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As promised, here’s a recipe for Gold Label when it was still brewed in Sheffield by Tennant.

Having read a little about this early version, I really wish I’d got to try it. Sounds like it was cracking beer when brewed by the original method. Should you wish to give the recipe – and ageing a go – I’d be happy to drop by and help you drink the result.

As Frank Priestley, a former brewer there, remarked, all the ingredients were pale in colour. Pale malt, flaked maize and No. 1 invert sugar. There’s also a little enzymic malt, but you can leave that out. It wouldn’t have impacted the flavour of the beer at all, just helped the mash.

At three hours, the boil is extremely long for the period. Porter brewers boiled weaker worts for three or four hours in the early 19th century, but by the end of WW II fuel restrictions had reduced most boil times to around 90 minutes.

In the 1950’s very few beers were anything like as strong as Gold Label. Out of 1400-odd beers from 1952 to 1959 in my gravity table, only 11 have an OG over 1090º: Bass No. 1, Barclay’s Russian Stout, Benskins Colne Spring Ale, Lacons Audit Ale, Mitchell & Butler Strong Ale, Tennant Gold Label, Tennant No. 1 Barley Wine, Truman No. 1 Burton Barley Wine, Watney Stingo plus two Scotch Ales which were probably for the Belgian market. Tennant were very unusual in having two beers in this class.

From Priestley’s book, I know that Gold Label was aged in wooden hogsheads for six to twelve months then blended before bottling. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it was bottle conditioned. My guess would be no, but I could be wrong. Brewing this up sounds like a nice little project for me and a brewer. Who wouldn’t want to sample a beer like this?

1954 Tennant's Gold Label
pale malt 5.75 lb 43.40%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 1.89%
flaked maize 4.75 lb 35.85%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.50 lb 18.87%
Fuggles 120 min 2.75 oz
Goldings 90 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1109
FG 1024
ABV 11.24
Apparent attenuation 77.98%
IBU 63
SRM 17
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 180 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale