Mid-1930’s Hop Rates and Other Practical Brewing Data

A.L. Nugey was an American engineer and “brewing technologist”, a very savvy one judging by his Brewing Formulas Practically Considered (1937). I found the chapters on beer types, and brewing formulas or recipes, fascinating. His painstaking, hand-drawn chart in chapter XXV lists 15 beer types, often with multiple examples of each and is a snapshot of contemporary adjunct use and hop usage. The hop column shows the split between domestic and imported hops, sometimes only domestic are indicated, but never imported on their own. Alcohol by weight and extract renderings are given, with his assumed yields from the different “brew materials” (malt, flakes, rice, syrup, etc.).

The hops seem about from .6 -.9 lb. per barrel (31 U.S. gallons) depending on the beer style, but sometimes higher, e.g., one of the stock ales used 160 lbs domestic hops (only) per 100-bbls, so 1.6 lbs per barrel, comparable to a DIPA today and some IPAs.

Almost all recipes called for adjunct or sugars/syrups of some kind, one porter though was all-malt except for a liquorice addition. Elsewhere in the book he suggests that adjunct use should be 25%-40% although it’s the lower end usually recommended in the table. He seems generally opposed to all-malt on taste grounds, suggesting at one point people would find the beers too heavy and that good beer needs some adjunct; at the same time he cautions against using too much to avoid “thin, watery” beer.

Unfortunately, some would argue the mass market by the 70’s and 80’s was largely in that space due to reduced hop usage and (I’d think) an increase on average in adjunct or syrup utilization since the 30’s. Others would retort that that is what the market wants. The mass market beer type still has the great majority of all sales despite undoubted gains in recent years by the craft segment.

I’ve read that Sam Adams Lager from Boston Brewing Company, which is all-malt, uses 1 lb. hops per barrel. So if you poured a glass two-thirds full of the Sam Adams and topped it with any current mass market pale lager or light perhaps, I think that might get pretty close to a good, post-Volstead 30’s lager. True, Sam Adams uses all-imported Noble hops, but I think the overall character would be similar.

A fascinating text is Mr. Nugey’s with many nuggets, e.g., on pasteurization (he felt it essential but cautioned on how to get it right), filtration and clarity (he was a fan, on palate grounds too), and much else.

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