Thursday, 24 April 2014

San Diego schedule

The schedule for my San Diego trip has firmed up, much like an unwanted rumbling in the trousers on the bus-ride home.

This is the plan:

Thursday 15th May
16:00 – 18:00 Stone Liberty Station
I give a talk about about historic brewing techniques and sign books. If you're lucky it may only last 90 minutes. Buy my book in sufficient quantities and I might keep in shorter.

Friday 16th May
16:00 – 18:00 Stone brewery, Escondido
Meet and Greet plus book signing. Your chance to bend my ear and improve my bank balance.

Saturday 17th May
11:00 - 13:00 ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, Ramona
I chat informally talk about historic brewing, do a homebrewer's Q & A and sign books. Informal or not, you may need to remind me after an hour I'm supposed to be answering questions, too.

18:00 The Brew Project
British Fungus - a talk aimed at professional brewers about Brettanomyces in British brewing. One of my favourite topics. Dragging me offstage may be required.

Come along, ask me questions, buy my book. Buy me beer, too (how did I forget that ?).

Stone Brewing Co.
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029

Stone Liberty Station
2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116‎
San Diego, CA 92106

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065

The Brew Project
1735 Hancock St #1,
San Diego, CA 92101

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

Hoare Porter 1870 - 1930

I realise that I've never paid that much attention to one of the great London Porter breweries: the Red Lion Brewery. It operated under several different names, but ended its days as Hoare & Co.

I think I understand some of the reasons why. First and foremost is that, unlike its 18th-century rivals Barclay Perkins, Whitbread and Truman, none of its brewing records survive. Fortunately, the brewery did hang around until the 1930's, which means I have details of plenty of their beers, courtesy of the Whitbread and Truman Gravity Books. Enough for several posts like this.

I'm going to start with the beer that made the Red Lion Brewery famous: Porter. It seems logical enough.

I'm lucky to have one analysis from the 19th-century. It looks pretty standard for that era: a gravity of 1050-something and about 75% attenuation.

Moving on to the 20th-century, I'm a bit surprised at how up and down the gravity is, ranging from 1031.9º to 1039.8º. Most Porter of the time were about in the middle of that, at 1034-37º.

For most of its life, Porter had about 75% attenuation. In the 18th century that was a pretty high rate of attenuation, better than most types of beer. It remained around that level through the 19th century, when other styles caught it up or even overtook it. That's why I'm shocked to see how poorly attenuated some of these samples are. Under 65% is lower than I would expect. In a couple of cases it looks like it's an attempt to compensate for a low OG.

Given the lowish degree of attenuation and modest gravity, it's only logical that the ABV hovers around the just about intoxicating level.

Hoare Porter 1870 - 1930
Year Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation
1870 Porter Porter 1.5d pint draught 0.18 1013 1052.42 5.23 75.22%
1922 Porter Porter pint draught 1039.8
1922 Porter Porter pint draught 1036
1922 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1009.7 1033.7 3.11 71.22%
1922 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1011 1037.3 3.41 70.51%
1922 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1010.5 1035 3.17 70.00%
1922 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1010.8 1033.8 2.98 68.05%
1923 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1010.2 1034.2 3.11 70.18%
1923 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1011.7 1033.2 2.78 64.76%
1923 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1011.6 1032.6 2.71 64.42%
1923 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1009.8 1034.5 3.20 71.59%
1923 Porter Porter 6d pint draught 1008.4 1031.9 3.05 73.67%
1926 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 1039.8
1928 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 1013.4 1037.9 3.17 64.64%
1929 Porter Porter pint draught 1038.3
1929 Porter Porter pint draught 1038.2
1929 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 0.06 1009.2 1038.3 3.78 75.98%
1929 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 0.08 1009.6 1038.2 3.71 74.87%
1930 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 1010.8 1035 3.13 69.14%
1930 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 1009 1037 3.63 75.68%
1930 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 0.07 1006.6 1034 3.56 80.59%
1930 Porter Porter 5d pint draught 1010.2 1037 3.47 72.43%
British Medical Journal June 25th 1870, page 658.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252

What Next? Stout, perhaps.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Courage Porter and Stout 1920 - 1928 (part two)

It seems like ages since the first part of my look at Courage Porter and Stout in the 1920's. That's because I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. Even though I only posted it a few days ago.

That's the way I work: way in advance, mostly. My life is so busy currently that I need to keep on top of my blog posts. I wouldn't want to miss a day.

I won't bother discussing the Porter and Stout separately because they were always parti-gyled together.

The recipes in the early years aren't a million miles away from the classic 19th-century Porter grists: a combination of pale, brown and black malts. With a small amount - less than 10% of the total - sugar thrown in. One difference with the 1800's is the proportion of black and brown malt. They would have been the other way around: 15-20% brown and 5% black.

Here are Courage's grists from the 1860's for comparison purposes:

Courage Porter and Stout grists in 1867
Beer OG lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl pale malt brown malt black malt
Stout 1067.31 11.43 4.42 76.78% 19.35% 3.87%
Porter 1057.06 9.38 2.37 76.26% 18.65% 5.09%
Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/275.

I'm not totally sure what they mean by black invert. It could be No. 4 invert under a different name.

The grists from later in the decade contain a couple of significant differences.  Crystal malt and oats have been added. The latter presumably because some was marketed as Oatmeal Stout, which was very popular between the wars. The quantity is considerably more than at London rivals Barclay Perkins and Whitbread. Oats made up less than 0.5% of Whitbread's grist and less than 0.25% of Barclay Perkins'. Way too little to have any noticeable effect. The 5% Courage used may well have been discernible.

It's all change with the sugars. Out go the caramel and black invert, and in comes cane sugar (West Indies and Mauritius) and proprietary sugars (CDM and Durax). Overall the sugar content rose from under 10% to getting on for 15%. This was at the expense of the roasted malts, whose combined share declined from around 20% to just 10%. Presumably the proprietary sugars were emulating the roasted malt character.

There are two consistent factors in the hopping: West Coast and English hops. Which is pretty typical for between the wars. The Alsace and Poperinge hops which pop up occasionally were cheap alternatives.

Here's the full grist table:

Courage Porter and Stout grists 1920 - 1928
Year Beer OG pale malt brown malt black malt crystal malt oats no. 3 sugar caramel black invert Duttson CDM West Indian/Mauritius Durax hops
1920 Double Stout 1043.8 68.21% 9.27% 13.91% 1.55% 7.06% Californian, Alsace and English.
1920 Stout 1047.4 72.26% 7.30% 10.22% 3.41% 6.81% Californian, Poperinge and English
1921 Stout 1043.8 68.59% 9.01% 13.16% 1.85% 7.39% Californian, Alsace and English.
1923 Stout 1043.8 66.21% 6.90% 10.34% 6.21% 4.60% 5.75% Pacific and English
1926 Stout 1045.4 65.58% 5.58% 5.58% 5.58% 4.65% 5.89% 7.13% Oregon and English
1927 Stout 1045.4 64.71% 5.23% 5.23% 5.23% 6.54% 5.88% 7.19% Oregon and English
1928 Stout 1046.5 59.06% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 4.09% 6.61% 3.78% Oregon, British Columbian and English
1920 Porter 1029.6 68.59% 9.01% 13.16% 1.85% 7.39% Californian, Alsace and English.
1921 Porter 1029.6 68.59% 9.01% 13.16% 1.85% 7.39% Californian, Alsace and English.
1922 Porter 1032.7 66.12% 6.91% 9.87% 4.61% 7.89% 4.61% Californian and English
1922 Porter 1032.7 66.02% 6.80% 9.71% 4.85% 8.09% 4.53% Californian and English
1923 Porter 1032.7 66.21% 6.90% 10.34% 6.21% 4.60% 5.75% Pacific and English
1926 Porter 1032.7 62.34% 6.39% 6.39% 6.39% 5.33% 5.86% 7.28% Oregon and English
1926 Porter 1032.7 65.58% 5.58% 5.58% 5.58% 4.65% 5.89% 7.13% Oregon and English
1927 Porter 1032.7 64.71% 5.23% 5.23% 5.23% 6.54% 5.88% 7.19% Oregon and English
1928 Porter 1032.7 59.06% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 6.61% 4.09% 6.61% 3.78% Oregon, British Columbian and English
Courage brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/08/251, ACC/2305/08/253, ACC/2305/08/255 and ACC/2305/08/256.

As Courage brewed a limited range of beers, we've just one set to go, Strong Ales. I'm sure I'll get around to that sometime soon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hoare Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925

Here's another series you probably hoped I'd forgotten about: draught beer quality in 1920's London pubs.

I've still barely scratched the surface. There's a long, long way to go yet.

But first, the story of yet another brewery fire:

"FIRE AT HOARE'S BREWERY.- The greatest possible alarm was raised during Thursday night in consequence of a report being raised that the premises of Messrs. Hoare, the well-known brewers in Lower East Smithfield, were on fire. The intelligence was promptly forwarded to the brigade engine stations, and in the course of a few minutes Mr. Fogo, the foreman of the district, attended with three engines, when it was found that the outbreak had taken place in No. 13 sampling-store, but what cause could not be ascertained. Owing to the exertions of the workmen and firemen, the games were confined to that part of the premises in which they commenced, but not until a wooden closet and about 20 dozen bottles of stout, &c., were destroyed. Considering the extent of the premises the damage may be described as inconsiderable, and the business will not in the least degree be retarded by the outbreak. The firm is insured in the Sun, Union, Phoenix, and Imperial fire-offices."
London Daily News - Saturday 08 October 1859, page 7.

It's no wonder they raised a serious alarm. Brewery fires could be pretty dangerous if they got a hold - as the 1832 fire at Barclay Perkins demonstrates. Though this one doesn't appear to have been that destructive. Only a cupboard and 240 bottles of beer were lost. Bugger all, really, for a brewery of Hoare's size. In money terms, just £4 to £5.

Right, on with Hoare's Pale Ale. As a reminder, their Burton Ale came 10th of 14 with a score of 0.67.  Their Mild 9th of 17 with a score of 0.30. That's middling to poor.

This is an 8d/7d Ordinary Bitter type. The gravity is scarily close to the average of beers of this type, which is 1046º. But, because its attenuation is below the average of 80%, it has a little lower ABV.

Hoare Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1011.2 1045.7 4.48 75.49% grey v fair 2 8d
1922 PA 1013.8 1047.3 4.34 70.82% bright rather poor -1 8d
1922 PA 1012.7 1046.2 4.35 72.51% bright good 2 8d
1922 PA 1012 1047 4.54 74.47% bright v thin -2 8d
1923 PA 1014.4 1044.9 3.95 67.93% hazy unpleasant after flavour -2 8d
1923 PA 1010.8 1046.3 4.61 76.67% not quite bright poor -1 8d
1923 PA 1010.8 1046.3 4.61 76.67% not bright poor -1 8d
1923 PA 1012.2 1046.7 4.48 73.88% bright fair 1 7d
1923 PA 1012.6 1045.6 4.28 72.37% not bright poor -1 7d
1925 PA 1010.6 1047.1 4.75 77.49% brilliant v good 3 7d
Average  1012.1 1046.3 4.44 73.83% 0.00
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

What can I say except what a mixed bunch. Five out of ten were clear, which I now realise isn't too bad. But only four got positive score for flavour, which isn't very good. It's only because there were two twos and one three in the positives that the overall average is zero.

It's interesting to see that there's no correlation between clarity and quality. Two of the bright samples got negative flavour scores and one of the best for flavour wasn't bright. Not sure what to make of that.

Based on these results, I'd be pretty wary of ordering Bitter in a Hoare tied house.

Monday, 21 April 2014

A second San Diego event

Here's early warning of a second event I'll be doing while in San Diego next month.

It's one aimed at professional brewers and will dfeature me talking about the role of Brettanomyces in British brewing. I think it's a pretty damn interesting hour or so of bug fun.

These are the details:

18:00 at The Brew Project
1735 Hancock St #1,
San Diego, CA 92101

You can find more information here.

In addition to hear my gentle East Midlands tone, you'll also have a chance to see just how dreadful my handwriting is when I (hopefully) sign lots of copies of my books. Try to get in early, as my writing doesn't get any better as the evening progresses.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer


I've taken my eye off the ball. Too many distractions, would be my excuse. But that's no excuse for missing what's going on in my home town.

New breweries are sprouting like the wild garlic close to my work; savagely ploughed, but throwing up the odd leaf and quick flower nonetheless. In Amsterdam, I mean. More in the last 12 months than in the other 24 years I've lived in Amsterdam.

I'd love to say that I'd noticed myself. A couple were served up to me at the Kimchee Festival last year. Then Dolores found a map. For someone who'd imagined he had his finger up the arse of the Amsterdam pub scene, it was an unexpected piss shower.

Now the kids have entered a less crazy phase (thank you, prescription drugs) me and Dolores have the chance for a little us time. Obviously after she's done the shopping, cleaning, cooking and all manner of other gerunds.

"Do you fancy sussing out Troost?"

As always, I had an ulterior motive. I'd tell you what it was, but my memory isn't what it . . . . er . . . was. Getting pissed. Normally the reason. Let's assume that.



The address of Troost sounded vaguely familiar. A former abbey in De Pijp. The 5 euro cents dropped when I saw a photo. My old Job Centre.

Despite my many skills, I've had the odd bout of unemployment. This particular Job Centre was during the most persistent. I remember plonking down 50 job applications when called in for interview. To show I really was trying to find work. They were pretty reasonable and sympathetic.

Unlike the bastards at the dole office. Who on two different occasions "lost" my application for benefits. "Try not to misplace my forms this time." I suggested the third time I signed on.

Where was I? In a pub with my beloved. Let's forget about past annoyances.

"Tram 2, then 12."

Was the concise answer of Dolores to my question: "How will we get there?"

"Amsterdam, Amsterdam, I live there with my mam." Despite repeated application of a cattle prod, the kids refuse to sing my reworking of a Dutch song.

The sun was shining, birds singing and trams rumbling by when we arrived at Troost. Great for my clicky, clicky photography thing.

Troost is like a virgin. Shiny and new.

The windows onto the inner courtyard tell me these used to be classrooms. I've seen the inside of enough Amsterdam schools to recognise the architecture. More surprised that they kept some of the furniture. The metal/plywood chair I'm shuffling my arse around on in a futile attempt to attain bottom nirvana looks like school issue. It's a discomfort I thought I'd waved goodbye to in 1975.

Ten taps. That's what you nerdy thing wanted to know. Only three different beers, mind.

New German brewpubs. Mostly shit. With their unholy trinity of Helles, Dunkles and Weizen. All green, cloudy and generally unappetising. Sometimes the Dunkles can be worked down without gagging. With a nose clip and determination.

Dolores has a Weizen. I'm more interested in the waitress in leather kecks, but give it a try. Banana, clove: it flicks foam into all the right boxes. Not a bad try at all.

I pick IPA. There are loads of explanations I could give. Not a fan of Blond Ales, Weizen not really my thing unless it's Schneider. Let's give honesty a try: the IPA was the strongest. 

It was on a bit of a hiding to nothing. In the last few weeks I've had some cracking IPA-ey things. Two Hearted, Flower Power, All Day IPA and the De Molen/Het Ij Double IPA. There's nothing wrong with it: clean, bitter and perfectly drinkable. I'd have preferred more hop aromas, but I'm a picky bastard. And they've only just started. Perfecting recipes takes time.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A change in the habits of the people

In old newspapers you sometimes find items which are clearly adverts, but not marked as such. Come to think of it, that's not so different from newspapers today.

If I'm honest, I'm not quite sure what is being advertised. What is a Golden Ale Tablet? Some form of handheld computer?

"The problem to provide a wholesome, stimulating, and satisfying drink that will not intoxicate has at last been solved. This long-felt want has been met by Messrs. Brodrick's, of Dudley, whose Gold Medal Patent Golden Ale and Nourishing Stout Tablets recall the days when our forefathers brewed their own ale. These delightful home-brewed beers are indistinguishable from the best bottled beers, and are perfectly pure and wholesome; being made from the finest malt and hops, which, by Brodrick's patent processes, are rendered non-intoxicating, while preserving all the essential virtues, thus making an ideal beverage for meals. The reference made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his notable Budget Speech to the "remarkable decline that has taken place in recent years in the consumption of alcohol" shews the increasing need for such non-alcoholic beers as those produced Messrs. Brodrick's Patents. We are, indeed, as Mr. Austen Chamberlain went on say, "witnessing a change the habits the people." This is only natural and wise when the means satisifying the taste and palate are available at practically one-fourth the usual cost; while the same time the genuine beverage we have long been accustomed to is obtainable in this more desirable form. In addition to the Golden Ale and Nourishing Stout, Messrs. Brodrick manufacture Tablets of Concentrated Wine, and their Compressed Hop Tablets are invaluable in the house for making poultices, compressions, infusions, etc. Samples are obtainable from most grocers and chemists, redirect from Messrs. Brodrick's Patents, Dudley."
Lichfield Mercury - Friday 30 June 1905, page 3.
Just another weird, random old reference to Golden Ale.