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23-08-2015, 08:19
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Right. I really am doing PA. Really.

I thought I’d already done this, to be honest. Just shows how busy I am. This being one of several series I’m currently engaged in. Oh, before we start one thing: this is going to be very number heavy. Thought I’d best warn you.

Adnams PA, or Bitter as it was doubtless called down the boozer, has a long history. It shows up in the first Adnams brewing record that’s been preserved, one from 1878-79. Back then it was a reasonably strong beer, with an OG of 1058.2º. It was little changed when WW I erupted, still having a very respectable gravity of 1056º and an ABV of around 6%.

As with everything else, WW I knocked the stuffing out of PA. By 1918 it was down to 1033º and 3.25% ABV. In the interwar period it bounced back a bit, to 1039º where it remained until 1941, when another slow reduction in strength set in. It ended the war at 1036º.

Our first table shows what I’ve said many times: the hardest years came after war’s end. Its nadir was reached in 1949, when, oddly enough, PA was exactly where it had been in 1928: 1033º. A tax cut in 1950 saw it rise back to 1036º, before slipping back a little again.

What can I say about PA? It’s a classic Ordinary Bitter at around 3.5% ABV. A beer of which there were hundreds in the 1950’s. Even though the biggest shift in the 1950’s was from draught to bottled, there was also a swing from Mild to Bitter.



Adnams PA 1945 - 1959


Date
Year
OG
FG
ABV
App. Atten-uation
lbs hops/ qtr
hops lb/brl
boil time (hours)


4th Jan
1945
1036.0
1008.9
3.59
75.38%
7.20
1.02
2


16th Jan
1945
1036.0
1009.4
3.52
73.84%
7.20
1.02
2


1st Jan
1946
1036.0
1008.9
3.59
75.38%
7.20
1.02
2


7th Jan
1947
1034.1
1009.4
3.26
72.36%
8.00
1.06
2


1st Jan
1948
1034.0
1008.9
3.33
73.93%
7.58
1.02
2


1st Jun
1948
1034.0
1008.3
3.40
75.56%
7.58
1.02
2


7th Apr
1949
1034.0
1006.1
3.69
82.08%
7.58
1.00
2


4th Oct
1949
1033.0
1006.1
3.56
81.53%
8.00
1.00
2


1st Jun
1950
1036.0
1008.9
3.59
75.38%
7.58
1.03
2


2nd Aug
1951
1036.0
1008.9
3.59
75.38%
7.37
1.02
2


8th Nov
1951
1036.0
1009.4
3.52
73.84%
6.67
0.97
2


8th Jan
1952
1036.0
1008.9
3.59
75.38%
7.00
1.01
2


5th Mar
1952
1035.0
1010.5
3.24
69.93%
6.67
0.92
2


4th Nov
1953
1035.0
1008.3
3.53
76.26%
6.67
0.92
2


18th Jun
1954
1035.0
1008.9
3.46
74.67%
5.56
0.92
2


13th Sep
1954
1035.0
1009.4
3.38
73.09%
7.08
0.96
2


21st Jul
1955
1036.0
1013.3
3.00
63.07%
8.00
1.12
2


3rd Sep
1956
1035.0
1010.5
3.24
69.93%
8.56
1.21
2


22nd Oct
1956
1034.0
1011.1
3.03
67.41%
8.00
1.10
2


25th Jan
1957
1034.0
1008.9
3.33
73.93%
8.00
1.08
2


7th Aug
1957
1035.0
1012.2
3.02
65.18%
8.56
1.20
2


5th Dec
1959
1034.0
1011.1
3.03
67.41%
7.99
1.08
1.58


Source:


Adnams brewing records held at the brewery.




Let’s take a look at the grist. Another point that I’ve made often and loudly is that crystal malt in Bitter is, for the most part, a recent phenomenon. Post WW II. And Adnams Bitter confirms this. The grist is just base malt an No. 1 invert sugar. The only exception is in the immediate post-war years when government-mandated flaked barley was also included.

The hopping is equally simple: overwhelmingly English hops. With occasionally a few from Eastern Europe. At this time Britain was self-sufficient and had no need to import any. Unlike in the late 19th and early 20th century. The same was true of malt. A huge increase in barley acreage had seen British brewing wean itself off imported barley. In particular, Californian barley, malt made from which had been an essential ingredient in pre-WW II beers, especially Pale Ales.



Adnams PA grists 1945 - 1959


Date
Year
OG
pale malt
MA malt
medium malt
PA malt
flaked barley
no. 1 sugar
Hydrol
hops


4th Jan
1945
1036.0
93.10%




6.90%

English


16th Jan
1945
1036.0
87.93%



5.17%
6.90%

English


1st Jan
1946
1036.0
41.38%

46.55%

5.17%
6.90%

English


7th Jan
1947
1034.1
86.54%



5.77%
7.69%

English, Czech


1st Jan
1948
1034.0
21.82%

65.45%

5.45%
7.27%

English


1st Jun
1948
1034.0
53.57%

37.50%

5.36%
3.57%

English


7th Apr
1949
1034.0
92.73%




7.27%

English


4th Oct
1949
1033.0
92.31%




7.69%

English


1st Jun
1950
1036.0
92.73%




7.27%

English


2nd Aug
1951
1036.0
92.73%




7.27%

English


8th Nov
1951
1036.0
48.84%

41.86%


9.30%

English


8th Jan
1952
1036.0


93.10%


6.90%

English


5th Mar
1952
1035.0


90.70%


9.30%

English


4th Nov
1953
1035.0

90.70%



9.30%

English


18th Jun
1954
1035.0

92.31%



7.69%

English


13th Sep
1954
1035.0

89.19%



10.81%

English


21st Jul
1955
1036.0
88.24%




11.76%

English


3rd Sep
1956
1035.0

52.94%

35.29%

11.76%

English


22nd Oct
1956
1034.0

23.53%

64.71%

11.76%

English


25th Jan
1957
1034.0

15.79%

78.95%

5.26%

English


7th Aug
1957
1035.0
76.47%
11.76%



7.84%
3.92%
English


5th Dec
1959
1034.0
75.00%
8.33%



11.11%
5.56%
English, Styrian


Source:


Adnams brewing records held at the brewery.




I’m going to finish with another table. This time showing the decline in gravity in Whitbread’s Pale Ales and Adnams PA:



Changing gravities 1939 - 1950



1939
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1939 - 1950


Whitbread PA
1048.2
1039.5
1039.7
1034.2
1034.4
1035.9
1039.9



% change

-18.05%
0.51%
-13.85%
0.58%
4.36%
11.14%
-17.22%


Whitbread IPA
1037.1
1031.6
1031.3
1032.4
1032.3
1032.4
1034.5



% change

-14.82%
-0.95%
3.51%
-0.31%
0.31%
6.48%
-7.01%


Adnams PA
1039
1036.0
1036.0
1034.0
1034.0
1033.0
1036.0



% change

-7.69%
0.00%
-5.56%
0.00%
-2.94%
9.09%
-7.69%


average OG
1040.93
1034.54
1034.72
1032.59
1032.66
1033.43
1033.88



% change

-15.61%
0.52%
-6.13%
0.21%
2.36%
1.35%
-17.22%


Sources:


Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50


Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/107, LMA/4453/D/01/112, LMA/4453/D/01/113, LMA/4453/D/01/115, LMA/4453/D/01/116, LMA/4453/D/01/117 and LMA/4453/D/01/118.


Adnams brewing records held at the brewery.



It’s weird how Whitbread PA fell by exactly the overall average. Whereas the weaker Whitbread IPA and Adnams PA declined in gravity by less than half the average. What is that telling us? That stronger beers were harder hit? Or that once you’d hit a certain low level of gravity, you really couldn’t drop much further? Anyway, you can see that the strength differential between Whitbread PA and IPA was seriously eroded.

I do know what’s coming next. In this series, at least. It’s Adnams Mild. I know because I’ve already started writing it.

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