View Full Version : Shut up about Barclay Perkins - The decline of Stock Ales

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17-11-2010, 14:20
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Back to the parliamentary committee on beer materials again.It's full of great stuff. Like this little gem about the move away from sour, aged beers to sweet running ales.

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"6362. May I ask you from your very long experience in connexion with this subject, will you give something of your opinion and give a descriptive character to the beers of old times and the beer of new times within your own experience ? —The beers of old times within my experience used to be very hard, we should call them sour in these days, there was no care taken at all about the kind of yeast used in the fermentation of the beer, so that as a rule it was a beer that to my mind was very objectionable on account of its hardness. I know it has been praised.

6363. And it could only be strong; you could not have it otherwise than strong, or it would not keep at all ?— Exactly; and there was not the same care taken in connexion with the casks and the keeping of the beer as there is now ; and it was very often the case when you went to a small farmhouse and tasted some of the beer you would find that it was "casky," and that the cask containing it was not cleaned when the beer was put in. I may take as an illustration the West of England; it was quite common there until recent years to have a beer that was quite sour, hard beer; Messrs. George, of Bristol, and other brewers brewed a beer of that kind for a number of years, but that is practically all gone, and you will find from the return now that the quantity of sugar used in Bristol and the West of England is enormous.

6364. So far as your experience goes, how would you describe the ale of the present day ? —As to the ale of the present day, the person who consumes the ale of the present day wants a drink that appeals to his eye as well as the palate, and therefore he wants it bright. If we take the working men—they do not drink beer in pewter that they cannot see as they used to do; they want their beer in glasses so that they can see it, and it must be quite bright and clear. It is quite free from acid and fairly sweet, and that is the kind of beer they seem to like, and it is not too strongly bittered.
6365. Can you give any opinion as to its comparative wholesomeness with the old thing? —I think it quite as wholesome, for this reason—that there is more care taken now in its manufacture. The brewer has to take more care in the manufacture of that particular beer to get it into condition and to keep it sound until it is drunk.

6366. And there are fewer brewings go wrong ?—Yes, because they are better looked after.

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6367. I mean not only looked after, but there is the question of substituting the malt by other things. With regard to the substitutes specified, supposing on the average 15 per cent, of sugar used at the present day with the material—is that an objection, so far as the soundness of the beer goes, or an advantage ? —I think it is no objection at all, because the ordinary beer sold is not a stock beer at all; that is a beer to be kept for a length of time before being drunk, whereas this beer has to be got out of the brewer's hands and into consumption in a few weeks, because the public will not have an acid beer.

6368. Could that same character be got within the time at the same cost or anything like it, supposing substitutes were prohibited ?—Not within the time or at the same cost, it could not.

6369. And if they had the time, could they do it with as great security for sounduess ? —I think they might do it with as great security for soundness.

6370. But taking half as long again, meaning so much more rental ?—Yes, and they could not turn out the same quantity."
"Minutes of evidence taken before the Departmental committee on beer materials", 1899, page 240.
Evidence given by Mr. R. Bannister.
I like the reference to the move from pewter to glass drinking vessels. People often get completely mixed up about the effect of glass on drinking habits. Assuming that's when beers became paler. In fact the opposite is true: beers like X Ales and K Ales became darker in the period when glass became popular.https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/5445569787371915337-3062419136661160932?l=barclayperkins.blogspot.com

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