The Magic Guinness Blend c.1939

Cover of the Guinness brewing manual.

When a colleague of mine told me that her father had been head brewer at Guinness’s London brewery and wondered if I might be interested in seeing his papers, I got a bit excited.

Final­ly, months lat­er, we got round to vis­it­ing to check out what was in her col­lec­tion. Based on a quick audit the answer is: every­thing.

We’ve agreed to take pos­ses­sion of the whole lot, cat­a­logue it, copy bits we might be able to use for our own research, and then help with arrange­ments to have the impor­tant bits tak­en into appro­pri­ate archives.

For now, though, here’s a nugget from the hand­ful of doc­u­ments we brought away with us on Wednes­day night: insid­er info on how Guin­ness gained its once leg­endary com­plex­i­ty at the blend­ing stage.

This comes from a typed doc­u­ment in a plain brown wrap­per writ­ten in 1939 and updat­ed to take account of wartime brew­ing restric­tions. The copy we have seems to come from around 1943 but was in appar­ent­ly still in cir­cu­la­tion in the 1950s.

The first page bears the title ‘The Process of Brew­ing Guin­ness’ and the 46 pages that fol­low offer detailed notes on the basics of beer mak­ing (how hops are dried, for exam­ple) as well as specifics about Guin­ness.

Section header: "making up".

Here’s the sec­tion on ‘Mak­ing Up’:

Beer in stor­age vats [after fer­men­ta­tion] is quite flat and is cloudy and bit­ter and unin­ter­est­ing to taste. Before it is ready for sale it must be ‘Made up’… Beer from say six dif­fer­ent brews forms the basis. These are cho­sen in such pro­por­tions that when mixed with unfer­ment­ed beer (i.e. wort that has been pitched but not allowed to fer­ment) known as gyle, their residues added to the fer­mentable mat­ter of the gyle will give a suit­able ‘Prime’. ‘Prime’ is the fer­mentable mat­ter in beer after mak­ing up just as ‘Residue’ is the fer­mentable mat­ter as the beer enters the stor­age vat. It is mea­sured as the dif­fer­ence between the present grav­i­ty of the beer and its per­fect pri­ma­ry.

In addi­tion to these beers there are added:–

  1. Barm beer: this is the beer which is skimmed off from the skim­mers with the yeast and is sep­a­rat­ed from the yeast in a fil­ter press. It is intense­ly bit­ter but adds very mate­ri­al­ly to the flavour of the flat, unin­ter­est­ing stor­age vat beer.
  2. O.B.S.: old beer stor­age is old acid beer that, like barm beer, improves the flavour of the fin­ished beer although it is itself very unpleas­ant.
  3. Draw­ing: these are residues of made up beer which was not bright enough to put into the trade with­out fur­ther treat­ment. It is exact­ly sim­i­lar in com­po­si­tion to made up beer.
  4. Fin­ings: this is a solu­tion of isin­glass in stor­age vat beer. Only minute traces of isin­glass are required but it brings about the very rapid sed­i­men­ta­tion of all the float­ing par­ti­cles which make the beer cloudy.

All the con­stituents of the make up are pumped into a ‘Rack­ing Vat’ togeth­er and there allowed to stand for 24–48 hours.

So, there you have it. We sort of knew the gist of this but this is the most explic­it expla­na­tion of the process we’ve seen in writ­ing from a pri­ma­ry source, we think.

Tony’s Pre-1970 Boddington’s Clone Recipe

Tony Leach is a home brewer based in Stockport and got in touch with us a while back for input on his attempts to clone Golden Age Boddington’s.

He had alread hashed it out pret­ty thor­ough­ly on the Jim’s Beer Kit mes­sage­board, includ­ing com­ments from Ron Pat­tin­son, before we exchanged a few emails debat­ing hop vari­eties, whether it was nec­es­sary to use any brew­ing sug­ars, and so on. He also spoke to some­one who used to work at the brew­ery (on the phone, hav­ing been put through by the pub land­lord) who advised him to use Not­ting­ham dried yeast rather than the liq­uid strain that is sup­pos­ed­ly the Bod­ding­ton’s strain.

Boddington's clone just before fermenting.
A sam­ple of Tony’s clone after cool­ing, before fer­ment­ing. SOURCE: Tony Leach.

Here’s the recipe Tony even­tu­al­ly came up with:

Old Boddies Pre-1970
English Pale Ale

Recipe Specs

Batch Size (litres): 23
Total Grain (kg): 3.425
Total Hops (g): 54
Original Gravity: 1.036
Final Gravity: 1.006
Alcohol by Volume: 3.93%
Colour (SRM/EBC): 6.6/13
Bitterness (IBU): 28.7
Efficiency: 75%
Boil Time: 75 mins

2.5 kg Maris Otter Malt (73%)
0.5 kg Pilsner Malt (14.6%)
0.2 kg Golden Syrup (5.8%)
80g Carapils (Dextrine) (2.3%)
80g Torrefied Wheat (2.3%)
60g Flaked Corn (1.9%)

24g Northern Brewer (7.8% Alpha) @ 75 mins
24g Goldings (5.5% Alpha) @ 15 mins
6g Goldings (5.5% Alpha) for dry hop

Single-step infusion mash at 65°C for 90 mins; mash PH adjusted to 5.3.
Fermented at 18°C with Danstar Nottingham dried yeast
Water: 'Stockport corporation pop dechlorinated with a crushy.'

This is his inter­pre­ta­tion of the infor­ma­tion at hand with some tweaks to suit mod­ern mate­ri­als and meth­ods, with the pri­ma­ry suc­cess cri­te­ri­on being not com­plete his­tor­i­cal verisimil­i­tude but some­thing more prac­ti­cal: the approval of some local drinkers who remem­bered Bod­ding­ton’s at its best.

He brewed batch­es aim­ing for 28 and 30 IBUs but says:

Had the 28 IBU brew on at my local last night. For some rea­son it was only around 98% bright but that did not put peo­ple off hav­ing a go. Gen­er­al­ly, it went down very well and brought some mem­o­ries back for a few of the old­er boys. It’s dry – very dry, leaves you thirsty. Twen­ty-eight IBU is per­fect, I would not go more. The dry­ness gets you and the bit­ter­ness hits the throat just right.

He’s keen for oth­ers to give his recipe a go; we will cer­tain­ly be doing so lat­er in the year.

Thornbridge Jaipur and BrewDog Punk IPA

Yesterday BrewDog released DIY DOG, a free book containing recipes for every beer they’ve ever produced, and the first thing we did was look at the entry for the original Punk IPA.

We think it’s pret­ty cool that Brew­Dog have released all this infor­ma­tion, not only because it’ll be handy for us as home brew­ers, but also because it enables us to prod about and indulge our nosi­ness.

In Brew Bri­tan­nia we set out how Mar­tin Dick­ie began his career at Thorn­bridge before found­ing Brew­Dog with James Watt. While it’s obvi­ous that both brew­eries’ flag­ship beers, Jaipur and Punk IPA respec­tive­ly, shared cer­tain key char­ac­ter­is­tics, we’ve always won­dered just how close the fam­i­ly resem­blance might be. Or, to put that anoth­er way, was the UK craft beer [def. 2] boom of the last decade or so built around two iter­a­tions of what is essen­tial­ly the same beer?

Thornbridge Brewery as it looked in 2013.
Thorn­bridge Brew­ery as it looked in 2013.

Mitch Steele’s excel­lent home brew­ing man­u­al IPA pub­lished in 2012 (our review here; buy it, it’s great) con­tains instruc­tions for brew­ing a clone of Jaipur. We know from a con­ver­sa­tion we had with brew­ers at Thorn­bridge in 2013 that it’s slight­ly off the mark in that, for one thing, it sug­gests using Vien­na malt which (if we under­stood cor­rect­ly) was actu­al­ly only part of the Jaipur grist for a short while. (Maybe in the peri­od when it Was­n’t the Beer It Used to Be?)

So, with that adjust­ment, and assum­ing Mr Steele’s recipe to be oth­er­wise rough­ly right, here’s how it stacks up against the spec­i­fi­ca­tions Brew­Dog have pro­vid­ed for their orig­i­nal ver­sion of Punk:

c.2009 Jaipur (adjust­ed) 2007 Punk IPA
ABV 6% 6%
Malt Maris Otter pale ale 3.5% EBC ‘Extra Pale’
Mash tem­per­a­ture 65°c 65°c
First hop addi­tion 7.3% Chi­nook
5.2% Cen­ten­ni­al
6.2% Ahtanum(18.7%)
10.2% Chi­nook
11.8% Ahtanum(22%)
Sec­ond addi­tion 7.3% Chi­nook
5.2% Cen­ten­ni­al
6.2% Ahtanum
11.8% Chi­nook
11.8% Crystal(23.8%)
Third addi­tion 21.9% Chi­nook
15.7% Cen­ten­ni­al
25% Ahtanum
18.7% Chi­nook
11.8% Ahtanum
11.8% Crys­tal
11.8% Motueka(54.1%)
Boil time 75 mins ‘we rec­om­mend a 60 minute boil for most ales’
IBU 55–57 60
Yeast ‘neu­tral ale’ Wyeast 1056 (Amer­i­can Ale)
Fer­men­ta­tion temp. 19°c 19°c
Dry hop­ping None None

Those real­ly do look like pret­ty sim­i­lar recipes to our untrained eyes.

Hav­ing said that, there are obvi­ous dif­fer­ences, and also a few impor­tant bits of infor­ma­tion miss­ing – for exam­ple, we don’t know the alpha acid lev­els of the Brew­Dog hops.

So, Experts, it’s over to you: how far would you expect e.g. the final addi­tion Motue­ka in Punk to go in dis­tin­guish­ing one beer from the oth­er? Is that, or any oth­er dif­fer­ence, suf­fi­cient for you to feel Punk was a real­ly dis­tinct prod­uct c.2007?

In the mean­time, that leaves us about where we start­ed, except now we wish we could walk into The Rake at about the time we start­ed blog­ging and order a pint of each to com­pare.

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Kegro­nom­i­con: Watney’s Brown, 1965”

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Brew­ing Watney’s Red (not Red Bar­rel), 1971”