Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Wm. Youngers boil times 1831 - 1898

Not the most seductive title ever. Making boiling times fascinate isn't simple. Probably not even possible. But let's give it a go, anyway.

I had planned looking at boil times over the whole time slice I cut out of the logs. But I didn't have time. And I'd rather do it properly than rush. So today's post only covers the 19th century. If you can't remember as far back as Sunday, this is the claim (from BeerAdvocate) I'm checking:

"Scotch Ales traditionally go through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort"
The main problem with that statement is this: which period in time is meant by "traditional"? Because, and this came as a surprise to me, Younger's boiling times varied considerably across the 19th century. Time for a table.

I've limited the table to the shilling Ales. For a couple of reasons. Firstly, they are the only beers that were brewed in every one of the years I'm examining. Secondly, the shilling Ales are the Scotch Ales.

You must have noticed something. It's so bleedin' obvious. The boil times steadily increased as the century progressed. To give some sort of benchmark, I'll tell you that London breweries mostly boiled for between 1.5 and 1.75 hours.

The 1831 times are pretty short. Especially considering the gravity of the beers. You might have expected longer boils to concentrate the wort. But that's not the case. In fact it was the weaker beers that were boiled longer. The 1898 times are pretty long, averaging on close to 3 hours. I wonder why they changed?

BeerAdvocate's statement about long boils is true. If "traditionally" only goes back to the 1880's and no further.


MentalDental said...

Where Youngers fly-sparging their beers throughout this period? Where they making more than one beer from each mash?

Perhaps they were boiling the weaker beers longer to increase gravity with a view to improving efficiency but not doing so with the stronger beers to maintain quality.

Did they boil times increase over time because public taste veered towards darker beers? Although we think beers have got progressively lighter in colour over the last 200 years this is not always the case, I believe. Burton ale has become a dark beer whereas at one time it was pale(r) in colour, wasn't it?

Bill in Oregon said...

Really interesting. It's a pretty dramatic change over the course of 70 years. Do you have any theories yet as to why the boil lengths changed? Difference in mash procedures, ingredients, public sentiment? Looking forward to seeing more.

Andrew Elliott said...

My question is: is it actually caramelization that's going on in the boil? I thought to achieve caramelization the temperature needed to be much higher than can be achieved in a boil. Perhaps it is a form of Maillard browning?

Ron Pattinson said...

MentalDental, often they made an 80/- and a 60/- together, or 100/- and 80/-. But the X Ales were mostly brewed by themselves.

I've no idea why the boil times increased. Not noticed something similar at another brewery. When I've extracted more details, it might become clearer. There must be a reason, because it would have cost them money to boil longer.

Ron Pattinson said...

MentalDental, forgot to answer the sparging question. No idea if they were fly-sparging. That's sparging with the taps set open , isn't it?

Hang on. I'll post the mashing details.

Oblivious said...

Andrew caramelization is a tightly defined chemical reaction with just sugar and a small bit of water. Maillard reaction is what happening between protein and carbohydrates to produce Melanoidins.

mentaldental said...

"Fly-sparging. That's sparging with the taps set open , isn't it?"

Ron, I think the origin of the term fly sparging must be analogous to flywheel or fly cutter, ie it's the rotating arm that gives it the name. But, of course, it would have to be done with the taps open otherwise it would become batch sparging. :-)

Anonymous said...

Was boiling length increased due to the mash tun act?

Ron Pattinson said...


not as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, much appreciated.