Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Scottish Mild 1909 - 1914

More random beer data fun. Yes, yes, I know. Don't worry. The book is almost done and normal service will be resumed.

Scottish Mild. Almost as rare as wild haggis nowadays. Yet just 100 years ago there were lakes of the stuff. Before the Scots acquired a taste for Lager.

"How did Scottish Mild differ from English Mild?" that's a very good question. One which the 1909 Beer Style Guide will answer fully. The short answer is:

- it was sometimes much weaker,
- it was sometimes a bit stronger,
- the strong ones were hopped more heavily than their English equivalents,
- it was brewed from much the same ingredients.

Here are a few examples:

Fun, eh? It may return eventually to this blog.


Matt said...

I confess to struggling with Scottish beer classification: CAMRA's 'Good Bottled Beer Guide' claims '60/-, or light, is the Scottish equivalent of a mild'. I see from the table however that Scottish milds actually ranged from 42/- to 100/- . What would a 'wee heavy'/old ale be in the shilling system?

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, the shilling system is incredibly confusing. It tells you nothing except the relative price of a beer. It tells you nothing about what style in might be.

Wee heavy - what is actually meant by that? I'm pretty sure that the "wee" part just means that it came in nip bottles. Anyway my guess would be 252/-. Because Fowler's Strong Ale was called 12 Guinea Ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

Whoops! I think I accidentally just discarded a post here. One quoting from Homebrewtalk. Sorry about that. Would the author like to resubmit it?

Barm said...

Part of the problem, I think, is that real ale almost died out in Scotland and we don't have the unbroken tradition that England does.

I don't have the research to back this up, but I will stick my neck out and put forward the thesis that Scottish Mild died out.

What was sold as Light or 60/– post-WWII, I am inclined to think, was a weak Pale Ale, not any sort of Mild. Certainly McEwan's Light or 60/– was called Pale Ale when packaged, and I think Belhaven's still is (if you can find it).

I welcome evidence that proves me wrong.

Matt said...

This is the homebrewing one Ron: I'm sure you'll have fun picking it apart.

"Wee Heavy, also known as Strong Scotch Ale or 90 Shilling (sometimes abbreviated 90/-), is the strongest of the Scottish beer styles, with alcohol content and original gravity in some cases rivaling Barley Wine. Like many Scottish beers, it is sweet and malt-oriented. Although sometimes called 90/-, the actual tax rates on this beer could be as high as 160/- for the strongest versions.

As with all Scottish beer styles, there is no good evidence of peat smoked malt, which was commonly used in making whiskey, being used in the brewing of Wee Heavy. However, some modern brewers both inside and outside of Scotland have used this traditional Scotch malt in brewing as well, usually in the heavier beers such as Scottish Export Ale and especially Wee Heavy.

The BJCP recognizes Wee Heavy, and the GABF also defines a separate style for versions brewed with peat smoked malt."

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, I'm fairly certain that Mild never quite died out in Scotland. I drank Scottish Mild in the 1970's (Maclay and Belhaven).

It should be easy enough to check. The Scottish Brewing Archive has records that span the period in question. I'll have the answer after my next visit to Glasgow.

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, where to start on that one.

OK, they don't understand even what the shilling designation means: its the wholesale price of a 54-gallon hogshead. Nothing to do with tax.

While the shilling system was being used as a reflection of the price, any change in prices meant the beer designations changed, too. This is particularly obvious post-WW I.

I'd still love someone to say what Wee Heavy is exactly, other than a brand name of Fowler's brewery. The 90/- Sparkling Ales of the interwar period were piss-weak Light Bitters.

There's probably more crap talked about Scottish styles than any other beers.

Gary Gillman said...

At page 295 of the attached, a publication either by or with some connection to Charles Dickens, the opinion is offered that Scotch Ale is "disagreeably sweet and smoky".

This is some evidence that some Scotch Ale used malt kilned either on peat or wood.

Jim Robertson, an American beer writer in the 1970's, noted a "roast bacon" taste in a classic scotch ale of that time.

There must have been a tradition of using malt kilned in a way to get that effect, and therefore, in my view, the use of smoky malt precedes the current efforts of craft brewers.


Gary Gillman said...

Oops here it is, from 1867:

Barm said...

Durn it, the SBA search room is closed until February now. I was going to go and have a look too.