Saturday, 17 March 2018

My latest books

Just a reminder of my two most recent, wonderful books.

First, Let's Brew, which is packed with all sorts of exciting historic recipes, including Lagers and North American beers. The majority have never appeared in this blog. Every homebrewer whould own a copy.

Second is the definitive history of Scottish beer over the last 150 years or so. Other than a few recipes, of which there are almost 400, all the material is new. 

Just think of poor Alexei. His bottle of gin is almost empty. Please help him buy a new one.

Let's Brew - 1953 Elgood Strong Ale

I make a point of trying to collect new brewing records whenever I’m in the UK. On my last trip I managed to pick ones up from a couple of sources. One being Elgood.

I first asked the brewery if I could drop by a couple of years ago. The reason I hadn’t made it there until now is purely a question of the practicalities. Wisbech has no train station. Even though it isn’t that far from Newark, getting there by public transport is a nightmare. Luckily my mate Henry has a van and he drove me down.

Before we go any further, I’ll point out the problems that I had with this recipe. Basically, the numbers don’t add up. The grist consisted of 14 quarters, 93 barrels of water were used in mashing and sparging and there were 80 barrels of wort in the copper. But there were just 19.5 barrels in the fermenter. Where did the other 60 barrels of wort go? I can’t imagine it was thrown away.

To take this discrepancy into account, I’ve divided the hopping rate by four. And then reduced them some more because they were from the 1950 season. I know nothing else about them, other than that they were English. 5 of the 85 lbs really were added in the hop back.

The grist is almost as simple as it appears. There really just is a single base malt. The sugar in the original, however, is half invert and half something called Muntona.

The mashing scheme is an infusion stood at 149º F for 20 minutes followed by an underlet held at 152º F for 100 minutes. Then sparging, obviously.

1953 Elgood Strong Ale
pale malt 9.00 lb 90.00%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 10.00%
Fuggles 95 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles hop back 0.13 oz
OG 1047
FG 1017
ABV 3.97
Apparent attenuation 63.83%
IBU 20
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 167º F
Boil time 95 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Friday, 16 March 2018

On the management of Beer in private houses

Before WW I it was quite commonto buy in a cask of beer to drink at home. The newspapers were full of brewery adverts for exactly this purpose.

Yet I can't remember ever finding anything before about how casks were handled in this doemstic setting. Until now. It's a delightful insight into what used to be a common practice,

Of course, if you've ever handled a cask of beer you'll know that there's a lot more to serving it than banging in a tap and turning the tap on. It's no surprise, given that plenty of landlords cock up handling cask beer, that it was often mistreated in private homes.

"On the management of Beer in private houses
TO begin with, every consumer of beer must fully realise how many advantages pertain to the system of keeping one’s own cask of beer in the house, rather than sending out to the nearest publichouse every time a draught of beer is required, and for the following reasons. First and foremost the price charged by the publican is 25 per cent. over and above that charged by the family brewer; the inconvenience of making such trips, no matter what the weather; whilst the beer so obtained is seldom a family bitter ale at all, and the quantity must be a standard measure either more or less than is required, causing a slight waste in the former, or an unsatisfied appetite in the latter case.

These arguments may be met with some such replies as, “Oh, the beer does not keep in our house," or, “It is thick, and there is always a waste in the bottom of the cask.” To the first of these I would reply, “There are many good brands now offered to the public as near perfection as beer can possibly be." Notwithstanding all Messrs. Lawson, Quilter & Co. may say to the contrary, such beers are guaranteed, and do keep sound, as proved by the large private trades built up by such beers; whilst how many cases of thick beer and out of condition are caused by want of a little care on the consumer's part, which I will now endeavour to explain. Certainly there is no nation or people who appreciate more fully or better understand what a glass of really good beer is than the English, and yet how small a percentage take the least trouble to have their beer in good condition, the majority imagining that with the drayman placing the cask on the stand all need of any further care is at an end, and that what follows is a matter of chance, good or bad.

A little consideration, however, will prove how fallacious such an idea is; for although any amount of care and trouble bestowed will not make bad beer good, yet, with a modicum of attention and a few common sense practices, good beer may be preserved as such, instead of utterly spoiling same and returning to the brewer what has, through carelessness, become a muddy, sour article, very unsatisfactory to both consumer and brewer alike.

First, to begin with, the consumer usually takes in only a small cask, which small bulk is much more difficult to bring into sparkling (gaseous) condition, owing to the smaller amount of normal fermentable matter contained in so small a bulk (generally four and a half or nine gallons); such a quantity will also be more easily affected by temperature—either extreme heat or cold—both of which act detrimentally on beer, the former to force false ferments if present into active life and so set up putrefaction, whilst the latter produces flatness and general want of condition.

The small casks, too, are of such little weight that the least jarring or shake disturbs the whole, whilst the stands on which the casks are placed consists ofttimes of the most primitive arrangements, such as unsteady and shaking boxes, which are continually vibrating; as an extreme case, the beer cask is occasionally placed on a flat surface, such as a board, with the natural rolling and oscillation due from the introduction of a ball to a plain or flat surface. The cellars are very seldom cellars at all, for this useful store connected with the old-fashioned house has been wofully ignored in these days of jerry-building, and in consequence the beer cask is stowed in the most outrageous places, such as the closest of little cupboards, sometimes only separated from close friendship with the kitchen fire by the flimsiest apology for a wall ; and occasionally even the bedroom is made to serve the double purpose of beer cellar and sleeping apartment, which, if it proved of any advantage to the wakeful and thirsty occupant, is certainly not conducive to good beer; whilst, as an extreme case, I may mention that of a laundress who stored her ale on top of the copper lid, and when washing day came had it removed with regularity and precision worthy a better cause, and as a subsequent fact always had thick beer, in consequence of which she gave vent to the usual abuse of the brewer.

In dealing with wine it is possible to rack or fill it quite bright ; not so with beer, which under such circumstances would remain flat and undrinkable owing to the want of a little fermentable matter to keep up a mild discharge of carbonic acid gas, the same gas as soda water and such other effervescing drinks are charged with, which gives to beer its sparkling fresh ness, and which sedimentary matter will subside to the bottom of the cask if properly treated by being firmly set up and allowed a day or two to rest before drawing from for use."
The Brewers' Guardian 1893, page 173.

It's a sign of how little markup pubs made that fetching beer in a jug was only 25% more expensive than buying in a cask.

But I was particularly intrigued by this phrase: "the beer so obtained is seldom a family bitter ale at all". That's implying that what was usually drunk at home was Family Bitter. And what was the classic Family Bitter? AK, of course.

I'm slightly confused by the stuff about it being harder to bring a small cask into condition. Surely the proportion of unfermented sugars would be the same no matter what size the cask? Though it is true that a smaller cask would be more prone to become too cold or to overheat.

I love the complaint about houses being jerry-built. People always seem to moan about the same things, usually harking bacjk to a better past.

There's a part two which I'll post later.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

UK licensed brewers 1870 - 1914

More numbers. I've a whole bucketful of fresh ones I want to consume before they go off. ANd I need to bash out some posts to cover when I'm away in the UK later this week (last week, when you read this).

One of the tables in the Brewers' Almanack that I particularly like is the one that lists the number of breweries by size. It gives a good insight into the structure of the UK brewing industry and how it changed around the turn of the 20th century.

The UK used to have a ridiculous of breweries. Most of them very small. Most the the ones in the under 1,000 barrels a year category would have been brewing well under it. For example, in 1842 26,817 of the 44,208 breweries in the UK brewed fewer than 100 barrels a year. Of those 26,817 8,180 produced fewer than 20 barrels a year.* Bugger all even for a pub brewery.

Even in 1914, the number of breweries producing more than 20,000 barrels a year was only 334. And just 54 more than 100,000 barrels. Meaning that the industry was still very fragmented, with a very large number of small producers. The vast majority of which were pub breweries. 2,357 in 1914, to be precise.**

I'm surprised to see the number in the half million barrels category go up and down in the late 19th century. I'd have expected it to keep increasing.

Number of Persons in the UK licensed as Brewers for Sale
Year ended Sept. 30. Under 1,000. 1,000 and under 10,000. 10.000 and under 20,000. 20,000 and under 100,000. 100,000 and under 500,000. 500,000 and over.
1870 26,506 1,809 210 128 23 3
1875 21,181 1,864 260 194 25 4
1879 17,542 1,863 301 217 27 3
1880 16,770 1,768 272 203 23 4
1881 14,948 1,677 275 183 24 8
1885 12,608 1,537 270 187 27 4
1890 9,986 1,447 274 255 34 4
1895 7,213 1,162 267 256 34 5
1900 4,759 910 262 308 42 9
1905 3,787 832 232 280 40 9
1912 2,868 673 205 266 43 7
1913 2,760 615 210 271 42 8
1914 2,536 580 197 280 46 8
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 117.

Who were the breweries producing over half a million barrels? Some are pretty obvious, like Guinness, Bass and Allsopp. Others you may not have heard of. I happen to have the numbers for 1884.

Note that all but the top three were based in London.

Largest UK breweries in 1884
Brewery Beer Bands (barrels)
Guinness 1,300,000
Bass 1,000,000
Allsopp 850,000
Combe 500,000
Barclay 550,000
Watney 450,000
Truman 450,000
Charrington 400,000
Reid 350,000
Whitbread 300,000
Courage 300,000
Document ACC/2305/8/246 part of the Courage archive held at the London Metropolitan Archive
Output based on the cost of the brewing licence which was based on bands of output, the figure given is the top of the band into which the brewery's output fell.

Three of the breweries above, Watney, Combe and Reid, took part in the first big merger in 1898. Forming, er, Watney, Combe, Reid. A name which when I saw it on a pub door said "stay away" to me.

* "A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical, and Historical, of Commerce and Commercial Navigation" by John Ramsay McCulloch, 1844, page 9.

** 1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 118.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1939 Boddington IP

It’s fascinating to see how much a beer I drank myself changed over the years. Would I have recognised older versions of Boddington’s Bitter for what they were? Who knows. But I suspect not for any further back than maybe the 1960s.

Though I was struck by how similar the 1939 recipe is to the 1966 one. It contains all the same elements, just in different proportions. Even the sugars, for which I’ve substituted No. 2 invert, are much the same: 2 cwt. DMS, 2 cwt. Br, 1 cwt. Fl.

The hops were a combination of English, Oregon, and Styrian. The latter in such a small amount – 5 lbs from a total of 180 lbs – that I’ve left them out of the recipe. They were a mix of the 1937 and 1938 harvests. As most of the older hops had been in a cold store, I’ve left the quantities unchanged.

One big difference with later versions is the OG, a very respectable 1045º. It would never be that strong again. The rate of attenuation is on the way up, though it isn’t as high as after the war. I blame the enzymic malt in the grist.

Just let me know when you’re getting bored of Boddies Bitter recipes. It won’t stop me publishing, but it might make you feel a little better.

1939 Boddington IP
pale malt 6.25 lb 71.43%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 2.86%
wheat flaked 0.25 lb 2.86%
flaked maize 1.50 lb 17.14%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.50 lb 5.71%
Cluster 120 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 120 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1045
FG 1010
ABV 4.63
Apparent attenuation 77.78%
IBU 45
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61.5º F
Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

UK Hop acreage by region 1914 - 1921

Numbers, numners, numbers. They're so much easier to deal with than words. And people.

I've got so many numbers, it's really hard to keep track. Especially of the hop ones, where I've harvested ones in multiple different formats.

The Hop Control Board was established in 1917 after the government had forced hop growers to grub up half their hop bines nad grow food instead. The Board bought the whole of the crop and then sold it on to brewers. During the war the idea was to protect what was left of the hop industry. After it, to help it rebuild and get the acreage back to pre-war levels.

The Hop Controller also fixed the price of English hops. By keeping the price relatively high and not allowing any foreign hops to be purchased by brewers until the whole of the UK crop had been sold, they hoped to prevent a flood of cheap imported hops. The higher the price, the greater the acreage that would be planted, was the reasoning.

It worked to a certain extent, but not 100%. Interwar hope acreage peaked at 26,452 in 1922. It remained at 23,000-25,000 acres for the rest of the 1920's, but fell to around 18,000 acres for most of the 1930s. Or about half the pre-WW I level.*

What is it now? Far, far less. In 2010, just 2,644 acres, or about 10% of what it had been in 1921.**

UK Hop acreage by region 1914 - 1921
Counties. 1921 1920 1919 1914 1914-1921
Kent- Acres. Acres. Acres. Acres. % lost
East 4,000 3,260 2,530 6,174 35.21%
Mid 5,420 4,520 3,650 7,604 28.72%
Weald 6,640 5,710 4,380 8,848 24.95%
Total 16,060 13,490 10,500 22,626 29.02%
Hants 1,040 840 700 1,580 34.18%
Hereford 3,510 2,990 2,420 5,507 36.26%
Surrey 200 170 180 585 65.81%
Sussex 2,270 1,790 1,410 3,038 25.28%
Worcester 1,900 1,680 1,370 3,194 40.51%
Other Counties 60 60 50 133 54.89%
Total 25,120 21,000 16,750 36,661 31.48%
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 107.

Note how uneven the fall in acreage was in different regions. Kent and Sussex fare better than average, everywhere else, worse. It looks to me like marginal hop-growing areas just couldn't be bothered to start up again.

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.
** Barth Hop Market Telegram June 2011

Monday, 12 March 2018

Fall in on-licences 1905 - 1920

Time for yet more numbers. All culled from my new favourite book, the 1922 Brewers' Almanack.

If you think pub closures are bad currently, you should take a look at what happened just before WW I. The 1904 Licensing Act, introduced by a Liberal government with strong links to the temperance movement, gave Licensing Magistrates powers to refuse the renewal of licences for a vairiety of reasons. For example, if it was thought that there morepubs in an area than necessary. Licences could also be refused if a pub was considered to harbour thieves or if its trade was considered inefficient.

Temperance nutcases were obsessed with pubs providing unnecessary tempatation and loved having them closed down. They were helped by temperance advocates being Licensing Magistrates while members of the pub and brewing trade were prohibited from doing so. It lead to a very large number of pub closuress , as you can see in the table.

Licence holders of pubs deemed superfluous to requirements were usually paid compensation, this being the equivalent to the difference in value of the premises with and without a licence. Ones closed for breaking the rules received none. The compensation was paid from a levy imposed on licences.

Funnily enough, the pace of closures slowed after the outbreak of WW I. For the 15 years covered, an average of just over 1,000 pubs closed annually, with very small numbers of new licences being issued. That's an average of 20 a week. Getting a new licence became extremely difficult. A situation that continued until the 1970s.

For example, if a brewery wanted to build a new pub on an estate, it generally had to surrender one or more licences, usually in inner-city areas considered to have too many pubs.

Fall in on-licences 1905 - 1920
Year ended Dec. 31. Refused with compensation. Refused without compensation Licences lapsed New licences granted. Net decrease.
1905 194 80 363 53 584
1906 892 69 435 56 1,340
1907 1,735 48 322 68 2,037
1908 1,236 30 253 47 1,472
1909 1,290 35 286 60 1,561
1910 993 27 250 33 1,237
1911 978 20 444 44 1,398
1912 849 18 296 53 1,110
1913 842 24 265 52 1,079
1914 844 13 225 48 1,034
1915 574 11 177 25 737
1916 383 22 239 28 616
1917 353 34 271 29 629
1918 400 19 195 14 600
1919 498 11 247 54 702
1920 526 11 340 71 806
Totals 12,587 472 4,608 725 16,942
Averages 787 30 288 45 1,059
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 100.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

UK beer exports by destination 1890 - 1921

Perspective is an interesting thing. Especially with regard to our own personal event horizon. The point in the past we personally experienced. Or drank, turning the thought to beer.

There are other limits. In my mind, the 1890's and 1920's are two different worlds. Yet there were only 30 years apart. That's as long as I've lived in Amsterdam. Not that long, really. But I still find the Berwers' Almanacks from the 1920s a bit weird, the way they stretch back to Victoria's reign.

Still obsessing over my latest book of numbers acquisition. Desperate for quick posts.looking to point out the same points again. Any or all of these could be true. And the motivation behind this post. Or I've had an Abt too many.

The numbers do subtly make some points. The decline in the Australasian and South African markets just before WW I. The robustness of demand in India. Doubtless thirsty squaddies. Then there's the weird total collapse of sales to the USA in 1919. How do you explain that?

UK beer exports by destination 1890 - 1921
Country 1890 1900 1910 1919 1920 1921
United States 48,991 47,700 69,688 28 - -
Egypt 6,591 18,597 20,000 10,408 9,796 11,600
British Possessions in S. Africa 25,582 31,446 5,937 464 3,302 1,233
British W. Indies and Guiana 26,882 18,794 21,726 5,159 13,688 6,483
India 97,196 94,918 96,914 23,776 60,751 45,554
Straits Settlements - - - 7,928 22,063 6,588
Australasia and N.Z. 147,014 96,785 90,416 5,291 18,199 11,170
Other Countries 150,565 202,605 285,065 177,642 262,449 177,042
Total 502,921 510,845 590,346 231,673 390,248 259,670
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 114.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Let's Brew - 1974 Boddington IP

The 1971 recipe above was taken from the start of a brewing book. This is taken from the end of that same book.

And, surprise, surprise, the recipe has changed again. The gravity has fallen again. Back in 1951, the OG was 1040º, in 1966 1038.5º, in 1971 1035.5º and now 1034.5º. There’s a definite trend there.

The percentages of the different elements of the grist have changed a little. There’s a bit less pale malt, a bit more lager malt and sugar. The sugars are still DMS, Fla and BR, 2 cwts of each.

The hopping rate had fallen again. It’s down from almost 7 lbs per quarter of malt in 1947 to just over 5lbs. Making this not a very bitter beer. I know, it’s not what I expected when I started looking at Boddington’s records. The description of the hops is very basic. All I know is that they were English.

1974 Boddington IP
pale malt 4.50 lb 60.00%
lager malt 1.25 lb 16.67%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 3.33%
wheat 0.25 lb 3.33%
flaked maize 0.25 lb 3.33%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 13.33%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1034.5
FG 1004
ABV 4.03
Apparent attenuation 88.41%
IBU 20
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Friday, 9 March 2018

Adnams beers before and after WW I

I thought we'd have a look at how another brewery's beers were changed by WW I. This time a small country brewery.

With batch sizes of 40-odd barrels, Adnams certainly qualifies as pretty small. At least in comparison to most of the other breweries I have records for.

Adnams started the war with a range of seven beers: two Milds, two Pale Ales, two Stouts and one Strong Ale. That's fewer beers than at some large breweries. The beer themslves were also differnet to those in London.

Mostly by being weaker. BS (presumably Brown Stout) was only about the same strength as a London Porter. Even the stronger XX Mild is much lower gravity than a standard London X Ale, which was over 1050º. No London beer was as weak as the 1033º of Adnams X Ale. And a top-level London Pale Ale was at least 1060º.

These are the 1914 beers:

Adnams beers in 1914
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
X Mild Ale 1033 1005.5 3.64 83.33% 4.38 0.58
XX Mild Ale 1042 1007 4.63 83.33% 4.20 0.73
Tally Ho Old Ale 1082 1029.5 6.95 64.02% 5.92 2.21
BLB Pale Ale 1044 1007 4.89 84.09% 7.00 1.34
PA Pale Ale 1056 1011 5.95 80.36% 6.53 1.30
BS Stout 1055 1013.5 5.49 75.45% 5.86 1.43
DS Stout 1065 1016.6 6.40 74.43% 6.97 2.11
Adnams brewing record Book 2 held at the brewery.

They're mostly quite highly attenuated for the period. Many pre- WW I beers had less than 70% apparent attenuation.

When things had settled down after the war, Adnams beer range looked quite different:

Adnams beers in 1923
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
XX Mild Ale 1029 1004.2 3.29 85.67% 4.99 0.59
XXXX Old Ale 1057 1016.6 5.34 70.84% 6.70 1.53
PA Pale Ale 1038 1007.2 4.07 81.05% 8.52 1.29
DS Stout 1044 1010 4.50 77.34% 6.59 1.19
Adnams brewing record Book 9 held at the brewery.

You can addd Tally Ho to those four. I know they brewed it in the 1920s, I just didn't spot a brewing record for it.  XXXX seems to have been introduced in 1915. I assume to partially replace Tally Ho.

Not that the decline in gravity is inconsistent. XX fell by around 31%, PA by 32% but DS just by 17%. The average fall for the UK was 19%.

XX is very weak for a standard Mild of the interwar period. They were usually 1035º-1040º. In London you did find cheap Milds of a similar strength, but they were brewed in small quantities and there was always a stronger version, too. Mmm. Just realised that a 50-50 blend of XX and XXXX would be 1043º: the classic strong Mild OG of the 1920s. I wonder if Adnams did blend them for customers that wanted a higher gravity Mild?