Thursday, 16 September 2010

Whitbread's summer brews in 1844

The image below is taken from one of Whitbread's brewing records. It's a summary of their brews for the months of July and August 1844:

Yes, they did brew in the summer in Britain before the discovery of artificial refrigeration in 1870.

How could they do it? By the use of a device called an attemperator. A series of pipes criss-crossing the interrior of the fermenting vessels. Cold water was pumped through the pipes to control the temperature of the wort. Attemperators were first used sometime around 1780. They were very efficient and continued in use well into the 20th century. There might be breweries that still use them.

 This log is fromWhitbread's dull period. Where very single brew had 152 quarters of pale malt, 40 of brown malt and 7 of black malt. No matter what beer they were brewing. Add those numbers together and what do you get? 199. The number in column three. That's why there an M at the top of the column.

The three columns topped with an H are fun. That's the hops. In hundredweights, quarters and pounds. What's a quarter? Two stones.


Barm said...

I'll ask the naïve question to save others embarrassing themselves: In what way are attemperators not artificial refrigeration?

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, it's not usually considered as artificial refrigeration. They just use water that is already cold. Linde's ammonia refrigeration device of 1870 is usually regarded as the start of artificial refrigeration.

StuartP said...

So, we're using both volumetric quarters (8 bushels?) and gravimetric 'quarters' (2 stone) on the same page.
The past was a confusing place.
No wonder they drank a lot.
Is there a conversion table for volumetric quarters into lb for various grains, or has the 'quarter' been standardised to a gravimetric value by 1844?

Ron Pattinson said...

StuartP, confusing, isn't it? Considering how awkward the measures are, it's surprising how few arithmetic errors there are in the records.

I have my own conversion table for quarters to pounds. Pre-1880, I assume a quarter of pale malt is 326 pounds and a quarter of brown or black malt 244 pounds. After 1880, I assume 336 pounds for all quarters. Oh and 224 pounds for a quarter of sugar.