Category Archives: The IPA Book

The Home Brewers Guide to Vintage Beer

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I recently received this book, The Home Brewers Guide to Vintage Beer the mail, and I am tremendously excited about it for many reasons.

If you’ve read my book on IPA, you know that beer historian Ron Pattinson helped me a lot with it, he contributed numerous data tables on English and Scottish IPA brewing analysis and specifications, and fact-checked my manuscript before publication. His website Shut Up About Barclay Perkins is one of my favorite internet sites about beer. I visit it at least twice per week, because I always learn something new about brewing, not only about historical English techniques, but Scottish, German and American facts as well. He has done amazing work in researching old brewing logs and figuring out how the brewers made their beers, what the ingredients were like, what the style names meant, and along the way, debunking many brewing myths and clarifying the brewing procedures used through written brewing history. It really is an incredible place to learn about brewing history.

By my count he includes over 110 historical beer recipes in this book, covering the following styles: Porter, Stout, IPA, Pale Ale/Bitter, Light Bitter/Light Ale, Mild Ale, Stock/Burton Ale, Scottish Ales, Brown Ale, Broyhan, Grodziskie and some other European styles. In each chapter, he gives a synopsis of how and when the style originated and how it evolved over time. Each recipe is laid out in an easy to follow style, sized for a 5 gallon brew, but easily scalable to your own brewing system. And there are historical notes provided for each recipe as well.

Pattinson IPA Recipes

Here are 4 of the Historical IPA Recipes in Ron’s book.

Pattinson Mild Recipes

Here a couple of Mild recipes

I was never much into history until I started writing the IPA book, and then I got sucked in completely into the history of brewing, and the thrill of discovering extinct beer styles. Ron Pattinson’s website provided a lot of information that I was able to use in the book, and it was very gratifying that Ron was so willing to help.

Ron has worked with many brewers to brew historical recipes including my friends Dann and Martha Paquette at Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project (check out  Pretty Things Historical Beers to see some of the historical beers they have brewed), and John Keeling and Derek Prentice at Fuller’s, who brewed an historical Double Stout and XX Strong Ale with Ron’s help as part of their Fuller’s Past Master’s Series.

I’ve never actually met Ron Pattinson, all our correspondence has been via email. But I am excited that he will be in the San Diego area this spring, and we hope to brew a batch of beer with him while he’s here. He will be selling his book on the trip, so I hope you all come out to any of the events that scheduled (we’re hoping Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens Liberty Station in mid-May). More to come on this as events get planned.

 

IPA Brewing in 1800s America-Greenway IPA and Frank Jones IPA

One of the many surprising things that my research into historical IPA brewing uncovered was the abundance of American brewers that were brewing IPAs before prohibition. Most of the late 1800s IPA brewing was centered in the Northeast United States, as the Midwest was already becoming the stronghold of many of the German-inspired lager breweries that later dominated the American beer industry for many years.
These IPA brewers in the Northeast took much of their inspiration from the Burton brewing process, which meant that the beer was brewed with only pale malt, and was aged for an extended period in wood. Wood could be in the form of barrels, or large vats-which was the case with Fiegenspan and Ballantine. Hops were typically American Cluster, and Fuggles and whatever the brewers could get from Europe. Beer clarity was very important, I remember seeing old adverstisements for CH Evans IPA that claimed no sediment, no dregs.

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Peter Egleston, John Thompson, and Dave Yarrington from Smuttynose Brewing Co. helped point me in several directions for my research into the Frank Jones Brewery of Portsmouth New Hampshire, one of the biggest IPA brewers back in the day, and recently Peter sent me this piece from the Greenway Brewing Co., which I found interesting:

 

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The analyticals for the Greenway IPA. Click on the picture to get a better view.

 

 

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I wasn’t familar with the Greenway Brewing Co. from Syracuse New York, but a quick internet search shows that the brewery was one of the biggest in New York State. Not sure if it was bigger than CH Evans  of Albany in their prime. Some really interesting things about this sheet on their IPA:

1. The abv is just a hair over 7% by volume (alcohol by weight x 5/4 = alcohol by volume). 7% was kind of the industry standard for IPA in the 1800s.

2. The final gravity, 1.015 is not that dry, a little sweeter than normal for the times. 1.015 Specific gravity equates to 3.75°P, which is about the upper limit of what I’d recommend in an IPA. Some of the English and Scottish versions from the same time period finished as dry as 1.0-1.5 °P.

3. The health claims are not unusual for the times either. In England, IPA was recommended frequently by physicians for those with stomach or sleep ailments. And one can see similar recommendations in the US.

When I was learning about pre-prohibition IPAs brewed in the United States, I focused most of my research on CH Evans from Albany NY, Frank Jones in Portsmouth, Fiegenspan and Ballantine in Newark. But it’s interesting that I was able to find IPA brewing references from many other breweries in that area, though I didn’t have time to research these other breweries as much as I would have liked to.

Regarding the Frank Jones Brewery, the buildings of the old Frank Jones Brewery still stand in Portsmouth NH. Below are some photos I took a couple of years ago in Portsmouth of the old brewery buildings that didn’t make it into the IPA book. It was really great to see these buildings and imagine what it was like back when they were brewing.

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Brewery Ln in Portsmouth NH, minutes from downtown. The Frank Jones Brewery was located here.

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I believe this was the old brewhouse, but it might have been part of a malthouse. Note the construction date of 1884.

 

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The other side of the building I think contained the brewhouse

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So this is what the inside looks like. Looks like it could be a good reconstruction project. Hey-someone should put a brewery in here!

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Part of one of the old malthouses is now home to shops

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Remnants of Frank Jones’ influence can be seen in many places around Portsmouth. Not only was he a major brewer, but also was a politician and a real bigwig in the town. This building is in the middle of downtown Portsmouth, just a couple of blocks from Portsmouth Brewing Co. The famous Wentworth Hotel was also built by Frank Jones.

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An illustration of the Frank Jones Brewery from either the late 1800s or early 1900s. There are malt houses on both the left and the right, and the brewhouse is on the left at the rear. These are the buildings that still stand today.

Portsmouth is a wonderful town, just a great place to visit. I can’t believe I never did the brewery research when I lived in New Hampshire, but was glad to get an opportunity to dive in later.

For further reading, I suggest the book : Brewing in New Hampshire by Glenn A. Knoblock.

And have fun with this:

Frank Jones Brewery Song (c. 1897)

Come all you Jolly Sportsmen and listen to a song,
I will sing to you a verse or two I won’t detain you long,
Concerning Jones’ Brewery, indeed it look so neat,
The like of it you’ll never find in any other state,

‘Chorus’
Hurrah for Jones’ brewery, may it never fail
Brew us beer and porter and beautiful stock ale,
That’s the stuff for me, my boys, it drives away all pain,
Whenever I can get a glass of it I’ll have it just the same.

It is a splendid building, as we all well know,
The like of it you’ll never find, no matter where you go,
It is so well constructed, kept so neat and clean,
The mash floor and the cellar and the tun room just the same

Brewers they are so clever in brewing this splendid beer,
Jones golden cream ale, called for far and near,
Drank in Philadelphia and in the State of Maine,
In New York and Boston is called for just the same.

If you go cellar, what a splendid sight,
You’ll see a staff of hearty young fellows, full of mirth and glee,
Chiming up the barrels, just like any train,
Racking, or rolling out, or shipping, just the same.

There you’ll see Yankee Denny with his beautiful big nose,
Placing the barrels so neatly into rows,
If you never knew him or heard of his name,
You’ll know him by his bawling and hollering, just the same.

There you’ll see Paddy Holoran, he is just like any bull,
No matter where you’ll find him, he is sure to be full,
If he don’t get it at the cupboard, he cannot be blamed,
He will have it out of Jerry, or the rack tub, just the same.

I went to the hall the other night, there I did behold,
A house full of fine democrats, both noble, stout and bold,
Going to fight the republicans and uphold the country’s fame.
Republicans and democrats will drink it just the same.

It’s there I noticed Mr. Jones among the noble throng,
He is always agitating for the cause of the working man.
As for this coming election, he need not be afraid,
I hope I’ll see him governor of this New Hampshire State.

All these oily druggists boast of their little pills,
And they say they can cure all diseases from the toothache to the “jims.”
What are they to Jones’ ale? I am sure it is quite plain,
When all these pills and drugs do fail, it will cure you just the same.

Now to conclude and finish, I am feeling a little dry,
I sung to you a verse or two all without a lie,
If you take me to the bar I am sure you’ll get no blame,
And give Paddy a schooner of it, he will have it just the same.

 

 

 

 

 

More updates on IPA History

I’m a little late on these, but having a couple of minutes today to look up some of my favorite beer history blogs uncovered some interesting facts.

First up is from Martyn Cornells great blog Zythophile. In this entry, which was posted on IPA Day (8/1/13), Martyn lists 5 things you may not have known about IPA. If you’ve read my book, you may know a few of these, but of particular interest to me is the fact that it now appears the first use of the words “India Pale Ale” may have been in Australia in 1829 and 1830, and that Taylor Walker/Barley Mow Brewery in London in 1830 may be the first brewer of a beer with the tag India Pale Ale. Also of interest in this post  Five facts you may not have known about India Pale Ale is that Pale Ales have been brewed with wind-dried pale malt for centuries, a fact that I think I unfortunately left somewhat unclear in my book. I remember a very interesting discussion with Alastair Hook at Meantime Brewery (and the team at Meantime knows their IPA history very well) about a pale beer brewed in Europe in the early middle ages that was brewed with wind-dried malt and was known to be very hoppy. I was never able to uncover any documentation for this beer, so I didn’t use it in the book, but I’d love to find out more about it. And I recommend reading the comments on Martyn’s blog as well, as there is some interesting work is being done on the aging process of historical IPAs.

The second is from Ron Pattinson’s awesome blog: Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, in which he relates some great information about bottling of IPA that occurred both in England and also in India. He also goes on to post a description of Tenant’s Ale from Glasgow, which received favorable comments because it had less alcohol than the Bass or Allsopp beers. This is a great reference that tells us a little bit about both the Bass and Allsopp beers, but also about some of the Scottish IPAs that were being sent in large volumes to India.:  Beer in India 1860’s Pt 2

Also check out a previous post of Ron’s: Beers In India 1860s Part 1 where Ron works to debunk a statement that beers brewed for India were of higher alcohol content than beers brewed for domestic drinkers. I think there is plenty of evidence to support Ron’s position. Yes, the beers that went to India may have been hopped at higher levels, but my research showed that the lowering of the gravity of the beers produced for domestic didn’t really start until the late 1800s, well after the IPA had become a very popular beer style in England. And I won’t even get into the wine part of the blog….

 

The decline of Bass Pale Ale

Here’s a great post on Martyn Cornell’s Zythophile regarding The sad state of Bass Pale Ale.

I used to love Bass Ale, it definitely was a favorite of mine for many years, especially when visiting “pubs” here in the US, when the only offerings were typically Bass, Guinness Stout and Harp. However, it’s been many years since I’ve even seen it (not that I seek it out). This is a depressing story, about a company that simply doesn’t know what to do with one of the most iconic brands in brewing history.

At one time, in the 1800s, Bass was the largest brewery in the world, and their IPA set the standard for the style. Much of what I researched for the IPA book about 1800s IPAs I found in the Bass Archives (now called the National Brewery Centre archives), and if you ever get a chance to visit their museum in Burton-On-Trent, it is an amazing display of historical brewing in England, including an entire section dedicated to IPA and Burton’s heyday as a world brewing center in the 1800s. Also, there is a very nice pub on site, serving beers brewed exclusively at the Worthington’s small brewery just across the driveway from the museum.

Beers being served at the National Brewery Centre Worthington's Pub. Delicious!

Beers being served at the National Brewery Centre Worthington’s Pub. Delicious!

The state of affairs in Burton-On-Trent regarding the absence of the Bass name and logo on all of their old brewery buildings always seemed very sad to me…not that I blame Coors, who bought the breweries and now operate them. Just a strong statement about the dangers of brewery consolidation of the loss of historical brewing records, memorabilia, and other historical artifacts. Often, when breweries are bought out, much of the written material gets disposed of by the new company, without a thought as to how valuable those records might be to someone else.

This brewery used to be part of Bass. Now it is not.

This brewery used to be part of Bass. Now it is not.

I salute Coors for finally making the decision a few years ago to reopen the Museum and The Brewing Archives, a virtual treasure trove of old brewing documents, recipes and labels. They may have bowed to public pressure, but the fact remains that one of the best museums for beer was on their site and it’s a wonderful thing that it is open for visitors again. And if you do ever get the chance to visit, there are still plenty of historical sites that refer to the Bass heritage found throughout Burton:

The old Bass Water tower, just off the banks of the River Trent

The old Bass Water tower, just off the banks of the River Trent

William Bass house-historical marker

William Bass’s house is identified by this historical marker

 

A better shot of the William Bass house

A better shot of the William Bass house

No trip to Burton-On-Trent is complete without a visit to the infamous Cooper’s Tavern, once a Bass tied house, but now a free house pub. This was the pub that workers at Bass frequented on a regular basis. Now it is a wonderfully historic pub, serving a great selection of beer, and packed with friendly people. I’ve been there a few times now, and have always ended up having lively, friendly conversations with the regulars.

The casks at Cooper's Tavern

The casks at Cooper’s Tavern

The sign outside the door features, not surprisingly, a cooper!

The sign outside the door features, not surprisingly, a cooper!

The house dog, "Eddie" at Cooper's Tavern, making himself at home

The house dog, “Eddie” at Cooper’s Tavern, making himself at home

Any brewer interested in brewing history and recipes from the 1700s and 1800s owes themselves a trip to Burton-On-Trent. Spend at least 2 days there, the historical impact of this town on brewing is massive.

More to come, I have a lot to share about my experiences in Burton-on-Trent.