Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Old Mann Brown

At the end of next month, my parents will be flying across the Pond to come and stay with us for a month. The last time they came was in 2010, just after I had a DVT removed from my right leg, and again they stayed for a month. The big difference this time will be that we now have a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house rather than a somewhat pokey 1 bedroom apartment. There will be no sleeping on an airbed for 4 weeks for my wife and I, and my parents won't have to feel bad about having evicted us from our room. Oh an we have a garden for them to provide free labour for - some couples have grandchildren to foist on their parents, we will have tomato plants and bean poles. I am fairly sure they are looking forward to it!

My dad, in common with a lot of men of his generation, is a Londoner. The Griffin Brewery, home of Fuller's, would still be his local brewery if he hadn't joined up at 15 and spent the next 30 odd years in the pay of HM Queenie and Sons, PLC. Dad spent a lot of time in Germany, and has something of a love for good lagers, especially Schwarzbier. However, the one beer that Dad talks about more than any other is Mann's Brown Ale, the first (if I remember rightly) modern bottled brown ale. Again if I remember rightly, modern brown ale was essentially the bottled version of draught mild.

As you can imagine, I don't get home to the UK very often and so having my parents coming to stay is something special, more so because a couple of days after they arrive it is Dad's birthday. What better then than to attempt a recreation of Mann's Brown Ale? I am planning to brew this in the next week or so, and the recipe at the moment looks like this:
  • 80% Maris Otter
  • 10% Caramel 120
  • 4% Chocolate Malt
  • 4% Wheat Malt
  • 2% Roasted Barley
  • 14 IBU Kent Golding for 60 minutes
  • 6 IBU Kent Golding for 15 minutes
  • Windsor yeast
I am aiming for an Original Gravity of just 8.3° Plato, or 1.033, and expecting to get an abv of 3.2%, which is slightly higher than the original 2.8%. I put the recipe together based on what I have read in various sources about brown ale in general, and a couple mentioning Mann's in particular. Hopefully, Dad will like it and it will be fairly similar to what he used to drink.


  1. Just checked expecting to find that Mann's BA used to be stronger: it was 2.5% in 1972!

  2. According to Martyn, in 1902, when it was first released, the beer was 2.7%. Most of the sweetness apparently came from being under attenuated.

  3. I would drink the hell out of that beer. I might consider not eating in lieu of it.

  4. Nice gesture for dad’s birthday, but unless you are desperate to taste this beer yourself it seems unnecessary – your dad can buy Mann’s Brown Ale back home at Morrison’s or Lidl.

  5. Last I heard, since my parents came home from Central France to live north of Inverness, Dad has become something of a devotee of Black Isle Brewery.

    Part of this though is to test my skills at brewing low gravity, but hopefully tasty beer.

  6. I'm pretty sure Mann's wasn't 2.7% in 1902. It was over 4% in the 1920's, so I'd guess it was at least 5% before WW I.

    Modern Brown Ale didn't start off as bottled Mild, but sort of turned into that eventually.

  7. From page 133 of Martyn's 'Amber, Gold and Black':

    "The next year, 1902 (though one source claims 1899) Thorpe introduced a new bottled beer, Mann's brown ale, promoted as 'the sweetest beer in London'. It was part of a trend toward sweeter beers that included the development of milk stout in the same decade. Its recipe included wheat malt for head retention, and roasted barley for colour and flavour. Its sweetness came from its low attenuation: despite an OG of 1033 its abv is just 2.7%."

  8. The earliest analysis I have is from 1921 (courtesy the Whitbread Gravity Book):

    OG: 1040.6
    FG: 1004.5
    ABV: 4.71
    App. Attenuation: 88.92%

    It stayed in the low 1040's through the 1920's and 1930's, though the level of attenuation gradually fell to about 70%.


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