First, one of my favourites: Burton Ale.
ALE, BURTON. This is a strong species of ale, of which only a barrel and a half is drawn from a quarter of malt. Temperature for the first mash 170°, and for the second 180°, followed by a mash for table beer at 165°. It is tunned at 58°, and cleansed at 72°. The finest pale malt, ground two days before using, together with the best Kent hops, (6 to 8 lbs. per quarter,) are employed for this ale. Remarks. The "East India" ale, brewed by Bass & Co. of Burton, is perhaps as near an approach to wine as malt liquor is capable of receiving; it is indeed the "wine of malt"I find this description quite confusing. For one thing, The Bass East India Ale it mentions is a different type of beer. A Pale Ale. The sort of beer now associated with Burton. The brewing method is for a much stronger beer. Crazily strong. One and a half barrels from a quarter of malt would give a gravity of around 1140º. Bass Pale Ale was less than half that - 1065º. The hopping rate is also way too low for an IPA - just 6 to 8 pounds per quarter. As a comparison, Reid IPA of 1839 was hopped at 26 pounds per quarter. The last sentence gets very close to calling Bass barley wine.
ALE, DORCHESTER. This is made with half pale and half amber malt, with 6 or 7 lbs. of hops to the quarter. The temperature of the first mash is 170°, and of the second 180° ; boiled for 30 minutes, and the yeast added, when a head gathers on the gyle-tun ; work until the head begins to fall, then cleanse and fill up the casks as long as they continue to work. Two barrels per quarter.
This is another very strong Ale. Two barrels from a quarter is around 1100º. I guess this is the ancestor of Hardy Ale, which was originally brewed in Dorchester.
ALE, EDINBURGH. Employ the best pale malt. 1st. Mash two barrels per quarter, at 180°; mash three quarters of an hour. let it stand 1 hour, and allow half an hour to run off the wort. 2nd Mash 1 barrel per quarter, at 183°; mash three quarters of an hour, let it stand three quarters of an hour, and tap as before. 3rd. Mash one barrel per quarter, at 170° ; mash half an hour, let it stand half an hour, and tap as before. The first and second mash may be mixed together, boiling them about an hour or an hour and a quarter, with a quantity of hops proportioned to the time the beer is intended to be kept. The first two may be mixed at the heat of 60° in the gyle- tun, and the second should be fermented separately for small beer. Remarks. The best hops should be used, in the proportion of about 4 lbs. for every quarter of malt employed.Yet another description of Scotch Ale. And yet another one that specifies a hopping rate of four pounds per barrel. The fact that multiple mashes are employed suggests to me that it isn't an authentically Scottish recipe. As does the relatively high pitching temperature of 60º F.
ALE, ESSEX. This ale is brewed by putting boiling water into the mash-tun, and adding thereto some cold water, and then the malt, gradually, until a cover of dry malt is left on top; it is then allowed to stand three hours; in the mean time a similar mash is made with half the previous quantity of malt, and the same measure of water, in another tun, as soon after the first as possible; both worts are drawn off simultaneously, and the latter serves as a second water for the malt used for the former. The smaller quantity of malt is then mashed a second time with water. The first wort is boiled an hour, or until it breaks into large flakes, when half of it is taken out, and the remaining raw wort added to it, and the boiling continued until it again breaks. The wort is now drained off from the grains and boiled, and a fresh mash made with the wort from the second tun, for the larger quantity of malt, and very hot water for the other; after an hour it is drawn off and another mash made for small beer. The proportion of hops is 2.5 lbs. per quarter. This system of mashing, which has no advantage over the usual way, has been called "succession mashing."I'm not sure I understand the complicated mashing scheme specified here. It sounds very fiddly. You'll not that very few hops are used, significantly less than in Scotch Ale even - just 2.5 pounds per quarter. I suppose hops didn't grow in Essex and were expensive to import all the way from Kent.
How did I calculate the gravities?
How do I work out the gravities from the amount of malt used per barrel? Exactly the same way Victorian brewers did.
The sugar yield from malt was usually expressed in pounds per quarter. It's the amount of extract that will give you that OG spread over a barrel. The standard amount was 80 pounds per quarter for pale malt (about 54 for brown malt). That means you would get 36 gallons of wort with a gravity of 80 pounds per barrel. To get the OG in specific gravity, you multiply it by 2.77 and add 1000. So
80 X 2.77 = 221.6 + 1000 = 1221.6
I know that figure is reliable, because I've seen it on so many brewing logs. They always include the yield expressed this way.
Standard-strength commercial beers (Like Porter) were usually brewed four barrels to the quarter, or 20 pounds per barrel (1055º).
A barrel and a half to a quarter is a huge gravity. But I'm inclined to believe it, because the Edinburgh Ale is about right at 1100º. In "Scottish Ale Brewer" (1847) there are tables of Scotch Ales analysed in the 1830's. The highest OG is 1133.5.