gravity Book part two. At least 50% I haven't transcribed yet.
I told you it was an amazing resource.

It wasn't too hard finding where I had got to. And when I did, I remembered why I stopped there. Blurry page. And bad handwriting. No wonder I hadn't fancy it. I almost skipped it, until I noticed a Lacon's Audit Ale. I wasn't going to miss that.

In the end, there weren't as many question marks in my spreadsheet as I had feared. Only three brewery names and seven beer names I couldn't work out. See if you can do any better. An image of the page is to your right. Lines 2, 4 and 21 contain the brewery names I was unable to decypher.

And, if you're watching Jeffo, three quarters of the way down the page Gold Label puts in an appearance. The bastards have knocked down its strength of late. The 1958 version was 10.5% ABV.

I suppose I should explain the title, shouldn't I? I was getting to that. You're an impatient bunch. Never heard of trying to build tension? I thought not.

My real reason for returning to the Whitbread Gravity Book is something we've discussed recently. C Ale. I'm still hoping to find one. There are plenty of Groves & Whitnall entries. Unfortunately, all for Red Rose Stout. But I live in hope.

Brown Ale. It's surprising how many breweries made more than one in the 1950's. Whitbread had Double Brown and Forest Brown. Fullers had Brown Ale and Old Harry. A weak one and a strong one. Ansells had two as well. Nut Brown Ale and Bruno Sweet Brown Ale.

As you can see, there's a huge difference in the colour and attenuation of the two beers. Perhaps, as a Midlands brewery they were compromising and brewing both a Northern and a Southern type of Brown Ale.

Though, hang on, the Nut Brown isn't strong enough to be a Northern type. Maybe I've found a new sort of Brown Ale. A Midland Brown Ale. I should trademark that sharpish before someone steals the name.


Alan said...

"Old Harry"! What a grand name.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, my take on this, factoring too what you have recorded over time: From the 1920's onwards at least, brown ales (bottled) of various strengths and degrees of sweetness were brewed in different parts of England. Probably, local markets favoured one or another of the types. This would be difficult to reconstruct today with any accuracy. The Bruno sweet brown seems a variant of the "southern" brown style, being not too hopped evidently by its name and rather low in alcohol. By the late 1970's, things had settled into the Mann's brown type being dominant in the south and the drier, stronger type (e.g., Double Maxim) being the ditto in the north.

Of course, the Midlands breweries and probably some in West Country and East Anglia would have brewed brown ales too, possibly tilted towards one or another of the variations.

Michael Jackson was recording, from a consumer's perspective (which would entail too what was most commonly available), what the market offered when he was writing. He fixed his categories accordingly and they have had much influence, but he was mainly concerned to show what was still available.

All the beers he described, even Russian Stout, were still being made in England in the mid-1970's. Only porter was not being made (temporarily as it turned out, due to his influence), but its importance historically was so huge he could not ignore it. Plus, porter was connected closely to certain kinds of stout (Mackeson's was one) still being made in 1978, and of course crucially to Guinness Stout.


Joshekg said...

I'm terrible at reading script, but I've done my best at sharpening the image. Hope this helps somewhat. It's available here:

sharpened image