Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Lager Beer

It's been getting on for a month since I last wrote any non-travel posts. Very odd getting back into the swing.

One of my favourite themes - Lager in late 19th-century Britain seems a good place to start.

"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.

From the first sentence it's clear that it isn't a description of Bavarian brewing. As glucose was definitely not allowed when brewing bottom-fermenting beer.

Which is made clear in the next section. Which makes specific mention of New York city.

"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. 

Not quite sure why they bothered to detail the malting process. The next bit detailing the brewing process itself is more interesting.

"It is first crushed by passing between a series of large rollers, and next is transferred to the mash-tubs, where it is stirred about with water at 120° to 140° Fahr., and boiling is then gradually added until all is heated to about 170° Fahr. The infusion or wort is allowed to stand until the suspended matters have settled, when it is drawn off, and a second wort is obtained by treating the residuum with hot water. The first wort is boiled with the hops, the second wort is then let in, and the whole is boiled for about four hours. It is then run into the cooler, where it is quickly chilled to between and 50° Fahr., by running over small pipes through which cold water is continually flowing. As soon as it is properly cooled it is run into the fermenting tuns, where it is mixed with one gallon of yeast for every twenty to twenty-five barrels. Fermentation continues for about twenty days. At first there is a heavy froth, which soon subsides, however, leaving the surface clear. At the end of this period it is racked off into hogsheads, the yeast remaining at the bottom of the tuns. These hogsheads are allowed to stand with the bungs open until a few days before the beer is put into barrels for use, when the bungs are driven in to accumulate carbonic acid for life."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, pages 15 - 16.

That doesn't sound like a proper decoction as none of the wort is being boiled. But not really an infusion mash, either. the lagering sounds pretty standard, though a hogshead is quite a small vessel for the purpose.

The types of beer being made sound very central European: winter beer, summer beer and Bock.

"Three varieties of beer are made. 1. "Lager," or summer beer, is prepared from the following:— Water, 1 barrel; malt, 3 bushels; hops, 1.5 to 3 lbs.; yeast, about 1/3 pint. Grapesugar or glucose can be made to substitute part of the malt, and is very commonly used for this purpose; in some cases to fully one-fourth the weight of the malt. Lager beer is usually stored from four to six months. 2. "Schenck," winter, or present use beer: Water, 1 barrel; malt, 2 to 3 bushels; hops, 1 lb.; yeast, about 1/3 pint. It is ready for use in from four to six weeks. 3. "Bock" beer, an extra strong beer, made in small quantities and served to customers in the spring, during the interval between the giving out of the sclienck beer and the tapping of the lager. In its preparation are used : Water, 1 barrel; malt, 3.5 bushels; hops, 1 lb.; yeast, about 2/3 pint. Bock beer requires about two months in its preparation."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 16.

That does tell us something useful about the beers. Though I can't help wondering if the bushel being used is different from an imperial bushel. Because 3 bushels to a barrel would implay an OG of around 1080º, which is obviously way too high for a Lagerbier.

1.5 to 3 lbs for 3 bushels of malt is the equivalent of 4 to 8 lbs per quarter. The top end of that is about the same rate as an English Mild Ale of the period. The bottom end of 4 lbs per quarter of malt is lower than the rate for any UK beer back then.

Finally, a lisst of all the other shit that was put into beer.

"Starch, grape-sugar or glucose, glycerine and molasses are not unfrequently introduced into beers to replace part of the malt, while pine bark, quassia, walnut leaf, wormwood, bitter cloves, aloes, etc., are sometimes used to neutralize acidity or conceal dilution. The colour of the beer depends much upon the care with which the malt is handled, and the temperature with which it is kiln dried. 90° to 100° Fahr. produces pale malt; 120° to 125°, amber malt. At temperatures above this the malt becomes brown, and the wort produced from it has a similar colour. The malt should be dried so that every part of it becomes crisp.—Scientific American."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 16.

Some of those bittering agents are familiar to me from adulterations in the UK. Though wanut leaf is a new one to me.

1 comment:

A Brew Rat said...

"Pine bark" has to be one of the least appealing sounding ingredients I have ever heard of, to be used in brewing. Turpentine beer, anyone?