Friday 29 February 2008


I'm just about to head off for the ZBF (Zythos Bier Festival), Whitbread 1914 recreations in hand. I hope it will be as much fun as previous years.

Given all the people I'm supposed to be meeting, I doubt there'll be a whole load of drinking time. Oh well, maybe next year will be more low-key.

My camera and notebook will be making the trip with me. I hope I make more notes than at the Essen festival. What I wrote there could have filled a large stamp.

I intend reporting the day tomorrow. If I can remember any of it/have been arsed to take notes.

SSS Stout

I've finally gotten around to photographing my other beer. SSS Stout from 1914.

It's not ready to drink just yet. To taste it at its best, I would recommend cellaring it for a few months. I'm going to try to hang on to some for a few years.

You should be able to read the details on the label. It's 9.99% ABV.

I've been in London

If you've been wondering why I haven't posted since Tuesday, I've been in London for a few days. With the family.

The with the family bit is important. That's why I managed to hit so few pubs. Britain and its crazy attitude to kids in pubs is quite a shock to someone who lives on the Continent. OK, there's been a slight improvement since the days when kids weren't allowed in pubs at all, but the situation is still far from perfect.

The biggest problem is working out which pubs do allow kids. There's virtually never anything on the outside to tell you what the score is. Apart from the occasional surly "over 21's only" sign. These are the options:

  1. Walk in pushing the kids in front of you and waiting to see if you're told to bugger off.
  2. Peer through the window to see if you can spot any sprogs inside.
  3. Get Dolores to ask the barstaff if children are allowed.
  4. Leave the kids on the pavement with a bag of crisps and a bottle of pop.
  5. Sit outside with the smokers.
None of this encourages pub-crawling, which I suppose could be a good thing. In theory.

The problem should solve itself in a couple of years. My sons are both tall. By the time Alexei hits twelve, he should be able to pass for fourteen. So just three more years to put up with this crap.

Monday 25 February 2008

Happiness fulfilled

Just a short post. I dropped by De Molen yesterday to pick up a few bottles of my beer. I'll be handing some out to the lucky few at ZBF on Saturday.

This is what it looks like:

Lyon Brown Beer

I've come across some funny beers in my time, but this one takes the biscuit. I assume that it hasn't been brewed for some time.

"Lyon Brown Beer.
A worthy side piece to (bottom-fermented) Kulmbacher beer is the (top-fermented) Lyon brown beer, - its colour is dark brown and its taste extremely rich. However, these properties are achieved in a very different way than with Kulmbacher beers.

The malt gives a snow-white flour body. The brewing method is pure infusion (compare "Bierbrauer X, p. 168). The boiling wort is skimmed, which is apparently unnecessary here.

But then, calf's feet (one per Zentner [100 kg] malt) are added along with the hops and first boiled for nearly 3 hours. The kettle, which has a dome-shaped lid with a safety valve which can be hermetically sealed, is now closed, the fire covered with ash and the wort steamed for about 5 hours under pressure, ie kept at a temperature higher than boiling point. As a consequence, not only is all the glutin broken down and converted into browned proteins, but also the animal glue from the calf's feet breaks down in a similar way, making the wort a deep brown colour, and the foundation is laid for an excessive fullness.

The wort, which has been cooled to 16º, is fermented with a top-fermenting yeast in small barrels (so that the temperature does not rise too much). Two days after pitching the yeast, the beer is completely clear, is filled into bottles and soon acquires the necessary conditioning.

Comparing the taste of bottom-fermented Kulmbacher beer with top-fermented Lyon beer, it turns out that the latter, for reasons already explained, has a lower degree of attenuation and therefore has a sweeter taste."

"Schule der Bierbrauerei" by G.E. Habich, published in 1865, pages 401 and 402.

Calf's feet. Never seen them amongst the ingredients before. Boiling under pressure is a new one to me, too. Definitely an interesting way to colour a beer, but it sounds more like hopped stew than a beer.

I know I promised something about Berliner Weisse. Don't worry. It's coming. When I've translated everything.

Sunday 24 February 2008

Dantzig Black Beer

I'm surprised at how many references to Dantzig Black Beer I've unearthed.

This is the earliest:
"There are also many good beers in Prussia, particularly Danziger beer, which, in its amiability, passion and strength can, not unjustly, be compared with a wine; since one ounce of Danziger Doppelbier is stronger and more powerful than two mass of any other common barley beer."
"Der Vollkommene Bierbrauer oder kurzer Unterricht all Arten Bier zu brauen" 1784 (Reprint Verlag Leipzig, ISBN 3-8262-0201-5), page 131.

Thick and treacly. Well you'd expect that from a beer with an OG of 1198.
"Dantzig was associated with a variety of products that were either produced in the district, or were exported thence. One, not found in the Dictionary Archive, is Dantzig BEER, otherwise known as BLACK beer, which Ogilvie described as 'a kind of beer manufactured at Dantzic. It is of black colour, and of a syrupy consistence, and is much prized' [Ogilvie (1865)]."

Yes, it really was black and treacly.
"Black Beer or Dantzig Beer is a very dark, syrupy brew first made in Dantzig."
"The Grocer's Encyclopedia" New York, 1911, page 64.
"Formerly a strong medicinal beer was made in Dantzic from the berries of the sweet-brier, which was found both salutary and agreeable; another description of liquor, called black beer, is made in that city and held in considerable estimation: it is a species of spruce beer, and is made in a manner similar to that practised in Canada."
"A Philosophical and Statistical History of the Inventions and Customs of Ancient and
Modern Nations in the Manufacture and Use of Inebriating Liquors" by Samuel Morewood, 1838, page 463.
"In England, malt liquors are, in general,'properly fermented; and when intended for warm climates, the grain is twice mashed, and twice boiled. In German ales, on the contrary, little or no fermentation is permitted to take place; and in the Dantzick black beer, in particular, only a half fermentation is allowed."
"The Code of Health and Longevity" by Sir John Sinclair, 1807, page 338.
"X porter has of late years become of nearly the same colour as Dantzic black beer, which is, perhaps, another improvement of the present day. This alteration in the colour is said to have been adopted merely to humour the public taste."
"A Practical Treatise on Brewing, Based on Chemical and Economical Principles" by William Black, 1849, page 246.

Black beer was brewed in Britain, too. Here are the rules:
"An Act to continue certain Duties of Customs and Inland Revenue for the Service of Her Majesty, and to grant, alter, and repeal certain other Duties. [3rd June, 1862.]
. . . .
9.Provided always, that brewers of beer, known as spruce or black beer, for sale, shall continue to pay for their licenses only the name rates of duty as are imposed by the act passed in the 6 Geo. 4, с. 81, on brewers of beer other than table beer only, for sale: provided that any such brewer shall not brew on the same premises beer of any other description than spruce or black beer, nor use in the brewing of the same, or add thereto, any hops or other bitter, or any yeast or other matter to produce fermentation, and shall not brew, or sell or send out, any of such beer of a less specific gravity than 1180 degrees."
"The Jurist", 1863 , Page 9.

I wonder if the address of Dantzic Cottage of theis Leeds Black Beer brewer was just a coincidence?
"Plowman John, black beer brewer, Dantzic cottage, 46 Regent st [Leeds]"
"History, gazetteer, and directory, of the west-riding of Yorkshire" by William White, 1837, page 592.

One of Black Beer's main uses appears to have been medicinal:
"Porter is recommended by the medical world to their convalescent patients in poor families, in lieu of port wine, which antidote is exclusively appropriated to the wealthy. Here we may take the liberty of suggesting, that both classes of such invalids may advantageously now avail themselves of a yet simpler, more nutritious, and less alcoholic renovator than either, merely by a temperate imbibition of a moderately attenuated fresh pale beer, of about 20 or 24 lbs. gravity, or such as is retailed at fourpence or sixpence per quart. This beer contains the essentials required by both doctor and patient, and which may be looked for in vain in either wine or porter; for besides containing water, gum, alcohol, and carbonic acid gas, in common with black beer, it possesses some glutinous matter and a fair proportion of nutrimental sugar; and its gum is rendered digestive by retaining its vigour and original elements; it is also better suited to weak stomachs and to medicinal and strengthening purposes than any black beer can be, since it contains less carbonaceous matter, and consequently more nutritious food, and is easier of digestion ; whereas porter contains such a large share of this heavy mucilaginous matter, that it is better fitted to hardy and healthy constitutions, such as workers in metal, soil, or mortar, whose exercise enables them to carry it advantageously through the physical system; and, as regards port wine, little or perhaps none that reaches this country is free from adulteration with foreign alcohol, which is added to it either at the close of the fermentation, or immediately prior to its enshipment, and is never completely incorporated with the natural juice of the grape and its native spirit, notwithstanding all the art of "fretting in," of which the exporters are masters as adroit as they are fraudulent. However desirable the tartar of grapejuice is, as a component of wine, so little of it remains after bottling, that it cannot avail as medicine; whereas the tartar or gluten of malted barley answers the desired purpose, because it exists in sufficient quantity, and partakes of the same essential properties."
"The Theory and Practice of Brewing Illustrated" by William Littell Tizard, 1846, page 509.
"She had not been under proper medical treatment. A few days before my visit she partook plentifully of a mixture of black beer and whisky, with a view to promote sweating, but this evacuation did not take place, and her symptoms were much aggravated by the dose."
"Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal" 1827, page 79.

"'I have had a bad cold,' said the merchant, 'and I got my feet bathed, and had a drink o' hot Dantzig black beer; and this rising oot o' my warm bed at this time o' nicht will he the death o' me! What do ye want?'"
"Tait's Edinburgh Magazine" 1852, page 492.

That was fun, wasn't it? What next? I've been reading some fascinating stuff about Berliner Weisse. You interested in that?

Saturday 23 February 2008

Danziger Joppenbier

I'm always a happy as a pig in muck when I find a new, weird, extinct beer style. Danziger Joppenbier fits my excitement requirements perfectly.

Spontaneously fermented, immensely high gravity, an extremely slow fermentation, an ridiculously long boil. It scores highly in the odd stakes. It sounds like it might be a relative of Braunschweiger Mumm, except with more alcohol.

"Danziger Joppenbier.
Joppenbier is in many respects very interesting. It is made from a highly concentrated wort - the Saccharometer degree is about 49 percent.

From 1000 Kg malt and 5 Kg hops approximately 10.5 HL beer is produced.

The mash is made by the infusion method and the wort which is drawn off is - to obtain the specified concentration - often boiled more than 20 hours. The wort is cooled down to down to 12.5 º.

The fermentation is a so-called sponataneous fermentation. Fermentation usually begins in July - although it is the same whether the beer is brewed in January or April. The wort is first covered with a thick blanket greenish-white mould; when the mould spores are in sufficient quantity to force their way into the wort and to grow to a very characteristic yeast, then the fermentation begins, which only in September subsides enough so that the beer becomes clear and can be drawn off. The attenuation is during this period up to only about 19.

The resulting beer is dark brown, extremely rich (but here also partly arises from not broken down glucose) and sweet - the smell is pleasant (which is probably a consequence of the extremely slow fermentation). It is not possible to drink much Joppenbier - it is full-bodied, extremely suitable for mixing with other beer and is also for such purpose exported to England.

The clear beer can be left a year in the vat on the yeast without being damaged - of course, however, the degree of attenuation will increase."

"Schule der Bierbrauerei" by G.E. Habich, published in 1865, pages 402 and 403.

I'm assuming the gravities mentioned are Balling. That makes the OG about 1196 and the FG 1076. Even more than the craziest Scotch Ale. The hopping rate, at only about half a kilo per Zentner malt (or per hectolitre beer), is very low. About the same as Berliner Weisse, which usually has no hop character at all. My guess is that Joppenbier tasted pretty malty.

How Joppenbier relates to Jopen Bier, I'm not sure. The latter was an early type of hopped beer, which, if I recall correctly, originated in Hamburg. There is currently a version of Jopen Bier brewed for the Dutch market in Belgium.

Here's confirmation that most Joppenbier (or Jopenbier) was exported to Britain:
"Danzig. The demand for Jopenbier was very limited, as in the English manufacturing distrcts, the main sales locations for this article, most workers were unemployed because of the American war. The sale price was 70 fr. per 1/4 T. free on board. Manutactured were 22300, exported 24300 1/4-T. Value of 56700 Th; of the shipped amount a great part was sent to England on credit and stored there unsold. The stock at year-end was 8000 1/4-T.""Preussische Statistik" 1863, page 101.

Tomoorrow much more about Dantzig Black Beer. Much, much more. Really.

Friday 22 February 2008

German, Czech, Belgian, Dutch and British beers in the 1850's

In preparation for my historic German beer series of posts, here are some analyses of German, Czech, Belgian and British beers from the 1850's.

This is the text that accompanied the above table.

"The following serves to complete the characteristics of these beers:

Ale is a bright, more or less bitter (mild or bitter ale) full-bodied, strong beer. Porter is a dark, more or less Bitter, full-bodied, strong beer. Bavarian beers are moderately full-bodied, moderately strong, lighter or darker, more or less bitter. Austrian and Czech beers are similar to Bavarian, only they are often somewhat more full-bodied. Belgian beers, in terms of the amount of alcohol and extract are also close to Bavarian, all have a slightly sour taste. Berliner Weissbier has little body, is weak and highly-carbonated. Braunschweiger Mumme can hardly be called beer, it tastes like malt extract or couch-grass extract."
"Handwörterbuch der reinen und angewandten Chemie" by Justus Liebig, Johann
Christian Poggendorff, Friedrich Wöhler, 1858, pages 1038-1039.

I've also managed to sneak in my weekly Barclay Perkins reference. Though you'll see that their name has been misspelled "Barkley und Perkins".

And because someone on the Babblebelt was asking about old sources for Lambik, here are some more analyses of Dutch beers:

Thursday 21 February 2008

Whitbread and the ZBF

Just over a week to go to the Zythos Bier Festival. It's always good fun. So many people to talk to, so many beers to drink, so little time. This year will be especially exciting for me.

Why? I should have a few bottles of my Whitbread 1914 Porter and Whitbread 1914 Stout with me. I'm going to collect them next Monday from de Molen. "How can I get to try these wonderful beers?" you ask. Well you could try coming up to me and saying "You're Ron Pattinson and I claim my bottle of 1914 Whitbread." Waving a 10 euro note (or the equivalent in beer) in front of my nose at the same time might help.

A couple of caveats:
  1. I will have a very limited number of bottles and some are already reserved
  2. The Porter will be just about conditioned, the Stout will need another week or two

Could you be one of the lucky individuals leaving the ZBF with a 1914 Whitbread beer?

Kulmbacher Bier

Sometimes I have posts planned weeks in advance. Other times, I just write something on the spur of the moment. Very occasionally, I've no idea what the hell I can write about. Inspiration always arrives at some point.

I'll admit it. I wasn't sure what to tell you today. My midterm plan is for a series of posts on old German styles. With a particular emphasis on Berliner Weisse. I've plenty of material. All I need to do is translate it . . .

On the tram this morning I was reading the section in "Die Bierbrauerei" (by M. Krandauer, published 1914) on top-fermentation. It answered one of the unresolved questions in my head: "What's the difference between Bottichgärung and Fassgärung?" How about that for a topic? It would be useful for you to know before we dive into the intricacies of German top-fermenting beers.

Then I changed my mind. The theme is still German, but relates to bottom-fermentation. I hope you don't mind my tangential approach.

Kulmbacher Bier
Kulmabacher is a lost style. In the early days of lager-brewing, it was a popular and well-known style, imitated across Europe. One of Heineken's very first bottom-fermenting beers in the 1870's was a Kulmbacher. But when Pilsner popularised paler beers, it was quickly forgotten.

"Kulmbacher Bier.
Amongst Bavarian beers Kulmbacher is characterised by its extremely dark colour, full body, aroma and taste. This type has gained beer many admireers outside Bavaria and consequently is exported in relatively large quantities.

The foundation of the character of Kulmbacher Bier is already laid during malting. Germination is carried out slowly, the sprout does not develop much. The glutin contained in the grains gets thus little opportunity to leave and the Glutin (according to its original levels) remains more or less in the grains. During drying, the aim is to give the malt a nice brown in colour, which with poor ventilation is not difficult to achieve. The transformation of glutin and part of the elastin in browned proteins occurs already in the kiln.

The mashing scheme has no peculiatities which will influence the above mentioned characteristics of the beer. The malt is mixed into dough with water at 50º, - then as much simmering water is added as is necessary to leave the temperature at around 54º after mashing; then a wort is run off and brought to the boil in the kettle and immediately added back to the little remainder than is left in the mashtun, whereby the temperature after continued mashing is raised to as much as 70º and the mash is left to form sugar.

After about 1.5 hours the remains of the lauter mash is brought to the boil with the hops (hop roasting), this is maintained for about 10 minutes and then interrupted through the addition of the drawn off wort. The wort is boiled for 5 hours or more. One brew takes - especially as mashing also time-consuming - up to 13 hours, and this long timeframe also has an effect on the elastin in the Träbern [can't find this word in the dictionary] and increases the body of the beer.

Also worthy of note, is that in Kulmabacher breweries that all the cooling equipment is put into the fermentation vessel. What inflence this has on the taste of the beer, I dare not say."

"Schule der Bierbrauerei" by G.E. Habich, published in 1865, pages 400 and 401.
So, the malting process is very important. Sounds a bit like making brown malt to me, but I'm no expert in these matters. The actually brewing process comes across as a real pain in the arse, though I guess it's a fairly standard decoction mash. Five hours does seem an awfully long time to boil.

One word of note - the temperaures quoted I beleive are in Reamur. In this scale frezzing is 0º and boiling 80º. So 50º Reamur is 62.5º C, 54º = 67.5º C and 70º = 87.5º C.

If you're wondering about hopping rates, page 348 of the same book suggests these:

Munich Winterbier 2.3 kg hops per 1000 litres of beer
Munich Sommerbier 3.2 to 4.9 kg hops
Bamberg Winterbier 4.4 kg hops
Bamberg Sommerbier 8 kg hops
Kulmbach Sommerbier 4 kg hops
Kulmbach Winterbier 12 kg hops
Karlsruhe Sommerbier 2.9 kg hops
Karlsruhe Winterbier 6 to 7.5 kg hops
Bohemia Sommerbier 2.2 kg hops
Bohemia Winterbier 3.3 kg hops
Prague Winterbier 4.4 kg hops
London Porter about 12 kg hops
London Indian Pale Ale 32 kg hops
Edinburgh Ale 12 kg hops

For a German beer, Kulmbacher, especially the Winterbier, was pretty heavily hopped. Though obviously way less than IPA. In the above table ,I found the low rate of hopping in Bohemia a bit odd. Though, given the early date of the book, these could still be top-fermenting beers. They are certainly not Pilsners.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Schule der Bierbrauerei

Here's a real treat: the section on top-fermentation and beer types from "Schule der Bierbrauerei" by G.E. Habich, published in 1865.

I realise it would be more of a treat if:

  1. I had translated it from German
  2. it wasn't printed in Gothic typeface

I will translate at least part of it for you. But here's a great opportunity to practise reading historical texts. Or practise reading German. Or practise reading Gothic script. Just so many ways you can improve your education.

Grätzer, Bitterbier

As promised, more about old German top-fermenting styles. The passages I'll be quoting are quite short. Remember I have to translate these things myself. And they are printed in a horrible Gothic typeface. Just as well "Fachwörterbuch der Brauerei- und Abfüllpraxis" arrived last week. It's a great help with the more specialised vocabulary.

First up, to use transatlantic terminology, Grätzer. Brewed in the now Polish town of Grodzisk (Grätz in German) , this smoked wheat beer is one of the brewing world's most recent style extinctions. The last Grodziskie was brewed in the mid-1990s. Though I've heard a rumour that production is about to restart. It's another of my obsessions. You can read more about Grätzer/Grodziskie here and here.
"3. Grätzer Bier, a rough, bitter beer, brewed from 100% wheat malt with an intense smoke and hop flavour. The green malt undergoes smoking during virtually the whole drying process, is highly dried and has a strong aroma in addition to the smoked flavour. An infusion mash is employed. Hopping rate: for 1 Zentner (100 kg) of malt, 3 kg hops. Gravity just 7º [Balling]. Fermentation is carried out in tuns at a temperature of 15 to 20º C. Since the beer in the tun, as a result of the expulsion of great quantities protein and resin, doesn't break, it is mixed with isinglass and pumped into barrels. After two or three days it is completely clear and ready to be filled into delivery casks or bottles with the addition of 2 to 5% Krausen."
“Bierbrauerei" by M. Krandauer, 1914, page 301.

According to this description, Grätzer had an unusual combination of 100%, very smoky wheat malt and heavy hopping. The gravity - approximately 1028º - was very low by modern standards, but fairly typical of German top-fermenting styles of the period. Pumping the beer from the gyle-tun into a barrel after a couple of days primary fermentation sounds very much like the British technique of "cleansing". It was designed to remove as much excess yeast and other gunk as possible.

Next is Bitterbier:
"4. Lager-like Bitterbier, a beer made from a 9º [Balling] wort. The wort is pitched with yeast at 10º C, after 6 to 7 days fermentation with a good break it is filled into lager lagering barrels and undergoes secondary fermentation at 6 to 7º C. It is cleared with [wood] chips and after sufficient bunging pours clear gold through the filter. This beer possesses a strong hop flavour, which comes from the fact that the wort is boiled with many hops and in addition boiled hops along with the water they were boiled in are added to the lagering barrel."
“Bierbrauerei" by M. Krandauer, 1914, page 301.

I've found a few tantalising references to Bitterbier or Rheinländische Bitterbier. Golden in colour and heavily-hopped, it sounds very much like an ancestor of Kölsch. Though the other source I have (Franz Schönfeld, 1904) gives the gravity as 12º Balling. Other interesting features are the low fermentation temperature and the addition of extra hops to the lagering barrel. It's not exactly dry-hopping, as the hops have been boiled. Wet-hopping, you could call it, I suppose.

Einfachbier and Berliner Weisse should be next. If I get my translating hat on again. Or maybe more Grätzer.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

I'm so excited again

Excitable you could call me. Megalomaniac, peripatetic and Stalinist, too. Some of these words describe me correctly. But let's just stick with excitable.

There are so many things for me to be excited about. I've found another Grätzer. Another reference to Grätzer, I mean. In "Bierbrauerei" by M. Krandauer, 1914, page 301. "Grätzer Bier, a rough, bitter beer, brewed from 100% wheat malt with an intense smoke and hop flavour." Sounds great, doesn't it? Very modern.

I've been buying German brewing manuals on the internet again, if you hadn't noticed. Hopping rates in lager from the 1870's. Bohemian top-fermenting beer. Berliner Weisse. I think it's fascinating, even if you don't. All I have to do now is translate it.

And my Porter was bottled today. I feel so proud. Friday, it's the Stout's turn. Excitement overload.

Oat Ale II

I've still not finished with Oat Ale. Here are a few more quotes on the topic.

"Oats yield, on an average, eight pounds of meal for fourteen pounds of the grain. Oats have been used to some extent for the purpose of making malt, and oat ale is commended by Mr Mowbray as a pleasant summer drink. In former days, a drink called mum was manufactured for sale, in the preparation of which oatmeal was employed. English Geneva, or gin, is made of spirit obtained from oats and barley or malt, rectified or distilled, with the addition of juniper berries, oil of turpentine, &c. One hundred pounds of oatmeal will yield by distillation thirty-six pounds of spirits."
"A Treatise on Food and Diet: With Observations on the Dietetical Regimen suited for Disordered States of the Digestive Organs" by Jonathan Pereira, 1843, page 156.

Here's a German beer - it sounds a bit like a type of Broyhan - which is likened to British Oat Ale.

"MINDEN is noted for a peculiar Sort of Beer, greatly esteemed in other Parts of Germany: I cannot however say, it had very much my Approbation. It is a Sort of small pale Beer, something like our Oat-Ale, not unpleasant in the Taste 5 a Kind of dulce -piccante (between Sweet and Sour -,) But what disgusted me was, that being drawn and brought us in transparent Bottles, I soon discover'd a muddy Settlement, above an Inch thick, at the Bottom."
"The German Spy: Or, Familiar Letters from a Gentleman on His Travels Thro' Germany, to his Friend in England" by Thomas Lediard, 1740, page 45.

It seems it was Oat Ale was also popular in Russia.

"The Muscovites make an ale or drink of oats, which is of so hot a nature, and so strong, that it intoxicates sooner than the richest wine."
"History of Cultivated Vegetables: Comprising Their Botanical, Medicinal, Edible, and Chemical Qualities; Natural History; and Relation to Art, Science and Commerce" by Henry Phillips, 1822, page 13.

By the mid-1800's it seems Oats were no longer used in brewing.

"The principal demand for oats in Great Britain is for horses. Its use for bread is chiefly confined to the northern districts. Meal is employed also for various domestic purposes, feeding pigs, dogs, &c.; and it has been used in brewing ale, and in the malt distilleries ; but for this purpose its value is much inferior to that of barley."
"The Farmer's Encyclopædia, and Dictionary of Rural Affairs" by Cuthbert William Johnson, 1844, page 856.

In the Middle Ages, it appears that oats were the main brewing grain in Scotland.

"Oats, wheat, barley, pease and beans, were all raised in tolerable abundance. Of these by far the most prevalent crop was oats. It furnished the bread of the lower classes; and the ale which they drank was brewed from malt made of this grain. In the innumerable mills which are mentioned in the Cartularies, great quantities of oats were ground into meal; and at the various malt-kilns and breweries, which we find attached throughout the same records to the hamlets and villages, equally large proportions of oats were reduced into malt and brewed into ale. In the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward the First for the years 1299 and 1300, large quantities of oat malt, furnished to his different garrisons in Scotland, form some of the principal items of expenditure. In the same interesting and authentic record we find that Edward's cavalry, in their return from Galloway, in September 1300, destroyed, in their march through the fields, eighty acres of oats upon the property of William de Carlisle, at Dornock, in compensation for which the king allowed him two butts of wine. It appears in the same series of accounts that Edward bought his oats, and oat malt to be brewed for the army, at various rates, extending from twentypence to three shillings per quarter. From the multitudes of brew-houses with which every division of the kingdom appears to have been studded, from the royal manufactories of ale down to those in the towns, burghs, baronies, and villages, it is evident that this beverage must have been consumed in great quantities."
"History of Scotland 1149-1603" by Patrick Fraser Tytler, 1841, page 181
by Patrick Fraser Tytler, 1841.

In Lancashire - where the climate wasn't great for wheat or barley - oat malt was also commonly used for brewing.

"The quantity of "ote malte" used in Lord Derby's household in 1563 was larger than that of barley, although of an inferior quality and price, which is not favourable to the agricultural progress of Lancashire. Oat malt was rather more than a guinea a quarter (£1. 1s. 4d.), which was exactly the price of wheat in Craven in 1572, when malt made from oats was stated to be only eight shillings a quarter. This oat beer was obviously of an ordinary description, and probably for the use of the lower servants and boys; but in the best ale a certain proportion of oat malt and ground wheat was added to the barley malt, as the general rule, and the quantity of hops seems to have been very different to the modern usage, so that it would not be described as " bitter from envy, and, from weakness, pale." The dry and chilly constitutions of the servants, few of whom, it may be presumed, were born under the influence of Aquarius, that watery sign, were carefully protected against any deterioration in the quality of the beer, and the favourite beverage brewed in the time of Earl Edward was remembered with evident satisfaction by the toping Capulets of the household long after his death."
"Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester" by Chetham Society, 1853, page x.

Ireland, too, must at one time have used its fair share of oats in brewing. This is part of an Act of Parliament regulating brewiong in Ireland.

"XI. And be it further enacted, That from and after Ten Days after the passing of this Act, every Person or Рersons licensed to brew as aforesaid, shall in like Manner enter and register in the Excise Office of the District, every Store Room and Place in which Oats shall or may at any Time be deposited, and that no such Store Room or Place shall be adjoining to or connected with, or be open by means of any Door or Doorway immediately to the Place where any Malt shall be wetted or mashed, or any Worts shall he boiled, cooled, or hopped; and any Oats which shall be found in the Possession of any such Person or Persons, in any other Place than a Store or Place so registered, shall be forfeited and may be seized; and such Person or Persons in whose Custody, Store or Possession, such Oats shall be found, shall for every such Offence forfeit the Sum of One hundred Pounds."
“Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 49 George III. 1809” page 123. An Act for improving the Quality of Beer in Ireland, by further preventing the Use of unmalted Corn, or of any deleterious or unwholesome Ingredients therein, and for the better securing the Collection of the Malt Duties in Ireland. [3d June 1809.]

I've kicked oats and Oat Ale just about unconscious. Perhaps it's time to find a new victim. What about Berliner Weisse?

Monday 18 February 2008

Brewers and beer retailers in 1838

The Beer Act of 1830, which abolished beer duty and allowed almost anyone to open a pub selling only beer, was a huge boost to the brewing industry. This table should give you some idea of the explosive growth in so-called "beerhouses".

The number of pubs per head of population has been in decline pretty much ever since the late 1830's. Initially, the reduction wwas brought about by being stricter about issuing new licences. By the last decades of the 19th century, licensing authorities were actively seeking to delicense small pubs. The idea was to have a smaller number of better-quality pubs, known as ïmproved public houses".

For comparison purposes, this table also includes figures from 2001. Note especially the switch between on and off licences.

Saturday 16 February 2008

Oat Ale, Bran Ale

I told you I had more on Oat Ale. As an extra treat, I've also included a Bran Ale. No , don't thank me. It was nothing.
Should be made from the best white heavy sweet oat made into malt, the same as barley is. The Scotch oats are preferred, and the ale made from them are said to be of a soft healing quality and is of great repute in England, where it is not common. Though this ale requires a greater quantity of malt, it is brewed at a less price than others, as ten bushels will make a hogshead of fifty-four gallons rich and soft, as no table beer is taken from it. In four or six months it will be fit for use; it must be brewed, hopped, &c. in the same manner as Welsh ales; some persons who grow their own oats make this ale with a part oat malt and a part barley malt."
The Illustrated London Cookery Book: Containing Upwards of Fifteen Hundred First-rate Receipts" by Frederick Bishop, 1852, page 395.
Unlike the Yorkshire Oat Ale recipe, this does require the malted oats to be mashed. I would tell you the gravity, but I haven't the faintest clue what the yield from oat malt is. Ten bushels is 1.25 quarters and a hogshead is 1.5 barrels, which makes 1.2 barrels to a quarter. If the yield were 50 pounds from a quarter (remember pale malt was 80 pounds, brown malt 54 ponds from a quarter) that would give a beer of around 1100. But the yield could well be worse than that.

"Bran beer.
Good fresh table beer may be made with sound wheat bran, at the rate of 2d. per gallon, beer measure, estimating the price of bran at 4s. per cwt, and the saccharine density of the wort еxtracted, at 15 lbs. per barrel; but the use of the instrument called saccharometer, in domestic practice, is not necessary, the process in brewing with wheat bran being sufficiently known to every good housewife, especially to those of labourers in husbandry, as well its that for this purpose nothing of apparatus is needful, but such as ought to be in common use with every cottager in the country. A few pounds per barrel of treacle, or the coarsest Muscovado sugar, would be a cheap improvement as to strength, which indeed might be increased to any degree required."
"Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts: In All the Useful and Domestic Arts" by Colin MacKenzie, 1854, page 14
This is better. I can tell you the strength. Fifteen ponds per barrel is 1042º. I suspect that the finished beer may have been a little thin.

"Yorkshire oat ale.
Grind a quart of oat malt, made with the white sort, and dried with coke, and mash with forty- four gallons of cold soft water, let it stand twelve hours; then allow it to spend in a fine small stream, and pat two pounds of fine pale hops, well rubbed between the hands, into it; let it infuse, cold, for three hours, then strain and tun it; put yeast to it, and it will work briskly for about two days; then stop it up, and in ten days it will be fit to bottle. It drinks very smooth, brisk, and pleasant, and looks like white wine, but will not keep."
"Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts: In All the Useful and Domestic Arts" by Colin MacKenzie, 1854, page 14.
This is practically identical to the last Yorkshire Oat Ale recipe. It's fair to assume one is a copy of the other.

This precious article has not, I apprehend, been made, of late years, from any other grain than barley. In former and comparatively untaxed days, malt was currently made from wheat, and oats likewise. The only instance of this kind within my knowledge was of a Mr. Dobson, a maltster at Ipswich, Suffolk, in 1767, who made a considerable quantity of wheat malt, wheat being then at about 28s. per quarter. Wheat malt produces a strong-bodied, fine, and high-flavoured liquor ; oats, a light, mild, and pleasant beverage. I have heard much commendations of oat-ale, as a summer drink, but have never tasted it."
"A Practical Treatise on Breeding, Rearing, and Fattening All Kinds of Domestic Poultry, Pheasants, Pigeons and Rabbits" by John Lawrence, 1842, page 347.
It seems at one time malting oats was commonplace. This tallies with the practice in the Low Countries in the period 1400 - 1600, where beer was brewed with a mixture of barley, wheat and oat malt. Surprisingly, oats often made up more than 50% of the grist.

"In the evening, the men filled our house, bringing with them some jars of a liquor they called chica, made of barley-meal, and not very unlike our oat-ale in taste, which will intoxicate those who drink a sufficient quantity of it, for a little has no effect. As soon as the drink was out, a fresh supply of victuals was brought in; and in this manner we passed the whole time we remained with these hospitable Indians."
"A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in Systematic Order" by Robert Kerr, 1824, page 383.
I've included this passage to give some idea of what Oat Ale might have been like. I was intrigued to see this comparison with chica. Odd that Oat Ale should be just a distant memory while chica is still with us.

Friday 15 February 2008

Burton Ale IV

Back to Burton again. I hope it's not getting repetitive. Today it's not just recipes, but anecdotes, too.

"1609. BURTON ALE.
For making Burton or rich Welsh ales instead of boiling the wort two hours let it boil only one, but without ceasing for the whole time. Have ready six pounds of treacle which must be thrown into the copper, this adds to the strength of the malt, and gives great richness to the flavour of the ale; the liquor must be kept well stirred up the whole time and most from the bottom; but as this is not brewed for keeping, three quarters of a pound of hops to every bushel of malt will be sufficient. Before it is tapped, which may be done in three or four months, fine it as before with the hops, when it will be found to possess that rich flavour for which Burton and Welsh ales are so much liked. This has frequently been brewed in the early part of March, and drunk to perfection the latter end of the June following; all well brewed ales and beer are good and ripe at three or four months."
"The Illustrated London Cookery Book: Containing Upwards of Fifteen Hundred First-rate Receipts" by Frederick Bishop, 1852, page 395.

They just love sticking extra ingredients in, don't they. I suppose treacle is pretty harmless. three quarters of a pound of hops to a bushel of malt is 6 pounds per quarter.

"Ale is brewed from malt which has been dried by the application of only a slight heat, and is of a more sirupy consistence and sweeter taste than porter. The best kinds made in this country are the Scotch and Burton ales. Scotch ale is distinguished for paleness of colour and mildness of flavour; the taste of the hop never predominates; and it is perhaps more near to the French pale wines than any of the other ales that are brewed in this country : it is like them too the result of a lengthened fermentation. The general mode of charge is by the hogshead (= 1.5 barrels or 54 Imp. galls.), for which from £3 to £8 are paid according to quality. This ale is made chiefly in Edinburgh, also at Alloa and Prestonpans. Burton ale, brewed at the place of that name in Staffordshire, is prepared from the palest malt and hops, as, if it be not as pale as a straw it will not pass with connoisseurs. It is also distinguished for strength, flavour, and sweetness. It is usually charged by the gallon, as the sizes of the casks differ. Besides the Burton ales, those of Nottingham and Birmingham are sent to the London market."
"A Cyclopaedia of Commerce, Mercantile Law, Finance, Commercial Geography and Navigation", by William Waterston, 1863, pages 76 - 79.

This confirms the pale colour of both Scotch Ale an Burton Ale - "as pale as straw" sounds pretty pale to me.

"THE Ale is incomparable here, as it is all over this County of Stafford. Burton is the most famous Town in England for it, as also Stafford-and Newcastle in this Shire. And indeed the best Character you give to Ale in London, is calling it Burton Ale; from whence they fend vast Quantities to London : Yet they brew at London some that goes by that Denomination."
"A Journey Through England" by John Macky, 1722, page 168

Here's proof that the fame of Burton pre-dates India Ales.

I'm not finished with 18th century Ales. Have I mentioned Bran Ale yet? And Oat Ale. I've found a few more mentions of that, both the Yorkshire and Scottish version.

Thursday 14 February 2008

How many Stouts?

Zythophile has written another (as usual) excellently-researched piece on Stout and just exactly how many styles of it there are. You must have noticed my fixation with all beers that are black.

How many types of Stout? Zythophile reckons three. And he backs up his argument with facts and quotes. Good stuff. It's a shame this standard is so rarely reached in beer writing. His conclusion:
"In that case there are three historic types of stout, Irish, London and sweet – though since drinkers seem to put the flavour of Whitbread Extra Stout in with Irish-style stouts, it seems to me that Irish and London are all one category of “dry” stout."
Sounds about right to me. The numbers I've excavated from the archives tell a similar tale. If you look closely. I have the details of 308 Stouts, brewed between 1940 and 1967. They're an eclectic bunch, from all over the UK (but no Barclay Perkins), Ireland, Belgium, the USA. It took days to transcribe them all from the Whitbread Gravity Book. But I'm a generous soul. I'm going to let you take a look. I've got the OG, FG, colour, claculated ABV, calculated attenuation.

British, Irish and other Stouts 1940 - 1967

One proviso. If you use any of the information in the spreadsheet or tables, please say where you got it from. That's all I ask. Not much, is it? That goes for all the stuff I publish on this blog. I think it's pretty reasonable considering how much work I put into compiling this stuff.

These tables demonstrate the exact difference between London and Irish Stout (note the different mix of malts):

Is that enough to convince you? Admittedly, it would be nice to have confirmation of a particular Irish style by having similar information from other Irish breweries. Having read the Murphy's brewery history ( "The Murphy's Story" by Diarmuid Ó Drisceoil & Donal Ó Drisceoil), I suspect that at least some brewing records still exist. I suppose I should look and see if there are any logs in Irish archives. Anyone happen to know if there are? Beer nut, do you? It might give me a good excuse to visit Dublin.

I promised Zythophile something about 1950's Whitbread Stout. This is a beer brewed Monday 4th February 1952. WS it's called in the log. Whitbread Stout would be my guess as to what it stands for. I'm prepared to go out on a limb on that one.

They had other Stouts called MS (1042.5, racked 1011.5) ES (1055.4, racked 1013.5) brewed from a similar mix of M.A (mild ale malt, I guess), brown and chocolate malt, pale and dark sugar, but hopped a little less at 1.2 pounds per barrel.

Burton Ale III

It's amazing how much you unearth once you really start digging. Getting me excited enough to grab a spade is easy, especially when the name Burton is mentioned.

Burton's fame as a brewing centre reaches far further back than the history of Pale Ale. Before Bass and his contemporaries turned to the production of India Ale, the town was famous for its strong Brown Ales. Hang on a minute - haven't all the texts I've quoted so far referred to a beer made from 100% pale malt? Er, yes. There is a reason, but I'll get to that later.

"Burton -Ale.
As in other brown ales, high dried malt is essential; the same is also required for burton ale. For one hogshead of burton, use five bushels of the best brown malt, and four pounds and a half of hops: proceed according to former directions, and infuse into the liquor, when boiling, the undermentioned articles — -viz.

Six pounds Molasses,
Two ounces bruised Ginger,
Four ditto Hartshorn Shavings,
Two ditto Salt,
Two ditto Coriander Seed.

Rack the contents in the space of ten days after the fermentation has ceased; then add three pounds of oat, barley, or wheat meal, and let it remain undisturbed about three months, then it will be fit for the tankard, and for those that are amateurs of burton ale."

"The spirit, wine dealer's and publican's director" by Edward Palmer, 1824, pages 230 – 232
All the sources had talked of a 100% pale malt beer until now. Why does this one suddenly suggest brown malt instead? Simple - because it's out of date.

The hydrometer sparked a revolution in British brewing. In the first half of the 18th century three base malts were used: pale, amber and brown. Pale, being the most expensive, was generally only used for the most expensive beers. Brown, the cheapest, was very popular in products aimed at the masses. That's why Porter was orignally a brown malt beer. When, through use of the hydrometer, brewers were able to analyse the amount of fermentable material they obtained from a quantity of malt, they realised that pale malt offered much better value for money. Though more expensive than brown, its yield was far greater.

Increases in malt tax to help finance the Napoleonic Wars further incentivised brewers to reduce the amount of malt they used. As a result, brown malt was abandoned as a base, even for Porter. During the 19th century pretty well all British beers use pale as their base malt. As a dark colour was considered essential for Porter, some coloured malts were used. Where other beers were concerned, the public doesn't seem to have been as fussy. In the 18th century there had been Pale, Amber and Brown Ales, in descending order of price. As pale-coloured Ales had been pricier and posher, I guess drinkers weren't too bothered when all Ales became pale.

(In case you get confused, I'll point out that the Pale Ale I'm talking of here is not what we think of as Pale Ale today. It was lightly-hopped - more like a Light Mild, really. In the 19th century X Ales were usually pale in colour, but with fewer hops and a lesser degree of attenuation than Pale Ale.)

At the end of the 19th century, fashion turned back to darker beers and Ales became darker again. Which is why Burton in the 1930's and 1950's was dark. Confusing, isn't it. Mild did something similar, moving from pale to amber to dark in the period 1890 to 1940. Barley Wine, in contrast, changed from dark to pale in the 1950's and 1960's.

Getting back to the passage quoted above, I'm certain that by the time it was published Burtion Ale was no longer made in the manner described. What it describes is the practice of several decades earlier.

Five bushels and 4.5 pounds of hops to a hogshead (1.5 barrels) is about 2.4 barrels from a quarter of malt, hopped at 7.2 pounds per quarter. I make the OG only about 1062, much lower than the other examples we've seen. You can see from all the other weird stuff put into it that this was a recipe intended for the use of domestic brewers.

Disguised blessing

Events have overtaken my Bookcase Project. The tatty inaccessible shelves have been cleared away and replaced by a shiny new cabinet.

For you, it's a blessing in disguise. Why?

Before I answer that question, here are three vanished shelves.

An incomplete set of Good Beer Guides. I don't even have the one with a photo of my brother on the back.

More CAMRA publications. I'm such a loyal member. I have two life membership cards.

My favourite style books. I love them so much, I have some of them twice. Propped up with very outdated American guides. That's my excuse for the dust.

Disguised blessing. I hadn't forgotten. For the sake of completeness, I'll be including my new, new bookcase in the Project. Another chance to see the books from the three previous posts, arranged in a slightly different order. I've added a book to one of the other shelves. Perhaps I need to photograph that again, too. The Project may take longer than I anticipated.

Don't tell Dolores, but I ordered a German - English brewing dictionary yesterday. That will need to go somewhere. "Die Bierbrauerei der Neuzeit" that came last week hasn't got a place yet, either. I'd been meaning to translate the chapters "Obergäriges Braunbier oder Süssbier", "Berliner Weissbier" and "Lyoner Reisbier", but it's printed in gothic. I keep putting it off. So it's been lying on my "desk" for a week. That's not long at all. Some have stayed there for years.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Binge drinking teenagers

"What's this - has he started writing about the contemporary world at last?" Well, er, no.

This post has been prompted by Stonch's recent item about the legal drinking age. Are binge-drinking teenagers a modern phenomenon? Is pub violence of recent origin? Take a look at these descriptions of an 1850's London gin palace (taken from "Gaslight and Daylight: With Some London Scenes They Shine Upon" by George Augustus Sala,1859, pages 71 and 73).

"The area before the bar, you will observe, is very spacious. At this present second hour of the afternoon, there are, perhaps, fifty people in it; and it would hold, I dare say, full twenty more, and allow space, into the bargain, for a neat stand-up fight. One seems very likely to take place now between the costermonger, who has brought rather an inconvenient number of ' kea-rots' and ' turmuts' into the bar with him, and a peripatetic vendor of fish - the quality of whose wares he has (with some show of justice, perhaps) impugned. So imminent does the danger appear, that the blind match-seller - who was anon importuning the belligerents - hastily scuttles off; and an imp of a boy, in a man's fustian jacket, and with a dirty red silk 'kerchief twisted round his bull neck, has mounted the big tub, on which he sits astride, pipe in hand - a very St. Giles's Bacchus - declaring that he will see 'fair play.' Let us edge away a little towards the bar - for the crowd towards the door is somewhat too promiscuous to be agreeable; and it is not improbable that in the melee, some red-'kerchiefed citizen, of larger growth, whose extensor and flexor muscles are somewhat more powerfully developed, may make a savage assault on you, for his own private gratification, and the mere pleasure of hitting somebody."
Thugs looking for a fight just for the pleasure of thumping someone. Sound familiar?

"One word about the customers, and we will rejoin our chariot, which must surely be extricated by this time. Thieves, beggars, costermongers, hoary-headed old men, stunted, ragged, shock-haired children, blowzy, slatternly women, hulking bricklayers, gaunt, sickly hobbedehoys, with long greasy hair. A thrice-told tale. Is it not the same everywhere! The same pipes, dirt, howling, maundering, fighting, staggering gin fever. Like plates multiplied by the electro-process - like the printer's 'stereo ' - like the reporter's 'manifold' - you will find duplicates, triplicates of these forlorn beings everywhere. The same woman giving her baby gin; the same haggard, dishevelled woman, trying to coax her drunken husband home; the same mild girl, too timid even to importune her ruffian partner to leave off drinking the week's earnings, who sits meekly in a corner, with two discoloured eyes, one freshly blacked - one of a week's standing. The same weary little man, who comes in early, crouches in a corner, and takes standing naps during the day, waking up periodically for 'fresh drops.' The same red-nosed, ragged object who disgusts you at one moment by the force and fluency of his Billingsgate, and surprises you the next by bursting out in Greek and Latin quotations. The same thin, spectral man who has no money, and with his hands piteously laid one over the other, stands for hours gazing with fishy eyes at the beloved liquor - smelling, thinking of, hopelessly desiring it. And lastly, the same miserable girl, sixteen in years, and a hundred in misery; with foul, matted hair, and death in her face; with a tattered plaid shawl, and ragged boots, a gin-and-fog voice, and a hopeless eye."
Of course, at that time the 16 year old girl could legally knock back her gin in the pub. There was no legal minimum age for pub drinking until the 1880's. Even then it was just 12. Though I suppose most 12 year olds were already working then. It doesn't seem quite so unreasonable that they should have been allowed a pint or two on their way to work.

What we need is a return to Victorian values. Let's drop the drinking age back down to 12.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Wenlock Brewery beers

The Wenlock Arms was voted London's best pub by visitors to Stonch's blog. It used to be the tap of the Wenlock Brewery, which closed in the early 1960's.

Stonch posted about the pub today and I thought "Wouldn't it be interesting to write about the Wenlock Brewery's beers." I've come across a few whilst trawling the Truman and Whitbread gravity books.

So here you are, a selection of Wenlock Brewery beers spanning the period 1940 to 1960.

Monday 11 February 2008

More more Ales

I almost forgot to tell you about the remaining Ales described in "A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts, and Collateral Information" by Arnold James Cooley, 1854 (pages 44 - 45).

ALE, WELSH. Take 3 quarters of the best pale malt and 25 lbs. of hops ; turn on the first liquor at 178°. Mash for an hour and a half, and stand two hours. Turn on second liquor at 190°, and stand two hours. Boil an hour and a half; pitch the tun at 62°, and cleanse at 80°, using salt and flour. After the second mash, turn on for table beer at 150°. Mash three quarters of an hour, and stand two hours.
Not much of note here. Except the 8 and a bit pounds of hops per quarter, for comparative purposes.

ALE, WHITE, (DEVONSHIRE.) Boil together 12 gallons of pale ale-wort, 1 handful of hops, and 4 or 5 lbs. of grouts; cool, and add of yeast 3 lbs When it is in a state of lively fermentation, bottle in strong stone half-pints ; well cork them down, and wire them. Remarks. This is much drunk in some parts of Devonshire. It effervesces when opened.
This is a bizarre local style that eventually died out towards the end of the 19th century. If I recall correctly, grouts was a prepared mixture of malt flour and water that had been left to start spontaneously fermenting. Zythophile has written in more detail of this strange, extinct beer.

ALE, WINDSOR. This ale is brewed from the best pale malt and hops. Turn on the first water at 180°; mash 1.25 hour, and stand 1 hour; boil 1 hour. Turn on the second liquor at 190°; stand 3/4 of an hour; boil 3 hours. Turn on the third liquor at 165°; mash 3/4 of an hour; stand 3/4 of an hour. Pitch the tun at 60°; cleanse at 80° on the third day. Skim as soon as a close yeasty head appears, until the yeast ceases to rise, then rouse in 4 lb. of hops per quarter.
This, again, I've included mainlt to demonstrate hopping levels. At 4 pounds per quarter, this is the same as specified for Scotch Ale.

ALE, YORKSHIRE OAT. The malt used is made from oats of the white sort, and dried with coke. Mash 1 quarter of ground malt with 44 gallons of cold soft water, and let it stand 12 hours; then draw off the wort, and infuse therein for 3 hours 2 lbs. of hops, well rubbed between the hands; next strain; tun it, and work it briskly with yeast for two or three days ; cleanse, and in ten days it will be fit to bottle. It drinks very smooth, brisk, and pleasant, but will not keep. It looks very much like white wine.
This is another odd one. It sounds as if the hops aren't being boiled, but just added to the wort and left top stand for a few hours. At only two pounds per quarter, there aren''t a great deal of hops, either. I can't imagine that the final beer could have been very bitter. There's no mention of barley malt, either. Can you mash with oats alone? Does it have the enzymes? Hang on a minute. There's no mention of mashing, either. Just standing the oat malt in cold water.

Sunday 10 February 2008

Scotch Ale V

When is he going to stop going on about Scotch Ale? Not yet is all you need to know. Sometime. When I've run out of material. It may take some time.

Today's source is "A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts, and Collateral Information" by Arnold James Cooley, 1854, pages 44 - 45.
ALE, SCOTCH. This ale is brewed from the finest pale malt, (made from the best English barley,) and the best East Kent Hops, or for long keeping, Farnham's or Country's. The brewing is restricted to the colder portions of the year, as it never succeeds so well during the months of May, June, July, August, and September. Only one mash is made, and that at a temperature of about 180°, with one-third of the quantity of the water necessary for the brewing. The mash-tun is then covered up for half an hour, when the wort is drawn off, and a quantity of water, at the same temperature as before, sprinkled uniformly over its surface. Тhis is performed by throwing the water into a vessel with a bottom full of holes, somewhat resembling a shower-bath, from whence it descends and gets equally distributed over every portion of the malt. After an interval of about twenty minutes, this wort is drawn off from several small cocks or holes, placed round the circumference of the bottom, by which means the hot water is made to percolate equally through every particle of the mass. This operation, called "sparging," is performed a second time, with a fresh portion of hot water, and after a like interval, is again drawn off. This process is repeated several times, until the density of the mixed worts becomes adapted to the quality of the ale required Usually eight or ten "spargings" are employed, the latter at about 5° or 10° cooler than the first The skilful brewer so divides his water that it may produce a wort of the proper gravity; but when a very strong one is required, the latter "sparges" are used for table beer, or as water for mashing a fresh quantity of malt. In this way, 1 quarter of malt will yield full 81 lbs. of extract. The wort is next boiled, with 4 lbs. of hops to every quarter of malt, and afterwards cooled down to 50° before adding the yeast. The latter must not exceed half a gallon for every 100 gallons of wort. The fermentation now commences and proceeds slowly, and in some brewings is accelerated by rousing up twice a day. Should more yeast be absolutely required in a few days, a little may be added. The fermentation generally continues for 15 to 20 days; and the ale is not cleansed before the degree of attenuation does not exceed 0.5 lb. per diem, and not more than quarter of the original gravity of the wort remains. This process is then performed by drawing off without skimming. As soon as the fermentation is finished, the ale is put into carefully prepared casks, and stored in a cold cellar. Here it soon becomes fine, and seldom wants racking before sale. The usual gravity per barrel of the best Scotch ale is about 36 or 40 lbs., and is seldom lower than 32 lbs. or higher than 44 lbs.
There's so much good stuff in this description. I'll summarise for you:
  1. brewed from pale malt and Kent hops
  2. not brewed in the summer
  3. single mash and multiple sparges
  4. 4 pounds of hops per quarter
  5. extract of 81 lbs per quarter
  6. pitching temperature 50º F
  7. long, slow fermentation of two to three weeks
  8. FG bot more than 25% of OG
  9. OG usually between 1100º and 1111º, minimum 1089, maximum 1122º
I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to be pretty convinced of certain characteristics of Scotch Ale. The above list includes most of them.

I'm pretty tempted to get a Scotch Ale brewed. You can help me work out the recipe, if you like.

Friday 8 February 2008

Burton Ale II

Do I have more sources that confirm the characteristics of Burton Ale? Of course I do. Here's one from "A Philosophical and Statistical History of the Inventions and Customes of Ancient and Modern Nations in the Manufacture and Use of Intoxicating Liquors" by Samuel Morewood, 1838, pages 544 - 545.

"Burton ale is in high estimation for both strength and quality. It is made from the palest malt and best hops, having a gravity so high as from 36 to 40lbs. a barrel. If the malt be not very good, only one mash can be made for this liquor; but if it be of prime quality, two mashes may be made, not losing sight of the great specific gravity which ought to be produced. The heat of the liquor should be 185° or 190°, adding 5° for the second mashing. If only one brewing is to be made, the wort may be boiled an hour and a quarter; if two, the worts should be boiled three quarters of an hour for the first, and an hour or an hour and a quarter for the second; keeping constantly in mind that long boiling is injurious to the colour, a property of no small recommendation to the value of the ale. The quantity of hops must be 0.75 lbs, to the bushel of malt varied by circumstances, but the more hops that are used the higher will be the colour of the ale. During the process of fermentation the heat should be about 75°, and as the first temperature would therefore be 55°, at an average the quantity of yeast, both on account of the circumstances and the great weight of the wort, should not be less than 0.75 lb. to the barrel. The excellence of Burton ale arises not only from the use of the best malt and hops, but from the peculiar quality of the water, which is impregnated with saline particles from the rocks of gypsum, over which it flows."
The pale colour - and the short boil necessary to preserve it - get a mention. The hopping rate of 0.75 pound to a bushel is equal to 6 pounds per quarter. It's also an early mention of the importance of gypsum in the water used to brew Burton. The gravity is confirmed as 36 to 40 pounds per barrel (1100º - 1111º).

Burton Ale

Yesterday there were questions about my calculation of the OG of Burton Ale. So today here's another set of instructions for brewing Burton Ale. They are taken from "A practical treatise on brewing" by Thomas Hitchcock, 1842, pages 40-43.

THE characteristics of Burton Ale are, great strength, paleness of colour, and fulness of flavour. It must be as pale as a straw, or it will not pass as genuine with connoisseurs of that article; consequently the palest malt and hops must be used.

This ale is of great gravity, from one mash chiefly. The wort from the first mash is seldom or never mixed with the subsequent. These are generally used for a return or inferior ales. Therefore the liquor of the first mash must be in such proportions as to make the gravity of the wort, when boiled, from thirty-six
[1100] to forty-one pounds per barrel [1114].
Confirmation here of a crazily high gravity. Not quite as high as those I estimated yesterday, but not far off. Note the emphasis on paleness of colour.

The best heat to produce such a mucilaginous wort as Burton ale requires, is one hundred and sixty-six degrees, infused from two and a half to three hours The heat of the grist should be maintained at one hundred and fifty-seven degrees. Sparge for the subsequent mashes at two hundred degrees. As long boiling is prejudicial to colour, the worts should not be boiled much longer than until they break pure. Three-quarters of an hour is generally sufficient for that purpose; but that is scarcely long enough to concentrate them sufficiently. We recommend them to be boiled one hour and a quarter; and, should they become high coloured, a little powdered charcoal may be thrown in the worts when boiling. This will destroy the colour, and impart no unpleasant flavour. Or, a double copper may be substituted for the ordinary one, the inner one made rather thin. Six or eight inches space may be left between the inner and outer coppers, at the bottom and sides: this space being filled with liquor, and made to boil, causes the wort in the inner copper to boil; it acts on the same principle as a glue pot. The inner copper may be supported by straps of iron running under the bottom and up the sides.
Ales boiled in this way will possess very little colour; and, were distillers to adopt this method in boiling their wash, their spirits would be nearly tasteless. It is true, a little longer time is required, ere the worts boil; but when a very pale beverage is required, no other method can well supply its place. Charcoal is used sometimes as a substitute.
The effort put into to stopping the wort caramelising and darkening is striking. Clearly at this point a pale colour was very highly prized. Contrast this with Bass No. 1 around 1900 which, though brewed from 100% pale malt, was deliberately caramelised in the boil to produce a dark beer.

Burton ales are not attenuated so low as ales generally are; but, as the gravity is so great, more unattenuated saccharine may, with greater safety, be left in this ale, than would be prudent to leave in ales of low gravity. There is not much risk of souring, if the cooling of the worts have been quick, and the fermentation properly managed. The great quantity of alcohol will prevent acidity, and the saccharine left will create fulness of flavour. Most generally, a quarter of an ounce of powdered orange-pea per barrel, is added in the copper, a quarter of an hour before drawing off, to heighten the flavour.
If Burton Ales were attenuated in a similar way to Scotch Ales as is suggested in this passage, the final gravity would be in the range 1035 to 1045. (Based on the FGs listed in "Scottish Ale Brewer".) I assume "powdered orange-pea" is a misprint and that "orange-peal" is correct. Whatever they added, it was illegal for a commercial brewers.

The fermentation will be best conducted, as before stated under that head. Owing to the great gravity of this ale, not less than two or three pounds of yeast must be used. The heat during fermentation may be allowed to reach sixty-eight degrees, but not more: the attenuation not reduced so low, by three pounds, as is stated under the head of attenuation. The fermentation in some breweries is allowed to be rather rapid: such may be permitted, if the ale is for immediate consumption; but if it is to be kept, the attenuation must be slow. Four pounds decrease in gravity every twenty-four hours, produces the richest flavoured, most potent, brilliant, and sparkling article. In fact. the slower the fermentation of ales is, the more superior the article will be, in every respect. When the article is intended for long keeping, the air must be sedulously kept from it during fermentation. A small tap should be inserted about the middle of the gyle-tun, to fill the essay jar.

The pitching heat of this ale is about fifty-four degrees, or even less in summer, unless the gyle-tuns are beneath the surface of the ground.
The fermentation method for keeping beer is similar to that for Scotch Ale - slow and relatively cool. Assuming a total gravity drop of 24 to 29 pounds during fermentation, at the rate of 4 pounds per day the fermentation would last around 7 days. Not quite the three weeks Scotch Ale could take, but more than the usual 3 or 4 day fermentation of most Ales.

Thursday 7 February 2008

More Ales

You've been good. Here's your reward: more Ales from "A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts, and Collateral Information" by Arnold James Cooley (1854, pages 44 - 45).

First, one of my favourites: Burton Ale.

ALE, BURTON. This is a strong species of ale, of which only a barrel and a half is drawn from a quarter of malt. Temperature for the first mash 170°, and for the second 180°, followed by a mash for table beer at 165°. It is tunned at 58°, and cleansed at 72°. The finest pale malt, ground two days before using, together with the best Kent hops, (6 to 8 lbs. per quarter,) are employed for this ale. Remarks. The "East India" ale, brewed by Bass & Co. of Burton, is perhaps as near an approach to wine as malt liquor is capable of receiving; it is indeed the "wine of malt"
I find this description quite confusing. For one thing, The Bass East India Ale it mentions is a different type of beer. A Pale Ale. The sort of beer now associated with Burton. The brewing method is for a much stronger beer. Crazily strong. One and a half barrels from a quarter of malt would give a gravity of around 1140º. Bass Pale Ale was less than half that - 1065º. The hopping rate is also way too low for an IPA - just 6 to 8 pounds per quarter. As a comparison, Reid IPA of 1839 was hopped at 26 pounds per quarter. The last sentence gets very close to calling Bass barley wine.

ALE, DORCHESTER. This is made with half pale and half amber malt, with 6 or 7 lbs. of hops to the quarter. The temperature of the first mash is 170°, and of the second 180° ; boiled for 30 minutes, and the yeast added, when a head gathers on the gyle-tun ; work until the head begins to fall, then cleanse and fill up the casks as long as they continue to work. Two barrels per quarter.

This is another very strong Ale. Two barrels from a quarter is around 1100º. I guess this is the ancestor of Hardy Ale, which was originally brewed in Dorchester.

ALE, EDINBURGH. Employ the best pale malt. 1st. Mash two barrels per quarter, at 180°; mash three quarters of an hour. let it stand 1 hour, and allow half an hour to run off the wort. 2nd Mash 1 barrel per quarter, at 183°; mash three quarters of an hour, let it stand three quarters of an hour, and tap as before. 3rd. Mash one barrel per quarter, at 170° ; mash half an hour, let it stand half an hour, and tap as before. The first and second mash may be mixed together, boiling them about an hour or an hour and a quarter, with a quantity of hops proportioned to the time the beer is intended to be kept. The first two may be mixed at the heat of 60° in the gyle- tun, and the second should be fermented separately for small beer. Remarks. The best hops should be used, in the proportion of about 4 lbs. for every quarter of malt employed.
Yet another description of Scotch Ale. And yet another one that specifies a hopping rate of four pounds per barrel. The fact that multiple mashes are employed suggests to me that it isn't an authentically Scottish recipe. As does the relatively high pitching temperature of 60º F.

ALE, ESSEX. This ale is brewed by putting boiling water into the mash-tun, and adding thereto some cold water, and then the malt, gradually, until a cover of dry malt is left on top; it is then allowed to stand three hours; in the mean time a similar mash is made with half the previous quantity of malt, and the same measure of water, in another tun, as soon after the first as possible; both worts are drawn off simultaneously, and the latter serves as a second water for the malt used for the former. The smaller quantity of malt is then mashed a second time with water. The first wort is boiled an hour, or until it breaks into large flakes, when half of it is taken out, and the remaining raw wort added to it, and the boiling continued until it again breaks. The wort is now drained off from the grains and boiled, and a fresh mash made with the wort from the second tun, for the larger quantity of malt, and very hot water for the other; after an hour it is drawn off and another mash made for small beer. The proportion of hops is 2.5 lbs. per quarter. This system of mashing, which has no advantage over the usual way, has been called "succession mashing."
I'm not sure I understand the complicated mashing scheme specified here. It sounds very fiddly. You'll not that very few hops are used, significantly less than in Scotch Ale even - just 2.5 pounds per quarter. I suppose hops didn't grow in Essex and were expensive to import all the way from Kent.

How did I calculate the gravities?
How do I work out the gravities from the amount of malt used per barrel? Exactly the same way Victorian brewers did.

The sugar yield from malt was usually expressed in pounds per quarter. It's the amount of extract that will give you that OG spread over a barrel. The standard amount was 80 pounds per quarter for pale malt (about 54 for brown malt). That means you would get 36 gallons of wort with a gravity of 80 pounds per barrel. To get the OG in specific gravity, you multiply it by 2.77 and add 1000. So

80 X 2.77 = 221.6 + 1000 = 1221.6

I know that figure is reliable, because I've seen it on so many brewing logs. They always include the yield expressed this way.

Standard-strength commercial beers (Like Porter) were usually brewed four barrels to the quarter, or 20 pounds per barrel (1055º).

A barrel and a half to a quarter is a huge gravity. But I'm inclined to believe it, because the Edinburgh Ale is about right at 1100º. In "Scottish Ale Brewer" (1847) there are tables of Scotch Ales analysed in the 1830's. The highest OG is 1133.5.

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Barnstaple Ale, Bavarian Ale

More quotes from old texts. What's the difference between old texts and an egg? You can beat an egg, but you can't beat old texts.

Today's guest publication is "A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts, and Collateral Information" by Arnold James Cooley, 1854, page 44.

It starts with the earliest mention I've found of the term "barley wine", mentioned as a synonym for Ale.

"ALE. Syn. BARLEY WINE. ALA. CEREVISIA A pale-colored liquor, brewed from
lightly-dried malt It is usually described as containing more saccharine matter
and mucilage than beer or porter; but this is not a characteristic of the finer
kinds of ale, as Old Burton, Scotch, East India, and other varieties, that have
undergone a thorough fermentation. New or mild ale, on the contrary, abounds in
undecomposed sugar and gum, and is thus rendered more nutritious, though less
alcoholic, than the above varieties."

I've included this general description of Ale because it includes hopping rates. How does it compare to what we've read about Scotch Ale?

"Process of brewing ale. The various operations of brewing are nearly the same for every species of malt liquor, the differences in the product« arising from the materials employed, the heat of the water used for mashing, and the temperature at which the fermentation is conducted. (See BREWING.) For ale, pale or lightly-dried malt should be chosen, as well as pale hops, if it be desired to brew a liquor possessing but little color; and the fermentation should be carried on at a low temperature. Almost every county in England has its variety of ale, but the difference consists chiefly (the same quantity of malt and hops being used) in the preparation of the malt. The water may in some cases vary in quality, the boiling may be longer or shorter, or the liquor may be turned on at a different heat; but these circumstances being considered, one general process serves for the whole, as before observed. For immediate use, the malt may be all pale; but if brewed for keeping, or in warm weather, one- fourth should be amber malt. 6 lbs. of Kent hops should be used to the quarter, or 8 to 10 lbs. for keeping ale. The stronger ales contain about 5% of absolute alcohol; ordinary ales from 5 to 6%."

If you can remember back that far, we've seen hopping rates mantioned of between 4 and 8 lbs per quarter for Scotch Ale. My provisional conclusion is that Scotch Ale may well have been slightly less well-hopped than English Ale, but not by a massive amount. Do you have any thoughts on the matter? I'd love to hear them.

The Cyclopaedia goes on to list recipes for a variety of Ales. The first is Barnstaple Ale:

"ALE, BARNSTAPLE. Boil the water, then throw two pails of cold water into the mash tun, and afterwards the boiling water; then immediately put in the malt, half a bushel at a time. After stirring it till it is soaked, cap it with malt or bran, cover it close, and let it stand three hours; then see if the mash is sunk in the middle; if so, it must be filled level with boiling water, to stand half an hour; when it should be run off in а goose-quill stream, and be returned upon the grains, by a bowl or pailful at a time, as far back as possible from the cock, until the liquor strains through the body of the grains, and at last comes very fine; otherwise the thick parts are forced down to the cock. This is called "doubling;" continue to do so for half an hour, then atop, and let it stand half an hour longer in winter, but not in summer. Then rub four pounds of hops very fine into the sieve, for the wort to run through; do not draw it off too near before lading over more boiling water out of the copper. This is to be continued until the whole quantity of ale wort is obtained, which, with all the hops, is to be boiled till the liquor breaks or curdles. Now empty all into large tubs or coolers ; work, when cold, with the same hops altogether, thus: put a little yeast, and that not a day old, to a quantity, and mix that with the rest, to work 12 or 14 hours, and then strain it directly into the barrel, where keep filling it until it has done working. "

Here's one to annoy the stylists - Bavarian Ale. I think they mean lager. Though by the definitions of the time, lightly-hopped Bavarian lagers would probably have been classified as Ales in Britain.

"ALE, BAVARIAN. This is a beer which has been made to ferment at a low temperature, until all the substances which favor acetification have been rendered insoluble. The fermentation is conducted in wide, open, shallow vessels, which afford free and unlimited access to atmospheric oxygen, and this in a situation where the temperature does not exceed 46° to 50° Fahr. A separation of the nitrogeneous constituents, the exciters of acidification, takes place simultaneously on the surface and within the whole body of the liquid. The clearing of the fluid is the sign by which it is known that these matters have separated. The beer obtained in this way is invariably far superior, in quality and stability, to that far superior, in quality and stability, to that brewed according to the common method. (Liebig.) To be enabled to keep the temperature at the proper point, the operation is conducted in a situation removed as much as possible from the influence of atmospherical changes of temperature, and at such seasons as are favorable to the same."

If you're good I'll continue with Burton, Dorchester, Edinburgh and Essex Ale tomorrow.