Friday, 12 September 2008

Brewing materials 1850 - 1880

Still waiting for "Malts and Malting" to arrive, so the following section on malt is likely to be radically revised at some point. As you'll see, the information is mostly taken from "The Brewer" by William Loftus.

It should help clarify the status of blackstrap a little. Molasses was specifically mentioned as an illegal ingredient that was used as a substitute for malt.

Brewing materials

Grain for malting was piled into stacks and left to "sweat" for a minimum of 2 to 3 months. The first stage of the process was "steeping", where the grains were soaked in plenty of water for two to three days. Aftrer the water had been drained off, the grains were put into a frame called a "couch". After 26 hours heat was generated as germination began. The grain was spread thinly on the floor to stop it overheating and to allow germination to progress. After six days, the grain was sprinkled with water to further encourage germination. The grains began to sprout and after about 14 days, to prevent further growth of the plant, they were dried in a kiln to produce finished malt.

These were the types of malt available:

Pale malt: Slow drying in the kiln over four days gave this malt its pale colour and boosted the sugar content. Good pale malt gave a yield of 76 to 84 pounds of extract per quarter. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 37.)

Porter, back or patent malt. Roasted in a cylinder in a similar way to coffee at a temperature of 370º to 450º. Its main use was to colour Porter and Stout. The quality and colour of this malt were very variable. Some maltsters used low-quality barley in its preparation, resulting in almost charred grains with poor solubility, flavour and colour. Good quality black malt was made from the best malt and had a chocolate brown colour.

Brown malt. This was prepared in a similar way to pale malt, up until the end of the kilning process. The grain was spread in a thickness of 2 inches (50mm), sprinkled with water and the heat quickly raised by adding beech or birch wood to the fire. Brown malt yields was 15 to 20% less fermentable material than pale malt.

Blown malt. This was a variation of brown malt. Moist grain was spread about half an inch thick on a wire kiln. They were heated at a very high temperature whilst being constantly turned, until the grains suddenly increased in size. The fuel used was fern, straw or wood. The yield from blown malt was 18 to 25% less than from pale malt.

(Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, pages 15-20.)

William Loftus lists many illegal ingredients and adulterants used by unscrupulous brewers. Molasses, sugar and raw grain were used as substitutes for malt. Spanish liquorice root and black resin as colourings. Gentian, marsh trefoil and quassia were hop substitutes. Salt of steel was used to aid head retention and copperas to colour the head brown. To make a beer appear stronger, coculus indicus, tobacco, opium and nux-vomica were added. Hartshorn shavings were used as finings, ground sea shells or marble dust were used to reduce acidity, along with a whole range of other chemicals.

All of the above ingredients were illegal and the fines for brewers caught using them considerable.

(Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, pages 20-21.)

These were some of the types of hops commonly available:

Kent hops, grown around Canterbury, were considered to have the best flavour. They were used in keeping beers and Porter.

Farnham hops were the next best after Kent hops. These were recommended for London Ales.

North clays were grown in Nottinghamshire and were named after the heavy soils in which they grew. Their strong, unpleasant taste meant they were only much use in strong keeping beers.

Worcesters had a mild, pleasant flavour.

Sussex hops divided opinions. Some brewers liked their distinctive flavour, while others hated it.

(Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 33.)

According to Loftus, the best hops were "of the latest growth, and of 8 to 10 months old, as many of their valuable properties dissipate with longer keeping." (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 31.)

The best water, according to Loftus, was hard spring water from chalky soils, such as that at Burton. He did warn that hard water worts required a higher pitching temperature than worts brewed with soft water. (Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, page 33.)


Anonymous said...

Mr. anonymous

From my dad I have to delete your comments.

Son of Ron

Boak said...

Is there any science behind the idea of pitching at high temperatures for hard-water?