Carlton & United Breweries had no recipe to work from in order to recreate Tooth’s Pale Ale, a beer that became extinct 81 years ago only to be relaunched in Sydney this week.
Part of a renewed focus by CUB on its heritage brands, Tooth’s Pale Ale was relaunched on Thursday night at The Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay, one of 300 or so NSW pubs once owned by Tooth & Co brewery.
Many of these venues still proudly carry the Tooth’s branding and retro advertisements on their walls, which CUB’s Tim Ovadia told Australian Brews News was “a marketer’s dream”.
“Our job’s pretty easy. Our biggest challenge in this instance was to brew a beer that was as interesting and lived up to the stories that we had around the brewery and the history itself,” he said.
Ovadia said this task was made more difficult by the fact that the company had long ago misplaced the recipe of Tooth’s Pale Ale.
However, even with a recipe on hand, it’s highly unlikely it would have been followed to the letter, he said.
“That’s only because consumers’ tastes in beer have changed dramatically from when this product was in the marketplace,” he said.
The re-imagining of Tooth’s Pale Ale was led by Scott Vincent, CUB’s manager of beverage innovation.
The brief was to intertwine “elements of history” from Tooth’s brand heritage into the beer, Vincent told Australian Brews News.
Connecting with the heritage links of the Tooth family emigrating from Kent in England, the new brew is made with East Kent Golding hops sourced from the UK.
Asked how the 2015 iteration would have compared to the original brew that bore its name, Vincent admitted its heyday of 1850 to 1934 was “way before my time”.
“From what we’ve read, they were quite big, chewy styles of beer,” he said.
Served out of Tooth’s branded mugs, the Pale Ale tasted at The Oaks yesterday was anything but big and chewy.
It’s a light and refreshing style of Pale Ale offering a little more complexity and depth than a lager, but is nevertheless a very enjoyable beer weighing in at a modest 4.2 per cent ABV and 12 IBUs.
Also in the hop bill are Pride of Ringwood, as well as Centennial and Galaxy, two hop varieties that were not in commercial existence until 1974 and 2009 respectively.
However, Vincent echoed Ovadia, that there would have been little point in trying to reprise the original recipe.
“You’re not going to land a beer that people enjoy drinking, and that’s what we wanted to do,” he said.
Ovadia said the original Tooth’s Pale Ale was most likely to be an English Mild Ale, based on the styles of beers brewed at the time.
“This probably is true to that in a way. It’s not exactly the same because we don’t have the brew card, but we think it’s a beer that’s worthy of carrying the Tooth’s Pale Ale name, and interesting in its own right,” he said.
According to CUB’s records, Tooth’s Pale Ale was first produced in draught format from around 1850 until 1915. It was also produced in bottle from the 1870s until 1915.
A TB Pale Ale (the “TB” standing for Tooth’s Brewery) was then launched in 1918 and stayed in the market until 1934.
The CUB team engaged a historian to research Tooth’s and the locations of the original Tooth & Co owned pubs.
The brew will be available on tap in a limited number of these venues across NSW in the coming months.