Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Truman's malt and sugar usage 1860 - 1861

More fun details from Truman's brewing records. This time statistics on their malt usage.


As you can see, they used a pretty small range of ingredients: pale, white, brown and black malt. And sugar. It's typical of the period. Coloured malts were only used in Porter and Stout, all other beers were brewed from just pale malt and sugar (and water and hops and yeast, for any pedants out there).

21 comments:

mentaldental said...

What is the small amount of white malt about?

Was this an important ingredient in any of their porters or was it just used when available at the right price as a substitute for pale malt?

I would have thought that white malt was only made on a small scale and am surprised that buying (?producing) it was in the scope of Truman's business.

But then, what do I know?

Graham Wheeler said...

Shows that sugar was used between the act of 1816?ish and the free mash tun act. Many say that it was illegal. I have never entirely believed that, it is just that sugar was more expensive than malt, so it really wasn't much of an issue until the tax on sugar was dropped in around 1878 (Can't be bothered to look up exact dates).

I'll have to find out what white malt really was - I have never seen it mentioned in old malting stuff. What was the point of it anyway at just three per cent in porter?

Bill in Oregon said...

Wait. Wasn't sugar an illegal ingredient in commercal beers at that time? I thought sugar was forbidden because of tax law changes in the 1830 Beer Act and that this only changed with the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880. What am I missing? Was there some way of skirting this?

Jeff Renner said...

And to continue the pedantry, mineral salt additions. ;-)

Barm said...

What's white malt??

mrbowenz said...

How do these simple or limited ingredients compare to other brewer's from the same period , not so much the use of sugar , but rather the limited use of other colored ingredients ?

Mark "Oregonensis" said...

White malt? I have not seen a modern malt called that. Pilsner malt kernels are often very white, so I am assuming that might be the closest equivalent.

Ron Pattinson said...

White malt was the name given to the palest pale malt. It was used in pale beers. The amount used by Truman was small, because they were mainly a Porter brewery.

The use of sugar was legalised around 1860.

zythophile said...

Brewers in the UK were actually first permitted to use sugar in 1847, supposedly to bring down the price of grain as a response to the Irish potato famine, but brewers who used sugar had to buy a special licence, and since sugar used in brewing was indeed taxed, keep records for the Excise so it seems it was only economical to use sugar in brewing when malt was particularly dear or sugar particularly cheap. For some interesting contemporary evidence on the use of sugar in brewing, with comments by brewery owners from Allsopp, Truman and Ind Coope, see the report of the parliamentary select committee on the malt tax, 1868, here

Jim Johanssen said...

Gary found a refernce to white malt back in Sept. 16 th.
"In the past I have regarded white malt as being something akin to the wind-dried malt that I have alluded to in a previous post, or something like today's pale malt. It seems to also have applied lager malt, perhaps erroneously, in more recent times.

However, it appears that much white malt was bleached with sulphur. Edward Skeate White mentions this and calls for legislative interference to outlaw the practice."
Cheers
Jim

Gary Gillman said...

There are numerous references to white malt in the old literature. Combrune mentions it. There is a reference in the early 1800's to the best Ware white malt, as another example. White malt was also called slack malt. Slack malt was only barely malted, just enough to excite the necessary enzyme changes. It was a kind of semi-raw barley, one might say. It may have been used at 3% to adjust colour. I do believe wind-dried malt would have been slack malt in most cases.

Gary

Graham Wheeler said...

The quote that Jim Johanssesn found was something that I posted on here several weeks ago. One thing that you have to bear in mind with early brewing books is that many of the authors were, not exactly charlatans, but, shall we say, writing for a market. In 1830 there were 49,228 licensed breweries, which was its peak. Even in late Victorian times, brewing was Britain's biggest domestic industry, by far. King Cotton was much bigger in export terms, but cotton was small fry compared to brewing in terms of scale.

Brewing was the dot com of the early 19th century, so there was lots of motivation to write about it, whether or not the writers had any experience in the matter. A good-selling brewing book would have been their pension fund. So, much of what is written needs to be taken with a pinch of salt (I'll even supply the proper type of salt), even though the authors probably meant well. Plagiarism was rife, so most of these books were well behind the state of the art for the day.

With Edward Skeat White there are certain clues in his writing that points him to being an ex-Excise officer. I believe him to have written the book during his retirement because, although most of what he says is accurate-ish, it is close to 40 years out of date for 1860.

On the white malt and sulphuring thing he might have got the wrong end of the stick. Will sulphur bleach? I don't really know. However, there are other reasons for sulphuring; namely pest control. Up until relatively recently hops were traditionally sulphured to keep pests at bay, until the EEC outlawed it.

I have no idea what white malt really was, but if we assume that white malt was either unkilned or very lightly kilned, just sufficiently to arrest germination, then the grain-borne pests will survive. Sulphuring would have been a post-malting pest-eradication treatment; probably nothing at all to do with bleaching.

Problem is that sometimes we grab onto small passages written by old-time writers and read greater significance in them than is really warranted. Sometimes it is simply pleasantries to lighten and pad out the book and was not meant to be taken seriously in the first place, and if the book was not specifically about the subject in question, then the passage is unlikely to be authoritative anyway; just an aside.

Still goes on mind you - a certain well-respected writer from the planet Zythos, recently dismissed the Graveney Boat as an 'anomaly'. I must confess that I did cringe when I read that. I wonder what researchers in 2100 A.D. will make of it.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know why you think that's cringeworthy, Graham - it wasn't an aside, or a dismissal, what I meant was that with all the other evidence we have pointing pretty strongly to hops NOT being used by brewers in Britain before hop useage arrived from the Continent, the Graveney boat and its load of hops is an inexplicable deviation from the norm (the norm being "no hops"). We can't say the hops that were evidently associated with the boat WEREN'T destined for use in beer, but we can't say they WERE, either. Personally, given the choice between the Graveney boat being unique evidence found nowhere else of hops used in brewing in pre-Norman times, and their NOT being evidence of hops being used in pre-Norman brewing, I think logically you have to go for the choice that makes then not unique. Which makes the Graveney boat an anomaly.

Gary Gillman said...

I agree with Graham that usage in the old books can be inconsistent or misleading, sometimes. White malt clearly sometimes means pale malt. In the 1800's books, slack malt seems generally to mean (see e.g., Stopes, or Black) regularly dried malt which has lost crispness due to humidity in storage.

But I am quite sure Combrune used the term to mean what I said earlier, a barley only barely malted and dried. What links the two terms, each being the other's obverse otherwise, is the lack of stability of the malt and tendency to become acid.

Combrune's slack malt probably had qualities not dissimilar to raw wheat and its taste in wheat beers. It might have been added to a recipe either to adjust colour or to impart a touch of age.

I can see my Combrune before me in the dim light of 5:09 A.M. Toronto under a yard of books. (The top one incidentally is "La Cuisine Du Nord Et De Picardie" which shows a picture of a dish of carbonnade flamande, a mug of beer, Maroilles and Mimolette cheese, and a crock of Vieil Alambic Genievre). I'll dig it out later and quote what he said of his version of slack malt.

Gary

Gary Gillman said...

7:59 A.M. Toronto, looking out my window westerly, dirty-misty on the horizon, the sky bluer above and a weak winter sun starting to brighten the rising city.

Combrune before me. I can't find his reference to slack malt! I was sure he used the term, but I have to leave soon. I did find though on page 95:

"Though malts, dried to 120 degrees, are in a preservative state, they are least so as malts. They still possess the whole of their acids; which occasions their fermentation and frettings often to return of themselves, and with much violence; hence wines formed from such malts, are not of long duration, and soon to become sour".

In the table opposite (page 94) he shows in degrees of colour "white" (dried at 119 F); "white turning to a light yellow" (124); "light yellow inclining to amber" (129).

It is clear that white malt is the first-mentioned, the half-malt that, like raw grains, will ferment but be unstable due to its tendency to acidify. Fully-malted and well-dried malt does not go sour as a ferment in a few days.

This is why to this day, distillers in most countries, malt whiskies only excepted, use mostly raw grains to make their distillers' beer. They distill it before it has a chance to turn.

In my view, the best Ware white malt may have been just the best (regular) pale malt. But it may too have been this proto-malt that, like an artisan cheese vs. an industrial one, preserved more of its natural savour. Such malts probably were used to produce beers intended for quick consumption.

While later studies cast doubt on the temperatures Combrune inferred for the different colours, it is evident that malted barleys were available in his day in a full range of colour stretching from palest white to deepest black.

Gary

Graham Wheeler said...

Zythophile
I did have more to say on the subject, but I hit the submit button rather than the review button and off it went before I had finished.

I would have gone on to say that it is common even today for certain passages to be in books that were not meant to be taken as authoritative. In the home brewing book that I am currently writing for CAMRA, there is an introductory passage to the hops chapter that puts a different spin on the history of hops and their cultivation. It is fair enough to speculate on a subject about which there is little real evidence. Most of early history is speculation anyway; there would be very little history without it. However, it is a brewing book, not a history book; I have to be more careful about what I write concerning brewing, but if anybody takes that introductory historical passage as being any more than an analytical point of view, then they are wrong to do so.

There is no such thing as: "evidence pointing pretty strongly to hops NOT being used by brewers in Britain before hop usage arrived from the Continent". You can't have evidence that proves something did NOT exist; that is a contradiction. You often say that 'No evidence exists', when what you really mean is that you have found no evidence. That in itself is a form of distortion. There is not much evidence of any sort when it comes to hops anyway, not that I have looked very hard. I happen to believe that although these statements get heavily distorted along the way by successive authors adding their 'style', and are often misunderstood or taken out of context, there is an element of truth in them. I assume that the source exists somewhere, even though the authors interpretation of it may be a load of bunkum. I cannot see a motive for someone inventing fictitious sources, although they will often adapt them to support their argument, which is very hard for anybody not to do.

Graham Wheeler said...

The Graveney boat, however, is an extremely important piece of real evidence within a field and at a period where so little exists. It may well have nothing to do with beer, but you cannot dismiss such a thing just because it does not suit your argument. It shows that hops cones were important and were traded in Britain prior to 950A.D. There are only two possible medieval uses for the hop cone, beer and medicinal; I do not go along with the dye theory because I've boiled enough hops in my time to realise that hop cones would not make a particularly good dye. If dye was the motivation, then it would have been the woody parts of the hop that were traded, not the cones.

All beer writers that I have read assume that the earliest hop cultivation was for beer; that is not necessarily true either. The evidence of cereal cultivation in Britain goes back to Iron-age times, more than 1000 years prior to the active time of the boat. If hops were as important as they appear to have been, it is inconceivable that attempts were not made to cultivate them. That is speculation too, but it is justifiable speculation.

The boat's real significance is its location. It was found adjacent to its brushwood wharf in a silted watercourse at the nearest sea fall to Canterbury. It could not have been serving Faversham because Faversham has its own navigable creek right into town. It could only have been serving Canterbury, and in those days Canterbury meant St Augustine's Abbey. We know that hops were loaded or unloaded on the wharf. Whatever those hops were used for, you can be sure the Black Monks were behind it. The location of the boat points to coastal work too. If hops were being imported from the continent, surely they would have been transported up the River Stour to Fordwich, just outside of Canterbury, which was the main trade route from the continent to Canterbury in those days. It would have cut off a lengthy coastal journey and saved five miles of cartage from Graveney to Canterbury. All this is on the doorstep of what became Britain's premier hop-growing region. What a coincidence! The possibility exists that hops have been cultivated in East Kent for much longer than is generally believed.

The spin that I put on hop history in my book is that the Benedictines had far more to do with the introduction of hops and beer than immigrants from the Low Countries. To me it seems inevitable that hops were cultivated in Britain and used for brewing by monks more or less in parallel with Benedictine tradition in other countries where the records are more conclusive. With the destruction of English monasteries it is certain that a great many records were also destroyed. The Benedictines in all countries were associated, had the same origins and values and the monks moved freely between abbeys; they were a well-travelled bunch. Their practices would have been similar. Indeed, according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia: “Germany owed its Benedictine evangelisation to the English Benedictines, Sts. Willibrord and Boniface, who preached the faith there in the seventh and eighth centuries and founded several celebrated abbeys”. Our whole brewing history is also inextricably linked to Benedictine monks. Coincidentally, the dates spouted for the general acceptance of hopped beer and the rapid expansion of hop growing in Britain coincide with the dissolution.

Then we have the "pernicious weed" thing, which is something else that I think has been widely misunderstood (and seems to stem from 1428 anyway). But I will not go into that.

Gary Gillman said...

I found the reference to slack malt meaning white malt. It is in Samuel Child's Every Man His Own Brewer.

As I said earlier, in the 1800's, the term slack was used to mean (any) malt which became damp.

What unites these two apparently opposing senses of the term is the tendency of such malts to produce acid ferments.

In the 1800's malt bill which called for 3% white malt, it may have been added to work the colour or possibly to add a light zesty note, perhaps akin to the effect of adding wheat today to pale ales. Wheat is (I know) added to improve head retention, but it also affects flavour.

Gary

Gary Gillman said...

Here you see a modern use of wheat malt for pale ale:

http://www.brewerylane.com/grains_ww.html

Note the suggested range: 3-6%. I doubt the 3% figure for white malt in the 1800's recipe is a coincidence. Wheat malt is evidently a modern substitute for white malt in its sense of slack malt.

The more I read on beer (and even drink some) the more I am convinced that things don't change as much as we think. Sometimes they do of course, e.g., the strengths of some beers. But much of what we know and do today was worked out in the 1800's or earlier.

Gary

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply, Graham, I appreciate it. I'm going to have to tackle your points in two separate posts, as Blogger says my reply is too long to go into one post.

It may well have nothing to do with beer, but you cannot dismiss such a thing just because it does not suit your argument.

I don't dismiss it: I agree it's a question that has to be addressed by anyone who says there was no hop use in brewing in Britain before 1400 or so. There has to be an explanation for the Graveney boat, but the existence of a pile of hops cannot automatically lead to the conclusion that they must have been used for brewing beer, and there's an apparent total lack of evidence for hop use in Britain in brewing until the 15th century, apart from this reference, which seems to suggest that "hops de brasio" were being used alongside "gruto" at Westminster Abbey (yes, a Benedictine establishment) around 1118 to 1120. That date is not certain, though I will happily concede that it's evidence towards the thesis that the Benedictines were early users of hops. And it may even strengthen the argument that the Graveney boat is linked to Benedictine hop-brewers at Canterbury. But that's two sightings of hops in Britain in 450 years. To me that makes them anomalies, rather than proofs. Maybe I'm just over-fussy. (Confession time – I've been meaning to write about the Westminster Abbey "hops de brasio" and what they may mean for some time, and I should have included them in my short history of hops – but I forgot. No cover-up, just cock-up.)

All beer writers that I have read assume that the earliest hop cultivation was for beer; that is not necessarily true either.

Hang on – I don't, I made a point in BTSOTP of pointing out that hops can have multiple used, from dyeing to rope making to glass making, and evidence of hop gathering or hop growing cannot translate into evidence for hops being used in beer.

The evidence of cereal cultivation in Britain goes back to Iron-age times, more than 1000 years prior to the active time of the boat. If hops were as important as they appear to have been, it is inconceivable that attempts were not made to cultivate them. That is speculation too, but it is justifiable speculation.

One would think it ought to be inconceivable, but with no proof to back it up, it's just speculating without evidence. Which is never justified.

It shows that hops cones were important and were traded in Britain prior to 950A.D.

Well, no, it shows hops could have been traded in Britain prior to 950AD. Or someone could have said: "I know quite a few people who are having problems sleeping – could you get hold of a load of that plant called hops, I believe if you put them in pillows you can get a good night's kip …" The existence of the boat and its accompanying hops proves nothing, it only gives clues to possibilities.

(Part 2 follows)

Anonymous said...

Part 2 - and thanks for your indulgance in letting me use your blog like this, Ron …

There are only two possible medieval uses for the hop cone, beer and medicinal; I do not go along with the dye theory because I've boiled enough hops in my time to realise that hop cones would not make a particularly good dye. If dye was the motivation, then it would have been the woody parts of the hop that were traded, not the cones.

Well, my understanding is that the leaves and strobiles do make a good dye, alongside the stalks. But I would not claim to be an expert.

To me it seems inevitable that hops were cultivated in Britain and used for brewing by monks more or less in parallel with Benedictine tradition in other countries where the records are more conclusive … The Benedictines in all countries were associated, had the same origins and values and the monks moved freely between abbeys … Their practices would have been similar.

That's all perfectly logical, I'd agree, except there's no evidence for it at all: no mention of hops in Anglo-Saxon leechdoms or the like, no mention in Domesday Book, for example, of hop gardens, no mention in the Domesday of St Paul's from the 13th century of hops, despite the full details given of all the different quantities and types of grain that went into the ale consumed at St Paul's Cathedral. Then there's the heated reaction to hopped beer when it does get going, with people like Andrew Borde – who was originally a Carthusian monk – attacking it strongly in the 16th century. In addition, with all the advantages hops bring, one would have thought that hop usage would have spread out beyond the monastery walls long before beer actually took off in Britain. But the evidence is that English beer brewing pioneers came from the Low Countries, not from the monasteries: Henry VI had to send two men abroad to learn about beer before trying to regulate the growing number of beer brewers in the 15th century, and Henry VIII had to let his beer brewer, the ironically named John Pope, hire more assistants from overseas than the law normally allowed, presumably because even with the rapidly dissolving monasteries there were not enough people in England conversant with beer brewing. No matter how "inevitable" something looks on paper, if you don't have any evidence for it, you're farked.

Whatever those hops were used for, you can be sure the Black Monks were behind it.

You can think it quite possible, but no more than that. You certainly cannot be sure.

The possibility exists that hops have been cultivated in East Kent for much longer than is generally believed.

But there simply isn't any evidence to back that up: Edward VI had to arrange for hop growing experts to come from the Low Countries to Kent to show farmers there how to grow hops.

Coincidentally, the dates spouted for the general acceptance of hopped beer and the rapid expansion of hop growing in Britain coincide with the dissolution.

Well, Stephen Harrod Buhner thinks hops are a dirty Protestant plot anyway … actually, I'd say, on the evidence, that beer didn't truly triumph until 70 or more years after the dissolution.

That's enough of that – what do you have on the "pernicious weed" meme you tantalisingly tossed in at the end there?