Saturday 31 October 2015

Elgoods brewery and 'spontaneously' fermented beer

I don't know why I find brewery history so interesting but I do. So there was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to visit Elgoods brewery and see their open copper coolers.

Head Brewer Alan Pateman took a break from his holiday to show us round and talk about the beers he's stated making based on the lambic style, though they call their beer 'cambic' (as they're in Cambridgeshire) to keep the lawyers at bay.

Elgoods date back to 1795 so have a long history, but times have changed and they can’t just sell mild and bitter anymore. They've done lots of New Product Development in various styles  and now brew 30-40 recipes a year, including sour beers.

Being an old brewery the malt hopper dates from 1910, Boby 2-roller mill from 1912 and the mash tun is even older, though they don't know exactly how old.
Normally mash at 150°F (65.5°C) but for the cambics go slightly higher to 152-154°F (66.5-67.5°C)
They have a 15 quarter mash tun (2,300 kg capacity), with which they can make 30-100 bbl of beer depending on the strength. They use mains water, which is chalky so add AMS and gypsum to the grist.

For cambics they first used 70% pale malt and 30% unmalted wheat but this caused problems in the mash tun so they now use torrified instead of raw wheat. Old hops from 2010 are used, which have lost most of their flavour and bitterness but still have the tannins. They brew 45 bbl at a time using open cooling trays (coolships).

The wort pH is lower for lambics so it's adjusted with lactic acid in the hop back to pH4.5-4.8 on the cooling tray.
They have a 95 bbl copper from 1950 which is boiled at 1.5 lbs over atmospheric pressure. The boil length is 60-90 minutes depending on the colour of the beer. If late hops are used they’re added in the hop back. For the cambic they boil for 2.5 hours. Lots of tannins get into the wort from the hops and the gravity rises from 40-45°Sacch to 55-60. The cambic wort cools to 55°F (13°C) overnight. Each of the two cooling trays will take 27 bbl with a depth of about 12”. They were last used previously 22 years ago, the current head brewer saying one of his first acts was to stop using them. A lot of evaporation takes place in the cooling trays, enough to raise the gravity by 4°Sacch. They’re also very good for cold break formation.

Oak planks, made from a 250 year old dead oak they had in the brewery grounds, have been placed above the cooling trays so condensation can form on them and drip back into the trays, hopefully taking the microbiological flora living on the oak with them into the wort. Oak chips are also added in tank at a rate of 244g of oak chips per hl. They ferment for 6-9 months in glass lined tanks dating from the 1930s that they weren’t using but had never disposed of.

They think they have more fermentation taking place from lactic acid bacteria than Brettanomyces yeast. The youngest beer tastes only slightly sour and very cidery, they older beer has a more pronounced sourness though, and they’re blended together like a gueuze at Elgoods. It certainly seemed like a very credible lambic style beer to me. The also do a sweet fruit flavoured version for people after something a bit less in your face.
The cambic is sold in bottle and keg but 70% of Elgoods output is cask, with total beer production a modest 5-6,000 bbl a year.

As I was driving I had the mild, and I can see why Elgoods got by for years just selling mild and bitter, as it was really rather good. If you're after the cambic it mostly goes to the states but some can be found in specialist beer outlets as Elgoods Coolship.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

What is it with Nazis and Irish Stout?

First there was the deeply disturbing Nazi Guinness posters, now I've seen that one of the Beamish family married Hermann Göring:
“Carin was the great-great- granddaughter of William Beamish and her mother was Swedish – she met Goering in Sweden in 1920 and they married and settled in Munich, where she joined the Nazi party and she helped Goering escape after the failed Beer Hall putsch”

The report in the paper seems to contain a number of inaccuracies, as this link shows that Carin Göring's maiden name wasn't Beamish. But still, she was a direct descendant of the founder, and she did become an enthusiastic Nazi.

This lead me to checking out the other big Irish stout to see if it too had a Nazi taint, but you'll be pleased to here the Murphys are militant anti-Nazis

Tuesday 27 October 2015

For and against the Filtration of Draught Beer

Once more mining in the JIB archive has revealed a hidden gem. A 1935 debate between two brewers on the merits of filtered vs natural beer is presented*. Representing the dark lord Satan is Mr R.B. Ullman, with Mr G.M. Parsons speaking for the forces of righteousness.

The two brewers present their cases, then argue with each other, before the discussion is opened to the floor. The presentations are much as you would expect, filtration being promoted for its consistency, and natural methods for their quality. The fun really starts when they go head to head. Ullman quotes from 1891 to show that brilliancy in beer is paramount above other considerations. Parsons notes that the quotation is interesting, as it shows that brilliancy is a problem that brewers have long had to meet, but it also leaves him an opening to attack:
"The mention of lager beer reminded him that the process of filtration owed its origin to Continental practice, and he would submit that lager beer and English beer were two very different things. Chilling was an essential part of the lager process; the fermentation was conducted at a low temperature. English beer could gain nothing in character from such a process."
Ullman counters that the lack of tied houses has made Continental brewers face more competition, a result of which is they've spent a lot of money on research into plant and perfecting their processes compared to English brewers, but Parsons has no time for this:
"he had no doubt that the brewing of lager beer had reached a high degree of perfection, but he did not agree that there were, as yet, any marked indications that among the majority of beer drinkers in the country there was any lessening in the demand for the full bodied drinking beers of the type they have been used to in the past. Taxation, in recent years had enforced still lower gravities, but that made it only more undesirable than before that we adopt the process of filtration. The difficulty the brewer had to-day was to keep sufficient body in his beers to satisfy the customer; with the low gravity beers flavour, palate fullness and head retention were poor enough and they could not afford to make them worse. Filtration undoubtedly did rob a beer of these qualities; and to-day the loss was even more serious than it was some years ago."
He was right that demand for lager was low in England, and it would stay that way for a few decades yet. Ullman maintained though that:

"the public demand was for a sweet beer without much hop character"
Parsons grudgingly accepts that:
"... with a certain section of the public, filtered beers did perhaps find favour in spite of their lack of character. They were, however, unpopular on account of their coldness ... English beer drinkers did not want a cold beer. "
 A discussion on beer temperature follows, before the forces of righteousness score a terrible own goal by saying that with unfiltered beers it was easier to blend back beer left in the pipes than it was for filtered beer in sealed containers. Fortunately the servant of Lucifer is unable to capitalise on this as he states that filtered beer returns can safely be blended back at the brewery. A discussion of returning beer and the cost of the equipment for filtration and carbonation follows, before Parsons waxes lyrically against filtration:
"... prolonged experience and modern knowledge had given the technical brewer the ability to maintain brilliancy and condition by sound brewing methods alone, and he regarded his success in that as a test of his art. From an artistic standpoint the process was a fake."
 This does strike a chord with me, as it is very satisfying when you get it right. The artistic merits of making cask conditioned is perhaps going a bit far though and Ullman dismisses it out of hand:
"Mr Ullman denied that the process was a fake, it was a logical development of the art and science of brewing."
 How he then continues brings up some interesting information I hadn't seen before:
 "No doubt, when isinglass finings were first introduced 100 years ago, conservative brewers objected to it, and clung to their bow-and-arrow methods of silver sand and alum"
 Another thing that was new to me soon follows: the filtered beer of the time had a shorter shelf life and was only suitable for busy pubs that had frequent deliveries, the opposite of how things are today.

Before things are opened up to the floor natural vs artificial carbonation is also covered with Parsons stating:
"he did not agree that there was any resemblance in the condition of a filtered and normal beer because of the very different condition of solution in which the gas was held. The gas produced naturally by fermentation of the beer had a distinctive affect on the palate which could not be imitated by any carbonating process. Carbonated beers, whether in cask or bottle, possessed the same objectionable property of an excessive amount of gas which was too easily released."
I think it's safe to say that he's not keen on fizzy keg beer, and in the discussion that follows it seems this was a common view amongst those in the brewing industry at the time. First Mr J. Sternhouse shows he's on the side of the angels by saying he:
"regretted to hear Mr Parsons mentioning the blending of waste as an advantage for non-chilled and filtered beers. That, even under the best circumstances, was one of the most reprehensible practices that was allowed in London, and he would like to see it abolished as soon as possible."
Mr W. J. Watkins comments next:
"He agreed with Prof. Armstrong's remark, that the character of many beers was disappearing. Probably that was due to the low original gravities that brewers had been forced down to, but the chilling and filtering of the beers also took away some of the character."
I was delighted to see Prof. Armstrong being mentioned, as he was the first person I found that complained about the horrors WWI inflicted on beer. And it would seem he was still doing it in the 1930s. Reading between the lines it seems that Bass declined even more from when Armstrong was complaining about it in 1921:
"As in instance he would quote a large national brewery that had for years bottled beers with condition in bottle. There was now some of the same type of beer on the market, chilled, filtered and pasteurised. The character of that beer as it was before was a Burton beer, and it had now entirely gone, owing to the fact that there was no longer any yeast present, and those strains of yeast which had come down through the ages at Burton-on-Trent, contained certain secondary yeasts which had undoubtedly added the individual character to the beer."
I did see a report that the last survivor of bottled conditioned Burton beers, Worthington White Shield, once had Saccharomyces diastaticus used as the bottling yeast, which gave the beer a noticeable phenolic character.

Watkins finishes:
"England was unique in that the country had top fermentation beers with a fullness of flavour of which brewers and consumers were jealous, and he quite agreed with Mr. Parsons, that they should endeavour to retain it."
Mr A. C. Reavenall talks of visiting a brewery that made chilled and filtered draught beers 25 years ago [1910]. He suspected that the amount make but this method at the present time would be extremely small, as he didn't think much of filtered beer:
"When the man who drank his beer transferred his custom to a house selling chilled beer he would be become a convert to the system, but happily that day seemed remote."
 He then goes on to the importance of yeast in the cask contributing to the flavour of the beer and to this end mentions that:
"Some London publichouses were equipped with a cellar appliance which did not remove the yeast from the beer until a matter of seconds before the customer drank it, and the gain in flavour and appearance was remarkable."
Unfortunately I'm not really sure what he's talking about here, but Dr. J. V. Eyre approved, in fact he was so keen on the positive effects of yeast on beer he was even keen on the effects of yeast in the diet, and deplored perfectly clear beer as being like white bread with all the goodness ground out of it.

The discussion ends with Mr. L. C. Thompson basically saying that the amount of lager imported into Britain is the square root of fuck all anyway.

With the discussion so weighted in favour of beer as god intended I'm left wondering where did it all go wrong? I think its the horrors of the next world war that laid the groundwork for keg beer to finally take off, and the luciferian libation lager that followed.

*Online as: THE FILTRATION OF BEERS (pages 319–320), R. B. Ullman  and NATURAL versus CHILLED AND FILTERED BEERS (pages: 320–328), G. M. Parsons, Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 41, Issue 4, July-August 1935.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Some early thoughts on beer clarity

Reading through an old JIB article I saw something from even earlier being quoted on the hardy perennial issue of beer clarity:

‘Moritz and Morris, writing in 1891, i.e. before the introduction of filtered draught beers in England, state:-

“Beer nowadays is demanded in absolutely brilliant condition, and however good it may be in other respects it will be returned to the brewer as unsalable if it is in the least cloudy or turbid. That such is the case is probably due first to the importation into this country of Lager and Pilsner beers (which are always brilliant) and to the substitution in public houses and restaurants of the old fashioned mugs by glasses. The brewer, therefore, must strain every nerve to send out beer which will be absolutely brilliant within a very short time of its delivery at the customers’ cellars.”’
This ninteenth century view seems to have held sway all through the twentieth century. It's only in the twenty first that brewers discovered how to change worthless cloudy beer into something highly valuable by simply labelling it "craft".

Tuesday 13 October 2015

White Shield brewery revived, again

I sometimes forget that not everyone reads the IBD's magazine. Which means a lot of people won't have noticed that the William Worthington brewery is being revived, again.

Molson-Coors, who never really did much with it, have sold it to Planning Solutions Limitied (PSL), the company that runs the National Brewery Centre. The building will continue to be leased to PSL. Cask White Shield and Red Shield will be brewed under licence and:
 "PSL intends to develop other beers and has engage Steve Wellington, the former Head Brewer at the centre, to help identify a range of quality real ales to demonstrate the varitey of beers that can be produced in Burton."

"PSL's significant investment in the project includes plans to refurbish and modernise the brewing facilities and bottling plant. It has already identified a Craft Brewer and Assistant Brewer to lead the new brewing enterprise."
Interesting to see that Craft Brewer is something you can work up to from being an Assistant Brewer, I suppose it takes time for the beard to grow though. 

Monday 12 October 2015

Is there anything new in brewing?

Despite the current craze for innovation in brewing not much of what's being done seems particularly new. I don't count using new hop varieties or putting weird shit in beer as that's been going on for ages. All Brettanomyces beers certainly look new, and I thought that devising methods of dry hopping beer in tank was new...until I found a paper showing it being done over a century ago.

In a meeting chaired by Adrian Brown (Horace's brother) in 1908 F.M. Maynard* talked on the vexing problem of making bright bottled beer. As in the previous paper I dug out there's no doubt the brewers weren't happy with the quality of the product:
"Unfortunately, non-deposit beer is about the worst paying article a brewer produces, and it is to be regretted that no joint action has been possible to raise the nett selling price of what would appear to be the ideal drink for so many people. It costs far more to produce than an X or 4d beer, and yet is sold to the public very often at even less money, and in many instances such terribly cut prices have compelled brewers to adopt the cheapest and quickest methods of producing the article."
I don't know what the law was back then but you'll get in trouble if you take joint action to raise prices nowadays. Interesting that they'd somehow got themselves in the situation of having to sell cheaply beer that was expensive to make. I suppose like with cask beer and keg beer production costs are only one factor in how much you can sell it for. Maynard continues:
(...) "Whilst some firms prefer to condition in cask, others employ vats and tanks; but viewed from the standpoint of economy, conditioning in bulk certainly appears to be the better system, although it is possible that more character is obtained in the resulting produce when conditioned in cask; but such character must be due to something more than the original materials, and the question arises whether an untreated cask, clean and sweet though it may be, does not, after all, impart something to the beer which a waxed cask, enamelled vat or glass lined tank can never give."
The added character sounds suspiciously like it's coming from bugs living in the cask. 
"This matter of casks versus tanks is however, a rather vital one where cost of production is considered, since apart from the question of character the former is by far the most expensive system, and there can be no gainsaying the fact that uniformity of condition and chilling is not obtained in separate casks as it is in tanks or vats. Further, the labour involved in taking casks in and out of the cold chamber, washing, filling, and rolling to induce condition is no small item of the working costs, to which must be added the far greater refrigeration power needed"
 He then talks at length about cooling, but it gets interesting again when he moves on to conditioning:

"The one great difficulty in conditioning beer in bulk is the impossibility of rolling the vessel as one does a cask, and to overcome this one sees propeller rousers driven by power fitted into large vats and tanks; but to my mind such vessels are best when as much complication is dispensed with, and the simples system of dry hopping and conditioning I have yet discovered is one I have devised myself."
One of my lecturers at Heriot-Watt talked of having to roll hogsheads of barely wine round the yard to get them to ferment out in the early days of his career. I suppose it might have got a bit more work out of the brewers yeast but I wouldn't be surprised if wild yeast was also involved, as it almost certainly would have been back in 1908. Talk of agitators in tanks is also interesting as this is something we're likely to see more of in the future as a means of speeding up primary fermentation.

Maynard's dry hopping system wouldn't look out of place amongst those mentioned in Stan Hieronymus's 2012 book For The Love of Hops.

"It consists of a perforated pipe surrounded by a bag of dry hops. It is suspended from the top of the tank, and is in communication with a cock on the outside; it is used by connecting this cock and the one on the bottom of the tank to a small rotary pump, whereby the sedimentary matters are circulated through the beer, at the same time taking into solution the aroma of the hops."
When he later gets on to containers for take outs his talk wouldn't look out of place today either:
 "Since lager beer so rapidly deteriorates on ullage and as the German beer drinker greatly prefers draught to bottled beer, many contrivances have been devised to meet this difficulty in the private trade. The simplest the the Kannenbeer jug, holding one litre; this was made of a very fine stoneware porcelain lined; it was closed with a cover of the same material as the jug, provided with an indiarubber jointing ring, metal hinge and spring clip. This vessel undoubtedly kept the beer in wonderful condition and constituted the most hygienic receptacle, since it could be so thoroughly cleaned, and its material kept the light and heat from its contents; but with all its perfections it had one great drawback, its weight being out of all proportion to its capacity."
Though most brewers use the term "ullage" for beer that's gone off its original meaning, as used here, was airspace in a container.

I wonder how the Kannenbeer jug compares to the modern growler (no laughing at the back there). They sound pretty similar, but both are not without problems so alternatives were developed:
"A further improvement on the plain jug was the syphon jug holding about two litres; this was provided with a container for carbonic acid gas in the foot fitted with and automatic value which passed the gas on to the top of the beer through and annular passage in the handle, in quantity equivalent to the bulk of beer drawn from the tap, a cover similar to that closing the original Kannernbeer jug being employed."
The syphon jug still had problems though with the valve and difficulties cleaning it so Maynard continues:
"That a need exists for vessels to contain 5 to 10 litres of beer and keep it in good condition on ullage is shown by the fact that several apparati are in use in which a small container for CO2 with valve is attached to a glass or earthenware beer reservoir, the gas being released into the latter as the beer is drawn. Another system is the use of a jacketed beer container, CO2 being let into the space between such container and the outside casing and finds its way to the surface of the beer through a suitable valve, the outer casing being in the form of a cask or can."
This sounds like early attempts at the mini-kegs which are around today. Maynard then goes on to talk about the problems of raising beer from wooden casks using CO2, much as Glendinning had a few years earlier. In the discussion that follows the talk someone mentions that in Germany the use of CO2 to serve beer was already in universal use.

Another point raised that's relevant to recent discussions is what gas to use. Though some take the overly reductionist line that "CO2 is CO2" Maynard held the view that:
 "... there can be no question that a brewery gas, carrying its natural aroma, is exactly what is required for the purpose."
 CO2 recovered from a brewery will contain a lot of impurities, including flavour volatiles from the fermenting beer. The point is raised again later:
"For carbonating, no purification beyond the separation of yeast-cells and other aërial impurities is needed, since the agreeably-flavoured ethereal products would be most helpful in improving the fullness and palate of the beer which pure carbon dioxide has the disadvantage of diluting and imparting that soapy character to so objectionable in many carbonated beers."
As is said about adding CO2 in the zombeer horror film Beer Sematary "that which comes out of the beer isn't the same as that which goes into the beer".

Carbonation in beer is also affected by factors which influence the bubble size. I did read a very interesting book on champagne carbonation which went into great detail about this, but can't find my notes at the moment so you'll just have to take my word for it.

*"Some Notes on 'Non-Deposit' Plant and CO2" Journal of the Institute of Brewing. Volume 15, Issue 2, March-April 1909, Pages: 298–325, Fred M. Maynard

Thursday 8 October 2015

Beer in the Cotswolds

I have developed an irrational dislike for travelling to Chipping Campden. This is problematic as my current employer has its main site there.

I can't quite work out what the problem is. The drive isn't that long, it's very picturesque, and I was being put up in a decent hotel this time. Still, irrational though it was I started feeling out of sorts on Saturday, despite the fact I wasn't travelling up until Sunday afternoon. Fortunately the good lord has seen fit to create a soothing balm for troubled nerves so I decided to partake of it once I'd got there.

As I don't have a current edition of the good book I checked with my mate Jim (a Surrey compleatist) if there were any ticks but sadly not. There are however plenty of pubs, and the place I was staying had three beers on in their bar. The staff were very friendly and the bar was quite cosy. I had Hook Norton's rugby beer as I don't suppose they'll be brewing that one again for a while.

The Noel Arms bar

At £4 a pint though I thought it was worth seeing a bit more of the village so after dinner I wandered down to the Eight Bells, the place with the best Beer in the evening rating. It wasn't craft beer prices in here, but the beer did taste a bit yeasty so I still managed to get the craft beer experience.

I don't know if being in a pub on my own brings out my nosiness, or if it's just that my book wasn't gripping me, but I found it fascinating earwigging the tourists. There was an American gentleman that was after some chips but couldn't quite believe that asking for chips wouldn't get him crisps. And a table of what I think were Scandinavians who seemed to be talking about Scooby Do a lot.

By the third pint the beer had worked its wonders and washed away my woes. The book had started getting interesting too. Who'd have thought that Marx wrote a letter in defence of Bakunin to the Morning Advertiser? Mind boggling on many levels. And desperately calling for some googling, so with that it was bye to beer and back to the hotel.

Monday 5 October 2015

Brewers have themselves to blame

Amongst the gems I excavated from my last JIB mining expedition were a few papers on early 20th century bottled beer. I think I'd originally gone looking for something about beer duty but when you start exploring the JIB archive you never know where you'll end up.

At the time brewers were starting to produced bright bottled beer. This has a clear advantage over bottled beer with a sediment as you don't have to worry about letting it settle and you can drink everything in the bottled. Unfortunately it had a major drawback: it tasted shit.

In 1905 TA Glendinning FIC gave a talk on "The Popular Type of Beer"*. Beer was going through a period of transition

"...since the abolition of the malt tax a much greater range of barleys, both native and foreign, has been brought into the maltster's hands, whilst the free mash-tun has given scope for the successful employment of sugars, prepared cereals, and grits."

"The brewer having thus a wider selection of materials, has found himself in a position to produce lighter beers, requiring but little storage, pleasing to the eye and palate, of low alcoholic strength, and better suited to  modern conditions of life than stored beers of greater alcoholic strength and higher acidity."

"...forces of supply and demand have led to the decline of stock and semi-stock beers, and to the rapid advance into popular favour of light bitter beers. For a long time this demand was met and is today met largely by the class of beer known as 'K' or 'AK', that is to say by a beer of light gravity, distinctly though not strongly hopped, which must fine quickly and carry good condition in within a very short time of racking. The desire for good condition as well as for a convenient package has gradually created a large demand for bottled beer, and the bottling trade has now become an integral part of almost every brewery."

 I thought for a moment there that he was going to explain what 'AK' meant but sadly no. It's also clear that even before the horrors of the first world war beer was getting weaker.

The problem of sediment in bottles is mentioned and at the time this was not easily solved:

“The most obvious plan of removing this difficulty is to artificially charge a bright cask of beer with CO2 and by bottling under pressure to remove all necessity for bottle conditioning at all. Carbonating, however, is but a makeshift and temporary means of avoiding sediment; a short storage suffices for fermentation to recommence, and beers must therefore be consumed within a limited period after bottling. Moreover, carbonated beers possess none of the flavour characteristics of beers conditioned in a bottle, in fact they may be quite inferior in palate to the same beers drawn from cask in good condition.”

 Bright beer contains around 10,000 yeast cells per ml and back in 1905 this would almost certainly include wild yeast strains able to ferment dextrins that brewer’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae can’t.

To overcome this problem the ‘American system’ of cooling and filtering beer before bottling was widely implemented.

“But are we satisfied with the character of these beers now produced and put upon the market? I certainly think not, nor have I yet met a brewer who frankly believes that he is satisfied. They may, of course, be said to ‘meet a certain demand’ but the tone adopted towards them is distinctly apologetic, and they are never seriously compared on the same basis with beer carefully matured in bottle.”

He’s clearly anticipating the line adopted by our Mother Church on bottled beers. He continues:

" ideal beer for modern taste must have the following characteristics:-

  1. Brilliancy, which is not dimmed by cooling.
  2. Low alcoholic strength.
  3. Good condition with a permanent head.
  4. A clean, fairly full, and mature character, a delicate hop flavour, and pleasant aroma.
Are we obtaining these qualities?

Chilling and filtering in conjunction with suitable modifications of brewing and fermenting have rendered it possible to produce both cask and bottled beers with all these requisite conditions except apparently the last one."

Interesting to see that filtered beer had gone into cask as well as bottle. As to the poor flavour, some brewers took the view that as chilled and filtered beer didn't taste good they shouldn't bother trying to make the beer good in the first place. The speaker however thought that this would only lead to trouble. He quotes from an earlier article:

"Unfortunately, in these days, it is not always the highest quality that is aimed for, bu the cheapest method which will produce an article just good enough to hold its own with immediate competitors, and it is this assumption which can alone explain the adoption of some of the more rapid systems of chilling and cooling bottled ales."

Glendinning then continues:

"I am confident that non-deposit beers, both in bottle and in cask, will most certainly monopolise the trade once they are produced in undoubted quality.

There will always be a certain demand for a high class of pale ale, naturally conditioned in bottle, but we may be quite sure that the filter has come to stay"

Filtered beer in draught and bottle does indeed monopolise the trade nowadays, and though bottle conditioned pale ales have more waned than waxed they never died out. As ever, it seems quality was a problem with cask beers:

"I believe that the unreliability of draught beers in respect to condition and brilliancy has been a chief factor in stimulating the demand for bottled stuff"

He then talks of how filtered beer could be served from casks, which considering it didn't really get going until after the second world war it's quite surprising to hear someone talking about it before the first. It is unsurprisingly a bit primitive thought: stronger wooden casks lined with wax or pitch and the beer raised by CO2 pressure. Apparently some publicans were already using air pressure but he didn't approve of this because of the negative effect on beer quality.

Speaking of publicans it seems some things never change:

"I know from experience how difficult it is to convince publicans that skilled cellar management is part and parcel of their profession, and that beer can no more look after itself in their cellars than it can in the brewery cellars."

His thoughts on filtered beer once again sounds surprisingly like the sort of thing you see in CAMRA publications:

"In attempting to establish methods for producing filtered top-fermenting beers we must, I am afraid, recognise the extreme difficulty, if not impossibility, of retaining the flavour unimpaired after chilling and filtering. We have something to go upon in this respect in the experience of lager beer brewers, by whom the opinion is often expressed that the filter has made for increased brilliancy at the expense of palate fullness. On the other hand, low temperatures at which bottom fermentation beers are stored, render the influence of chilling upon flavour negligible, or perhaps I should say, unnoticeable. The case is quite otherwise with English top-fermentation beers, for here we have to compare beers minus resins and other palate-giving bodies, removed by cold and filtration, with beers normally containing them in solution. Naturally the difference is very marked, and is quite capable of becoming evident in flavours which are vapid, caramelised, coarse, or metallic, with a complete absence of the pleasing aroma which one has been accustomed to expect in a well brewed top-fermentation beer."

Though unlike CAMRA he then goes on at great length about ways in which filtered beer could be improved, and once again rails against the

"...short sighted and stupid policy to rest content with, or even to tolerate a characterless product which is not only far inferior to a naturally matured bottled beer, but in the majority of cases not even a credit to the present development of the non-deposit system".
The discussion that follows the talk is also detailed, again showing some fascinating insights:

"Mr. H. M. Chubb said that the chief complaint with chilled and carbonated beers was their thinness, softness, and want of character found in beers matured in bottle. He believed that the reason of the thinness was that, in the process of chilling, part of the proteïds were taken out, but if the beer was simply carbonated and filtered, and not chilled, a sediment formed in a week or less, so that with this class of beer it was a matter of choice of two evils, and that, in his opinion, the public demand for a bright bottled beer with no sediment would end in the adoption of the lager system of brewing."
Once you can tear yourself away from the glory of the word "proteïds", complete with double dot i and everything, you can see that back in 1905 he's predicting that lager brewing methods would be adopted. The next comment from Mr. R. R. Lansdale again has a surprisingly modern relevance:

"A great many people mentally passed an opinion on a glass of beer, on its appearance, before even tasting, as if appearance were the main thing. The brewers would have only themselves to blame if the demand came for cask beer to be filtered and carbonated".
So next time a purveyor of London murky complains about people judging beer on its appearance you'll know that it's pre-WWI brewers that are to blame.

The closing remark from Mr. Glendinning also strike a contemporary chord:
"As to whether the same 'bite' could be obtained on a chilled beer as on a naturally conditioned one, it was extremely unlikely that it could, because, as far as we know at present, bottle fermentation appeared to be a necessity for the production of 'bite'"
Lack of bite in bottled beer may not be something people discuss today, but the merits of bottle conditioning vs forced carbonation crops up now and again, which I really blog about at some point. So many things to mouth off about, so little time.

* 'The Popular Type of Beer' Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 11, Issue 7, December 1905, Pages: 618–633, T. A. Glendinning

Sunday 4 October 2015

More free beer beer. Does anything taste better? You may be surprised learn in actual fact something does - free beer from a can! Cans of course having the magical ability to eliminate any in package oxygen, or at least you'd think so the way some of the crafties go on.

This lot came from Beer 52 and did actually include some cans, which was good as I was keen for some craft cans but didn't want to spend any of my own money on them for obvious reasons. I'd recently talked to a couple of brewers who know an awful lot about packaging and they look shocked at the idea that canned beer would have lower dissolved oxygen levels than bottled.

One of the cans was even a plain can with a label on it, which strongly suggested short run on low spec equipment. But having said that be beer tasted fine and I couldn't notice any oxidation.

Heat and Soul by Vocation brewery had a citrussy good American hop flavour so I'll even forgive them the nonsense they've written in calling it a 'session IPA'.

Lucky Jack American Pale Ale was also in a can, and again no problems. The bloke on the can made me think of fisherman's friends but fortunately the beer didn't taste like that, it had a  nice restrained American hop flavour I enjoyed.

Then it was on to bottles:

Six Degrees North hopclassic Belgian IPA didn't taste much of hops, though the Belgian yeast flavour did come though. It also had strong sweetcorn smell, no doubt from DMS. This pleased me as I've never noticed DMS smelling like sweetcorn before even though it's the most common aroma description for it.

Bronher the drunk hop lager lager had a clean, crisp, mild American hop flavour and resinous mouth coating bitterness. It was a bit thin but moreish.

Dark Sister Belgian black IPA wasn't a bad effort. Black IPA is not my favourite style, as fundamentally it's a horribly imbalanced daft idea. I couldn't taste the Belgian yeast but the American hops were not too pronounced, and neither were the dark malts so though still a bit of a mess I've had worse.

For a bit of variety a mead was thrown in which was a surprise.

As was the fact it was fizzy, but still I quite enjoyed it. It tasted of honey.

I didn't enjoy the beer from Brewfist though.

It was hazy,  with a lot of yeast. slight aroma and a mild taste of American hops. The flavour was muted by the yeast.  Not good.

 Finally I was pleased to see a beer from Cloudwater.

I first heard of this brewery when I noticed on twitter people complaining about people complaining about it. I never did find out what the original complaining was about but never mind the beer was good.

I've had few beer selections over the years and this set was definitely at the better end as even the beers I didn't like I found interesting. If you want to spend your money on beer from Beer52 I've been given a code you can type in: EDSBEER10. It probably gives you a discount or something.