27. Historical Beer

The Historical Beer category contains styles that either have all but died out in modern times, or that were much more popular in past times and are known only through recreations. This category can also be used for traditional or indigenous beers of cultural importance within certain countries. Placing a beer in the historical category does not imply that it is not currently being produced, just that it is a very minor style or perhaps is in the process of rediscovery by craft brewers.

Entry Instructions

The entrant must either specify a style with a BJCP-supplied description from the list below, or specify a different historical beer style that is not described elsewhere in these guidelines. In the case of a style that has changed substantially over the years (such as Porter or Stout), the entrant may specify an existing BJCP style as well as an era (e.g., 1820 English Porter). When the entrant specifies any style not on the BJCP-supplied list, the entrant must provide a description of the style for the judges in sufficient detail to allow the beer to be judged. If a beer is entered with just a style name and no description, it is very unlikely that judges will understand how to judge it.

27A. Historical Beer: Gose

Overall Impression

A highly-carbonated, tart and fruity wheat ale with a restrained coriander and salt character and low bitterness. Very refreshing, with bright flavors and high attenuation.

Appearance

Unfiltered, with a moderate to full haze. Moderate to tall sized white head with tight bubbles and good retention. Effervescent. Medium yellow color.

Aroma

Light to moderately fruity aroma of pome fruit. Light sourness, slightly sharp. Noticeable coriander, which can have an aromatic lemony quality, and an intensity up to moderate. Light bready, doughy, yeasty character like uncooked sourdough bread. The acidity and coriander can give a bright, lively impression. The salt may be perceived as a very light, clean sea breeze character or just a general freshness, if noticeable at all.

Flavor

Moderate to restrained but noticeable sourness, like a squeeze of lemon in iced tea. Moderate bready/doughy malt flavor. Light to moderate fruity character of pome fruit, stone fruit, or lemons. Light to moderate salt character, up to the threshold of taste; the salt should be noticeable (particularly in the initial taste) but not taste overtly salty. Low bitterness, no hop flavor. Dry, fully-attenuated finish, with acidity not hops balancing the malt. Acidity can be more noticeable in the finish, and enhance the refreshing quality of the beer. The acidity should be balanced, not forward (although historical versions could be very sour).

Mouthfeel

High to very high carbonation, effervescent. Medium-light to medium-full body. Salt may give a slightly tingly, mouthwatering quality, if perceived at all. The yeast and wheat can give it a little body, but it shouldn’t have a heavy feel.

Comments

Served in traditional cylindrical glasses. Historical versions may have been more sour than modern examples due to spontaneous fermentation, and may be blended with syrups as is done with Berliner Weisse, or Kümmel, a liqueur flavored with caraway, cumin, and fennel. Modern examples are inoculated with lactobacillus, and are more balanced and generally don’t need sweetening. Pronounced GOH-zeh.

History

Minor style associated with Leipzig but originating in the Middle Ages in the town of Goslar on the Gose River. Documented to have been in Leipzig by 1740. Leipzig was said to have 80 Gose houses in 1900. Production declined significantly after WWII, and ceased entirely in 1966. Modern production was revived in the 1980s, but the beer is not widely available.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pilsner and wheat malt, restrained use of salt and coriander seed, lactobacillus. The coriander should have a fresh, citrusy (lemon or bitter orange), bright note, and not be vegetal, celery-like, or ham-like. The salt should have a sea salt or fresh salt character, not a metallic, iodine note.

Style Comparison

Perceived acidity is not as intense as Berliner Weisse or Gueuze. Restrained use of salt, coriander, and lactobacillus – should not taste overtly salty. Coriander aroma can be similar to a witbier. Haziness similar to a Weissbier.

Vital Statistics

IBU

5 - 12

SRM

3 - 4

OG

1.036 - 1.056

FG

1.006 - 1.010

ABV

4.2% - 4.8%

Commercial Examples

Anderson Valley Gose, Bayerisch Bahnhof Leipziger Gose, Döllnitzer Ritterguts Gose.

27A. Historical Beer: Kentucky Common

Overall Impression

A darker-colored, light-flavored, malt-accented beer with a dry finish and interesting character malt flavors. Refreshing due to its high carbonation and mild flavors, and highly sessionable due to being served very fresh and with restrained alcohol levels.

Appearance

Amber-orange to light brown in color. Typically clear, but may have some light haze due to limited conditioning. Foam stand may not be long lasting, and is usually white to beige in color.

Aroma

Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness with a low toast, biscuity-grainy, bready, or caramel malt accent. Medium to moderately-low hop aroma, usually floral or spicy in character. Clean fermentation character, with possible faint berry ester. Low levels of DMS are acceptable. No sourness. Malt-forward in the balance.

Flavor

Moderate grainy-sweet maltiness with low to medium-low caramel, toffee, bready, and/or biscuity notes. Generally light palate flavors typical of adjunct beers; a low grainy, corn-like sweetness is common. Medium to low floral or spicy hop flavor. Medium to low hop bitterness, which should neither be coarse nor have a harsh aftertaste. May exhibit light fruitiness. Balance in the finish is towards the malt. May have a lightly flinty or minerally-sulfate flavor in the finish. The finish is fairly dry, including the contributions of roasted grains and minerals. No sourness.

Mouthfeel

Medium to medium-light body with a relatively soft mouthfeel. Highly carbonated. Can have a creamy texture.

Comments

Modern characterizations of the style often mention a lactic sourness or sour mashing, but extensive brewing records from the larger breweries at the turn of the century have no indication of long acid rests, sour mashing, or extensive conditioning. This is likely a modern homebrewer invention, based on the supposition that since indigenous Bourbon distillers used a sour mash, beer brewers must also have used this process. No contemporaneous records indicate sour mashing or that the beer had a sour profile; rather the opposite, that the beer was brewed as an inexpensive, present-use ale. Enter soured versions in American Wild Ale.

History

A true American original style, Kentucky Common was almost exclusively produced and sold around the Louisville Kentucky metropolitan area from some time after the Civil War up to Prohibition. Its hallmark was that it was inexpensive and quickly produced, typically 6 to 8 days from mash to delivery. The beer was racked into barrels while actively fermenting (1.020 – 1.022) and tightly bunged to allow carbonation in the saloon cellar. There is some speculation that it was a variant of the lighter common or cream ale produced throughout much of the East prior to the Civil War and that the darker grains were added by the mostly Germanic brewers to help acidify the typical carbonate water of the Louisville area, or that they had a preference for darker colored beers. Up until the late 19th century, Kentucky Common was not brewed in the summer months unless cellars, usually used for malting, were used for fermentation. With the advent of ice machines, the larger breweries were able to brew year round. In the period from 1900 to prohibition, about 75% of the beer sold in the Louisville area was Kentucky Common. With prohibition, the style died completely as the few larger breweries that survived were almost exclusively lager producers.

Characteristic Ingredients

Six-row barley malt was used with 35% corn grits to dilute the excessive protein levels along with 1 to 2% each caramel and black malt. Native American hops, usually about .2 pounds per barrel of Western hops for bittering and a similar amount of New York hops (such as Clusters) for flavor (15 minutes prior to knock out). Imported continental Saazer-type hops (.1 pounds per barrel) were added at knock out for aroma. Water in the Louisville area was typically moderate to high in carbonates. Mash water was often pre-boiled to precipitate the carbonate and Gypsum was commonly added. Considering the time from mash in to kegging for delivery was typically 6 to 8 days, clearly aggressive top-fermenting yeasts was used.

Style Comparison

Like a darker-colored cream ale emphasizing corn, but with some light character malt flavor. Malt flavors and balance are probably closest to modern adjunct-driven international amber or dark lagers, Irish red ales, or Belgian pale ales.

Vital Statistics

IBU

15 - 30

SRM

11 - 20

OG

1.044 - 1.055

FG

1.010 - 1.018

ABV

4% - 5.5%

Commercial Examples

Apocalypse Brew Works Ortel’s 1912.

27A. Historical Beer: Lichtenhainer

Overall Impression

A sour, smoked, lower-gravity historical German wheat beer. Complex yet refreshing character due to high attenuation and carbonation, along with low bitterness and moderate sourness.

Appearance

Tall off-white head, rocky and persistent. Deep yellow to light gold color. Fair clarity, may be somewhat hazy.

Aroma

Moderately strong fresh smoky aroma, light hints of sourness, medium-low fruity esters, possibly apples or lemons, moderate bready-grainy malt. The smoke character is stronger than the bready notes, and the smoke has a ‘dry’ character, like the remnants of an old fire, not a ‘greasy’ smoke.

Flavor

Moderately strong fruity flavor, possibly lemons or apples. Moderate intensity, clean lactic tartness (no funk). Similar smoky character as aroma (dry wood fire), medium strength. Dry finish, with acidity and smoke in the aftertaste. Low bitterness; the acidity is providing the balance, not hops. Fresh, clean palate and slightly puckery aftertaste. The wheat character is on the low side; the smoke and acidity are more prominent in the balance. The lemony-tart/green apple flavor is strongest in the finish, with smoke a close second. Complex.

Mouthfeel

Tingly acidity. High carbonation. Medium to medium-light body.

Comments

Served young. Smoke and sour is an unusual combination that is not for everyone.

History

Originating in Lichtenhain, in Thüringen (central Germany). Height of popularity was towards the end of the 1800s, and was widely available throughout Thüringen. Like a pre-1840 Berliner Weisse.

Characteristic Ingredients

Smoked barley malt, wheat malt, lactobacillus, top-fermenting yeast. Grists vary, but the wheat would typically be 30-50%.

Style Comparison

In the same general historical lower-alcohol top-fermenting central European wheat beer family as Gose, Grodziskie, and Berliner weisse, has elements of all of them but having its own unique balance – sour and smoke is not found in any of the other beers. Not as acidic as Berliner weisse, probably more like a smoked Gose without coriander and salt, or a Grodziskie with Gose-like acidity.

Vital Statistics

IBU

5 - 12

SRM

3 - 6

OG

1.032 - 1.040

FG

1.004 - 1.008

ABV

3.5% - 4.7%

27A. Historical Beer: London Brown Ale

Overall Impression

A luscious, sweet, malt-oriented dark brown ale, with caramel and toffee malt complexity and a sweet finish.

Appearance

Medium to very dark brown color, but can be nearly black. Nearly opaque, although should be relatively clear if visible. Low to moderate off-white to tan head.

Aroma

Moderate malty-sweet aroma, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Low to medium fruity esters, often dark fruit like plums. Very low to no hop aroma, earthy or floral qualities.

Flavor

Deep, caramel or toffee-like malty and sweet flavor on the palate and lasting into the finish. Hints of biscuit and coffee are common. Some fruity esters can be present (typically dark fruit); relatively clean fermentation profile for an English ale. Low hop bitterness. Hop flavor is low to non-existent, possibly earthy or floral in character. Moderately-low to no perceivable roasty or bitter black malt flavor. Moderately sweet finish with a smooth, malty aftertaste. May have a sugary-sweet flavor.

Mouthfeel

Medium body, but the residual sweetness may give a heavier impression. Medium-low to medium carbonation. Quite creamy and smooth in texture, particularly for its gravity.

Comments

Increasingly rare; Mann’s has over 90% market share in Britain, but in an increasingly small segment. Always bottled. Frequently used as a sweet mixer with cask mild and bitter in pubs. Commercial versions can be pasteurized and back-sweetened, which gives more of a sugary-sweet flavor.

History

Developed by Mann’s as a bottled product in 1902. Claimed at the time to be “the sweetest beer in London.” Pre-WWI versions were around 5% ABV, but same general balance. Declined in popularity in second half of 20th century, and now nearly extinct.

Characteristic Ingredients

English pale ale malt as a base with a healthy proportion of darker caramel malts and often some roasted (black) malt and wheat malt (this is Mann’s traditional grist – others can rely on dark sugars for color and flavor). Moderate to high carbonate water. English hop varieties are most authentic, though with low flavor and bitterness almost any type could be used. Post-fermentation sweetening with lactose or artificial sweeteners, or sucrose (if pasteurized).

Style Comparison

May seem somewhat like a less roasty version of a sweet stout (and lower-gravity, at least for US sweet stout examples) or a sweet version of a dark mild.

Vital Statistics

IBU

15 - 20

SRM

22 - 35

OG

1.033 - 1.038

FG

1.012 - 1.015

ABV

2.8% - 3.6%

Commercial Examples

Harveys Bloomsbury Brown Ale, Mann's Brown Ale.
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