Monday, 24 July 2017

Boddington beers in 1939

Another look at the beers of Boddington. I have to justify the hours I spent snapping their records somehow.

It’s a much sparser set of beers than in 1913, down from nine to four. Though I’m sure that they marketed more. The Mild would have be tweaked to get Brown Ale. And IP probably bottled as a Pale Ale.

Nothing more complicated than this today. Busy writing North American recipes for my new book.

Er, nothing much else I want to say.
Boddington beers in 1939
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl Pitch temp
3rd Jan IP Pale Ale 1045.0 1010.0 4.63 77.78% 6.92 1.39 61.5º F
3rd Jan XX Mild 1033.8 1007.0 3.54 79.26% 7.91 1.15 62º F
4th Jan CC Strong Ale 1056.0 1015.5 5.36 72.32% 8.10 2.17 61.5º F
19th Jan St Stout 1045.5 1013.0 4.30 71.43% 7.54 1.51 60º F
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/129.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Historic Lager festival

Dreams - can they really come true? I've been dreaming of an historic Lager festival for a while. Could it really happen?

I've tried once before. Total and utter failure. But I've learnt from my mistakes. Don't rely on other people. Be involved in the planning.

Anyway, I floated the festival idea on Twitter and there was an enthusiastic response. Now I need to convert that enthusiasm into a room full of historic Lagers. With me sitting in a corner drinking Kulmbacher.

Now all I need to do is work out a venue, sort out brewers to brew the beers and publicise the event so at least a few punters turn up.

To fulfill the first two of those objectives:

- Fancy hosting the festival: get in touch.
- Fancy brewing a beer: get in touch.

Maybe you can help an old man's dream come true.

I'll leave you with some Doppel Karamel DDR labels.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Let's Brew - 1879 Kulmbacher Export

You may have noticed that I've been busy with a new book. And when I say new, I don't mean just a bunc of blog posts stapled together.

Yes, it does contain some blog material. But also a whole load of new stuff. In particular, lots of new Lager recipes, around forty in all. They're a mixture of reconstuctions from brewing text books and analyses and ones taken from real brewing records. This is one of the former

In the early days of Lager brewing outside its traditional central European home, several regional Bavarian styles were imitated abroad. One of these was Kulmbacher.

Even Heineken used to brew this style of strong, hoppy and very dark Lager. But for some reason it quickly fell out of fashion and is today virtually unknown as a style. Which is a shame as I’m sure its bold flavours would go down well with modern drinkers. You could think of it as a Münchener on steroids.

The Kulmbach method of decoction

This is the description of the Kulmbach method of decoction from Otto (("Handbuch der Chemischen Technologie: Die Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Fr. Jul. Otto, published in 1865, page 128).

As soon as the water in the kettle reaches 50º C, as much as is needed is put into the mash tun to dough in.

After an hour, when the rest of the water has come to the boil in the kettle, this is added to the mash. The temperature of the mash should be 53.75 - 56.25º C. A small amount of water should remain in the kettle so that the temperature of the mash is correct. Or a small amount of cold water is added to the mash. When, after resting, the wort in the mash tun has cleared, this is run off and boiled in the kettle. After just a few minutes boiling, this Lauter mash is added back to the tun and mashed for 45 minutes. The temperature of the mash should be 71.25 - 72.5º C.

Usually a small quantity of wort is left in the kettle and boiled with all the hops for 10 to 12 minutes (hopfenrösten).

The mash in the tun is left to rest for 90 minutes, then it is drawn off and added to the kettle where it interrupts the rösten.

The wort from the first lot of cold water poured over the grains is usually used for topping up the kettle.
1879 Kulmbacher Export
Munich malt 20L 15.25 lb
Carafa III 0.50 lb
Hallertau 60 mins 3.50 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 3.50 oz
OG 1065
FG 1018
ABV 6.22
Apparent attenuation 72.31%
IBU 80
SRM 30
Mash Kulmbach method
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager

Friday, 21 July 2017

Kulmbacher Art

I can never find out too much about Kulmbacher, a style that’s always intrigued me.

This is a pretty late mention, coming from the 1920’s. Kulmbacher was pretty famous in the late 19th century, but seems to have quickly plummeted to obscurity in the 20th. Not sure why that happened. Perhaps it was all part of dark beers going out of fashion.

Time for me to summarise Olberg:

The foundations for the character of this beer are already laid during the malting process. The germination process is slow and cold. The shoots are well-developed, even if they aren’t that long. Drying is within the limits of the Munich drying method in general and the malt is more highly dried, with the flues either severely restricted or completely closed.

The mashing scheme consists of two thick mashes and one lauter mash. In addition to the highly-dried malt Farbmalz and caramel malt are also used. As highly-dried malts contain less diastase than pale malts, the saccharification temperature of 70º C is held for as long as necessary.

Mashing in is at 35º C, the first thick mash is allowed to saccharify at 70º C, before heating to boiling point and being left to simmer for an hour. When this is added to the remainder of the mash the combined temperature is raised to 52º C. After that there’s the second thick mash which raises the temperature of the combined mash to 70º C and then there’s a lauter mash at 75º C to mash out. Hops are added at a rate of 1.25 pounds per 50 kg of malt and boiled for 3 to 4 hours.

According to an old method from Habich, mashing in is at 50º C and boiling water added to raise the temperature to 54º C. From this a clear wort is run off and brought to the boil then added back to the remaining mash to raise the temperature to 70º C. This temperature is held until saccharification has occurred.

After about 1 to 1.5 hours the remainder of the lauter mash is brought to the boil with hops and boiled for 10 minutes and then interrupted by adding the back the run off wort. The wort boils for 5 hours. Original gravity 16º Balling.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Kulmbacher Art in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 78-79, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

It’s no wonder Kulmbacher was dark if it had a grist of very dark Munich malt, farbmalz and caramel malt. Maybe I should throw together a recipe.

The level of hopping is much lighter than quoted in earlier sources. 1.5 lbs per 50 kg of malt is only around 4.5 lbs per quarter – about the same as a Mild Ale.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Dortmunder Versandbier

An old German beer style, but not a top-fermenter. No, this a description of a classic Lager style: Dortmunder Export.

The type of beer which for a big chunk of the 20th century was the most popular in Germany. Until Pils came along and unseated it from its perch. Export has faced very hard times since. Brewery closures meaning Dortmund no longer produces more beer than any other town in Germany.

Things were very different back in the 1920’s, when Dortmunder Export was both well-regarded and popular. That’s when this description was written.

Our tastiest, but also the strongest characterful, pale beers are the original Dortmunder Versandbiers.

It’s brewed using a highly-dried, but still, pale malt.

Usually a two thick mash method is used, but sometimes also two thick mashes and one lauter mash.

With regard to maintaining a pale colour the first method is recommended and the mashes are only boiled for 10 and 5 minutes. By boiling the malt husks, which have a raw, harsh flavour, for too long the fine, spicy flavour is considerably diminished.

Mashing in is at 35º C, rising to 55º Cand then to 70º C. Where care is taken that full saccharification takes place. Then the wort is boiled for 5 to 10 minutes and combined with the rest of the wort to mash out at 70º C. Later, with the second thick mash, it’s mashed out at 75º C.

In a three-mash scheme, the temperature of the combined mash is brought up to 55º C with the first thick mash, 70º C with the second thick mash and 75º C with the lauter mash.

In order to keep the noble flavour the mash shouldn’t be too thick and should be quickly run off while the temperature is maintained at 75º C; stir the mash only once or twice. During sparging the temperature in the tun should be maintained at 70º C. Boiling the wort should only begin when the second sparge is running, and should last at least one hour.

The hopping rate is 1.3 pounds per 50 kg of malt, depending on the quality of the hops. Only the highest quality hops should be used, with a third added when the copper is filled, another third after an hour of boiling and the final third 45 minutes before the end of boiling. Total boil time should be a maximum of 2 hours.

The OG for Exportbier is 14º Balling.

The wort is pitched with a pure culture of Dortmunder yeast at 5º C, rising to 8.5º C. The wort is then cooled back down to 5 to 4º C.

Primary fermentation lasts 3 to 3 weeks. So that the beer stays sound for a long time a very high degree of attenuation is sought, so it’s logical that a highly-attenuative strain of yeast is used. These beers, which are lagered under pressure at 1º C for a long time, are very highly carbonated and full and elegant tasting.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Dortmunder Versandbier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 66-67, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

That’s a fairly detailed set of brewing instructions. Should be able to knock together a recipe from that. Though my biggest problem would be choosing the malt. Is pale malt more highly-dried than pilsner malt? In which case that, oddly enough, might be the best equivalent.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1837 Reid P

Reid was one of the largest Porter breweries in the 19th century. Never the largest, but sometimes second behind Truman or Barclay Perkins. In the early 19th century, they were briefly the largest in 1907 and 1808, but their production remained fairly stable while others expanded.

Here’s how the London Porter brewers ranked in the 1830’s:

Largest London Porter breweries 1830 - 1839
Brewery 1830 1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839
Barclay Perkins 262,306 330,528 343,328 315,784 343,569 382,063 378,109 354,360 375,466 405,819
Whitbread 144,104 191,040 209,672 187,070 184,100 186,206 190,005 180,512 179,975 183,468
Truman 167,542 199,486 234,665 226,924 254,650 280,075 329,333 303,590 310,193 320,675
Reid 127,220 154,631 165,515 150,865 169,246 181,187 194,656 162,840 178,919 171,650
Whitbread brewing log held at the London Metroploitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/023.
“The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980”. T R Gourvish & R G Wilson, 1994, pages 610-612

This is a pretty typical Porter of the time. With the familiar combination of pale, brown and black malts. All pretty locally sourced. The pale was from Sussex, the brown from Hertfordshire. The hops were all pretty local, too: Mid Kents from the 1835 and 1836 crop.

As a third of the hops were over two years old, I’ve knocked the total hops down from 4.62 ozs. to 3.75 ozs. It still leaves a calculated 44 IBUs.

The mashing scheme was quite complicated: three mashes and no sparge. There was a fourth mash for a return wort.

action water (barrels) water temp. tap temp. time
mash 207 162º F 145º F 90
mash 150 180º F 164º F 50
mash 179 151º F 153º F 40

This was a beer that wasn’t vatted and would have been drunk young. Or perhaps blended with Keeping porter at racking time. As with all Porter and Stout, the fermentation was quite hot, hitting a maximum temperature of 78.5º F.

1837 Reid P
pale malt 11.75 lb 79.66%
brown malt 2.25 lb 15.25%
black malt 0.75 lb 5.08%
Goldings 90 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.25 oz
OG 1061.2
FG 1018
ABV 5.72
Apparent attenuation 70.59%
IBU 44
SRM 30
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 66º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Manchester again, again

A lazy morning staring at Sunday Brunch on the TV. It passes the time.

I have vague plans of eating breakfast in the Wetherspoons on the way to the station. But then I get an email from Jules suggesting we meet at noon in the Sheffield Tap. Bum. No time for brekkie.

Jules has a couple of tickets to Pilcrow’s Summer Beer Thing. Will can’t make it so she asked me yesterday if I’d fancy going. Squeezing in it should be possible. I had no real plans for my few hours in Manchester, other than going to a pub and eating.

Walking to the station is more fun than walking from it. The best thing about it being in a valley, is whichever direction you come from, it’s downhill.

I get myself a sarnie for the train, then try to find Sheffield Tap. After a bit of aimless wandering around, I find a map of the station. Which points me in the right direction and soon I’m standing at the bar staring at a row of handpumps.

“A pint of Jaipur, please.” I’m playing it safe. “Do you have pork scratchings?” I ask, hopefully. “Yes. Which flavour would you like?” Flavour? I thought they only came in pig flavour. Evidently they have barbecue and salt and vinegar. When did pork scratchings go all posh?

I realise this is the first pub I’ve been in since arriving in Sheffield. In almost 24 hours. That’s some sort of record.

It’s pretty empty, giving me time to admire the lovely surroundings. In an old refreshment room, with all the tilework retained, it’s as impressive as any Edwardian pub. After a while Jules turns up and asks: “Do you want to look at the brewery? It’s in the next room.” I hadn’t even realised there was a brewery.

The shiny things are arranged in one half of another equally impressive tiled space. I should have looked more closely at the pumps on the bar. They had several of their own beers on. Oh well, too late for that now. Because we’ve only time for the one before jumping on the train.

It’s a relatively short journey. Made to seem all the shorter by the beers that Jules has brought along with her. I like someone who thinks ahead. Especially beerily thinks ahead.

The event we’re headed to is a beer festival outside a pub. The Pilcrow Pub, to be exact. As we walk over there, Jules tells me the pub looks like it’s been built by hand. She’s not wrong. She could have added “from old pallets” to that description.

It’s a single-story wooden building with a pitched roof. Very modern-looking in some ways. But we aren’t headed inside. After collecting a glass and some tokens we sit inside the tents pitched outside. That’s where all the beer is. Where to start? DIPA, I think. I haven’t a great deal of time.

I’m enjoying myself so much, I cut things a bit fine. For catching my plane. Victoria station is close by. I hurry there to pick up a cab. Which takes a worryingly long time to get through town. But I do remember to snap the Royal (formerly Red Tower Lager Brewery) on the way. Not the most scenic of breweries, but one with a place in history nevertheless.

I get to Manchester airport about an hour before my flight is due to leave. But I need to print off my boarding pass and drop off a bag. Which takes a little time.

The queue for security is scarily long. Luckily they come around and ask if anyone has a flight leaving soon. I can move right to the end of the queue.

It’s still almost boarding time when I get through all the formalities. Just time to gulp down a quick whisky at the bar and hurry along to my gate. I arrive a minute or two before boarding starts. Perfect timing.

Not having really eaten much today, I wolf down the egg sandwich we’re given. Then slowly sip on the red wine.

There’s a huge queue at Schiphol passport control. By the time I’m through, my bag is already circling around on the carousel.

I take a taxi home. Feeling knacked I am. And I need to be up at 6:30 for work tomorrow.

Life returns to its iterative norm.

Sheffield Tap
1b, Sheffield Station,
Sheaf St,
Sheffield S1 2BP.
Tel: +44 114 273 7558

The Pilcrow Pub
Sadler's Yard
Hanover Street
Manchester M60 0AB.

Monday, 17 July 2017


Excuse this bullshit post. I've been busy all weekend with my new book. About which I'll be saying more later in the week. I will reveal this: it's a lot more commercial than some of my recent efforts.

More random DDR memories and some old labels. I know it's lazy. But that's the sort of bloke I am.

One of Dolores's university friends lived in Plauen. Quite a pleasant, smallish city in the south of Saxony. The local brewery, Sternquell, was pretty decent. Their Pilsator was a particularly good beer. As were all the Pilsators I tried.

One thing I recently spottedin the William Younger notebooks was that in addition to visiting Carlsberg in Copenhagen, they also made an expedition to a brewery in Plauen. Not sure if it was Sternquell or not, as it had a different name. That's all a bit vague, isn't it.

I'll leave you with the labels.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

I've slagged

A letter came today. The result of one of my Dutch tests.

"I've slagged, Lexie."

"What do you mean, Dad?"

"I've slagged my spoken Dutch test."

"Dad, if you say it that way, you'll never pass."

"But I have passed. I know you don't pronounce it like that it Dutch."

"You're so lame, Dad."

"But just one exam away from being Dutch."

"Whatever, Dad. I'm going upstairs."

He's impressed, I'm sure.

Just one result away from Dutchiness.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Let’s Brew (November) 1917 Barclay Perkins Government Ale

This beer shows the direct relationship between government rules and changes to recipes during WW I.

The initial version of Barclay Perkins’ GA was the result of rules introduced in April 1917. These were changed in October of the same year:

Oct. 1 1917: Rate and conditions of previous quarter continued but gravity for one-half of the output raised to 1042º. Prices also fixed at 4d. per pint under 1036º, 5d. per pint under 1042º.
Source: "The Brewers' Almanack 1928" pages 100 - 101.

The result? Barclay Perkins increased the gravity of their GA to 1041.9º. There’s no way that was a coincidence. I’ve even got the letter telling the brewery to raise the gravity. It’s pinned inside the front cover of the brewing book.

The recipe today is that beer from the 10th November.

As for the recipe, there’s been a very significant change to the grist: out goes crystal malt and in comes brown malt. And, at over 11%, a considerable amount of brown malt. With the No. invert sugar dropping from over 9% to 3.5%, too. I’m sure that latter change was dictated by a shortage of sugar for brewing. Being something that could be easily used for food, unlike malt, supplies were mostly allocated for that purpose.

I reckon that the addition of brown malt is at least partly to add colour to make up for the reduction in no. 3 invert. There’s an intriguing note in the front of the brewing book which reads:

“For color
Roasted 1 sack (1/2 Qtr.) = 70 lbs caramel”

That says to me that they were short of caramel and using roasted malt as a substitute. It’s also dead useful for me because it means I can work out the exact colour of the caramel they were using: approximately twice as dark as roasted malt. (Or barley, it isn’t quite specific.)

If I’m being honest, this looks like a more interesting beer than pre-war X Ale. I like the look of that pale, brown and amber malt combination.

1917 Barclay Perkins GA
pale malt 7.25 lb 76.00%
brown malt 1.00 lb 10.48%
amber malt 1.00 lb 10.48%
no. 3 invert sugar 0.25 lb 2.62%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.04 lb 0.42%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1041.9
FG 1011.1
ABV 4.07
Apparent attenuation 73.51%
IBU 22
SRM 14
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 14 July 2017

Danziger Jopenbier

Time for a personal favourite of mine, the crazy Danziger Jopenbier.

It’s unusual in several respects, for a German beer. For a start it’s spontaneously fermented, a technique that mostly died out in Germany a couple of centuries earlier. Then there’s the ridiculously high OG and equally ridiculously high FG. Not to mention the organism that performed the fermentation.

And on that latter point Olberg has made things much clearer. I’ve read descriptions of a slime forming on the top of the beer. Olberg’s explanation of what was doing the fermenting explains that observation.

Off with the paraphrase.

Jopenbier can be considered a type of hopped malt drink. The mashing method employed doesn’t really matter that much. So for reasons of economy a short mashing scheme is usually employed. Per 1500 kg malt 25 to 30 pounds of hops are used. The wort is left to cool in the cooler and then run into fermenting tuns, which hold between one and two barrels. The tuns are 1 to 2 metres tall and built much narrower than usual. The wort remains in the tuns until after about three weeks it begins to ferment all on its own as aa result of spores that have fallen into it. No great value is placed on cleanliness or cleaning in the fermentation cellar, only the cellar floor is kept clean. Though naturally the cellar is kept dry and well ventilated. If I’m not mistaken the spontaneous fermentation is caused by Penicilium glaubum though Saccharomyces Beylink is also present. The fermentation is very violent which is why the tuns are kept closed with the exception of a vent under which a vessel is placed to catch overflowing liquid. When fermentation is complete the tuns are uncovered and the beer left to rest until it is shipped. Before it is filled into the smallest transport casks it is passed through filter sacks. The alcohol content is 3.5% and the acidity (measured in acetic acid) is 0.95%.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Danziger Jopenbier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 65-66, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

The penicillin will explain the mould, I guess. Unfortunately a search for that particular type threw up nothing whatsoever. It’s probably something that has changed its scientific name over the years. The same with the Saccharomyces – a total blank. Please let me know if you have any idea what they might be.

Interesting that it was fermented in tall narrow vessels. And counterintuitive. Surely if you’re relying on shit dropping into the wort to ferment it you’d want as large a surface area as possible?

That level of acetic acid would result in a pretty sour beer. Though with that amount of residual sweetness, it was probably barely noticeable. That will be 3.5% ABW, by the way.

Here’s the only analysis of Danziger Jopenbier I have:

Danziger Jopenbier
Year Brewer OG FG ABW ABV App. Atten-uation
1906 Unknown 1230.43 1195 3.52 4.40 13.49%
"Jahresbericht über die Leistungen der chemischen Technologie (1907)", 1907, pages 352 - 353. 

The FG is higher than the highest OG I’ve ever seen for a UK-brewed beer. Though the ABV is high enough for Jopenbier to count as an alcoholic drink, Doubt anyone could drink enough of the treacle to get pissed, mind.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Macbeth in Sheffield

I’m not up that early. I said I’d be in Sheffield about one. It’s going to be a bit later than that.

I pick up a Cornish nasty and a cheese and onion sandwich in Piccadilly station. I would get a couple of bacon baps from Greggs, but, as I discovered in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago, they don’t do them after eleven. Lunacy. The lust for bacon doesn’t end before lunch. It lasts all day. Why do some places serve breakfast all day?

It’s lovely ride through the Pennines. And the train doesn’t stink. Sheep stud the verdant pastures. Cliffs rear and stone farmhouses skulk sullenly in the dales. Amazingly, the sun is shining. Perfect. One of the things I really miss is the northern countryside. The wild bits. Open moorland scoured by wind and rain. Gets me all emotional just imagining it.

I roll into Sheffield around 12:30. When was I last here? At least 20 years ago, possibly more. How many times have I been here before? Twice, no, three times. Once that weird Newark CAMRA bus trip where I came down from Leeds by train then hitched a ride in the bus back to Newark.

Now I think about it, all the Newark CAMRA trips I went on were crazy. Like the one to Batemans. Where Chris Holmes cancelled at the last minute and my brother had to drive the minibus, even though he was too young. (That tells you how long ago this was.) The tour was brilliant and finished with a great buffet. It was the journey back that was insane. But I’ll tell you about that another time. I’m straying too far off topic.

Do you remember me telling you how unaccustomed to hills I am? And how unappreciative, other than as a scenic backdrop to my train journeys. Like many Yorkshire towns, Sheffield is hilly. Very hilly. And the railway station is in a valley. Everywhere is uphill. Including my hotel.

Luckily, my room is ready this time. I dump my shit and jump in a cab. My destination is Hop Hideout, a beer shop where I’m be speaking this evening. That’s nice. It’s next door to a pub with a Tennant’s sign.

My contact is Jules. I ask the man standing behind the counter if he’s Jules. “No, I’m not. That’s Jules.” He says pointing at a young woman. That’s confusing. All through our email contact I’d assumed Jules was a man. How wrong I was.

Soon I’ve a beer in my hand and we’re chatting affably away. This is one of the modern type of offie where they also have an on-licence. Pretty sure they would never have stood for this when I were a lad. It’s pretty compact, with just a single table and a tiny bar counter.

I can’t linger long. We’ve an appointment at nearby Abbeydale Brewery. Where they’re brewing one of my William Younger recipes (1868 No. 1 Ale, in case you’re wondering). If we rush we can get there before they’re done. Luckily it’s not a long walk.

When we arrive the brewer, clad in the traditional wellies and beard, is fiddling around with some spent hops. The brew, it seems, has gone well. It’s a pretty long-term project. The beer will be aged in a variety of barrels and be ready for next year’s Sheffield Beer Week in March. Which I plan attending. If only to drink that beer.

There’s an awful lot of brewery crammed into a rather small space. With more new fermenters recently squeezed in. They must be doing reasonably well.

Back at the shop, there’s time for a few more beers and pie and peas before I give my talk to a small but interested audience. The small and interested perhaps explaining why it takes three hours rather than the usual one. I don’t mind. I’m happy to keep talking as long as anyone is listening. Actually, it doesn’t even matter if anyone is listening. I love talking about beer.

The attendees – all members of a homebrew club – have brought along beers brewed using recipes in my new Scotland book (available for purchase here). Wettening my dusty words. And dusty throat, too.

When the words have finally dried up, Will, Jules’ partner in both senses of the word, drives us back into town and drops me off at my hotel.

The bar is still open. I nip in for a quick nightcap. There’s an odd crowd. Mostly fifty-somethings dressed up to the nines. I feel rather scruffy. A bumbling barman makes ordering drinks a longwinded procedure. They don’t accept cash, which is OK by me. I can charge it to my room. One less receipt to drive Dolores crazy.

Another busy day shunts me into slumber’s soft caress. I sleep well.

Hop Hideout
448 Abbeydale Rd,
Sheffield S7 1FR.

Abbeydale Brewery
8 Aizlewood Rd,
Sheffield S8 0YX.
Tel: +44 114 281 2712

Buy my new Scottish book. It's why was in England.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1913 Boddington CC

Boddington had some confusing names for their beers. B, BB and CC. No idea what they stand for. The first two are Mild Ales, the last one a Strong Ale.

Is it connected with the legendary C Ale, a type of Strong ale specific to Manchester? I’ve no clue, if I’m being honest. It would be nice to think that there is, but why would you go from two C’s to one? The implication would be that it was weaker. Because that’s how beer naming usually went. And that’s not normally the impression you’d want to give with a Strong Ale.

Boddington’s CC was brewed until WW II, but discontinued, never to return, in 1941. They did brew a Strong Ale after WW II, but that was simply called SA in the brew house. I think you can guess what the initials stood for.

The recipe is classic 20th century English: pale malt, flaked maize, sugar and colouring. It strikes me that breweries, especially smaller ones like Boddington, tried to use as few types of malt as possible. In the run up to WW I, Boddington only used two: pale and black. The latter being used in tiny quantities and only in Stout.

As you may have noticed, this beer is quite heavily hopped. To be honest, other than the Cluster, the varieties are a guess. All that’s listed is the name of the grower, not even the region where they were grown. Feel free to substitute them.

While I’m mentioning guesses, the sugar is, too. The logs reveal nothing about the sugar type at all. It could be anything, but invert sugar is the most likely. As I’m pretty sure this beer was dark, No. 3 invert is the obvious choice.

1913 Boddington CC
pale malt 11.50 lb 86.34%
flaked maize 0.75 lb 5.63%
caramel 0.07 lb 0.53%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 7.51%
Cluster 145 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1062
FG 1020
ABV 5.56
Apparent attenuation 67.74%
IBU 75
SRM 20
Mash at 158º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 165 minutes
pitching temp 61.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Kölsch obergärig (Deutsch-Pilsener)

Now here’s something I’m dead excited about. A description of Kölsch from relatively early in the style’s life.

Kölsch only seems to have coalesced into a definite, definable style around 1900. In the late 19th century top-fermenting brewers in various part of the Rhineland had started brewing beers which were intended to mimic some of the qualities of the new-fangled Lager beers that were flooding the region. Initially these were lumped together as Rheinisches Bitterbier. They had a few features in common, including heavy hopping and a lengthy lagering. Eventually both Düsseldorf and Cologne developed their own specific styles.

But that’s enough from me. Let’s see what Olberg has to say. This is my paraphrasing of his chapter on Kölsch.

Kölsch is a gold-coloured, thirst-quenching, not too heavy, easily-digestible beer that is the national drink of Cologne.

It is usually brewed using the kettle mash process, or by boiling a thick mash once or twice.  Though to save time and fuel mostly a kettle mash is employed, with perhaps one thick mash.

For example, mashing in is at 7 AM at a temperature of 35º C, the mash is left to brew until 7:30 and then the temperature  raised slowly to 50º C at 8:30 and 70º C at 9:30. The mash is left at this temperature for saccharification (30 to 40 minutes, make an iodine test.). If full saccharification has occurred, raise it to the mashout temperature of 76º C. The lauter tun must be well warmed up beforehand.

Or after saccharification of the mash, about a third is left in the lauter tun while the other two-thirds is brought to the boil in the kettle and returned to the lauter tun to mash out at 76ºC.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Kölsch obergärig in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 64-65, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

So a fairly simple mashing scheme with optionally a single decoction. Next boiling.

A third of the hops are added as the wort is being run into the copper, another third after one hour of boiling and the last third 40 minutes before turning out the kettle. The boil lasts two hours. Usually a small quantity of the hops, 6 to 8 %, are added to the kettle just before emptying it, when the steam has already disappeared. OG is 11 to 12º Balling.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Kölsch obergärig in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 64-65, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

Interesting that there were three hop additions, plus a very, very late on. It all sound very modern, especially that last, very late one.

Here’s how the fermentation went:

The wort is cooled to 10º C and pitched with 1 litre of yeast per 50 kg of malt. The tun fermentation lasts 5 days. The bier is transferred to lagering vessels just like Lagerbier and from this point on is handled and lagered cold in exactly the same way. The lagering vessels are filled to the top and only loosely bunged. After 5 to 6 weeks the beer, without being bunged, can be filtered and sent out to customers.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Kölsch obergärig in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 64-65, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

That’s a pretty cool fermentation, followed by a fairly classic lagering, except for not being bunged. As they were filtering the beer anyway, they seem to have not bothered with the final stage of lagering where, after the bung has been tightly sealed the beer naturally carbonates and clarifies itself. It sounds to me like they must have been force carbonating the beer after filtration. With the bung open, it wouldn’t carbonate itself.

The hopping rate in the kettle is 65 pounds of Lagerbier hops for 1,050 kilos of grist. In addition, before filling, into a lagering barrel of 65 hl, 12 pounds of hops and the water they have been brewed in are put into the barrel. These hops have been mashed with 75º water in a barrel for 30 minutes. The finer the hops, the better the beer will taste and the better its aroma. These beers are not usually bunged.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Kölsch obergärig in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 64-65, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

That’s a pretty heavy hopping rate for a German beer. It works out to about 10.5 lbs per quarter of malt. For comparison, in 1925 Whitbread PA, at 1047º a very similar gravity to the Kölsch being described, had only 7.5 lbs per quarter.* 

I’ve come across this practice of mashing hops in hot water before. I guess it’s a sort of dry hopping. Is 75º C hot enough to isomerise the hops? According to the internet, it isn’t. 79º C seems to be the critical temperature. It’s odd they should use a temperature that’s just slightly too cool. Which has me wondering about the exact purpose of this technique.

That wet hopping is the equivalent of about 5.25 oz. per barrel, which is about the same as and English Best Bitter of the period.

I’m sure modern versions are much more lightly hopped. Unfortunately.

* Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/090.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Boddington beers in 1901

Time to take a look at Boddington’s beers at the turn of the 20th century.

For quite a small provincial brewery, they had a surprisingly large range of beers. Especially as they didn’t parti-gyle much.  They brewed four Mild Ales, two Pale Ales, two Stouts and one Strong Ale. Not bad at all.

Especially if you compare it with what they brewed in the 1980’s: one Bitter and one Mild. That was it. Until they bought Oldham, when they added that brewery’s Bitter and Mild. Still not exactly varies. But something similar happened at many of the UK’s older breweries. When bottled beer went out of fashion, brewers dropped their Brown Ales and Stouts, buying them in instead, if needed.

I’ve been wondering recently if the London beers I’ve mostly concentrated on were typical of the country as a whole. Especially after I saw how weak some of the Adnams’ beers were. The set from Boddies has reassured me. As the gravities are pretty much in line with those in London. OK, the weakest Mild has a gravity a bit on the low side. But that wasn’t their big seller. Their two main Milds, XX and XXX, are generally similar to Whitbread’s X and XK.

The same is sort of true of the Pale Ales. Though Whitbread didn’t brew an AK-strength beer, I know 1045 is a typical gravity for this class of beer. Boddies IPA is right in the middle of Whitbread’s set of Pale Ales. The biggest differences I can see are that Whitbread brewed a larger range of Pale Ales and hopped them a bit more heavily.

Taking Boddies Single Stout as a Porter under a different name, the Manchester brewer’s beers are broadly the same as the two weakest Whitbread beers. The hopping, though, again being heavier in the London beers.

Finally, Boddies Strong Ale, BB, which has a higher OG than any of Whitbread’s Stock Ales. In this case, the hopping in Manchester is much lower than in London.

Not forgetting boil times, which were around 30 minutes longer at Boddington. Wonder why that was?

Boddington beers in 1901
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp
3rd Dec X Mild 1045 1010 4.63 77.78% 5.62 1.01 2 60º F
11th Dec XX Mild 1052 1016 4.76 69.23% 5.67 1.20 2.17 2.25 60.25º F
2nd Dec XXX Mild 1059 1018 5.42 69.49% 5.66 1.35 2.25 2.33 60º F
5th Dec XXXX Mild 1068 1022 6.09 67.65% 5.91 1.66 2.33 60.5º F
12th Dec AK Pale Ale 1046 1013 4.37 71.74% 8.00 1.48 2.25 59.5º F
19th Dec IPA IPA 1054 1015 5.16 72.22% 9.71 2.10 2.25 60º F
12th Dec DS Stout 1067.5 1023 5.89 65.93% 5.38 1.56 2.25 60º F
6th Dec S Stout 1051 1015 4.76 70.59% 5.50 1.16 2.25 60º F
17th Dec BB Strong Ale 1086 1030 7.41 65.12% 8.42 2.63 2.75 60º F
Boddington brewing record held at Manchester Central Library, document number M693/405/125.

Whitbread beers in 1901
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp
20th Jun XK Ale 1061.2 1017 5.85 72.24% 6.03 1.63 1.75 1.75 60º
20th Jun X Mild 1054.2 1014 5.31 74.15% 6.03 1.44 1.75 1.75 60º
25th Jun 2PA Pale Ale 1053.7 1014 5.26 73.95% 9.85 2.39 1.5 1.42 57.5º
27th Jun FA Pale Ale 1051.8 1013 5.13 74.90% 10.92 2.54 1.5 1.75 58º
15th Jun PA Pale Ale 1058.4 1017 5.48 70.91% 10.98 2.93 1.5 2 58º
31st May KK Stock Ale 1073 1030 5.69 58.91% 12.00 4.03 1.75 2 57º
31st May 2KKK Stock Ale 1078.7 1033 6.05 58.07% 12.00 4.35 1.75 2 57º
31st May KKK Stock Ale 1082.8 1036 6.19 56.53% 12.00 4.58 1.75 2 57º
11th Feb C Porter 1054.7 1015 5.26 72.60% 6.86 1.86 1.5 1.75 60º
14th Feb P Porter 1055.7 1015 5.38 73.06% 7.52 1.70 1.75 2 60º
25th Feb CS Stout 1055.5 1016 5.23 71.18% 6.91 1.79 1.75 2 60º
8th May S Stout 1072.5 1028 5.89 61.39% 8.57 3.15 1.75 1.75 57º
20th Feb SS Stout 1087.6 1033 7.22 62.31% 8.55 3.74 1.75 2.17 57º
13th Mar SSS Stout 1096.1 1042 7.16 56.29% 8.51 4.25 1.75 2 57º
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/066 and LMA/4453/D/09/095.