Remember remember the 9th of December
Have you heard? Have you heard correctly? Well hear ye now – FOUR different Once Upon A Time beers are being released next week. Before I get into the specifics about the beers, please let me tell you about our launch event this Sunday, December 9th at Deep Ellum in Allston. Pretty Things/Once Upon A Time is hosting a launch event at Deep Ellum from 4-8 PM. We encourage period dress as we believe there’s no better way to celebrate these beers and the unique glimpse on the past they give us! Don’t worry, the entire staff of Pretty Things/Once Upon A Time will be in period garb along with you. So don’t be shy. This time it’s pretty easy as our time frame goes from 1832 to 1901.
Oh yes, quickly. As you see we’ve had a bit of a redesign on the labels. Not a surprise really as we have been changing the package almost every release. Well this one is permanent and was illustrated by our friend and FRINGE coworking space pal Mike Dacey at REPEAT PRESS. We challenged him to make a label that would evoke old British brewery labels of the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. We think he nailed them. So, thanks to Mike.
On to the beers. As you heard, there are four. And as ever, all recipes were taken directly from the original brewday documents. We employed no funny business to update these beers or “make them better”. Take a look at the photo above. From left to right…
XXXX MILD, 1832, LONDON: Remember this one? In 2010 we brewed our very first historically accurate recreation, a 10.5% “mild ale” from the era of Dickens. It was also the first time we were lucky enough to work with our collaborator, author and brewing historian Ron Pattinson from Amsterdam. What a crazy beer to start with. This recipe was so hoppy that it nearly destroyed every pump, valve and chiller in the brewhouse. Well, here we are and we brewed it again.
Here’s what we wrote about it at the time:
“Originally brewed February 27th, 1832. XXXX Mild Ale first brewed on Brick Lane at the Truman brewery. It is a 10.5% alcohol beer: golden coloured, with Kent Golding leaf hops. It was brewed without refrigeration, and we followed the original brewday document (see below), as collected by brewing historian Ron Pattinson.
London at that time was a frenzy of inequality: Truman’s brewery existed in close proximity to poverty-stricken tenements and work houses, while a short distance away the wealthy hosted parties and kept large homes. There were no sewers, and a cholera outbreak was just beginning in East London, right around the brewery.
Breweries in London at that time were enormous, and drinking only beer would have saved you from the cholera. Our batch is a drop compared to the size of the batch that was originally brewed. It was common to use a LOT of hops: this beer has around 4.5lb/bbl, comparable to a modern American Double IPA, but it was not unheard of to use a ton of hops in a single brew: insane.”
EAST INDIA PORTER, 1855, LONDON: Another re-brew. The recipe that we’re using dates back to a brewsheet from Barclay Perkins Brewery in London, from December 6th, 1855. As with our other historical beers, the EIP was originally brewed in a vast batch-size that we cannot hope to recreate.
Here’s what Ron Pattinson writes:
“We’ve all heard the romantic tale of beer being shipped half way around the world to quench the thirst of the British in India: the birth of IPA. But Pale Ale wasn’t the only beer sent to India: In fact, it wasn’t even a majority of the beer sent. That honour belongs to beer that’s been lost to history: India Porter.
British military units in India had a big problem. Their men were dying at an alarming rate. Climate and disease played a role, but so did the troops’ drink of choice: rum. What was the solution? Give them Porter instead.
The effect was dramatic. Here are annual death rates of British troops in India in the first half of the 19th century:
Bengal: 73.8 per 1000.
Bombay: 50.7 per 1000.
Madras: 38.4 per 1000.
In Bengal soldiers mostly drank rum, in Madras Porter: Porter-drinking troops had a significantly higher life expectancy than their rum-drinking colleagues!”
EAST INDIA PALE ALE, 1879, YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND: Here’s the new one! We couldn’t help but want to brew a proper period version of the beer that started the craft beer movement here in the US and Ron came up with a brewsheet that launched many OUAT firsts. Not only does this one use English hops as would be expected, but also hops from Germany (including hops from Alsace that was only recently ceded to Germany from France) and California. Yes, you heard that correctly. We don’t even grow hops in California these days so it was surprise to see a Yorkshire brewery using them in the 19th century. First ever use of American hops in a OUAT beer.
This is also our first non-London historical recreation and we’re really pleased that it lands us in Leeds, England – home of Martha and where I spent several happy years working at Daleside Brewery in Harrogate. That’s one first. Another first with this beer is that it’s from a brick and mortar brewery that only recently closed. In fact I went to a meeting there in 2006 and had a great tour of their brand new packaging hall. Oh well, sometimes history is even closer than we would have liked. That said, I could only dream to have visited at Trumans, Whitbread or Barclay Perkins!
KK, 1901, LONDON: On November 15th, 1901, a brewer at Whitbread’s Brewery in London made a KK beer: almost black, dry, hoppy, but with no roasted malts. Another crazy, confusing beer from the past that was ripe for recreation in the 21st century. For this second installment in our “Once Upon a Time” historical beer series we once again teamed up with historian Ron Pattinson of Amsterdam to recreate a beer from Britain’s past.
The thing about Once Upon A Time is that they’re real beers that were brewed in their true context. So there’s no need to discuss what style they are – They were classified hundreds of years ago! We have to take the original brewer’s word for it. So this is a KK beer. That’s all there is to it. If you call the KK a black IPA, fair enough: but please realize that you are applying modern, internet-age beer classification to a beer that never required or requested it. KK beers were brewed by several breweries and the style existed well into the 20th Century.
Ron describes the November 15th, 1901 KK as a “Burton Ale” that was meant for aging in vats at the brewery. In his book entitled “1909!” Ron says “when maturation went out of fashion, K Ales just became Strong Ales, that may or may not have had a lengthy secondary conditioning.”
Our KK boasts an almost black colour, cocoa-coloured head, and satisfying dryness with a substantial bitterness. Most of the colour of this beer comes from sugar, which is surprising and not something you see often these days – almost never here in the states.
So please check these beers out as they’re limited in both production (smallish batches) and geography (Massachusetts only). Cheers, Dann