After digging through mountains of century-old beer recipes, British beer historian Ron Pattinson has come to one conclusion: Most 19th century British beer recipes are crazy when compared to today’s brewing methods.
“Pretty much everything is crazily strong,” said Pattinson, who will be giving a talk on historical British beers at Bothell’s Foggy Noggin Brewing today. “The hopping rates are insane, too. When I feed the hopping rates through brewing software, I regularly get more than 100 IBUs. Even for a mild (beer). Some beers even come out over 200 IBUs. Obviously, that’s just calculated, but it gives an indication of the crazy hopping levels.”
Pattinson is a walking encyclopedia of historical British beer. He digs through brewery archives and unearths historical recipes that have long been lost to time. A time when beer was made in giant red-brick buildings with exquisitely British names like Young’s, Stroud, Barclay and Chesham’s splashed across the front. He’s also written recipes based on brewery records not available to the public.
“I just ask nicely, and it usually works,” Pattinson said.
Pattinson will be sharing all of that knowledge at today’s event, the second time that Foggy Noggin’s Jim Jamison has invited the beer historian for a talk. To go with the event, Jamison, whose brewery focuses on English-style ales, brewed six different variations of two different historical Scottish ales from Truman’s and William Younger’s breweries. There will be beer tastings as Pattinson discusses the history of each beer. (For more on the beers, see the If You Go box.)
Pattinson discovered the recipes of the Truman’s and Younger’s beers that will be served today in public archives. His practice of scouring the archives for breweries that have gone out of business often pays off in a treasure trove of recipes and other archived material.
“Tons of breweries have gone out of business in the United Kingdom,” Pattinson said.
After brewing the historical recipes, Jamison concurred with Pattinson.
“The boils are so long,” Jamison said. “The recipe says to leave the hops in three hours. Just boiling it. It’s wild.”
Pattinson remembered giving an imperial stout recipe to a brewer at Brouwerij de Molen in Holland.
“The brewer said, ‘I can’t put that many hops in a beer,’ ” Pattinson said. “It had just shy of 10 pounds per 36-gallon (UK) barrel. That’s an insane quantity of hops.”
Jamison said the long processes and huge amount of ingredients is a sign of how low-quality the ingredients were brewers used more than 100 years ago.
“I’m sure our beer is so much better,” Jamison said. “We have better ingredients now. The malts in particular they used were very poor.”
Along with the unique experience of tasting recipes more than 100 years old, Jamison said just talking with Pattinson is a treat.
“Ron is a really captivating person,” Jamison said. “He has such intuitive knowledge of the brewing process and experience.”
Pattinson has been to the U.S. 30 times to talk British beer and promote his hundreds of books that range from travel and regional beer to historical brewing practices and beer statistics. Besides the stop at Foggy Noggin, he said on this trip he’ll be show his two sons the West Coast.
Tickets to today’s event are $100 and include six historical Scottish beer tastings — and a story behind each beer. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.foggynogginbrewing.com.
For more on Ron Pattinson and his books, visit barclayperkins.blogspot.com.
Also on this week’s taster tray:
Barrel Soured Dubbel Cut Saw, Beardslee Public House: This Belgian-style dubbel is a blend of two barrel-aged versions of the dubbel and a fresh version of the brewery’s grappel tripel ale. One of the versions of the dubbel is aged two years in a Mark Ryan merlot barrel with mission figs and golden raisins. The other version is aged a year in Makers Mark bourbon barrels. Available on tap at the brewery.
Barrel-aged Brown Ale, SnoTown Brewing: Two different versions of this ale were aged in Bad Dog Distillery whiskey barrels. One had vanilla bourbon Cascade beer Candi added and the other had nocino walnut shells added. Available on tap at the brewery.
If you go
What: Historical Beer Tasting with Ron Pattinson
Where: Foggy Noggin Brewing, 22329 53rd Ave. SE, Bothell
When: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 10
More: 206-553-9223 or www.foggynogginbrewing.com
Ron Pattinson’s historical beers
Truman’s Brewery and William Younger Brewery, England
1960 Truman S1: 8.73 percent ABV, 80 IBU; pale malt, crystal malt, invert sugar, Fuggles and Goldings hops
1931 Truman S1: 9.72 percent ABV, 106 IBU; pale malt, high dried malt, invert sugar, Fuggles and Goldings hops
1916 Truman No. 1: 8.47 percent ABV, 52 IBU; pale malt, high-dried malt, flaked maize, Cluster, Fuggles and Goldings hops
1959 William Younger No. 1 BW: 8.14 percent ABV, 29 IBU; pale malt, flaked maize, invert sugar, Fuggles and Goldings hops
1913 William Younger No. 1: 7.94 percent ABV, 216 IBU; pale malt, brewers grits, invert sugar, glucose, Cluster and Fuggles hops
1879 William Younger No. 1: 7.67 percent ABV, 136 IBU; pale malt, Cluster and Goldings hops
Available: At today’s Historical Beer Tasting event at Foggy Noggin Brewing.Available: At today’s Historical Beer Tasting event at Foggy Noggin Brewing.