Friday, 5 June 2009

Short of amber

Brewers often had to improvise during WW I. Ingredients were in short supply and getting all the right malts was tricky. Here's an example.

This is part of a log for Barclay Perkins X Ale, brewed 25th April 1916. You 'll see that the recipe has been changed in red ink. Crystal malt has been substituted for amber malt. The comment "short of amber" explains why.

The substitution must have had an impact on the flavour of the finished beer. But perhaps drinkers were too pleased to actually have a pint in their hands to quibble about its exact taste. It would get worse as the war progressed and German U-boats tightened their grip. There were times in 1917 when the recipes (and sometimes strengths) changed almost daily.


Tom Fryer said...

Fascinating stuff - you can almost picture the brewers hunting through their inventory to see what they can shove in the mash instead.

Surely crystal instead of amber must have had a very noticeable effect on taste - it would make the beer sweeter, for a start. Getting an accurate colour match probably wouldn't matter too much in an X ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

Tom, it's little notes like these that are the most evocative part of brewing logs.

In terms of the colour, they probably adjusted it using caramel.