Thursday 31 January 2008

a difficult bookcase

Today's bookcase is a difficult one. Difficult to photograph, that is. Dolores's monitor is in the way.

German guides I've never used. That's the leftmost seven. Then there are two editions of Stefan Mack's inspiring "Fränkische Brauereikarte". "The Beer Drinker's Guide to Munich" is a guidebook I most definitely used. I doubt I could have found Forschungsbrauerei without it.

Here, tucked behind the monitor, are random German-language volumes. "Der Vollkomene Bierbrauer" is non-stop laughs. If you can read the blurry gothic typeface, the purpose of which seems to be to make all the capital letters look identical. Someone should invent reading glasses that convert gothic text into readable words.

Confession time. I own a book that I know has a few bits about Lichtenhainer. I didn't include it in my recent post about Lichtenhainer. For a simple reason. The gothic face it's printed in is a pain in the arse to read. Even with my glasses on. (Clearly not gothic-correction glasses.)

Wandering off. Here, crammed behind the monitor, are random German-language volumes. Some Austrian. It's a shame Conrad Seidl stopped doing his book on Austrian breweries. Packed with useful bits of information.

Leaning over is a book about Andechs. One section really annoyed me. Right after saying how the Reinheitsgebot ensured their beer was great, the author explains how they had stopped using wooden barrels and now used pressurised kegs. Kegging the life out of the beer was fine as long as it was brewed to the Reinheitsgebot.

Scotch Ale III

I'm not finished with Scotch Ale yet. Oh no. Lots more to say. I'll let you decide whether it's worth saying or not.

Today's passage is taken from "An Encyclopædia of Domestic Economy" by Thomas Webster, William Parkes, 1855, page 598.

"Scotch Ale- The Scotch, particularly the Edinburgh ales of the present day, made partly on the old plan, are esteemed equal, if not superior, to any in Britain; and certainly some of the best Scotch ales have a flavour extremely vinous, and approaching the nearest of any of our ales to some of the light French wines. They are particularly mild in their flavour and pale in colour, and the taste of the hop does not predominate. One great advantage which they derive from the smallness of the quantity of the hops which they contain is, that it does not form a disguise for injurious ingredients, as is the case with the larger proportion used in English ales; and hence, if no better reasons could be assigned, it is said that the Scotch ales are less liable to adulteration than those of England. But, on the other hand, they are more difficult to keep long; and the fine Scotch ales are therefore generally bottled."
So Scotch Ale was pale, mild in flavour and with little hop presence. The relative lack of hops made it less easy to get away with adulteration, but meant it didn't keep well.

Didn't I say in an earlier post that Scotch Ale was always dark? In the 1950's it was. But some styles changed colour in the 20th century - Mild is a good example. For most of the 19th century pretty much all beer except Porter was pale. If the dark colour hadn't been such an intrinsic characteristic of Porter, that would probably have gone pale, too. It's all to do with economics. Once brewers had learned of the greater yield from pale malt, the 18th century practice of brewing with 100% brown or amber malt was abandoned. Pale beer not only looked classier, but was cheaper to brew.

"The principal difference between the manner of brewing Scotch and English ale is, that the former is fermented with a much lower heat than the latter, usually as low as 60°: this fermentation is slow; it continues for a fortnight, or even three weeks. The fermentation is carried nearly as far as possible in the fermenting vat, and hence it soon becomes fine, and is then put into casks, and is seldom racked."
Confirmation of the low fermentation temperature and the practice of transferring the beer from fermenter to retail cask. The practice in England was very different. Primary fermentation was hot and quick. There then followed a period of "cleansing" to finish of the fermentation and remove most of the yeast. English brewers were obsessed with cleansing. Brewing manuals often have more pages dedicated to cleansing than to fermentation. Complicated equipment - Burton unions are good example - was installed to facilitate cleansing. It can't have been cheap.

"It appears to have been the ancient practice in Scotland, as it is still in some places on the Continent, to put the new fermented ale quite hot into casks, where the fermentation was carried on slowly, the bung-holes being left open, or loosely stopped with covers of clay. The ale was then sent out in this fermenting state to the customers in casks or in flagons; but it was afterward always bottled, whether strong or weak, and was generally ready in the course of a week. The low degree of temperature at which the fermentation is carried on confines the brewing to the colder parts of the year; and during four or five of the summer months no strong ale is brewed. The ale of Preston Pans is the finest and most vinous of the Scotch ales."
I've not heard of English brewers sending out casks before primary fermentation was over. Though before the Porter revolution, London brewers never matured beer themselves, but always sent it out after the completion of primary fermentation.

"In Edinburgh, Dr. Thomson informs us, it was the custom formerly for the brewers to "send out the small beer in casks the moment it was mixed with yeast, and before it had undergone any fermentation whatever." It fermented sufficiently in the small casks in which it was sent to the customers, who generally bottled it, which made it clear and very brisk, and extremely agreeable."
This is even more extreme. Though understandable, given that small beer would have a short fermentation due to the low gravity and for the same reason also had a short shelf-life. You wouldn't want to be buying any that was more than a couple of days old.

I've still more stuff about Scotch Ale. Let me know if you're getting bored. Then I'll definitely continue tomorrow.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

My even older bookcase

I hadn't forgotten about my bookcase series. You don't get off that easily.

This shelf may be small, but it contains one of my all-time favourite books: Amsterdamse Kroegen Encyclopedie (Amsterdam Pub Encyclopedia). My guide to Amsterdam pubs can only ever aspire to being the second best. Amsterdamse Kroegen Encyclopedie gives full details of all 1,278 pubs in Amsterdam. A remarkable achievement that could well never be repeated.

Tuesday 29 January 2008


A while back I promised to write about Lichtenhainer. It's about time I fulfilled my promise.

Much of my information comes from an excellent article entitled "Vom Kleinsten deutschen Ort, der Braugeschichte machte" in, of all things, Getränkefachgrosshandel magazine of February 1998. The trade magazine for drinks wholesalers. Not only is it detailed, it's also properly-referenced.

Several old brewing manuals are quoted with details about the beer itself. Right down my street. I realise not all of you can read German. So I've translated the most important bits. They may sound a bit stilted. That doesn't matter, does it? As long as you get the gist of what they mean.

First off, here's a passage from "Die Bierbrauerei", 1915, by Rommel and Fehmann:

"Lichtenhainer is also a pale beer brewed from lightly smoked malt, though only barley malt is used. The approximately 8º Plato wort is very lightly hopped and only boiled very briefly and exposed to either a spontaneously appearing or deliberately started lactic acid bacteria infection that gives the beer it's weakly sour taste. The mostly young beer, which isn't expected to be clear, is usually served from a barrel. "
That's actually quite a confusing description. It sounds as if Lichtenhainer is being soured during the primary fermentation. But that isn't the case. It belongs to the very small group of German sour beers that are not sour at the end of primary fermentation.

This quote from Dr Max Delbrück's Brauerei-Lexicon of 1910 makes it much clearer when Lichtenhainer is exposed to the bugs:

"Lichtenhainer is made from smoked barley malt alone, it acquires its sourish taste not during primary fermentation, as does Berliner Weisse, but only through a later developing infection with lactic acid bacteria. . . ."

In "Moderne Braumethoden" by J Ohlberg (1927) it says of Lichtenhainer:
"To make this type of beer one third wheat and two-thirds barley malt are used. The wheat malt is ground fine, the barley coarse, to help filtering. The mashing procedure is brief, a kettle mash or a thick mash. The hopping rate is one pound [half kilo] per zentner [100 kg 50 kg] of malt, boil time 90 minutes. It's pitched with top-fermenting yeast, one lier per zentner. Fermentation temperature 22º C , barrel fermentation. Primary then bottich (vat? tub?) fermentation is rarer; pitching temperature usually 15º C. The gravity of the wort is between 8 and 10º [Plato]. They are highly-attenuated, highly carbonated and wholesome and are regarded as special beers."
"Handbuch der Fabrikation Obergäriger Biere" by Alwin Kulitscher, 1904 (a book I would dearly love to own):
"In Lichtenhainer wheat (up to 50%) and barley malt are used, one of which should be smoked."
There is quite a bit of variation in the recipes given. You have to be very careful when you see the term Weissbier mentioned. It doesn't necessarily mean that a beer contains wheat. Up until sometime in the 19th century German beer was divided into two main groups: Weissbier (white beer) and Braunbier (brown beer). The former was brewed from air-dried malt, the latter from kiln-dried malt. What I'm trying to say is that just because Lichtenhainer is referred to as a Weissbier, doesn't mean that it couldn't be an all-barley beer.

A Professor in Jena University performed a chemical analysis of the beers on sale in the area. It was published in "Journal für Technische und Ökonomische Chemie, 1833, pages 196 - 206. Lichtenhain is now a suburb of Jena, but used to be a village a couple of miles outside town. It seems to have been very popular with student drinking societies. The professor says:

"All the beers examined were brown beers made from kilned malt. All were pale and clear, except for the Lichtenhainer, which was a little cloudy and only cleared after standing for a long time. This cloudiness is a charateristic of the beer and is in no way a fault."

This is what his a analysis showed:

sg of beer: 1.0098
absolute alcohol: 3.168 (not sure if they mean ABW or ABV)

and some weird stuff about salts that I don't understand.

I've just founsd another bit about Lichtenhainer. It's from "Lehrbuch der rationalen Praxis der landwirtschaftelichen Gewerbe" by Dr. Fr. Jul. Otto, 1859.

"Belgian beers are, in my opinion, the non plus ultra of bad beers, they are hard and sour, so without any sort of force that one must be used to them, as with Lichtenhainer beer in Jena, to find them enjoyable or tasty."
Most modern German drinkers would probably concur.

"Real" Lichtenahainer came from the villages of Wöllnitz, Ziegenhain, Ammerbach, Winzerla and, of course, Lichtenhain. At its peak towards the end of the 19th century, Lichtenhainer was made all over Thuringen - in Weimar, Mühlhausen, Eisenach (where I got married), Bitterfeld, Ehringsdorf and Hadmersleben.

The last Lichtenhainer was brewed in Wöllnitz at Brauerei Ed Barfuss Söhne in 1983. At least the last for a while. Because in 1997 a brewpub in Wöllnitz started turning out Wöllnitzer Weißbier. A beer in the Lichtenhainer style. And number one on my list. Of beers I must try. Unless they really do revive Grodziskie. In which case I would be hard-pressed to pick a number one.

This is the brewpub making Wöllnitzer Weißbier:

Gasthaus - Brauerei "Talschänke"
Im Pennickental 44
07749 Jena - Wöllnitz
Tel: (03641) 334321
Open daily from 12:00

Scotch Ale II

I seem to remember posting something about Scotch Ale a while back. One of my main points was that the don't-use-many-hops-because they-don't-grow-in-Scotland story about Scotch Ale was just that: a story. Well, I've been poking around a bit more. Perhaps I was a little hasty in my assessment.

This a description of how to brew Scotch Ale written in the 1850's.
"We shall add a few observations upon the brewing of Scotch ale. This beverage is characterized by its pale amber color, and its mild balsamic flavor. The bitterness of the hop is so mellowed with the malt as not to predominate. The ale of Preston Pans is, in fact, the best substitute for wine which barley has hitherto produced. The low temperature at which the Scotch brewer pitches his fermenting tun restricts his labors to the colder months of the year. He does nothing during four of the summer months. He is extremely nice in selecting his malt and hops; the former being made from the best English barley, and the latter being the growth of Farnham or East Kent. The yeast is carefully looked after, and measured into the fermenting tun in the proportion of one gallon to 240 gallons of wort.

Only one mash is made by the Scotch ale brewer, and that pretty strong; but the malt is exhausted by eight or ten successive sprinklings of liquor (hot water) over the goods (malt), which are termed in the vernacular tongue, sparges. These waterings percolate through the malt on the mash-tun bottom, and extract as much of the saccharine matter as may be sufficient for the brewing. By this simple method much higher specific gravities may be obtained than would be practicable by a second mash. With malt, the infusion or saccharine fermentation of the diastase is finished with the first mash; and nothing remains but to wash away from the goods the matter which that process has rendered soluble. It will be found on trial that 20 barrels of wort drawn from a certain quantity of malt, by two successive mashings, will not be so rich in fermentable matter as 20 barrels extracted by ten successive sparges of two barrels each. The grains always remain soaked with wort like that just drawn off, and the total residual quantity is three fourths of a barrel for every quarter of malt. The gravity of this residual wort will on the first plan be equal to that of the second mash; but on the second plan, it will be equal only to that of the tenth sparge, and will be more attenuated in a very high geometrical ratio. The only serious objection to the sparging system is the loss of time by the successive drainages. A mash-tun with a steam jacket promises to suit the sparging system well; as it would keep up a uniform temperature in the goods, without requiring them to be sparged with very hot liquor.

The first part of the Scotch process seems of doubtful economy; for the mash liquor is heated so high as 180°. After mashing for about half an hour, or till every particle of the malt is thoroughly drenched, the tun is covered, and the mixture left to infuse about three hours; it is then drained off into the under-back, or preferably into the wort copper.

After this wort is run off, a quantity of liquor (water), at 180° of heat, is sprinkled uniformly over the surface of the malt; being first dashed on a perforated circular board, suspended horizontally over the mash-tun, wherefrom it descends like a shower upon the whole of the goods. The percolating wort is allowed to flow off, by three or more small stopcocks round the circumference of the mash-tun, to ensure the equal diffusion of the liquor.

The first sparge being run off in the course of twenty minutes, another similar one is infused; and thus in succession till the whole of the drainage, when mixed with the first mash-wort, constitutes the density adapted to the quality of the ale. Thus, the strong worts are prepared, and the malt is exhausted either for table beer, or for a return, as pointed out above. The last sparges are made 5° or 6° cooler than the first.

The quantity of hops seldom exceeds four pounds to the quarter of malt. The manner of boiling the worts is the same as that above described; but the conduct of the fermentation is peculiar. The heat is pitched at 50°, and the fermentation continues from a fortnight to three weeks. Were three brewings made in the week, seven or eight working tuns would thus be in constant action; and, as they are usually in one room, and some of them at an elevation of temperature of 15°, the apartment must be propitious to fermentation, however low its heat may be at the commencement. No more yeast is used than is indispensable; if a little more be needed, it is made effective by rousing up the tuns twice a day from the bottom.

When the progress of the attenuation becomes so slack as not to exceed half a pound in the day, it is prudent to cleanse, otherwise the top-barm might re-enter the body of the beer, and it would become yeast-bitter. When the ale is cleansed, the head, which has not been disturbed for some days, is allowed to float on the surface till the whole of the the pure ale is drawn off into the casks. This top is regarded as a sufficient preservative against the contact of the atmosphere. The Scotch do not skim their tuns, as the London ale brewers commonly do. The Scotch ale, when so cleansed, does not require to be set upon close stillions. It throws off little or no yeast, because the fermentation has nearly finished in the tun. The strength of the best Scotch ale ranges between 32 and 44 pounds to the barrel; or it has a specific gravity of from 1.088 to 1.122, according to the price at which it is sold. In a good fermentation, seldom more than a fourth of theoretical gravity of the wort remains at the period of the cleansing. Between one third and one fourth is the usual degree of attenuation. Scotch ale soon becomes fine, and is seldom racked for the home market. The following table will show the progress of fermentation in a brewing of good Scotch ale:

20 barrels of mash-worts of 42.5 pounds gravity = 860.6
20 — returns 6.1 = 122
12 ) 982.6
pounds weight of extract per quarter of malt = 81

Fermentation :—
March 24. pitched the tun at 51° : yeast 4 gallons.
Temp. Gravity
25. 52° 41 pounds.
28. 56° 39
30. 60° 34
April 1. 62° 32
4. 65° 29 added 1 Ib. of yeast
5. 66° 26
6. 67° 23
7. 67° 20
8. 66° 18
9. 66° 15
10. 64° 14.5 cleansed"

"A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines" by Andrew Ure, New York 1858, Pages 142 - 143
The main features of the method outlined are:
  1. a single mash followed by multiple sparges
  2. a long, slow fermentation
  3. low hopping-rate - just 4 pounds per quarter of malt. In 1850, Truman's Porter and Stouts were hopped at between 11 and 22 pounds per quarter. In 1838/9 Griffin Brewery's X Ales had between 7 and 8 pounds of hops per quarter.
  4. it was neither racked nor fined (a publican who sold Younger's in the 1970's once told me that he had a barrel that wouldn't clear and S & N suggested that he fined it - something that even then wasn't done in the brewery)

Can we trust this description? It wasn't in a specialist brewing manual, but a more general publication. "Scottish Ale Brewer" by W.H. Roberts, 1847 (page 108) confirms the bit about fermentation temperatures:
". . while the English brewers frequently set their wots as high as 75º, or, acording to some practical writers, occasionally 80º, the Scottish seldom if ever exceed 58º, and, in some cases, fall so low as 44º.
. . . it is not uncommon for Scottish brewers to have their gyles in the tun for twenty-one days, whilst in England, so long a period as even six days is considered as of rare occurrence."
What about the low hopping rate? Is that true? I'm beginning to believe it was. In the case of Scotch Ale. But that was a specific style of beer. Not everything brewed in Scotland was Scotch Ale. By the 1840's Edinburgh had become a major producer (and exporter) of IPA. This, of course, was hopped like crazy.

English Ale of the period was also lightly-hopped - between 7 and 8 pounds of hops per quarter of malt. This what W.H. Roberts, (pages 89-90) has to say about hopping rates:
"With regard to the quantity of hops which the brewers in Scotland use for each quarter of malt, it is impossible to fix any certain data, as it varies from four to eight pounds, according to the quality of the ale, and the season of the year. In winter-brewings, six pounds of hops for the best ale, and four pounds for the inferior kinds, may be considered a fair estimate.

Our practice of brewing, from January to March, was to allow ten pounds of hops per quarter of malt, when the wort was from 96 to 100 of specific gravity. Four pounds of hops were put into the copper when the wort was about 200º of heat, and boiled briskly for the space of twenty minutes; and the remaining six pounds were then added and allowed to boil thirty of forty minutes, according to circumstances. If the gravity of the wort was from 85 to 90, we only made use of eight instead of ten pounds per quarter, boiling four pounds for fifteen minutes , and the remaining four pounds from forty to fifty minutes, as mentioned above. But if the gravity of the wort was only 70 to 80, seven pounds a quarter only were employed. Two pounds of these were boiled for twenty minutes, and the remaining five pounds put in and boiled for forty or fifty minutes, as before."
So was Scottish beer lightly hopped? Yes and no. It depends which type of beer you're talking about. Not all Scottish Ale was Scotch Ale.

My old bookcase

Form all the reactions that flooded in I can tell that you were as excited about my new bookcase as I was. So I've decided to show you my old bookcases, too. No, don't thank me. It's the least I can do.

This one is mostly German and British, though there are a couple of Austrian books as well. It looks so tidy, doesn't it? I doubt that will last long.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll let you see all of my bookcases, new and old, metal and wooden. Get prepared to be thrilled.

Tomorrow: the shelf with all my big books.

Monday 28 January 2008

Out of ideas

Alan over at A Good Beer Blog has been wondering what's up in beer geekdom. Bitchiness abounds, evidently. I can't say that I had noticed much difference. Squabbling is the daily bread of beer forums.

"One thing that I think is going on is there really isn't that much to talk about. How many times can the story of IPA or porter really be rewritten? "

Speak for yourself. I'll be flogging the Porter horse for a few more decades yet. I've barely scratched the surface of IPA.

I like to get in at least one mention of Barclay Perkins every week. And funnily enough, I just happen to have an appropriate quote to hand. How convenient.

"About thirty years ago, it was customary for the London brewers of porter to keep immense stocks of it for eighteen months or two years, with the view of improving its quality. The beer was pumped from the cleansing butts into store-vats, holding from twenty to twenty-five gyles or brewings of several hundred barrels each. The store-vats had commonly a capacity of 5000 or 6000 barrels; and a few were double, and one was treble, this size. The porter, during its long repose in these vats, became fine, and by obscure fermentation its saccharine mucilage was nearly all converted into vinous liquor, and dissipated in carbonic acid. Its hop-bitter was also in a great degree decomposed. Good hard beer was the boast of the day. This was sometimes softened by the publican, by the addition of some mild new-brewed beer. Of late years, the taste of the metropolis has undergone such a complete revolution in this respect, that nothing but the mildest porter will now go down. Hence, six weeks is a long period for beer to be kept in London; and much of it is drunk when only a fortnight old. Ale is for the same reason come greatly into vogue; and the two greatest porter houses, Messrs. Barclay, Perkins, & Co., and Truman, Hanbury, &. Co., have become extensive and successful brewers of mild ale, to please the changed palate of their customers."
"A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines" by Andrew Ure, New York 1858, page 142

Multiple birds, single stone situation. Another reference to storage of beer for more than 12 months. Even if it is only saying that it had gone out of fashion. That one's for Alan.

By the 1850's, the long, slow decline of Porter into extinction was well underway. That Barclay Perkins and Truman had gone over to Ale production in a big way was highly significant. A couple of decades earlier they had been 100% Porter breweries. The switch to Ale and the end of bulk longterm storage entailed considerable reconstrucion of their breweries. Not something they would have undertaken lightly. The removal of the great Porter tuns - the subject of much macho posing amongst London brewers (my tuns are bigger than your tuns) - must have been an emotional decision.

Out of ideas? Not yet. Or maybe I've just not quite finished kicking the old ones to death.

Sunday 27 January 2008

My new bookcase

A momentous day
Today was an important day. Me and Andrew assembled my new bookcase. For the first time in five years there isn't a single book on the floor. That's a major achievement. Now I just have to find somewhere to put all the magazines.

"What's in your new bookshelf?" About 100 mixed books. By mixed, I mean in various languages and from various periods and locations. They're all beer-connected. That is my theme, after all. Do you want to take a look? I thought you would, nosy git.

The top shelf has my Brewers' Almanacks and Statistical Handbooks:

Shelf two has a couple of Scandinavian books and assorted books on British brewing, shelf three is mostly brewery histories.

Shelf four is German and Dutch/Belgian, shelf five has bound copies of old German technical brewing magazines:

Who said I would run out of ideas in six months?

Saturday 26 January 2008

this time it really was Leeuwaarden

I still had one 10 euro Blokker train ticket left.

"Where do you want to go this time lads?"

Alexei: "Middelburg", Andrew: "Leeuwaarden".

"Leeuwaarden it is then. I've already been to Middelburg."

Long train journeys have become much more relaxing since Alexei got a PSP for christmas. Money well spent. The train was packed. "Why are all these people going to Leeuwaarden?", I thought. As it turned out, they weren't. Going to Leeuwaarden, I mean. All was revealed when the train stopped on the outskirts of Heerenveen. At Heerenveen Ijsstadion. Aaah - that explains it. Some skating competition had filled the train. If I were Dutch, I probably would have realised it was on. But I'm English and have almost as much interest in skating as in Zoroastrianism. No, that's not true. I am slightly intrigued by Zoroastrianism.

It was raining when we arrived. A leaden low sky and persistent drizzle make a town look its best, I always feel. Where is everyone? More importantly, why are all the pubs shut?

Did I tell you about my Dutch Pub Guide? When Tim Webb pulled The Netherlands from his guide, I put together a web replacement. How generous of me. Well, not really. It's for my use. I like to have a few leads when I arrive in a new town. The Leeuwaarden section isn't long. Almost 3 entries, it has. We headed for entry number one.

Dikke Van Dale had everything going for it: it was open, heated and dry. Perfect. Dad was in need of warming up. Like so many of the trendier cafes in Holland, its beer-buying hands are securely tied by Inbev. Westmalle Dubbel and a Korenwijn, maybe? Oh look at that - Hertog Jan Grand Prestige on draught. That'll do.

You know those dismal fake Victorian interiors you find in Britih pubs? Van Dale has a classier version. It must have something to do with the way I was brought up, but I find something disturbing about fake books used as decoration. They're almost as bad as fake handpumps.

I like to have a cultural destination planned when I drag the kids off. In Leeuwaarden, it was the Natuurmuseum Fryslân. Skeletons are good entertainment for the kids. I left the kids to wander and sought out the cafeteria. What, no beer? Aaaaagggghh.

According to my highly accurate guide, Strohoed (Leeuwaarden's only real beer pub) didn't open until three. At 15:05 I was staring at its locked door. What's that sign in the window say? Bum. Another 55 minutes to wait.

Finding somewhere to wait out those minutes wasn't easy. It was raining again. We ended up in somewhere that looked more like a tearoom. Westmalle Tripel - that'll do nicely.

Here are my notes:

"Strohoed - a long, thin pub in a typically Dutch pubby style. (My powers of description had been washed away by all the rain.) Andrew is whinging. What's wrong with him? I bought them Vice City for the PSP. Miserable gits. No, I shouldn't be unfair, Alexei is being quite reasonable. Andrew complains that his knees are hurting. They will be soon, when I take a hammer to them.

Reasonable enough brown beer café. Piano. Upright. Whingeing effing kids spoiling my 5 minutes in the real beer pub. Standard day out.

Last night I dreamt that I lost my coat and had to borrow Matt's. It was crap. Didn't keep the wind out. Fascinating, eh?"

Friday 25 January 2008

Beer in Berlin, 1859

Enough of Porter. For a day at least. Here are an Englishman's comments on the beer in Berlin in the 1850's. (Taken from "Bentley's miscellany", 1859, pages 418-419).

"Conservatism has many peculiar ways of displaying itself. In Berlin it is shown
by drinking white beer, and ignoring the claims of the Bayerisch, which has almost entirely ousted that pernicious beverage from the market. For our part, we are not surprised a bit, for the beer in North Germany was really atrocious. During our residence there, we suffered from these atrocities in the shape of beer. First, there was Brunswick Mumm - eugh! tasting for all the world like treacle and vinegar badly mixed : then came Schwarzbier, which you were flatteringly told was like English porter, and at which a pauper would turn up his nose; and last came white beer, which was just endurable, and that was all."
His description of Mumm is so eloquent. Vinegar and treacle: a winning combination.
The author's time in Southern Germany had turned him into a lager fan. Or maybe, as he was such a fan of Bock, he was just a pisshead.

"Perhaps, though, the great fault was that you were served by men. After living for years in and around Bavaria, and listening with delight to the "Wos Schoffens" of the pretty beer-girls, as plump and hearty as their barrels, it caused a sudden revulsion to be waited on by a male creature, who talked excruciatingly polite German that set your teeth on edge. But, we still maintain it, the white beer in itself and apart from the waiter, was a mockery, delusion, and a snare. You took a heavy pull, and about a yard of froth adhered to your moustache, and you found that the pretentious Seidel was only half full. Perhaps, though, regard being had to the nature of the beverage, that was a mercy. Still, there are patriots in Berlin who stick to this stuff, when they can procure the delicious Salvator beer!"

Short measures - as most everything else - are nothing new. I was surprised to read that Berliner Weisse (surely what is meant by "white beer") was in decline and seemed close to extinction:

"But the white beer-houses are few and far between in Berlin, and they are already beginning to be regarded as antiquities. Ten years hence and guide-books will describe them with the same reverence as the Coliseum in Rome, or the Palace of the Doges in Venice. Ten years later there will be a case in the Berlin Museum containing the mysterious goblets, representing a "white or a half white," and the so-called "cool blonde." Yet, in our own knowledge, time was when a large class of deep thinkers and clever orators was known in Athens on the Spree by the name of the "white beer Philistines," and the brewers of that beverage were regarded by the thirsty populace as unapproachable Brahmins."
Berliner Weisse, it seems, was only drunk by a few old blokes. Where have I heard that story before?

"Of course a stranger rarely puts an unhallowed foot in these few surviving white beer refuges. If a pedlar or a hurdy-gurdy boy dare to enter, the whole establishment takes up arms to repulse the invader. The guests are all respectable old gentlemen who have met together for years, and play their customary game of cards. But enough - perhaps too much - on so vulgar a subject: we only allude to it as a characteristic of social life in Berlin."
It gives me a little hope for the future of Berliner Weisse. If it's come back from the dead once, maybe it can do it again. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday 24 January 2008

Beer, cheap

No time. Just enough to share this recipe for pea beer.

BEER, CHEAP. "No production of this country abounds so much with saccharine matter as the shells of green peas. A strong decoction of them so much resembles, in odour and taste, an infusion of malt (termed wort) as to deceive a brewer. This decoction, rendered slightly hitter with the wood sage, and afterwards fermented with yeast, affords a very excellent beverage. The method employed is as follows:

"Fill a boiler with the green shells of peas, pour on water till it rises half an inch above the shells, and simmer for three hours. Strain off the liquor, and add a strong decoction of the wood sage, or the hop, so as to render it pleasantly bitter; then ferment in the usual manner. The wood sage is the best substitute for hops, and being free from any anodyne property is entitled to a preference. By boiling afresh quantity of shells in the decoction before it becomes cold, it may be so thoroughly impregnated with saccharine matter as to afford a liquor, when fermented, as strong as ale."
"A Cyclopaedia of Practical Receipts" by Arnold James Cooley, 1845, page 141.

I had heard of peas being used in one of the Baltic states as an adjunct. I never realised they had brewed an even more extreme version in Britain. Another one for the daring homebrewer.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Extra Extra Porter

Remember my promise yesterday? Which promise? ("I promise lots of things. That's why I'm such a good father.") The one to work out the ABV for the Porter and Brown Stout OGs and FGs listed in the 1824 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

I'm a man of my word, so here they are:

Brown Stout: OG 1062.4, FG 1017, 5.9% ABV

Porter: OG 1053.5, FG 1013, 5.3% ABV

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Extra Porter

I've really caught the Porter bug. This is another bit from the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1824.

This is the weirdest way of brewing a beer from different malts I've ever heard:
"The porter-brewers in London use three kinds of malt; namely, pale malt, amber malt, and brown malt. These three are mashed separately, and the worts from each arc afterwards mixed together in the same fermenting vessel. In some breweries, as in that of Barclay and Perkins in the Borough, there are three separate mash-tuns. In other breweries, the custom is to mash one kind of malt the first day, another kind the second day, end л third kind the third day. The first day's wort is put into the fermenting vessel, and mixed with yeast; and the other two worts are added to it successively as they are formed. Hence it is very difficult to determine with accuracy the strength of the worts in the London breweries. It could only be done by knowing the quantity of wort from each malt, and its specific gravity when let into the fermenting vessel."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

Any homebrewers fancy having a go at that? All that trouble - 3 days of work - for one brew. I'll add that I've seen no evidence of this practice in the archives. Let's say I'm sceptical that anyone really brewed this way.
"We have had an opportunity of determining the strength of the porter wort in all the principal breweries in London. The average specific gravity of brown-stout wort is 1.0624. The wort of the best common porter is of the specific gravity 1.0535; that of the worts or weakest is as low as 1.0374. The average specific gravity deduced from 20 brewings was 1.0500. Such wort contains about 46.4 lbs. per barrel of saccharine matter."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

This bit is more believable. Those gravities look about right. But didn't they just say you couldn't really measure the gravity accurately? If they could take measurements in the major London Porter breweries, it implies said breweries weren't using the three-mashes-on-three-days method. I have no brewing logs for 1824. The closest is 1812. Barclay Perkins: Porter 1052, Brown Stout 1070.
"Judging from the taste of some of the worts, quassia seems to be employed in considerable quantity by some of the brewers, and much more sparingly, if at all, by others. The fermentation of porter is carried on with considerable rapidity, so that it is over in two or three days. The specific gravity of the porter is usually brought down to 1.013 or 1.017. The specific gravity of the best brown-stout, after standing some months in the bottle, is 1.0106. The proportion of pale and brown malt used in the different houses varies. One of the best brewers in London uses nearly 2 parts pale malt to 1 part brown."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

I put this bit in for you, Lachlan. The quassia bark mention. Using it in beer was strictly forbidden after 1816, but it keeps coming up. I've read elsewhere that it was country brewers who were mostly guilty of its use. But that could just be townie brewers slagging off the yokels.

The final gravities seem right, too. About quarter OG, if you use the 1062.4 and 1053.5 quoted as OG for Brown Stout and Porter. I would work out what that made the ABV, but I'm too tired. Maybe later.

Here's some more about dodgy ingredients.
"Adulteration. Laws respecting brewing, &c. By the laws of England, which have existed, with slight modifications, ever since the days of Queen Anne, nothing is allowed to enter into the composition of beer but malt and hops. The cupidity of the fraudulent brewer has, however, frequently induced him to introduce other ingredients with the view of imparting a false strength to his liquor, or as a substitute for one or other of its constituents. Thus, to impart bitterness, and to lessen the quantity of hops required for the beer, quassia, gentian, wormwood, and broom-tops have been used ; to give pungency and flavour, capsicum, and grains of paradise (in concentrated tinctures), ginger, corianders, orange peel, and caraways ; to give intoxicating properties - opium, cocculus indicus, nux comica, tobacco, extract of poppies and tincture of henbane; as a substitute for malt - molasses, colouring and sugar ; to impart a false appearance of age - sulphuric acid, alum, green vitriol, and common salt. The following is a list of the unlawful substances seized at different breweries, and brewers' druggists' laboratories in London, as copied from the minutes of the committee of the House of Commons. "Cocculus indicus, mulium (an extract of the cocculus), colouring, honey, hartshorn shavings, Spanish Jnice, orange powder, ginger, grains of paradise, quassia, liquorice, caraway seeds, copperas, capsicum, mixed drugs."

Sugar and coriander seeds may be mentioned as a very common addition to beer. It is said that 6 Ibs. of the former, and 1 lb. of the latter, are equal in strength and intoxicating quality to a bushel of malt. The sugar is employed in a roasted state, for the sake of its colour ; even coffee has been used for this purpose. Publicans generally reduce their strong beer with water, or table beer, and add treacle, (which they call "foots") and a mixture of copperas, salt, aud alum, (which they call " heading"), to make it bear a frothy head, and in many cases, gentian, sugar, or other similar ingredients, are added to keep up an appearance of strength, and to impart a flavour. The "cheap beer" sold by some taverns in London, is made by dividing the contents of two butts among three butts, filling them up with water and adding a bladder of porter extract (technically termed P. E.) to each."
"A Cyclopaedia of Practical Receipts" by Arnold James Cooley, 1845, pages190 - 191

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? But remember only one of the large London Porter breweries ever got busted. Even Accum doesn't say a bad word about them.

But using coffee to flavour and colour Porter? How modern. Did I mention that I'd found something about oak ageing? Deliberately maturing beer in new oak vats to get the taste of the wood in the finished beer. I'll have to dig it out. Remind me to do it tomorrow. I'm off to watch the end of Supersize vs. Superskinny.

Porter or Stout

Porter and Stout. Two distinct styles or variations of one? You should be familiar with my opinion by now.

I know that I've already banged on about this more than most of you want to hear, but two things have prompted me to return to the subject:

  1. finding some more evidence
  2. Zythophile's post on a similar theme yesterday
OK. Here's my first new quote:

"Stout, brown stout, &c. are varieties of porter, differing only in their strength."
"A Cyclopaedia of Practical Receipts" by Arnold James Cooley, 1845, page 190

This is the second:

"Porter is much weaker than strong ale. The average specific gravity of porter-wort, according to Shannon (as deduced from his strength by the saccharometer), is 1.0645, which indicates 60 pounds per barrel of saccharine extract. Hence the reason why it is so much less glutinous and adhesive than strong ale. The fermentation which porter undergoes is, we believe, much less than that of ale. But we have no very accurate information on the subject. According to the experiments of Mr Brande, brown stout, which is the strongest porter made in London, contains 6.8 per cent, by measure, of alcohol of the specific gravity 0.825. If he had given us the specific gravity of this porter before distillation, it would have enabled us to determine in some measure the error in the attenuation, as indicated by the saccharometer."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

(The bold is my addition, to make the most relevant passage easier for you lazy gits to spot.)

Both sources say unequivocally and explicitly that Brown Stout is variety of Porter. Now let's see - which sources do the BJCP quote? Oh silly me, I was forgetting. They don't provide any references to back up their claims, do they?

I'm sure I can find lots more sources that say the same: Stout is a type of Porter. But I can't see the point. Where's the evidence saying the opposite? If you can find any (published before 1900), send it in. I wager I'll easily be able to find more references that back me up.

Monday 21 January 2008

Porter grists ca. 1845

Porter, Porter, Porter. When will I get bored of it as a topic? Probably never. Porter grists - sounds a fun topic.

Below are six Porter grists taken from "The Theory and Practice of Brewing Illustrated" by William Littell Tizard, 1846, pages 499 - 501.

Quite varied, I think you'll agree. Why are they so many and who used them? Let's hear what Tizard himself has to say.

First off, grist number 1:

"With those who brew the low-priced shabby article above alluded to, a grist something like No. 1 is used, producing a flavour which would lead a stranger to conclude that liquorice had been engaged in its production, so much like it is the flavour of porter brewed of pale and black malt only, whatever be their relative proportions. Any fulness which this porter may have, principally depends upon the gum-like portions and properties of the black malt, which, unlike the mucilage of the paler malts, does not submit to the process of saccharisation, either in the mash-tun or in the fermenting tun, and consequently does not contribute to the formation of alcohol: if, however, such an article be strong, and not attenuated too low, but vatted six or ten months, its objectionable flavour is in a great measure dissipated, and a new one is acquired, which renders the potation tolerable, and sometimes really good. Thus porter, made by an excessive use of black malt, is much more mucilaginous than that which is brewed from lower-dried materials."

Not exactly a resounding endorsement for just pale and black malt. The bit about it producing a liquorice taste grabbed my attention. How many modern Stouts have that flavour?

"No. 2 in the above table produces porter of an ordinary kind only, and with a lower flavour than the first, though much superior to it; but its quality greatly depends on attendant circumstances."
This one a bit confusing. I think what he means is that the flavour is less intense, but more pleasant, than that of grist No. 1.

"No. 3 is much improved in consequence of the introduction of one-tenth of amber and a small quantity of brown, or of the deceptive blown malt. "
Tizard evidently approves of the use of amber malt.

"No. 4, which perhaps is much more general in the provinces, is preferable to No. 3; and, if used without any counterfeit matter, gives general satisfaction where the brewer is provided with the necessary plant, proper vats, and a sufficiency of knowledge ; but the great misfortune with many of the less experienced country brewers is, that they imagine that porter cannot be brewed from malt, hops, and water, without some other ingredient; and hence they often spoil the flavour of a really good beverage by contamination with liquorice or other alien matter: a fact which, as it demands condemnation, must be admitted with regret. Besides this, country porter is often prepared of a greater gravity than the common London tipple, and is consequently of a higher and ranker flavour, arising from the concentration of its carbonised matter. "
This section points out some interesting differences between London and country Porter. I surprised that he's still complaining about the use of adulterants. The use of any ingredients other than malt, hops, yeast and water was illegal at the time.

"Country brewers would find their pecuniary advantage secured, and their beer at the same time improved, were they to use newer and better hops than they usually do, and were they to adopt the grist now in use by those whose produce is so much admired by the public, namely, No. 5, and still more so by the exclusive employment of No. 6."
Tizard's final judgement is unexpected. Not the grist with the greatest proportion of brown malt, but one with neither pale nor brown wins his approval.

So far the theory. What about the practice? Well I just happen to have the grists of several London breweries for about the same period.

Who shall we look at first? What about Whitbread?

This was during Whitbread's "one recipe for everything" period. Doesn't resemble any of Tizard's grists. None of his are just pale and brown malt. I wonder if they were using some other additional source of colour? Strikes me that combination of malts wouldn't produce that dark a beer.

Let's try Truman next:

Again, just brown and pale malt used. Remarkably similar to Whitbread.

Maybe Reid's will show more variety:

This is the closest we've got yet to one of the examples. It's like No. 2, except with a lot less brown malt. Note the first appearance of black malt. I would have expected all the London brewers (which these all are) to be using it by the 1840's.

Finally, my beloved Barclay Perkins:
That's more like it. Finally some amber malt. The Stouts (BSt, EI and IBSt) all have a touch of amber. The Porters (TT and Hhd) do not. This is about the closest match we've had. IBSt (Imperial Brown Stout - what later became Courage Russian Stout) is somewhere between grists No. 3 and No. 4.

Personal aside
I can only think of one example of a beer brewed with just amber and black malt. A Dark Mild I once brewed. Confusion over the Dutch names had me but amber instead of pale malt. It turned out to be a really tasty, chewy Porter. About the only decent beer I ever brewed.

What does this exercise tell us? Don't believe everything you read in books. Well, not totally. Tizard does warn us:

"It would be difficult to define by words the exact flavour, colour, and constitution, produced by the various combinations of black, brown, amber, and pale, or perhaps to confine the shades of separate malts within these four terms ; for the scales of admixture are nearly equal in number with the practitioners themselves. The shades of amber malt, in particular, are so many, and so much difference of colour is imparted by black, that frequent trifling variations are made in the proportions of each by persons who draw out a standard scale for their individual guidance, in endeavouring to arrive at uniformity in colour and flavour, be they such as they may; but by an experienced brewer, this is done with admirable accuracy."
So pretty much every brewers used different combinations and even these were modified to cope with the vagaries of different batches. A warning to anyone wanting to recreate beers of this period, too. If there was so much variation in malts then, what chance of matching them perfectly today?

Sunday 20 January 2008

A visit to Barclay Perkins

It's been a while since I told you much about Barclay Perkins. Below is an account of a visit to the brewery, first published in "The Saturday Journal" in April 1839. At the time, Barclay Perkins was the largest brewery in the world and one of the sights of London.

On the southern banks of the Thames, between Southwark and London bridges, lies the hugest brewery in the world—the chief of those establishments which have made this great city the headquarters of malt liquor as well as civilisation. Ask any of the "fellowship porters" the way to BARCLAY, PERKINS, AND Co.'s, and there, from any one of these unaffected lovers of "heavy wet," you will get a direct direction. " There, Sir, right down afore ye !" and truly it would be difficult to miss a sight of the brewery, the buildings of which cover eleven acres of ground. But how to find out the entrance is the puzzle ; you must thread your way through narrow lanes, thronged with drays, while a rumbling sound reminds one of barrels and hogsheads, and the olfactory organs testify that a brewery is not only near, but round about- for communication between the buildings is maintained by suspension bridges over the lanes. At last we arrive at the gateway ; don't you see the ANCHOR, Sir, the symbol of Barclay, Perkins, and Co. ? All brewers have their sign- their symbol - their emblem ; and the anchor of Barclay, Perkins, and Co., is stamped, twisted, and interwoven on or in everything appertaining to the brewery - the very lamp-posts are propped up by the anchor.

Now, entering the gateway, we pass what may be termed the porter's lodge. An equivocal, or rather a very unequivocal tort of porter's lodge it is : porter-pots give intimation that beer : "drank on the premises," and though the court were clear of barrels and drays, one might have little hesitation in affirming as a verity, that we had entered a stronghold of the powerful spirit of malt. By the way, what is the etymology of "porter ! " A shrewd brewer of the olden time is said to have compounded a sort of half-and-half, which became very acceptable to those brawny fellows who, as the Dictionary says, "carry goods for hire;" and hence porter, a drink for porters, became a drink for the million. But "beer" is the genuine cockney name for "heavy wet;" "Be-ah!"' as the pot-boy bawls it, Sunday and Saturday, at eleven, at one, at eight, and at nine o'clock, in every narrow street, lane, or alley, where a hard-working and beer-loving population may be found.

Hillon, stand aside - here is a troop of the " rank and file " of the Brewery. Shoulder your - brooms; one looks almost instinctively to see whether or not the brooms are shaped in the form of an anchor. These men have just been cleansing out some of the huge receptacles - for malt is a cleanly spirit, and will resent as an injury any attempt to brew it in dirty beds. For this purpose a copious supply of water is a grand essential in ai brewery. Water, did we say ? Oh, do not mention the insipid word. Not a soul in all this establishment would admit it into his mouih. "Liquor" is the word, Sir; - we dare say, in the rainy months of winter, draymen and broom-men, brewers, tapsters, smiths, farriers, and "sample" men, will all be heard deploring the continuance of liquorish weather.

But let us proceed to the counting-house, a range of buildings which fronts us as we enter the gateway. Here are a host of clerks and collectors ; we might fancy that we were not in a brewery but a bank. In one of the rooms, looking down upon the busy deskmen below, is a bust of as characteristic a head as one might meet in a day's walk. This is the head of an old servant of the firm, who saved his £20,000 while in his employment ; and his bust is placed here, as a kind of presiding genius, a perpetual remembrancer and exemplar for his brethren of the quill who shall come after him. A sharp, shrewd old man, he must have been in his day; took care of number one, doubtless, yet had a corner in his heart for something more than himself. He probably eschewed water, dreading the stomach-ache; and kept his spirit bland and kindly by an occasional draught of “two- year old" Only think of a servant in a private establishment accumulating his £20,000 ! An old fellow died the other day, leaving upwards of £70,000, accumulated whilst he was a messenger ; but he was a messenger of the House of Commons, and nourished during the "palmy days," when half-crowns and "something more " were freely given for seats in the gallery.

Talking of old folks and old times, do you know to whom this brewery once belonged ? It was the property of Thrale, the friend of Johnson, and whose house at Strcatham was a home for the Doctor during its owner's life. Thrale's beautiful, clever, versatile, volatile wife, married a second time, and, under the Italian name of Piozzi, is not without her notability Dr. Johnson was one of Thrale's executors. "I could not," says Boswell, “bat be somewhat diverted by hearing Johnson talk in a pompous manner of his new office, and particularly of the concerns of the brewery, which it was at last resolved should be sold. Lord l.urm tells a very good story, which, if not precisely exact, is certainly characteristical; that when the sale of Thrale's brewery was going forward, Johnson appeared bustling about, with an inkhorn and pen in his button-hole, like an exciseman; and on being asked what he really considered to be the value of the property which was to be disposed of, answered, 'We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice !' "

The story is very likely an apocryphal one : but Dr. Johnson did certainly sell the "potentiality'' of becoming rich - very rich, not certainly "beyond the dreams of avarice," but beyond what Thrale, at least, could ever have imagined. The brewery was sold to Messrs. Barclay, Perkins, and Co., for £135,000 ; the capital now invested in it is stated to be somewhat about a million and a half. From out of the counting-house issues a gentlemanly, affable man, under whose guidance we propose to walk over the concern. But our friendly guide might himself be unable to thread his way through all the mazes of this amazing manufactory of "liquor;" at least there accompanies us a shrewd old man in a flannel jacket, whose office it is to act the "Cicerone "for visiting parties. An intelligent, sharp little man he is, not without a spice of humour; and though, of course, he has "expectations" at the conclusion of the visit, there is nothing in his manner indicative that his attention and quiet kind of garrulity are influenced by "considerations”. But where shall we go first? Let us begin with the beginning, though it may not be in the exact order in which a visitor may be conducted over the establishment.

Messrs. Barclay, Perkins, and Co. do not make any malt for themselves, - they buy it. When the malt arrives, it is all carried np to the stores by the laborious process of manual labour. Here the visitor will sec the contrast between human labour and machinery. The malt, as it arrives, is carried up to the stores sack by sack ; and at the same moment, and in the same neighbourhood, where this inartificial process is going on, the ground malt is carried from the grinding-mill, at the rate of 60 quarters an hour, up an enclosed box or shaft, called a "Jacob's ladder," and emptied into its proper receptacle. Lift a small door or opening in the shaft - there, you see the little baskets or boxes, full of ground malt, flying up, and, as they revolve, they empty themselves, and fill again. Now, why is it that the same machinery cannot be made to lift the sacks of malt as they arrive into the granary, instead of having two or three dozen stout fellows staggering up stairs, and along narrow passages, each with a sack on his shoulder ? Oh ! there is a reason for this; Southwark, where the brewery lies, is under the municipal jurisdiction of the "City," and within these municipal bounds the "fellowship porters " have a monopoly, and while sacks continue to be carried on men's shoulders " for hire," they contend that their shoulders should enjoy the privilege. They get two-pence for every sack of malt they carry from below up to the granary ; but Messrs. Barclay, Perkins, and Co., "argufy" in this way:- These lads have a monopoly, or a privilege, call it what you will; twopence a sack is no trifle to us, seeing that, on an average, we use (stand aghast, ye members of a temperance society) two thousand quarters of malt meekly; but then the fellowship porters wo'n't drink a drop of any sort of beer but Barclay, Perkins, and Co.'s, and of that they consume no inconsiderable quantity. This is, we presume, what is called "reasoning in a circle," or an argument which returns into itself.

Bestowing a passing glance on the huge bins for containing the malt (there is stowage for 36,000 quarters), we go down to look at the mill which is crushing the malt, and turning it into "grist." We may here remark the different kinds of malt used (Barclay, Perkins, and Co. now brew ale, as well as porter); the pale malt for the ale, the brown malt for the porter, and the roasted or black malt, which is employed to give the dark colouring. These different-coloured malts are produced by different processes in the drying or the making of the malt.

Pshaw ! but our nice black coats are becoming odious ! Let no gentleman visit this part of the concern in full dress, and no lady in black silk or satin. What with the dust from the grinding-mill, and a few a “shoulders" from the fellowship porters, as they climb the narrow stairs with their twopenny sacks, one is made quite a figure. It is dry, choking work, too; one has no heart for conversation ; we listen to all that is told us, but ask few questions. Relief, however, is at hand. Step this way - look at those goodly tuns; we shall have a drop of genuine "two-year old." Now, if ever you wish to enjoy a refreshing drop out of a pewter- pot, come here; first get covered with dust, and nearly choked with it, and then step hither. Hum ! but this is porter - let us have a bit of bread and cheese. Another draught;- why, this it admirable ! - another - it is exquisite ! One begins to feel quite cheerful,- almost hearty; fine, wholesome, stuff that. Any more porter, gentlemen ? Oh! certainly, we shall taste it again ;- two- year old, is it ? Let us have another slice of bread and cheese, this porter quite gives one an appetite!

We are now in a fine lively humour for visiting the rest off the establishment. Here then are the mashing-tuns, where the grist, or ground malt, is deposited, to undergo the first process in the whole art of converting it into liquor. Malt, in its conversion into beer, undergoes eight different specific operations; it is mashed, boiled, cooled, fermented, racked, or vatted, and fined, or cleansed. These operations are, in such an establishment as the one we are now visiting, carried on in a vast and magnificent style. The mashing-tuns, the coppers, and the fermenting-tuns, are all "inland" seas; there you look down on a dark brown ocean, - here yon ascend steps to gaze on a surface of milk-white foam. But have a care of your head - beware of the carbonic acid gas ! Our little guide in the flannel jacket told us of a French lady who would go up the steps to have a third peep ; but her head became giddy; she staggered, she slipped ; she would have fallen disastrously, but he, albeit a John Bull, and therefore by birth and breeding deficient in the promptitude of politeness, caught her in his arms and restored her to herself.

Marvellously capacious are the vats, whose contents would float the biggest man-of-war in the navy. Thrale, when he had the brewery, thought it was something of a brag to say that he had four vats, each of which held 1,600 barrels, above a thousand hogsheads. There are now one hundred and thirty-six vats, varying in their contents from above 4,000 barrels down to 500. There are, on an average, a thousand barrels of beer sent out daily. One hundred and sixty-two fat sleek horses are employed in dragging drays to all parts of London. There are a smithy and a farriery, and a steam-engine, shining like polished silver, and water-tanks (we beg pardon, "liquor" tanks) pillared high in air, and a railroad for coals, and - a world within itself. Now, kind reader, it were impossible to go out of this lesser world into the larger world of London, without stepping into the "sample" room, and tasting a drop of "genuvine" good ale. How tempting it looks, in those long funnel-shaped glasses ! "Ha! dat ish goot!" "Another glass, sir?" " Aye, to be sure, with pleasure !" "There now, that will do - let moderation have the helm in the ship of pleasure." But we are all in excellent humour with one another. " Good bye, gentlemen - hope to have the pleasure of seeing you all again - good bye, good bye ! “

"The London Saturday Journal" 1839, pages 268-269

Friday 18 January 2008


Not much time. Just enough to post this revealing quote from Tizard.
"Common London porter ranges from 20 to 22Ibs. per barrel [1055º to 1061º], and the ordinary stout for town consumption about 26 Ibs.; [1072º] and stronger than this is mostly sent into the provinces, or consigned to exportation. The different qualities of beers, whether porter or not, are generally marked upon the casks in which they are sent out, and it is now common to stamp X, XX, or XXX, to designate such gravities as at the option of the proprietary may be determined upon, as a guide to the servants, and as a scale of charges. X was at first stamped by the Excise, or with their authority, on all casks and stores containing beer, which was deemed to be worth ten shillings per barrel, to denote that it was strong, and chargeable with duty accordingly; but as this was determined by the consciences of the trader and his surveying officer, the latter of which was sure to predominate, the course gave rise to an infinity of disputes. Ten shillings afterwards became the duty per barrel on malt liquors not accounted small, and the letters X and T were introduced into the officers' books to represent EXciseable and table beer respectively, till the total repeal of the beer duties in 1830 rendered all further notice unnecessary."

"The Theory and Practice of Brewing Illustrated" by William Littell Tizard - Brewing - 1846, pages 503-504.

I've spent years wondering what all those X's meant. I'd found a reference to "T" being marked on table beer barrels, but frustratingly it hadn't said what was put on those filled with strong beer. Now I know.

Is he right? The system of tax mentioned ended in 1830. There's a good chance he was working in the brewing industry at the time. The book was published just 16 years later. I'm inclined to believe him. Though reading it again, doesn't he give two different explanations?

What do you think?

I've just found this. It's from even closer to the period of 10/- a barrel tax:

"Why are certain ales called XX (double X) and XXX (treble X)?
Because, originally, all ale or beer, sold at or above ten shillings per barrel, was reckoned to be strong, and was therefore subject to a higher duty. The cask which contained this strong beer was then first marked with an X, signifying ten; hence the present quack-like denominations of XX and XXX. "

"Knowledge for the People, Or, The Plain why & Because: Part I. - Domestic Science"
by John Timbs, 1832, page 26

Thursday 17 January 2008

Joy unbound

Spike Milligan once said he envied laughter of children. He'd lost their capacity for pure, unbridled joy. Was his comedy just a vain attempt to recapture that feeling?

Today was brewing day at De Molen. Not just any brewing day. Brewing my Whitbread 1914 SSS day. I even got to help. I weighed out the hops and tipped them into the boiling wort. They even let me rake the spent grains out of the mash tun.

(I was thinking of metaphors last night while I was trying to fall asleep. The slashing sword of sedition. Spitting arrows of spite. Are they metaphors? I went to school at a strange time. English grammar wasn't taught. All mine comes from learning foreign languages. Could explain my English.)

Even before I crossed the threshold, I was transported back to my youth. The warm, comforting, sweet malt bath of mashing. Magnus Grammar, my secondary school, was just a couple of hundred metres from the Castle Brewery. Our playground was washed with the aromas of brewing every day. That's mashing and boiling. Now the odour of fermenting, that I associate with my one brief professional connection with the brewing industry. The summer of 1975, when I filled kegs at the Castle Brewery. AK. IPA. Whatever the Mild was called (no-one I've asked can remember its name). Have I told you this before? Give me a kick if I start repeating myself.

Menno (the brewer at De Molen) let me try his new Imperial Stout, Tsarina Esra, bottled and draught. It's the one he let me taste very young last time I was there. I'd give it a four dead rating - dead, dead, dead, dead good.

Did I tell you that I hadn't had a beer since last Wednesday? I was ill and couldn't stomach a beer, then I thought I'd give my poor, wasted body a couple of days rest. At 9 AM I broke my fast with Tsarina Esra. It's 11% ABV. Let's consult my notes: "Thick, chewy and delicious. Chocolate, liquorice, leather, elderberry, blackcurrant, roast - it has it all plus some."

I'm a lucky guy. A very lucky guy. Poor Spike, losing his capacity for joy unbound. But he didn't get to see his own beer brewed.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

I'm so excited

And I just can't hide it. It's not Lichtenhainer that's getting me worked. Nor my DDR label scans that I finally found this evening. Something much more momentous is the reason for my excitement.

Tomorrow I'm off to Bodegraven to see one of my beers brewed. Not quite sure which it will be (Whitbread Porter or SSS). It should be a memorable experience even though I do have to get up at some ungodly hour. I'll tell you all about it in tomorrow's post.

Bit of a short post today, so here are some of the DDR labels I meant to share with you earlier in the week.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Reinheitsgebot II

I was going to talk about Lichtenhainer. You know of the article I found about Lichtenhainer, don't you? Well, you should pay more attention. I mentioned it at the end of yesterday's post.

I won't bore you with the details (not these ones, I have some others already prepared). Today I discovered an incredible resource. I quadrupled my material on Lichtenhainer in 5 minutes. More than enough to make me a total Lichtenhainer bore. I'll be droning on about it for years. But not today.

Everyone's heard of the 1830 Beer Act. When the whole country was pissed for days after the price of beer was halved. That Beer Act. But there was another Beer Act in 1823. Not as radical as that of 1830, but with one fascinating section.

"That such persons brewing porter, or using in the brewing of such ale or beer any other ingredients than water, malt, hops, and yeast, or mixing therewith, or with the wort or worts thereof, any water, or other ingredient than hops and the necessary quantity of yeast and fining, all such porter, &c. shall be forfeited, and may be seized by any Excise officer ; That every offence against these rules shall be visited with a penalty of 200/- ; and a penalty of 50/- for every offence is imposed upon persons selling, or permitting to be sold, beer brewed under this Act, in any quantity at one time of nine gallons, or quarter barrel, or upwards, at a higher price than 27s. per barrel, or any quantity at one time, less than nine gallon-, at a higher price than 10d. per gallon."

A British Reinheitsgebot.

The Reinheitsgebot is often (somewhat contentiously) portrayed as a piece of consumer protection legislation. Now the second part of the quote - that's what I call consumer protection. A fify shilling fine (about the price of two barrels of beer) for trying to overcharge you. You may think "Look at those quantities - the smallest is a gallon. Who buys that much at once?" Ah, things were so different in the 1800's. There was a big trade in selling beer by the barrel to private households.

Notice how Porter is mentioned first? In the bits I haven't quoted, it just says beer and ale. Only when talk turns to the use of illegal ingredients does Porter get a mention.

Oh yes, and the bit about not adding water to the wort is relevant. I'm sure that's one of the reasons London brewers brewed the way they did. Three or four worts blended together to get spot on the right gravity for perhaps as many as three different strength beers. And why brewing manuals of the period have detailed instructions on how to do the calculations needed for blending worts.

Monday 14 January 2008

DDR beer styles

While nosing around in books and the web looking for stuff about DDR Porter, I stumbled across a couple of other things I thought worth sharing.

I only found quite a limited range of beer available - Helles, Pils, Pilsator, Berliner Weisse, Bock, Schwarzbier, Porter (once). That was about it. Browsing the old manuals, I noticed that they mentioned a few other styles - Märzen, Dunkles, Spezial - that I never came across.

Old labels betray that this wasn't the full picture. The Jena region had Lichtenhainer and Wöllnitzer Weissbier (though that still exists). In Magdeburg, they used to make an Altbier. In Berlin a Märzen-Weisse, whatever that is. Sounds suspiciously like a modern, made-up style. If anyone knows any more about it, please tell me. A search on the web came up with a single lonely hit.

Another thing I came across. Something about Gose. It was in a bound edition of Brawelt from 1960. In issue number 70 from September 8th 1960 (on page 1485) there's a table of prices for the different types of beer in the DDR. It's a very specific price list: for carryouts from a pub. Obligingly, the gravity of the beer types is included. Gose appears in the list twice. First, alongside Berliner Weisse in the Schankbier category - 8.7 to 9.3º Plato. The second is as a Vollbier - 11.7 to 12.3º Plato. 38 and 75 pfennigs respectively per half litre bottle. In case you were wondering. The most expensive beer by far was Porter, at 1.53 DM. (DM isn't a mistake. The currency in the East was called that in 1960.) Then again it was the strongest.

I've just spotted another one. DDR beer type, that is. At the very bottom is something called Giraffe-Bier. All I know is that it was 18º Plato and cost 1.02 DM for a 33 cl bottle. A web search yielded slightly fewer results than for Märzen-Weisse. Any further information, gratefully received.

I'm now really excited. I've just found what looks like a properly sourced article about Lichtehainer. What a productive day.

A book arrives

A book was delivered this morning. Nothing special in that. Except that I haven't ordered one for months. Dolores has enacted strict book buying guidelines and I want to retain both bollocks.

A book from England. How exciting. What could it be? Ainslie Books, the return address said. That rang a bell. Now why was that? Aaaaah "I bet I know what it is" I said to Dolores.

I took a butcher's at the postmark, just to be sure. February 10th. Wow. That's quick. Delivered in just minus four weeks. February 10th . . . . 2007. Make that delivered in just 11 months. Where on earth could it have been for the best part of a year?

Now I was sure of the book's identity. Heartbroken I was, when it didn't arrive last year. I'd coveted it so long. Eventually, I ordered another copy. Now I have two. Anyone interested in buying my spare "The Anchor Magazine 150th Year Commemoration 1781-1931"?

"How does this fit in with your blog theme?" Ah well, whose house rag was the Anchor Magazine? That's right - Barclay Perkins.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Porter in the DDR

See, I promised you the tale of DDR Porter and here it is. A coupling of two of my favourite obsessions.

How was it brewed
Let's start with "Leitfaden Für den Brauer und Mälzer" by Rudolf Dickscheit (Leipzig, 1953, pages 163-164).

What in Germany is designated Porter, would be called Stout in England. For export, Stout is brewed with a graity of up to 21% [21º Plato]. Porter is a beer of similar character, but has amn original gravity of just 12%. To avoid confusion, in the following I will stick with the term Porter which is normally used in Germany.

The basis for a good Porter is a very well-modified malt. To obtain this, the usual method is a 14 day cold process.

The malt is heated in piles on the upper level and dried in the same way as Munich malt.

Porter is made by the infusion mash method which is standard in England. It can, for example, be brewed as follows:

Mash 69º C for 3 hours
Pump the whole mash into the heated Läufer tun
Rest 69º C for 30 minute
First sparge let stand for 30 minutes
Draw off first sparge
Second sparge let stand for 30 minutes
Draw off second sparge, add the hops and boli for 3 hours

Add caramel [Kulör] to obtain the desired colour, and add sugar in the kettle to obtain a gravity of 18 to 20% [Plato].

The grist generally contains caramel malt and Farbmalz. Farbmalz makes up 7 to 10% of the grist. The hopping rate is 600 to 700 grams per hectolitre. After the wort has been boiled for three hours it's transferred to the cool ship and with cooling apparutus brought down to 18º to 24º C. To the cooled wort a top-fermenting yeast is added. Since the fermentation temperature lies between 18º and 24º C, a violent fermentation soon begins. During the primary fermentation, the wort is only carefully cooled so that a temperature of 18º to 24º C is maintained.

The room temperature should be about the same as the wort temperature.

The aim is an unbroken fermentation of all the fermentable extract.

When the primary fermentation is over, the young beer is transferred to small lagering barrels. There it is infected with Brettanomyces and a sugar solution added. After a relatively short time a lively secondary fermentation starts. The lagering barrels are not bunged but allowed to froth over.

Brettanomyces produces substances which lend the beer particular vinous flavour. As soon as this appears to a sufficient extent, the Porter is filtered: afterwards, more sugar is added at a rate of 50 grams per hectolitre. It's inoculated with Brettanomyces a second time and filled into bottles.

Bottle-conditioning takes place at 15º C in a warm cellar, so that the Brattanomyces can produce a strong fermentation and the bottles gain a sediment. As soon as there is sufficient conditioning, the cellar is cooled to 0º C.

The Porter is now ready for consumption. However it can be matured for longer to develop and round off its flavour.

In general, pasteurisation is not necessary; if it does occur, the pasteurised taste is not so unpleasantly discernible as in pale beers.

A Porter brewed by the aforementioned method would not be identical to the beer produced in the DDR with the name 'Porter', but would be more similar to the English beer than is currently the case."

I like the bit about pasteurisation. Reading between the lines in brewing manuals, it's clear many professional brewers thought pasteurisation was detrimental to a beer's flavour. Dickscheit's differentiation between Porter and Stout is pretty spot on. As is his description of how Stout was brewed in England circa 1914 (by the time he wrote the book, probably only Barclay Perkins Russian Stout was made that way). I wonder how the hell he knew all of this?

But most important is the last paragraph. The method laid out wasn't how DDR breweries actually brewed, but something to which they should aspire in order to make an authentic English-style Porter. You can find this in a Michael Jackson article about Porter:

"Even after or War II, at least one German brewer continued to make a "British-style" Porter with a Brettanomyces yeast culture."

It's my fault. I sent him a translation of part of Dickscheit's instructions which omitted the final paragraph.

Where was it brewed
These are the breweries in the East that I know for certain (I've seen a label) brewed Porter:

Brauerei Eibau, Eibau
Schultheiss, Berlin
Brauerei Th. Krepper, Burg bei Magdeburg
Brauerei Sternburg, Leipzig
Brauerei Schmiedefeld, Schmiedefeld
Brauerei Meiningen, Meiningen
Brauerei Krampf, Eibau
Brauerei Braugold, Erfurt
Riebeck Brauerei, Erfurt
Rose-Brauerei, Grabow
Brauhaus Halle, Halle
Freyberg's Brauerei, Halle
Brauerei Lübz, Lübz
Brauerei Erich Weltz, Sülze (Extra Stout XXX)

Some of these probably date to before WW II, but I'm sure there are many others missing.

What it was like
I'm in a generous mood again. Here are the technical details of beers brewed in the DDR during the 1970's:

"Technologie Brauer und Mälzer" by Wolfgang Kunze (Leipzig, 1975) is a wonderful book. It tells you everything you need to know about running a brewery in the DDR. Right down to the how the labels should look:

- name and location of the producer
- bottling date
- size: 90 mm X 60 mm for 33 cl bottles, 100 mm X 70 mm for 50 cl bottles
- retail price in at least 12 point letters
- colour: for Porter, carmine red

When I open my brewery, I intend sticking to the rules. Except for the retail price, of course.