Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Ale Brewing circa 1850 (part one)

Time for some more brewing instructions. These are from William Loftus's "The Brewer", published in 1856.

It looks a pretty old-fashioned method, using three or four mashes, each lasting a few hours.

In part two, I'll relate the details of boiling, fermentation, cleansing, racking and ageing.

Water was heated to 184º F in the liquor copper and transferred to the mash tun. When the water had cooled to about 180º F the malt was dropped from the hopper into the mash tun and mixed well with the water.

The precise mashing temperature varied depending on the type of water, malt and the brewer's preference. In general, hard water required a lower temperature. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, pages 34-35.)

In mild weather, these were the striking temperatures recommended by Loftus:

_________ hard water__ soft water
1st mash___178º F_____182º F
2nd mash___184º F____188º F
3rd mash___188º F_____186º F
(Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 36.)

The first mash lasted at least two hours, longer as long as the temperature could be kept above 146º F. The remaining two mashes were between and and two hours. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 37.)

The third mash was either mixed with the other two worts, kept as a return for a later brew of used to make Table Beer. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 38.)

Any remaining extract left in the grains could be retrieved by mixing with water (one barrel for every 1.25 quarters of malt) at a temperature of 198º F. After stirring and allowing the mash to stand for 30 minutes, it was put into the copper with some spent hops and, with the fire damped, allowed to stand all night. By the next day, evaporation had reduced the volume by a third and brought the gravity up tp 1022-25º. This was used to make a Table Beer. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 39.)

Loftus suggested a short boil: just 1 hour. "To boil it for a lonnger time is wasteful and pernicious, both to the extract of the malt and to that of the hop." (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 40.) In order to avoid the need for a longer boil (to increase the gravity of the wort) brewers should try to hit the right gravity during mashing. "The gravity of the wort does not increase in proportion as the length decreases by evaporation." Loftus warns. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 41.)

1 comment:

Kristen England said...

I'm still fascinated that individual breweries would vary that greatly in mash temperatures.

Having their liquor up near 184 would have them mashing in the mid-170's which is pretty damn high.

That being said I have no idea what type of heat drop they are expecting from the grains. I would expect it to plunge the temps down into the 140's though.