Sunday, 24 May 2015

Brewing in the 1950’s – North American Hops

I’m finally getting to the end of Jeffery’s discussion of hop varieties. Sorry it’s taken so long.

This time we’re looking at North American hops. Starting with Canada.

British Columbians. Unfortunately, we have only had the pleasure of seeing a very few of these hops, but we were greatly impressed by them. They combine brightness of appearance with a fair size of cone, and, above all, a flavour which could well equal that of the best Kent Fuggles. It is a pity that more are not available. Their preservative value is high, and they could be used with advantage even in the best beers.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 176.

I’ve seen these turn up occasionally in brewing records. Though I’m damned if I can find any examples at the moment. Was Canada much of a hop producer? I feel like a table coming on. I knew all that crap I collected about hops would come in useful sometime. Actually, I didn’t think that, but collected it anyway. Because the crazy obsessive type of thing I do.

As you can see, Canada wasn’t exactly a player on the world stage:

World Production of hops 1951 - 1957
Country 1951 1952 1953 average 1950-54 1955 1956 1957
cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts.
Northern Hemisphere
USA 564,634 546,991 372,786 478,812 329,233 342,705 358,349
Canada 17,339 17,920 15,179§ 17,214 12,554 12,902 10,563
United Kingdom 321,821 282,348 266,000 298,216 256,821 184,170 267,670
Czechoslovakia 98,420§ 80,705§ 98,420§ 98,000 120,428 96,304 73,813
Germany 252,795 206,187 280,500 256,688 253,358 277,027 283,473
France 41,330 34,446 48,223 39,660 41,214 33,071 33,696
Belgium 19,366 17,062 19,179 20,750 26,571 16,027 23,821
Spain t 2,607 3,661 t 5,732 5,812 6,893
Poland t t t t 24,992 12,580 24,598
Yugoslavia 24,652 23,652 25,589 25,661 36,616 45,866 52,848
Other European t t t t 875 1,134 982
USSR t t t t 78,812 57,723 65,196
Japan 9,054 16,241 13,286 11,026 15,187 15,795 16,205
Total 1,349,411 1,228,159 1,142,823 1,246,027 1,202,393 1,101,116 1,218,107
Southern Hemisphere*
Australia 18,384 31,920 28,000§ 27,376 34,376 25,902 31,429
New Zealand 7,795 8,036 7,589§ 8,946 11,062 8,964 8,929
Union of South Africa 2,482 3,384 3,125§ 3,071 2,098 1,625 1,376
Argentina 1,179 1,179 1,116§ 1,330 1,571 1,714 2,411
Total 29,840 44,519 39,830§ 40,723 49,107 38,205 44,143
World Total 1,379,251 1,272,678 1,182,653§ 1,286,750 1,251,500 1,139,321 1,262,250
* crops harvested early in the following year
t not available
§ estimate
1951, 1952, 1953: 1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 65.
average 1950-54, 1955, 1956, 1957: 1962 Brewers' Almanack, page 63.

If I show Canada’s share in percentage terms, it’s clear how insignificant the country was as a hop producer:

Canada's share of hop production
Year Canada World Total Canada's %
1951 17,339 1,379,251 1.26%
1952 17,920 1,272,678 1.41%
1953 15,179 1,182,653 1.28%
average 1950-54 17,214 1,286,750 1.34%
1955 12,554 1,251,500 1.00%
1956 12,902 1,139,321 1.13%
1957 10,563 1,262,250 0.84%

This originally Canadian variety is still with us:

“A cross between a wild Manitoba hop and an English hop, called Brewer's Gold is remarkable for its very high preservative value (120-140 on the dry hop). It has a rather strong aroma, but if blended it can be used as a copper hop. It has even been used as a dry hop.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 176.

Now on to the USA:

“United States. Hops from the New York district are usually ranked first in value, on account of their greater delicacy in flavour. Next in order is placed those grown in and marketed as Sonomas, Oregons, and Sacramentos. These hops all have a very distinctive colour, being pale primrose without a trace of a green tinge. This feature is probably due to the climatic conditions under which they are grown and harvested. In wealth of resins they have no equal, the amount being in some cases remarkable. For this reason they have a very high preservative value. Unfortunately, they have some rather noticeable and serious defects, one of which is the large amount of stick and leaf present, which weighs up to a considerable amount. This defect is due to the introduction of machinery for picking, and we fail to see how the defect is to be obviated. In our opinion, it detracts greatly from the brewing value. Furthermore, American hops are prone to attacks from blight and vermin. In some instances the infection is so intense that the insides of a large proportion of cones is rendered black and foul. Even the strigs are sometimes affected. The vastness of the gardens makes the situation even more difficult to handle than is the case when dealing with a scourge in England. Sonomas are supposed to enjoy a certain amount of freedom from attacks by blight. All the same, we have seen specimens of them in a most undesirable condition.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 176 - 177.

I thought New York’s hop industry was long gone by the 1950’s. Didn’t they have terrible problems with pests and disease?

Sonoma and Sacramento, of course, are in California. We’ll be hearing later about the effect of machine picking on yields and hop quality. All I can say is that it must have saved a stack of money on labour, because it had all sorts of disadvantages. The US industry had abandoned hand picking before WW II.

A recurring theme when British brewers discuss American hops is the horrible blackcurrant flavour. They were saying the same back in the 19th century.

“In flavour, Sonomas are certainly entitled to pride of position because they are much milder than Oregons, and free from that intense and objectionable black-currant flavour. Great efforts have been made in recent years to eradicate or lessen this by planting hills of delicate flavoured Kent and Worcester hops nearby. In some cases a degree of success has been met with, but, whether it is due to the nature of the soil or to the climate, there is always a gradual tendency to hark back to the strong flavour.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 177.

Not sure why planting British hops close by would make the others taste better.

Before WW II US hops were as common as muck in Britain. But, with UK-grown supplies being sufficient after the war, they seem to have disappeared pretty much completely. Whitbread look like they were using up some old Oregons they had during the war, but when they ran out in 1945, they disappear from their records.

It’s one of the biggest changes in ingredients I’ve seen, wartime excepted. American hops had been a mainstay for British brewers for around 100 years. Then suddenly they were discarded, like a lover who’s become fat or bald. Or both.

“The cones of some of the Oregon hops are of immense size, and we have seen some 3 in. or more in length. The bracts are long and pointed, and come away from the strig easily, displaying much resin. Unfortunately, the resins quickly change from soft to hard when stored under ordinary conditions. They emit, in a hard state, a pungent and uninviting aroma. Sacramentos are the coarsest of the series, and compare unfavourably both in resinous content and preservative properties.
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 177.

Don’t think I’ve ever come across anything specifically called Sacramento. Though they could just have been described as American or Californian. They sound pretty crap – bad flavour and with lesser preservative power.

Unbelievably, there’s loads, loads more about hops in the 1950’s to come. Unless I get distracted, obviously.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Brettanomyces – hero or villain?

I thought this article about Brettanomyces would interest you. It contains some great stuff.

First, an overview of Brettanomyces and its role in brewing:

“Brettanomyces spp. have long been known as important factors in the production of condition and flavour in certain high-gravity beers and in lambic beer. They have also been mentioned as possible spoilage organisms in beer but have generally been considered as of little importance in this connection. Thus Wiles stated that Brettanomyces had only once been reported as a spoilage organism of beer, and that although Brett. bruxellensis was sometimes detected it was not of common occurrence and was unlikely to be a cause of spoilage. On the other hand, Shimwel1 found a Brettanomyces to be the cause of a fret in beer and suggested that it might be widely encountered as a spoilage organism. It has been stated that Brettanomyces can cause a mawkish "nose" and turbidity in beers of original gravity less than 1060.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 257.

Now isn’t that fascinating? That Brettanomyces produces a funny flavour in beer under 1060º. Why would that be? They seem undecided on whether Brettanomyces was a common spoilage agent. By ‘fret” they mean a too vigorous secondary fermentation in the cask.

I’ve mentioned this before. Although Claussen (of Carlsberg) was the first to publish about Brettanomyces, it had been discovered earlier:

“Occurrence of Brettanomyces.—The earliest reference to Brettanomyces, or secondary yeasts, was in a patent for the use of these organisms for the preparation of English beers which was taken out by Claussen in 1903. In a paper to the Institute of Brewing in 1904, Claussen described the importance of Brettanomyces for secondary fermentation and the production of the characteristic flavour of English stock beers. Claussen did not give a detailed description of these organisms, which he included in the genus Torula. Shortly after this, Seyffert of the Kalinkin Brewery in St. Petersberg announced that he had isolated a "Torula" in 1889 from English beer which produced the typical "English" taste in lager beer, and which was similar in other respects to Claussen's Brettanomyces. In 1899 J. W. Tullo, in the Chemist's Laboratory, Arthur Guinness Son & Co. Ltd., Dublin, had already isolated two types of "secondary yeast" from Irish stout, and in an unpublished report described the characteristics of these yeasts and their importance in secondary fermentation.  At this time the "secondary yeasts" were important constituents of the flora of all stock beers, and in particular of those beers, designed for the export trade, which under-went long maturation in the brewery. These export  beers  depended indeed on  the "secondary yeasts," not only for their characteristic flavour but also for the production of condition in bottle by means of their ability to ferment higher polysaccharides which the "primary yeast" could not ferment.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 257.

If I tell you that secondary fermentation  was very important at Guinness because they still vatted Stout, particularly their export version. Meaning that information about the process had commercial value. The same was probably true of the brewery in St. Petersburg.

Here’s something about the nature of Brettanomyces.

“Properties of Brettanomyces.—The cells of Brettanomyces are small, oval or round, frequently with a pointed end (ogive).  In some strains elongated cells and branched chains ("trees") are frequently seen.  On suitable media most strains show a tendency to form pseudomycelium.  In malt extract Brettanomyces spp. grow slowly but give a high final attenuation' and a characteristic aroma.

Under aerobic conditions they produce considerable acid; this may be the reason why malt-agar cultures have a short life. In agar-streak cultures they give yellow or brown raised growth. The genus has always been considered anascosporogenous, but van der Walt & van Kirken have recently reported sporulation in a number of species which would necessitate the placing of the genus in another family. The fermentative abilities of the various strains in the species as described by Lodder & Kreger-van Rijn and by van der Walt & van Kirken are given in Table I. One of the most interesting characteristics of the metabolism of Brettanomyces is that young aerobic cultures exhibit a negative Pasteur effect.  That is, they have a very much stronger fermentative ability under aerobic conditions than under anaerobic conditions, in contrast to other yeasts. Another important characteristic of the genus is that secondary products of fermentation accumulate to a much greater extent than is the case with Saccharomyces. Ethyl acetate, glycerol, acetic acid, succinic acid and 2,3-butane-diol have been estimated by Peynaud & Domerce in the completed fermentations with Brettanomyces.  These authors consider that ethyl acetate and acetamide are the two main organoleptic products of Brettanomyces fermentations, but that some strains may also produce a butyric smell.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 258.

Reverse Pasteur effect? That’s a new one to me. Maybe that’s why Brettanomyces scavenges oxygen so well in bottle-conditioned beer.

Here’s an overview of the properties of various types of Brettanomyces isolated from bottle-conditioned beers:

“Group 1. -21 strains fermented glucose, sucrose and maltose only.  These strains agreed with the published descriptions of Brett. bruxellensis Kufferath et van Laer and were similar to authentic strains of this species. Brett. bruxellensis has been isolated from Iambic beer, from Cork porter, from French grape must and from Brazilian wine fermentations."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 259.

Now the second group:

“Group 2. -11 strains fermented glucose and galactose only.  These strains agreed with  Peynaud & Domercq and were similar to an authentic strain of this species. Brett. schanderlii has been found in French and South African wine fermentations. It has not previously been reported as occurring in beer. "
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 259 - 260.

Interesting that this had previously only been found in wine, not beer.

This sounds like a weird one:

“Group 3. -12 strains fermented glucose, galactose, sucrose and lactose. This combination of fermentative abilities does not correspond with any established species. These strains are most like Brett. anomalus but differ from this species in that they ferment sucrose rapidly. A further study is being made of these strains and, if the differences are sufficient to establish the strains in this group as a separate species, this will be reported in a further communication. For the present these strains will be described as Brettanomyces sp. 1. It seems strange that so many strains unable to ferment maltose (Groups 2 and 3) should be found in beer, but Custers isolated Brett. anomalus, which also is unable to ferment maltose, from English beer. It was because of this peculiar circumstance that Custers gave this species the name "anomalus."”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

You wouldn’t want that getting into your Milk Stout. Bottle bombs would be the inevitable result of the Brettanomyces chewing its way through the lactose.

But its odder that so many of the strains were unable to ferment maltose. Though, thinking about it, that’s probably preferable fore brewery use. It means that the Brettanomyces can’t take any part in primary fermentation. Just what you’d want in the case of running beers.

Here’s a table of what the different types of Brettanomyces can ferment:


Fermentation of
Species Glucose Galactose Sucrose Maltose Lactose Raffinose Trehalose Melibiose Melezitose Cellobiose
1. Brett. Bruxellensis* Kufferath & van Laer  .. + + + + +
2. Brett. Anamalus Custers + + + + + +
3. Brett. Claussenii Custers + + + + + 1/3 + + +
4. Brett. Intermedius ** Peynaud and Domercq, van der Walt  + + + + + + +
5. Brett. Schanderlii Paynaud & Domercq + + +
* The strains known as Brett. bruxellensis var. not -membranaefaciens Custers, Brett. bruxellensis var. lentis Custers, and Brett. lambicus Kufferath & van Leer, are included in the species Brett. bruxelensis as suggested by van der Walt & van Kirken. 
** This strain was named Brett. vini by Paynaud & Domercq. It was found to be identical with Mycotorula intermedia isolated by Krumbholz & Tauschanoff and was re-named Brett. intermedius by van der Walt & van Kirken.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 259.

I’m a little shocked that they were able to find 11 naturally-conditioned bottled beers in 1961. I though the technique was pretty much dead by then. Or maybe they weren’t 11 different beers.

Many of the bottles from which the yeast was isolated contained multiple strains of Brettanomyces:

“The distribution of the individual strains from the 11 bottles is given in Table II, from which it will be seen that from 5 of the bottles only one species of Brettanomyces was recovered; in all the other bottles two or more species were found. The infection therefore regularly occurs as a mixture of species of Brettanomyces.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

Here’s a summary of the strains of Brettanomyces found per bottle:

Bottle No. No. of strains studied No. of strains of Brett. bruxellensis No. of strains of Brett. schanderlii No. of strains in Brettanomyces sp. 1 group
1 4 0 4 0
2 4 2 1 1
3 4 1 3 0
4 4 0 1 3
5 4 2 2 0
6 4 4 0 0
7 4 2 0 2
8 4 4 0 0
9 4 4 0 0
10 4 2 0 2
11 4 0 0 4
Total 44 21 11 12
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

I like the fact that they carried out taste tests based on bottle-conditioned beers inoculated deliberately with their strains of Brettanomyces.

“Tasting experiments were carried out with 36 of the pure cultures of Brettanomyces isolated from beer. In these tests the culture of Brettanomyces was added to beer at bottling at the rate of about 5 cells of Brettanomyces per 100 cells of culture yeast present in the beer. The beers were naturally conditioned at 18° C. and, after 2-5 weeks, they were tasted against a control of the same beer which had been bottled at the same time but which contained no added infection. The results are summarized in Table III for each of the three species. The taste of the infected beers became more objectionable as the beers became older but, for simplicity, the results of the tastings at different periods have been combined. It is clear that Brett. bruxellensis has much the worst effect on flavour of beer, although the other groups have an appreciable deleterious effect. The flavours most complained of in the infected beers were "harsh," "strong after-bitter," "mawkish" and "old beer flavour."”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

Here’s the table of those results:

Species Strains Times tasted Better than control Equal to control Worse than control Much worse than control
Brett. Bruxellensis 19 133 0 15 39 46
Brett. schanderlii 8 58 2 53 41 4
Brettanomyces sp. 1 9 46 0 37 61 2
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

It doesn’t look like the Brettanomyces character was much admired by the tasters. The infected samples were almost always judged as no improvement – in some cases much worse – than the non-infected ones.

Of course, it could just be that the tasters weren’t accustomed to Brettanomyces character in beer. It would be fascinating to know what tasters would have thought of the infected beers 100 years earlier. They might actually have liked them.

Friday, 22 May 2015

San Francisco in June

You may recall that I'll be in San Francisco next month. As usual, I'm trying to set up some events while I'm there.

I've sorted out a couple outside the city, but I'd really like to have something in the city itself.

So if you're a homebrew club or brewery and fancy listening to me bullshit away about some historic brewing topic while trying to glog my book, please get in touch.

The dates I'll be in town are Friday 5th June to Tuesday 9th Jun.

This is my masterpiece that I'll be tarting:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer 

Let’s Brew Wednesday – 1871 Carlsberg Mild

As an extra special treat, two Let’s Brews this week. And let’s face it, this is a pretty special beer.

The historian at Carlsberg told me Carl Jacobsen had wanted to brew both Lager and Ales when he returned in 1871 from his study trip to Britain. But I was still amazed to find Mild Ale on the very first page of his Copenhagen brews. It’s not as odd as it might first seem.

British beers still had a good reputation internationally and there had been plenty of brewers taking on British styles on the Continent. Porter and Stout were the most common, but there were also Pale Ales and IPAs made. And Dutch newspaper adverts prove that Mild Ale was exported as well as the more fashionable styles.

These pages in Jacobsen’s personal brewing book are particularly odd. He mixes up imperial and metric measurements. Sometimes he gives the gravity in SG, others in Balling. There are quarters and kilos and who knows what size of barrel he means. Are they imperial or Danish beer barrels? Or something also altogether? It’s hard to say because I can’t get the numbers to make sense. Either he was getting truly dreadful efficiency, of the barrel is at least a hogshead in size.

Not that Jacobsen brewed loads of Mild. The first brew was on 3rd March 1871 and the last on 25th September. A total of 7 brews in all. Table Beer fared better, lasting until 1872. Strong and Pale Ale were still around in 1874. And DBS, his Stout, that still pops up in the last Carlsberg brewing record I looked at, from 1934.

Jacobsen’s first Ales were brewed with yeast from Kongens Bryghus, but later he used Evershed and Lovibond yeast that he must have picked up in Britain.

That’s all I’ve got for the moment. Over to Kristen . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: What a little treat it was to receive this from Ron. Wow, he must really hate me for giving me this piece of crap log!! Ha!! Seriously though, this is one of the most maniacal, ADHD logs I’ve ever seen. A mix of units, weights, volumes, temperature scales, gravity scales, random numbers, etc etc etc. The funny thing though that they used the log of what looks like Youngers gyle books from the same era but everything is hand written in Danish and some of the columns are used for god knows what. Anyway, when all was said and done, it got sorted. I can’t help to think of the poor bastard that had to actually keep these records and replicate anything. Onward…

Malt: A single malt for every single beer in the log. Seriously. One malt. It’s a pale one to be sure. Probably not English. It was based on volume measurements not weights so the exact same beer has a different weight of malt added to it. Which essentially says to me, if they couldn’t be buggered with having the same recipe time and again, lets just choose something nice and be done with it. Belgian Pale malt. That’s what I’m going with. Castle is nice…so yeah, Castle pale malt.

Hops: It’s funny. You have a log that has no really remarks about malt…for any of the beers. Then you have the hops. Where are broken down very well and easily legible. All Saaz. No question. This thing is even dry hopped! A mild. Dry hopped. But look at the amount. Something like 2oz/US bbl. Seriously!? Why go do the trouble of doing it at all?? The only thing I can think of is that it added in the fining process but that’s pretty sketchy as most of the other beers weren’t dry hopped. So. Saaz it is. Dry hop if you’d like. Really up to you but you could go higher if you’d like. Enough so you could taste it but be nice about it. No need to go all bonkers on this one.

Yeast: I count like 4 different yeast strains or there abouts in the log. With the FG being so high, pick something that doesn’t attenuate very well. Like the Northwest ale, or the ESB. Both very nice.

Standard procedure:
1) let the beer ferment until finished and then give it another day or so. For me right around 5-7 days.
2) Rack the beer to your vessel of choice (firkin, polypin, cornie, whatever).
3) Add primings at ~3.5g/L
4) Add prepared isinglass at 1ml/L
5) ONLY add dry hops at 0.25g/l – 1g/L.
6) Bung it up and roll it around to mix. Condition at 55F or so for 4-5 days and its ready to go. Spile/vent. Tap. Settle. Serve at 55F.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Copenhagen day two

I have to be up pretty early. I’ve an appointment at Carlsberg at 09:00. And I plan walking there, which will take a bit more than half an hour.

The breakfast is pretty decent. Cheese, ham, hard and soft boiled eggs, nice bread and quite a lot of sliced veg. It means I can be reasonably healthy in my eating.

Fed, I grab my camera and head west. It’s a lovely day, making walking a pleasure. I’ve been to Carlsberg before, but never on foot. Meaning I get to see a new bit of Copenhagen.

There’s a bit of confusion about our meeting point. I stand patiently in front of Visit Carlsberg while Bjarke (my contact who’s a historian here) waits around the corner. It all gets sorted after a while and Bjarke leads me off around the oldest bits of Ny Carlsberg. He’s got Michael, head brewer at Jacobsen, with him.

Jacobsen, the micro Carlsberg run  in the complex, is housed in cellars from an earlier brewery. I get to see the shiny new kit and taste Jacobsen Brown Ale directly from the conical. Very nice it is, too, if  a little cold for me.

Most surprising is the barrel aging room. Quite modest compared to some I’ve seen in the US, but interestingly nonetheless. Michael gets us tasters the old-fashioned way – piercing the barrel head with an electric drill. He explains that they’ve stumbled about their own Brettanomyces strain, which was lurking somewhere around the premises and crept into one barrel. It’s apt really, given the work Clausen put into researching Brettanomyces here.

Coffee mint Stout with Brettanomyces. That’s what we’re tasting. Impressive stuff, with a lovely vinous character without being overly tart. Not exactly the sort of beer you’d associate with Carlsberg. Though if you’ve been keeping pace with recent developments in Denmark, you may not be so surprised. Jacobsen has been turning out modern-style beers for more than a decade.

We finish in a cellar stuffed to the rafters with crates of beer. A real Aladdin’s cave of Carlsberg. Bjarke suggests trying a special brew of, er, Special Brew, which is several years old. Unlike the normal version, this one is amber in colour. The darker malts have helped it cope better with oxidation. It’s rather tasty. So much so that I take a couple of bottles home.

The archives are right over the other side of the complex. It’s a bit of a walk, but it does take us right past the nicest bits of Ny Carlsberg, with the elephant gate amongst other architectural delights. Bjarke’s pass won’t work on the archive door and he has to ring one of the archivists to let us in.

They’ve already got brewing records out for me. I dive right in, starting at 1867. With Carl Jacobsen’s personal brewing book from his time in Britain. William Younger in Edinburgh and Evershed in Burton. With at the back brews at Ny Carlsberg. It’s the most amazing brewing book I’ve ever seen.

Young Carl obviously picked up the blank book at William Younger. I’d recognise that format anywhere. I realise that his time at Younger coincides with some of their records I’ve photographed. That’s handy. Some of those pictures are a bit blurry.

Bjarke had told me Jacobsen wanted to brew Ales when he got back from Britain. Sure enough, they’re there. Stout, Pale Ale, Strong Ale, Table Beer and  . . . Mild Ale. This is so weird. Carlsberg Mild. It takes me a while to get my head around that. But no time to waste. There will be plenty of time to ponder later. My time here is limited and I mean to use it fully.

752 photographs later and it’s time to leave. I’m totally knacked. It’s a long, slow walk back to my hotel. My feet are killing me. But the sun is shining, the birds are singing and people are drinking beer in pavement cafés.

I notice Ølbutikken. Didn’t spot that on the way out. I nip in and buy a couple of bottles for later. I could have drunk them there, but I need a lie down.

After a couple of hours lounging around my hotel I decide to venture out. Not far, mind. Only as far as Brewpub. Can’t be arsed to walk any further. On the way I stop by a pølsevogn on the town hall square. I get the most bratwurst-like sausage in a roll so dry it crumbles in my hand.

It’s pretty full – it is almost 8 PM on a Friday – but I find a seat at the bar. Let’s start with something dark:

Cole US Porter, 5.2% ABV
Another black malt affair. It has seven malts. Sounds like three or four too many. I was surprised to see that Carlsberg were still using brown malt in the DBS Stout in the 1920’s. I snapped records from 1867 to 1934. A pretty good spread.

Surprised that there’s nothing over 6% ABV on draught.

Weird that I collected some more Younger and Evershed records today. Especially the latter. More Burton Pale Ale recipes. Life throws up some weird shit.

I feel like sleeping, if I’m honest. Who would have thought taking photos could be so tiring? I’m yawning away like crazy.

At least the Lager history Rod wants me to write is getting more feasible. I just need to look at the records of a few Bavarian and Czech breweries I am totally insane to even consider such a project. At least three or four years of heavy research needed.

I managed to miss the Belgian Dubbel at 7.5^ ABV. I must be tires. Guess that’s next.

Just saw them pour some 80/-. It’s almost black. Guess they’ve never drunk a Scottish one.

Abbaye de Villiers (Belgian Dubbel, 7.5% ABV)
Right colour, unlike the 80 bob. Bit sweet. With some sort of infection/funky thing going on in the background. Bit odd. Not sure I like the effect of the champagne yeast/

Ah – it just clicked. Was Jacobsen the reason William Younger brewed a Pilsner in the 1870’s? Who would have thought I’d learn about Scottish beer in Copenhagen?

I leave it at just the two beers. On the way back I stop at the other pølsevogn on the town hall square. I skip the bread this time and stick with just a bratwurst-like thing. That’ll do for my tea.

I’ve an event-type thing tomorrow afternoon. Shouldn’t be too late to bed.

Istedgade 44,
1650 København V.
Tel: +45 33 22 03 04

BrewPub København
Vestergade 29,
1456 København K.
Tel.: 33 32 00 60

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1959 Watneys XX Mild

Not sure if Kristen’s going to make it on time this week. So I here’s a recipe of mine.

Watney – now there’s a name to conjure with. The bogeyman of brewing in the 1970’s. This wasn’t brewed in their own Mortlake brewery but at Ushers of Trowbridge in the West Country. Watney owned the brewery and clearly made them brew some of their own lovely brands.

If I remember correctly, Ushers was one of the few Watney plants that never completely got rid of cask. Their beers were OK, if nothing particularly special. When Watney started to unravel, Ushers regained its independence with its own estate of tied houses. This arrangement only lasted around a decade, when the brewery was closed and it continued as a pure pub company. The brewing equipment ended up in North Korea.

Returning to the beer, XX belongs to the wateriest class of Milds, whose origins can be traced back to the Government Ale of WW I. After war’s end, a new, very low-gravity type of Mild called 4d Ale continued to be brewed. At a time when standard Mild was 1035 – 1043º, 4d Ale was usually under 1030º. When WW II forced down gravities of standard Mild to a similar level, 4d Ale mostly disappeared.

Some brewers, particularly in the West Country, continued to brew their Mild at very low gravities, even after most had bounced back to the low 1030’s. It’s no coincidence that the gravity is 1028º. There was no point dropping below 1027º as no matter how low the gravity, the minimum duty chargeable was as if a beer were 1027º.

There’s nothing too horrible about the grist: mostly mild ale malt with a bit of crystal and flaked maize, plus a bit of sugar. As with Watney’s Brown Ale, it’s the other shit thrown in that’s the problem. This was added to the gyles (332 barrels) to make 383 barrels:

BB 18 barrels
Bottoms 18 barrels
RB 11 barrels
finings 4 barrels

A bit better than the Brown Ale – at least this is only 15% crap.

I wouldn’t recommend trying to recreate that gyling. I can’t imagine the leftover beer added anything positive to the finished product.

That’s me done. Over to  . . . . me . . . .

1959 Watneys XX Mild
MA malt 4.75 lb 79.76%
crystal malt 40 L 0.25 lb 4.20%
flaked maize 0.33 lb 5.54%
roast barley 0.25 lb 4.20%
No. 2 invert 0.25 lb 4.20%
caramel 0.125 lb 2.10% 5.96 lb
ginger pinch

Fuggles 45 min 1.00 oz

OG 1028

FG 1007

ABV 2.78

Apparent attenuation 75.00%

IBU 14.5

SRM 30

Mash at 152º F

Sparge at 170º F

Boil time 45 minutes

pitching temp 60º F

Yeast WLP023 Burton Ale

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Brewing in the 1950’s - Continental Hops

I almost forgot about this. Too busy getting distracted by other shiny articles about hops in the 1950’s.

So here’s Jeffery’s overview of foreign hops. Imported hops had become much less important after the two world wars. For the very simple reason that Britain had become self-sufficient in hops for the first time since the early 1800’s.

Continental Hops. A general characteristic of all Continental hops is the small size of the cone. Indeed, they look only a quarter grown compared with English hops, but even so they are fully grown out. Another noticeable feature is the absence of seeds due to the intentional elimination of the male plant. The strigs are very short, and the bracts are tightly attached to them at very short intervals. Even when ripe it is difficult to pull them apart. On that account Continental hops are favoured for dry hopping, as they do not break up and create floaters. It has been found that this is a very wasteful way of using them, as the failure to break retains the resins which would otherwise be imparted with benefit to the beer.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 175.

Now isn’t that interesting? No, not the thing about Continental hops being seedless. I knew about that. I meant about them being used often as dry hops. By “floaters” he means small pieces of hop that would finish up in someone’s pint. Not what you wanted as a brewer, obviously. Though Jeffery seems to think that not breaking apart was also a disadvantage to their use as dry hops.

He seems quite enthusiastic about the best Continental hops:

“The pockets are of strong texture and large, holding 3 cwt. or more. When samples are drawn, the side shows the hops as very compact, with the resins in definite yellow clusters. There is an absence of leaves, since careful picking is insisted upon. This care also applies to curing, which is very regular. Picking only takes place when the crop is really ripe and ready, and the hops are sun-dried until the whole produce of the Garden is ready for the final curing. The delicacy of flavour of the best growths is indisputable, and it is not to be wondered at that they are hops which find much favour for pale ales. Their preservative properties, too, are high.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 175 - 176.

Saying they were good enough for Pale Ale is high praise indeed. If you remember, most English hops weren’t considered worthy.

Which Continental hops were considered best isn’t hard to guess:

“In order of brewing value we place first and foremost Certificated Saaz. They are usually of extreme delicacy of flavour, well managed, nicely cured and full of resins. As such, they are highly favoured for the best beers. Next comes the choicest Spalts, which nearly reach the excellence of the Saaz mentioned above. They are not quite so delicate in flavour, however. Then may be bracketed together in about equal value the Saaz Country and Spalt Country, a little greener in colour than the choicer samples, and not quite so regular in size and development. Hallertaus may be placed next, but they require careful examination and selection because, at times, they are decidedly on the green side and not fully grown out. Following these, we place Wurtembergs, hops of some variation in colour and quality. We have seen some quite rich in resins, while others have a distinct deficiency. Lastly, we mention Poperinghes, about which we hardly dare hazard a guess why they are grown at all. They are practically devoid of resin. Their value is for freshening up old hops at the beginning of the season, because they are the first harvested. They have neither character nor flavour. We sometimes hear of Alosts, which can only be classified with Poperinghes.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 176.

There seem to be two types of Saaz hops: Saaz and Saaz Country. I’d noticed the latter – called “Saazer Land” – in Ny Carlsberg’s brewing records. Saaz pop up fairly regularly in British brewing records from the second half of the 19th century onwards. William Younger in Edinburgh were particularly keen on them. In 1868 they were using them in all sorts of beer: IPA, No. 3, 120/-, 140/- and 160/-. Funnily enough, this was exactly the period when Carl Jacobsen was at Younger. I wonder if he picked up the use of Saaz from them.

Hallertau and Wurtemberg hops both appear in Whitbread records from the 1890’s. Hallertau only seem to have been used in Mild Ale, which implies they weren’t considered the very best hops. They pop up again in the 1930’s, this time in Porter and Stout as well as Mild.

Spalt hops were also widely used in Britain at various times. Though they are rarely named, they are usually what was referred to simply as “Bavarians” in brewing records.

Poperinghes and Alost (Aalst) are both Belgian types of hops. They were never rated very highly by British breweries, but they were cheap. I’ve seen both in brewing records, with Poperinghes being far the more common of the two.

The first mention I’ve spotted of Belgian hops in Whitbread’s records in 1849. They used large quantities in the 1850’s in both their Mild and Stock Ales. Occasionally they’re called Poperinghe by name, but mostly it’s just the generic term Belgian.

Next time we’ll be finishing off with North American hops.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Copenhagen day one

I like getting early flights. Ones where I can get up at my normal time. It’s just like going to work, except when I get off the 15 bus at Amsterdam Zuid, I jump on a train to Schiphol rather than a tram to Amstelveen.

Even though I’d allowed plenty of time, when I’ve got through security and walked all the way to the gate, it’s about time to board. I picked up a sandwich in the Albert Heijn landside. A snip a just 3 euros for a broodje gezond. I want something more substantial than the small packet of cheesy biscuits KLM gives you.

As I queue to buy a train ticket into town, I wonder at the direct services from the airport to Malmö and beyond. Thanks the new bridge/tunnel connection between Denmark and Sweden. Must go over in sometime.

It’s too early to check in, so I dump my bags at the hotel and head out for beer. Many of the beer places don’t open until later in the afternoon. But War Pigs, the new Mikkeller/3 Floyds brewpub opens early. And it’s just around the corner. I get there at 1 PM.

Time for a first beer:

Real Estate Mongol Pale Ale 6.9%
In a pretty inelegant glass. Almost like a jam jar, wide and low. Smells just like a US Pale Ale – peach, passion fruit and orange peel. Tastes much the same. Quite pleasant and only 60 crowns (about 8 euros) for 40 cl. At least it’s 6.9% ABV.

Looks like this was some sort of wholesale meat market. Now it’s full of trendiness. Though opposite still seems to be some sort of meat wholesaler.

20 draught beers in all. It’s pretty quiet. Almost as many staff as customers.

I nipped into a cheap supermarket and got myself some rolls, cheese and water. And 2 bottles of Limfjords Porter. It’s a cracking beer and only 17 crowns for a half litre.

It’s great – not one thing I need to do today. I’m free to wander around and drink as I please. And to take notes and snaps. Though when will I use the notes? I haven’t finished writing up my last US trip yet. Doubling the length (unwittingly) of my blog posts hasn’t helped. Insisting on a real post each day is killing me.

Seem to be some Americans working here. I guess that’s the 3 Floyds connection.

I’m surprised that I could understand some of the Danish announcements on the train. Really should practice reading Danish more. I’m going to need that skill tomorrow at Carlsberg. You can’t believe how excited I am at a day with the run of their archives. They seem a friendly bunch there from our email conversations.

Cry for Help, Rick (Robust Porter) 7.4% ABV, 70 crowns
Can’t see if this is clear or not – it’s as black as a fascist’s heart. Not much head. Bit of roast in the aroma. Very ashy in the gob. Tastes like it’s packed with black malt. But I shouldn’t play the dangerous game of guess the ingredient. Too easy to end up looking a twat. Should I tell them Robust Porter is a made-up style? Best not. I’ll only get blank looks.

I’m writing this on the back of a pub guide I put together for myself. Some taken from my Copenhagen Pub Guide web page. But that’s getting dated, so I nicked some places from RateBeer.

Just remembered that I forgot to email my next BeerAdvocate column yesterday. Have to wait until Monday now. The 2nd 1,000 words about Berliner Weisse. And that only took me to the 1970’s. I could easily have written another 2 – 3,0000 words. Just as well, because I need to do that. For my B rettanomyces Festival talk next month.

Shit. More stuff I need to write. Shouldn’t think about stuff like that. I’m supposed to be relaxing.

The brewkit looks about 20 hl to me. Only the brewhouse is in the pub. The fermenters are in another room. Looks like the conicals are 20 hl, too. In the US the fermenters are usually double the brew length.

Big Black Bicycle (Black IPA) 6.3% ABV, 65 crowns
Has the roast/citrus I’d expect in the nose. Quite creamy in the gob. Bitter, but not very aromatic. Had better ones in the US.

On Beer Advocate they noticed I get a name check in the new BJCP guidelines. Some thought it odd – had I turned to the Dark Side. Not really. I was asked politely for my opinion and I gave it. I like to think that I helped improve the Czech styles.

Beards and tattoos – do they define this decade? I’m proudly clean-shaven and uninked.

Mustard Tiger (Belgian Pale Ale) 6.9% ABV, 70 crowns
Took ages to pour. So it has to be dead fizzy. “Because it’s fresh and full of hops” the barman said. Not sure I believe that. Another murky one. Smells very like the Pale Ale I kicked off with. Aagh – I get where the Belgian is coming from. Some funkiness in there. There’s rhe serving problem – the beer is “fretting” with the bugs.

Quarter pound of brisket, quarter pound of pork shoulder, small potato salad. I’m stuffed – for about 20 euros. Not too crazy.

I think this is about my sixth time in Copenhagen. The beer scene has changed so much. Back in the 1980’s draught beer was almost unknown. Almost everything was 33 cl bottles of Carlsberg and Tuborg. Thankfully the Porter was tasty, strong and, for the ABV, not that expensive.

It’s 14:40. Time for a final beer before going back to my hotel to check in.

Smouldering Holes (Imperial Stout) 9.6%
I’m up for a happy ending – and what better way than with an Imperial Stout? Slightly darker than ink during a blackout. Smells like any ashtray with a shot of bourbon. The perfect end-of-lunch drink. But I’m a pisshead, as you already know.

Time to head back to my hotel.

After checking in, I rest a little and check my email. It seems a reasonable enough hotel and the location is dead handy, just around the back of the main station.

18:30 and it’s time for more beer. This time my destination, Taphouse is in the other direction, but still pretty close. It’s another pub that wasn’t around when I last visited the city.

It’s pretty empty inside. Both in terms of customers and decoration. There are 61 draught beers, displayed on screens behind the bar. It claims to be the largest tap selection in Europe. I can’t believe that’s true. But it’s still a load. Hopefully not too many for them to handle. I’m not a huge fan of ridiculously long tap lists. I prefer a smaller number of well-chosen ones. Like, say, at Deep Ellum in Boston.

Amager/Goose Island Rye King 7.3%, 55 crowns for 40 cl
Nice and black., loads of head. Nice tan colour head. Pretty nice. A stack of malt complexity and loads of malt bitterness. I really like this. Best beer today.

Beer Here Harwood Brown Porter 7% ABV, 55 crowns
Black. Smells like black treacle. Good start. Doesn’t taste much like my idea of a Porter. But what the hell, I’m on my holidays. It’s brown, alcoholic and in front of me. Tastes quite nice, too. Though it does taste old. Definite twang of oxidation in there.

Weird the UK election I feel more and more estranged from it. I know I’ll never live there again. All seems irrelevant. Unlike Dutch politics, where I have no say. Bit pissed.

19:25 I shouldn’t stay out too late. Big, big day tomorrow. The big C.

Rocket Zero Gravity (IPA) 7.7%. 55 crowns
Not too murky. Good fruit salad aroma. Really very good.

WarPigs Brewpub
1711, Flæsketorvet 25,
1711 København V, Denmark

Lavendelstræde 15,
1462 København, Denmark