Continuing a train of thought from Friday’s blog post, we’ve been considering another common beer colour descriptor — ‘straw’.
We read David Swift’s fascinating article about Devon White Ale some months ago at the blog he co-authors, but its re-appearance in the latest issue of the journal of the Brewery History Society was fortuitous. First time round, this 1939 observation from Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake (!) didn’t leap out at us, but with golden ale on our minds, it certainly did:
When I was a pupil at Messrs Fox’s Brewery at Farnborough, Kent, in 1900 the firm was celebrated for its white ale. This beer was brewed the same as any other beer, but from the very palest coloured malt and sugar, it was the colour of pale straw, but tasted just like any other ale of similar strength.
Now, believe it or not, there is a colour standard for ‘straw’, from a 1930 Dictionary of Color by Maerz and Paul, which Wikipedia renders like this:
For comparison, here’s 4 SRM from that beer colour chart (a little paler than Hop Back Summer Lightning):
And this is Maerz and Paul’s ‘gold’, via Wikipedia:
Finally, while we’re at it, let’s have a look at their rather lurid ‘amber’:
We wouldn’t want to read too much into all of this, but could it be that Summer Lightning, had it been produced before the First World War, might have been considered a ‘white ale’? Perhaps it would have been considered too dark.
At any rate, we’re certainly going to have to attempt to devise a home brewing recipe for a c.1908 Kentish White Ale.