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This is a solo recipe, I'm afraid. Hope you're not too disappointed.

I was just going through the recipes I put together for my proper book (The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer) and realised there were half a dozen recipes which had been cut for space reasons. Being a generous chap, I thought I'd share one with you.

Trying to put your finger on exactly what style this is could be tricky. It's sort of an IPA (pretty sure that's what the I in its name stands for). Bit it was later called a Pale Ale. Eventually in turned into Maclay Light - effectively a Dark Mild. What an fascinating trajectory for a beer to take: from IPA to Dark Mild in less than a century.

The recipe is typical of Pale Ales both North and South of the border of the late 19th/early 20th century. Pale malt, sugar and flaked maize. I've seen loads of similar recipes. Note that, at 47 IBUs, it's not quite the almost-unhopped Scottish beer of legend.

That got me thinking about why Scottish beer might have got the reputation for using few hops. I've seen 19th-century sources - Roberts' Scottish Ale Brewer is one - where it's mentioned that the Scots are more sparing in their use of hops than the English. And I can see from the brewing records that some Scottish brewers did hop at the lower end of the range. But that needs to be put into context.

What is that context? That English brewers hopped like lunatics. Towards the lower end of their hopping range is still a shitload of hops. If you aren't aware of that and you don't bother working out just how many hope Roberts recommended, you might assume that "fewer hops than in England" means "bugger all hops". It doesn't.

This was Maclay's top of the range Pale Ale. They brewed two weaker ones, PI 54/- and PI 42/- at 1041º and 1035º, respectively. What's odd about that? Anything under 1045º was really weak for a Pale Ale in England. Even AK, one of the lowest-gravity types of English Pale Ale, didn't get lower than about 1045º. Pale Ales below 1040º were unknown.

The trend towards lower gravity beers started earlier in Scotland than in England. Don't look to me for an explanation, becausae I don't have one. As you can see in this table, there were considerable differences in average gravity across different parts of the UK in the early years of the 20th century.

Average OG 1900 - 1914
England Scotland Ireland United Kingdom
Year average OG average OG average OG average OG
1900 - - - 1054.93
1905 1052.54 1049.60 1063.49 1053.23
1910 1052.30 1048.48 1064.78 1053.2
1911 1052.03 1048.18 1065.22 1053.02
1912 1051.76 1048.11 1065.43 1052.72
1913 1051.52 1047.85 1065.73 1052.64
1914 1051.69 1047.67 1065.93 1052.80
Brewers' Journal 1921, page 246.
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 110.
Brewers' Journal 1920, page 345.

I can explain the higher average OG in Ireland. That's because a large percentage of Irish beer production was Guinness Extra Stout, A beer which before WW I had an OG over 1070º.

That's about all my bullshit for today. I'll leave you with the recipe:

1909 Maclay PI 60/-
pale malt 2 row
0.75 lb
pale malt 6 row
7.00 lb
No.1 invert sugar
1.25 lb
Flaked corn
2.00 lb
Cluster 90 min
1.00 oz
Hallertau 60 min
1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 min
1.00 oz
Apparent attenuation
Mash at
154º F
Sparge at
170º F
Boil time
90 minutes
pitching temp
63º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale