Beer history homebrewing recipes

Kegronomicon: Watney’s Brown, 1965

The 1965 Watney’s quality control manual we’ve borrowed contains recipes for two brown ales: Watney’s and Mann’s.

Both have rather different recipes, perhaps surprisingly, given their similar specifications: for example, Watney’s contained black malt for colour, while Mann’s got most of its from caramel. The water was also treated very differently. (And, by the way, bottled Watney’s Brown was also quite distinct from their draught mild.)*

Because Mann’s is still in production, we’re a bit twitchy about sharing the details, but the following information should enable you to produce at home something resembling Watney’s Brown as it was in 1965.

Watney’s Brown Ale (bottled) 1965

OG 1030.9 | FG 1008 | ABV c.2.8% | 19-21 IBU | 115-130 EBC

Malt Percentage of brewing materials
Mild ale malt 72.5
Flaked maize 8.5
Crystal 6
Roasted malt (black) 4.5
Malt extract 4
(added to the mash tun during mashing)
No. 3 Invert 3
(added to the copper)
Caramel 1.5
(added to the copper)


Hops are 90% Fuggles (from three growths) and 10% Goldings (two growths) all added for the entirety of the hour-long boil, to achieve target IBU.

Water (all water used in the process) – treat to achieve 25 grains per gallon sulphates; 45 grains per gallon chlorides.

MASH at 158F (70c) for 1½ hrs; 1st sparge 175F (79.5c); 2nd sparge 160F (71c).

BOIL for 1h with Invert 3 sugar, caramel and Fuggles hops. Add Irish Moss (for home-brewing purposes, a teaspoon) 10 minutes from the end.

Pitch yeast at 60.5F (15.8c) — Mortlake 114, or a blend of 114 and 118, at a rate of 0.75 lbs per barrel, in case you happen to have any handy. (Here’s a thought…) Alternatively, a fairly neutral English ale yeast is probably best. They added Watney’s Yeast Food, so consider using a yeast nutrient of your choice.

During fermentation, keep temperature below 69F (20.5c).

Under Excise supervision there was some monkeying about. First, ‘primings’ (unfermented beer, we think) at 1114.7 was added to bring the gravity down, at which point its strength was declared for tax purposes, then ‘breakings’ were added to bring it back up to 1030. (UPDATE 13:13 14/11/14: see commments below.) Though they don’t give much detail, assuming the term is being used in its traditional sense, ‘breakings’ were spoiled or returned beer. After 12 hours, it was pumped to the filters via ‘the carbonators’, and then bottled.

As well as using up old stock, and enabling a tax fiddle, this may also have given the beer a bit more complexity. It might well be a good way for homebrewers to get shot of a bottle or two from a previous duff batch.

Suggested corrections and queries are welcome, as are memories of drinking Watney’s Brown.

* Correction #1: by us, and quite a big one — WBA (brown ale) and WSM (special mild)seem to have been the same beer after all.

11 replies on “Kegronomicon: Watney’s Brown, 1965”


This is something Simon Johnson picked up in his Craft Beer Manifesto: why is deliberately soured beer good but accidentally soured bad? In this case, we don’t think they were blending in carefully matured 5X stock ale, but perhaps it had some of the same effect?

Bunging in returns, as your link suggests, goes back at least as far as the early 19th century, and probably much earlier: it was certainly a common practice among the big porter brewers. I suspect it’s like vinegar on your chips: a little adds piquancy.

The Mann’s Brown was presumably a considerably sweeter beer, with loads of caramel, than the Watney’s Brown: certainly it was regarded when it first came out as a sweet beer.

It certainly had a lot more caramel in it, and Mann’s had cane sugar added at priming, left for 24 hrs before packaging. Otherwise, stats, including IBUs from hops, look the same.

From another recipe, for Mann’s Extra: “Breakings: 1.5 gal. per brl. Old Beer; 2.5 gals per brl. Bottoms.”

EDIT: slightly headache-inducing trying to decipher some of this, but I think the ‘going out gravity’ for Mann’s was 1035 for Mann’s vs. 1033 for WBA, so that would mean more residual sugar, right?

Primings are a sugar solution. Adding them would bring the gravity up, not bring it down. Hence why the Excise people had to be involved. I never assumed that priming sugar would have duty payable, but of course it had to, because otherwise it would create a massive loophole – you could declare a beer at 1.035 and then bung enough priming in to bring it up to 1.039 or so.

I wonder why they were adding malt extract to the mash. It seems like a good way to make sure some of it is wasted.

Right — here’s the full text:

“Priming (collected at 1144.7) at 12 pints per brl. breakings and 10 pints per brl. beer (both calculated as at OG 1028.7) is broken down with liquor to reduce the OG of the beer and breakings to 1028.7 — 10.3 lbs and it is pumped into the main adjacent to the SB/MV inlet to ensure good mixing with the beer… After declaration, there is a two hours stand before the sterilised and filtered breakings… are chilled into SB/MV.”

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