Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Early 18th century beer styles (part two)

I know I've already posted on this topic. But I've done some more work since then. So I have a few more styles for your delectation.

Note: the following was written using 18th century terminology. Malt Liquor general, Beer and Ale specific. OK?

Mild Ale
A further method of classifying malt liquors was their age. Ones sold young were described as Mild. Ones that had been aged were called Keeping or Stale. Most (but not all Ales) were sold "mild", but some beers were, too. Porter is a good example of a Brown Beer that was often sold "mild" from the 1700's right up until its demise in the 1940's. The big London brewers all made Mild Porter and Keeping Porter, which were often mixed before sale.

You can see that in the 1700's Mild Ale was a very vague term. It covered Ales of all colours and all strengths. It wasn't as much as style as a description of the level of conditioning. None of the beers described as Mild Ale at this time has any but the slightest similarity with modern Mild. Even the weakest would have had an OG of at least 1050º. Mild Brown Ale, brewed from 100% brown malt must have had the roasty flavour of London Porter, just with a much lower level of hopping.

Small Beer
When brewing a stronger Beer or Ale, a quantity of Small Beer was also made from the same grain. Quite often, the same hops were used, too. Though it was usual to add some fresh malt before the first Small Beer mash. It was produced quickly and intended to be drunk young, basically as soon as the fermentation had finished and it had dropped bright.

Intire Small Beer was not party-gyled with a stronger malt liquor, but brewed from its own mash. It was a new method of producing a higher-quality type of Small Beer. There were versions made from all three base malts.

These low-alcohol drinks were always made as Beers not Ales. The higher hopping rate of a Beer was needed to prevent infection, there being too little alcohol to give protection. At somewhere around 3.5% ABV, these Beers were of a similar strength to modern British session Bitter. In the days before easy access to clean drinking water, Small Beer was the everyday drink of young and old. It was seen as a necessity, not a luxury.

Low-alcohol Beers and Ales continued to be made in large quantities until the middle of the 19th century, when the provision of clean drinking water improved.

Burton Ale
Long before Pale Ale, Burton was already famous for its Ales. Burton had been renowned for its Brown Ales since the late Middle Ages.

"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

White Ale
"Their white Ale is a clear Wort made from pale Malt, and fermented with what they call ripening, which is a Composition, they say, of the Flower of Malt, Yeast and Whites of Eggs, a Nostrum made and sold only by two or three in those Parts, but the Wort is brewed and the Ale vended by many of the Publicans; which is drank while it is fermenting in Earthen Steens, in such a thick manner as resembles butter'd Ale, and sold for Twopence Halfpenny the full Quart. It is often prescribed by Physicians to be drank by wet Nurses for the encrease of their Milk, and also as a prevalent Medicine for the Colick and Gravel. But the Dover and Chatham People won't drink their Butt-Beer, unless it is Aged, fine and strong." "London and Country Brewer", 1736.

No comments: