Friday, 31 December 2010

Grinding,mashing and boiling at Allsopp's in the 1880's

I really have a way with titles. This might just be one of my best yet. Where are we today? Back inside Allsopp's brewery with Alfred Barnard. Looking at all the shiny things they brew beer in.

"Passing through an archway, we came to the mill-room, another good sized apartment, 60 feet by 33 feet, where are placed two malt-mills capable of grinding fifty quarters every two hours, and more if necessary. On its arrival, the malt is lifted by machinery to the floor above the mill, called the receiving room, where it is carefully screened, after which it falls into a large hopper. From this receptacle it travels over another and finer screen to be further cleansed; then it is shot into a blower, a machine enclosing a series of revolving fans, which free the malt from dust and prepare it for the mill where it is crushed at the rate of 200 bushels per hour per mill ; and, falling into a semi-circular trough, it is conveyed direct to the respective hoppers over the tuns. The mill is made of two stout cast-iron rollers, with smooth surfaces, revolving in opposite directions, and capable of grinding 200 bushels per hour. As we retraced our steps to the landing to see the bath rooms and offices for the use of the acting brewers, our guide raised a trap door, shewing us the inside of the hoppers, each with two divisions of great depth, like yawning gulfs below, containing the crushed malt ready for brewing.

At the north end of this floor, placed in a high part of the roof, there are two large tanks, each holding nearly 30,000 gallons, one for brewing-water, and the other for hot water for washing purposes. Passing down a circular iron staircase (with as many as thirty-six steps) we  found ourselves on the floor of the mash-tun stage, a chamber of great height, depth, and width. The floor is constructed of cast-iron tablets, 30 inches square, grooved in circles of 3/8-inch with the same thickness of metal. This formation of sunken circles is to prevent the possibility of slipping. Before making observations on this department we followed our guide through an archway, leading to the water-copper stage, 120 feet by 40 feet.

It contains four copper vessels encased with bricks, which are heated with Jucke's furnaces. Each is capable of holding 300 barrels of hot water, to be used in the mashing process, and, of supplying altogether, close upon one million gallons of boiling water per week. There is an iron balcony erected on a level with the heads of the coppers to enable the men to regulate the supply, and the coals are lifted to the furnaces underneath by powerful hydraulic lifts. Returning to the mashing room, the eight mash-tuns ranged along the Moor first claimed our attention. They are constructed of English oak, and each contains a double set of stirring gear like those elsewhere, also a sparging apparatus and set of draining plates or false bottoms. Each run mashes sixty quarters of malt every eight hours, and posses a Steel's mashing machine fed from the hoppers before referred to. The working capacity of the eight mash-tuns is about 4,000 quarters per week, whilst at the Old Brewery, which we afterwards visited, an additional 2,500 quarters per week can be mashed during the brewing season. Descending to the half-landing, we  came  to an iron gallery, constructed for the use of those men who attend to the taps and grains discharge, under the mash-tuns. Here we were shown an ingenious apparatus, depending from the tuns, which automatically measures the quantity of grains that pass through to the trucks or farmers' carts below. It is on the same principle as the old-fashioned gunpowder flask, where the charge for the gun is shut off at the neck. Standing on this gallery, with our heads near the lofty ceiling, we get an idea of the solid construction of the building. Over us are massive iron joists supported by metal columns over a foot thick, and 40 feet high ; while the walls are at least 3 feet thick.

The underback, connected with the mash-tuns, is a timber vessel holding about forty barrels, placed on a gallery in the next department. It is merely a temporary receiver from which the wort runs by gravitation to the worts-copper house, whither we followed it. The copper hearth, which we next visited, is a lofty gallery upwards of a hundred feet long; it possesses a metal plate floor, raised to such a level that the men can see into the coppers and easily drop in the hops, when required, during the process of boiling. Here, there are placed as many as ten wort-coppers, each of a hundred barrels content, fed by long mains alongside the building, with openings to each vessel. The coppers are all heated by Jucke's patent furnaces, and their boiling capacity is 90 barrels per copper, or a total of half a million gallons per week. Naturally, this is a very hot place in summer, and would be warm at any time of the year ; but by the use of two of Blackman's air propellers or ventilating fans, 6 feet in diameter, the place is kept cool and entirely free from steam. The coppers have, near the bottom, a brass cock for delivering their contents, both worts and hops, into a semi-circular duct that runs the whole length of the building, and which communicates directly with the hop-back at the southern end of the floor. To view this we ascended the gallery which projects over it.

This hop-back, which is an intermediate handsome copper vessel, 40 feet long and 18 feet wide, possesses a false bottom constructed of gun metal. The wort here gradually drains itself from the hops with which it has been mixed in the coppers, and is pumped to the coolers. In this department, each man has a cabin, wherein he exchanges his ordinary costume for a suit of white flannels, supplied by the firm, and which are washed out at the end of every days work (so particular are they as to cleanliness, etc.) On leaving this gallery or stage we descended to the ground floor, underneath the copper hearth, where there are four large hop-presses, and several smaller ones for extracting the wort from the spent hops, and two sets of three-throw brass pumps, which deliver the wort direct on to the coolers, fixed on the top of the next building. Also, under the mashing room, there are two engines for driving machinery, three sets of three-throw pumps, four ice engines and a set of three-throw pumps for hot water, all to be described hereafter.
"Noted breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. I" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 134 - 138.

I suppose you're expecting me to pick that lot apart, aren't you? Reveal the fascinating facts you might have overlooked. But it's just after christmas and I'm feeling lazy.

Oh, OK then. Allsopp had two hot liquor tanks. One brewing water, the other for washing water. This wasn't unusual. Especially in a Burton brewery, where the very hard water wasn't necessarily perfect for other uses.

A 60 quarter mash tun isn't huge. That's enough for around 250 barrels of standard-strength (for the day) beer. The big London brewers had larger tuns than that. The weekly capacity of 4,000 plus 2,500 quarters is the equivalent of about 25,000 barrels per week. Or 750,000 barrels annually.

Good to learn that they used both an external Steel's masher and internal rakes. Not that it's particularly unusual, but still good to know.

A forty barrel underback? Seems a bit small for a 60 quarter copper. How many chains to the hogshead is that?

The coppers. They look open to me. Now isn't that fascinating?

Hop presses. They were so economic, those Victorians. Extracting every bit of worty goodness the hops had soaked up

1 comment:

Arctic Alchemy said...

I was fortunate to be one of the last people through the 1856 Allsopp/Ind Coope brewery building back on Oct 2010, now being made into flats, most of the equipment has been trashed and thrown in a skip. One of the most remarkable surviving pieces was the steam powered pump, that provided the water from a deep well in the basement. Here's some shots of the last tour of this great brewery and of Burton;!/album.php?aid=223116&id=197637538644