From the HBD Archive
From: (John Hartman)
Subject: re: English Bitters--Brewing Beers like Young's they make. AGAIN
Date: 1992-06-25 16:13:38 GMT

Dear Readers--

I understand that this recent submission was unfortunately garbled
and am hereby resubmitting it with nice, well-behaved newlines. I
believe the problem is fixed. My email karma has not been good
lately... The mailer I used apparently feels that no paragraph
should contain more than one newline nor should a paragraph be
longer than 1024 characters. That mailer was yesterday unceremoniously
shot to death. My apologies. Enjoy the tour.

- ---

This recent discussion prompts me to give further details of my trip. I
spoke at length with two of the five brewers at Young's Brewery in
London. They definitely qualify as "lupulophobic". I describe what I
learned about their ales below...

They make a number of cask ales, some bottled ales, and a couple of
lagers. My focus was on their ales and does not apply to their
lagers. In particular I was interested in Young's Special
cask-conditioned ale. As this information was given to me in the
tasting room after the tour, my focus did eventually become blurred and
my arm did eventually become tired. While tasting you see, I was
forced to fill my own pints via hand pump;-) Also I didn't want to pry
(I just wanted to know everything:-)). Consequently, the information I
do have is incomplete and not well organized--sorry. On the other
hand, what I did learn came straight from the brewers, who were very
enthusiastic and forthcoming, so I assume it's accurate. If I wasn't
sure about what I remembered I have noted so in parentheses...

All of their grists are "approximately the same". They use "only the
finest ingredients they can find". The variety of malt is
Maris-Otter. I have a small sample of crystal that appears to be about
20 or 40 lovibond. Some flaked barley is also used for head
retention. A certain amount of brewing sugar is used. I don't know
how much nor in which beers. Contrary to what is printed in the "The
Real Ale Drinker's Almanac", Young's does not use torrefied wheat in
any of their brewing. In general I was disappointed with the accuracy
of the information found in the almanac. Let the brewer beware that
the ingredients they list have little in common with what in reality
Young's uses. Oh well.

Young's Special draught should not be confused with the bottled Special
London Ale sold here in the US. The draught bitter has an OG of ~ 36,
draught special has an OG of ~ 46, and the bottled Special London Ale
is ~ 66 OG. I don't know what IBU levels are used for the beers, but
they do use a single addition of Fuggles in the kettle at the beginning
of the boil. And now we come to the issue of finish hops. The draught
bitter is (I believe) dry-hopped with (I believe) East Kent Goldings.
The bottled Special London Ale is dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings.
The draught special is dry-hopped with the Target variety in plug
form. The box called them pellets, but they were in fact 1/2 oz. plugs
as we know them here in the states. For each 36 Imperial Gal cask (43
US Gal.) they use a mere 2 oz. of Target! I was embarrassed to tell
them how much I use and for a brief moment considered prevarication
(lying, that is). When I told them that I usually use about 1 to 2
oz. per 5 US Gal., there was no uncertain amount of surprise and
disdain. I believe this "lupulophile" lost some credibility here. Oh
well. I still hop most of my beers at such a rate.

Young's only started dry-hopping about two years ago. The owner and
most of the brewers were not interested in trying it, but once they
had, they decided to make the change. I suspect the economy of
dry-hopping, i.e., more aroma at less cost, played a part in that

Their beers ferment in open primaries for seven days. They are then
transferred to secondary for seven more days. Then the beer is placed
in SS casks. It is at this point the beer is dry-hopped and fined with
Isinglass powder. In a few days the draught is drayed (delivered by
horse-drawn cart) to their local tied houses. Finally after a few more
days in the pub cellar it's served to the many patrons who happily
slake their thirst. The beers are never primed or krausened. Their
yeast strain is a slow finisher which allows them to develop a light
level of carbonation in the cask without priming. I have since tried
this and it works quite well. Also it makes brewing that much easier
since I don't have to mess with gyle or corn sugar. They do have a
kegging and bottling operation which (I believe) force-carbonates those
products. I asked for an opinion on our weighty matter of whether to
skim the krausen or use a blow-off tube vs. not skimming. They don't
skim per se, but do employ some technique which has the same effect.
The brewers definitely recommend skimming. They said it improves the
"brightness" and stability of the beer, not necessarily the flavor.

I hadn't heard of Target, so I enquired. The Target variety is a
descendant of EKG. It is a 10-12% hi-alpha, hi-aroma version that I do
not believe is available here. I have since called Dave Wills of
Freshops to see if he carries them. He said this year he ordered
100lbs of imported EKG and sold them quickly even though he didn't
advertize their availability. He plans on ordering more and so I told
him to consider the Target variety. He will, depending on the interest
level. If you as well would like to use this hop perhaps you might
call Dave an express your interest. Freshops' number is
1-503-929-2736. I have no affiliation with Freshops other than buying
lots o' hops from them. If you know where one may obtain Target here,
let me know.

As an aside which has nothing to do with how they brew their beers, the
owner related to me that several years ago when Fritz Maytag was
reviving the Anchor Brewery here in SF he visited Young's for two
weeks. He took back with him recipes and knowledge gained at the
Young's brewery. So maybe I'm on the right track... That is all.

Cheers, John

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