Sunday, 11 May 2014

Ale brewing in the USA and Canada in 1907 (part two)

More fun with brewing in Edwardian North America.

First a good example of the way brewing is shaped by legislation and taxation.

"The brewing operations in the States and Canada differ somewhat, owing to the fact that the American has, to a certain extent, a free mash-tun, and consequently uses a large percentage of raw grain, but no sugar. The duty is levied on the finished beer at the rate of 1 dol. per barrel of 31 gallons, and is collected by the issuing of stamps, which are pasted over the tap hole of the casks.

Owing to a large percentage of raw grain used, a low primary initial goods heat is aimed for, which is quickly raised by adding the contents of the converter to the mash. It is not the practice to stand the mash as long as we do. Sparging is commenced about an hour after mashing, and continued until all the extract is washed out.

The Canadian brewers, on the other hand, use nothing but malt, on which the duty is levied at the rate of 1.5 cents per pound; the system being very similar to what obtained in England prior to Mr. Gladstone's Beer Duty Act of 1880. The brewing operation, therefore, is very much like our own as regards mash-tun treatment. They all use the closed-in, steam-jacketed boiling coppers or kettles, as they term them."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, page 360.
It's odd that both the USA and Canada were using old British systems of taxation. The American flat rate beer barrel was very much like that used in British system from before 1830, except that in Britain there were two rates, one for Table Beer and another for Strong Beer. Whereas the Canadian system was like that used in Britain between 1830 and 1880, when there was no tax on beer itself, but instead the ingredients were taxed.

This is a difference in equipment that I've not heard mentioned before:

"From the hop back, the wort goes direct to the refrigerators. Coolers, as we know them, with all their attendant evils, are not used either in ale or lager breweries. I think brewers in our own country are now dispensing with what was at one time thought to be an indispensable portion of brewery plant."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, page 360.

How ironic that some American breweries are now installing coolers just to get their beers innoculated with wild yeast. British brewers from a century ago would have though them crazy.

"The ale is pitched in the usual way, but with a very small amount of yeast. This rarely exceeds 0.5 lb. per barrel, consequently the fermentations proceed very slowly for the first 48 hours. They then begin to make up for lost time, and one cannot but notice the healthy state of the fermentations. They carry good heads, and throw up a great quantity of strong, sweet-smelling yeast. The dropping system is used to a great extent.

In most of the breweries a small cold store is used for keeping the store yeast, as it behoves the American and Canadian brewer to keep the yeast as pure as possible and free from contamination."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, page 360.

Now isn't that interesting: they used the dropping system for primary fermentation. Not sure I've ever heard of it being used outside Britain before,

Just checked on some pitching rates. In this period, Whitbread pitched far more than half a pound per barrel:

Pitching rates at Whitbread in 1908
Beer lbs yeast OG
IPA 1.1 1049.5
FA 1.1 1050.0
X 1.2 1054.2
2PA 1.4 1054.2
PA 2 1063.7
KK 1.7 1074.2
2KKK 2 1078.7
KKK 2.2 1084.5
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/073

As you can see, the stronger the wort, the more yeast that was pitched.

Next time we'll be looking at what happened after primary fermentation.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, the closest to the Canadian type mentioned today are beers such as Labatt 50 and Molson Export Ale, both of which are available on draft in parts of Toronto. Just yesterday after a long walk I had a Molson Export draft that was very nice, nothing wrong with it at all. My destination was a craft beer bar but it was closed. Down the street I found a small bar, the most plainly adorned I think I've ever seen in the city but that's fine, with a clientele of older guys, so that's me too and I went in. Molson Export on draft was amongst the offerings and the freshness denoted a decent turnover. Quite tasty in its own way.


Jeff Renner said...

When comparing yeast pitching rates, it must be remembered that the US beer barrel is only 31 US gallons (@3.79 liters) as noted in the discussion on tax. That's about 72% of an English barrel. Do you know which unit the JIB author was using when he wrote of 0.5 pound per barrel in the US?

Ron Pattinson said...


he was speaking to an audience of British brewers so I assume he had translated it to imperial barrels.