Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Work - Pub

I've just finished explaining the form, function and fine etiquette of trolling down the pub from work to Lexie. He stopped making eye contact and concentrated on his pasta before I even got to past Legal & General.

"Go away and do what you have to do on the computer."


"Before I count to three."

"You want me to go on the computer?"

"One . . . .two . . . two and a half . . . ."

That's when I started typing. After two and a half. The discovery of a lifetime, afternoon, er, somewhere inbetween. How to get peace while I type. Bore the eyebrows off everyone. Boring done, we can continue.

When half of Lexxie's left eyebrow had dissolved, a thought struck me a glancing blow. "Why not write about the work pub dynamic?" Loads of pseudo-sociological stuff and dim recollections of postprandial pissups as padding. Tastobrillic.

The customs surrounding drinking in conjunction with work are as varied as some incredibly varied thing. (Five minutes is long enough to try thinking up a good simile. I'll use the Blackadder defence.)

I've worked in a few towns and a few countries. Nowhere, in my experience, matches Britain, and in particular London, in its dedication to pissing it up down the boozer during or after work. Lloyd George - bastard - put paid to pre-work pub fun.

Here's an overview of my work/boozer experience:

West Yorkshire Passenger Transit, Leeds, 1979
Every Friday, after we got our paypackets everyone went to the Highland Laddie. Considering me a middle-class ponce, my Tetley's Mild drinking abilities were unexpected. Three or four pints in 25 minutes.

Legal & General, Surrey, 1983-1984
A dream job, in a way. My first employment as a programmer. The canteen had a licensed bar. And they had cask beer. And it was cheaper than in a pub. The food wasn't bad, either. On a side note, it's where my career as IT professional began. But they had a bar in the canteen! With good, cheap beer!

That wasn't good enough. Friday lunch, everyone went down the pub. Restraint isn't my middle name. I'm more a get two pints and a couple of double short in on last orders type of bloke. I found my colleagues a bit overenthusiastic. Office work tempered my thirst: three pints in an hour.

Oh dear. I forgot about London. When I worked in the arms factory in 1978. Shit. I didn't want to mention that. You'll think I'm a nazi. What the hell. It's a good tale. And involves Matt. I'll tell you tomorrow. Promise.

Truman's Ales in 1914

I've moved further back in time. With the Truman's brewing records. Back to 1914. Almost at the end of The Happy Time. (That's also what I call the period before we had kids. The Happy Time. For some reason, it pisses the kids off when I use the phrase.)

If you though the 1964 names weren't very descriptive, take a look at these:

The beers just have numbers, apart from P1, P2, P3 and 8K. They have a letter and a number. And A. That just has a letter. The biggest sellers were, in descending order, P2, 8k, 8 and 7. If you can remember as far back as last week, you'll have noticed that only P1, P2 and 7 were still being brewed in 1964.

If you're wondering why there are no details for P1, 1 and 9. it's because I don't have photos of the logs. All were produced in tiny quantities and there were probably only a handful of sheets for them in the log book. And I missed them. Sorry.

It looks like they were using a numbering system similar to Bass. Starting with No.1 Ale as the strongest. The P's were for three different strengths of Pale Ale. That's another reason why I suspect these logs are from Truman's brewery in Burton.

What are the numbered Ales? Stock and Mild Ales I expect. The advert says East India Pale and Strong Burton Ales. And Mild Ales. I think I can spot the Pale Ales. What about the rest?

Monday, 30 March 2009

Brewing in Canada

A package arrived from Canada this week. Inside was a book. It had taken so long to arrive, I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. I checked my AbeBook account to make sure I had. In case you haven't already guessed from the title of this post,it's "Brewing in Canada".

It's a bit off theme, I know. I usually limit myself to European beer. Even then, I'm drowning in a sea of material. But it is handy to have statistics from elsewhere for comparison purposes. And "Brewing in Canada" is full of those. A great buy. Now I recall why I bought it: it was dirt cheap.

"That's a boring cover." Andrew commented when I showed him the book. "It's what's inside that counts." He edged nervously away when I tried showing him some of the lovely tables. "Look, sales of beer by province 1952 - 1962. Andrew was by now nearly at the stairs. I followed him "Andrew, this one's brilliant - Number of Breweries and Production per Brewery"

Andrew was upstairs behind his computer before I got to Taxes. Don't know what's wrong with him. He has absolutely no interest in brewing statistics. Unlike his dad.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Talking of decoction

Decoction in the 1930's. Wouldn't it be great to know more. And about decoction in the 19th century. Or the DDR. Why hasn't anyone written such a book?

They have. I have. "Decoction!" is 200 plus pages of central European beer excitement. Lager styles explained! Weird, extinct beer styles! Ron on the lash!

Everything. Literally everything, and more than you ever wanted to know about beer in central Europe. Don't be deceived by the unfortunate title. There's lots about non-lager beers. And it's not all "homebrewing crap" (as Mike calls it). There are stacks of statistics. Tall tables. Short sentences. Fun a mundo.

Buy it now! And maybe, no promises, but maybe, the kids will eat every day next week. Help feed a child. Buy "Decoction!".

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

German brewing in the 1930's

A short film showing how they brewed in Germany in the 1930's.

To go with the film, here's another chance to read an earlier post of mine about decoction mashing in the 1930's.

Decoction mashing in the 1930's
I warned you that I had loads more of this stuff. This is from "Brauerhandbuch" by Karl Hennies, 1937, pages 124-127. I was most surprised to see a mention of Satz. I hadn't expected any 20th century references to it. I've another book by Hennies, written after the war, that also talks of Satz.

The big difference in the methods described here are the protein and saccharification rests taken in the kettle.
Triple decoction mash
This is typified by a part of the mash being pumped into the mash kettle on three separate occasions. There it is kept at a specific temperature before being boiled. In is then returned to the mash tun. The total duration of the process is 4.5 to 5 hours.

Einmaisch teperature is 35 - 38º C. Then the first mash (about a third of the total) is pumped into the mash kettle. This mash should be as thick as possible.

(First Dickmaische.) The temperature in the kettle should rise slowly; at 50º C a 10 minute protein rest can be taken, between 65 and 70º C there is a 15-25 minute saccharification rest; the mash is then brought to the boil and boiled for 45 minutes. The mash is then pumped back into the tun and reunited with the remaining two thirds of the mash. The contents of the tun are constantly stirred, starting before the boiled mash is returned (vormaischen), while the wort is being pumped back and after all the mash is back in the tun (nachmaischen). As a result of the addition of the first boiled wort the temperature of the whole mash is raised to 50-53º C.

After this the second Dickmaische is pumped into the kettle and boiled for 20-30 minutes. (While this is happening there is a protein rest in the mash tun at 50-53º C.) Through the return of the second mash the temperature in the mash tun is raised to 62-65º C.

Then a third mash is pumped into the kettle. This time not a Dickmaische, but a Lautermaische, which is as thin as possible. The Lautermaische is quickly brought to the boil and boiled for 25 minutes. (During this time: the temperature in the mash tun is 62-65º C = saccharification rest.) When the 3rd mash is pumped back into the tun, the temperature rises to 76-78º C (= mashout temperature). Now mashout occurs, that is the complete mash is pumped into the lauter tun.

Sometimes a "Maischrest" is employed. When the mash is pumped back into the tun a remainder is left in the kettle. When the next mash is pumped into the kettle into the boiling-hot Maischrest, as a result of the higher temperature, more unfermentable dextrines are formed than fermentable sugars.

Double decoction mash
Einmaisch is with warm water at 50º C or the Einmaish is cold and then wqarmed to 50º C. The first Dickmaische (about half the total mash) is boiled for up to 30 minutes. After being pumped back the temperature of the whiole mash in the tun rises to about 65º C. Then a second Dickmaische (about one third of the total mash) is drawn off and boiled. When pumped back into the tun the mashout temperature of 75-78º C is reached. When the malt demands it, during both Dickmaische a longer or shorter protein rest and saccharification rest are taken. Double decoction is often used with pale, well-modified malt.

Single decoction mash
There are different ways of performing this method. This is the so-called "Kesselmaisch" [Kettle mash] method.

Mashing occurs in the kettle and the complete mash, after a protein rest, is warmed to the saccharification temperature. Stirring is stopped and the thin (enzyme rich) part of the mash, the so-called "Satz" pumped into the mash tun. The thick remainder is boiled in the kettle and then pumped into the tun with the thin part and kept at saccharification temperature for 30 minutes. The whole mash is then pumped into the kettle and brought to mashout temperature.

The Hochkurz [High fast] mashing method
This is used with very well-modified malt. Einmaisch is at the higher temperature of 62º C (avoiding a protein rest). The first mash is only boiled for a short time - 5 minutes.After pumping back the boiled mash the temperature rises to 72º C. This temperature is maintained for an hour. Then another mash is drawn off and again boiled for just 5 minutes and mashout is at 78º C.

Springmaisch method
The einmaisch temperature is 37º C. The mash is then added to boiling hot water. The temperature of the mash is so raised to 70º C. The temperatures between are skipped. This method is used with over-modified malt which saccharifies too quickly.

Schmitz method
You can mash any way you like. Abläutern, separating the wort from the spent grains, occurs not at normal mashout temperature (76-78º C) but at boiling point. Wort obtained this way needs to be cooled a little and undergo more saccharifcation. To this aim, "cold Satz", a watery malt extract (diastase extract) obtained after einmaschen, is run off earlier in the process. By mixing the Satz and the wort at saccharifcation temperature saccharification takes place.

Truman - cracking the codes

You may have wondered (or perhaps not - you might well have better things to do than speculate on my actions) why I've not written more about Truman's 20th century beers. There's a good reason. I can't understand the bloody things.

It's bot the handwriting. Though all Truman's brewers seem to have had scrawly handwriting. Nor how the logs are laid out. They changed very little in format between 1850 and 1964. I got the hang of them ages ago. It's more fundamental than that. I've no idea what the beers are.

The first time I looked at the 1964 logs, I couldn't even spot where the beer name was, let alone what it was. But I think I've cracked the codes.

I can't claim the credit for being especially clever. The notes in the corner of one page (see right) told me what many meant. The names are more expansive than in the log headers. There you just see things like S1, P1, P2, etc.

And the barrelage numbers (the second column) are big clue. It's easy to guess what the biggest sellers were in 1964: Mild, Bitter, Best Bitter.

So here's my overview of Truman beers in 1964. I'm convinced that the logs must be from their Burton brewery, as there are no Stouts. In fact, they used no dark malts at all. Just pale malt and caramel.

Don't ask me why such a strong beer should be called "Runner". I've no clue as to what sort of beer it was, apart from being very strong.

Now I have to start working backwards through the years. Until I get to WW I. Won't that be fun?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

London Porter in the 1920's

Reports of Porter's demise during WW I were much exaggerated. And here's the proof: details of various London Porters brewed between 1922 and 1930.

The Porters come from a variety of London brewers. The big traditional Porter breweries like Barclay Perkins, Truman and Whitbread. Smaller Porter breweries like Hoare and others whose reputation was built on Ale, such as Mann and Courage.

Damn. Looks like I'll need to update "Brown Beer" yet again. Can't leave any Porter details out.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Beer materialism

That brewing is a business sometimes gets forgotten. A brewer who can't sell his beer won't be around for very long.

Brewers do not live in a vacuum. They're part of a common space in which we all live. Much of our lives are determined by the culture around us and the laws to which we must adhere. And an economic system.

Where am I going with this? Well, some seem to think that brewing works the other way around. That brewers are free to experiment and brew whatever they please. According to this theory, the current beer scene in the USA is the result of daring brewers pushing the enevelope. European countries, so the argument goes, lag behind because their brewers are lazy or complacent or lack balls. Basically, it's an idealist line of reasoning.

Though many of his ideas are out of fashion, Marx did get to the nub of how socirty works. It's not driven by ideas, but by economics. Ideas follow money. Me, I'm a materialist, just like Marx.

How does this relate to brewing? Simple. Brewing is moulded by economics, just like every other business. Here's an example: why don't British micros brew hop-monster IPA's? Because they are expensive to brew, would cost more than punters are prepared to pay and aren't what they want to drink anyway. You could brew the best beer in the world, but if no-one wants to drink it or the price is wrong you won't be in business long.

In most of Europe, there just isn't a big enough market for "extreme beers" for it to be worth a brewer's while making them. Unless it's for export to the USA. Which is why many experimental breweries - De Dolle, Fantome, Struise - sell most of their beer not in Belgium, but in the USA.

There have been a couple of failed attempts to get American micro beers into British supermarkets. If British drinkers cold-shouldered such beers why would a British brewer try to copy them? Seems like a guaranteed way to fail. Where there is a market for wacky beers, Denmark is a good example, local brewers quickly started brewing them themselves.

Ultimately, brewers are only going to brew what they can sell. I'd love to walk into a pub and find a strong Mild, weak IPA, Burton and Stout on draught. But as almost no-one else does, that just isn't going to happen. For me to whinge about it to brewers would be merely twattish.

It's American drinkers, not American brewers who are adventurous. Without a market to support it, envelope-pushing would end in a few weeks. Oh, and the flat rate tax on beer helps, too. I don't know any European brewing nation that taxes beer that way.

Brown Beer ready to go

I've been putting the finishing touches to "Brown Beer", the next in my Mini Book Series. Volume V, to be precise. I'll send it off to be printed sometime this week.

I put it together last December, but I've written so much about Porter and Stout since then. I thought I may as well include the newer material, too. And I threw in a few bonus recipes. Ones I've never published before. The book is now 170 pages long. I'd best get it sent off quickly before I add another 20 pages.

It features all my favourite Porter breweries: Truman, Whitbread, Guinness and, of course, Barclay Perkins. Rants, tables, recipes and even the odd moment of coherence. "Brown Beer" truly has it all.

Of course, I'm not going to let you buy it yet. This is just my initial 10 copy collectors item print run. Nine lucky people will receive a free copy through the post. Will you be one of them? You should know in a week or two.

I suppose, if I stick to my plan, I should now make "Decoction!" available for sale. That's even thicker than "Brown Beer". "Andrew! Andrew! I've got a little job for you."

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A special black and tan followup

Gold Label Barley Wine and Mackeson Stout. Two giant names of the 1950's. If you lived in Britain. I did, this is my blog, so there you go.

Though I've already written about blending the two aforesaid beers into a Black & Tan Nostalgia Royale, I haven't done it yet. I've been saving that sublime moment for a special occasion. Today is Sunday. What could be more special than that? (Other than a Monday. Or Tuesday. Perhaps Thursday, at a pinch.)

I've poured a little of each into an pint glass. And let Dolores have a taste. She quite liked the Mackeson. "It's fruity" she said of Gold Label. At least she tries them. I continually thrust glasses under her nose and say "What do you think of this?" Spousal abuse, I know. But she sometimes thumps me. We're about even.

Time to blend . . . . . . . .

. . . .

. . . .

"What do you think of them mixed, Dolores?" "Mmmmm" she says. "I'd drink that, too. All three were OK."

I think it works quite well. The Gold Label beefs up the Mackeson a treat. 3 plus 8.5 divided by two . . . that's 6.25% ABV. Perfect. A Single Stout. Just what I want. Not a world-beater, but drinkable. Now if I had the roastier Mackeson Export, that would be something special.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Let's brew Wednesday - 1917 Whitbread X

A favourite of mine today. X. What better name could you have for a beer than just X? Who says European brewers lack imagination.

Kristens's notes

This is a very different mild from the last two. The war was still raging strong on the western front as you can tell by the use of well over 50% of the grist as old malt...not just old malt but Spanish malt to boot. The grist is entirely made from pale malts of differing qualities. Harling malt (Norfolk area) was thought to be of high quality. I would assume that the Spanish malt is a replacement for the Smyrna malt that most brewers used at the time. Here we see the American 6-row again.

The mash is a little different in that its quite a thick mash at dough-in and the rest temps are also quite low. With the amount of sugar (10%) and the low mash temp one would expect this beer to have quite a low finishing gravity (definately below 1.010). Differing from the prior Mild! recipes you can see that the hops are all quite fresh. You'll also notice a boost in the BU of this mild. At 32bu its quite high for a mild at the time.

The 2.5 hour boil time is quite unusual for this time period as most of the other brewers seem to be doing 90min to save on cost.

Simplified recipe

_*5gals @ 73% efficiency*_

Grist (lbs)
Maris Otter malt (Harling) 2.50
Mild malt (Harling-old) 2.35
Any non-UK pale malt (Spanish) 1.90
American 6-row (Californian) 1.0
Invert #3 syrup (Garton) 13oz

40min @ 142F (0.76qt/lb strike)
1.5hour @ 148

Boil - 150min

Hops - Oz - Type@AA% (Log origin - year - age of hops at use)
0.67oz - Fuggle @ 4.3% (White - 1916 - 6mo) - 150min
0.25oz - EKG @ 4.0% (Heame - 1916 - 6mo) - 150min
0.25oz - Fuggle @ 4.3% (White - 1916 - 6mo) - 90min
0.5oz - Cluster @ 5% (Oregon - 1915 - 18mo) - 30min

Yeast: Whitbread

Boil treatment (g/gal liquor)
- Calcium Carbonate (Chalk) - 6.8g/ 5gal (1.38g/ gal)

_*10bbl @ 82% efficiency*_

Grist (lbs)
Maris Otter malt (Harling) 133lb
Mild malt (Harling-old) 124lb
Any non-UK pale malt (Spanish) 101lb
American 6-row (Californian) 52lb
Invert #3 syrup (Garton) 42.4lb

40min @ 142F (0.76qt/lb strike)
1.5hour @ 148

Boil - 150min

Hops - Oz - Type@AA% (Log origin - year - age of hops at use)
40oz - Fuggle @ 4.3% (White - 1916 - 6mo) - 150min
16oz - EKG @ 4.0% (Heame - 1916 - 6mo) - 150min
16oz - Fuggle @ 4.3% (White - 1916 - 6mo) - 90min
28oz - Cluster @ 5% (Oregon - 1915 - 18mo) - 30min
- based on using whole hops

Yeast: Whitbread

Boil treatment (g/gal liquor)
- Calcium Carbonate (Chalk) - 414g/ 10bbl

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I regularly read the BeerAdvocate and RateBeer forums. It's a form of cheap and harmless entertainment. But something I read today just made me gasp.

Here's the quote: "There has been more innovation in American brewing in the last 25 years than in European brewing in the last 250 years."

I wouldn't say that was a contentious statement. More like complete bollocks. And bollocks that insults the generations of brewers who helped progress brewing to where it is today.

Let's see what important innovations I think have taken place in brewing (not necessarily European, but mostly) over the last 250 years.

  • the thermometer
  • the hydrometer
  • very pale malts
  • patent malt
  • steam power
  • mashing machines
  • underlet
  • steam cleaning
  • pure yeast cultures
  • pasteurisation
  • colour measurement
  • bitterness measurement
  • electric power
  • brewing sugars
  • Farbebier
  • decoction mashing
  • steam heated copper
  • filters
  • conical fermenters
  • Burton unions
  • symbiotic yeast/lactobacillus cultures
  • continuous fermentation
  • attemperator
  • refrigeration
  • stainless steel vessels
  • metal barrels
  • beer engine
  • CO2 dispense
  • the microscope
  • force carbonation
  • bottling machine
  • whirlpool
  • heat exchange cooler
  • powered roller malt mill

That's just what I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many I've forgotten.
Maybe I've missed something, but what exactly are the wondrous innovations that have taken place in the last 25 years in the USA?

Innovation isn't just mixing up existing ingredients in a different way. Or sticking beer into a variety of barrels. Or am I misunderstanding the meaning of the word?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Carbonated Ale in the 1920's

To get a full picture of beer you have to look further than just brewing manuals and logs. That's why I picked up a copy of "The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander F. Part, published in 1922. It continues the story past the brewery gates.

I'm much intrigued by the passage on "carbonated ale", an early from of tank beer.
"In London and some of the other large towns beer is supplied through a tube, or a hose, from a tank cart or motor into a receiver. This beer is suitable only for a quick sale, say forty-eight hours, and is ready to sell at once, is always bright and clear to the last drop, and has no deposit.

Thus the paraphernalia connected with barrels, and the care requisite in the treatment of beer in barrels, are avoided.

This beer is known as carbonated ale, and no waste ought to occur.

Beer so brewed is as good the day it is received as it will ever be, and, no doubt, saves a great deal of labour, anxiety and care, but these chilled and filtered beers, both in cask and bottle, have not the keeping qualities of beer naturally conditioned.

They are, however, so much limited to a few areas, that we must learn also all about the treatment of beers in cask."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander F. Part, 1922, pages 198-199.

This is one of the earliest mentions I've found of non-cask-conditioned beer in Britain. Though Worthington did experiment unsuccessfully with beer brewed to the "American system" (i.e. carbonated) before WW I.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

De Molen tasting

Yesterday there was a tasting of De Molen beers in Bierkoning. Mike told me about it two weeks ago. But he'd thought it was last Saturday, when I was away in Folkestone. Luckily he was wrong about the date (not for the first time) and I did have the chance to attend.

As usual Menno had some new beers to try. I started with Black Damnation. Just my kind of beer, dark and powerful. It's a cooperative effort with Struise: half Black Albert, half Hel en Verdoemenis."You're drinking them in the wrong order." Menno commented when I opted for a Vlaams Hollands. It's a brown beer with a subdued sourness. That was quite nice, too.

It was a popular event. I had trouble manoeuvring myself close enough to the temporary bar to have a word with Menno. By that time I was well into my third sample, Engels. Has the started using American hops in it? That would piss Mike off.

You can probably guess what I wanted to ask him. When was he likely to brew my next two beers. "I'm waiting for the malt." was his answer. "Which malt?" I enquired. "The SA malt. I'm trying to persuade Fawcett's to make some for me, but they're very busy."

I felt a bit humbled. Despite my best efforts, I'd not been able to find out any information about SA malt. It turns out my guess (a slightly more kilned version of pale malt) wasn't far from the mark. Turns out SA malt is between pale malt and Munich malt, with a colour of 10 EBC.

Now why didn't I think of that? Just get in touch with a maltster and ask them about SA malt. Though I guess if you're a brewer, they're likely to have more time for you. There's so much I need to learn about malt. And so little time.

Henry Lovibond beers 1864 - 1865

I've just started quickly going through the Lovibond brewing log. These are the first results.

In addition to the bare bones of the beers that I've plucked out, I noticed a few other points of interest.

  • The use of American and Bavarian hops for one thing. The 1860's is quite early to spot these.
  • Lovibond having two different Porter grists: one just amber and black malt, another pale, amber, brown and black. I'm sure I'll tell you all about that in more detail later.

You'll note that Lovibond was brewing on a very different scale from the other London breweries I've investigated. Their brew lengths were just 20 to 60 barrels. Barclay Perkins often had brews of more than 1,000 barrels.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Lovibond 1864 - 1865

I was very excited when I got home yesterday. A very special book had arrived. A brewing log of my very own. It's from the Henry Lovibond brewery and is for the brewing year 1864 - 1865.

Funnily enough, it's a brewery I've already written about. Now I should be able to add some real OG's, instead of just guesses.

I haven't had chance to look through it properly yet. Matt also arrived for a brief visit yesterday. I couldn't ignore him to pore over a dirty old book. ("Ugh, what's that dad? It's disgusting. It looks like a dog's crapped on it." My kids have no sense of romance. I'd call the book authentically distressed.

But I have spotted one fact of note while swiftly flicking through the pages. The Porter grist.

In "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, (pages 499-501.), the author gives 6 different Porrter grists, using various combinations of black, brown, amber and pale malts. Here they are:

Grist 1 was the cheapskate's favourite and produced a beer with the taste of liquorice. Grist 2 made an ordinary Porter, though better in quality than from grist 1. Grist 3, with a portion of amber, was better. Grist 4 was better still and in common use outside London. Grist 5 was excellent, but best of all was grist 6. That's the only one that contains no pale malt.

The grists I've seen in the brewing records for Barclay Perkins, Whitbread, Truman and Reid are similar to grists 2, 3 and 4. None has more than 20% amber malt.

Can you guess what I found in the Lovibond Porter logs? That's right, a grist of just amber and black malt. I'd been starting to wonder if anyone had really used it. Well, yes they did.

Friday, 20 March 2009

A special Black and Tan

In addition to pies and sausages, I picked up a few beers in England to bring home. Including a pair of English classics: Mackeson and Gold Label.

Both beers originated in breweries bought up (and closed) by Whitbread. Though neither now bears the Whitbread name. In their time both were innovative beers. Mackeson the first widely-available lactose-laced Milk Stout. Gold Label the first amber-coloured Barley Wine. Once available in pubs acrosss Britain, you're now lucky to find them in anywhere except a forgotten corner of a supermarket shelf. And in a can.

It's a sign of the abandonment by the big brewers of much of the British brewing tradition that beers like these have been left to wither and die. They're not quite dead yet, but how much longer will they survive?

So tonight, in honour of the past glories of British brewing, I'll be drinking a very special Black and Tan. Mackeson and Gold Label. I bet it'll taste great. Or different. Either will do me.

By the way, I've a couple of Mackeson recipes from the 1950's. Anyone interested?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

My name in print

It's finally happened. I've got a writing credit in a book. And not one I've published myself. A real book that's sold in shops and on Amazon.

"Which book is it?" Glad you asked that. The Beer Book, edited by Tim Hampson. I wrote the bit on Dutch beer. A small fraction of the book. But I still get my name in the list of contributors.

The book was published in September 2008. Why do I only mention it now? Because I'd been waiting until I'd seen the book myself. As I was due two free copies, I wasn't going to buy it. The publishers sent my copies out in October. They never arrived. They sent two more in December. They didn't arrive either. At the third attempt, the Dutch postal service finally managed to get them to me. They arrived yesterday in a sack. Don't ask me why. Or where the first two packages went.

I have to see that it looks really good. Very well laid out and with great photographs. Not had chance to peruse all the text yet, but it looks very thorough.

I've taken my first step on the road to literary stardom. Now I just need to persuade someone to publish a whole book of my writing. Any offers?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1918 Courage X

It's time to brew again. If you can remember as far back as a week, you'll recall that last time the recipe was for Courage X Ale from 1915. Today it's the same beer, but three years later.

In 1915, breweries were still producing beers that were essentially unchanged from the pre-war period. That was no longer true by 1918. The German U-boat campaign had dragged Britain to the edge of starvation and there was insufficent grain for brewing. Lack of raw materials and government restrictions had forced brewers to slash gravities.

In just three years, Courage X had changed dramatically. The OG was down from 1049.3 to 1034.7, though the colour and hopping rate were little altered. The grist was very different. Out went californian 6-row, replaced by English Mild Ale malt. In came black malt and the dark No. 3 brewing sugar.

These are Kristen's notes and a simplified version of the recipe.

The hops are now 4 years old and they use poperinge hops. My best guess is that these were hallertauers b/c it was about a year to soon for Brewers Gold. Salmon didnt release them from Wye college until 1919 and it took time to get there, grow, etc.

The finishing gravity is even lower giving about 80% apparently attenuation. The fermentation temp is now in the 'normal' range and you can see the use of attemperators when final gravity is reached.

Once again, notes for the recipe if different from the last ones.

*Grist* - pale, mild, black and crystal.

*Hops* - Two different varieties are used. Fuggles and hallertauer are
good substitutes for the Bligh and Poperinge, respectively.

*Ferment* - Normal 70F.

*Recipe sizing* - For those wishing to resize this recipe should go by the percentages from the logs. You all know your own efficiency and hop utilization rates. If you need any help just shoot me an email and we'll work out your problems.

Simplified recipe

5gals @ 80% efficiency

Grist (lbs)
English Mild malt (Taylor) 3.04
English Pale malt (Page) 1.5
English Crystal (75L) 0.63
English Black malt (525L) 1.25oz
Invert #2 syrup (Garton) 6.8oz
Invert #3 syrup (Garton) 2.25oz

Hops (original) Oz.
Fuggle @ 4.3% (Bligh - 1914) 0.5oz
Hallertauer @ 4.2% (Pops - 1914) 0.50oz
Total 1oz

Blend all of the hops together and then add:
Start of boil - 0.67oz
After 60min remainder

Boil - 90min

Water treatment (g/gal liquor)
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom) 1.0
Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) 0.57
Sodium Chloride (Salt) 0.43

One night in Folkestone

Did I mention that I was in England at the weekend? Two nights in sunny Folkestone. Mikey drove us over to celebrate his birthday in blighty.

After a handful of visits, I've taken quite a shine to Folkestone. It's neither the prettiest nor liveliest nor most cosmopolitan English town. But it has a pleasant atmosphere and the locals are friendly.

We didn't have much of a plan. Stock up on pies, sausages, bacon and tea. Then get pissed. It's best not to overreach yourself. We achieved all of our modest goals. And it didn't cost the earth. Britain is so cheap nowadays, with the quid hardly worth more than the euro. Two nights in a hotel with breakfast and a 3-course evening meal included cost me a piddling 75 euros. I even had a sea view.

"What about beer, Ronald?" I hear you ask. Well there was plenty of that. Of very varied quality. It was Mikey's birthday, after all. I wasn't going to say "I'm not drinking in there, they've no handpumps." Sometimes it's nice to let beer play a supporting role. Despite the impression I may sometimes give, it doesn't yet completely dominate my every waking moment.

Mikey asked the barman in the pub attached to our hotel, the Skuba Bar, where the action was. We'd already seen a dozen groups of dangerously scantily-dressed lasses come and go. They were obviously on a circuit. A circuit we wanted to ride around, too. "Go left along the seafront. There's The Office, that's nice. A bit further along there's the Leas Club. It's full of kids and the carpets sticky, but it's OK. If you really want to make a night of it there's the Party Bar down by the harbour. That's open until three." Sounded good to me.

I finished my bottle of London Pride, Mikey knocked back his Strongbow and off we went. The Office wasn't far. I usually don't care for bouncers on the doors of pubs. But the rotund chap in black at The Office was very friendly. Welcoming, even. Inside it was modern, a bit loud and full of kids. Until we arrived, at least. We found a table in a corner next to a pair of Polish girls.

I was surprised to spot a lone handpump on the bar. Even more surprised that not only was it in use, but that the London Pride it dispensed was pretty good. While I was getting served, I savoured a glimpse of Man United's humiliation at the feet of Liverpool.

After two pints, it was time to move on. The ball-shaped bouncer gave us some advice on further destinations on our way out. What a nice chap. Leas Club. That was the next stop. After a few yards there it was: Leas Bar. In a hotel. "Non-residents welcome" the sign said. Our arrival coincided with that of a coachful of Lancastrian pensioners. A bit odd if the bar, as the Skuba barman had said, was full of kids.

The Leas Bar wasn't full of anything apart from air. No cask beer and a weird atmosphere. A pair of geriatrics were fiddling with a sound system. One of the most depressing places I've been in ages. Like a really shit mid-1970's working men's club. Without exchanging a word, Mikey and I walked straight on out again. Now there's a rarity. Me leaving a pub without having a drink.

After a few more metres we realised our mistake. When we came across the Leas Club.

Despite being called a club, there was no entrance fee. As we reached the bottom of the steps leading down to the dance floor we were swept off our feet by a tsunami warm air, damp with teenage sweat. Loud thumpy-thumpy beats were pulsing out of the speaker stacks and a stack of young limbs were thrashing around wildly. Just what Mikey had wanted.

As I walked to the bar, the carpet sucked at my shoes, as if spread with marmelade. Ahh. this must be the place Skuba barman meant. What happy memories it brought back of the Esplanade in Melbourne, proud home of the world's stickiest carpet. The one in Leas had a way to go to match the Esplanade's glory, but it was definitely on the way. Just give it another couple of decades without redecoration.

There was little action behind the bar. The staff, of which there was at least half a dozen, were all hiding in a corner. I hate waiting for beer. When I finally had a pint of chilly Guinness in my paw, I felt the glass vibrating to the pumped up bass. Why hadn't I taken any cotton wool with me? Out of practice clubbing, I guess.

It's been a while since I've seen such an enthusiastic and unselfconscious crowd of dancers. A few looked even old enough to have left school. If you watch British TV or read British newspapers, you might be led to believe that towns centres are like Paris in 1968, but without the politics. That youngsters, pumped up on drugs and booze rampage the streets, leaving a trail of broken windows and bones in their wake. This lot seemed remarkably good-humoured. Especially as quite a few were having issues with walking or even keeping upright.

Before I left, Andrew had been worried by my plans. "Don't go to a nightclub, dad. People have knives there." He's watched too many finger-wagging documentaries about The Youth of Today. "Please dad, promise me you won't go to a nightclub." I didn't go to a nightclub. I went to two.

When the gyrators on the floor began to thin, we again moved on. A short taxi ride down the hill to the Party Bar. Before entering, Mikey insisted on lining his stomach. Luckily, there was a kebab shop a couple of doors away. Amongst the faded posters of Turkish holiday resorts was a sign saying "We will not tolerate racist abuse". Not a great sign. I suppose that's the price you have to pay for catering for the late-night crowd. The staff were friendly, but clearly on their guard.

Outside the club, one of the smokers spoke to Mikey. "Did you used to drink down the Old Kent Road?" "Yes, but that was nearly 20 years ago." "I never forget a face." They then discussed down-at-heal Southeast London boozers from the late 1980's for a while.

Inside, the Party Bar was as boisterouos and good-natured as the Leas Club. The crowd was more mixed, though. I was pleased to see that for once I wasn't the oldest in the room. That honour went to the old chav with the walking stick. Early 70's, I reckon. He was doing about as much dancing as me. To give him his due, he was at least standing. After a day pubcrawling, I needed to rest my feet.

With the night almost over, Mikey managed to pull. I don't know how he does it, the smooth-talking bastard.

We didn't quite make it to chucking out time, calling it a night at 02:30. Not so bad considering I'd seriously craved my bed at 08:30.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

All five British beer styles

I must be prescient. How else can I account for my last post, mocking the Brewers Association 140+ "beer styles"? I wrote it a week ago. Because of a weekend break in England, I had five posts stacked up and scheduled to be published in my absence.

What did I notice on my return? That others had been writing about the insane proliferations of made-up beer styles. Good to know I'm not the only one wondering where it will all stop. Alan at A Good Beer Blog got me pointed in the right direction with his "Being a Hound Without any Sense of Style" post.

Jack Curtin touched upon the topic in a chat with Fritz Maytag.

Over at Yours for Good Fermentables Tom Cizauskas wrote a paragraph with which I wholeheartedly concur:

"Styles, now, at least in the US, seem to be determined by formalistic minutiae, and, once in place, fiercely defended by the killer phrase "not to style"."
A post called "What is the purpose of beer styles?" on Beervana answered the question in its title thus:

"The purpose of having them at all is to bring coherence to a vast diversity of beers--not to merely create a name for every single variation."
I spend a lot of time looking brewing logs, old adverts and the like. The information I collect from them is packed into spreadsheets. It's given me a lot of material to analyse. The more I look, the fewer styles I find. I'm left with just a handful.

Removing variations based on differing strengths or the addition of a special ingredient, this is all that remains:

Pale Ale
Brown Ale
Mild Ale
Strong Ale

You could add Lager to that, but I was talking in terms of indigenous styles.

Or maybe I should stop swimming against the tide and start campaigning for the recognition of some new styles of my own. Where to start? AK, perhaps. Followed by AKA, XK, XLK, Luncheon Ale, Family Ale, Intermediate Ale. Why on earth hasn't the Brewers Association picked up on these yet?


It isn't true, as some have claimed, that "Imperial" was only used to describe Stout. As with much Victorian beer terminology, it was erratically and inconsistently applied.

I stumbled across this wonderful example today in an 1868 price list: Imperial Table Beer. Let's see, Imperial means really strong and Table Beer means something safe to give to the kiddies. So how on earth can a Table Beer be Imperial? The price, 2s 6d for a dozen pint bottles, implies a gravity of 1060-1065º.

Funnily enough, Imperial Table Beer isn't one of the more than 140 styles officially approved by the Brewers Association. Though "Session Beer" is. Soon there will be more styles than exhibitors at the GABF. Or mybe that's the point: having enough medals so that everyone can win one.

If you're in need of amusement, take a look at the style definitions. They gave me a few good laughs. The Porter and Stout definitions are particularly hilarious. The german ones, too. Where do they get this shit from?

Monday, 16 March 2009

Conditioning in the cask

It seems that breweries trying to skip proper conditioning in of their beer in the pub is nothing new.

This 1894 advert from Overton & Gibbon makes clear that they weren't taking shortcuts:

"Nothing artificial is used in these Ales in the shape of Finings (in order to produce early brilliancy), consequently the Ales will require about three days to become spontaneously bright. THESE ALES WILL NEVER ACIDIFY."

There really isn't anything new under the sun, is there? It sounds depressingly similar to the modern practice of racking beer pretty much bright into casks so it can be sold almost as soon as it hits the cellar floor.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The difference between Porter and Stout (part 99)

Back to one of may favourite topics: the difference between Porter and Stout. I just stumbled across this quote that I thought I'd share with you:

"Porter has now come to mean a dark malt liquor, made partly from brown or black malt, the caramel in which gives it the sweetness and syrupy appearance, and containing four or five per cent. of alcohol. Stout is a stronger porter, with larger amount of dissolved solids, and containing six or seven per cent. of alcohol."
"A Hand-book of Industrial Organic Chemistry" by Samuel Philip Sadtler, 1900, page 196.

It's official. Stout = a stronger Porter. I hope that settles this question for once and all.

Truman's Ales (part 3): 1860 - 1861

This is fun, isn't it? Going through Truman's Ales decade by decade. Who needs TV, when you've got entertainment like this?

What's fun about these numbers? Well,you can see that the gravities have dropped. X Ale was 1078 in 1850, but just 1067 in 1860. 40/- Ale fell from 1084 to 1077, XXX from 1106 to 1087. That's quite a sharp decrease. Exactly why and when, I don't know.

What are the usual culprits for gravity drops? War and taxation. Or rising costs.

For once, tax seems to have played no part. The malt tax (there was no tax on beer per se between 1830 and 1880) was steady at 2s 7d a bushel. To give you some idea what that meant, brewing a 36 gallon barrel of Porter of 1056º required two bushels of malt. So about five bob tax per barrel. Whereas before 1830 the excise duty on a barrel of Porter was ten shillings.

The price of malt could be the key. You know me. I have numbers coming out of my ears. Not for the price of bloody malt, though. I need to get myself an older Brewers' Almanack. I only have these figures:

1820 58s per quarter (approx. 336 pounds)
1857 42s
1860 36s

Doesn't look like malt was getting more expensive.

War? There was the Crimean in the 1850's. But no tax increase.

I'm a bit stumped. There's only one last thing I can think of. That the price breweries charged for a barrel of beer fell. Haven't got time to check up on that now. I've already missed my tea and the Simpson's has just started.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

More beer code fun

I've been having a trawl through old directories looking for price lists again. I know. I should get myself a life. But if I didn't do it, who would?

Sometimes it isn't the beers themselves that grabs my attention. The way a price list is organised can be just as revealing. This is a good example from the Eltham Brewery for the year 1874. The beers are split into two groups "October Brewed Stock Ales & Stout" and "Mild Ale, Stout & Porter". This is a new one for me. I've never seen Stouts split into two different groups before.

It's intriguing that PA and IPA are listed as Stock Ales while AK is in the Mild Ale column. "Bitter Dinner Ale" they describe AK as. So it's a Bitter and a Mild. I suppose I can forgive McMullen for calling their AK a Mild, then.

That's not all that's unusual about this particular price list. KIPA is another new one on me. judging by the price, this must be an early example of a Double IPA. I estimate it had a gravity of at least 1090º. I would guess that the IPA was about 1070º and PA around 1065º. I'm all confused. Eltham is on the outskirts of London. I though London IPA's were weak. Oh well, that's another theory gone up in smoke.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Literary feast

When you're an obsessive, excitement comes in strange forms. Forms that would leave others shuffling away nervously.

Back in the days before beer took over my life, I used to read fiction. Czech and French were my favourites. Someone asked the other day how I learned to read so many languages. Commuting was my answer.

This did have a point. What was it again? Not to worry. I'm bound to remember it before the end of this post.

Barclay Perkins had enigmatic names for their beers. Their Porter, unlike at other London breweries, wasn't called Porter or P. No. At Barclay Perkins Porter was known as TT. Where did that come from? PorTTer? Was it named by a dyslexic brewer?

My reading matter is no longer fiction. Beer book buying binges and Google Books have caught that dead square in the goolies. My literary pretensions are on their knees, ashen-faced and whimpering.

Literary feast? Tonight, I had a meagre supper of Victorian price lists. And what should I find? Another beer called TT. What sort of beer was it? Sixpence a gallon beer. Sixpence a gallon? You rarely find anything under tenpence a gallon. It must have been like workhouse beer.

It doesn't get me any closer to solving the riddle of Barclay Perkins TT. But I do have another TT in my collection. Satisfaction enough for an obsessive.

Brown malt follow up

Brown malt. What a fascinating subject. I'm still trying to get to the bottom of what the hell it was like in the 18th century. Many thanks to MentalDental for sending me John Carr's paper "On Malting".

Carr's description of brown malt and its manufacture is intriguing.

"Strictly speaking, there are only three varieties of malt, viz. brown, amber, and pale malt. The first two are peculiar to porter, and have special reference to its flavour and colour; the third is the general basis as well of all porter as of every other species of malt liquor; and it is the only one which merits any consideration in the general question of malting. Brown malt receives all its peculiar qualities in the kiln, by an operation called blowing: it is spread there very thin, and a very quick and active heat is passed through it from flaming faggots: the sudden application of the heat converts the moisture in the grain into vapour, which blows up the husk, and the heat catching it in its distended state hardens and prevents it from collapsing; hence the grains of such malt are large and hollow, and increase the measure from one to two bushels in a quarter. The saccharine of this malt is nearly all destroyed by the operation of the fire, and its sole object in porter is to communicate flavour and colour; but as these qualities are probably to be obtained from other materials than malt, some porter-brewers are not using it at all, and the making of it is very rapidly declining. Amber malt is a species between brown and pale, and is also made on the kiln by giving it less fire than the former, and more than the latter; it is still generally used in porter along with pale malt, but the quantity made is inconsiderable."
On Malting, John Carr, Esq, 1807
[From Papers presented in the House of Commons relating to the
Sprinkling of Malt on the Floor. Ordered to be printed l0th of August, 1807]
Presented to the Committee of Enquiry into Malting
Taken from The Philosophical Magazine, Vol xxxi, 1808

I find this phrase about brown malt very revealing "its sole object in porter is to communicate flavour and colour". It got me thinking about the role of brown malt in Porter and how it changed at the end of the 18th century.

Before the hydrometer revealed that pale malt was far more economical, Porter had been brewed from 100% brown malt. That in itself tells us that the brown malt of that time was very different stuff to that of the 19th century onwards. Later brown malt had no diastatic power. It didn't need to, because there were sufficient enzymes in the pale malt base. The purpose of brown malt in a brew had changed. It was just being used for flavour and colour, as Carr wrote.

These are Porter and Stout grists from around the time Carr was writing:

The 19th century descriptions of brown malt manufacture in Hertfordshire differ from those of the previous century. In the 18th century Hertfordshire maltsters used straw to fuel their kilns. I can find no reference to the use of wood to suddenly increase the temperature at the end of the process.

The percentage of brown malt in Porter had fallen below 50% by the early 1800's. Could blown malt have been a reaction to this? Something that had more flavour and more colour than the old brown malt to compensate for the reduction in the amount used in a brew. Was blown malt a precursor of black malt?

A collection of AK's

AK, as I've already explained, obsesses me for several reasons. That's why I collect them. It's a slow day here at Barclay Perkins so I thought that I'd share a few of them with you.

There are almost as many descriptions of what AK is as there are examples. The table above has fourteen: Mild Bitter Ale, Ale, Bitter, Bitter Ale, Bitter Dinner Ale, Family Ale, Light Amber Ale, Light Bitter, Light Bitter Ale, Light Dinner Ale, Light Pale Ale, Luncheon Ale, Pale Ale, Stock Bitter Ale. Light and Bitter are the two words that crop up the most. So I guess AK was both light and bitter. Light and Bitter? Isn't that what cockneys drank in the 1960's?

The price is much more consistent than the nomenclature. All but three were a shilling a gallon wholesale. A shilling a gallon was the price for standard-strength beer for most of Victoria's reign. It's hard to imagine nowadays, isn't it? Beer staying the same price for 50 years.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Brown malt yet again

I just can't get enough of that wonderful Duff. No, of that wonderful brown malt. Such a fascinating topic. And one where there is so much contradictory evidence.

My main source today is H. Stopes, author of the classic "Malt and Malting", published in 1885.

"The Manufacture Of Black, Amber, Crystal, And Other Special Malts.Hitherto we have been considering one class of malt only, viz. that technically known as pale malt. Several other varieties exist. Under this heading we shall consider those only which depend upon the conditions already explained, but with a variation of the final process of drying, such variation being chiefly a comparatively slight difference of temperature.

Amber, porter, blown, or imperial malt can be made in any ordinary malting, the
differences to which they owe their names being almost entirely effected upon
the kiln. The scope they afford to the engineer for employment or improvement is
infinitesimal. They deserve mention only for the impressive fact, that the difference in temperature which will convert pale malt into amber or imperial is actually less than is to be found in the vast majority of kilns, between the temperature of that pale malt lying upon the surface of the tiles or wire, and of the upper surface exposed to the air. There is probably no kiln in Great Britain having only a single floor in which this difference is less than 50°. Pale malt next the tiles will be at 200° Fahr., and upon the surface 150° or less; and malt heated to 240° would make amber or imperial malt.

Blown or porter malt has the further difference that considerable heat is applied with suddenness before it has become dried. It is well known that any given temperature over 100° Fahr. will give much more colour to malt if still moist than a much greater heat if dry. Blown malt is exposed to the flare of fast-burning oak faggots or billet wood, and gains much colour and increase of size in consequence. Its use is an absurdity that is dying out, for the colour and flavour so gained are found to be very costly.

Crystal malt is green malt not fully grown, taken straight from the floor, and placed in a woven wire cylinder over a fire, and rotated. The curious sweetness of crystal malt to the palate may be readily accounted for by the mode of its drying. Sufficient
moisture is present at considerable temperature to enable the diastase to convert a portion of the starch into sugar.

Black or patent malt is pale or other malt dried in the ordinary way, and then placed in a cylinder over a fire, and rotated. The starch and saccharine constituents are speedily caramelised, and a splendid deep colour is obtained, which is communicated to porter and stout. The chief difference in the appliances used in the manufacture
of these (crystal and black) malts is the construction of the furnaces and cylinders. They have to be made in such a manner that free inspection of the malt can take place during roasting. They must also admit of ready lateral movement to facilitate filling and emptying; and appliances for proper cooling are of importance."
"The Engineering of Malting" by H. Stopes, 1885 an article in "Transactions" journal of the Society of Engineers.
What interests me about this passage is Stopes' dismissal of adding wood to increase the temperature of the kiln as an absurd and expensive practice that was disappearing. Though, it seems as if the practice survived into the lat 20th century. This is what Guy Horlock of French & Jupps has to say about making brown malt:

"We produced Brown Malt until 1980, but due to the dangerous nature of the
manufacture, nobody would insure us after that date. I have been working for F&J since 1949 and I was involved quite heavily in the production of Brown Malt."

"All my period with the production, we have never used anything other than Hornbeam, both poles and faggots and I know that Taylors at Sawbridgeworth (later to become part of ABM) did the same. However I know that Swonnels at Yarmouth did use offcuts of Oak, simply because they has a woodyard (Jewsons) next door, but I have never heard of anything else in the production and never coal."
Extract from a letter written by Guy Horlock, curator, French & Jupps Museum, Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire.
So it looks like the archaic practice of finishing roasted malts with faggots of wood didn't die out as Stopes expected. Anyone have any idea how they make brown malt nowadays?

French (presumably short for French & Jupp) and Taylor are names that frequently crop up in the brewing logs of Whitbread and other London breweries. Usually it was either brown or black malt that they supplied.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1915 Courage X

Welcome to the very first Let's Brew Wednesday. Brought to you by Barclay Perkins in association with Kristen England of the BJCP. I do the bullshitting, Kristen does the work of actually putting the recipes together.

Today's recipe is an Courage X Ale from the early years of WW I. The original was brewed in the Horsleydown brewery, situated right next to Tower Bridge on the south bank of the Thames. The brewery building is still there, though nowadays it contains fancy flats rather than brewing kettles.

The war, other than making beer more expensive through tax increases, had little effect on brewing before 1917. Beers remained at pretty much their pre-war strength. At around 5% ABV, Courage X was considerably stronger than later Milds. Note that the darkest malt in the grist is crystal. Which is why the colour is a dark amber rather than brown.

These are Kristen's notes on the recipe:

Grist - 1 pale, 1 mild, 1 6-row and 1 crystal. Whomever you like to use, do so. I would have to say that the three base malts are all quite a bit different so do your best to mimic that.

Sugars - #3 invert syrup. If you dont have it you can mimic it by using dark brown sugar and inverting it. Invert sugar is made by mixing two parts table sugar to one part water, and adding two teaspoons lemon juice (1/4tsp tartaric acid) per pound of sugar. The mixture is brought almost to a boil and then reduced to a vigorous simmer for about 30 minutes.

Hops - Three different varieties are used. Fuggles and EKG are good substitutes for the UK ones but really any hop can be used that has an extended pedigree (read old). The ubiquitous Cluster American hops are a must.

Mash - Underlet the mash if at all possible (adding liquor to the bottom). If not, then a direct infusion will work just fine. You want a rate of 1.03qt/lb strike ratio. Do the two step infusion...if you aren't able, do a single infusion at 149F.

Liquor treatment - Salts are to be added to each gallon used.

Yeast - Any English will do well. One that particularly finished dry is one you want. Timothy Taylors yeast started at Courage so if you can get it, do so.

Ferment - This beer is a bit different in that its fermented at quite a high temperature. It averages right around 74-75F which is really quite high.

Here is a simplified version of just the recipe for 5 gal:


Grist (lbs)
English Pale malt (Hutchinson) 3.06
English Mild malt (Hilton) 3.06
American 6-row malt (California) 0.90
English Crystal (75L) 0.44
Invert #3 syrup (Garton) 0.99

Hops (original) Oz.
EKG @ 4.1% (Scott - 1914) 1.00
Cluster @ 5.2% (California - 1914) 0.33
Fuggle @ 4.2% (Prichett - 1913) 0.50
Total 1.83oz

Blend all of the hops together and then add:
Start of boil 1.25oz
After 90min remainder

Boil - 2 hours

Water treatment (g/gal liquor)
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom) 1.26
Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) 0.85
Sodium Chloride (Salt) 0.60

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Bottle-conditioned beach

I'm shocked by the lack of commitment over at Boak and Bailey to decent beer. Shocked, disgusted and a little bit sad.

I hesitate to repeat it here, but this is what they wrote:
"After all, it’s just not practical to sling a few bottle-conditioned ales in a bag and take them to the beach. For one thing, they’ll get shook up. For another, you can’t drink them from the bottle. And — the final nail in the coffin — they just don’t look cool."
Can't take bottle-conditioned beer to the beach? I beg to differ on that one.

It's easy-peasy. You just need to decant your St Bernardus into a plastic bottle. Then you're ready to go. No yeast to get disturbed. And some fizz is removed in the process. Brilliant! Everyone else will be swilling swill from a plastic container. You'll fit right in.

It works equally well for the playground, too. You don't want the other parents to spot what a pisshead you are. So use a Diet Coke bottle. St Bernardus Abt has many great features. One is being exactly the same colour as Coke.

Looking cool? As Stonch has remarked, that's the last thing I'm worried about.