Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Style League table

The season is finally at an end and the champion can be crowned. Who will it be?

I'll warn you that this isn't the end. There's still a detailed analysis by brewery to come. But I thought I'd put you out of your misery first. I know you've been waiting for these results.

You're going to have to wait a little longer for the brewery rankings. First we're going to compare the different styles. Even before putting together the table I had a pretty good idea of the winners and losers.

Burton comes out on top overall with an average score of 0.72. It's no surprise to me. There are a few things going for it. It was relatively strong and expensive. Plus reasonably popular - it made up around 9% of Whitbread's production in the 1920's. Their PA sold a little better, but not by a huge amount. An impressive two thirds had positive scores for flavour, though fewer than half were bright.

Next is PA. If 9d PA (Best Bitter) is split out, it comes above Burton with an average of 0.88. Though oddly it has the second fewest examples bright, after Burton. It's a clear indication that clarity and quality didn't necessarily go hand in hand. Even with 8d Ordinary Bitter mixed in, PA still comes second with an average of 0.62. And clarity crawls up to just over 50%.

I'm surprised Stout is so far behind in third place. It's another fairly strong one and it was even more popular than Burton. At Whitbread, London Stout and Country Stout accounted for around 18% of output in the 19320, though I don't know what proportion of that was draught. Being very dark, Whitbread didn't bother analysing its degree of clarity. On the other hand, almost three quarters of the samples had positive flavour scores. Which implies a large number of goodish, but few outstanding, examples.

Averages per beer type
beer type No. examples no. bright % bright no. good flavour % good flavour average score
9d PA 49 23 46.94% 33 67.35% 0.88
Burton 138 61 44.20% 92 66.67% 0.72
PA 167 85 50.90% 109 65.27% 0.62
8d PA 118 62 52.54% 76 64.41% 0.52
Stout 110 64 72.35% 0.29
X 170 104 61.18% 106 62.35% 0.23
Mild 188 112 59.57% 112 59.57% 0.16
MA 18 8 44.44% 6 33.33% -0.18
Porter 92 44 47.83% -0.42
Average 695 258 52.33% 421 60.58% 0.27
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Mild comes fourth, not that far behind Stout, especially if you strip out watery MA, the 1028º Mild. The stronger Milds may have an average of 0.23 with almost two thirds of examples with positive scores. MA, weak and not produced in huge quantities, does poorly in every respect: clarity, flavour and score.

It's no surprise that the season ends with relegation for Porter. It has a very poor average of -0.42 and fewer than half of the examples were good flavour-wise. It was going out of fashion and sales were collapsing.

On average, the time traveller has a 6 in 10 chance of getting a decent-tasting pint, but only a 1 in 2 chance of a clear one. Is that better or worse than your odds with cask beer in London today? My advice for those headed back to the 1920's is to develop a taste for Burton.

Monday, 29 September 2014

15% off my Lulu print books

until the end of today (29th September) with this code:


Why not take advantage to invest in one of my luxury hardback editions.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

This code may only work in the US Lulu bookstore.

Danish brewing in 1960 - lagering and packaging

It's a sad day. My little series on Danish brewing is drawing to a close. We'll be lookingh at the final phases of the brewing process.

Starting with one of my favourite processes, lagering. I've seen a fair bit of discussion on homebrewing fora about how long you need to lager and even whether there's any point in bulk lagering at all. I won't claim to understand the science, but from my experience drinking beer, a proper long lagering definitely helps. All the Franconian beers I love get at least two months.

"Lagering.—The green beer was racked to the lager cellar by pumping. The yeast had usually compacted firmly on the floor of the fermenting vessel and it was not appreciably disturbed during racking, so that a retaining collar was rarely necessary. Much mixing of gyles took place in order to obtain a consistent product and also, where the method was in use, to mix yeast types. At this point in the process precipitating agents such as tannic acid were sometimes added.

Cellars were maintained at about 32° F. and the beer was allowed to reach this temperature naturally, standing in tanks which were bunged about a day after filling, either column-wise or singly. Many cellars were vast underground refrigerated passages, but new installations above ground enclosed the tanks in cold rooms, leaving the ends accessible from a working passage at room temperature. Enamelled iron, aluminium and stainless steel were used for lager tank construction, with aluminium now predominant. Pressures were allowed to rise to about 4 lb. per sq. in., which is lower than in Germany where subsequent carbonation is not allowed, and the average storage time was up to 3 months for Pilsner types and 6 months for very strong beers."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, pages 497 - 498.

Blending gyles is typical of big industrial breweries who want to maintain absolute consistency of flavour. For me part of the charm of some beers is that there are slight variations from batch to batch. Makes life more interesting.

The lagering process sounds pretty traditional: gradual cooling to about freezing point and bunging the lagering vessels to allow the beer to carbonate. Though obviously they didn't solely rely on natural carbonation as the Germans did. Funnily enough I know from documents in the Barclay Perkins archives that Harp Lager was bunged and naturally-carbonated in the early 1960's

Now filtration, a vital part of Lager production.

"Filtration and bottling.— In 14 of the 16 breweries visited in Denmark and Germany, the final polishing filtration was given by a pure cotton cellulose pulp filter of the Enzinger type. Pulp polishing was considered essential for stability of the finished beer, in spite of the disadvantage of regenerating and sterilizing the pulp and the possible loss of beer quality. Four of the Danish breweries used a battery of centrifuges for rough filtration, with additional cooling equipment between the centrifuges and the pulp filter; they were not so efficient as kieselguhr rough niters and they thrust more load on to the polisher. For example, a 50-plate pulp filter used after a centrifugal pre-filter passed about 300 brl. before choking whereas 400 brl. were passed after prefiltration by kieselguhr. The sludge from the lager tanks was usually filtered through a cloth filterpress, and the beer recovered was led through the main filtration plant and metered into fresh bright beer."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 498.

I've included that for information purposes only I can't claim to understand hardly any of it. My knowledge of filtration methods is close to zero. Not anything I ever bothered with when home brewing. Very efficient of them to recover the beer in the yeast sludge. Better than the disgusting practice of some British breweries of reusing returned beer.

Now they're fizzing the beer up.

"Carbonation took place just before the pulp filtration, and bright-beer tanks were usually glass lined. Two large breweries had a rigorous check on dissolved air before bottling, and any excess over 2 ml. per litre was scrubbed out by bubbling carbon dioxide through the tank. The extent of carbonation was standardized and chill-proofing agents were sometimes added. Bottling lines were always well laid out, with hot water spray pasteurization in bottle commonly applied; the usual practice of a 20-min. hold at 143° F. for a 0.33-litre bottle seemed rather drastic."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 498.

I can't really say much about this either. Other than that large breweries were clearly concerned about oxidation and that pasteurisation seems to have been standard. Though that was also true of British bottled beer at the time, with just a handful of exceptions.

Finally, draught and canned beer.

"Keg beer constituted a proportion of the home trade of some breweries, and here pasteurization by complete immersion was favoured for thorough heat transfer and so that leaking kegs could be detected. Export beer in bulk was flash pasteurized. Canning was rather the province of the major concerns, but it was obviously on the increase and at least one firm was preparing to raise its output of canned beer extensively. Standards of stability for beer in bottle were high. Vibration and forcing tests were regularly carried out with, e.g., one type of beer being expected to withstand a temperature of 140° F. for 3 months without throwing an appreciable haze."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 498.

I can remember being shocked during my first visit to Copenhagen back in the 1980's at the almost total absence of draught beer. Even in largish city-centre pubs, draught beer was rare, except in British or Irish pubs. It was the only real beer-drinking country where bottles so completely dominated the pub trade. That's one of the many aspects of the Danish brewing scene which have compltely changed. Now draught beer is everywhere.

It sounds as if not all breweries really bothered with draught in 1960, but some did. But presumably between 1960 and 1980 even those gave up on it.

Next we'll be looking at German brewing in 1960.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

League table of London Stouts in the 1920's

Almost time for a final look back at the overall results. But first it's the final style league table.

As a stronger style - it was usually the strongest draught beer in a pub - you'd expect Stout to score reasonably well. At least better than its sibling Porter, for which only five of the eleven breweries could muster a positive average score.

London seems to have been out of step with the rest of Britain in terms of styles. By the 1920's draught Porter had pretty much disappeared elsewhere and draught Stout was following a similar path to extinction. But in London it was still going strong through WW II and into the 1960's. Why was that? Probably simply because they were styles with their origins in the capital.

The vast majority of the Stouts analysed were of the 9d (8d after 1923) per pint type. The price implied a gravity in the low 1050's, which is where most of these beers are. Wenlock and Courage were the odd men out with a weaker 8d (7d after 1923) per pint Stout. They fared quite differently, though.  Wenlock's was one of the weakest, but scored surprisingly well. While Courage's was crap.

In the Mann and Meux samples, a few of the cheaper Stouts seem to be mixed in, but which were sold for the higher price. I would have been easy enough for a dodgy landlord to pass off a weaker Stout as a more expensive one, if the punters weren't paying too much attention. Some Charrington landlords went one better, passing off Porter as Stout, an old WW I trick. Gravities under 1040º are a dead giveaway.

I think it's time to look at that league table:

League table of 1920s London Stouts by score
Brewery FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation score
Whitbread 1014.8 1055.3 5.27 73.32% 2.00
Wenlock 1016.1 1045.7 3.83 64.56% 1.36
Watney 1013.4 1054.9 5.40 75.55% 1.13
Huggins 1018.5 1062.1 5.67 70.27% 1.09
Truman 1017.6 1053.5 4.66 67.20% 1.00
Mann 1012.0 1054.5 5.54 78.05% 0.43
Meux 1014.7 1054.9 5.23 73.29% 0.18
Hoare 1017.9 1054.2 4.70 67.06% 0.10
Cannon 1014.9 1049.5 4.49 70.05% 0
Charrington 9d only 1013.3 1052.5 5.10 74.70% -1.00
Charrington 1012.9 1049.7 4.78 73.73% -1.09
Barclay Perkins 1014.6 1055.4 5.31 73.72% -1.21
Courage 1011.6 1046.3 4.51 74.98% -1.67
all Stout 1014.8 1053.8 5.06 72.35% 0.29
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

There are a couple of points of interest there. And a least one depressing one.

Only two of the traditional Porter breweries manage a top five finish: Whitbread and Truman. Oddly, the top three all have names beginning with a "W". And the bottom five all begin with  a "B" or a "C". The table is almost in reverse alphabetical order. At least eight breweries managed an average positive score, with one averaging zero and three negative scores.

The top five all did pretty well. Any average over 1 is good. Whitbread came out especially well, but the sample size - three - was very small. Once again, Watney is in the top three. They really do seem to have been one of the top breweries for quality before the war. Where (and when) did it all go wrong?

Charrington, Barclay Perkins and Courage are all dreadful. It saddens me to see how crap Barclay Perkins beer was. No wonder their sales fell off so much in the 1920's. As this table shows:

Barclay Perkins output 1920 - 1929
year barrels
1920 464,033
1921 393,045
1922 348,576
1923 293,728
1924 303,676
1925 329,464
1926 317,628
1927 306,682
1928 306,300
1929 300,569
Document ACC/2305/1/711/1 in the London Metropolitan Archives

Time for one final league table. This time ranked by the percentage with good flavour:

League table of 1920s London Stouts by good flavour
Brewery No. examples no. good flavour % good flavour score
Whitbread 3 3 100.00% 2.00
Huggins 11 9 81.82% 1.09
Wenlock 11 9 81.82% 1.36
Watney 16 13 81.25% 1.13
Truman 4 3 75.00% 1.00
Mann 14 9 64.29% 0.43
Hoare 10 6 60.00% 0.10
Meux 11 6 54.55% 0.18
Cannon 2 1 50.00% 0.00
Barclay Perkins 14 3 21.43% -1.21
Charrington 11 2 18.18% -1.09
Courage 3 0 0.00% -1.67
Total 110 64 58.18%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Not that different from the other league table.

Just a few steps left now in our journey. I'll be finishing with a roundup of all the styles and a final definitive league table. I can't wait.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Danish brewing in 1960 - fermentation

Here, as promised, is more about Danish brewing in 1960. We're now as far as fermentation:

"Fermentation.— The essential feature of a lager attenuation is that sufficient residual extract is left to supply the requirements of the secondary fermentation in the lager tank; three methods of achieving this were used. With a single fairly flocculent yeast the primary attenuation was checked about 4° above the limit by cooling, thus giving a day or two less in the fermenting vessel; a typical example was an 8-day fermentation at 48-50° F. Again with a single yeast, the primary fermentation was completed and the necessary residual extract then added as krausening in the lager tank. The third method involved using two strains, powdery and flocculent, which were kept separate in the fermenting vessels, where they attenuated to different levels and were then mixed in the lager tank; the residual extract left by the flocculent yeast was sufficient for the secondary fermentation. A well-balanced pair of mutually flocculating yeasts was required for this process, but it was possible to standardize fermentation time without detriment to the secondary fermentation; this method was found in use both in a large brewery with its own propagating apparatus and in a smaller concern which relied on a commercial supply of yeast."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 497.

Now there's something I'd never really considered: the need for extract during the lagering process. It makes sense - how else would the carbonate itself in the tank if there were no fermentation activity occurring. Much like bottle- or cask-conditioning, there are two basic methods of achieving this: stopping primary fermentation at the right point or fermenting all the way out then adding more fermentable material. The latter is safer, as you've more control. When I homebrewed, I never dared rely on having just the right amount of sugar left in the wort. I always primed bottles with sugar.

I was surprised when I compared Barclay Perkins methods with those outlined in the article, that the Danes were fermenting warmer and for a shorter time. Barclay Perkins pitched at 45º and let the temperature rise to a maximum of 49.5º F. Export and Sparkling beer took around two weeks in primary, Harp Lager 8 days.

Barclay Perkins Lager in 1962
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops oz/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermentation temp length of fermentation (days)
Export Export 1045.5 1007.7 5.00 83.08% 4.51 11.84 2 45.5º 49.5º 14
Harp Lager Lager 1035.1 1008.6 3.51 75.50% 3.93 8.40 2 45º 47º 8
Sparkling Beer Lager 1045.5 1010.0 4.70 78.02% 4.49 12.38 2 45º 49º 15
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/276.

Barclay Perkins is a good brewery to be using for comparison. Not just because they had a specialist Lager brewhouse. When it opened in the 1920's the first head brewer was a Dane.

The method using two yeast strains seems very fiddly. Not sure I'd want to give it a try. Not when kräusening is so much simpler. Here's something about the primary fermentation vessels:

"The fermenting cellar was usually at 40-45° F. and contained open vessels of aluminium, ebon, enamelled iron or stainless steel, filling being from the bottom through a single filling and racking cock; an armoured rubber hose was often used to connect the vessel to the wort main system, which was usually of copper. Yeast was either injected into the filling main near the vessel or pumped in from the top during collection.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 497.

I'm surprised that they still had open fermenters this late. Though in Franconia that's still the norm, at least among the smaller and medium-sized breweries.

"Both large Copenhagen breweries have recently built multi-storey fermenting blocks with totally enclosed vessels in stainless steel, insulated with 15-cm. layers of cork and mounted in concrete; the exterior is air conditioned to avoid condensation and heat variance in the F.V. Attemperation was by direct ammonia expansion into a single 4-in. pipe running round the vessel just below the beer line. By varying the boiling pressure of the ammonia the minimum temperature difference could be attained between attemperator and beer. Carbon dioxide was collected from these vessels."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 497.

He means Carslberg and Tuborg by "Both large Copenhagen breweries". And I see they had closed fermenters. What do they have today? Well nothing because both breweries have closed. Wherever Carlsberg and Tuborg are brewed now, I'm sure it's in conical fermenters.

That's quite different from attemperators in British breweries. Those were a network of small diameter pipes. I would try to describe it in more detail, but It's easier to just show you a photo:

The CO2 being collected was presumably used to carbonate beer. Or soft drinks.

Finally something on yeast:

"One brewery was still using the original Hansen propagators the prototype of which was designed in 1883. Yeast was removed for further build-up about once a week, and the inherent soundness of the method was apparent from the fact that over 300 samples of pitching yeast could usually be obtained from the initial pure culture before deterioration took place.

Yeast washing was widely practised, a modern variation being to sieve the yeast direct from the floor of the fermenting vessel after racking, using a vibrating mesh screen to retain the scum and allow the cleansed yeast to pass through. Smaller breweries re-used the yeast about 12 times, but the larger concerns had more rigorous infection limits; they were able to detect the presence of one cell of Pediococcus in 0-5 g. of pressed yeast and re-pitched only about 6 times. It was interesting to note that Pediococcus was the infecting organism most feared by Continental brewers; lactic rods were rarely encountered."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 497.

That's impressive still having a Hansen-style yeast propagator in use almost a century after it was designed. Though there are other bits of kit that have hung around for a long time. A Steel's masher is a good example. That was invented in 1853 and is still in use at many British breweries.

The implication is that British brewers most feared lactobacillus. I wonder why it wasn't common in Danish breweries?

Next time the real fun starts when we get to lagering.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Danish brewing in 1960 - boiling and cooling

We're back with the article on Danish and German brewing in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing. Clearly I find it fascinating because it's all about Lager.

First we have boiling. A truly fascinating topic.

"Wort boiling was usually for 75 min. open and 60 min. under pressure with the propeller on, the coppers being heated by a central high-pressure steam dome and an annular low pressure zone. Hops were added in two batches — at the start of the boil and after pressure had been reduced — in amounts calculated to keep the final isohumulone content of the finished beer constant. Hop rates varied from 5-8 oz. per brl. for Pilsner to 11 oz. for 1080° beer. Hot-break nitration was carried out in a modified mash filter and adjustment to gravity was made in the filtered-wort receiver; cooling to 46° F. was in stainless steel plate coolers with a final brine section. The cold wort was aerated to 5 ml. of dissolved oxygen per litre, and oxygen content was checked in the laboratory by a method involving polarization of a falling mercury electrode, coupled to give a direct galvanometer reading in ml. of oxygen per litre."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 496.

Not sure I completely understand that. Pretty sure I've never come across a British brewer that boiled both open and closed for the same beer. I certainly wouldn't have expected a brewery whose main products were Pale Lagers to boil under pressure as that can add colour to the wort. It's also a very long boil - 2.25 hours in total. You can see in the tables below that it's much longer than Whitbread's Ales were boiled - the longest is 75 minutes. Though the two-hour boil time of Barclay Perkins' Lagers is much closer.

Those hopping rates are pretty low. Whitbread's Mild and Brown Ale, though much weaker, were hopped at the top end of the Danish Pilsner range. Even Harp Lager was in a similar range, and Barclay Perkins' other Lagers were much more heavily hopped.

Whitbread Ales in 1960
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops oz/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp length of fermentation (days)
Best Ale Mild 1030.6 1010.0 2.73 67.32% 5.67 11.14 1 1 64º 7
FB Brown Ale 1033.8 1008.5 3.35 74.85% 5.45 11.68 1 0.75 64º 6
KKKK Strong Ale 1051.8 1016.0 4.74 69.11% 7.50 24.88 1 1.25 62º 7
PA Pale Ale 1038.4 1012.0 3.49 68.75% 5.89 14.60 1.08 1 62º 6
WPA Pale Ale 1035.5 1008.0 3.64 77.46% 8.63 19.97 1.25 1.25 64º 6
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/127.

Barclay Perkins Lager in 1962
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops oz/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermentation temp length of fermentation (days)
Export Export 1045.5 1007.7 5.00 83.08% 4.51 11.84 2 45.5º 49.5º 14
Harp Lager Lager 1035.1 1008.6 3.51 75.50% 3.93 8.40 2 45º 47º 8
Sparkling Beer Lager 1045.5 1010.0 4.70 78.02% 4.49 12.38 2 45º 49º 15
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/276.

As for the hop additions, when exactly was the second one? The only explanation that makes sense is that they boiled first under pressure, then open. Otherwise when would the pressure drop? It certainly doesn't sound as if there were any aroma additions.

Now some other strange brewing techniques:

"Brewing procedure in other Danish breweries visited generally resembled that described above, but a common liquor treatment was to soften with lime in the cold and add gypsum to the grist. One large brewery had cut down the saccharification rest (Table I) to 20 min.; a 70-Qr. mash was filtered in lauter tuns, and a speed comparable to the mash filter was achieved by using 4 small tuns together, alternating, since 1956, with a single huge tun of 28 ft. diam. Hot sludge filtration was frequently required after the hop strainer, and a vibrating mesh screen was employed in one case and a centrifuge in another; the typical German open coolship was encountered only once."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 496.

There's something else I don't understand - how  the four small tuns and one giant one worked together. If you do, please let me know.

Adding gypsum to the grist would have effectively hardened the water, so why soften it first? Was gypsum being used as a sort of Burtonisation? Yet another point I don't understand. I'm not doing a very good job of explaining this, am I?

Ah, finally something I understand. They didn't use open coolers much in Denmark. I've spent the last couple of years saying that the correct English word is "cooler" and here's someone using coolship. Whatever you call it, one of the reasons its use was retained after the introduction of other cooling methods was that lots of gunk would drop out while wort was in it. hence the need to filter out sludge when one wasn't employed.

Next time we'll be looking at fermentation.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bokbier season

Bok has appeared again, a sure sign winter is on its way. And that I'm going to save a few bob.

Its arrival was announced when Dolores said one evening: "I got you some Amstel Bock."

She knows I like it so snapped it up when she saw it on special offer.

Having picked it out as a good 'un a couple of times in blind tastings, I'm confident of its quality. And 52 euro cents for 0.3 l of 7% beer. That's effing cheap, too.

Why support a multinational? Good question. Back when I lived in Britain in the 1970's and 1980's, I had no problem drinking beers from the Big Six. If they were good. To encourage them to still make them. If I'd boycotted the big brewers I'd have deprived myself of some wonderful beers. There's a Mild from Leeds that comes to mind. What was the name of that brewery? What sane person would have deprived themselves of a well-kept pint of Draught Bass?

I keep drinking it because I like it and want them to keep brewing it.

But it pisses me off, too. Amstel Bock is proof that Heineken can brew a pretty good beer for a great price. When they can be arsed. Why don't they do it more often?

I've a suggestion: bring back their Münchener. Properly done, a tasty beer for sure. I've got the recipe, in case they've lost it.

Butcher's Tears - Ton Overmars Festival

There was a feature in local Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool the other week which really struck a chord. It was called "Centrum Mijden" - "Avoiding the Centre".

Many Amsterdammers are fed up with the city centre, annoyed by the tourists and filth. (The less tolerant ones, filthy tourists.) Instead they're sticking to their own neighbourhood.The same tendency is apparent in the beer scene. Most of recent openings were outside the centre.

I pondered this yesterday at a small beer festival at Butcher's Tears held in conjunction with a local off licence, Ton Overmars. (Where I buy my St. Bernardus Abt.) A beer festival held out my way is another indication of the decentralising trend. It's also nice to be able to walk to an event.

Ton Overmars has doing a good job of stocking beer from new local breweries. A couple more appeared this week: Noordman and De Naeckte Brouwers from Amstelveen, which is where I work. Both were due to be at the festival, but Noordman didn't show up.

I'd brought along a small present for Eric, brewer at Butcher's Tears: a bag of wild Amsterdam hops. I picked them on Saturday/ They looked really lovely, a beautiful shade of light green. I've no diea what they taste like, but they look dead cool. I hope he can find some use for them. Who else has 100% organuc Amsterdam hops?

It was a ticket-only event. Good because it meant that it wasn't too crowded. I hate crowds, especially when they slow down my beer supply. If I come over as grumpy misanthropic, well, that's probably because I am deep down. Hiding my inner rage is why I'm nice.

The photo above is from early in the day. So you'd expect I made more notes. I didn't. Not out of laziness or drunkenness, but because we bumped into our nextdoor neighbours. Not the time to be nerdy.

In case you're wondering, my one note was "Quite good. Spicy without buggering up the beer." Oedipus Thai Thai is the beer.

There was quite a delegation of Pattinsons, with both Dolores and Andrew coming along. Dolores was slightly worried it would be all "grapefruit beer" as she calls stuff made with American hops. She's not a big fan. Luckily Oedipus had brought along a Kuitbier. Much more to Dolores's taste: not too strong and not too hoppy.

We're off to another festival next weekend: Borefts. A much bigger affair. I've promised Dolores cask Bitter. Her favourite type of beer. I'll be taking an Imperial pint glass with me again. I can't stand drinking from the ridiculous thimbles they supply. Measures of less than a half pint are against my beliefs.

Wijnwinkel Slijterij Ton Overmars
Hoofddorpplein 11,
1059 CV Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 615 71 42

Butcher's Tears
Karperweg 45
1075LB Amsterdam.

Oedipus Brewing
Westerdok 274
1013 BH

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Mashing in Denmark in 1960

We're getting to the real meat of A. J. Mayfield's article of German and Danish brewing. Stuff about the nuts and bolts of brewing.

Unsurprisingly, Mayfield seems to have concentrated his attention on Carlsberg and Tuborg, at the the time the country's largest breweries.

"Brewing.—Both Carlsberg and Tuborg have recently carried out extensive modernization, and it seems probable that the pattern of large-scale brewing in Denmark has now been set for many years to come. Complete standardization in brew types and sizes has been achieved, with each process timed to fit a given number of brews into the 24-hr. working day.

In the Carlsberg brewery, basic simplicity combined with rigorous control at all stages was striven for and, where possible, a control test with easily reproducible numerical limits was employed. The brewing plant was double as far as the plate coolers, with mashes on alternate sides giving a regular run of worts to the fermenting cellers at 2-hr, intervals. With a separate maize mash, this necessitated a third mash-kettle on each side to hold the mash for the final rest before filtration. Ten beers were produced with gravities ranging from 1026° to 1080°; seven of these were pale types with separate maize mashes, and mashing procedure was arranged to keep the schedule shown in Table I.

Mashing Schedule for Pale Malts Time
Mashing stage (min.)
In-mash malt at 95° F 15
In-mash maize at 124° F. -
Maize to boil 40
Maize boiling 20
2-stage addition of maize mash to malt with 10-min. rest at 124° F then raise to 149° F 35
Saccharification rest at 149° F. 60
Pump off decoction 10
Decoction to boil 25
Decoction boiling 25
Return to head mash, raising temperature to 169° F 15
Rest at 169° F. to complete the mash 25
Total 255

Mashing Schedule for Dark Malts Time
Mashing stage (min.)
In-mash malt at 124° F 15
Pump off first decoction 5
Decoction to boil 30
Decoction boiling 25
Return to head mash, raising heat to 158° F 15
Rest at 158" F. 20
Pump off 2nd decoction 10
Decoction to boil 25
Decoction boiling 25
Return to head mash, raising temperature to 169° F 15
Rest at 169° F. to complete the mash 65
Total 250

The maize mash contained about 25% of highly diastatic malt to assist in starch liquefaction. Dark beers also conformed to the 4.25-hr. timing, but with a single all-malt mash, and a typical schedule is given in Table II."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, pages 495 - 496.

Carlsberg was obviously running its brewing kit pretty much non-stop. Having new wort ready every two hours is impressive. That's twelve brews a day.

I'm pretty sure both those methods are double decoction. Using a cereal mash as a decoction is a trick Dann used when brewing Younger's No. 1. It worked remarkably well, with the temperatures coming out spot on. Both methods here have three rests, though not exactly the same temperatures. Not sure why the second rest was warmer for the dark malt schedule.

Now for a really fun topic: milling.

"Milling was performed on 5- and 6-roll mills fitted with vibrating screens which gave a good separation of husk, grits and meal. Roller settings were carefully controlled to maintain an average grits diameter of 0.38 mm., which gave best results for extract and filtration with this plant. The grist cases were suspended on weighing bridges coupled to automatic recorders which gave the weight of malt as ground."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 496.

I don't feel qualified to make any comment on that.

Now more mashing details:

"For mashing, the required length of liquor was prepared at the prescribed temperature in the kettle, and a simple dry drop of grist was stirred in with the propeller. Temperature recording was continuous on one chart from in-mash to casting, and a master control panel prevented the flow of mash or wort in the wrong direction. The pH was adjusted by standard additions of permanently-maintained lactic mash, followed, if necessary, by a calculated addition of lactic acid; no other liquor treatment was needed for the town's water supply, and the pH of the boiled Pilsner wort was thus maintained between 5.2 and 5.4. With mash-filters for separation of spent grains, a 50-Qr. mash was filtered and sparged in 2.5 hr.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 496.

Heating the water and then adding the grist is very different from how British breweries usually operated. They would use a Steel's masher - a screw which mixes grain and water in the right proportion as they enter the mash tun. Steel's mashers are still common in British breweries.

Interesting that they sometimes used lactic acid to control the pH of the mash. That's something that wouldn't be allowed in Germany because of the Reinheitsgebot. What is that telling us about Carlsberg's water? That it was soft?

Mmm. I seem to have asked more questions and provided few answers.

Boiling next time.

Monday, 22 September 2014

New cover for the 1919 Beer Style Guide

The title says it all, really.

Lexxie was short of a few bob over the weekend. Seemed like a good chance to replace one of the last crappy old covers that I designed. Have to take advantage of his art services while I can. Never know when he might become wealthy.

What esle do I have to say (tea awaits)? I know:

buy my books!

Belgian Brewing in WW II

I can't believe I've never used this article. It ticks so many boxes. More proof that I've more material than I can cope with.

It was written by De Clerq, a distinguished Belgian brewer and writer. First he describes the situation in the early part of the 20th century.

"Before the first world war, there were many breweries in Belgium, more than 3,000. Beer consumption was very heavy, more than 200 litres per inhabitant per year (44 gallons). Almost exclusively top fermentation beer was brewed and sold in barrels. A few breweries started making lager beer; their products were more regular; they gained in the favour of the public and soon these breweries grew to become very large ones. In between the two world wars, two-thirds of the breweries disappeared and it was chiefly the bottom fermentation breweries that extended. The consumers lost their taste for the flat draught beer and the top fermentation brewers readjusted their methods by conditioning their ales; so doing they succeeded in competing successfully with the lager type. The flat draught beers disappeared completely."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 291.

Belgium had crazy numbers of breweries before WW I. As did the bit of France bordering it. Exactly where most of the fighting on the Western Front took place. War damage and German looting of copper put lots of breweries out of action. Many never reopened.

What does he mean by "conditioning their ales"? Some sort of lagering? Were Belgian brewers doing something similar to their American counterparts? It sounds like they were replacing cask-conditioned beers with filtered and carbonated ones. Depressing the way De Clerq nmakes that sound like progress. You can see that Belgium came to bottom fermentation quite late - only between the wars.

Now something about WW II:

"Beer prices going up steadily because of continuous rise in taxation, the consumption per capita fell to 175 litres (about a barrel). The sale of bottled beer grew continuously. During the last war beer became necessarily very weak as the shortage of malt was severe, gravities ranging from 2.4 to 4.7 per cent. extract (sp. gr. 1.009-1.019). The small quantities of malt brewers had at their disposal were not sufficient to provide these gravities and it was necessary to look for other materials. At first, sugar was used, but these supplies soon ran out and finally beetroot was the only material available. The beet was cut in strips, dried on a kiln and then ground, so as to get grits or flour. For those light beers, beetroot gave reasonable results. A simple extraction was sufficient and very often beers were brewed with 50 per cent, malt and 50 per cent, beetroot. Fermentations were good and the foam on the beer was firm and persistent. Even today, certain breweries still use beetroots, because this material gives a good head, perhaps through the pectin it contains. This pectin often produced a persistent turbidity in the tanks, but the flavour of the beetroot was not noticeable, because the beers were so light that they did not, in fact, contain much of this material.

In order to give a pleasant flavour to these war beers, the brewers used chiefly sweetening products, colour and hops, which were still plentiful, but the latter could easily produce an astringent taste in the light beers. Vinegar was also used. In Belgium the sour beers, like Lambic, still meet with a certain favour and blendings were made of Lambic with ordinary beer. As there was no Lambic left during the war, beer-vinegar was manufactured to take its place. Notwithstanding all these efforts to keep one flavour, if nothing else, in the beer, the consumption dropped to one half of the pre-war figure."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, pages 291 - 292.

1009 to 1019 even weaker than British beer got during WW I. Isn't that fascinating about the use of beetroot? No reason why you shouldn't, I suppose. It's as good a source of starch as anything else. But I would have thought the colour might have been a problem. Beetroot stains like buggery, as i'm sure you know. I wonder if there's still anyone using beetroot for head retention? I doubt it. Making a beetroot war beer might be fun. Though I suspect professional brewers might take some persuading.

There are those who would argue that Lambic is beer vinegar. Why did Lambic run out? Maybe they didn't make any after 1940. A low-gravity beetroot Lambic probably wouldn't work.

It may sound odd ending up with a surplus of hops, but that happened in Britain in WW I. As beers weakened, fewer hops were required.

Now what happened after war's end.

"After these innumerable difficulties with which the brewers had to cope, all their hopes lay in the return of peace; but it turned out to be a deception. When beer came back to its normal gravity in the beginning of 1946, consumption went up, but the beer was too expensive, because the State had naturally raised the taxes and cereals remained very dear. The total of brewing materials used dropped to 70 per cent, of the quantities of 1938. Since, in Belgium, the excise duties are calculated on the weight of materials used, they are the only correct basis to appreciate the beer consumption. The beers remained, however, slightly lighter than before the war, so that it must be said that the consumption fell by 25 per cent. The reasons for this setback are naturally much discussed among brewers. The opinion is often expressed that the habits of the population have changed. In fact, more coffee, fruits and chocolate are imported into Belgium than before the war. Nevertheless, the principal cause must be the price of the beer, which is too high; indeed, considering the purchasing value, in glasses of beer, of the workman's salary, it will be found that it lost exactly one-quarter since before the war. This fall in consumption is the cause of a grave economic crisis in the Belgian brewing industry. The means of production being so important, and competition so strong, each brewer tries to keep his customers, selling the best possible quality at the lowest price. It is this crisis which stimulates the technical developments in the breweries; they are dominated by the necessity to manufacture at a lower cost without impairing the quality. Some of the innovations designed to achieve this will now be examined."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 292.

Brewers the world over love a good moan. Especially about being over-taxed. They were lucky to be able to brew full-strength beer again in 1946. In the UK gravity continued to fall. As this table shows:

UK average OG 1939 - 1952
Year OG
1939 1040.93
1940 1040.62
1941 1038.51
1942 1035.53
1943 1034.34
1944 1034.63
1945 1034.54
1946 1034.72
1947 1032.59
1948 1032.66
1949 1033.43
1950 1033.88
1951 1036.99
1952 1037.07
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50

Gravity never returned to its 1939 level.

It's true that Belgian beer consumption was lower after the war. But it had been insanely high. The only other place I can recall averaging over 200 litres a head is Bavaria. You can see in the table below that between 1930 and 1950 consumption per head almost halved. I can see why that would worry a brewer.

Belgian brewing 1900 - 1960

1900 1910 1920 1930 1939 1950 1960
No. breweries 3,223 3,349 2,013 1,546 1,120 663 414
Production (hl) 14,617,000 16,019,000 10,408,000 16,099,000 12,488,000 10,140,000 10,110,000
Imports (hl) 149,000 272,000 201,000 228,000 65,000 97,000 378,000
Exports (hl) 5,000 9,000 47,000 10,000 7,000 5,000 205,000
Consumption (hl) 14,761,000 16,282,000 10,562,000 16,317,000 12,546,000 10,232,000 10,283,000
Consumption (per head) 221 219 143 202 149 118 112
"Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.6, p.7

Note, too, how WW I and the Depression whittled down the number of breweries. By the start of WW II two-thirds of them had disappeared.

There's plenty more of this to come. Unless I hear the siren call of Lager again.