homebrewing recipes

Brewing Watney’s Red (not Red Barrel), 1971

As we’ve noted several times before, Watney’s Red, launched in 1971, was a rather different beer to Watney’s Red Barrel, whose place it usurped.

The Watney’s quality control manual we’ve been lent was printed 1965 but contains typewritten inserts on how to brew Red, issued in August 1971.

There are some obvious omissions in the otherwise quite thorough information supplied. For example, no original gravity (OG) is specified. External sources of information, however, seem to confirm that gravity figures were approximately the same as for Red Barrel, which makes us think that these special instructions (reproduced in full, beneath the table, below) were intended as updates to the detailed instructions already included in the manual. Obvious, really, after all the time, money and effort that had been spent perfecting the process across multiple plants.

What is different?

  • RB used Fuggles and Goldings hops, while Red was permitted to contain new varieties of hops in the blend.
  • RB had 89% pale malt; by the time of Red, that had dropped to 77%, the difference being made up with a blend of proprietary brewing sugars. (‘High maltose content’, we think, from a bit of Google Books searching.)
  • RB gained much of its colour from crystal malt, Red from roasted barley.
  • Red was fizzier, with a target of 1.55 vols C02 as opposed to 1.45 in Red Barrel.

Anyway, here’s the raw data you need to work up a recipe for a clone of Red, should you so desire, but bear in mind that, as with Red Barrel, its character was probably largely defined by the filtering and pasteurising process.

(Can anyone decipher the bit about kelcoloid solution below…?)

Pale malt 77%
Lightly roasted barley (400° colour) 3%
Blend of Fermax/WS 2/Fermentose (fig 1, below) 20%
Caramel As required (see below)
C02 target 1.55  (1.40 – 1.70) vols
Tint 29°
OG (sources) 1037.5


Brewing sugars in Watney's Red (scan of detail).
Fig 1.




Not more than a total of 4° of beer colour should be added in the form of caramel solution.


The above AG – AL is to be obtained in brewing without the addition of priming if possible. In the event of below limit AG – AL figures, priming will be added to adjust sweetness on the basis that 2 pints/brl at 1144 is equivalent to 3° AG – AL, e.g. if the AG – AL after brewing was 3.5 instead of 5.5, it would be necessary to add 1⅓ pints priming at 1144.


To be adjusted to attain the final bitterness with 25% of the final beer bitterness being derived from p.f.b.


A hop blend of three growths will be used as required. New varieties – Northern Brewer, Bullion may be used up to ⅓ of the blend. Late added hops will not be used.


2 pint/brl (added to cold tank).


2% W/W Solution delivered in 10 gallon polythene drums. Rate of addition 16 flu.ozs/brl. (0.8 pints/brl.), added by metering pump after sheet filtration and prior to pasteurising action.

3 replies on “Brewing Watney’s Red (not Red Barrel), 1971”

I guess PGA (available from yr LHBS ?) might be a reasonable substitution.

Kelcoloid is a trade brand of Propylene Glycol Alginate, a headache-inducing foam stabliser as per Kevin’s comment. It’s an artificial Carrageenan, and probably just as harmful.

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