Sunday, 14 February 2010

Malt usage ca 1885

Yes! More Southby. This time his take on the use of different malts.

There are a couple of points of note in the following text. Firstly, it confirms mine and Zythophile's distinction between London and Dublin Porter, namely the use of brown malt. Maybe one day I'll get to see some Irish brewing records to get this 100% straight. (Dolores seems quite keen on visiting Cork, where the Murphy's records have recently been made accessible to the public.)

Then there's the stuff about Mild. It's a pity he isn't more precise about the colour. What he says seems to back up my ideas about Mild becoming first an amber colour and only going properly dark in the early 20th century.

And finally there's the bit about using some wheat malt in Porter and Stout for head retention. I've not come across it brewing records of the period, but I know that post-WW II many Bitters contained a small amount of wheat for the same reason.

"The following are the malts used for different qualities of malt liquor.

For pale ales, of course, only the palest malts can be used.

Mild ales are in most localities brewed of a higher colour than pale ales. When the requisite degree of colour can be obtained from malt dried at the ordinary temperature no coloured malt should be used, but when additional colour is required it may be obtained either by using amber malt, or a very much smaller quantity of black malt. For colouring ales really first-class black malt answers, I think, better than amber, and gives less empyreumatic flavour, but inferior qualities of black malt should never be used for this purpose.

Porter and stout are brewed in Dublin from high-dried pale malt and black malt only, but London brewers generally prefer a grist containing all the three qualities of coloured malt, viz.: amber, brown, and black, in addition to the pale malt. In the case of black beers, as in that of high-coloured ales, I think that if the black malt is only good enough, the amber and brown may be dispensed with, and an additional amount of black substituted for them.

When black malt only is used in brewing porter and stout, one of black by measure, to seven of pale, is sufficient for the blackest beers, and one of black to twelve of pale is about the smallest proportion used, even in Ireland, where the black beers are generally far less highly coloured than in London.

I may here mention that there is a great advantage in using a proportion of wheat malt, prepared by my process, to replace some of the ordinary pale malt, in black beers. A proportion of about ten to twenty per cent, of wheat answers well, and promotes that fullness of palate, and permanent creamy head so much admired by consumers of stout and porter."
Source: "A Systematic Handbook of Practical Brewing", by E.R. Southby, 1885, page 217 - 218.

There's a great section of brewing water in Southby. I'll post that when I've put all the details in a nice, neat table. The excitement never stops.


Gary Gillman said...

It seems to me Dublin simply modernized much earlier than London. Indeed probably it is fair to say the London porter brewers never did completely, holding on to at least some brown malt until the end. This shows the tenacious hold tradition had on London practice. The Irish, brewing far from where porter originated, felt freer to innovate evidently.

Also, Guinness had only one product to make (or for all practical purposes only one) whereas the historical London porter breweries by the mid-1800's were also brewing large amounts of ale. One can understand that cost savings and rationalization were more important to the Irish brewers than to the London ones for whom porter was not as central to their vision as earlier.

Personally I believe that black malt is okay. Southby explains that if it is of the right type and used properly you can get a very close result to the old brown and amber malts. Where I have less confidence is the use of roasted barley or flaked barley. These products seems to me liable to impart a "raw grains" taste to stout and porter. At least that is my experience. Perhaps it depends again how you use it. Where roasted malt is added to the boil stage only (as discussed recently) the risk seems larger. Where it is added to the mash, it will be converted by the enzymes in the mass of barley malt in there. But even so, raw grains and malted grains will show different results on palate, anyone familiar with the taste of Irish pure pot still whiskey vs. Scots single malt whisky knows this.


Graham Wheeler said...

Malt is one of those enigmatic areas of brewing whereby if a better idea could be obtained of what malts were in use and where, we would be able to get a much better idea of what people were drinking.

Brown malt in one locality and in one window of time would be quite different to brown malt in another locality or in another window of time. The drying time varies greatly between different accounts - four hours according to Ellis, twelve hours according to some others; there would be a considerable difference between the products, and the overlap between brown amber and pale becomes blurred.

Then we get alignment issues. Seemingly the same malt can be called amber by one writer and brown by the another.

The term "high-dried" appears to be sprinkled about indiscriminately between sources. Surely, in this instance, "high dried pale malt" is no longer pale.

Perhaps here, high-dried refers to pale malt produced by the old process whereby the malt remains on the kiln for less than sixteen hours, finished by a brisk fire at the end, whereas modern-style pale malt used to spend four of five days on the kiln. High-dried being a synonym for fast-dried.

How black was black malt? It probably was not as as black as today because of the difficulty of not setting fire to it. Indeed it is difficult to get any handle on the colour of any malt, partly because it was not measured, but mainly because the big brewers, if they did not malt themselves, had the malt produced to their own individual specification.

The possibility remains that Southby's knowledge of malting, or what went on in Dublin, was deficient or out of date. It is quite common for only certain sections of these comprehensive books to be written from a knowledgeable perspective.

I would not regard high-dried pale malt and black malt to be a porter. However, in Guinnesses favour is that one aspect that made porter porter still endured up to almost the current day. And that is the staling. It is notable that, traditionally, only London and Dublin has any notoriety for porter and both were staled. The staling of London Porter declined long before Dublin, F.E.S reputedly is still staled.

Most regional pseudo-porters, just being a marketing label, were not staled and most did not have any other redeeming characteristic that would help qualify them as porter or distinguish them from any other beer apart from the colour.

There is a retired, but not particularly old, ex-pat Irishman in one of my local pubs that tells me that the pubs in his locality had porter "High Cask" and "Low Cask", which were blended in the glass just as in times of old in London. The "Low Cask" was the equivalent to mild inasmuch as the slops went into it. Whether there was any difference between the two apart from that, and presumably the degree of fizz (judging by the names), he is unable to tell me.

Tim said...

Ron, visiting Cork is an excellent idea. Great food, decent beer (the best you can ask for in Ireland), and some savage pubs. Get booted from the Hi-B then head over to the Mutton Lane Inn (one of the coziest pubs I've ever been to).

Oblivious said...

Hi Ron

Some of Murphy's brewery archives available online or

Also here is some interesting things I found in them

Here is another interesting one referencing Sour Porter, aged maybe? Its listed under the insurance, insurance against bad porter or losing lost of aged porter very interesting.

156 1 Oct. 1857 – 16 May 1862
Ledger listing various accounts for James J. Murphy & Co. brewery. There is a mss index at front under headings – Stock; Malt; Hops; [Sour] porter; [insurance] J & WJ Murphy; Edward Lane; Charges; Ladys Well Brewery; Buildings & Utensils; Coals etc.; [Cussen]; Houses & Licences; Interest; and Balance Sheet. Opposite this page is mss list of names of individuals and amounts of money.

One that may list malts used like amber

170 30 Sept. 1886 – 14 Nov. 1891
Hardback cloth and leather “Receipts and Deliveries” book for Messrs. James J. Murphy & Co. Ltd., Lady‟s Well Brewery, Cork. Detail information under headings – RECEIPTS; Date; Malt, Brls.; Black, Stones; Amber, Brls., qrs.; lbs.; Hops, lbs.; DELIVERIES; Date; No. of Brewings; Malt, Bins &c; Brls.; Black, Stones; Amber, Brls.; qrs.; lbs; Hops; and Total. Stuck inside the book are mss lists on “Goods consumed since…” covering up to 30th September 1886 and 1887 (30th Sept. 1887 & 30th Sept. 1888). Printed by Purcell and Company, 124 Patrick Street and Lavitts Quay, Cork, Register No. 12374, Date 6/4/87.

An by 14 Nov. 1891 – 21 Sept. 1895 no more list of amber in the malt section, just pale and black malt

Roasted barley came late it would appear, many along the same time as Guinness! It would appear to happen at the 5 Sept. 1936 – 6 April 1957

Hardback “RECEIPTS/DELIVERIES” book for Messrs. James J. Murphy & Co. Ltd., Lady‟s Well Brewery, Cork. Details information under headings – RECEIPTS, Date Week ending; DESCRIPTION OF MALTS AND HOPS RECEIVED; No. of Bins; PALE MALTS, Brls.; BLACK MALTS, Stones; HOPS, Weeks Receipts Lbs., Total Lbs. Received; DELIVERIES HOPS; Date; No. of Brewing; PALE MALTS, Brls, NAME, No. of Bins; BLACK MALTS, Stones, Lbs (x6, with MSS names Leney, Agnew, Oregans, [Hallerrans], et al); TOTALS. Includes MSS list from the Malt Department re-return of stock, and the amount of hops, roasted barley and carrageen moss in stock(1956).

Some interesting events listed

“Last time of using Sugar” (9th May 1889)

“First XX Stout” (26th March 1889);

Looks like there is a mine of information still to be found in those archives!

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I'm not so sure Guinness were particularly modern. Someone commented that their Park Royal brewery was already 50 years out of date when it was built.

Porter and Stout remained important products for the London brewers until at least WW II. Even in the late 1930's they made up 25% of Whitbread's output.

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, I would say that it's possible to make a reasonable estimate of black malt based on a couple of clues.

Firstly, the weight per quarter. The lower the weight, the more roasted the malt.

Secondly, a specific note at the front of a 1930's Barclay Perkins log that gives the caramel equivalent of a quarter of black malt. As the Lovibond colour of the caramel is given, a pretty precise calculation should be possible.

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, that's very useful. It looks as if Murphy's were using much the same malts as Guinness.

I really hope I can swing a visit to Cork this year.

So much to look at, so little time.

Gary Gillman said...

The mixing of the high and low casks in Ireland until about 50 years ago is important and yet to my knowledge, very little is known about it. I first read about it in Roger Protz' book on porter and stout. Michael Jackson refers to mixing in the pub in the context of Guinness's porter (vs. its stout and it is not clear to me that was the same thing).

I would think retired brewers and others who worked for Irish brewers are still living (perhaps publicans too) who can shed more light on this practice.

It does seem a survival of what Barclay was describing and indeed older than that, I think it goes back to three threads and before. Porter staled and aged by the brewers seems to have been the great porter innovation (i.e., industrially - it is from Zythophile's books that I first understood this).

The unique porter taste you referred to, Graham, probably was that of Poundage's beer, i.e., aged not too long, not too short, in wood in large volumes, what the 1800's writers called sound old.

I suspect mixing in the pub or later at brewery before sending out did not quite deliver the same taste but was an expedient that worked because based on a mild beer.


Oblivious said...

Gary as far as I am aware, Guinness was cask in Dublin and bottled in the rest of the country by various bottlers , an this lead to two some what different beers.

This further complicated that porter was manly an Irish thing and the export trade was domination by their various strong stout, but remember in 1883 single stout (porter) had a gravity of 1.060 not a weak beer by any stretch

Graham Wheeler said...

Gary Gillman said...
Graham, probably was that of Poundage's beer, i.e., aged not too long, not too short, in wood in large volumes, what the 1800's writers called sound old.

We only have Poundage's word that Harwood's Entire was partly aged. Much of what Poundage said is taken too literally; it was a campaigning document after all. However, a great many clues can still be garnered from it.

No doubt partial ageing was tried, and perhaps Harwood was that man, but it clearly would not have worked. Indeed, I suspect that partially-aged beers were around anyway; I suspect that that is what Poundage was alluding to in his "started three, four, sometimes six butts at once" passage. However it was not porter no matter what might be inferred from Poundage. A partly aged beer was not what porter was all about.

Porter was just a bog-standard mild brown beer improved by the addition of a small amount of 'beer Enhancer'. Call the beer improver or beer enhancer what you will, but for brevity I will call it 'oofle-dust'.

Mild beer plus oofle-dust becomes porter. Without the oofle-dust it is just plain oridinary mild beer. That is why I said, elsewhere on here, that there is no such thing as mild porter. The difference between mild and porter is oofle-dust.

The whole point of porter was to render mild, the cheapest beer available by far, much more palatable by the standards of the day.

Many beer writers (in fact all of them as far as I am aware) do not appreciate the true historical significance of porter.

Porter was probably the first of the running beers. Brewers could not brew during the summer months due to infection, mostly, in my view, due to a tiny barley-loving fly called the frit-fly committing suicide in their coolers and fermenters. The beer would go off before it had finished ageing. Even the man from Hertfordshire brewed his beer in March, the end of the customary brewing season (less than a month before the frit-fly goes on the wing).

Porter brewers, however, only needed to brew the Keeping Beer that formed the foundation of their 'stale' during winter, if they bothered to worry about even that.

The mild for porter could be brewed during the summer, because it would not have come to much harm in the few weeks between brewing and consumption. The ability to render a rather nasty, summer-brewed mild drinkable revolutionised brewing, and the ability to brew some beer during the summer was one hell of an economic advantage, and reduced the cost of mild beer even further.

All this rendered porter a remarkably cheap, drinkable beer for its day.

See, there is a lot more to porter than just the name.

For the benefit of home brewers, I will point out that oofle-dust is virtually unobtainable these days.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree that "porter" was the name London Brown Beer went under from about 1720 onwards – Combrune still calls it "porter or brown beer" in 1762 - but I don't think we have to dismiss Poundage too much: I believe him when he says that the London Brown Beer brewers made improvements to their brew about the time it started to be given the name porter, which included storing it for long enough but not too long, so that it mellowed but was "neither new nor stale". In other words, porter was NOT just mild London brown beer as it had always been under a new name: because of the new ways London brown beer brewers produced their beer, we're justified in saying this was a new, albeit daughter style.

I've said this before, incidentally, but: the "high and low cask" serving method involved one cask in "high" condition, which had been "gyled" (had a shot of still-fermenting wort added to it just before it left the brewery - the same as "krausened"), which gave a vigorous secondary fermentation, and one cask in "low" condition, ie flatter. The "high" and "low" porters were mixed in the glass to give the drinker the beer in the condition he wanted. Roger Protz's Classic Stout & Porter gives a good description of the process (pp69-70), except that he slightly misunderstands the use of the term "gyle". Records I saw at Guinness Park Royal when they were slightly more open about letting people poke around their archives show that before "keg", draught Guinness was served this way, and the Cork brewers did the same. I've never seen anything suggesting British porter was served on draught the same way, though that doesn't prove it wasn't.