Monday, 23 March 2020

Lager Beer

You may have noticed that I have a bit of an obsession with Lager. Especially early British descriptions of it.

Though this article isn't describing Bavarian Lager, but American Lager. Which wasn't exactly the same, as you'll see when we get further into the text.

It starts with a general description of what Lage is.

"Lager Beer.
Lager beer, the beer of Bavaria, is prepared by a slow process of fermentation from strong infusions of malt, barley, and hops, and grape-sugar or glucose. The beer is usually fermented in winter, as it requires a temperature of not more than from 40° to 50° Fahr.; and in the hot weather the rooms must be cooled by means of ice or ice machines. This kind of fermentation is what is called sedimentary or under fermentation, in contradistinction to ordinary or surface fermentation — the scum or yeast collecting at the bottom instead of at the surface, so that the air has free access, and the gluten is more completely converted into yeast. This bottom yeast is quite different from ordinary yeast, and has a tendency to induce the kind of fermentation by which it was produced."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 15.

It's odd to realise that the terms used today - top and bottom fermentation - weren't the only ones in the past. "Surface fermentation" and "sedimentary fermentation" sound very quaint. But I suppose they're as descriptive as the modern terms. Just a little clumsier.

The technical bit starts with a description of the malting process.

"The following is a brief outline of the process employed at one of the largest lager beer breweries in New York city:— The barley is placed in wooden cisterns, covered with water, and allowed to remain for two or three days in soak, the water being changed once in twenty-four hours. It is then allowed to drain, and is subsequently thrown out in heaps on stone floors, where it heats spontaneously and soon begins to germinate, throwing out rootlets and shoots and evolving part of its absorbed water — sweating. It is then spread out and the germination allowed to proceed for from six to ten days, until the rootlets become brownish; then spread and tossed about to cool and check the fermentation. It is then put into large brick ovens on kilns, at a temperature of about 125° Fahr., to dry. The barley is now malt."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 15.

I'm not acquainted well enough with malting to know if that differs significantly from English maltuing methods.

Next time we'll be looking at the brewing process itself.


Jeff Renner said...

“ the gluten is more completely converted into yeast.” makes no sense to me. Gluten is protein, and I suppose that it might serve as a nutrient for yeast, but I can’t see how access to air would have anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Saw your tweet that you made it back home. Good for you, now lock yourself up for a couple of weeks with a thermometer and a few bottles.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, the writer clearly was not up to date on his brewing knowledge. This is a good 20 years after Pasteur. He was probably an adherent to the decomposition side of the yeast debate. One which was, I thought, long dead with professional brewers by the 1880s.