Victorian Bitter

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peebee

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I will use Wyeast 1099 usually (it's an old Whitbread one, not the 1098). I used Wyeast 1187 for the Morrell's (as per Make Mine A Magee's! : MORRELL & Co : BITTER 1889 (oldbeersandbrewing.blogspot.com) ), its spawned from an old Whitbread yeast apparently (as is WLP022 that I know some use) but does have a reputation for not starting (not for me!), and 1469 for the Tetley's (Make Mine A Magee's! : JOSHUA TETLEY & Sons , X K BITTER BEER 1868 (oldbeersandbrewing.blogspot.com) ) but that is very enthusiastic and isn't clearing well yet (early days). I used WLP002 for the Amber Small Beer but only because it needed using up!
 

An Ankoù

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What's the yeast choice for recreating these old beers?
It's all a bit hit and miss as yeasts tend not to be specified and I suspect that modern cultures have moved on from the house yeasts of the day. I look for high attenuation and good flocculation. I used MJ M42 in my Josh Tetley, above, simply because it ticks the boxes and I had just harvested some from an early brew.
 

An Ankoù

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What! How dare you, you ... bounder! If my choice of the 1889 Morrel's Bitter is "limp wristed" you can pick another Morrel's bitter out of that Durden Park book; No: 34 1899 XXXX, 1.95oz Fuggles per gallon ... and OG1.080. That trumps your fairy wishy-washy dish water 1886 Pale Ale.
True enough. And I can give the mash a second sparging and boiling with the spent hops to make a nancy-boys bitter. :laugh8:
 

peebee

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What's the yeast choice for recreating these old beers?
More ...

I've been going through a bit more of @BeerGuy2020's (Edd's) work, and he's advocating a bigger range of yeasts these days. Like Wyeast 1882-PC (Thames Valley II) for Oxford one's (not so common for getting your mitts on though; is WY 1275 the same?), White Labs WLP017 (coming soon? Same as WY 1099?) and WLP013 (London Ale).

I think anything "British" that gives attenuation in the 60s or low-70s sort of suggests "old". Then picking something sourced from the right geographical area? Whereas "WLP001 California Ale Yeast" has got to be wrong ... hasn't it?
 

BeerGuy2020

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Couldn't find your "AK", but did get quite a list of other Tetley's recipes. Amongst them was a XK which also described itself as a "Bitter Beer" from 1868. Similar style mash to what I did, and again, not too radically strong and bitter. Am I guessing right? XK could be a typo for AK 'cos my rudimentary knowledge of these letter designations makes me think "AK" fits it better?

I've had a brief conversation with the man behind digging out these recipes (@BeerGuy2020 ... at least he's telling me he's the man, and I've no reason to doubt him!) and he claims to be behind the choice of mash schedule. I'm slightly disturbed by this; although I could guess he's behind the grain selections (though I can't guess the thinking behind the selections), I couldn't guess he might be behind some of the mash scheduling. So I can't give credit where it's due, and it casts some doubt on the hard work that must go behind digging up these recipes. Hopefully @BeerGuy2020 reads this and reveals his plans for informing us?

I like the looks of the XK (1868) recipe. Gives me an opportunity to try these "signature" malt mixes (still Chevallier barley malt, but cut with 50% other malts).
How Do,
As to the Malt selections, I choose them as the easiest way in my opinion to replicate the original Malts Used , with the Mash Schedule as close as possible to the original records.
Cheers 🍻
Edd
 

chthon

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Couldn't find your "AK", but did get quite a list of other Tetley's recipes. Amongst them was a XK which also described itself as a "Bitter Beer" from 1868. Similar style mash to what I did, and again, not too radically strong and bitter. Am I guessing right? XK could be a typo for AK 'cos my rudimentary knowledge of these letter designations makes me think "AK" fits it better?

I've had a brief conversation with the man behind digging out these recipes (@BeerGuy2020 ... at least he's telling me he's the man, and I've no reason to doubt him!) and he claims to be behind the choice of mash schedule. I'm slightly disturbed by this; although I could guess he's behind the grain selections (though I can't guess the thinking behind the selections), I couldn't guess he might be behind some of the mash scheduling. So I can't give credit where it's due, and it casts some doubt on the hard work that must go behind digging up these recipes. Hopefully @BeerGuy2020 reads this and reveals his plans for informing us?

I like the looks of the XK (1868) recipe. Gives me an opportunity to try these "signature" malt mixes (still Chevallier barley malt, but cut with 50% other malts).
The AK is definitely a separate beer from the XK. Ronald Pattinson, who likes to dig into old brewing archives, had difficulty finding out what it was. Apparently, this was brewed a relatively short time (historically seen).
 

peebee

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The AK is definitely a separate beer from the XK. Ronald Pattinson, who likes to dig into old brewing archives, had difficulty finding out what it was. Apparently, this was brewed a relatively short time (historically seen).
My difficulty with "XK" is that it's a contradiction of terms. But having read a bit (incl. Ron Pattinson) I think "X" and "K" are often given the "Barclay Perkins" interpretation and amongst other breweries the interpretation can be a bit different. So I might see "XK" as a "keeping mild" and therefore contradictory, whereas another interpretation might be ... (and on, and on).

I think the conclusion is you can interpret the letters for one brewery, then remember to scrape the interpretation and start from scratch to try and make sense of the same letters used in another brewery.

Crazy? But what are people going to make of "raspberry milkshake mocha porter"?
 

Lesinge

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No brass kegs, they are away being polished. But here is a piccie of the final result:
View attachment 31141
Head retention is not so good, this is two or three minutes after pouring (hand-pump, a handful of degrees cooler than ambient and 2psi CO2). Slight haze (a pleasing "moon-light" haze) but I'm not fining at the moment. Body and mouthfeel remain high, which is a surprise for sub-1.010 FG and 82% attenuation beer, but I've learnt from my low-alcohol brewing that there can be more to body and mouthfeel than leftover dextrin.

Flavour of Chevallier malt: This is not hairy fairy, difficult to appreciate, bit more "biscuity" or "grainy" than another malt, it's in-your-face, right gob full differences; weighty, creamy, sweetish differences you'd notice even if your tongue were cut out. It wont please the raspberry, mocha, cherrypie "porter" brigade, but others might be convinced as to why they bother with that "Maris Otter" muck (though I would miss the thinner, fizzy, colder offerings when surrounding temperature gets above 25°C). This is very malt forward, the stacks of EKG hops have had enough time to moderate and very much take the backseat.

Although served from hand-pump, this isn't really authentic. "Victorian" bitter would more likely appear bottled and quite "sparkly": The masses would be drinking "flat" dark porters and mild out of pitch lined wooden barrels, and they might have been hand pumped. Hand-pumped bitter would start replacing mild from the 1950s onward.
Great review. I used Chevalier in a Porter and wondered why I had such a high final gravity. Might make use of your mash schedule although that looks like a long time first thing in the morning!
 

jjsh

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I think the conclusion is you can interpret the letters for one brewery, then remember to scrape the interpretation and start from scratch to try and make sense of the same letters used in another brewery.
I've often wondered about this. For instance, Bateman's XB is their standard best bitter, not their bottling mild, although that's not a great example as it's only been around half a century or so, but you get my drift.
 

BeerGuy2020

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Hi All ,
Joshua Tetley & Sons were using the following from the late 1850's
X & variants CC ( back to back) with X no of lines through the centre to denote type and class , pretty much the same with K as a Gyle type denominator , the easiest to identify are the Pale Ales which are "PA" , The approach of identify the beers by a certain brewery as brewed ; then as @peebee says, scrap the denominations of class , then start afresh.
The beers of Peter Walker & Sons are similarly difficult to decipher without looking at the ingredients and Gravities etc .
Cheers All and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 🍻🎄🍻👍
Edd
 

peebee

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My Tetley's Victorian Ale (XK) was casked yesterday, which is a teeny bit late for Christmas but will probably make an appearance then. Haven't dry hopped it yet. Is the dry hopping worth it? Seems okay as it is. Only 10g Saaz/Golding mix per Corny keg (there's two) so just leaving them in the keg is possible okay?

I must dig out my cane and top hat for the occasion.

Crisp's Maris Otter in place of the other pale malt options and Crisp's Vienna in place of the foreign stuff. >JOSHUA TETLEY & Sons , X K BITTER BEER 1868<. FG 1.014 so not far of the published 1.013, but an OG of 1.060 makes it a tad on strong side; I think I've the hang of mashing that Chevallier malt ("Hochkurz"-like mash again) so should put my expectations back to 75% efficiency rather than 72%. The Yorkshire yeast (WYeast) was sulking and opted to stay in the fermenter this time.
Didn't have to worry about my Tetley's XK Victorian bitter being casked a bit late for Christmas, 'cos it has only found space on my hand-pumps this week:
20210128_204541_WEB.jpg

A very good result. Diluting the Chevallier with 50% other base malts hardly weakens the tremendous domineering flavour of Chevallier. But the hops do get more of a look in, and, as has already been mentioned, the EKG and Saaz hop combination is an excellent mix. Never did get around to dry hopping, but the enormous quantity of Goldings and Saaz in the boil ensures there is more than enough hop flavour (and the wonderful malt aroma makes up for any cut in hop aroma).

In this beer the Chevallier has again manifested itself as a distinctly honey-like flavour.

Initially, before the keg was properly vented, the beer was a little over-carbonated (it got up to close on 10PSI), but this didn't come across as too fizzy. I think CAMRA missed the real assault on cask beer by 50 years or more; not the destruction of choice and over use of CO2, but the change of barley strains used for malt from Chevallier types to the modern strains (like pre-cursors to Maris Otter), a change that seems to have been driven by agricultural yield rather than beer quality. A change that probably also lead to the misuse of CO2 from the 1950s onward, because it wouldn't have worked with the older barley strains.

Whoa, I'm beginning to feel a bit dizzy up here on this high horse.
 
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peebee

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I've finally figured out the difference with "XK" and "AK". The indisputable reason for the two descriptors that applies across the board whatever brewer uses it. This is historical interpretation in the making :cool:

"XK": All those diagonal parallel lines makes my eyes go wonky.

"AK": That's better, I can read what it says now! And if you want to know what it says, it's "A.K.".

These Victorians weren't daft. And what people might think of me ... well, yarrr, boo.
 

peebee

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I never detailed the XK recipe; I'll fix that (Beersmith "worksheet"; click image to open full size PDF [EDIT: Link fixed!):
Tetley s 1868 XK Bitter Beer-page-001.jpg
Used Graham Wheeler's "Bitter" water profile and sodium metabisulphite chlorine removal.

45L batch (for 2x Corny kegs). Slightly adjusted @BeerGuy2020's selected grains to use what I had (Crisp "Vienna" malt is British malt and identical to Crisp "Mild Ale" malt; you can get it under the same name now as Crisp "Table" malt). I also slightly adapted his mashing schedule to fit with my methodologies ("Hochkurz"-like mash).

Although I specify dry hops, I never got round to it. But I had included a lot of Goldings and Saaz in the end of boil steep ("whirlpool") hops, added once wort had cooled to 85C and steeped for 30-45 minutes.

The yeast was prepared in a two step (over two days) starter.
 

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peebee

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Okay ...

@BeerGuy2020 ... I questioned why I got a "sad face" in response to an earlier post, and now I get an "angry face". I either misread these un-Victorian "smilies" or I'm saying something bad?
 

peebee

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Is the dry hopping worth it?
I'm not sure. I've never tried it without. However, I'm generally going off dry hopping, preferring instead a 80°c hop stand, which is what I'll do next time.
Well, I have now tried it without dry hopping! But I did do a hop stand (slightly warmer at 85°C for about 30 minutes and with 4x the hops allocated, but not used, for dry hopping). The recipe is indeed very pleasant, and I won't be missing the dry hops!
 

peebee

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I've not heard from @BeerGuy2020, but I'll assume I got the "angry face" reaction smiley for being a bit free and easy with his copyrighted material? Was not my intention, but its worth reminding folk: The Victorian Bitter recipes above exist because of the hard grafting of @BeerGuy2020 (Edd). Like most old beer recipes they require a bit of experience to translate into one's own brewing practices, less so for Edd's work because he's already done some of that translating. But the Beersmith worksheets I've posted are my translations for my setup to make his recipes work on my systems. They may not work for you and you should figure out how you translate them referring back to Edd's work, not mine.

Having straightened that out I'll possibly undo it all in my next actions! Edd's quite productive and his Website (Make Mine A Magee's!) has loads and loads of recipes. When I started this it was in response to someone asking if there's any "Victorian Bitter" recipes about. I was sceptical because most people were drinking porter and mild back then, but I was surprised to find a recipe on Edd's site (Morrell & Co's 1889 Bitter). Since then I've found Edd's site to be loaded with dozens of "Victorian Bitter" recipes. Some of them were a bit strong in alcohol because that was the norm back then, but "Bitter" was a more lowly sub-style of the head-banging pale ales, and there was quite a few below 6% ABV (<5% ABV even). So I trawled through the recipes and built the following list of "Bitter" recipes (with a good handful of head-banging pale ales too).

These have been arranged by date as they appear in Edd's blog:

=================================================
June 2020
Barclay Perkin 1886 XLK
Peter Walker 1896 X Bitter
Peter Walker 1875 Bitter
May 2020
Thos. Usher 1895 60/-
Hodgsons 1886 XX
Hodgsons 1886 Bitter Ale
April 2020
Barclay Perkin 1880 KKK (*strong!*)
Thos. Usher 1894 IPA
S.H.Ward 1881 444 (*strong!*)
Joshua Tetley 1878 XXXK
March 2020
Chapmans 1875 AK Bitter Beer
Joshua Tetley 1878 No 3 (*strong!*)
January 2020
Joshua Tetley 1868 XK Bitter Beer
=================================================
November 2019
Joshua Tetley 1844 Pale Ale
Henry Bentley 1892 XXX
October 2019
Morrell & Co 1853 No 1 Ale (*strong!*)
Joshua Tetley 1886 XXXX (*strong!*)
Peter Walker 1875 Falstaff (*strong!*)
Henry Bentley 1893 India Pale Ale
Henry Bentley 1893 Old Timothy (*strong!*)
Peter Walker 1891 X Bitter
Peter Walker 1875 Bitter
T&G Greenall 1863 Bitter Beer
Henry Bentley 1894 Pale Ale
September 2019
Chapmans 1880 Pale Ale
S.H.Ward 1881 Bitter Beer
Morrell & Co 1889 Bitter
S.H.Ward 1875 XXXX (*strong!*)
Joshua Tetley 1886 KKKK (*strong!*)
Peter Walker 1891 XXXX Stock Ale
Henry Bentley 1894 XXXX (*strong!*)
August 2019
Peter Walker 1891 XX Bitter (Experimental)
July 2019
T & G Greenall 1863 Strong Beer (*strong!*)
Vaux 1899 L/B (Light Bitter)
June 2019
Joshua Tetley 1845 Harrowgate XXX Pale Ale (*strong!*)
Boddington's 1901 AK Bitter Beer
Chapmans 1880 AK Bitter Beer
May 2019
Joshua Tetley 1869 S Ale
April 2019
Charles Rose 1895 AK Bitter Beer
Charles Rose 1898 AK Bitter Beer
Charles Rose 1897 AK Bitter Beer
Peter Walker 1891 XX Bitter
March 2019
Joshua Tetley 1890 E Pale Ale
Thos. Usher 1894 60/- IPA
Henry Bentley 1893 Lager
February 2019
Henry Bentley 1893 IPA
Joshua Tetley 1844 "Sykes" XK & K Pale Ales
Joshua Tetley 1844 Pale Ale
Hills of Cromford 1832 XF
January 2019
Joshua Tetley 1848 IPA
Peter Walker 1891 Falstaff (*strong!*)
Henry Bentley 1893 Golden Bitter Ale
=================================================

That'll keep you going for a bit! I've been quite diligent digging out the "bitter" recipes, be there may be more hidden amongst all the other recipes. Edd is working on a book, which might well then make this list quite un-necessary. But for now, get brewing!
 

peebee

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Why is Chevallier barley so different?

Chevallier barley developed as a "landrace" (a spontaneous emergence, and selection, of a useful strain) before later plant breeding and hybridisation (and commercialism!) narrowed down the differences in modern varieties.

This article seemed pretty good: Chevallier: A Taste of What’s to Come
 

peebee

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Have you noticed that Geterbrewed have Plumage Archer in stock now? Itching to give that a go as well as the heritage 6-row that Crafty Maltsters harvested last year.
Plumage was a Swedish landrace variety, Archer an English landrace. Plumage Archer (grand-daddy of Maris Otter) is a new-fangled hybrid but only a generation down from old-fashioned landraces. Ought to be interesting, I'd been wanting to have a play with it. So ordered! Thanks.
 

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