Although in the space of an "Occasional Note" it is not possible to deal very extensively with all the details of stout brewing, nevertheless we may give a Abort and concise series of hints which may prove useful to some of our younger readers. London happens to be a great porter and stout brewing centre, partly due to the soft type of water supply available. And the brewers of the metropolis have been no less famous for their black beers than have their confreres of Burton been noted for their sound pale ales. One variety of the article corresponds to an entire malt beverage, whilst an alternative carries various proportions and descriptions of sugar. The composition of the grist also varies very considerably. It was formerly the practice to make up a black beer grist from a mixture of pale, amber and brown malts, but now the Irish method of employing only pale and black (roasted or patent) malt very frequently obtains. Mixtures are still used, however, and below are given several grists made up of different proportions of pale and coloured malts:
Pale. Amber. Brown. Black. 80% - 12% 8% 69% - 25% 6% 83% - - 17% 89% - - 11% 45% 25% 25% 5% 60% - 40% — 86.5% 12.5% - 1%
When a very luscious drinking article is desired special sugars are used in the copper, and for priming the finished beer. With reference to the brewing itself, the mashing liquor for a stout brewing should always be boiled, ordinary salt being employed as the saline constituent to the extent of three-quarters of a pound per quarter, the material being intermixed with the mash, as this is being made. The mashing process in the majority of cases embraces a very moderate mash mixture initial of 148 deg. Fahr., quickly raised by underlets and sparging. In connection with fermentation, the attenuation is generally carried down to nearly a quarter of the original gravity of the collected wort. Home brewers fine the beer in bulk and rack a comparatively bright fluid, whereby they are able to employ a liberal quantity of special priming sugar and unfermented wort in the cask.
For Irish stouts a somewhat different system is in vogue. In the preparation of these beers the black malt used is much less black than that commonly employed in England. The roasting is not carried further than suffices to produce a rich chocolate brown. The Irish brewers commonly use but two kinds of malt, the so-called "black" and "pale," the former, however, being really dark brown, and the latter frequently "pale" only by comparison, in fact it is often so highly dried as to be practically amber. Such malts are finely crushed separately, and used in the proportions of about 23 pounds of black to the quarter of pale for porter, and with a less proportion of black, say 20 pounds for stout. Where the pale malt is of the highly dried character referred to, the wort produced, even with prolonged mashing, is sufficiently dextrinous to leave enough body in the beer after fermentation, whilst with a view to securing good condition, it is the custom to add to porter and stout, intended for the home trade, a small proportion of strong wort and old beer, at the time of racking. The strong wort, of a gravity of about 1080 deg., and free from yeast, is used in the proportion of about two and a half gallons to a hogshead, two gallons to a barrel, and one and a half gallons to a kilderkin; old beer is added at the rate of about two gallons per barrel. Kept a day or two in store, before going out, the result of this "worting," or "freshing" as it is sometimes called, is to bring the porter or stout into good condition, which, with fair draught, lasts to the end. The use of wort, in this way, though perhaps rather more troublesome than priming with sugar, solution, has distinct advantages where black beer is concerned, for wort being more favourable to yeast production than sugar alone, the result is better condition, whilst at the same time greater fulness is secured.
Brewers' Journal 1928, page 32."
Let's look at those grists first. A large number of different combinations of malts were used when brewing Stout. I've loads of examples from London. Not one matches the grists given in the articles. That doesn't have any examples of pale, amber, brown and black being used together, while I do. And, to make things more complicated, some used other types of mat than those four. Barclay Perkins tended to use MA (mild ale) malt and SA malt instead of pale. and a few breweries threw in some crystal. Take a look:
|London Porter and Stout grists in the 1920's|
|Date||Year||Brewer||Beer||Style||OG||FG||ABV||App. Attenuation||lbs hops/ qtr||hops lb/brl|
|11th Apr||1929||Barclay Perkins||BBS Ex||Stout||1079.5||1028.0||6.81||64.78%||15.00||5.00|
|21st Jan||1929||Barclay Perkins||BS||Stout||1053.8||1020.0||4.46||62.79%||6.00||1.26|
|7th Jul||1928||Barclay Perkins||BS Exp||Stout||1071.6||1022.0||6.56||69.27%||14.00||4.29|
|9th Jul||1928||Barclay Perkins||IBS||Stout||1060.8||1020.0||5.40||67.12%||9.00||2.24|
|4th Oct||1928||Barclay Perkins||IBS Ex||Stout||1102.6||1039.0||8.41||61.98%||14.19||6.62|
|4th Oct||1928||Barclay Perkins||TT||Porter||1027.4||1009.0||2.43||67.15%||14.19||0.70|
|Date||Year||Brewer||Beer||Style||pale malt||brown malt||black malt||amber malt||choc. Malt||crystal malt||MA malt||SA malt||roast barley|
|11th Apr||1929||Barclay Perkins||BBS Ex||Stout||37.20%||9.93%||9.10%||17.51%||26.26%|
|21st Jan||1929||Barclay Perkins||BS||Stout||4.85%||12.82%||9.62%||44.88%||16.03%||11.81%|
|7th Jul||1928||Barclay Perkins||BS Exp||Stout||8.23%||9.05%||17.41%||65.31%|
|9th Jul||1928||Barclay Perkins||IBS||Stout||13.54%||16.11%||28.65%||32.23%||9.47%|
|4th Oct||1928||Barclay Perkins||IBS Ex||Stout||14.66%||7.79%||14.54%||63.01%|
|4th Oct||1928||Barclay Perkins||TT||Porter||14.72%||7.36%||14.61%||63.30%|
|Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/253|
|Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/1/614|
|Camden brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/9/5|
|Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/121|
A couple of notes. All these beers contained sugar, too. The percentages are for the malts only. I've assumed a quarter of black and brown malt to weigh 254 pounds, all other malts 336 pounds.
The stuff about salt confirms what I've seen in some brewing records. But the timing of the addition wasn't exactly the same. Barclay Perkins added 2 oz. per barrel to the mash, but also another 3 oz. per barrel in the copper. That's the equivalent of 4 and 6 oz. per quarter, so 10 oz in all. Which is slightly less than the 12 oz suggested in the article.
I found the description of Irish malts particularly intriguing. I already knew that Irish black malt was different from the English version, being not as dark and charred. But I hadn't realised that the pale malt was much darker. It sounds like the elusive "high-dried" malt. Something I've been trying to pin down for years.
I'm grateful that there are some more specific details about the Irish practice of "worting". It confirms that it's basically a form of priming, but with wort instead of a sugar solution. Two gallons per 36 gallon barrel is about 5.5%. Which means each barrel was 5.5% old beer, 5.5% wort and 89% fresh beer. Now wouldn't that be an exciting experiment for you homebrewers? Worting a Stout the Irish way.
One thing that doesn't get a mention is Barclay Perkins technique of boiling a couple of bushels of black with the wort in the copper. I've still never seen this mentioned in any technical literature. Was it unique to Barclay Perkins?