In this passage he tells us something about the beers being brewed in Sheffield in the late 19th century. I'm amazed that 80% of the brewery's output was XXXX.
"5969. You say that 80 per cent, of the beers sold to public-houses are of the best quality, and then you qualify that by saying medium quality ?—What we should call the strongest beers are not sold so largely, but it is the medium quality—what we call XXXX. beer in Sheffield. Our output is 80 per cent, of that quality.
5970. (Mr. Clure Sewell Read.) What do you call the very best ?—We have a name of our own for the best beer; we call it "Anchor Special" ; of course, some people call it one thing and other people another. The running beers in the neighbourhood of Sheffield are called X., XX., XXX., and XXXX., and the special beers are called any name they fancy.
5971. (Chairman.) At what price do you sell your "Anchor Special" beer ?—At 1s. 8d. a gallon.
5972. (Dr. Bell.) What gravity would that be ?—About 85 [1085º], or something like that.
5973. (Chairman.) That is considerably above the gravity of the ordinary beer, which you give at from 65 to 67 [1065-1067º]? - That is so.
5974. (Sir J. H. Gilbert.) And that is not matured within 10 or 14 days?—No, it takes longer, it will take a month or six weeks—well, it will take six weeks."
. . . .
979. How long is required before you are able to send beer out ?—Do you mean from brewing or from the beer. racking of it ?
5980. After the brewing, how long have you to keep it on the premises before you send it out to your customers ? —We have no particular time, but we unfortunately have been very much behind our trade. Our brewing capacity has not been sufficient to keep time with the business until just lately. We really like to keep it in the summer about a fortnight.
5981. For clearing purposes ?- Yes.
59S2. (Sir J. H. Gilbert.) From what date does your 10 or 14 days run ?—From the racking.
5983. (Dr. Bell.) That is after the fermentation is completed ?—Yes."
"Minutes of evidence taken before the Departmental committee on beer materials", 1899, pages 227 - 228.
Evidence given by George Harston, Managing Director of the Anchor Brewery, Sheffield.
Picking the bones out of that, I get the following:
- standard X Ales in Sheffield were around 1065º
- XXXX Ale was about 1085º
- lower -gravity X Ales were matured for 10 to 14 days after racking
- XXXX Ale was matured for four to 6 weeks after racking.
Another learning experience. I'll sleep more soundly in my bed tonight.