Friday, 9 December 2016

Scottish vs London Porter and Stout grists 1909 – 1913

Tables. Everyone loves them. If you don’t why the hell are you reading this? You’re well aware that I’ve been Table Man of the Year for seven consecutive years.

It’s not just any old table I’ve got for you. I’s a wildly impractical one, with way too many columns. But that it itself tells a story. One about the wide range of ingredients used by breweries in their Black Beers. Because the three London and three Scottish breweries managed to use 12 malts or adjuncts between them. And that’s ignoring all the different sugars they used. I’ve left those out because they just make things too damn confusing.

The 25 beers listed don’t have a single ingredient in common. Not even pale malt, because one of the Barclay Perkins examples used SA malt as base. After pale malt, the second most common ingredient is black malt, found in all but the Thomas Usher Stouts. Next is brown malt, present in more than half of the examples.

I was quite surprised to see that three of the breweries - two London, one Scottish – were still using amber malt. The fad for Oatmeal Stout is reflected in all the London and one of the Scottish breweries using it in some of their beers. Though there’s a huge difference in the quantities employed.  For Maclay, it made up around 30% of the grist, while none of the London brewers used more than 3%.

You may have heard the old wives’ tale about roast barley being used in Stout and black malt in Porter and that that’s what differentiates the two styles. Only one of the breweries used any. And, just to muddy things, not only used it in both Porter and Stout, but also used it in combination with black malt. Hadn’t the Truman brewers read the BJCP guidelines? Using two roasts like that is very unusual. Mostly brewers used one or the other.

There’s surprisingly little crystal malt used. Yes, three brewers used some, but only Usher put it in all their Stouts. Chocolate malt only appears in beers from two of the Scottish breweries. Though I must point out that Whitbread moved from black to chocolate malt a little later, in 1922.

Interestingly, every beer contains at least two dark malts. Though I know that some English breweries had used a simplified grist of just pale and black malt since the middle of the 19th century.

There weren’t a huge amount of unmalted grains employed, other than by Truman and, of course, William Younger. The latter using a ridiculous proportion of grits.

Every beer contained sugar, averaging around 13%. Though the percentage ranges from 6% to almost 20%. There’s no correlation between how expensive the beer was and the size of the sugar content. Whitbread’s two cheapest beers, Porter and London Stout, contained the lowest percentage. In total, twelve different types of sugar were used by the six breweries.

As I said at the beginning, a very diverse bunch of ingredients.

Scottish vs London Porter and Stout grists 1909 - 1913
Year Brewer Beer Style OG pale malt brown malt black malt amber malt choc. Malt crystal malt SA malt oats flaked maize grits roast barley malted oats sugar
1912 Whitbread P Porter 1054.3 68.99% 12.66% 9.81% 0.32% 8.23%
1912 Whitbread LS Stout 1055.3 68.99% 12.66% 9.81% 0.32% 8.23%
1912 Whitbread Exp S Stout 1068.4 49.18% 9.84% 7.38% 17.21% 16.39%
1912 Whitbread SS Stout 1079.9 49.22% 12.18% 10.62% 16.06% 11.92%
1912 Whitbread SSS Stout 1095.8 49.22% 12.18% 10.62% 16.06% 11.92%
1910 Barclay Perkins OMS Stout 1053.2 21.27% 12.61% 10.93% 10.93% 21.27% 3.36% 19.62%
1910 Barclay Perkins BS Ex Stout 1076.0 8.67% 8.67% 12.41% 53.36% 2.67% 14.23%
1910 Barclay Perkins EIP Ex Porter 1063.5 56.04% 12.30% 8.88% 5.47% 2.73% 14.58%
1911 Barclay Perkins RDP Porter 1068.2 47.39% 8.65% 7.83% 11.13% 7.42% 17.58%
1909 Truman Imperial Stout Stout 1094.2 76.76% 2.93% 4.10% 2.93% 13.28%
1909 Truman SS Stout 1072.0 76.76% 2.93% 4.10% 2.93% 13.28%
1909 Truman Runner L & C Porter 1054.3 68.66% 4.61% 7.37% 4.61% 14.75%
1909 Truman Country Runner Porter 1058.2 67.82% 5.59% 2.39% 5.59% 2.39% 2.39% 1.60% 12.23%
1909 Truman Bottling Porter 1052.6 67.82% 5.59% 2.39% 5.59% 2.39% 2.39% 1.60% 12.23%
1909 Truman Export Stout Stout 1069.3 69.90% 8.74% 8.74% 12.62%
1909 Truman Runner Porter 1058.2 65.87% 6.35% 6.35% 6.35% 1.59% 2.38% 11.11%
1909 Truman Keeping Stout Stout 1069.3 69.90% 8.74% 8.74% 12.62%
1912 Thomas Usher 48/- Stout 1046 66.39% 4.92% 6.15% 6.15% 16.39%
1912 Thomas Usher 54/- Stout 1054 66.39% 4.92% 6.15% 6.15% 16.39%
1912 Thomas Usher Stt Stout 1070 66.39% 4.92% 6.15% 6.15% 16.39%
1909 Maclay OMS 63/- Stout 1062 47.62% 9.52% 3.17% 28.57% 11.11%
1909 Maclay DBS 54/- Stout 1044 50.28% 10.06% 3.35% 30.17% 6.15%
1913 Wm. Younger S2 Stout 1059 42.86% 6.59% 6.59% 32.97% 10.99%
1913 Wm. Younger DBS Stout 1065 42.42% 6.06% 6.06% 33.33% 12.12%
1913 Wm. Younger MBS Stout 1065 49.09% 5.45% 5.45% 32.73% 7.27%
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/1/602
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/106
Truman  brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/112
Thomas Usher brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number TU/6/1/5.
Maclay brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number M/6/1/1/2.
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/58.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Save a child this Christmas

I'm dreading Christmas. Now the kids are both of drinking age, we'll need an ocean of booze to tide us over the holidays. How can I possibly afford it?

The money has to come from somewhere. My books are the answer.

Every book you buy will get Andrew a slab of Amstel or Alexei a bottle of bargain vodka. Just imagine their happy, smiling faces on Christmas morning - after they've knocked it all back. Every book you buy will get a kid through one day of the holidays - and remember there are twelve days of Christmas.

Make a boy happy. Buy my books!

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Pub room names in the wild

Spent last weekend in London with Dolores. And managed to trick her into a pub crawl of beautiful London pubs.

Didn't really drag her. Point in the right direction, really. Dolores likes pubs. Especially beautiful old ones. I know lots of those. Especially in London. That she's a big fan of cask beer also helps. Ordinary Bitter is her drink in London, seeing as cask Mild is as rare as rocking horse spit dahn saaf.

You don't have to tell me what a lucky twat I am. A lass that likes pubs and beer. And, even more incredibly, me as well. Three strikes. No, three strikes is a bad thing isn't it? Unless you're the bloke throwing the ball.

If you've got this far with the reading thing, you'll be wondering what the fuck all this has to do with the title of this post. I'm getting there. It's called building tension. Or boredom. Though my sentences are short enough for the most labelled kid - by that I mean children lumbered with some sort of bollocky pseudo-science diagnosis (while when I was I child you needed to drop your kecks, shit on the teacher's desk, and scream "I'm from Mablethorpe take me to your feeder" to be considered weird) - however thrabbed they might be to quite simply follow the thread (not Three Threads, which is total grax) even while luded out of their heads, connected to brain suckers (video games you might call them, but I've seen the look on their zombie faces while they gaze at the evil blue-light glow of a pissed away youth) while eating crisps.

Pub room names in action:

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1949 Adnams XXXX

This is the last in the set of Adnams beers from 1949/1950 and is the strongest of the lot. Though that isn’t saying all that much.

As a young man, I can remember noticing that breweries in Southeast of England often had a beer called Old Ale of around 4.5%. Beers that looked and tasted suspiciously like a strong Mild. It’s taken a while, but when I finally got to look at brewing records my suspicions were confirmed. Harveys, King & Barnes and Adnams all brewed beers of this type.

I was more used to Northern Old Ales like Old Tom or Owd Roger, beers that were considerably stronger. It obviously confuses the hell out style guideline writers as they only document the stronger type. Personally, I’m a big fan of the weaker type as they resemble pre-1931 Mild Ale. It’s a cheeky way of getting a taste of the past.

So you shouldn’t be surprised that Adnams Old Ale has a grist that is essentially the same as that of XX Mild Ale. Quite an interesting grist it is, too, with a couple of types of dark malts in the form of amber and crystal. As I’ve mentioned several drillion times, these types of dark beer were mostly coloured with sugar and caramel.

Which isn’t to say that XXXX doesn’t contain No. 3 invert and caramel. I suspect drinkers wouldn’t have been impressed had Adnams tried to sell a Mild coloured with chocolate or black malt. Because, as I now realise, No. 3 invert is the signature flavour of Dark Mild. That’s why most American versions, which try to get colour from dark malts, just don’t taste right.

Proper Dark Mild. Give it a try. It might change your life. Mine changed in 1976 when the Cardigan Arms installed handpulls.

1949 Adnams XXXX
mild malt 8.75 lb 80.82%
amber malt 0.50 lb 4.62%
crystal malt 80L 0.50 lb 4.62%
no. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 9.24%
caramel 0.08 lb 0.70%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 60 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1051
FG 1015.5
ABV 4.70
Apparent attenuation 69.61%
IBU 37
SRM 20
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Beer in 1958 (part three)

It’s time to take a look at the tied house system. Something that was integral to the 1950’s brewing industry.

“Amalgamation has a special significance because of the tied house system. Breweries—with the conspicuous exception of Guinness (with the largest output of all)—have tied houses which they own and maintain, and usually let to tenants (though in some they appoint managers), at which their beers are sold more or less exclusively. The tied house may stock some bottled beers other than the owner's own makes—rather more than in the past; it will sell spirits and possibly wine and soft drinks (which the owner will probably provide); but its raison d'etre for the owner is as a retail outlet for his main products. The responsibility is a heavy one, especially for the larger companies that have upwards of 1,000 houses — one at least has over 4,000. It involves immense property problems. An even greater task is selecting the publicans, men (or sometimes women) who will efficiently look after both the bar and the beer. (It is said to be the only job for which police approval is required.)”
"Beer in Britain", 1960, page 5.

The bottled beers mentioned were a handful of national brands. Things like Bass Red Triangle, Worthington White Shield, Guinness Extra Stout and a few others. Types of beers which many brewers didn’t produce. And we shouldn’t forget that the brewer buying these beers in often bottled them themselves. Meaning that they got some of the production profit.

Of course tied house estates grew to much more than 4,000 pubs. This is from when the Big Seven were about at their peak:

Tied house estates in 1974
Bewery On Licences
Bass Charrington 9,256
Allied Breweries 7,665
Whitbread 7,865
Watney/Grand Met 5,946
Scottish & Newcastle 1,678
Courage 5,921
Guinness 0
Total Big Seven 38,331
Others 13,800
“The Brewing Industry, a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond & Alison Turton.

The biggest change in British brewing over the last 100 years was the destruction of the tied house system. Or at least in terms of vertically integrated breweries. There are still massive estates of pubs, but they aren’t owned by breweries. The huge difference is that under the old system landlords were obliged to buy their beer from the owning brewery. Now they still have to buy beer form the pub’s owner, but this isn’t necessarily from one brewer. In theory, landlords now have a much greater choice of what they can sell.

Of course, the old type of tied house lives on amongst regional brewers. But this is a much lower percentage of the total. Even the largest, Greene King, only owns 1,600 pubs*.

Economic pressures were already forcing some pubs to close:

“With the falling consumption of beer in them, the business of some of the 70,000 public houses in England and Wales has become too small to pay. In isolated villages the owners may run a house at a loss for social reasons. In larger centres some discreet closing of unprofitable houses occurs. This is only partially offset by the opening of new ones where population grows—in the new towns for example. For these some people advocated public ownership; but they failed, and the numbers and locations are decided in joint discussions between the new town authorities and brewers. The sole instance of public ownership in practice, the Carlisle experiment, reflects a movement which for the time being at any rate has lost its force.”
"Beer in Britain", 1960, page 5.

The author is pretty much spot on about the number of pubs in England and Wales:

Pub licences in England and Wales 1950 - 1960
Date  Full Beer / wine Total Pubs 
1950 59,054 14,429 73,483
1951 59,757 13,664 73,421
1952 60,333 13,035 73,368
1953 60,869 12,351 73,220
1954 61,265 11,708 72,973
1955 60,670 10,574 71,244
1956 61,087 9,788 70,875
1957 61,471 8,882 70,353
1958 61,762 8,151 69,913
1959 62,039 7,416 69,455
1960 63,682 5,502 69,184
"Brewers' Almanack 1971", page 83.

Brewers were appalled at the idea of state-owned pubs in new towns, an idea bandied about by the Labour government elected in 1945. New towns were a rare chance to build large, modern pubs and brewers didn’t want to see the state grab these prime sites. Labour were voted out of office before their plan could be implemented.

Notice an interesting fact about pub numbers? While the overall total was falling, the number of fully-licensed pubs – ones selling spirits as well as beer and wine – was increasing. That’s because brewers were keen to convert their beer houses to fully licensed ones, which were reckoned to be more profitable.

A tied estate was expensive to keep in good order. But good quality pubs were essential if a brewer wanted to maintain or even increase sales.

“The brewers spend heavily to improve the amenities and broaden the attraction of their houses. Those who sell mainly—as much as 80 or 90 per cent, of their output—through their own houses measure this cost ruefully when they sell the rival bottled products with national names, whose selling costs, they imply, they are carrying. Yet the business of the "national" brewer, who in the extreme case sells virtually none through his own houses, itself carries heavy selling costs in advertising and transport. What they send, for example, from London to Scotland by road tanker to be bottled there can surely give but an exiguous profit.”
"Beer in Britain", 1960, page 5.

Later national brewers – the Big Six – sold most of their beer in tied houses. But the ones meant here operated in a very different way. Guinness had no tied houses and Bass and Worthington had few. They relied on selling their beer – usually in bottled form, though Bass was sometimes available on draught – in competitors’ pubs. Only Guinness was able to retain this model through the 1960’s and 1970’s.

* Greene King website.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Advertising Final Selection

I’m starting to think that I need to take another look at Whitbread’s brewing books from the 1950’s. Because I’m pretty sure that I’ve managed to miss brews of Final Selection.

1968 is the first one I have. But Whitbread were already advertising Final Selection in 1957. If there were only occasional brews, I might have missed them on my sweep through their records. I usually only had 10 to 15 minutes to photograph each. Not long enough to look at every single page.

It’s not a problem I had before 1940. Because until that year the back of each Whitbread brewing book contained a little index of the beers brewed. A quick glance at it not only tells you which beers were brewed that year, but the week in which they were brewed. Easy enough to track down a rare brew. Like their AK, which was only brewed a handful of times.

Final Selection was clearly an important product. Because it’s one of three specifically named in the adverts below.

It tells what to do but not how to do it
This is the Head Brewer’s book-which tells everything about the next Whitbread brew — what it is and how much malt and how much hops are to be put into it. The book, however, says nothing about how much care is to be put into it. For in Whitbread’s brewing and bottling the care taken is limitless.

This is what we mean by Whitbread thoroughness. There is an awareness of it every time the distinctive flavour of a Whitbread beer is enjoyed—and when customers in their thousands ask for a beer by name precisely because of the confidence they have in the name of the brewer.

WHITBREAD brewers of some very distinguished beers

WHITBREAD Pale Ale, for example, with that superb flavour — which explains why this beer is to be found in the homes of the knowledgeable in all walks of life.

Final Selection • Whitbread Pale Ale • Forest Brown • Whitbread on Draught
Illustrated London News - Saturday 11 May 1957, page 39.

The other two beers mentioned, Whitbread Pale Ale and Forest Brown, were incredibly important products for the brewery. As Light Ale and Brown Ale, respectively, they would have sold in large quantities in Whitbread’s pubs. That Final Selection is mentioned in the same breath shows its importance.

I can’t help wondering about the Head Brewer’s book. Does it still exist in the archives? From the illustration I can see that it isn’t a standard brewing log. If only because Whitbread’s were in landscape format and the book in the head brewer’s hands is landscape.

Whitbread were at great pains to emphasise how thorough they were in their processes. Not quite sure why.

Take a handful of barleycorns
The farmer looks critically at the barleycorns in his I hand because he hopes this crop will go to the Whitbread maltings where only the best is wanted.

Nothing is too much trouble, either on the farm or in the maltings, to make sure the barleys will yield the richest of malt for Whitbread’s brews.

They don’t call it trouble at Whitbread’s — only care and thoroughness.

When you drink to the health of your friends over glass poured from Whitbread bottle or a pint of Whitbread draught beer, you are reaping the benefit of all the care that the farmer puts into his land, and every man jack of them at Whitbread’s puts into his day's work.

WHITBREAD brewers of some very distinguished beers

WHITBREAD Pale Ale, for example, with that superb flavour — which explains why this beer is to be found in the homes of the knowledgeable in all walks of life.

Final Selection
Whitbread Pale Ale
Forest Brown
Whitbread on Draught
Illustrated London News - Saturday 13 July 1957, page 43.

This time they’re going on about their own hop farms. Which I suppose is fair enough. I wonder if they were also the source of the hop extract they later used in their beers?

From the rain and the sun and the salts of the earth
On the way to the South Coast, you pass through the weald of Kent, where on the Whitbread farms at Beltring and Stilstead the hops for Whitbread beers are grown, dried and ‘pocketed’.

Never let us forget that beer is a product of the soil—of British fanning at its best. And although full advantage is taken of new methods and new plant, Whitbread beers will never be ‘processed’ out of recognition.

Mind you, the demand for Whitbread beers at home and in over 60 countries overseas, necessitates brewing and bottling on a gigantic scale. It is here that Whitbread’s brewing genius* comes into play. For your enjoyment of the flavour is brought home to you afresh whenever you drink a Whitbread beer.

And the whole point is that when you pick up a bottle of Whitbread beer at random from your larder floor, it is as though all that care and thoroughness has been concentrated on that one bottle —and indeed every single bottle that is sent out into the world adds its own little quota to the Whitbread reputation for quality.

*“the infinite capacity for taking pains"

WHITBREAD brewers of some very distinguished beers

WHITBREAD Pale Ale, for example, with that superb flavour — which explains why this beer is to be found in the homes of the knowledgeable in all walks of life.

Forest Brown • Final Selection • Whitbread Pale Ale • Whitbread on Draught”
Illustrated London News - Saturday 14 September 1957, page 4.

I just realised what’s missing from the list of bottled beers in these adverts. A beer in one of the most popular styles of the 1950’s. A beer that made up a surprisingly large percentage of Whitbread’s output: Mackeson. It seems a very strange omission. Perhaps it’s because it wasn’t obviously branded as Whitbread at the time.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Beer in 1958 (part two)

The first article in Beer in Britain contains a very handy overview of the brewing industry.

First, the number of people employed directly or indirectly by brewing:

“The industry to-day comprises large, medium and small brewery firms — over 250 of them — but the six largest make over a third of the output. Breweries and maltings together employ about 70,000 people (operatives and staff, including lorry and tanker crews) with a high average net output of £1,240 a year, 45 per cent, above the average for all manufactures. The small number of workers in a brewery is striking. The retail distribution occupies far more; upwards of 350,000 workers are employed in licensed premises, but these include hotels as well as pubs. The whole chain of activities listed earlier must occupy nearly 500,000 people. Many others are employed in allied trades: by suppliers of machinery and bottles and glasses, and by firms using by-products, making yeast into vegetable extracts or supplying fertilizer from hops.”
"Beer in Britain", 1960, page 4.

Of course, there were more than 250 breweries in 1958. They’re talking about the number of brewing companies. Which had been falling throughout the 1950’s, as this table shows:

Number of breweries in the UK 1950 - 1960
Year Breweries
1950 567
1951 539
1952 524
1953 501
1954 479
1955 460
1956 426
1957 416
1958 399
1959 378
1960 358
BBPA Statistical Handbook 2003, p. 92
Brewers' Almanack 1955 p.68
Brewers' Almanack 1962 p.67

I’m wondering who the six largest brewers were in 1958. Here’s my guess: Watney Mann, Courage Barclay, Whitbread, Hammond United, Charrington and M&B. I could well be wrong, mind.

70,000 isn’t a huge number. But brewing isn’t very labour-intensive. You only need a handful of people to run a brewhouse. Very few of those 70,000 would have been working in the brewhouse. A large number would have been working in ancillary jobs, such as drayman. And at a time when casks were still made of oak, the cooperage would have been one of the biggest employers in a brewery. With so few workers, it’s not surprising that the average net output was above that of most industries. When the pub trade is included, however, the numbers employed look much more respectable.

In 1958 there were 69,913 pubs in England and Wales* and 6,074** in Scotland, making a total of 75,987. If 350,000 were employed, that comes to just 4.6 per pub. And remember that figure included hotels. But there were also 22,567*** clubs in England and Wales plus 1,219*** in Scotland. If you add in those, that’s just 3.5 employees per licensed premises. That seems pretty low. But, if they aren’t counting the landlord and their family member, it could be right.

Something about mergers in the industry:

“The trend to bigger breweries has been partly by amalgamation, and this continues. The consumption of beer is below the peak (of 1945) and tends still to fall; there are many competing claims on consumers' purses (including television and, of course, wines and spirits). Hence amalgamation is perhaps the main way to further development, though the bigger firms have their own vigorous selling campaigns. (They are conspicuously among the largest poster advertisers; and they differ as conspicuously in the concessions they make in this part of their work to the susceptibilities of the highbrow.)

The most recent amalgamations have included some between already large  firms—Watney's and Mann's, for example, and Barclays and Courage's. Here there are special considerations; the need, for example, to close Watney's brewery at Victoria for town-planning reasons.
"Beer in Britain", 1960, pages 4 - 5.

That last statement is news to me. Watney’s brewery was on a piece of desirable real estate, between Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace. After closure it was redeveloped as an office complex. Not sure why they needed to merge with Manns as they had another large brewery further west along the Thames at Mortlake.

There were a lot of takeovers in the 1950’s, with some breweries, such as Hammonds and Whitbread, going on buying sprees. Which inevitably led to a reduction in the number of breweries and an increase in scale of the remaining ones. Falling beer sales were one of the driving forces behind consolidation. Buying up a rival and its pubs was one of the easiest ways to increase output in a declining market.

Beer production started to rise after 1960, but only exceeded the 1946 figure in 1970. You can see in the table below that despite this average output per brewery rose considerably in the second half of the 1950’s.

Beer production and output per brewery 1950 - 1960
Year Bulk barrels Breweries Average output per brewery (barrels)
1950 26,513,997 567 46,762
1951 24,891,746 539 46,181
1952 25,156,489 524 48,009
1953 24,883,227 501 49,667
1954 24,582,303 479 51,320
1955 23,934,215 460 52,031
1956 24,551,158 426 57,632
1957 24,506,524 416 58,910
1958 24,647,978 399 61,774
1959 23,783,833 378 62,920
1960 26,115,012 358 72,947
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50
Brewers' Almanack 1962, p. 48
BBPA Statistical Handbook 2003, p. 92
Brewers' Almanack 1955 p.68
Brewers' Almanack 1962 p.67

More about pubs next. 

* Brewers' Almanack 1971, page 83.
** 1922 – 1972: The Brewers' Society Statistical handbook 1973”, page 52.
*** Brewers' Almanack 1971, page 83.
**** 1922 – 1972: The Brewers' Society Statistical handbook 1973”, page 52.