Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Let’s Brew Wednesday - 1916 Barclay Perkins X

Now we’ve got to WW I we’re going to be going through the years rather more slowly than before. There was just so much happening.

Though not in the early years of the war. Apart from gravities falling a small amount, there wasn’t much change in the first three years of the war. As you’ll see from the recipe below. The gravity is a bit lower, but the recipe is essentially the same. The only difference is a sugar I’ve substituted. In the previous recipe it was “dark sacc.” In this one BS. Pretty sure both of them were dark in colour, so I’ve just bumped up the No. 3 content.

Oddly, this beer was slightly more heavily hopped than the 1914 version. Not sure why that was. There was a glut of hops after 1917, when beer production was  drastically cut, but that didn’t mean prices fell. In 1914 a hundredweight of hops cost £4 3s 9d, in 1916 £6 14s and in 1918 £18 15s.*

I’ve not really anything else to say. This recipe is really just for comparison purposes so you can see how quickly and drastically things changed over the next couple of years.

1916 Barclay Perkins X Ale
pale malt 5.75 lb 58.90%
amber malt 0.75 lb 7.68%
flaked maize 1.25 lb 12.80%
no. 3 sugar 2.00 lb 20.49%
caramel 500 SRM 0.01 lb 0.12%
Fuggles 120 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.75 oz
OG 1048.6
FG 1012.2
ABV 4.82
Apparent attenuation 74.90%
IBU 30
SRM 17
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Carlsberg's Lager cellars in the 1880's

As promised, we're taking a peak inside Carlsberg's Lager cellars.

They went to great pains to make sure the cold air didn't escape from their cellars:

"The entrance doors to the tun rooms and lager cellars are single doors, but between the outer air and the room door proper there is at least always one door sometimes two, In every case the entrance is down a stair. This is built of stone and about 30 inches wide with 9 inch steps. It is only intended for entering or leaving these places. In the cellars at Old & New Carlsberg these stairs are covered on the top with a well fitting door balanced with weights. This is raised and lowered every time a person enters or leaves. The idea running through the construction and working of these houses is by all means avoid draughts of air or allowing the cold air to escape. These cellars are not ventilated except to the ice house, and the ice house is only ventilated to the cellars. In the lager cellars (which are preferably to be placed right under the ice house) the melted ice runs down open channels in the walls. These are 4.5 inches wide, two inches deep and extend rom the roof to the floor where the water is allowed to run through a slight open gutter to the centre of the floor where it is all collected and discharged into the drain. In this manner full benefit is got from the ice."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
 All that melt water running down the walls doesn't sound wonderfully hygienic. Though I suppose it did make full use of the ice. But you can see their logic. Cooling was expensive and you didn't want to waste it.

Neither the cellars nor the casks inside them were particularly large.

"These cellars are comparatively small being about 30 feet long and 18 feet wide and from 14 to 20 feet high. On a gantree raised about 18 inches from the floor are placed the store casks, ons cask being placed above and between the two immediately below it. These casks contain about 15 to 16 barrels but of late they are inclined to enlarge these casks. The size they are making now are intended to hold 20 barrels. They are filled from the top and have only a tap and a bung hole. They are not provided with the man hole in front as in America and many places in Germany. These casks are taken out every 6 months and re-resined. This gives two secondary ferments in each cask previous to re coating with pitch. They are particular not to send out beer for home consumption which has not lain in the Lager cellar for three months. Export beer lies for nine months or a little longer. They use no dry hops for home consumption and only 2 oz. per barrel for Export."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
Even 20 barrels isn't really that big for a lagering vessel. Interesting that they were used twice before repitching. Pilsner Urquell repitched theirs after every use.

Three months, of course, is the classic lagering time for standard-strength beers. Nine months sound pretty excessive. Using the one week lagering per degree Plato of gravity, you would only need to lager that long for a massively strong beer.

As this is in the section on lagering and not racking, I'm assuming those dry hops were being added to the lagering vessel. Not sure I've heard of that before. 2 oz. is much less than William Younger in the way of dry hops. Their Pale Ales got 11 to 14 oz. and even their weakest Mild Ale got nearly 3 oz.

"One end of these store cellars opens out into a common passage running between two rows of these cellars. This is utilised for storing the empty casks which are to be filled and sometimes for racking the beer. This is always done during the night.

To enable the casks to be taken out they require a large door in the cellars but this door is only made use of to handle the casks. The real entrance door is only 20 inches square and is kept closed when a workman is engaged inside at other times they are securely fastened and padlocked the cellarman keeping the keys. When the casks are filled in one of these cellars (and this is only one days brewing) they are lightly bunged and allowed to undergo their second fermentation quietly for about 6 weeks. After this period the bungs are driven in tight, and the generates gas is absorbed by the beer, giving it condition and brilliancy. Isinglass as finings is not used but instead they emply beech shavings 1 inch wide and I should think about1/32 of an inch thick or so. The quantity used is one bushel to 8 barrels. These shavings are only used for beers which seem to be slow in clearing and never for export beer. After being used they are washed in a cylindrical machine working on the common priciple of the dash wheel. After the thorough washing they are gently steamed and again washed with hot water, and if they are to be used at once they are without delay put into the casks. If they are not to be used for some time they are dried and tied neatly into long flat bundles."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.

I'm assuming that they racked at night because the temperature was cooler.

Not sure I'd want to squeeze my way into one of those cellars. Not sure I could, with my current fat gut. They certainly were keen on retaining the cold in their cellars.

Seems like Carlsberg were carbonating their beer the classic way, by bunging towards the end of the lagering process. And using beech shavings for clarifying the beer is very Budweiser. And very economical washing and reusing them. I wonder how many times they could be used?

Racking and bottling next.

You may have noticed that I'm not using any Ny Carlsberg labels. That's because they have swastikas on them. Don't want to give anyone the wrong idea.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Steel Coulson beers 1953-1954

There isn't a great deal of material from Steel Coulson in the Scottish Brewing Arhive. Most of what there is consists of financial stuff or photographs. And no brewing records, sadly.

But there is an envelope with a few typed sheets that contain some information about their beers. And how much of them they brewed in. As it lists the gravities, it is fairly useful for me. But I also find it fascinating to see how much of each beer they brewed.

By far the biggest seller was their pale 60/-, which wasn't far short of 60% of all they brewed. I was surprised to see that their strongest draught beer was just 1034º. That's pretty feeble, even for the 1950's. I assume that the Brown 60/- was just the pale version with extra caramel.

In fact it looks like a classic one-recipe Scottish brewery. My bet is that the draught beers, Strong Ale, Export and Pale Ale were all parti-gyled in various combinations. And they were making so little Stout, they probably parti-gyled that, too. In the weird way Scottish brewers did.

You can see that they weren't a large brewery. 18,000 barrels a year is pretty small, even for a Scottish brewer. A big London brewery would have brewed that much beer in a fortnight.

As they list the retail and wholesale price, it's possible to work out the pub's markup. £13 11/- (the price of 60/-) works out to 11.29d per pint, making the publican's cut 4.71d. PXA works out to 13d a pint, giving the pub 6d.

It's much easier to work out the price per bottle, as its for a dozen and there were 12 pence in a shilling. So a bottle of Strong Ale was 11d retail. The pub's markup was 4d to 4.5d for most of the bottled beers.

Steel Coulson  Croft-an-Righ Brewery, Edinburgh 19th May 1954
Beer Brewed Produced from May 1953 - April 1954 (inclusive)
OG Barrels dozen pint dozen half pint nip wholesale retail
Draught Beer Scotland England
Edinburgh  Ale P. 60/- 1030° 10,585 £13: 11/- 1/3d 1/2d
Brown Ale B. 60/- 1030° 1,457 £13: 11/- 1/3d
PXA P. 70/- 1034° 2,006 £15: 14/- 1/7d
Bottled Beer
Strong Ale 1075° 180 14,770 11/- 1/3d
Export 1042° 2,034 41,964 10/6d 1/3d
Elelphant Pale Ale 1031° 1,855 12,310 13/6d 1/8d
Elelphant Pale Ale 32,489 6/10d 10d
Elelphant Pale Ale 31,949 4/10d 6.5d
Stout (Sweet) 1032° 204 9,239 9/6d 1/2d
Total 18,321 12,310 83,692 46,719
Reports on Production of Beers held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number SC/6/1/1.

Here's the percentage of output for each of the beers:

Steel Coulson output 1953 -1954
Beer barrels %
Edinburgh  Ale P. 60/- 10,585 57.78%
Brown Ale B. 60/- 1,457 7.95%
PXA P. 70/- 2,006 10.95%
Strong Ale 180 0.98%
Export 2,034 11.10%
Elelphant Pale Ale 1,855 10.12%
Stout (Sweet) 204 1.11%
total draught 14,048 76.68%
total bottled 4,273 23.32%
Total 18,321
Reports on Production of Beers held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number SC/6/1/1.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Fermentation at Carlsberg in the 1880's (part two)

We're going to take a look at how Carlsberg kept their fermenting worts cool back in 1881.

They had a slightly unusual method of cooling:

"In the Carlsberg breweries they do not use ice floats for keeping down the fermentation heat in the tuns, but instead, they direct a flow of cold air right into the upper surface of the tun, this method although it did not possess any other advantage than cleanliness, and saving of labour, is to be recommended, by this means the heat of the tuns and also of the tun room is under perfect control. The cold air is prepared as follows. The ordinary atmosphere is drawn through a quantity of cotton into a room which is surrounded by cold brine or glycerine, after passing the room the fan which drew it this length, again forces it into a wooden conduit running between the tuns. This conduit is fastened close to the roof, the current onto the fermenting wort can be caused be opening a lovre board in the side of the conduit. This louvre can be open from a mere slit to its full width. The temperature of the cellar is constantly 43º F and the fermenting wort at all times practically the same. The tuns are not roused to mix up the yeast as this seems to be done by the wort running from below."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
No advantages other cleanliness, saving manpower and precise temperature control. They all sound like pretty important points. It sounds like a primitive sort of air conditioning. It also reminds of the small breweries I've visited in Bavaria. They all have an enclosed, refrigerated room to house their fermenting vessels.  Presumably that's the easiest method of cooling when you have open fermenters.

I assume that the cotton was to filter any crap out of the air. Well, the big bits, at least. Don't think that would be fine enough to keep out airborne yeast.

I've not heard of an ice float before. Accoring to "Industrial chemistry, a manual based upon Payen's 'Précis de chimie industrielle'" by Benjamin Horatio Paul, 1878, page 953, it's:

"a painted sheet-iron tray filled with ice, which is placed in the wort."
You'd need to make sure that the paint was intact, otherwise you'd be getting rust in your wort in addition to cooling it.

At the Valby brewery they had what appears a more primitive arrangement:

"In the new tun room at Valby the arrangements are practically the same except the cooling of the tun rooms. Here the tuns are arranged in two rooms placed at right angles to each other. Alongside both inner walls is placed the ice house the floor of which is about level with the bottom of the tuns. This arrangement of ice and tuns is carried up three stories the middle flat being about 3 to 5 feet below the level of the ground. The upper flat is only used for fermentation during the winter when artificial cold is unnecessary. The middle and lower flats are in use all the year round, therre is no communication between the flats excepting by an outside corridor & stair. Neither pipe nor air holes are in the floor. The racking and filling pipes are built into the outer side wall, the cold is obtained direct from the ice, through hinged shutters closing against air passages 12 inches by nine, which for the middle floor are admitted to the ice house on a level of the roof of the second flat. The under flat is similarly fitted but the air passages into the ice house are fewer, smaller and situated close to the level of the roof of the tun room."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
It seems this system of cooling didn't work particularly well. And also was likely to infect your wort:

"Although this house has only been in operation part of this season Mr Jacobsen Jr. has found that the middle fermenting room does not work as satisfactorily as he anticipated. The lower room works very well. To cool his wort he has to make specially iced water besides what he obtains from the melting of the ice and as this ice can only conveniently be taken from the bottom it makes an ugly inroad on his stock. This is being remedied by having a supplemental ice house for the sole purpose of cooling the wort to the pitching heat. When we compare the atmosphere in Carlsberg with the Valby tun rooms, the latter is certainly not to be preferred. It wants the crisp, enervating character, the clearness, and sensible general purity the former possesses. Besides coming from the one to the other one is struck with a peculiar indescribable difference, and which is at once felt to be a want. As to the ice house s they are constructed of brick with inner spaces in the walls, the real floor being of wood. A full description of these will be found in Mr. Kerr's report. Suffice it for me to say that already the ice is melted for from three to four feet back from the wall leaving the ice standing in one mass with perpendicular walls which have a blackish and rusty, slimy feel, and appearance. The walls are already coated with a layer of slimy fungus, the floor is nearly as bad, especially where the ice has melted away completely, giving a dangerous footing for workmen and positively no guide nor grip on the wall for the hand, this latter is an important matter as the floor has a considerable slope and walking on it at the best insecure. Dr. Hansen says that wort exposed in the Valby tun room gets contaminated at once with foreign and diseased ferments, while in Old Carlsberg tun room this does not occur."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.

Slimy ice - how wonderful. I'm not surprised worts became infected. The ice house was also a danger for the poor buggers who had to work in it. Sounds like an all-round disaster.

Finally something random about tun-room lighting:

"Regarding the lighting of the tun rooms, Carlsberg are lit with open windows placed three feet apart and closely fitted and cemented. They are placed at intervals of 12 feet along the wall, the air space between the windows is never renewed. In Valby the two upper flats are lit in the same manner i.e. double open windows but the distance between the two seems to be rather less. The lower tun room in Valby is lit with gas, and I may remark that this is the first lager tun room or lager cellar that I have seen lit by this illuminant."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11. 

Lager cellars next.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Let’s Brew 1914 Barclay Perkins X

I hope you’ve been paying attention to all these X Ale recipes. Because they’re telling a tale. About how a beer changes over time.

Despite only 15 years having elapsed since the last recipe, there have been considerable changes. Crystal malt has been dropped and amber malt added. I know for certain that this one contained No. 3 invert sugar. As well as something called “dark sacc.” Which I’ve replaced with more No. 3.

But the biggest change is the hopping rate which has almost halved. As have the calculated IBUs. There are no American hops, either, this time. Just Mid Kent and East Kent hops, which I’ve interpreted as Fuggles and Goldings respectively.

Almost forgot. There’s also some caramel in this recipe. Add that to the dark sugar and amber malt and the result is: a significantly darker beer. We’ve caught Mild turning dark. I’m not totally sure of the finished colour, as I don’t know how dark the caramel was. The 20 SRM in the recipe is a guess. Based on the other ingredients, BeerSmith calculated the colour at 14 SRM.

Note that, despite all the other changes, the boil time has remained constant at 2 hours. Though due to everything else, I’m sure the finished beer looked and tasted quite different.

What’s next? Some nice  watery recipes from WW I.

1914 Barclay Perkins X Ale
pale malt 6.50 lb 61.90%
amber malt 0.75 lb 7.14%
flaked maize 1.25 lb 11.90%
no. 3 sugar 2.00 lb 19.05%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
OG 1051.3
FG 1013.6
ABV 4.99
Apparent attenuation 73.49%
IBU 27
SRM 20
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 23 June 2017

Random Scottish shit

I concentrate on brewing records in my frantic archive snapping sessions. But I like to sweeten my brewing porridge with some honey of randomness.

Which is why I have photos of this J & J Morrison sales spreadsheet. By region.

And pretty weird regions they are:

Town, 1st Country, 2nd Country, South Country, Glasgow, Gateshead, Inverness and North of Scotland.

Fermentation at Carlsberg in the 1880's

I was dead excited at getting a look at one of the notbooks in the William Younger archive. The one recording a visit by employees of the Edinburgh brewery to Carlsberg's breweries in Copenhagen.

I already knew a little of the links between the two breweries. Carl Jacobsen, son of Carlsberg's founder served an appreenticeship At William Younger in the late 1860s.

The notebook has some dead handy description of the equipment and brewing processes at the three Carlsberg breweries. Dead handy, because I have brewing records from Ny Carlsberg.

"Regarding the cooling of the wort they use Rileys vermicular?? refrigerator in each of the breweries, in Carlsberg they cool one with a solution of glycerine, and the other with a solution of brine, these solutions are in their turn cooled by a powerful Picket ice machine to 19º F (13º F below freezing point then used in the refrigerator and so on continuously. The wort is cooled to 43º F and run to the fermenting tuns.

These tuns are filled from below through a two inch pipe running below the length of tuns. When the wort is near finished running through the refrigerator, the supply of cold liquid is stopped this is to prevent the wort freezing in the pipes."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
That's a much cooler temperature than in British breweries, where yeast was usually pitched at around 60º F, and never lower than 55º F. No need to worry about the wort freezing in the pipes at those temperatures.

"The requisite quantity of yeast is added at once to the wort in the proportion of one pound per barrel. (This result is calculated from the figures given by Mr. JKoehler the manager of Old Carlsberg - viz. 10880 litres of wort get 60 Danish pounds of yeast when pitched at a temperature of 43º F. 163 litres is equal to one barrel of 36 Imperial gallons.) For the washing of the yeast see Mr. Stenhouse's notes.

When the worts are all run into the tuns, the wort pipe is flushed with hot water, then thoroughly steamed out, and again flushed with warm water. This treatment is again repeated previous to running fermented beer or wort through them. They have a provision to save the connections from the tuns to the wort pipe. This is simple and also effective. It consists in shaping the pipe lying between every two tuns into an arc of a circle. The ends of the arc terminate at the cranes in the tuns. By this arrangement the pipe instead of expanding in a lateral direction expands between every two tuns very much like a bow."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
A pound of yeast per barrel of wort is about the same as British breweries used. 10,880 litres is about 66 Imperial barrels. So not a huge amount of beer by UK standards.

They seem have been very particular about cleanliness at Carlsberg.Which is no bad thing.

Some more about the fermentation itself:

"The fermentation just now lasts nine days and is not skimmed until near the emptying of the tun. Previous to filling the lager casks the beer is run to an intermediate settling tun where it lies some time - these tuns hold three to four fermenting tuns. In cleaning a fermenting tun the yeast is carefully removed as far as practicable in a flat oblong vessel. Another similar tub is put below the tun and the yeast which could not be gathered off the sides and bottom of the tun is washed with a minimum quantity of warm water into the tub. A few gallons judiciously applied is sufficient for this purpose. This water is carried out of the fermenting room and emptied into the common drain. When the tuns are partly washed in this way the cranes are opened which lead to the pipes running the whole length. The tuns are now thoroughly washed with warm water, this water being at once let into the tun room drain. When all the tuns in a row have been washed, the pipe is flushed with boiling watersteamed and again flushed."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
Nine days seems pretty quick for something pitched at 43º F. Interesting that the wort didn't go straight into the lagering vessels at the end of primary fermentation. It sounds to me as if the sttling tun is playing the same role as cleansing vessels in a British brewery: getting rid of most of the yeast.

Next time we'll learn how Carlsberg kept their fermenting wort cool.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Macbeth leaves Scotland

I’ve an afternoon flight. I could get a couple of hours in town. But I really can’t be arsed. What would I do with my luggage, anyway?

I spend the morning watching crap TV in my hotel room. Then check out at noon exactly. Before that just long enough to be annoying walk. It really is annoying with my full set of luggage.

Strictly speaking, I’m a little too early to check in my bag. But the nice lady at the counter lets me do it, anyway. Great. I don’t have to lug all that crap around with me anymore. I shouldn’t have brought so many books. But it’s almost impossible to guess how many I’ll need.

I get myself a sarnie for the plane and an Observer for Dolores in WH Smiths. I say it’s for Dolores, but I’ll be reading it, too.

Edinburgh airport has the luxury of a Wetherspoons both airside and landside. I choose the latter. I’ve got a couple of hours to kill. What better place to get out the AK47 and go crazy? Spraying that bastard time with a full clip.

Well blow me. They’ve got a Mild on:

Strahaven Craigmill Mild, 3.5%, £3.85
This is weird. Getting Mild in an airport. And a Scottish Mild, at that. Dry and slightly malty. A real easy drinker.

Two youths sat behind me keep playing music. A bloke in his 60’s takes exception to it. “What are you doing? People are trying to eat and drink here.”

It doesn’t go down well with the lads. “I’m off to Ibiza. What are you doing?” As if that somehow explains their behaviour. This could turn nasty. I imagine glasses and fists flying. But after a while of arguing across the bar, things calm down. And the lads get back to knocking back pints of cheap Lager.

Time for another pint and some scran.

Stewart Brewing Edinburgh Gold, 4.8%, £3.85
It is a lovely clear gold colour. Mmm that’s nice. Soft and with a fair bit of what taste like English hops, also a little underlying sweetness.

I’m tempted to order an all day brunch. But that would be just too much. I can’t eat one every day I’m here. I’m tempted by the fish and chips, but eventually plump for beef and ale pie. It’s a proper pie, not stew with a pastry lid. If you can’t hold it in your hand, it isn’t a pie.

I while away the hours reading the paper and slowly sucking down a few pints. Then it’s time to go through security. Which thankfully doesn’t have much of a queue.

A better flight than on the way out. When all they served was a piece of cake. This time it’s an egg sandwich.

Bit of a queue again at Schiphol passport control. But I suppose that does mean I spent less time by the carousel waiting for my bag to appear.

I’m knacked, so I take a taxi home. What an extravagant git I am.

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

The Turnhouse
Adjacent to Security, First floor food court. Landside
Tel: 0131 344 3030

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Let’s Brew Wednesday - 1899 Barclay Perkins X

You’re probably thinking: why is he still publishing Mild recipes when it’s almost the end of June? Because I can.

That’s the great thing about being your own man, without any editor or publisher to oblige. I can do what the hell I want, when I want to do continuing to roll through Barclay Perkins X Ale recipes until I get to the 1930’s.

At first glance, this looks pretty similar to the 1887 recipe. Though on closer inspection there have been some significant changes. The most obvious being that the flaked rice has been replaced by flaked maize. Presumably on cost grounds.

The sugar content has increased from 12.5% to 18.45%. If only I knew for certain what type of sugar it was. Whereas in the last recipe I was fairly confident about my guess of No. 1 invert, this time I’m not so sure. The brewing record is no more specific than “Sacch.”. But I know this is about when Mild started turning darker. So it’s possible that the sugar was No. 3. Though it could also have been something else. There’s no way of knowing for sure.

I’m 100% sure that the Goldings in this recipe are Goldings, because it specifically says so in the brewing record. The other two hops don’t get more specific than MK and American.

Note that the boil time has increased again. It’s most confusing, this jumping around in the length of the boil. Absolutely no idea why they kept changing it.

1899 Barclay Perkins X Ale
pale malt 7.75 lb 70.45%
crystal malt 0.25 lb 2.27%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 9.09%
No. 3 invert sugar 2.00 lb 18.18%
Cluster 120 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 120 mins 0.25 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.25 oz
OG 1054.7
FG 1009.4
ABV 5.99
Apparent attenuation 82.82%
IBU 52
SRM 14
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Macbeth comes back to Edinburgh

I have a bit of a lie in. I hung out the do not disturb sign last night. No chance of a chambermaid bumbling in on me in my underscuds.

It’s almost noon when I pull myself away from the TV and head on to the tram stop. Did I mention that my hotel is just far enough away from the airport for the walk to be annoying?

In town, I get a sudden craving for a bacon butty. Oh look, there’s a Greggs. “A bacon sandwich, please.” “Sorry, we don’t do those after eleven.” You what? That’s just crazy. Especially at the weekend. My bacon craving is unfulfilled. At least for the moment.

I amble towards the city centre along Princes Street. Until I get to Frederick Street, where I make a left. Not randomly. Oh, no. I have a plan. Actually, not that different from Thursday’s plan. I plan dining in style again. At the other city centre Wetherspoons, The Standing Order.

Inside, it’s more like standing room only. I’m on my second round of the rooms when I finally find a seat. I stick my coat on a chair and head to the bar. Where I order the strongest beer on offer and an all-day brunch.

Wooha IPA, 6.2% ABV, £3.19
Unfined, it says on the pump clip, which explains the haze. At least it isn’t total murk. It’s the grapefruit juice sort of IPA, not that bitter, mind. Pleasant enough and reasonably strong.

I’m totally free today, so I’ll just be slowly walking around town and doing a little light shopping. Then find a pub where I can watch Scotland England without getting killed.

The brunch is much better today. More nicely presented and the yolks are runny.

Good day at the Scottish Brewing Archive yesterday. I took almost 15,00 photographs in five hours. Not sure the Majority Ale book has much useful in it, really. Though I’m dead excited about the notebook of the Copenhagen trip. And the Usher’s records of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The late Younger’s records, on the other hand, were a bit rubbish, with almost nothing filled in. I’ll be busy for weeks – if not months – going through it all.

Thornbridge Jaipur, 5.9%, £3.10
Thought I’d play relatively safe. Quite bitter. And twiggy hop flavoured. Tastes different to how I remember ii. Less fruity. Much more English tasting than I expected.

Three middle-aged Scottish women sitting on the next table are discussing food. “I don’t like feta cheese.” “I do like couscous.” “How can you be bothered to boil an egg every morning?”

Scotland are playing Italy at rugby. Where is it? It looks rather hot. And the stadium isn’t that full. Ah, it’s Singapore. Why the hell are they playing there?

I only stay for the two. I fancy a couple in the Abbotsford, down at the end of Rose Street. On the way down I notice they’re putting up an England flag in the window of a pub. Could be a good spot to watch the game later.

The Abbotsford is looking as gorgeous as ever. I take a seat at the bar.

Windswept Wolf, 6% ABV, £4.40
Looks lovely: black with a tight, cream-coloured head. Served through a tall font. Dark and Strong Scottish Ale it’s billed as. Sweetish and malty. It makes a nice change of pace.

Impressive array of malts above the pot shelf. Which seem to be arranged alphabetically: Aberlour, Ardbeg, Arran, Auchentoshan, etc.

This is a proper pub. Just the sound of conversation. There’s a classic Scottish island bar. Odd that they have five tall fonts and one handpull. Maybe that’s for English beer. All those on tall fonts are Scottish.

Where will I watch the game? If the worst comes to the worst, I can always go back to the Wetherspoons. They have a big screen there.

No-one but me seems to be drinking the cask. Most punters are ordering Tennent’s.

Orkney Blast, 6% ABV
Billed as an IPA Barleywine hybrid. I’ve no effing idea what that means. And writing Barley Wine as one word really isn’t on this side of the Atlantic. Pretty pale and pretty clear. Apart from the fizzing, not that unlike a pint of Tennent’s the bloke to my right is supping. A US hop thing going on, but also a sticky malt sweetness. Not getting the IPA bit. More like a lower ABV Barley Wine. Quite nice, mind, and full of the alcoholy umph I like.

Time to watch the footy. I make my way back down Rose Street to Milnes. The pub where I’d seen them putting up the England flag. It’s very crowded, but I manage to squeeze my way to the bar to get a pint, then squeeze my way to a spot where I can see a TV. I’ve got the time mixed up and the first half is already 20 minutes in.

England are in control, but not really looking like scoring. Everyone in the pub gets very excited on the rare occasions Scotland get anywhere near England’s goal. It’s scoreless at half time. The second half is much like the first, with England knocking the ball around fairly harmlessly.

Bum. England are bringing on Oxlade-Chamberlain. One of those Arsenal lightweight forwards who always look out of their depth at the highest level. Why the hell did they bring him on? He must have heard my thoughts, because he wriggles past several defenders and sticks the ball past the goalkeeper. Bastard. Just trying to prove me wrong. I manage to contain my emotions and show no outward sign of joy.

England look like they’re coasting to a win. Just 10 minutes to go. Until they give away a free kick just outside the penalty box. The bastard Scot who takes it curves the ball around the wall and into the top right corner. Everyone in the pub goes mental. Except me. Bastards.

A couple of minutes later England give away another free kick in an even better position. This time the ball goes in the top left corner. The sound in the pub is totally deafening. Everyone is going totally apeshit. Except me.

As the final minutes of the game tick by, it looks like England are stuffed. Then, with virtually the last kick of the game, Harry Kane coolly sidefoots a cross into the bottom corner. Everyone in the pub is totally silent. Except me. I’ve been so resolved to England effing it up, that I can’t contain a little yelp of joy. No the best idea in the circumstances.

Luckily, everyone is too busy crying into their beer to have noticed. I finish my pint and leave before anyone comes to their senses.

I make it an early night. I can’t cope with any more excitement. I watch England play Argentina at rugby somewhere in the Andean foothills. England score a try with just seconds to go to win the game. Seems a recurring theme today.

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

The Standing Order

62-66 George St
Midlothian EH2 2LR.

Abbotsford Bar & Restaurant
3-5 Rose Street, Edinburgh,
Midlothian EH2 2PR.
+44 131 225 5276

Milnes of Rose Street
21-25 Rose St,
Edinburgh EH2 2PR.
Tel: +44 131 225 6738

Monday, 19 June 2017

Majority Ale

One of the documents I was most interested in laying my hands on at thr Scottish Brewing Archive was something called "Majority Ale notebook".

Brewing a beer on the birth of an heir was a long tradition amongst domestic brewers. The beer would be carefully stored away and only broached when the child reached majority at age 21.

I thought that the practice had died out along with domestic brewing at the end of the 19th century. But William Younger continued to brew Majority Ales for members of the family not just in the 19th century, but right up until 1960.

Much like domestic brewers, William Younger brewed a very high gravity beer – between 1120º and 1150º - which they racked into casks and then stored away carefully. When the lucky child’s 21st birthday rolled around, some of the beer was bottled. The remainder was either racked into a smaller cask or used to fill up another cask of the same brew.

They kept a really close eye on each cask, a notebook keeping track of each one: when it was brewed, when beer was drawn off and bottled. Looking at this document, it becomes clear that they didn’t keep each brew totally separate. Sometimes they would fill up a cask with beer from an older brew. This way, I suppose, they could guarantee that the beer would be at least 21 years old when consumed.

They hung onto bottles for many, many decades. A stock list from 1967 includes Majority Ales brewed in 1866, 1895, 1897 and 1898. In all, they still had bottles of sixteen vintages of Majority Ale.

I wonder what happened to all those bottles?

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Scottish colours

Just a quick post. Something I harvested at the Scottish Brewing Archive on my recent visit.

It's quite a handy document. It has the brewery specifications of all the beers brewed and William Younger's Holyrood Brewery and William McEwan's Fountain Brewery. Lost of useful information about the beers. But tehre's one little problem: I don't no when exactly it's referring to.

The document is a bunch of loose leaves which was the response to an enquiry to a former brewer. The covering letter is dated 23rd June 2001. But it must refer to much earlier because the Holyrood Brewery closed in 1986. It also mentions No. 1, which I think was discontinued well before Holyrood closed. My guess would be 1960's or 1970's.

It's another demonstration of how crazy the Scots were about colouring beer.

Fountain Beers
Beer colour (EBC)
B5/A (BL) 30
XXPS (Btg) 24
No 3 (Btg) 48
H5/B 24
4/A 26
H2/B 95
E2/B 80
XXP (P5/A) 30
G5/A (D5/A) 80
XXP (Pale) 18
XXP (P70/-) 20
3 L 65
P80/- 25
BE2/B 80
1 BR 75
3 BR 55
1 BR 90
200/- B 80
NBA 52
Holyrood and Fountain beer specification sheets held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/8/1.

NBA = Newcastle Brown Ale.

Holyrood Beers
Beer colour
* S/Stout 270
Harp (bott) 9
DCA 70
DBS 270
PA 24
K 5/A 48
** BA 85
Harp (CT) 9
5/B 25
Holyrood and Fountain beer specification sheets held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/8/1.

There's a lovely note under this second table:

* SS is brewed at a colour of 600° - when blended with reprocessed beer, the final colour is 270°
** BA is brewed at a colour of 220° - when blended reprocessed beer, the final colour is 85°

"Reprocessed beer" is a euphemism for returned beer and all sorts of other shit. It must have formed a large pecentage of the blend, given that it's more than halved the colour value.

DCA = Double Century Ale.
DSB = Double Brown Stout.
BA = Brown Ale.

I'm amazed at how many different products they had. Most Scottish breweries only had half a dozen.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Macbeth comes to Glasgow

I’m a bit later at Waverley Station than I’d hoped. Missing the 9:30 train to Glasgow I’d planned to take. It doesn’t help that the nearest tram stop is quite a walk from the station.

But the next train is only 15 minutes later. Meaning I have time to buy two bacon baps. They’ll be my breakfast. On the train.

I forgot to buy a drink to accompany my salted grease. Luckily a chirpy young man comes around with a trolley and I can get myself a cup of tea to wash the food down.

This is a new train route for me. And, for the most part, a very attractive one, through verdant pastures bounded by craggy hills. It’s all very green. Then again, it is raining. And looks like it has been for the last couple of hundred years.

It’s a short hop on the subway from Queen Street Station to Kelvinhall, closest stop to the Scottish Brewing Archive. They seem to have poshed the subway stations up. Though there is still that strange smell down on the platforms.

The archive’s surroundings have changed quite a bit. The neighbouring flour mill has been replaced by student flats. Which probably explains all the young Chinese women on the streets on my way here.

I’ve requested 34 documents. Should keep me busy for most of the day. The nice young lady who is the archivist today already has the first batch ready. I’ve six hours to get through them all. Meaning I’ve got fewer than ten minutes per document. Plenty. I hope.

While I’m busy with my snapping marathon a few students trickle in and out. Mostly young women, who look at a few documents, photographing them on their phones and making notes. All in a leisurely way, unhurried way. I barely notice, busy as I am hacking rocks from the coal face.

At 13:30 I’m through everything they’ve brought up. “The next lot will be here around two.” The nice young lady says. I retreat to the lounge for a glass of water and a read of a history magazine. Then at two, I get out my pickaxe again.

I feel quite sorry for the archivist when TU/6/9/1 appears. It’s a loose-leaf brewing book that’s almost the same size as her. And is probably heavier. I can barely lift the thing.

As usual, I don’t waste much time studying the documents. Just photograph them and move on to the next. Some are notebooks where I need to snap every page. Others are brewing book where just a few sample pages will suffice.

I’m surprised when at 16:00 the nice young lady says: “That’s the last one.” But also happy, despite my aching back and blackened fingers. I’ve taken 1,476 photos in 5 hours. 4.5 hours if you allow for my break. Not bad going at all. Though it will take me months to process everything.

I’m meeting Robbie Pickering in the Three Judges ad 17:00. I get there pretty early – 16:15. I can barely get through the door. There some sort of do on. Is it a wake? Lots of people are wearing black. I wriggle my way to the bar and get myself a pint.

I eventually find a seat in a corner and read the paper and occasionally sip my beer. It’s very soothing.

Robbie turns up half an hour later. He comes over with two pints of Loch Lomond Stout, one for each of us. “You look like you need a beer.” He explains.

It’s a lovely beer, bible black and beautifully burnt. So nice, that I go to the bar and buy two more pints.

The landlady comes by and says we’re welcome to help ourselves to sandwiches from the buffet. Thee wake, or whatever it was, hasn’t got through all their food. I tuck in enthusiastically.

“Do you fancy a pint of Bass?” Robbie asks. “Oh, yes, please. Not had it for ages.”

I let him lead the way. He knows this part of Glasgow well. We’re headed to Tennent's. When I first spot the sign, I assume it’s the brewery name. It isn’t. It really is the name of the pub. Evidently it used to be run by someone called Tennent. And yes, he was related to the brewing family.

It’s pretty crowded in here, too. Robbie comes back with two lovely looking pints.

I take a large draught of my Bass. Where’s the farty smell? I wonder. It’s not a bad pint. Just doesn’t really taste like Bass.

“Do you want to try mine?” Robbie enquires. I’d assumed we both had Bass. Our pints look much the same, but his is Marstons Pedigree. They taste pretty different, mind. The Bass being much drier.

With no seat in sight, vertical drinking it is. The last thing I want, more standing. I’ve been on my feet most of the day. I’m not 18 any more. Nor 50, which I’d take, given the offer. I’m just thankful I can still stand unaided.

“What about a curry?” You don’t have to ask me that twice. Especially as eating a curry pretty much guarantees sitting down. We go to Ashoka, which is just around the corner.

They have some interesting cross-cultural items on the menu. Like Haggis Pakora. “It’s better than it sounds.” Robbie assures me. He’s right. Even if it is rather odd.

I order Pardesi Paneer and a nan. Both are pretty good, though the curry could have been hotter. I wish I’d known earlier about the curry. I wouldn’t have been so gungho with the sarnies.

After we’ve eaten, I head back to Queen Street Station on the subway. I don’t want to get back too late.

Entering the concourse, I swim against the stream of girls in miniskirts and makeup, in town for a big Friday night out. A cheering sight, youngsters in search of fun. All I’m looking for right now is the quickest route to my bed.

I leave the train at Haymarket. It’s closer to the airport than Waverley. And the tram stop is right next to the station.

I’m in bed by 22:00. Though tomorrow is a totally free day. Nothing to do, other than find a pub where I can watch Scotland play England without getting killed.

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

Three Judges
141 Dumbarton Road,
Partick, Glasgow G11 6PR.

Tennent's Bar
191 Byres Rd,
Glasgow G12 8TN, UK

Ashoka Ashton Lane
19 Ashton Ln,
Glasgow G12 8SJ, UK