I've a peculiar fascination with British Lager. Perhaps because it's been so neglected by beer writers.
Barclay Perkins made their first experiments in Lager brewing during WW I. By the 1930's, they'd a range of three: Export, Draught and Dark. Though they put a great deal of effort into their Lager - building a special brewhouse, employing a Danish lager brewer, advertising - it never sold in huge quantities.
When Courage, which had taken over Barclay Perkins in the 1950's, became involved in the Harp consortium, it was logical to brew it on the company's only specialist Lager plant. Which spelled doom for Barclay's London Lager as a brand.
(The Harp Lager consortium was formed in 1961 by Guinness, Courage, Scottish & Newcastle and Bass jointly. Harp became the main draught Lager for all four companies and was produced in a variety of their breweries. Courage left the consortium in 1979.)
It's a fascinating period in the development of British Lager, when companies were working out which brands to go with. Of course, Courage would later pull out of Harp and mess around with various Lagers of its own. Before dissolving away into nothing, leaving just a couple of wandering Ale brands behind.
Now I'll let Kristen do his technical thing . . . .
1962 Harp Lager
OK guys here is a VERY special Let's Brew recipe. Its the first brewing of Harp's Lager by Barclay Perkins. Thurs Nov 8th 1962. Its such a wonderful log as there are so many little notes all over it. Things like:
'Steam pipe by old M.T. sprang a leak at approx 5.10am. Mash able to continue as normal'
'Very good conversion'
'Very good break'
'Post ferment 211 bbls 32 gals @ 1.0092'
All wonderfully informative which makes a lot of sense since its the first time they brewed it. Ron sent me this one a while ago and I wanted to make sure I had a change to make it before I wrote about it. Its a very simple recipe with a touch of colorant added.
Grist and such
They don't indicate there is any pils malt used as they do in most other logs and use the pale malts they use in other beers of the time. Two simple English pale malts with a very hefty dose of flaked maize chucked in for good measure (~18%). This lends the beer to be very pale...around 5 EBC or so. The brewer wrote in big red pen and underlined '14lb caramel color added to copper'. He then goes on to state 'Colour 13 (EBC), 11 after fermentation.' This is the first time I've seen any
mention of the color after fermentation. All really neat stuff. This is also one of the first time I've seen a brewer blatantly indicated the losses from pre to post-fermentation.
The mash is very interesting here. They split the grain and do two different mashes on it. The first, with no flaked maize, goes through a three step standard process thats very close to Rocheforts schedule. Then it takes a turn and they boil the whole thing for 20min. The second mash is a two step and then a mash out. They also underlet which the first doesn't and sparge the hell out of it.
These hops are very fresh and very much not English. One can see them trying to get a little of the hop character of continental pils-type beers using 50:50 Hallertauer and Saaz hops. At 17bu this isn't any where near the traditional pils, much more like the American lagers.
Touches of biscuit and bready malt surrounded by a try 'corny' aroma thats quite rich. Floral and spicy Saaz and Hallertauer are just enough to lend some complexity to the nose. The finish is dry but not overly being just dry enough to accentuate the little 17bu of bitterness. All in all, its ok . . . but that's the whole point about this beer right!?
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