Friday, 26 September 2008


I've been having great fun reading "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846. It's full of both useful information and amusement.

It's fun reading him attack the theories of others and pimp his own patented bits of brewing equipment, like the Mashing Attemperator and Hystricon. He certainly had a way with names, if nothing else. It's the sort of thing you don't find much in more modern books.

But inbetween the self-promotion and denigration of others, there's much useful stuff, even if (a bit like me) he does tend to go on a bit and repeat himself. He's taught me a lot about sparging. Mostly that it had spread to England earlier than I had expected.

It's slightly scary when he starts quoting books I've already read, Levesque's "The Art of Brewing and Fermenting", for example. Especially when he says they're bollocks (or words to that effect).

Still, he's not a crazy as William Black ("A practical Treatise on Brewing", 1839). He has a whole chapter on electricity. "It has long been the opinion of many eminent chemists, both English and French, that electricity is a powerful agent in fermentation, as well as in preserving or destroying beer." What? That's news to me. Love the way hes says "both English and French". Must be true, then, if the French agree.

It gets even weirder: "In the summer of 1828, I was called to a town in Surry to superintend some brewings. On going there, I found the squares or gyle tuns imbedded in a ground floor. I at once expressed my disapprobation of this mode of placing them; having previously found a difficulty in summer brewing with squares so placed. I, however, got on pretty well for two or three brewings; but on the nmorning of the 3rd July, (I had berwed on the 2nd,) I found the fermentation to be quite stationary, both with regard to heat and attenuation, and could not forward it by any means I had then in my power to apply. I felt satisfied in my mind that these extraordinary appearances and effects were owing to the action of electricity; and this I stated to the proprietor of the brewery, at the same time predicting to him that we should very soon have a thunder storm."

"Of this, however, we are pretty sure - that the preservation or destruction of beer depends upon electricity; and the most certain mode of preservation is to insulate, as much as possible, both the squares and all other utensils or vessels connected with the brewing or storing of beer." "I'm afraid that there is too much of iron, and other metals, in some of the large establishments." "I have already said that tainting, or unsoundness in worts, is often produced by the action of electricity, between mash tun and copper."

Now is that crazy, or what? Throughout the book he keeps banging on about "galvanic action" and the evil of having any metal equipment. It sort of makes me a bit reluctant to believe anything else he says.

Oh, yes. My $175 book arrived yesterday. "A practical Treatise on Brewing" by William Black. The 1875 edition. I quickly looked in the index. Sure enough, there's still a chapter on electricity. Oh dear. I've had to selotape the front board back on. It was completely detached. That's the only way I can afford books that old, by getting copies that are knacked.

The image is of a sticker in the back cover. Seems it was a library book in New York. Old books are such fun. You often find stuff like this in them.


Anonymous said...

I knew a Greene King landlord in the early 1970s who insisted the Abbot would deteriorate just before a thunderstorm ... galvanic action? air pressure changes? temperature changes? or was he just wacko ...

Thomas said...

Hard to see how the electricity theory fits. The use of metal vessels of poor quality could poison the fermentation in theory. High levels of any free metal would be detrimental.