Showing posts with label Brown Stout. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brown Stout. Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Barclay Perkins Stout quality 1922 - 1925

We're finally on the final leg of my crawl through the cellars of 1920's London. It's been a fascinating journey. So much so, that it probably deserves a volume of its own. But what to call it? Gravity!? Or maybe Draught! Feel free to throw suggestions at me.

The 1920's was a funny period. Brewers weren't sure legislation the government might throw their way, particularly with regard to pubs. The so-called local option, where inhabitants of a ward could vote for it to go dry was seen by brewers as a great threat. Pubs were their primary outlets. Whole areas becoming pub-free could seriously affect their sales. Eventually, local option legislation was only passed in Scotland and only a small number of areas there ever voted to go dry.

One of the ironies is that the temperance campaigners who argued against the bad influence of the old type of pub were opposed to them being improved. Purely on the grounds that well-run, modern pubs countered many of their crazy arguments. But rationality, truth and objectivity are rare companions of teetotallers. Distortions and downright lies are their stock in trade.

Here's an example of the temperance view compared to the rational view. We'll begin with sense:

The best way to defeat the prohibition and local option movements was by the improvement of the public-house, was the opinion put forward Mr E. W. Giffad presiding at the annual meeting of the Barclay, Perkins Brewery Co. in London yesterday.

The American prohibition campaign had been stated in this country, said, but the promoters were not working very much on the surface at present. Their methods were thoroughly unenglish, and they were working the same lines as they did in America. He didn't believe there was any prospect of carrying prohibition in this country, for the working man did not want it. The local option movement was another danger the trade had to face, and it could be put before working men so that they would see that it was as dangerous as prohibition.

Admiral Sir Reginald Hall, M.P., a newcomer to the Board of Directors, said that as a social reformer he had joined the Board because he realised that Barclay, Perkins were pioneers in the movement of improved public-houses. There was no stigma attaching to the presence of ladies and children in an hotel, and public-house ought to be made so that working man could take his women folk and children there without risk of insult to eye or ear."
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 29 June 1920, page 4.

Now the nutcases:

"Public-House Improvements. At the annual meeting of the Barclay Perkins Brewery Company the chairman stated that the best way to defeat the prohibition and local option movements was by the improvement of the public-house. According to this representative of the liquor trade, the Trade can do as well or better than the Government in improving the public-houses. This deliverance is an admission that there is room for improvement of the public-houses and also that the Trade can do something for the ensuring of improvement. As matter of fact, prohibition and local option movements are making progress because the Trade has not succeeded in improving the public-houses or the conditions of the working of the liquor traffic. The Trade lavishing money on opposition to the local option movement, and this means opposition to freedom to the full majorities of citizens declaring for or against the maintenance of unimproved public-houses in their areas."
Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 29 June 1920, page 2.

The distortion? That the trade wasn't trying very hard to improve its pubs. While in many cases brewers were prevented from improving their pubs by teetotallers on licensing committees who refused their applications. The hypocritical bastards.

The prohibition and local option movements weren't really gaining ground. If anything the opposite was true. The impact of a drop in beer strength and the restriction in pub hours had greatly reduced the perception of drunkenness. Partial success had in fact weakened their cause.

Let's look at Barclay Perkins Stout now. I can see which beer it is: BS. Not sure if that still stood for Brown Stout at this point or if it had already become Best Stout. That doesn't really matter. It was their bog standard draught Stout. It terms of strength, it was a typical 9d (after 1923 8d) Stout, with a gravity in the mid-1950's. Here are the numbers in a nice table:

Barclay Perkins BS Stout in the 1920s
Date Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp colour
7th Feb 1922 1055.1 1017.0 5.04 69.15% 9.00 2.34 2

21st Jan 1929 1053.8 1020 4.46 62.79% 6 1.26 2.25 2
61º 340
7th Jan 1929 1053.3 1018 4.67 66.22% 6 1.43 2.25 2 1.75 61º 320
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608 and ACC/2305/01/614.

Now let's take a look at the grist. There's much more fun here. Take a look:

Barclay Perkins BS Stout grists in the 1920s
Date Year OG brown malt amber malt crystal malt MA malt SA malt roast barley no. 3 sugar caramel oats flaked maize
7th Feb 1922 1055.1 4.35% 47.83% 4.35% 21.74% 17.39% 4.35%

21st Jan 1929 1053.8 5.04% 10.08% 7.56% 35.29% 12.61% 12.29% 10.08% 1.68% 0.32% 5.04%
7th Jan 1929 1053.3 5.49% 10.98% 7.32% 32.93% 10.98% 12.58% 12.20% 1.83% 0.23% 5.49%
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608 and ACC/2305/01/614.

The example from 1922 isn't typical. There's a note on the brewing record saying that it was a special all-malt brew for the yeast. It's certainly a pretty odd grist, with 50% amber malt. With less than 40% malt with diastatic power - the MA and SA malts - you have to wonder how well it would have converted.

Unless the amber malt was diastatic. The small amount of roast barley doesn't seem to make much sense, either, given the lack of dark sugar and caramel to colour the beer.

The more standard recipe is still unusual. Any amber malt is rare in weaker Stouts of this period. And over 12% roast barley is very high. The other oddity is the total lack of pale malt. A combination of MA (Mild Ale) and SA (Strong Ale) malts make up the base grains. But there's still around 35% coloured grains in the grist. I guess that explains the dark colour - over 300 lovibond is pretty much black.

Oh, and note the token few pounds of oats so they could sell some of it as Oatmeal Stout. A massive 42 pounds of it for 150 barrels of beer. Far too little to have any impact at all.

Time to look at the quality of BS down the boozer. You may remember that Barclay Perkins beers have mostly been pretty crap so far. Let's see how they do this time:

Barclay Perkins Stout quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Attenuation Flavour score Price
1922 Stout 1016 1057 5.32 71.93% caramel flavour -1 9
1922 Stout 1017.6 1057.6 5.19 69.44% fair rather thin -1 9
1922 Stout 1013.6 1056.6 5.60 75.97% sour -3 9
1922 Stout 1015.4 1054.9 5.13 71.95% v poor -2 9
1922 Stout 1013.9 1055.4 5.40 74.91% v unpleasant -3 9
1923 Stout 1015.6 1058.1 5.52 73.15% fair 1 9
1923 Stout 1013.4 1057.9 5.80 76.86% going off -2 9
1923 Stout 1013.4 1053.9 5.27 75.14% going off -2 8
1923 Stout 1016.2 1053.7 4.86 69.83% Poor & thin -2 8
1923 Stout 1015.8 1055.8 5.19 71.68% unpleasant bitter -2 9
1923 Stout 1014.8 1054.3 5.13 72.74% v fair 2 8
1924 Stout 1012.1 1050.4 4.98 75.99% going off -2 8
1924 Stout 1013.4 1055.5 5.48 75.86% v poor -2 8
1925 Stout 1012.8 1054.8 5.47 76.64% good 2 8
Average  1014.6 1055.4 5.31 73.72%
-1.21 8.57
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

That's quite impressive, in  way. It's scored even worse than their Porter. Only three of fourteen samples had a good flavour. A scary nine examples scored -2 or -3. Based on the descriptions, many had gone bad. Very disappointing. Given Stout was a better seller and higher gravity than Porter, you'd expect it to be in better condition. The overall average score of -1.21 is one of the worst so far.

Time-travelling advice? Stick to bottled Russian Stout in Barclay Perkins pubs.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Nut Brown Ale

Despite my best efforts, I still occasionally get drawn into arguments on BeerAdvocate. I've just been having a particularly good one about Nut Brown Ale and the fact, as a specific brand or type of beer, it's a very modern invention, Brown Ale having completely died out in the 19th century.

My opponent didn't seem willing to or capable of finding any evidence to back his assertion that Nut Brown Ale existed in the 19th century. So I thought I'd do it for him. I didn't expect to find any evidence of its existence. But I was interested in finding when beers specifically called Nut Brown Ale first appeared. My guess was early 1920's. But I thought I may as well give the 19th century a sweep, too.

What I found was interesting, to say the least.

First, I suspect that this Christmas carol is the source of the phrase. I've seen it in so many 19th-century collections of songs that it must have been very well known:

The nut-brown ale, the nut-brown ale,
Puts downe all drinke when it is stale,
The toast, the nut-meg, and the ginger,
Will make a sighing man a singer.
Ale gives a buffet in the head,
But ginger under proppes the brayne;
When ale would strike a strong man dead,
Then nut-megge tempers it againe,
The nut-brown ale, the nut-brown ale,
Puts downe all drinke when it is stale. 
"Christmas Carols, ancient & modern" by William Sandys, 1833, page lxiv.

I'm not sure of its exact date but, judging by the laguage and spelling, it's no later than the 17th century and possibly 16th century.

Looking at the occurrences of the phrase "nut brown ale" in 19th-century newspapers, they fall into three broad categories:

1. In poems and songs, or when someone was writing in a particularly florid style.

2. When describing the beer served at feasts, such as: Christmas, Harvest Home, an heir attaining majority, banquets given for the poor, celebratory dinners of organisations or businesses. It seems to have particularly used to describe the beer given by the gentry to their tenants.

3. When trying to evoke the past in a nostalgic way, usually implying that the nut brown ale of Olde England was better than the beer of today.

What's fascinating is that, though the term was used to describe beer served on certain occasions, there's nothing to indicate that it really was a special kind of beer which carried that specific name. More that it was a poetic way of describing beer at a celebration. So while the phrase "nut brown ale" was common, it wasn't really a specific kind of beer.

I'll be regaling you with examples of all three types of references over the next few days. But, as I know it's everyone's favourite, let's start with some doggerel, sorry, poetry and song. First, it's an example from a little earlier, where at least some of the types of beer mentioned really existed:


WHEN the chill Sirocco blows,
And winter tells a heavy tale;
When 'pyes and daws, and rooks and crows,
Do sit and curse the frost and snows.
Then give me ale!
Stout brown ale, nut-brown ale,
O give me nut-brown ale.


Ale in a Saxon rumkin then,
Such as will make Grimalkin prate,
Bids valour bourgeon in tall men;.
Quickens the poet's wit and pen;
Despises fate ——
Old brown ale, nut-brown ale,
O give me stout brown ale.


Ale that the plowman's heart up keeps,
And equals it to tyrant's thrones,
That wipes the eye which over weeps,
And lulls in sweet and dainty sleeps
The wearied bones.
Old brown ale, nut-brown ale——
O give me stout brown ale.
"The banquet of Thalia, or the Fashionable songsters pocket memorial" Frederick Atkinson, 1790.

Old Brown Ale and Stout Brown Ale really existed in the 18th century. Stout Brown Ale, called Stitch in London, was the Ale equivalent of Brown Stout, that is strong malt liquor brewed from brown malt with a modest level of hopping. I think you can work out what Old Brown Ale was.

Here's a later song:


The vinous drink is lov'd by many,
Yet I will gage a silver penny;
To whatever quarter you may sail,
No drink you'll find like nut brown ale.

Of liquors, I have had my share,
Of every kind that's choice and rare,
But no one can with me prevail,
To think they equal nut brown ale.

The foaming tankard on the board,
What pleasure does its Might afford,
Can any one in conscience rail,
Speak ill of sparkling nut brown ale,

Malt is the best thing e'er was born.
Or exchang'd for a barley corn.
For without malt we all should fail,
To get a drop of nut brown ale.
"The red, white & blue monster song book" edited by J. Diprose, 1860, page 315.

Note the poetic, nostalgia-inducing phrases: "foaming tankard", "barley corn" and "I will gage a silver penny".

The Scots saeem to have had a special affinity for doggerel:

Go, get thee gone, thou dastardly loon,
Go, get thee to thine own countrie
If ever you cross the Border again,
The muckle deil accompany thee.
There's mony a tree in fair Scotland,
And there's ane, the gallows-tree,
On which hang the Irish rogues,
A fitting place it is for thee.

Go get thee gone, thou dastardly loon,
Too good for thee is brose and kale:-—
We've lads and ladies gay in the land,
Bonny lasses, and nut-brown ale.
When thou goest to merry Carlisle,
Welcome take thy loud laughters three;
But know that most of our beggarly clan
Came from the Holy Land like thee.

Go, get thee gone, thou beggarly loon,
On thee our maidens refused to smile:-
Our pipers they scorn'd to beg from thee,
A half-starv'd knight of the Emerald Isle.
Go rather and herd thy father's pigs,
And feed on 'tatoes and butter-milk;
But return not to the princely North,
Land of the tartan, the bonnet, and kilt.
North Devon Journal - Friday 11 February 1825, page 3.
A bit politically incorrect, with its talk of hanging Irish rogues. I do love the phrase "dastardly loon", though.

I could continue - there are loads more examples - but that's enough rhymes for one day. Next time we'll be looking at nut brown ale at feasts.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Good London Porter, warranted free of mixture

Old advertisements can be great sources.  They can give a good idea of what drinkers' options were in the past, as well as the relative price of different kinds of beer.

But that's not all we can learn from this advert. It's surprisingly full of useful information.
PETER GRANT, at his cellars, Niddry Street, Edinburgh, most respectfully informs his friends and the public. that he has got to hand, in addition to his former Stock, a large quantity of mild London Porter.— He has likewise on hand a large stock of excellent old and mild Ales, and Scots Porter, in perfection, for immediate use; the whole being brewed on purpose for himself, of a superior quality to any in the place, a trial of which  will be found sufficient recommendation, and sells it at the following prices, in dozens, viz.

  s. d
Good London Porter, warranted free of mixture 2 9
Ditto Rack 3 0
Brown Stout 3 6
Scots Porter 2 0
Ditto ditto 2 3
Best double 2 6
Strong Ale 2 6
Double Ale 3 0
Ditto ditto 3 6
Double double 4 0
Treble Strong 5 0

 As the above prices are three-pence cheaper on each dozen, than can be got of the Same quality elsewhere, no credit will be given. Bottles, if not returned, 2s. per dozen.

Ales from one month old to five years old.

N. B. Families can be advantageously Served with London Potter in hogsheads, as well as in bottles, carriage free to any place in town or Suburbs.

Commissions from the country carefully executed."
Caledonian Mercury - Thursday 11 May 1797, page 1.

I'm going to begin with mild. It's interesting that the Porter is specifically identified as Mild Porter. That is, Porter with no age on it. You might have expected Porter that was being shipped up to Edinburgh to have a little more age on it to help stability. Though the journey from London to Edinburgh wasn't as tricky as that to many other parts of Britain. Doubtless the Porter would have been shipped by sea directly from London to Leith. A relatively cheap and simple trip in the days before the railways.

That's Mild Porter, now let's look at Mild Ales. Though there are Stock Ales too, as it specifically says they have stock of Ale between a month and five years old. Lambic aside, I can't think of any modern beer that's aged as long as five years before sale.

Unfortunately, in the table of prices there's no indication of which Ales are Mild and which aged. It would be easy to assume that the stronger ones were the old ones, but that's a dangerous path to take. Ales of modest strength - though not usually the very weakest - might be aged and, conversely, Ales of great strength might be sold young.

Once again, the vast majority of the beers on offer are bottled. As we know, that's a particularly Scots habit. In England, most of these beers would have been sold in barrels. Though it's not explicitly stated, Peter Grant had almost certainly bottled these beers himself.

It says something about the frequency of adulteration - or at least the public's fear of it - that the advert states it's "free of mixture", i.e. it hasn't been tampered with. Unsurprisingly, the London Porter is more expensive than the locally-brewed Scots Porter. 37.5% more than standard Scots Porter, 22% more than posher Scots Porter.

I've no idea what London Porter Rack means. Presumably some better sort of Porter.

While we're on the subject of names, I particularly like Double Double. Shouldn't that be Quadruple? I'm guessing that the Ales were all brewed in Scotland. If the Ales were English it would surely have been mentioned. Which now has me wondering about the Brown Stout. Was that Scottish or from London?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Good Scots Porter

Here's a very early sighting of Scottish-brewed Porter.: 1758. Along with a whole load of other alcoholic drinks from all over Europe.

"JAMES STIRLING, at the Black Bull, below the Tron Church, EDINBURGH, sells for ready Money,

Bohea and Green Teas, best Chocolate and Levant Coffee, Jamaica raw Sugars, and Variety of Edinburgh refined Sugars, at the lowest Prices.

French Brandy at 2s. 8d. and 3s. 6d. per Pint, single West-India Rum, at 2s. 10 d. and double Ditto at 5 s. per Pint.

Red Port, Malaga, Zerry, and Lisbon Wines, at 1 s. 6d. er Bottle, or 2s. 10 d. per Pint, good Claret Wine at 1 s. 8 d. and strong Ditto at 1 s. 10 d. per Bottle, Madeira Wine at 2s. 6d. and old Canary at 2s. 6d. per Bottle.

Good Scots Porter at 4s. 3d. per Dozen, with Bottles, at 2.5d. per single Bottle, or 2s. 5 d. per Dozen, when whole clean Bottles are returned, and in small Casks at 4.5 d. per Pint, Wine Measure.

Best London Porter ar 3d. per Bottle, or 2s. 10 d. per Dozen.

Good Strong Ale ar 2.5d. per Bottle, or 2s. 6d. per Dozen.

London brown Stout at 4d. and Old Hock at 4.5 d. per Bottle.

Mr. Rochead's Ale at 1.5 d. per Bottle, or three Bottles for 4d. All above, when clean whole Bottles are returned.

And fells at his Cellars in Alison's Court, Potter-row, All Kinds of white and red Wines, Spirits, London Porter, and Ales, with the Discount of the Town's Impost.

N. B. The Wines are all good, and neat as imported, and the Bottles good sizeable Bottles.

Orders in Town, or Commissions from the Country, shall be carefully observed."
Caledonian Mercury - Saturday 25 March 1758, page 3.

Zerry. I think I prefer that to sherry. But amusing old names for drinks aren't all this article teaches us.

The first is pretty obvious: bottled beer. In England bottled beer was pretty rare until the late 19th century. Yet here virtually all the beer is bottled. For reasons I've yet to discover, bottled beer became common much earlier in Scotland. There are several different types of bottled beer: Scots Porter, London Porter, Strong Ale, London brown Stout, Old Hock and Mr. Rochead's Ale. Only the Scots Porter was also available in casks.

Unsurprisingly, London Porter was dearer than locally-brewed stuff. A halfpenny per bottle, or 20%, more. there's mno mention of the size of the bottles, but, if a pint of draught Porter cost 4.5d, they couldn't have been larger than a half pint.

What was Old Hock, I wonder? Hock was the name of Fuller's Mild, so it's possible that it was some sort of Stock Ale. The price certainly implies that it's strong.

I assume that the Strong Ale was brewed in Scotland. Interesting that it's the same price as Porter, but was presumably stronger. This is in the heady early days of Porter's popularity, when it still commanded a premium price.

Note how expensive the bottles themselves were. 1s 10d for a dozen. That's only 7d less than the price of the Scots Porter inside them.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

London Porter in the 1850's (part two)

We're back with George Dodd, learning about beer in London in the 1850's.

Let's start off with a description of some of the types of beer available in the capital:

"The genuine unadulterated London beer, the brown stout, is certainly a special beverage. One drinker may prefer London ale, another the Burton productions of Bass or Allsopp, another the almost over-cloying Edinburgh ale, another the ale of Suffolk or Winchester, of Alton or Llangollen, another the bottled stout of the famous Guinness; but the real London brown stout differs from them all, and has its resolute defenders and admirers. Smokers have sometimes discoursed learnedly upon the fitness of London stout for companionship with tobacco; how that 'the mucilaginous properties, which are well developed in stout, valuably neutralise the narcotic properties of tobacco' — a hypothesis which, be it good or bad, the great porter-brewers would be very glad to endorse. Concerning adulteration, it will be remembered that a great stir was made a few years ago, by an assertion on the part of a French chemist that strychnine, a bitter but poisonous herb, is employed by the Burton ale-brewers in the preparation of their 'bitter ale.' The accusation raised a ferment among the ale-drinkers, and this in its turn roused the Burton brewers; a paper-war ensued, and eminent chemists were called in to ascertain the facts of the matter. The inquiry certainly tended to show that Burton ale is what it professes to be — a genuine product of malt and hops."
"The food of London" by George Dodd, 1856, pages 467 - 468.

I told you that Burton brewers were on the rise. Had this piece been written 20 years earlier, I doubt Bass and Allsopp would have got a mention. I can't help thinking that the whole strychnine scare did Burton brewers no harm at all. The opposite, in fact, as it drew attention to their beers and demonstrated that they weren't adulterated, at least not in the brewery.

Neither would Guinness have been mentioned a little earlier in the century. At the time, it was principally a bottled product in England. It's a notable success of the brewery that they were able to sell considerable quantities in the birthplace of Stout.

Alton, now there's a famous brewing town that's almost totally forgotten today. Being lucky enough to have similar water to Burton, brewers in Alton were able to cash in early on the Pale Ale craze. Alton was still famous for Pale Ale in the early 20th century when Courage, who only brewed Mild, Porter and Stout at their Horsleydown site owned a brewery to meet its Pale Ale requirements. That's where Courage Directors was originally brewed.

From the "over-cloying" description of Edinburgh Ale, it's clear Dodd is talking about the stronger type of Shilling Ale: 100/-, 120/-, 140/- or 160/-. It's not just a case of a high OG, but also a high FG that would make them syrupy.  These are a few examples from William Younger:

William Younger Shilling Ales in the 1850's
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation hops lb/brl bushels malt per barrel 
16th Apr 1853 100/- 1102 1039 8.33 61.76% 4.75 4.60
21st Jun 1854 110/- 1087 1040 6.22 54.02% 3.00 4.80
15th Apr 1853 120/- 1114 1054 7.94 52.63% 6.25 6.00
28th Feb 1852 140/- 1130 1058 9.53 55.38% 4.38 5.84
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/5.

Note that the FG's are higher than the OG's of most modern British beer.

"So far as regards London porter, any sophistication is likely to be practised rather, perhaps, by the publicans in low neighbourhoods than by the brewers ; for the 'Barclay' or the 'Meux' at one house is frequently a very different beverage from that sold at another. Chemists assure us that cocculus indicus, a very bitter drug, often serves as a substitute for hops; that it gives a fulness and thickness and inebriating quality to beer, gaining for that beverage the reputation of being 'strong;' and that hence arises a temptation to tamper with the liquor, by lessening the quantity both of malt and hops. The beer-drinkers are in part to blame here, for thinking that the darkness and clammy thickness are necessarily indicative of strength."
"The food of London" by George Dodd, 1856, page 468.

I'm still uncertain what to make of all these accusations of adulteration. I'm pretty sure stuff like this didn't go on inside the large London Porter brewers. Though what happened when beer fell into the hands of publicans is anyone's guess. Adding drugs was usually supposed to occur when publicans wanted to disguise that they'd watered beer down. Accusations about the use of cocculus indicus regularly appear in publications of the day.

"Numerous minor facts present themselves for notice in connection with London beer. So far as the malt is concerned, beer is made from high-dried malt, which renders it dull, dark, and bitter; while ale is made from low-dried malt, whence it obtains the characteristics of being brisk, light, and sweet. While an excise duty was imposed on beer, 'strong beer' was considered to be that which sold for 16d. or upwards per gallon, while 'table beer' was at lower prices. There was an attempt made by the legislature to encourage the brewing of a third kind, called 'intermediate;' but this attempt, embodied in an Act passed in 1823, did not meet with ultimate success. Brewers can obtain more good wort from a bushel of low-dried malt than from an equal quantity of high-dried ; but as the beer thus resulting would not be so dark or bitter as ordinary London porter, the brewers are tempted to add certain chemical ingredients to bring about the darkening process. Strong Scotch ale is rich both in malt and in hops — there being, it is said, four or five bushels of the former, and four or five pounds of the latter, to a barrel. The 'fourpenny ale,' at the beer-shops (as distinguished from the public-houses) contains from three to four bushels of malt, and two pounds of hops, to the barrel, and is bought from the brewers at 36s. or 38s. per barrel."
"The food of London" by George Dodd, 1856, pages 469 - 470.

I'm wondering if that price of 16d per gallon is right for the dividing line between strong and table beer. The real significance was the difference tax rate for the two classes: 10 shillings per barrel for strong beer, 2 shillings for table beer. It looks a bit high to me. Higher than the usual price of Porter, around 12d per gallon. In any case, that distinction no longer applied in 1856, when taxation was only on malt and not on beer itself.

Why a brewer would use chemicals to darken beer I don't understand. In 1856 there were two legal options: black malt or sugar.

Strong Scotch Ale rich in hops? I thought the Scots didn't use hardly any hops because they don't grow in Scotland? Oh, I remember, that's total bollocks. The table above confirms the quantities of malt and hops Dodd quotes. Four or five pounds per barrel is a shitload.

There's still more of Dodd's chapter on beer for me to pick through. But that's for next time.

Monday, 19 March 2012

T & J Bernard other beers 1923 - 1958

This time we're looking at the other T & J Bernard beers for which I have analyses. Sadly, a rather small group. Still worth a glance, though.

I should be thankful to Whitbread. And their desire to keep a close on competitors in certain key categories for the company. They were still heavily involved in the Stout trade and, as sales of older types waned, they threw their weight behind the new darling of the Porter world, Milk Stout. Half of the Stout analyses below were taken from the Whitbread Gravity Book.

Looking at this set, I've realised something. That while Scottish brewers were renowned for their Strong Ales, they didn't make Stouts of any great strength. The strongest I've found so far was 1078º. That's barely a Double Stout by London standards. There were plenty of London Stouts that were 1090º and above.

The strongest of Bernard's Stout, the Imperial Stout wasn't really all that Imperial. At the same time, the early 1920's, Barclay Perkins base-level draught Stout had nearly the same gravity: 1054º to Bernard's Imperial and 1057º. And that Double Brown Stout at 1035º? Well that's just taking the piss. How strong was the Single Stout?

Bizarrely, the most highly-attenuated of the Stouts is Milk Stout. I thought that was supposed to be sweet? You have to wonder how much - if any - lactose it contained with an FG as low as 1013.6º. Maybe, like the many oatmeal Stouts contained bugger all oats, there was a token amount of lactose thrown in to justify the name.

The Strong Ales look very typical. This is the type of beer that outside Scotland was called Scotch Ale. The stronger, Younger's No. 1 style. 7 - 8% ABV, dark brown and sweet. I know Bernard's was sweet. Because there's a note on the flavour in the Usher's Gravity Book entry for the 1929 version: "Pleasant. Very sweet." That's a real compliment compared to the comments made on most of the other beers analysed. There's barely a good word said. The beers marketed as Scotch Ale in Belgium are probably the closest match you'll find today.

Finally there's that weedy Brown Ale. Which is about 10º weaker than a typical Brown Ale of the 1930's. It looks more like one from the austerity years of the 1940's. It, too, is surprisingly highly attenuated.

I'll finish with the table. Let me know if you can spot anything I've missed. I'm only human.

T & J Bernard other beers 1923 - 1958
Year Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1923 Imperial Stout Stout pint bottled 1023.5 1057.6 366 4.40 59.21%
1932 Double Brown Stout Stout pint bottled 1009.5 1035.5 3.37 73.24%
1938 Milk Stout Stout 4.5d half pint bottled 0.07 1013.6 1057 1/16" cell 1 red 17 brown 5.65 76.14%
1949 Export Stout Stout pint bottled 1010 1040 3.89 75.00%
1954 Export Stout Stout 1/2d half pint bottled 0.04 1013.3 1043.9 1 + 14 3.96 69.70%
1958 Export Stout Stout 26d 16 oz can 0.05 1014.7 1046.4 225 3.96 68.32%
1926 Strong Ale Strong Ale pint bottled 1020 1080 100 7.84 75.00%
1928 Strong Ale Strong Ale pint bottled 1030 1083 100 6.87 63.86%
1929 Strong Ale (carbonated) Strong Ale pint bottled 1027 1086 13 - 14 7.68 68.60%
1931 Brown Ale Brown Ale pint bottled 1008 1031 2.98 74.19%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002
Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Allsopp, Bass and other English beers

This is a question I asked my son Andrew: what's significant about the naming of beers in this advert?

Take a while to think about it.

Dagblad van Zuidholland en 's Gravenhage, 6th March 1857

Did you spot it? The brewery is only named for the Pale Ales. The Porter, Stout, Burton Ale and Scotch Ale are anonymous. I wonder why that was?

There's plenty more to glean from the ad. Like the two types of Allsopp's: Pale Ale and East India Pale Ale. What was the difference between the tow? 70 cents a dozen. And Bass being called Pale Bitter Ale. The Victorians were particularly imprecise and inconsistent when it came to naming Pale Bitter Beer. Amongst other things.

Then there's the premium being paid for the Pale Ales. The same price as Imperial Brown Stout and Extra Strong Scotch Ale. They were most likely 1090 - 1100º. I doubt any of the Pale Ales was above 1065º.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Barclay Perkins mashing schemes 1805 - 1929

Ridiculous levels of detail. That's what this blog is all about. Providing a level of detail that no crazy person, let alone someone in their right mind, could ever require.

Mashing schemes. I haven't mentioned those for a while. I've just been harvesting numbers (it is autumn, after all) from a Barclay Perkins logs. Including the mashing details. It's all part of one of my many projects. One that, unlike some, might be completed this side of doomsday.

But I'm wandering. I promised you over a century of mashing schemes and I don't want to disappoint you. Here goes.

15th February 1805 Barclay Perkins BSt

water temp
tap temp.
mash 1
mash 2
mash 3

qtrs malt

Barclay Perkins brewing records.

30th September  1859 Barclay Perkins BS

water temp
tap temp.
mash 1
mash 2
mash 3

qtrs malt

Barclay Perkins brewing records.

10th May 1886 Barclay Perkins BS

water temp
tap temp.
mash 1
mash 2
mash 3

qtrs malt

Barclay Perkins brewing records.

7th October 1891 Barclay Perkins BS

water temp
tap temp.


qtrs malt

Barclay Perkins brewing records.

16th November 1910 Barclay Perkins BS

water temp
tap temp.


qtrs malt

Barclay Perkins brewing records.

7th January 1929 Barclay Perkins BS

water temp
tap temp.


qtrs malt

Barclay Perkins brewing records.

I suppose you expect some sort of comment from me now? Alright. If you insist.

The water to grain ratio increased from about 4 barrels (144 gallons) a quarter (336 pounds) in the early years of the 19th century to 5 barrels a quarter after 1860. Which was also when Barclay Perkins started sparging. They still performed multiple mashes, much in the manner of the 18th century, just with a sparge thrown in at the end.

After 1890 they started underletting. The process was mash, stand, underlet, stand, drain, mash, drain, sparge.

In the early 20th century, a second sparge stage was added. And after WW I the second mash was changed to an underlet.

That's all the analysis you're getting. If you need any more, you have to do it yourself. Maybe taking a long at the temperatures. I'm sure they've also a story to tell.