Roger Ryman, head brewer at St Austell, kindly let us look at their historic brewing logs earlier this year. With help from Ron Pattinson, frequent reference to his blog and to the book he wrote with Kristen England, The 1909 Style Guide, we think we’ve just about managed to make sense of some of the earliest recipes (MS Word file).
So, here’s the recipe we’ll be using later this week. Brewers and home brewers — what do you think?
Original gravity (OG): 1059
c.55 international bitterness units (IBUs)
4400g English pale malt
630g brown malt
630g black malt
420g invert sugar No 2
210g caramel (aka E150 colouring, aka ammonia caramel, aka ‘browning’)
88g East Kent Goldings hops at c.5.8% alpha acid
‘Burton’ yeast, e.g. White Labs WLP023
MASH grains at 66c/151F for one hour. Sparge in two batches of equal size, the first at 79c/175F; second 85c/185F.
BOIL for two hours. Add sugar No 2 and caramel at the start (120 mins). When the sugar is fully dissolved, add 65g of the hops (or c.70% of total). Add the remaining hops (18g, c.30% of total) at 90 mins (30 mins remaining).
COOL and FERMENT as per your usual procedure. (For added historical accuracy, though, you could try an open fermentation…)
1. In 1912, St Austell’s brewers were a bit slap-dash with their book-keeping: whole brew days are dismissed with a ‘ditto’ for the previous; key columns are left blank; and information is written in the wrong places, ignoring the printed boundaries. Like many breweries of the time, St Austell seemed to be terrified of industrial espionage, and so, even where information is provided, it’s in a rather cryptic format.
2. The biggest problem was the lack of information about the volume of liquid used at each stage but, after months of staring at it, we worked out that ’34’ under ‘B’ referred to the number of barrels in the boil.
3. We’ve gone with a Burton yeast because another recipe in the 1912 St Austell log says this:
4. Post-WWI St Austell recipes call for, e.g., 70lbs of yeast cropped from an active fermentation. We can’t be any more precise than to suggest that a decent-sized starter would therefore be a good idea.
5. We’re guessing about the timing of hop additions based on other contemporary stout recipes. We’re also guessing at the variety, but St Austell used ‘Worcesters’ in many other recipes.
6. No finings: what would be the point in a beer this black?
7. We know it’s meant to have an OG of 1059 because of this helpful key: