We’re fascinated by beers that Aren’t What They Used to Be. How much of that is down to contrast with what else is around, or jaded palates?
We’ve just written a piece for All About Beer considering Guinness from this angle but also had the chance to return to an old obsession: Boddington’s Bitter.
We wrote a #BeeryLongreads piece on it which is worth a look but, in brief, 1970s real ale campaigners and aficionados loved Boddington’s Bitter because it was pale, dry and very bitter. Somewhere along the line, it lost its spark.
The other week we got a look at some original brewing logs from Boddington’s and tried to answer a simple question: what changed between the 1960s and the 1980s?
Having squinted at our bad photos of the scrawled logs, here’s a comparison between brews of ‘IP’ as it was known internally (India pale) from 1968 and 1982:
Enzymatic [?] 2.5%
0.88 lbs per barrel
Haux Roe [?] (19%)
0.92 lbs per barrel
|Fermentation||Seven days||Six days|
That’s just what we’ve managed to extract so far and already, they look like pretty different beers.
- The malt is, if nothing else, a more complex blend in 1968 — quite modern looking, really, like that of a golden ale. (There is a decent argument to say Boddington’s was, to all intents and purposes, just that.)
- It’s hard to read much into the hops because (a) those are suppliers rather than varieties and (b) no info on bitterness is given in 1968, although it is by 1982.
- Those racking colour numbers are confusing — it doesn’t seem likely it got lighter between 1968 and 1982.
We might have misread or misunderstood some of the details — we’re not entirely confident with old brewing logs yet — so if any scholars want to check our working, drop us a line and we’ll find a way to share the original documents with you.
We’re going to keep picking over the paperwork — ‘What does that say, is it an S or a treble clef?’ — to see if we can add any more info. In the meantime, if you want to brew a 1968 Boddington’s clone, you could do worse than plug some of the info above in the recipe for 1987 Boddington provided by Ron Pattinson and Kristen England.
UPDATE 09:43: Removed a stupid bit where we confused the mash with the boil.