Wednesday, 31 December 2014

American beer styles of the 1930’s – Strong Pilsener

One of the unusual aspects of the Wahls beer classifications is the presence of two types of Pilsener: Mild and Strong.

The Strong Pilsener was, unsurprisingly brewed from a higher gravity.

Strong Pilsener Type Beer
Considerable beer is brewed in American breweries which is pale in color and high in alcohol and brewed with the expectation of predominating hop character. It is not possible to correctly brew this combination. An alcoholic content of 4% by weight which necessarily must be brewed with an original extract of over 13% introduces strong flavor qualities from the materials and particularly from the alcohol itself so that the flavor derived from the hops cannot predominate over these unless a very large quantity of hops per barrel are employed. This gives a beer too bitter for American taste. The amount of hops employed should be .7 pounds per barrel if the wort can be removed from the hops in less than one-half hour's time.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 170.”

There are a few contradictions in there. They seem to be saying that you can’t brew of this strength and get the right flavour profile. If you brewed it with normal American hopping, the malt and alcohol would dominate. If you hopped it heavily enough to have hops dominate, it was too bitter. For American tastes.

I was going to say that such beers wouldn’t be too bitter for modern America, but that isn’t really true. The majority of Americans still prefer their beer lightly hopped, as the sales of Budweiser attest.

“Many State laws distinguish between a low and high alcoholic beer which has caused a large proportion of the public to demand the high alcoholic variety. To meet this demand brewers are making this high alcoholic, so-called Pilsen, type of beer. (See analysis on Strong Pilsener Type Beer.)
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 170.”

So basically it was the piss-head public who forced brewers to make this type of beer. Too right. I’d always plump for the boozier option, too.

Here’s the analysis of Strong Pilsener mentioned in the text:

Reported by Wahl Institute, February 22, 1936
This beer is composed of the following substances, reported in percentages or pounds per hundred:
Alcohol (by weight) 4.19
Real extract (dry substance) 4.8
Carbonic acid 0.59
Water 90.42
The real extract (4.8) is made up of the following substances:
In Percentage of the beer In Percentage of the extract
Acid (lactic) 0.126 2.63
Acid salts 0.198 4.12
Protein 0.450 9.38
Ash 0.150 3.12
Sugar (reducing) 1.192 24.83
Dextrins 2.684 53.92
4.8 100
The following are important brewing figures:
Specific gravity of beer 1.012
Original balling of wort 13.18
Apparent extract of beer (balling) 3
Real attenuation 8.38
Fermentable sugar in the wort 9.57
Apparent attenuation 10.18
Alcohol (by volume) 5.24
Percent of extract fermented 63.6
Percent of extract unfermented 36.4
Percent of sugars in original wort 72.6
Percent of non-sugars in original wort 27.4
pH value 4.5
Total acidity 0.324
Carbonic acid by volumes 3
Amylo dextrins none
Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 175.

I make that 77% apparent attenuation, which is only a little more than in German and Bohemian Pilseners of the late 19th century.

I don’t quite have a recipe for this type, but I have once that’s close. It’s a Fidelio recipe from the early 1940’s.

Lager Beer Formula
300 barrels
12.5 Balling

Amount of materials required
11,152 lbs. Malt - 388 bushels
2,700 lbs. Common Grits - 27 Bags
805 lbs. Cream Halt Malt Syrup - 1 barrel
680 lbs. Corn Syrup - 1 barrel
150 lbs. Domestic Hops

2.700 lbs. Common Grits
1,496 lbs. Malt
56 bbls. Water 38°

Mash Tank
9,656 lbs. Malt or 284 bushels
66 Barrels Water at

1. Mash at 35°R. 5 minutes after all malt is down.
2. Rest mash 30 minutes at 35°R.
3. Raise mash slowly to 41°R. (Take 10 minutes use rake).
4.   Mash at 41°R. for 10 minutes.
5.   Raise from 41°R. to 54°R. in 10 minutes.
6.   Hash at 54ºR. for 15 minutes.
7.   Raise slowly mash from 54° to 59°R.
8.   Run 5 Barrels water; thru underlet.
9.   Rest 30 minutes at 58°R.
10.   Run to Kettle.

1,   Cooker Water       38ºR.
2.   Let malt in and mash at 58°R. for 15 minutes.
3.   Add common grits.
4. Raise Cooker Mash to 57°R. in 15 minutes and mash
   10 minutes at 670R.
5. Raise quickly to 80°R. and boil for 30 minutes.

Hops;      Use 150.lbs. of hops as follows:
40 lbs. when Kettle is full.
50 lbs.   45 minutes before striking out.
60 lbs.   20 minutes before striking out.
Add Cream Malt and Syrup in regular way.

Here’s some of that in table form:

Ingredients lbs %
Malt 11,152 72.71%
Common Grits 2,700 17.60%
Cream Halt Syrup 805 5.25%
Corn Syrup 680 4.43%
total 15,337

The malt percentage is 73%, a little more than the Wahls said. Note that in addition to the17% corn grits, the recipe also contains 10% sugar syrup.

The Réamur temperature scale that they're using has freezing at 0° and boiling at 80°.

Next we’ll be looking at darker Lagers.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

German brewing in 1966 – fermentation (part one)

Not too far to go now. Before you know it we’ll be done and I’ll have to think up another interminable series.

Were now at one of the most vital phases of beer production, fermentation. Where the yeast works its magic and turns dull sugars into exciting alcohol. My favourite constituent of beer.

The Main and Secondary Fermentation
During the last ten years exact control of fermentation has been made possible by the use of suitable flocculating and non-flocculating yeasts. The characteristics of a large number of yeasts were known and it was possible to obtain small quantities of yeast in optimum conditions from the appropriate institutes. However, the quantities required were occasionally so large that even smaller breweries could introduce their own yeast culture plants. The main fermentation was carried out at 5-9° C. for 7-12 days. Yeast was pitched at a rate of 0.3 and 1.0 litres to the hl. and the usual intention was to reach 90% of the final attenuation in the fermentation cellar.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 20.

Contrast that with a typical top fermentation:

“The wort is pitched as soon as possible using pressed yeast at a rate of 0.15 to 0.30 kg/hl (0.5 to 1.0 lb/imp. brl). Traditional practice is to pitch at 15± 16º C (+-60º F) and allow the temperature to free rise to 20-24º C (68 to 75º F, Fig. 14.1) as fermentation proceeds. This is rapid and normally finishes in around 48 hours.”
"Brewing: science and practice", by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2004, page 528.

Having spent many a happy hour looking at fermentation temperatures in brewing logs, I can say that Briggs is bang on the money there. Though four or five days is a more typical duration for primary fermentation.

It’s a bit difficult to compare pitching rates as one is given as a weight and the other as a volume. However, it’s obvious that 1 litre of yeast is going to weigh considerably more than 300 gm. The much higher pitching rate for bottom-fermentation is presumably why it was worth the while of even small breweries to have their own yeast propagation system.

Now on to secondary fermentation, or lagering:

“The secondary fermentation at a temperature of +4° to 0 or -1° C. continued for 8-12 weeks. The desired final degree of attenuation was not always reached, so a certain percentage of non-flocculating yeast was used as secondary fermentation yeast or alternatively one, added 6-10% of a two-day old primary fermentation beer. When these methods were properly applied, beers of excellent quality could be obtained. In classic fermentation systems one requires large fermentation rooms with a capacity of one-twenty-third of the yearly output. The storage cellars require a capacity of one quarter of the yearly output in order to allow for the summer peak. These methods are today still used in the breweries of Dortmund and Munich as well as in many other large and small breweries, where every increase in capacity of 1000 brl. per year results in a corresponding increase in the fermentation and storage cellar. Other breweries are looking for a way to avoid new building and as a result of replacement of wooden storage casks with modern tanks a considerable increase in the brewery's capacity can be achieved without difficulty, as a storage period of 8-12 weeks still enables certain reserves to be made available. In addition, fermentation and storage might be saved by cold filtration of the wort, but even this method gives a minimum of 1 week's main fermentation and 4 weeks' secondary fermentation.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 20.

The first part of the paragraph is a description of the classic method of brewing Lager. A cool primary fermentation followed by a long, slow secondary fermentation at around freezing.

Adding young, fermenting beer is usually called “kräusening”. The only real record I have of this practice is from Amsdell, an Ale brewery in Albany New York, from around 1900. They were adding a far larger volume of Kräusen – about 25%.

I wonder where that figure of one-twenty-third comes from? I presume it’s based on a batch taking approximately two week in primary fermentation. The one quarter for the lager cellar is easier to work out. If beer was going to be lagered for three months, you’d need about three months’ worth of beer in the lagering cellar.

Reducing the fermentation time is an obvious way of saving money. Nowadays I’m sure the big industrial brewers rush their Lagers through in less than five weeks. I’m not sure that they even lager at all really.

Here’s what happens when the fermentation is rushed too much:

“Frequently attempts were made to obtain a quick fermentation by increasing the pitching quantity and the fermentation temperature (9-12° C.); usually the secondary fermentation intensity was no longer satisfactory as the yeast adapted itself to the higher temperature and received quite a shock as a result of the quick cooling in the storage cellars. The unsatisfactory second fermentation produced beers with insufficient maturity; by-products of fermentation were evident in greater quantities and reduction of diacetyl and acetoin was unsatisfactory. The beers had an unfinished yeasty flavour, a rough bitterness and insufficient CO2 and head stability; continuously changing character and insufficient secondary fermentation affected the normal increase in colloid particles and protein deposits which is necessary for the stability of the finished beer. In these cases an improvement in quality had to be obtained by means of increased use of filter aids and absorption-stabilizing media, in order to obtain beers with the required characteristics. In this connection, it was also useful to replace a large part of the flocculating yeast by non-flocculating yeast which, however, caused difficulties with beer filtration.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, pages 20 - 21.

9-12° C isn’t far off a top-fermenting temperature. No surprise that the yeast didn’t like being chilled down to near-freezing after getting used to the warmth. But I wonder how many of these faults are present in today’s mass-market Lagers? Maybe not the diacetyl, but I’ve had Lagers with rough bitterness. When you could spot the bitterness, that is.

Next time we’ll be looking at newer methods of fermentation.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Southeast tour reminder

Just reminding you of my putative Southeast tour in the spring. Announcing it just before Christmas probably wasn't the best timing.

As I've not booked anything yet, the iteneraray could change. This is my first iteration:

Friday 10th April Houston
Saturday 11th April Houston
Sunday 12th April Birmingham
Monday 13th April Birmingham
Tuesday 14th April Atlanta
Wednesday 15th April Atlanta
Thursday 16th April Tampa
Friday 17th April Tampa
Saturday 18th April Houston
Sunday 19th April fly home

Anyone fancy hosting an event on these dates and at these locations, get in touch. You could be a brewery, a bar or a homebrew club. I don't care which, as long as I can flog some books and down some grog.

The point of the trip, naturally, is to educate the beer-drinking public. Not in the slightest to tart my book:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

25% off my Lulu print books

but only until the end of tomorrow (30th December) with this code:


the whole of the wonderful Mega Book Series could be yours: Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong!. Go on, treat yourself.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Some people have mentioned that Lulu wouldn't let them ship to a US address. If you're in the right bit of Lulu it shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure you're in the Lulu US bookstore.

American beer styles of the 1930’s - Mild Pilsener

I’m still busy mining the Wahls’ book. And we’re just getting to the mother lode.

Because this is the section that discusses in more detail American beer styles of the day. Which, if you’ve been paying attention, was the late 1930’s.

It starts with what was probably the most popular style of the day: a pale, quite light-bodied Lager, vaguely in the Pilsener style. It looks very much like the forerunner of the industrial Lagers that dominate the American market today.

Mild Pilsener Type Beer
It is not unusual for American brewers to place on the market several varieties of products brewed in the same brewery or brewed in separate manufacturing plants but offered for sale by the same organization. The justification for this practice is that each type is correctly brewed only if each conforms to definite properties.

An extra pale beer with a hop character both bitter and aromatic is properly brewed only as a mild beer. Alcohol has a strong taste when created in any grain mash. The strong disagreeable taste of alcohol so created is due to the presence of such higher alcohols as butyl-alcohol, propyl-alcohol and amyl-alcohol which form about 2% of the total alcohol created.

The delicate fragrance of fresh hops blended with the aroma of boiled hops does not cover the strong alcoholic taste when the percentage of alcohol brewed in exceeds 3.5%. Therefore, to correctly brew this beer, generally called the Bohemian or Pilsener type, the beer should be produced with brewing adjuncts such as rice or refined grits which have a very neutral flavor. The mild flavor possessed by these brewing adjuncts then will not dominate even when a large proportion of them is used.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 169.

When it says that it should be brewed as a mild beer, I think what’s meant is that it’s a beer to be sold relatively young.

The argument for using adjuncts in this type of beer is a strange one: that an all-grain mash produces a strong flavour which can’t be covered up by the modest hopping so the more neutral character of rice or grits. Not sure I totally agree with that. I think it’s really about getting a light-bodied beer, which isn’t so easy in an all-malt brew.

Next some more details about the grist:

“In this mild Pilsener type of beer approximately 30% brewing adjuncts are employed and 70% malt. The malt must be of the type which has been dried at very low temperatures by the maltster. Such a malt will not have a strong caramel taste; it being desirous in this type of beer to have no taste quality excepting that of hops. The delicate nature of hop fragrance to be detected in the finished beer necessitates, besides brewing materials with mild flavor, brewing methods that do not introduce strong flavor qualities. Therefore this type of beer is made with a short boiling period in the kettle.

This mild Pilsener type of beer is made from worts brewed in at original extracts below 12% with the amount of hops employed approximately .6 pounds per barrel if the wort can be removed from the hops in less than one-half hour's time.
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, pages 169 - 170.
Here's the Wahls' analysis of a beer of this type:

Reported by Wahl Institute, January 24, 1936
This beer is composed of the following substances, reported in percentages or pounds per hundred:
Alcohol (by weight)  3.55
Real extract (dry substance)  4.85
Carbonic acid 0.59
Water 91.01
The real extract (4.85) is made up of the following substances:
In Percentage In Percentage
of the beer of the extract
Acid (lactic) 0.108 2.23
Acid salts 0.117 2.41
Protein 0.492 10.14
Ash 0.150 3.09
Sugar (reducing) . 1.141 23.53
Dextrins 2.842 58.6
4.85 100
The following are important brewing figures:
Specific gravity of beer 1.013
Original balling of wort 11.95
Apparent extract of beer (balling) 3.3
Real attenuation 7.1
Fermentable sugar in the wort  8.24
Apparent attenuation 8.65
Alcohol (by volume) 4.44
Percent of extract fermented 59.4
Percent of extract unfermented 40.6
Percent of sugars in original wort 69
Percent of non-sugars in original wort 31
pH value 4.5
Total acidity 0.225
Carbonic acid by volumes 3
Amylo dextrins none
Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 174.

30% adjuncts is a lot compared to British usage, where 10-15% flaked maize was more normal. Plus, of course, sugar, but the total of the two combined wouldn’t usually exceed 25%. Except at William Younger where they used up to 40% grits.

The desire to have no flavour other than malt confirms what I suspected about adjuncts being used to lighten the body and flavour. In a all-malt beer there tends to be an, er, malt flavour.

0.6 lbs per US barrel is a very modest level of hopping for a beer of about 4.5% ABV. As this table of Whitbread beers from the same period demonstrates:

Whitbread Ales in 1937
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation hops lb/US brl
LA Mild 1028.4 1008.5 2.63 70.07% 0.68
X Mild 1035.5 1010.5 3.31 70.42% 0.80
Ex PA Pale Ale 1048.2 1013.5 4.59 71.99% 1.07
IPA IPA 1037.7 1008.5 3.86 77.45% 1.12
PA Pale Ale 1048.8 1014.0 4.60 71.31% 1.12
33 Strong Ale 1061.4 1020.5 5.41 66.61% 1.63
DB Brown Ale 1054.6 1016.5 5.04 69.78% 1.65
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/104.

The beer with a similar gravity, PA, has about double the rate of hopping. Even the puny LA, a watery, cheap Mild, is hopped at a higher rate. No wonder they had to keep the body really light if they wanted Mild Pilsener to taste of hops.

“All these operations above stated result in a beer of extra pale color and when properly hopped the product will have a delicate fragrance which taste quality has proven most popular to American beer consumers. (See analysis on Mild Pilsener Type Beer).”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 170.

So Americans preferred a very light, vaguely hoppy beer. Sounds much like today, except without the vague hoppiness.

I had been going to say that it was a shame I had no brewing records for this type of beer to consult. Then I realised that I do. Just one, but it’s better than nowt.

Here you go:

Lager Experimental brew 1941
lbs  %
Malt 147 65.33%
fine grits 67 29.78%
wheat flakes 11 4.89%
total 225
Yakima 3
seedless 1
total 4
barrels wort 4.5
lbs hops/brl 0.89
OG (Balling) 12
FG (Balling) 3.5
ABW 3.7
ABV 4.6
Typed sheet headed United States Brewers' Academy.

Note that the malt percentage, at 65%, is a bit lower than the Wahls specified, while the hopping rate, at 0.89 lbs per barrel, is almost 50% higher. Not sure what that tells us. Interesting to see Yakima hops mentioned.

Next time it’s the Strong Pilsener Type.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

German brewing in 1966 – boiling and cooling

I thought I’d best hurry through the rest of this article before I forget about it again. Also because it’s expanding the horizons of my book “Decoction!”.

The book now covers more than 150 years of German brewing, from the early 19th century right through to the 21st. Which reminds me that I’ve another unfinished series: German beer styles in 2014.

But on with the Journal of the Institute of Brewing article, in which we’ve now reached the section  on boiling:

“Wort boiling still requires 90-100 min. if one intends to isomerize the hop bitter substances completely and to obtain coagulation of the protein components. Higher temperatures have not yet been used and hop extraction with special solvents is not permitted. Outside Bavaria, on the other hand, hop extracts such as Horst, Hopulux and Hopcon etc. may be used. Nevertheless, the percentage of fresh hops used in Pilsener beers is still very high. In some breweries hops are milled before use, thereby saving up to 10%, although occasionally the bitter ness of the beer is not so fine. This method is often used in connection with the cloth trub filter.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 19.

That’s interesting: a minimum of 90 to 100 minutes boiling is need to get the hot break. Mmm. I’ve definitely seen boiling times shorter than that in British breweries. Both world wars saw boiling times cut to save fuel. After 1942, Whitbread almost never boiled for as long as 90 minutes. Mostly it was 45 to 65 minutes, occasionally as long as 85 minutes. These short boiling times continued until the Chiswell Street brewery closed in the early 1970’s.

Clearly the stricter Reinheitsgebot that applied in Bavaria prevented the use of hop extracts. Pretty sure that’s no longer the case as I’m sure I’ve seen Bavarian beers with hop extract listed in the ingredients. I’m not a fan, myself. I’ve had too many beers ruined by a horrible musty hop aroma.

“One can see that the brewhouse work is still being carried out according to the old principles, although wet grinding or steam grinding and shorter lautering times have introduced genuine improvements. The heating of the coppers is now very seldom carried out directly with a coal fire; it is mostly carried out with oil burners in specially constructed heating units with 68-70% efficiency. In larger breweries hot water, fresh steam, or waste steam from machines or turbines is used.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 19.

British breweries had started using steam coils to boil wort as far back as the 19th century. It seems as if German brewers were much slower in taking the practice up. The little Franconian breweries I’ve visited mostly have direct-fired coppers, though the fuel is wood not coal.

“Wort cooling.—A fundamental change has occurred in wort cooling systems since pre-war years. With the old method of the coolingship, followed by an open upright cooler, and the use of a special fermenter for the first 24 hr., first class beers were produced. Nevertheless, when breweries were reconstructed or increased capacity was required, one did not wish to provide the large areas necessary for the conventional system, as these were often poorly utilized. As a result, numerous closed systems are being used. The changeover was not always easy, as difficulties occurred in providing sufficient oxygen for yeast reproduction, but by intensive aeration units or air-suction at the centrifuge, sufficient aeration could be guaranteed.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, pages 19 - 20.

Don’t think I’ve seen the term “coolingship” before. A slight variation on the usual direct translation of “coolship”. There was a special fermenter used for the first day of the fermentation? How odd. I can’t remember seeing one of those anywhere. Then again, I wasn’t looking for one and wouldn’t have known what one looked like.

There’s an explanation of this vessels function next:

“With the coolship the amount of cooler sludge depends on temperature. The higher the temperature of the wort, the more important is the subsequent removal of the cold trub. Frequently one still finds the use of a starting fermenter in which the cooled, pitched wort remains for 12-36 hr. This type of unit is wasteful in labour and a certain amount of useful yeast is lost; this can result in the slowing down of the subsequent main fermentation. Useful results have been obtained with cold sedimentation of the wort in closed units. During this process the hot trub often removes, or assists the removal of, the cold trub by a fining action. Following the 8 hr. of sedimentation, intensive aeration is necessary. Cold trub can also be removed by centrifuges and filters: both of these methods have been perfected. For normal bottom fermentation it is considered that only a portion of the cold trub should be removed; on the other hand, quick maturing of the beer can only be carried out with worts free of cold trub.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 20.

It was all about removing the cold break from the wort. You know what it reminds me of? The dropping system as interpreted by Fullers. They generally only kept the fermenting wort in the upper round for a day before dropping to the settling square. Weird that something similar was done in Germany. Though rather than a shallow settling square, I assume German brewers used a standard fermenter.

Next it’s the turn of fermentation.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

More differences between British and German styles in the 1930’s

I’m really proud of that title. One of my least succinct yet. But at least it’s self-explanatory.

We’re still slowly trudging through the marshier sections of the Wahls’ "Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint". Our current station is a comparison of the qualities and production methods of British top-fermenters and continental Lagers.

This is a point that was often made during the 19th century, highlighting the difference in preservation methods between British and continental beer.

Preservative Principles. The characteristic differences between the English and German brewers' products (ales, stouts and lager beers) consist mainly in the high percentage of alcohol in the former, together with a larger amount of hops employed, the alcoholic content of ales and stouts running from about 5 to 7 per cent by weight, that of lager beer from about 3 to 5 per cent. The alcoholic content of weiss beer is about 2.5 per cent.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 158.

British brewers used hops and alcohol to keep their beer sound, while Germans relied on refrigeration. One of the unexpected effects of artificial refrigeration was the gradual erosion of British export markets. Once Lager could be kept cool during transport it opened up huge new markets in the tropics. Light, cold Lager began to push aside the heavier British types. Though never quite completely, as the number of Stouts still brewed in Asia testifies.

Now something about hopping:

Hop considerations. The amount of hops employed for American ales and stouts averages over 1 lb. per barrel and for American lager beers the amount is from 0.5 to 0.75 lbs. When brewing weiss beer less than 0.5 lb. of hops are employed per barrel. The larger amount of alcohol for the English breweries' product, as well as the larger amount of hops employed, are required as preservative principles, the alcohol and hop resins having well-known antiseptic properties. The German breweries employ refrigeration or low temperatures to preserve the beers from spoiling in storage, thus checking the growth of foreign microorganisms. Weiss beer, which has a relatively low alcoholic content and is produced with a relatively small amount of hops and without the application of refrigeration, shows the influences of these preservative principles, inasmuch as this product is made to contain a large amount of lactic acid, produced by the lactic acid ferment, which is left unchecked, during Its production.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 158.

He’s definitely out of date here in reference to British beers. By the late 1930’s average ABV was around 4%, lower than in the USA and in Germany. I suspect that this may be based on British beers exported to the USA. Export versions remained at their pre-WW I strength and had become quite different from beers sold domestically.

Clearly the Weissbier brewed in the US was pretty sour, much like the Berliner Weisse it was inspired by.

I’d love to be able to check those hopping rates with real-life examples. Sadly, I don’t have any such details from this period. We’ll have to make do with some from pre-Prohibition (Amsdell was a brewery in Albany New York):

Amsdell beers 1900 - 1905
Year Beer Style OG OG Plato FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/US brl
1900 Winter XX Ale 1055.7 13.78 1021.6 4.52 61.34% 6.65 0.78
1900 Special Still Ale 1064.4 15.80 1020.8 5.77 67.78% 8.98 1.43
1901 Polar Ale 1054.0 13.37 1019.15 4.61 64.55% 6.01 0.83
1901 XX Ale 1052.6 13.05 1016.35 4.80 68.93% 6.33 1.29
1901 Pale XX Ale 1054.2 13.40 1017.15 4.89 68.33% 5.51 0.73
1904 XX Winter Ale 1058.0 14.30 1019.15 5.13 66.95% 5.75 0.80
1905 India Pale Ale IPA 1077.6 18.80 1029.2 6.40 62.35% 7.93 1.61
1900 Porter Porter 1072.0 17.55 1024.8 6.25 65.63% 10.60 1.56
1901 Sth Porter Porter 1074.0 18.00 1025.2 6.46 66.01% 9.22 1.46
1900 Ex. Scotch Scotch Ale 1066.5 16.27 1034.5 4.23 48.10% 5.48 0.98
1901 Scotch Scotch Ale 1066.6 16.30 1023.55 5.70 64.64% 5.55 1.40
1901 Scotch XXX Scotch Ale 1067.0 16.40 1024.0 5.70 64.27% 5.85 1.02
1900 Winter Stock Stock Ale 1062.3 15.31 1026.4 4.76 57.72% 8.85 1.38
1900 Light XXX Stock Ale Stock Ale 1064.4 15.80 1020.8 5.77 67.78% 7.35 1.27
1901 Diamond  Stock Ale 1081.7 19.74 1028.0 7.11 65.76% 8.08 1.74
Amsdell brewing records.

The average is, indeed, over 1 lb per US barrel. Though I think it’s fair to assume that hopping rates would have fallen by the 1930’s. Unsurprisingly, IPA and Stock Ales are some of the most heavily hopped. What’s unexpected is the heavy hopping rate of Porter. It’s higher than in British Porters of around 1900.Barclay Perkins Porter was hopped at 0.79 lbs per US barrel* and Whitbread Porter at 1.8 lbs per US barrel**. Though the British Porters did have lower gravities.

Here’s some fairly obvious stuff about the different methods of production of British top-fermenting beers and Lager:

Difference in Process of Production
The difference in the process of production of English beers and lager beers consists chiefly in the lesser quantity of materials, both malt and hops, employed in the latter, in the low initial mashing temperatures employed when brewing lager beer, in lower fermentation temperatures, and very low storage temperatures (about 32 to 34 degrees F.) at which lager beer is stored and in the treatment of the beer after fermentation.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 159.

I’d have thought that it was difficult to directly compare decoction with infusion mashing. Yes, a decoction will start off at a lower temperature, but it will also hit a higher temperature than an infusion

The lower fermentation and storage temperature I think we all understand. Here’s more about storage:

Differences in Storage
Ales and stouts undergo a brisk secondary fermentation on storage. Lager beer reaches the storage or stock cellar either thoroughly fermented and then undergoes no secondary fermentation, or it undergoes a slow secondary fermentation, in which case the beers are not chilled on storage to the same extent.

Ales and stouts that are stored for a long period are called "stock beers." Those which are stored for only a short period, undergoing no secondary fermentation, are called "mild beers." These are usually brewed with less extract (about 14 per cent) and less hops than stock beers, and consequently will not keep in storage for a prolonged period like stock ales.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 159.

I thought Lager was still slowly fermenting during the lagering process. At least using the classic method, as that’s how it carbonates. I guess if you’re force carbonating that doesn’t really matter. Bound to affect the flavour of the finished beer, mind.

Finally, proof that not all top-fermenting beers were considered Ales, even in the USA, in the past:

Differences in Ale and Stout Brewing
The difference in the production of ale and stout consists mainly in the characteristics of the malt and in the treatment of the product after fermentation, ale being produced from pale, or low kiln-dried malt, stout from a mixture of pale malt, caramel malt, and black malt.

Stock ale receives, as stated, after fermentation, an addition of hops in the storage cask and it is also primed by adding sugar solution, whereas stout receives no such addition, with the result that ale undergoes a more brisk secondary fermentation and consequently generally has a higher percentage of alcohol than stout of the same original gravity of wort, and is therefore sweeter to the taste than ale.
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, pages 159 – 160.

Is he talking about American Stock Ale here? It’s not very clear. Not sure I’ve heard mention of American Stock Ales being primed with sugar. I don’t get the reasoning that Stock Ale is sweeter than Ale because of its secondary fermentation. Or am I reading that sentence wrong? I’m not sure what the subject is of the final clause. Is it Stock Ale, Ale or Stout?

Next we’ll be looking at American styles in more detail, starting with Mild Pilsener Type Beer.

* Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/1/605.
** Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/094.

Friday, 26 December 2014

German brewing in 1966 – mashing

Finally, after many, many months, we’ve got to the brewhouse.  Thank you for your patience.

We kick off with a description of the mashing process:

“The brewing process.—This is identified by the mashing method. Normally a decoction method with two mashes is used and only in rare cases is the infusion system applied. Pilsener beers have a thin mash (4-6 hl. main mash per 100 kg.); the mashing temperature (56-62° C.) requires smaller part-mashes. In many cases the pale colour of the wort will be obtained when husks are not boiled with the mash. Subsequently the husks are added to the mash before lautering takes place. By these means reductions in tannin values of approximately 10-15%, and in husk bitter substances of approximately 8-10% can be achieved. Stronger beers are mashed more intensively by lowering the mashing temperatures; alternatively, larger part-mashes may be boiled for a longer period, or a concentrated mash (less than 4 hl. per 100 kg.) can be used. Dark beers are still usually prepared with the 3-decoction method, mainly in order to obtain the required flavour. As a result the brewing period is lengthened (12-15 hr.).”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 19.

I’ve read before about special care being taken in the mashing of Pilsener to make sure that the colour remained very pale. Keeping the husks out of the decoctions is quite extreme and presumably required some special manipulation of the grist after grinding. Obviously, you’d want the husks there at the lauter phase to help filter the wort.

You may remember from other articles that the classic Pilsener decoction method is Hoch-Kurz, where the mash in is at the relatively high temperature of 62° C. Again the idea is to prevent as much as possible any darkening of the wort.

I’m sure that infusion mashing has become much more common in the intervening years, at least amongst industrial brewers. For the simple reason that it’s cheaper and quicker than decoction mashing. For very pale beers like Pilsener it also means you don’t have to worry about any darkening of the wort during decoctions.

They were a bit obsessed with continuous fermentation in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Does anyone still practice it? I seem to remember there being some small problem with the flavour of the finished beer: it tasted crap.

“The variations between the mashing methods are probably the reason why continuous brewing methods have not been examined in greater detail. Czechoslovakian authors and a unit of the Ziemann firm, which was displayed at the Dortmund Exhibition, are, however, tackling these problems.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 19.

This sounds very much like the process described as traditional decoction mashing by Griggs:

“In traditional continental European decoction mashing a thin mash (3.5-5 hl liquor/ 100 kg. grist; 3.26-4.66 imp. brl/Qr.) is made from undermodified malt that is comparatively finely ground. The thin mash is necessary to permit it to be stirred and pumped between mashing vessels. In this, and the other mashing systems to be considered, the mash conversion processes are carried out in vessels that are separate from the devices (lauter tuns or mash filters) in which the wort is separated from the residual spent grains. Because the mash is stirred and portions of it are pumped between vessels air is not entrained and the solids do not float. When portions of the mash are boiled the starch is gelatinized and becomes susceptible to enzymic attack, residual cellular structures are disrupted, proteins are denatured and precipitated, enzymes are inactivated, chemical processes are accelerated, flavour substances (not necessarily desirable) appear in the wort and the wort darkens. Unwanted substances such as pentosans and B-glucans are extracted. Boiling portions of the mash is expensive because it involves the consumption of energy. The successive temperatures, which occur in the `main, mixed mash', allow key enzymes to act at or near their optimal temperatures. In decoction mashing the grist is mashed into the mash-mixing vessel, which has a stirrer and may have heat-exchanging surfaces to allow the temperature of the contents to be increased. At intervals aliquots of the mash are withdrawn to the decoction vessel where they are heated, rapidly or slowly as the programme requires, with or without `rests' at particular temperatures, to boiling. After a period of boiling the hot material is pumped back into, and is mixed with, the main mash raising its temperature at a predetermined rate to a pre-chosen value. Before a decoction is carried out the stirrer in the mash-mixing vessel may be turned off and the mash allowed to settle. Then part of the settled `thick mash' is pumped to the decoction vessel.”
"Brewing: science and practice", by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2004, page 90.

Not that Briggs specifies a slightly less thin mash than Narziss: 3.5-5 hl liquor/ 100 kg. Grist as opposed to 4-6 hl. This is much thinner than a British-style infusion mash, which is typically 1.6-3.2 hl liquor/100 kg grist*.

“With conventional brewing units one attempts to carry out the lautering as quickly and as evenly as possible, in such a manner that the time interval from one brew to another is between 3 and 4.5 hr. using a five-vessel brewhouse. Improvement in lautering by steaming of the malt before grinding, or by wet grinding, can be obtained.

The new Steinecker lautering tun uses wet grinding and works with a grist depth of 60 cm. This unit combines speedy filtration with optimum sparging conditions, and with it one can reach 7 or 8 brews per day; with steam grinding it is also possible to reach 7 brews per day, and at the same time, as a result of the improved grinding of the hardest portions of the grist, reduced mashing times can also be obtained. The extreme is provided by the half-continuous wort unit of Reiter, which reduces mash times to 1 hr. (with one decoction mash) as a result of using a very high percentage of meal in the grist. As the lautering process only requires 1 hour, including sparging, all of which is achieved by the use of a vacuum drum filter, it is possible to cast one brew every hour, provided three coppers are available. With the exception of this particular working unit, other units, such as the brewing column or the erection of vessels on one level behind a wall, still employ well-known brewing methods. Nevertheless, attempts are being made to automate parts of the brewing process: this can already be observed in the mechanization of the mash filter. In particular, the use of plastic cloth has simplified the methods.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 19.

Speeding up the brewing process is another obvious way to save money. Cutting down the mashing time to just one hour seems pretty extreme. But it means a brewery could rattle through the brews. 7 or 8 a day is very good going.

Next time it’s boiling and cooling.

*"Brewing: science and practice", by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2004, page 90.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Drinkalongathon 2014 - posh Spanish wine


Lovely duck demolished. Slightly black and crispy, but Jamie's food on the telly is often burnt, too.

The wininess of the wine went perfectly the duckiness of the duck. I'm already starting to flag. Not even teatime yet.

"Where did you put the Laphroaig, Dolores?"

Drinkalongathon 2014 - two fisted computer


I'm sitting at the Barclay Perkins nerve centre. My craoppy little computer desk

The medical gauziness combines wonderfully with my imminent need for medical attention. A gulp of the sweet godliness that is Abt smoothes out the spiky alcoholiness a treat.

Yes, my tasting notes are getting ever better.

"Shall I open the port, Ronald?"

"Yeah, why not?'

Drinkalongathon 2014 - starter and white wine


Bit late with this. Too busy tucking into my starter. Goat chesse pastry, if you're wondering. And salad. Lots of salad.

The goatiness of the cheese is complimentary cut by the appleness of the Chardonnay. It's French and quite posh. Yummie.

Got to go now. red wine to try, duck to turn, Chardonnay to finish off.