Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1914 Ushers 48/- and 54/-

I know it isn't Wednesday. Maybe it still is somewhere in the Pacific. Not to worry. It's Let's Brew time again.

In my never-ending efforts to educate and entertain, today's recipe is a particularly useful tool. In the former, at least. Not so sure I'll be able to get many laughs out of it.

I've said this many times. But unfortunately some associations run so deep that it's hard to override them. 60/- (60 shilling, for those who don't understand old British currency symbols), 70/-, 80/-, 90/- are not specific styles of beer. Just an indicati0on of relative strength.

Usher's brewed a whole load of beers with shilling designations. 60/- PA (Pale Ale), 60/- MA (Mild Ale) and an X 60/- (a Stock Ale, I think). There were many others. A 40/- PA, 80/- MA, 100/- MA, 40/- Br, 60/- Br. Too many for me to name them all here.

Then there's 48/- and 54/-. It took me a while to work out what they were. Only when I found a couple with "St" at the end. I hadn't been looking that closely at the malt bill. That's my excuse.

Even by 1914, the whole shilling thing seems to have had little connection any longer with the price of a hogshead. If that were the case, you would expect all the different types of 60/- to have been of a similar gravity. But they weren't. Not in Usher's case, at least. These are how they stacked up:

60/- MA Mild 1038
PA 60/- Pale Ale 1053
X 60/- Mild 1051
60/- Br Ale 1034

The beers covered today fit into such a price/gravity scheme even more poorly than the above examples:

48/- Stout 1046
54/- Stout 1056

There had clearly been some movement in relative gravities after the names were fixed.

Now if you've been paying attention, you might have noticed something else about those gravities. They're a good bit lower that at London breweries. In 1914, Whitbread's Porter had an OG of 1052, their Extra Stout1067 and their PA 1061.

What's have we learned today, children? Yes, that's right. Shillings do not equal style.

And on that didactic note, I'll hand you over to Kristen . . . . . .

1914 Ushers 48/- and 54/-

Wow. Its been nearly a bloody month since I've done one of these. How time flies. I've been busy with my new boy Atilla (nearly 2 months now) and the bleeding basement is nearly finished. I think I'll call it the 'Pissed Hole'. Gotta a nice ring to it... but I I usually do.

Ok, so here we go. This Lets Brew comes to you form the great people at Ushers. Yup in Scotland. So there are a lot of similar recipes across the range of Scottish logs I've seen. Strong ales, Lighter ales, etc etc. These ones are actually quite different. Lots of dark malts nearly making them look Stou-rterish (Stout/porter). The difference between the two are quite small. Only 10 gravity points. So what the hell is a 48/- and a 54/-? [I think I've explained this above.]

Grist and Such
This set of beers are very good ones to show everyone that not all Scottish beers were malty. Just look at the grist. Only 50% of it is malt! 14% is black and brown malts and nearly 30% sugar-type adjuncts. The problem becomes deciphering WTH all that stuff is? Maltosan, Oatine,
DM and DH sugars. They do make it simple with the raw cane sugar though! My guess is that with the finishing gravity as high as it is the combination is similar to the No2, or even No3, invert sugar to get a bunch of non-fermentable dextrins in there. The oatine is what gets me.
All the things I can find about Oatine anything have to do with oat-base products. I'm wondering if this was a type of sugar derived from oats or something?

Nothing inherently fancy with the mash. 150F starting moving up to 160F and holding for around 2 hours or so. Should also help to increase the body and up he finishing gravity.

All the fancy details that the English logs go into over their hops the Scottish utterly lack. They give a single digit. 5. That's lbs per quarter of malt used. For this beer that's about 13.5 equating to around 67.5 lbs. The boil is 3 hours for both gyles which with a single addition would put the bu's around 25 or so. Give or take.

The gyle is so close on this one that it really doesn't make a lot of sense to do it as a gyle so I'll just post the recipes for the 48/ and 54/ separately.

Tasting notes
Just finished this sucker so no actual notes yet but that hasn't stopped me before. Thick and rich for the gravity. Profound dark roasty character with a lot of dark fruits like prunes and cordial cherries. Bitterness is made sharper by the acidic malt character making this beer dry out in the finish making it taste much lower in gravity than the FG would suggest.


Tim said...

Very interesting. The only mention of Oatine I could find with a quick google search seems to be to a skin/beauty product, pressumably made from oats. Perhaps it's a malto-dextrin type additive derived from oats.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but Ushers 54d has the wrong srm/ebc....