Sunday, 24 April 2022

Hancock water treatment

The importance of water chemistry had been highlighted by the experiences of brewing Pale Ales in Burton.  At first brewers simply set up shop there or somewhere else with similar water. But as the chemistry became better understood, brewers realised that they could treat their water to resemble that of Burton. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Which is what brewers started to do. Not only did they Burton up their brewing water with gypsum for Pale Ales, but they used different treatments for other styles. It all ended up being quite complicated.

Hancock, a medium-sized brewery in the Southwest of England, had multiple different water treatments.

The only constant was gypsum, which was used in varying amounts for every beer. Unsurprisingly, rather more in Pale Ales than Mild Ales. Other than the two strongest Milds, XXX and XXXX, which received the most of all.

Next most popular was kainit, which was hydrated potassium and magnesium sulfate-chloride, KMgSO4Cl·3H2O. That was applied to all but the three strongest beers. Instead, those three beers were given a small quantity of calcium chloride.

Sulphate of magnesia – or magnesium sulphate – pops up only in the two strong Mild.

Only one beer was brewed from untreated water: Stout. 

Hancock water treatment in 1897 (per barrel)
beer style gypsum kainit calcium chloride sulphate magnesia
Ale Mild Ale 0.63 oz 0.63 oz    
X Mild Ale 0.64 oz 0.64 oz    
XX Mild Ale 1.20 oz 0.45 oz    
XXX Mild Ale 3.79 oz   0.69 oz 0.73 oz
XXXX Mild Ale 3.79 oz   0.70 oz 0.73 oz
XXB Pale Ale 2.53 oz 0.95 oz    
B Ale Pale Ale 2.85 oz 1.07 oz    
SBA Pale Ale 3.92 oz   0.71 oz  
Stout Stout        
Hancock brewing record held at South West Heritage Trust Somerset Archive, document number DD/HCK/5/2/3.


Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but my recollection from home brewing is those additions are very heavily skewed toward gypsum. Which could certainly be a reflection of the starting chemistry of the water they were beginning with.

Andy Holmes said...

Ah, there's the SSCC answer. Saturated Solution of Calcium Chloride.