Monday, 22 September 2008

Ale Brewing in the 1830's (part three)

Let's continue with 1830's Ale brewing. Taken from "A Practical Treatise on Brewing" by William Chadwick, published in 1835.

Mike will be thrilled. He loves all this technical stuff. "Why do you keep posting that homebrewing crap?" he says. He's just trying to hide his excitement. My book should be right down his street. Full of homebrewing crap.

Did I mention my book will have a bjcp connection, too? No? More of that later. Just enjoy the last installment of Chadwick's Ale brewing description.

As soon as the second mash was completed, the first two worts were transferred to the copper to be boiled. The quantity of hops used depended upon a number of factors: the season (more hops were required in summer), the length of time the beer was to be kept before consumption and the taste of the brewer.

The usual way for indicating hopping rates in the 18th and 19th centuries was pounds of hops per quarter of malt. It's a system that allows recipes to be easily scaled for different gravity beers. Chadwick recommended 6 pounds per quarter in cold weather, 8 to 10 pounds in warm.

The hops were first infused with boiling water before being added to the wort. Water was thought to extract the flavour components from hops better than wort. A gently rolling boil was preferred to prevent too many volatile hop oils evaporating. To stop caramelisation or burning, the wort was stirred during the boil using a mashing oar.

Worts were boiled until they broke, that is when sediment they contained precipitated out. It was essential that this occurred if the finished beer were to be of good quality. As the time before this happened varied, it was impossible to give a fixed length for the boil. Continuing after the wort had broken was inadvisable as further boiling would only damage the wort.

The first two (strong) worts were boiled for 30 to 45 minutes. The later, weak runnings two to two and a half hours in order to concentrate the wort.

Chadwick had some unusual ideas about hop additions. His system was add a little more than half the hops at the beginning of the boil. The remainder was used to dry-hop when the beer was filled into casks after cleansing. The hops helped to prevent too rigorous a secondary fermentation and to clear the beer. It also helped the flavour: "the spirit already generated by the fermentation, extracts from the hop the volatile and aromatic oils which are often lost in boiling."

When boiling was complete, the wort was moved to the coolers. To hold back the hops, a birch broom was fixed in front of the tap opening in the copper. A bag of horsehair placed just before the cooler trapped any remaining hops.

Coolers were large and very shallow, the wort being no more than two or three inches deep. In large breweries, pipes, through which cold spring water was pumped, were placed inside the coolers. These helped cool the wort more quickly. Brewers were only too aware that the longer the wort took to cool, the greater the risk of infection. The maximum safe length of time for cooling was about 12 hours.

As private brewers lacked the equipment to cool worts quickly, they were advised not to brew in the summer. Commercial brewers, with coolers capable of operating in warmer weather, were able to brew all year.

In temperate weather, when the air temperature was aroung 50º F, worts were cooled to 68º-70º F. The final temperature could be lower in warm weather.

After cooling, the wort was moved to the gyle tuns, where fermentation took place. The gyle tuns were not filled to the top to leave plenty of room for the head of yeast that would be formed.

The pitching temperature depended on the volume being fermented. The aim was to prevent the temperature of the wort rising above 80º F and ideally keep it below 74º F. As a larger volume would heat up more, the larger the gyle-tun, the lower the pitching temperature. For a brew of three to four barrels, yeast could be pitched at up to 70º F. If the temperature rose above 80º F there was a chance of vinegar forming. On the other hand, if the temperature was too low, the wort would not properly attenuate.

Though worts would ferment without the addition of yeast, adding sufficient, good quality yeast was preferred. A yeast which left no nasty flavours in the beer should be selected.

"Worts when left at these temperatures will soon begin to ferment without the addition of yeast;" ("A Practical Treatise on Brewing" by William Chadwick, 1835, page 45.)

For strong worts, 1.75 to 2 pounds of yeast per barrel was recommended. Slightly less, 1.5 to 1.75 pounds per barrel was enough for weaker worts.

Between 7 and 10 hours after pitching, a head began to form around the edges of the tun, gradually expanding towards the middle until the whole surface of the wort was covered. As fermentation continued a uneven, rocky head developed. The yeast was skimmed off when the head began to collapse. This was repeated every 8 to 10 hours.

Chadwick recommended feeding the yeast after the first skimming with a combination of wheat flour and salt. For every four barrels of wort, two pounds of flour and half a pound of salt were mixed with a little wort and then added to the gyle-tun. The flour helped the fermentation and the salt clarification. It's worth noting that this preparation would have been illegal in a commercial brewery.

During fermentation the gravity and temperature of the wort was checked every 12 hours. You can see these noted down in many brewing logs. Depending on the air temperature, primary fermentation could take between 3 and 12 days.

The degree of attenuation depended on the gravity and the length of time I beer was intended to be kept. A wort of 1055 meant to be drunk young could be fermented down to between 1008 and 1011. The correct degree of attenuation was imporatant if the beer were to taste neither too thin nor too heavy. Chadwick recommended a finishing gravity of between a third and a quarter of the starting gravity. That is, an apparent degree of attenuation of between 67% and 75%. The former being for keeping beers, the latter for ones to be drunk immediately.


Anonymous said...

Be careful what you say about the BJCP or you will be sued for malicious slander.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another excellent post, Ron. I find all the little details particularly fascinating - the very short boil for the first wort, the use of a birch broom and horsehair as a hop filter, the flour and salt addition, the massive skew towards dry hopping.

A little off-topic, but the J Fryer & Sons Strong Ale mat caught my eye, predictably enough. Don't suppose you happen to know anything about the brewery?

Anonymous said...

Ron, who is this Chadwick fella? Was he a writer or brewer by profession?

Very interesting piece. But I don't get the mix of precise details (the hop rates for cold and warm weather) and the vague generalisations (private brewers don't brew in the summer).

I guess my question is this: is this Chadwick's study of his own brewery or is this a study he did of many breweries?

Ron Pattinson said...

tom, J.Fryer & Sons had two breweries, both in North Yorkshire. The original was in Brompton on Swale and founded around 1880. The one from which the label comes was in Stokesley and was bought in 1921.

J.Fryer & Sons was bought by Camerons in 1956 and closed in 1959.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ron. An uncle of mine has been researching family history since he retired - bit of a long shot, but I'll run this past him to see if there's a link with any info he's uncovered.