Thursday, 15 May 2014

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

This time we're looking at what happened to Ale after primary fermentation.

The scary lively Ale was still being produced, though it was no longer as significant a part of a brewery's output as it had been. The bulk produced was now brilliant Ale:

"Most of the brewers still supply a small portion of the present use or lively ale, and for this class of trade a sufficient quantity is racked off into casks. But it is the treatment of the brilliant ale, which is now the most important part of their trade, that I now propose to deal with."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, page 361.

There wasn't a standard method of producing brilliant Ale. Each brewery had their own particular method. This was what one Canadian brewery did:

"In one brewery they had three large cellars of equal size. Each cellar was fitted with cooling pipes, hung from the ceiling in the usual way. In each cellar there were an equal number of tall storage vats, entirely closed in, but fitted with manhole on the top, and one near the bottom on the side. The insides of these vats were varnished or pitched and, in cleaning, cold water only was necessary.

After fermentation the ale is run off from the fermenting tuns to the storage vats in cellar No. 1, which was kept at a temperature  of 45°. After two or three weeks' storage here it is run to the vats in No. 2 cellar, kept at a temperature of 35°, then after a further 14 days' storage, the ale goes to cellar No. 3, maintained at a temperature of 30°, and then after a further 14 days' storage at this temperature, the ale passes through a continuous carbonating machine to be thoroughly charged with gas. It is then filtered brilliant and racked into casks, and sent out to the trade, and drawn exactly like lager beer through ice boxes. A portion, of course, is run direct to the bottling stores for bottling."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, page 361.
This rings a bell. I'm sure I can remember reading a confusing passage somewhere about an American brewery that matured its beers in three different cellars. I'd wondered what the point was. Now I can see: it's because they were at different temperatures. Lager brewers also drop the temperature of maturing beer down to around freezing point. But rather than moving the beer from cellar to cellar, they just slowly cool down the vat. Which seems more efficient that moving the beer between vats a few times. Also, in the old-fashioned method of lagering, the beer conditions itself rather than being force carbonated.

This is another method:

"At another ale brewery in Canada the process differed somewhat. After the primary fermentation, the ale was run to store vats in a cellar maintained at the ordinary cellar temperature, viz., 55°. Kräusen was here added to promote condition and development of CO2. When the ale had acquired the necessary amount of condition, it was run to a second lot of vats in a cellar which was kept at 35º. After a few weeks' storage here the beer was filtered bright, and casked or bottled as required. No additional quick chiller or carbonator was used to put a finish on the beer. They depend entirely on the amount of condition the beer has acquired in the first series of store vats.

Stout was brewed at this brewery, and was treated exactly the same as the beer, viz., filtered before racking."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, pages 361 - 362.
That sounds more like old school lagering, except that the first part of the process was at a higher temperature. The beer was, however, carbonating itself.

This method doesn't sound very satisfactory:

"At Brewery No. 3 a different state of things obtained again. As in the other breweries, their fermentations were excellent.

The fermenting tuns were all constructed of steel, enamelled inside, and painted white outside. Everything was well arranged, and provision was also made for cooling the room during the summer months.

All the ale at this brewery was of stock ale gravity, and after fermentation it was stored for two or three months in casks as well as in large store vats. To both a liberal supply of dry hops was added. Although they had a large ice plant in duplicate, they did not believe in cooling their storage cellars. This struck me as being remarkable, and a good illustration of the difference of opinion that exists amongst brewers as to how beer should be treated to meet the demands of a critical public.

After their ale had gone through its usual long period of storage, it was passed through a rapid chilling machine, then carbonated and filtered brilliant. By far the largest portion was sent out in cask.

I tasted the beer, both on draught and in bottle. It was not at all nice, and had a pronounced old, harsh flavour, and devoid of character in every way. This I put down to the conditions of storage, which were undoubtedly wrong, and which they could easily have altered, having the necessary cooling plant for that purpose.

One of the principals of this firm admitted that they were not quite sure that their beer was meeting with the demand that they would like it to, and were seriously thinking of installing the Wittemann process, thereby saving time and doing away with the long storage, and further brewing a lighter beer."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 13, Issue 4, July-August 1907, page 362.

It sounds very much like the 19th-century British method of producing Stock Ales: a long warm maturation and heavy dry hopping. Except that it was chilled, filtered and carbonated at the end of the process rather than cask conditioned.  I don't see why storage at natural cellar temperature would harm the beer. I'd lay the blame on what happened after that.

Next time we'll be looking at the Wittemann process in detail.

1 comment:

Gary Gillman said...

I might add the detail, drawn from another article in the same journal, that stainless and aluminum tanks were enamelled, and sometimes glass-lined, because welding techniques were not advanced enough to ensure a smooth surface that would resist pitting and the potential for bacterial contamination (due to inability to clean the vessels completely). Finally this problem was solved.

I am not sure what "old" meant, possibly a taste of autolysis, the yeast dying and collapsing on itself.