Thursday, 10 November 2011

How to Manage the Brewing of One Boll

Remember how I keep telling you that domestic brewing was rare in Scotland? I've found a detailed description of how it was performed. Cool, eh?

It's taken form a household manual. One of those books that tells you everything from how to roast beef and make Yorkshire puddings to making cheese and raising poultry. And how to brew. In fact, there's a whole section on brewing. Starting with a description of all the equipment you'll need.

How do I know it's Scottish? Apart from the fact it was printed in Edinburgh? The title gives it away. By using the word "boll". That's a peculiarly Scottish unit of volume, about the same as 6 English bushels. And the Strong Ale produces is likened to a £6 Edinburgh Ale.

Here's the text. My commentary will follow it.


I. To brew from six Bushels of Malt a Half-hogshead of Strong Ale, a Half-hogshead of Middle Ale, and a Quarter-Hogshead of Table-beer; using Sugar along with the Malt.

Be sure that the malt is of the best pale kind, and that it has not been dried at a high temperature, nor ground above three days. Have the mash-tub perfectly clean, the hoop nailed slightly at the bottom of it, and the false bottom laid upon the hoop. Fix the straight cock or tap in the bottom of the mashtub, and be careful that it does not rise in the smallest degree above the inner surface of the real bottom, or the wort will not all run of. Have your copper full of boiling water, and put 44 gallons into the mash-tub, with 5 or 6 gallons of cold water, to bring the temperature down to 182° on the thermometer. The six bushels of malt must then be strewed into the mashtub by one person, while another mixes it carefully with the mashing-stick or oar, that it may be properly separated and thoroughly blended with the water. This operation will take from thirty to forty minutes. After the mashing is completed, strew from a quarter to a half-peck of the grist, or malt, on the mash. This will form a kind of coating or paste over it, and help to keep in the heat. Put the cover then on the mashtub, a blanket over the cover, and the sacks from which the malt was taken over all. Every means must be used to keep the mash as hot as possible, and to prevent the steam from escaping. There are now in the mash-tun 6 bushels of malt and about 50 gallons of water, being rather more than 8 gallons of water to each bushel of malt.

The boiler is again filled with water, which this time must be heated to 190°. Let the mash remain covered from two to three hours, after which turn the tap in the bottom of the mashtun, partially only at first, and let some of the wort run into a pail, which must be returned into the mash-tun till the running is perfectly clear. The wort may then be allowed to run into the underback, the tap being gradually turned fully round. From the 50 gallons of water put into the mash-tun, not more than 30 will run into the underback, the malt absorbing nearly three gallons and a half per bushel. The heat of the wort when it runs from the tap should be from 145° to 152°.

When the tap has been kept running fur some time, and the surface of the bed of the mash begins to appear, you must begin to sparge* in water at the temperature of 190°, and continue always to sparge in as the surface appears, the tap in the meantime being kept running, till the number of gallons you require for the ale has been percolated through the mash. The first 44 gallons of worts must be set aside for the half-hogshead of strong ale; the next 40 gallons is for the half-hogshead of middle ale; after which the tap may be stopped, and the table-beer wort allowed to remain in the mash. The 24 gallons of water sparged in for the table-beer may be at the temperature of 195°. The quantity of water which it will be necessary to sparge on the mash for the first and second ales will be 54 gallons; besides the 24 gallons for table-beer.

By the time you have sparged on the mash about 30 gallons your strong-ale wort will be ready for boiling; and if you have only one copper you must bring the water in it to boil, then damp the fire with wet ashes, throw open the door of the furnace, and run into one of the fermenting tuns about fifty gallons of boiling water to continue the sparging. To prevent the copper from being injured, the moment the water is run out of it pour in the strong-ale wort, the strength of which you have previously ascertained by the saccharometer. It will require about 44 gallons of this wort to yield 30 gallons after being boiled and cooled; for about two gallons will be absorbed by the hops, and one-fourth of the remainder will go off by evaporation. When the wort in the copper attains the temperature of 200°, just before it begins to boil, put into it two pounds of the best East Kent hops, well rubbed and separated with the hand. Clear up the fire, and make the wort boil briskly for45 minutes, stirring it well during the operation. The more quickly the wort boils, the sooner it will break into flakes and fine itself. At the end of 45 minutes put in other two pounds of the hops, separating them with the hand as before. These are only to boil from 25 to 30 minutes. By this method the strength of the first parcel of hops is extracted; while, by only the partial boiling of the second, their aroma is retained, which imparts a delicate flavour to the ale.

If 84 of the 150 pounds of saccharine matter contained in the boll of malt are extracted in this first running of 44 gallons, now reduced to about 30 gallons by evaporation and absorption with the hops, each gallon will contain about 2.8 pounds; and as one pound of extract to the gallon gives a gravity of 34, the 2.8 pounds will yield a gravity of from 95 to 100. To ascertain its exact strength, however, before drawing off, put some of the wort into the sample-tube of the saccharometer, immerse it in cold water till it cool to 60° on the thermometer, and try its gravity by the saccharometer. If a greater strength is wished than the saccharometer indicates, add a half-pound of raw sugar per gallon, or fifteen pounds to the contents of the copper, and the wort will gain an additional gravity of 17. Wort of a gravity from 112 to 118 is of sufficient strength to make the best family-ale,—equal indeed to what is sold by the brewers of the far-famed Edinburgh ale at £6 per hogshead.

* Sparging. — To sparge is to sprinkle the hot water or run it in a shower over the mash, so as to spread it at once over the whole surface. This, in home-brewing,may be easily accomplished with a wooden vessel, the bottom of which is perforated with innumerable small holes. While one pours the hot water into this vessel, the other moves it round the mash-tun, so as to sprinkle the water equally over the whole surface of the mash. A large watering-pan with a wooden handle (not to heat) will serve the same purpose if the rose is turned downwards by a bend in the spout, so as to sprinkle the water more easily upon the mash."
"The cook and housewife's manual" by Margaret Dods, 1847, pages 645 - 647.

As you'll have noticed, these aren't the full instruction. They'll be coming along soon. It'll give me the first opportunity to use a new phrase: combined grist brewing. But I shouldn't get too ahead of myself.

Back to the words above. The grist is 100% pale malt, which is what you would expect at this date. The strike heat 1s 182º F. Which seems  a little high. I just happen to have William Younger's records from the same year, 1847. Their strike heat was 178 or 179º F. Not that much different. And it should be remembered that a professional mash tun was almost certainly better insulated than one with a few malt sacks thrown over it.

What's described next is what all brewers had to do before the invention of mashing machines: mix the malt and water together manually. It sound like hard work. And, involving two people, it's pretty labour-intensive. I can see that, if you're only mashing a few bushels, it is do-able. But imagine a large Porter brewery where 100 quarters of more were being mashed. Mixing that by hand would have been a nightmare. 30 to 40 minutes, the author reckons the mixing should take, followed by 2 to 3 hours standing. At Younger it only took 20 minutes to mix. Then again, their mash tun almost certainly had internal rakes. Though they let the mash stand a similar length of time, 2 hours.

The mash is runnier than Younger's. There's about 8.33 gallons of water per bushel of malt. At Younger, it was between 6 and 6.5 gallons.

A single mash followed by sparging is dead typically Scots. I doubt any English domestic brewer would have worked that way. Not until at least a couple of decades later. The suggested temperatures of the sparge water - 190º F and 195º F- are slightly warmer than Younger's, which were 184º F and 180º F. The tap heats are very similar: 145º to 152º in the text, 149º to 152º at Younger.

Hopping. I love looking at Scottish hopping. Four pounds for a half-hogshead (27 gallons) is 5.33 lbs per 36-gallon barrel. Let's check what Younger's 120/- Ale (remember this is likened to a £6 Edinburgh Ale) got: 4.75 lbs per barrel. A reasonably similar amount. It's great that the hop additions are detailed: one at the start of the boil, the second with around 30 minutes to go. Once again the point is made about retaining the aroma of the hops. This definitely seems to have been an important aspect of Scottish Ale. The total length of the boil is only  75 minutes. Not long enough for the caramelisation some claim is essential in a strong Scottish Ale. The boiling time at Younger was even shorter: 70 minutes for the first copper and 65 for the second. The hop choice is very similar: East Kent in the text, East Kent and Farnhams at Younger.

And finally the gravity: 1095 to 1100, before the addition of sugar. The gravity of Younger's 120/-? 1099. They, of course, didn't use sugar. Though 1847 is the year that its use was allowed in commercial brewing. Younger were never very keen on sugar. When they moved away from all malt, it was maize grits, not sugar, that they turned to.

I love the way they call a beer with an OG of over 1100 a "family ale".

There's one huge difference in the the brewing method described above and Younger's: Younger's 120/- was brewed entire gyle. Whereas the text describes the combined grist brewing method. But more of that in the next installment.

1 comment:

Arctic Alchemy said...

Here's a very short video of the process in which was just described. While we often discuss brewing on the larger commercial scale (Bass, Allsopp, Younger), my focus is on the smaller community brewing segment too, because there was plenty of small brewers who supplied beer on a local basis as well as homebrewing for the family. My setup here( 1 BBL) was typical for the late 18th and early 19th century. I also have an all copper -mid 19th century (3 BBL) I am working on that is more mechanized by steam. In recreating these old recipes, it's interesting to brew them on period equipment, and in period clothes- no matter how silly it looks.So this video satisfies the notion that we do brew these beers Ron and Kristen put so much effort into.