Saturday 31 May 2014

California day four (part two)

I can feel my enthusiasm waning for these reports. I'm already busy worrying about my next trip. Oh well, here goes . . . 

We leave Ramona in the late afternoon. We're heading back to San Diego for the last event. I'm giving a talk oin Brettanomyces in British brewing at The Brew Project, a beer bar within a wine shop called 57 Degrees. It's a bit confusing.

On the way back we call by AleSmith, a brewery I've heard of. Not sure if I've tried their beer beer before. It's another light industrial estate affair. And definitely brewery with tasting room attached.

It's pretty full, packed with happy, smiling youngsters. Who are unlike me in every possible way, other than having beeer in their hands. I'm a miserable fat old git, as I'm sure you know. But at least I'm not wearing a hat indoors.

I get another set of samplers. A fourer this time.

What are they all again? Some of these:

My brain is getting that fudgy feeling. Too many beers and breweries in too short a time for me to keep up. It's been an intense few days.

There are tantalising glimpses the the brewery: a motionless bottling machine, the shoulder of a fermenter. But most of it is tucked well out of sight. I think I can live with that. I'm a little stainless-steeled out. It was fun seeing Grant's mini brewery. Not seen anything on that scale. Makes me almost believe I could one day own small but imperfectly formed kit.

On our way back into San Diego I spot a brick building that looks like a brewery. As we get closer I see "Mission Brewery" on the tower.

"It was one of the city's original breweries." Grant tells me. "Someone's just put a small brewery inside."

You trip over breweries all over the place here. 89 in all in San Diego, I've been told. Not sure if that's just San Diego city or the whole county. A hell of a lot, either way.

The Brew Project isn't far. Cavernous and mostly deserted. An art class makes up the majority of the customers. I'll be talking on the deck . . . . where it's still light so I can't use a projector. Nothing to do but get on with it.

It's not the greatest turnout, either. Just two brewers (the event was organised for the San Diego Brewers' Guild). Their enthusiasm makes up for paucity of their numbers.

The talk is rather surreal as I can't show slides. There's greater degree of interaction with the audience than usual. At a certain point - I'm not sure when - it moves from a talk to a conversation. Quite a good one - conversation I mean - so I don't really care.

It's a strange end to a whirlwind few days. It seems like I've been here a month and like I just arrived yesterday. My sense of time is totally screwed. I've now got a 16-hour journey to look forward to. Then a couple of hours to wash and rest before a hospital appointment.

At least my life isn't boring.

AleSmith Brewing Company
9368 Cabot Dr,
San Diego, CA 92126.
Tel: +1 858-549-9888

The Brew Project
1735 Hancock St #1,
San Diego, CA 92101

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Friday 30 May 2014

Me talking this weekend

I talk most weekends, true. This is a slightly more formal affair. With me spouting forth for 45 minutes about early Dutch Lager styles.It's bound to be a barrel of laughs.

It's part of the Festival of Historic Dutch Beer Styles in Utrecht. Mine is the last of three talks. Preceeding it is one about Kuit and another about forgotten 18th-century Dutch styles.

It should be an informative afternoon. Just the sort of stuff that interests me.

These are the details:

Sunday 1st June Early Dutch Lager Styles
Grand Café Maria
Mariaplaats 50,
3511 LM Utrecht.
Tel: +31 030 2300055

You'll have a rare chance to pick up my latest book, complete with an indecipherable scrawl.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

The decline in Stout brewing at Truman 1924 - 1940

There are still many documents I've photographed but never processed. Like a certain handy Truman document about costs.

Why so handy? Because it covers the 1920's and 1930's operations at Brick Lane. I've none of the Truman London brewing records for this period and it provides a glimpse of their beers, ingredients and brewing practices. It's indirect evidence, but better than nothing.

But that's not what I'm serving you up today. It's one of the other statistics the book contains: output of Brick Lane broken down by Ale and Stout. It's a poignant demonstration of the decline in the importance of Porter and Stout after WW I. Remember that this is a brewery that up until the 1830's only brewed Porter and Stout.

The percentage of output that was Porter or Stout, a tiny increase in 1928 excepted, fell every year between 1924 and 1940. It dropped from 30% to less than 10% between 1924 and 1940. In volume terms, Stout output more than halved. By 1940, it was a marginal product.

If you factor in Truman's other brewery in Burton, where no Stout was brewed, it would look even more marginal. There are some figures about that in the document, but I can't be arse to transcribe those just now. It's Sunday afternoon, I've just had my dinner and the dishwasher needs unloading

Here's the table.

Truman Brick Lane brewery output 1924 - 1940
Ale Stout Total
barrels % barrels %  barrels
1924 188,026 70.91% 77,134.5 29.09% 265,160.5
1925 217,775 71.56% 86,531 28.44% 304,306
1926 224,057 72.39% 85,475 27.61% 309,532
1927 231,040 73.91% 81,574 26.09% 312,613.5
1928 232,685 73.26% 84,910 26.74% 317,595
1929 227,432 74.45% 78,060.5 25.55% 305,492
1930 258,659 77.14% 76,666 22.86% 335,325
1931 256,063.5 79.43% 66,306 20.57% 322,369
1932 274,183 83.11% 55,732.5 16.89% 329,915.5
1933 240,208 84.58% 43,804 15.42% 284,011.5
1934 280,984 85.87% 46,241 14.13% 327,225
1935 300,169 86.77% 45,775 13.23% 345,943.5
1936 319,721.5 88.05% 43,383.5 11.95% 363,105
1937 324,352 88.69% 41,358 11.31% 365,710
1938 342,062 89.80% 38,868 10.20% 380,930
1939 344,291 90.69% 35,342 9.31% 379,633
1940 344,475.5 91.17% 33,373.5 8.83% 377,849
Document B/THB/C/256c held at the London Metropolitan Archives

More to come from this neglected document.

Thursday 29 May 2014

My next US tour - a reminder

I've learned from past trips that I have to keep reminding you all of where I'll be on my travels. Here's a gentle nudge to ward off forgetfulness.

I'm mainly going over to give a talk at the AHA Conferrence in Grand Rapids. Obviously I'm not going to just do one talk when I've travelled acros the Atlantic. perfect chance for some more book tarting. Sorry, holding educational events.

Sunday 8th June home brewer's event
12:00 -
Toronto Brewing Co.
3701 Chesswood Drive,
Unit 115,
Toronto, Ontario M3J2P6      

Tuesday 10th June Chicago event
18:00 - 21:00
Moxee Kitchen & Madmouse Brewery,
724 W Maxwell St,
Chicago, Illinois 60607

Wednesday 11th June Grand Rapids event
19:00 - 21:00
Perrin Brewing Company
5910 Comstock Park Dr NW
Comstock Park, MI 49321
(616) 551-1957

I'll be there with my great new book and a sad face (of no-one's buying) at all three events:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

California day four

I have a slightly later start on my last full day in California. Grant only collects me at 9:30.

We've a couple of events planned, one out at ChuckAlek's tasting room in Ramona, the other at the Beer Project in San Diego.

An unusual landscape rolls by as we drive up to Ramona. Literally up as it's 1,000 feet above sea level. Unusual landscape for me, I should say. Hills covered with straggly brush, some randomly strewn with boulders, resembling faces disfigured by some horrible skin disease.

Ramona itself is small and dusty, a chequer board of low buildings and empty lots. ChuckAlek is in a small strip mall, between a butchers and a Thai restaurant. It's not a town, being unincorporated. Not sure what you'd call it. A settlement, maybe.

Grant shows me around the brewery before setting up for the day. It doesn't take long. It's tiny. Especially compared to Stone, the last brewery I saw. I'm sure there are keen homebrewers with setups of a similar size. A couple of stainless steel tubs, some plastic conicals, a few stainless conicals and that's about it.

The kit is good for 1 US barrel and by brewing twice Grant gets enough to fill his 2-barrel conicals. The finished beer is mostly filled into sixtels (sixth of a US barrel kegs) though small amounts are sometimes hand-bottled. A good chunk of what Grant brews he sells in the tap room, either in the form of growler or drink-in sales.

The bar itself is small but cosy. A few bits of decoration. Nothing too fancy.

While Grant is swapping the beers on tap, the pancake man turns up. That's what we'll be eating for lunch. Yum.

Why is Grant changing the beers? Because, as a rare treat, all five beers (so far) of his Archive Series will be on tap. That's got me all excited. A chance to try five hostorc Porters and stouts. You don't get that every day.

These are the beers, in the order in which they were brewed:

1850 Running Porter
1890 Double Stout
1880 Irish Stout
1912 Triple Stout
1832 Brown Stout

They're based, some more loosely than others, on stuff in my blog and books. After I've spent a good 30 seconds arranging my books in a tempting way, I get stuck into a sampler set of them. I tried the Double Stout yesterday and really liekd it. Especially the chocolate-like brown malt character.

After Grant opens up at 11, drinkers start to dribble in. The home brewers make a beeline for me and start to chat. This is fun. A line of historic beers in front of me and people who want to talk beer. A couple of home brewers have brought along books for me to sign. Others buy a copy.

Crepes and beers slip down, chatter flows. I rather like the Triple Stout. Even better than the Double. Though all five beers are pretty nice.

Just one event left and then it's back to Amsterdam.

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Just a few hours left to save 25% off my Lulu books

You've only got until the end of today to use this discount code:


25% off is a great deal. I'd be investing in a few volumes myself, if I didn't already own them all.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Doesn't seem to be working. My apologies about that.

What does "through Wednesday" mean? 

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1921 Truman XXX

I'll kick off with an apology. This recipe had been lying around in my inbox for 10 days unnoticed. In my defence, it did arrive the day before I flew to San Diego.

I can remember when I first looked at the records in the 1921 Truman Burton set. They confused the hell out of me. For a start, Truman seems to have used pretty much a single recipe for their whole of their range. Or at least XXX was parti-gyled with all the other beers: P1 (Pale Ale), R4 (Running Burton Ale), XX (Mild Ale) and 7d (Mild Ale).

But it gets even weirder than that. They also blended the beers after fermentation. This is a fairly simple example. The first three, S, W and XX are as fermented, the second two the beers as racked (with the OG back calculated):

Beer barrels gravity
S 133 1054.77
W 129 1040.31
XX 286 1033.92
Beer barrels gravity
XXX 262 1047.54
XX 286 1033.92
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number  B/THB/C/335

In this case, all of S and W were blended together to produce XXX. It seems an awfully complicated way of going about things.

In this example some of the R4 was used to bump up the gravity of the XXX:

Beer barrels gravity
R4 215 1054.77
XXX 203 1043.37
Beer barrels gravity
R4 188 1054.77
XXX 333 1047.54
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number  B/THB/C/335

There are also examples where worts of 1055.6 and 1039.5 were fermented separately then blended to create XXX with a theoretical OG of 1047.5.

I've no idea why they did this.

Take it away Kristen . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: These mid-1920’s Truman logs are chock-O-block full of information. Tons and tons of it…however they do leave a few things out…specifically the color.  We do our best to extrapolate where this color should be specifically by the ingredients and then comparing different gyles for the same beer. Meaning this beer, the XX, was gyled with the XXX which was also gyled with the pale ale – the XXX that is. The only difference in any of the recipes is for the XX, there’s a good load of caramel. Not in the XXX and not in the pale ale. Shows me all this went into the XX but as Ron can explain, lots of beers during these times were just different colored versions of the same/very similar beers. So here were are…a very pale mild, doctored up with a goodly amount of caramel, for your ocular enjoyment. A great one to split, caramel half and then pour them side by side. See what your friends say!

Malt: Five pale malts, four of them being English and one American 6-row-y variety. Mix and match to your hearts content. Do your best to get that US in there though. If you had to pick single pale malt, I’d probably either choose Mild malt or some tasty Optic. 10%ish maize isn’t a ton and you probably won’t taste it but it will reduce the ‘weight’ of the beer making it feel even lighter that an all malt version. Same goes for the Invert…which you can swap right out for plain-old-white-sugar (POWS).

Hops: Similarly hopped like a bunch of other ‘interwar’ beers there are a bunch of similar/same hops from different years. They spread over about 4 years actually. About 60:40 Goldings-type:US Cluster. This beer really isn’t hop focused but has a decent enough amount to at least taste them so choose something you’ve got way too much of…unless it’s CTZ…

Yeast: As with all these old recipes, nothing about yeast what so ever. So go nuts. Pick your favorite; I really like the London III for this baby. Will dry out enough but leave plenty of character behind.

Cask: Standard procedure:
1) let the beer ferment until finished and then give it another day or so. For me right around 5-7 days.
2) Rack the beer to your vessel of choice (firkin, polypin, cornie, whatever).
3) Add primings at ~3.5g/L
4) Add prepared isinglass at 1ml/L
5) ONLY add dry hops at 0.25g/l – 1g/L.
6) Bung it up and roll it around to mix. Condition at 55F or so for 4-5 days and its ready to go. Spile/vent. Tap. Settle. Serve at 55F.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

25% off my Lulu books

Until the end of wedenesday May 28th there's 25% off my Lulu books, if you use this discount code:


I wouldn't miss the chance, if I were you. Great books at a great price. Not got the full set of Mini and Mega Books yet? There will never be a better time to pick up the missing volumes.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

California day three (part two)

We don't linger long in Monkey Paw. Just long enough to down four samplers and a cheese steak.

For the first time I'm heading out of the city. Our final destination is the main Stone brewery in Escondido. We have to drive virtually past the front door of another brewery, Societe. It seems silly not to drop in.

The location isn't the most exotic: a light industrial estate in a northern San Diego suburb. It's tucked away around the back, in a dull but functional single-storey building.

This is very much a brewery with a sampling room attached, rather than a pub brewery. Its kit is the largest I've seen so far and occupies most of the building, with just a slice at the front reserved for drinkers.

The number of samplers on a set has been different at every place so far today: 5 at Coronado, 4 at Monkey Paw, 2 here. Isn't there any industry standard for this sort of thing? Two hardly seems a set. So I get another when I've finished the first.

Like most of the places I've been in San Diego, the majority of the punters are young. Averaging about half my age, I'd guess. Does that make me the equivalent of two customers? Given the amount of beer I drink, it probably does.

The Imperial Stout is really good. As is the Dry Stout. Grant tells me the latter has won a medal. Or was it a few?

One corner is walled off and through a window I can see rack upon rack of oak barrels, all new judging by the honey tone of the staves. There are quite a lot of them.

"They're being patient." Grant tells me. "None of their barrel-aged beers have been released yet. Just a few teaser samples."

Samplers sampled, we're soon back on the road north to Escondido. There's no sign of the fire from the freeway. As we near Stone, there's still none.

We arrive without seeing a single burnt blade of grass. There are a few odd things about the brewery. Most notably there being no sign of any kind on its exterior. Not even the name.

Everything looks so normal, it's hard to believe that the fire came so close. The only hint is a slight smell of smoke. They must have been cleaning like crazy because I know it was full of smoke and ash yesterday.

Mitch is still in an all-day sales meeting (lucky him) and another member of the brewing staff shows us around. It's ginormous compared to the other breweries I've seen. The two 120-barrel brewhouses working in parallel churn out more than 200,000 US barrels a year. The building is crammed full of towering conical fermenters standing shoulder to shoulder. A bit like that terracotta army, but with less elbow room.

Halfway through Mitch turns up and finishes the tour. I'm impressed by the number of firkins lying around. They must do a reasonable amount of cask beer. Come to think of it, I did spot half a dozen firkins perched on the bar on the way in.

Packaging is in another building of about the same size. I'm intrigued by the automatic keg washer. Finally a piece of brewing equipment I've had professional contact with.

"It looks a lot less work than the one I used at Holes."

A highly skilled job, keg-washing used to be. Well, highly knackering. Especially lugging those 100 litre kegs around after they had been filled.

There's something weirdly fascinating about the machine that drops bottles into a case, folds the top shut then arranges the cases on a pallet.

"That's one of the machines we have the most trouble with." Mitch remarks.

The book signing is in the garden, where there are still traces of ash. It's pretty quiet. The fire yesterday has deterred drinkers. It's much quieter than a normal Friday.

I get to meet Steve Wagner, one of the owners, who seems a really nice bloke. We have a nice chat, while I shift a few books to the staff. Me and the bloke who runs the lab have an interesting* about beer analyses. He analysed lots of IPAs as part if the research for Mitch's IPA book.

"I'd been looking for regional variations in American IPAs. There are none." Mitch tells me.

At 6 pm Mitch drives me back down to San Diego where we're doing a radio show on 94/9, a rock station. It turns out me and Mitch have similar tastes in music, in particular a liking for sixties garage punk.

The show is great fun, with a pair of really funny guys presenting it. The off-air bits are even funnier than those broadcast. Though not all suitable for broadcasting, I'll admit. And we get to drink beer as part of the show. What's not to like?

Mitch drops me back at my hotel about 21:00. It's been another full and enjoyable day. Just one full day left, but two more events.

* For me and him, but probably no-one else.

Societe Brewing Company
8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd,
San Diego, CA 92111.
Tel: +31 858 598-5409

Stone Brewing Co.
1999 Citracado Pkwy,
Escondido, CA 92029.
Tel: +1 760-471-4999

Monday 26 May 2014

British beer exports 1862 - 1872

It's funny the places you find evidence. Like this about what type of beer was being exported.

What kicked everything off was finding figures for British beer exports in the Brewers' Guardian. I collect all sorts of statitics, but especially stuff like this that show how much British beer was being exported to various parts of the globe.

They tell me a few things directly. Like that British exports to the USA were rising sharply, those to Australia in decline, those to the West Indies and India fairly stable. Except for a blip in 1870 when considerably more beer was shipped to India.

But because the figures include value as well as volume, there's other information than can be indirectly gleaned. Why not see how much the beer exported to various locations cost per barrel. It's easy enough to work out.

I know from other sources that the majority of beer shipped to the West Indies was either Stout or Strong Ale. Which means that the average price per barrel should be relatively high. The same should also be true for Australia, where a lot of stronger beers were shipped. I'd expect a list in terms of the average price to look like this, in descending order:

West Indies

British beer exports 1862 - 1872
1862 1863 1864
barrels declared value barrels declared value barrels declared value
India 159,140 £445,801 152,588 £429,564 165,037 £498,449
Australia 153,145 £563,907 166,418 £645,716 124,556 £506,691
British West Indies 21,014 £75,220 22,100 £79,393 26,887 £104,037
United States of America 7,780 £31,446 7,644 £33,053 9,830 £43,681
Other countries 123,748 £479,280 142,881 £558,512 164,176 £670,304
Total 464,827 £1,595,654 491,631 £1,746,238 490,486 £1,823,162
1870 1871 1872
barrels declared value barrels declared value barrels declared value
India 216,663 £576,960 161,859 £492,885 167,597 £522,593
Australia 89,808 £369,741 80,511 £324,061 88,184 £359,701
British West Indies 23,402 £89,007 28,013 £106,243 27,199 £102,491
United States of America 29,512 £148,409 36,402 £181,195 44,360 £223,579
Other countries 161,814 £697,556 176,335 £749,389 194,616 £876,219
Total 521,199 £1,881,673 483,120 £1,853,773 521,956 £2,084,583
"Sessional Papers, House of Lords, Vol. VII, Accounts and Papers", 1864, pages 20-21
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 3, 1873, page 13
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 3, 1873, page 14

Why India last? Because I know much of the beer sent there was Porter, which was relatively cheap. The figures bear this out. The average price of the beer sent to India was between 53 and 62 shillings per barrel. No way most of that could be IPA. Because even in Britain, a barrel of IPA cost 60 shillings a barrel:

Allsopp price list from 1871

You can see my other predictions were a bit out. The most expensive beer was sent to the USA, followed by Australia with the West Indies only in third place:

British beer exports price per barrel 1862 - 1872
1862 1863 1864 1870 1871 1872
India 56.03 56.30 60.40 53.26 60.90 62.36
Australia 73.64 77.60 81.36 82.34 80.50 81.58
British West Indies 71.59 71.85 77.39 76.07 75.85 75.36
United States of America 80.84 86.48 88.87 100.58 99.55 100.80
Other countries 77.46 78.18 81.66 86.22 85.00 90.05
Average 68.66 71.04 74.34 72.21 76.74 79.88
"Sessional Papers, House of Lords, Vol. VII, Accounts and Papers", 1864, pages 20-21
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 3, 1873, page 13
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 3, 1873, page 14

What was being sent to the USA that was so expensive?

Not sure why the average price per barrel generally increased between 1862 and 1872. Any suggestions?

Sunday 25 May 2014

California day three

Another 9 am pick up by Grant and we head off to Balboa Park. Heading for a museum, though there is a beery connection.

The museum only opens at ten leaving us some time to kill. Walking around the park slits time's throat pretty well. It's a fantastical place, filled with exotic museums and massive, contortionist trees. Many of the museums are housed in extravagant Spanish-style buildings left over from the World Fair of 1915. Including our destination, the Museum of Man.

It's currently hosting an exhibition called BEERology. About beer, obviously. Mostly beer in Latin America. Grant knows the curator and he gives us a little private tour.

There are impressive drinking cups - I'm surprised the golden one didn't get melted down by some conquistador looter. But best are the crazy South American growlers, in all sorts of highly-decorated forms.

The modern head-hunter beer drinkers sound even crazier. They have the longest word for beer the curator has found. Don't ask me what it is. It has about a dozen syllables and, as I keep telling you, I'm not taking notes. The head-hunter's beer is made from cassava roots and they get the majority of their calories from it - 80%. Each adult male gets through four gallons a day, women two gallons, kids one gallon. Just like Newark.

Next stop is Coronado Island. Which isn't quite an island, being connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land. It's home to a big military base and some rather swanky housing. The approach - across a dramatically humped and curved bridge - reveals a perfect panorama of the city.

Our first beer of the day will be in Coronado Brewing's brewpub. Grant knows the brewer and, as he's not busy, we get a tour of the brewhouse. It's very cramped, in contrast to Liberty Station, though both are 10-barrel units. And built from copper rather than stainless steel. It's clearly seen a lot of use. In a separate extension out the back there are rows of conical fermenters.

We head back to the bar for a sampler flight and a chat with the brewer. There some pretty nice beers, especially their regular IPA. Very tasty. The food looks very tempting, but we need to move on. Back over to the mainland.

Next is Monkey Paw, a low black box with a corner location. It's just after noon and boiling hot. Which is why it looks closed. On closer inspection, there's a note on the door saying they are open. They've just closed the door to keep out the heat.

It's very dark inside. Rather like a dive bar, which is what Grant tells me it used to be. A pretty unslaubrious place, from his description. Now it's both a beer bar and brewpub. The brewing kit is hidden in another part of the building. Unfortunately, the brewer isn't around, so we can't take a look. He's off judging somewhere.

I get a sampler flight of Monkey Paw beers and a cheese steak with waffle fries. I thought cheese steak was a Philadelphia thing? As they have malt vinegar, I finish all my strangely-shaped chips.

San Diego Museum of Man
1350 El Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: +1 619 239-2001

Coronado Brewing Company
170 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118

Monkey Paw
805 16th St,
San Diego, CA 92101.
Tel: +1 619-358-9901

Saturday 24 May 2014

The Pfaudler vacuum system

Not sure why I never posted this before. I'd used the rest of the article discussing American brewing.

Maybe because this section is about Lager, though it does have a British connection. In fact it's connected to a couple of my obsessions.

First, confirmation that American brewers didn't decoct their Lagers:

"Although the manufacture of lager beer must necessarily be of less interest to the English brewer than that of the high fermentation ale, I may perhaps be permitted to call your attention to a few modifications -which the Americans, with their accustomed originality, have introduced into the time-honoured continental methods. In the first place, one is struck by the almost complete abandonment of the decoction mash. Nearly all the lager in America is brewed by the infusion process, either as we know it, or by a system of gradual elevation of temperature in the mash-tun. The boiling of the "thick mash" is practically unknown.

The method of fermentation of lager, as generally adopted, differs but very little from that of continental breweries. The primary fermentation is carried on at from 40° to 41° F., and lasts from 14 to 20 days. The beer is then passed on to tall vats, which are known as the ruh casks, and here it remains from one to four months. It is then run into the "chips-casks," where it is at once kräusened with fermenting wort, to the extent of from 15 to 20 per cent., and bunged down tight. Finings are sometimes added at this stage, and when the beer is nearly brilliant it is passed through a Stockheim or Enzinger filter, and racked into the trade casks. The primary and complementary fermentations together last from 2 to 5 months, so that the space and plant required for a brewery doing a good trade are very considerable, and of course the working capital is correspondingly large."
Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing, Volume 3, Issue 6, November-December 1897, page 475.
That's very much the classic method of fermenting Lager: a slow, cool primary fermentation, a long lagering,  kräusening and bunging to carbonate the beer. Though I'm not sure Continental breweries would have used finings. Two  to five months is a pretty decent lagering time. Interesting that the use the German word "ruh", meaning rest. And, like Budweiser, they were adding wood chips to the lagering vessels.

Obviously that was an expensive and time-consuming process. No surprise that there were attempts to shorten and simplify it.

"An attempt has been made within the last few years to materially lessen the time required for the complete fermentation of lager, and thus to reduce its cost of production.

The process is known as the "F. F." or Pfaudler vacuum system, and as it is one which is attracting a good deal of attention in America and elsewhere at the present time, it will doubtless be of some interest to you to hear something about it.
. . . . .

Briefly stated, the principle of the process depends on three conditions:—(1) The temperature of fermentation is much higher than that-usually employed in lager beer brewing; (2) there is a certain amount of aeration during the process which admits of strict regulation; and (3) the fermentation is carried on under low pressure conditions which admit of the carbonic acid being removed as fast as it is produced. Under these three combined influences the fermentation runs through a very rapid course, and the beer is ready for the chips-casks in from 10 to 11 days. If the process of krausening in the chips-casks is adopted the beer is ready for racking in about three weeks from the time of brewing, a time which may be further reduced to 11 or 12 days if the chips-cask stage is avoided by carbonating the beers."
Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing, Volume 3, Issue 6, November-December 1897, pages 475 - 476.
Remember where we've heard of the Pfaudler vacuum system before? It's the system that Allsopp installed in Burton in 1899 when they decided they wanted to brew Lager. And which was taken by Calder up to Alloa.

It's nice to learn exactly what the Pfaudler vacuum system was.

"The following is a brief description of the vacuum process of fermentation :—

The worts are first run into "starting tubs" at about 50—51° F., and the yeast is added at the rate of about 1 lb. per barrel. After 24 hours it is transferred to the vacuum vessels, which are large cylinders, built up of steel sections, rivetted together and coated inside with a special enamel which is burnt on to the cylinders. The bottoms of these cylinders are conical, and they resemble somewhat in general appearance very large pure-yeast cultivators.

The top of the cylinder is closed, and arrangements are made for pumping out the carbonic acid and for reducing the pressure in the apparatus to any desired extent by means of an air-pump. The carbon dioxide can, if desired, be collected and liquefied by pressure in ordinary gas cylinders, and then used directly for carbonating the ale when it is finished. There is an air inlet in the conical bottom, connected inside with a perforated loop of pipe, through which air (previously well filtered through cotton wool) can be passed into the fermenting wort. This air passes through a "sight feeder" on its way to the vacuum vessel, so that the amount which passes can be easily regulated.

During this part of the process the temperature is not allowed to exceed about 49° F., by means of an attemperator in the vacuum vessel, and the fermentation is complete in from five to seven days. The Phoenix Brewery at Pittsburg has 26 of these vacuum vessels, each holding 110 American barrels, and they are sufficient for turning out 100,000 barrels per annum."

After the primary fermentation is over, the beer is of course in an extremely flat state, and is either passed on to chips-casks and kräusened, or is at once filtered and carbonated before being put into the trade casks.
Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing, Volume 3, Issue 6, November-December 1897, pages 476 - 477.
So the primary fermentation was around 10º F warmer and one or two weeks quicker than the classic Lager method. I can see how that would save a brewery dosh. It sounds like minimal lagering was taking place. Which would have been an even bigger economy.

The vessels themselves, apart from the vacuum bit, sound very much like conical fermenters. Though much smaller than modern conicals usually are.

The system was quicker, but did the finished beer taste as good as that produced by the classic method?

"The Pfaudler vacuum system is certainly able to produce a lager beer much more rapidly than the old system, but what proportion of capital outlay in required to construct a brewery of given out-turn on the old and the new system respectively I am not at present in a position to say. Assuming, however, that the balance, as regards initial cost, is in favour of the new system, and that the much more rapid turnover is taken into account, the final verdict must after all turn on the relative quality of the beer produced by the two processes. That a perfectly sound and saleable article can be produced by the vacuum system is an undeniable fact, but whether the longer storage and maturation of the beer brewed on the old system does not produce certain high class qualities which are lacking in the more quickly made and loss matured vacuum beers can only be determined by a lengthy trial and by the competition of trade, which can alone decide which of the two is the fitter for survival. At present I hold my judgment on this question in suspense."
Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing, Volume 3, Issue 6, November-December 1897, page 478.

I take that as a definite maybe. My personal experience tells me that a couple of months lagering definitely improves a beer. If it didn't why would anyone still bother?

Friday 23 May 2014

Festival Historische Nederlandse Bierstijlen

Or Festival of Historic Dutch Beer Styles as it translates to in English.

Exactly my sort of thing, so it's no surprise I've been asked to talk. In my usual perverse way, I've picked a topic everyone else thinks boring: early Dutch Lagers.

For once, I had to do some new research. Though I stopped when I realised it was threatening to become a three-hour talk.

Hope to see you there. These are the details:

Sunday 1st June Early Dutch Lager Styles
Grand Café Maria
Mariaplaats 50,
3511 LM Utrecht.
Tel: +31 030 2300055

Naturally, I'll be tarting my wonderful new book. And signing it, should you fancy taking on the challenge of reading my handwriting:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Brewing at Stone (part two)

Right, time to describe the rest of my brew day at Stone Liberty Station.

Or rather describe the beers I drink with lunch. I kick off with the First Anniversary Ale. A beer, as it names suggests, brewed to celebrate the first anniversary of Liberty Station. It's dark and hoppy. They jokingly called it a black something or other*. Can't remember what, because, as I told you last time, I'm not taking notes. And my memory isn't what it was. It's fairly like a Black IPA.

I follow it up with a Go To IPA. One of the new breed of Session IPA.I quite like them, especially when, as today, all be boozing all day long. But they seem to really antagonise the more fascist end of beer geekdom. Why? Because in their narrow world an IPA had to be at least 6.5% ABV. Anything below that is an imposter. Like the wonderful 1839 Reid IPA (one of the recipes in my excellent new book), which only just scrapes over 5% ABV. Those dumb Victorian brewers.

Go to IPA is very drinkable and isn't messing up my head too much. What with the heat I've got even more of a thirst than usual. I take one with me back to the brewhouse, where Kris has delayed the boil so I can do my hop throwing in bit.

When it's time the bung in the pellets, there's a nice head on the wort. It's even more impressive after the addition. Like the froth on the top of a cappucino. What are the hops? A load of Goldings. This is an India Porter, after all. In needs some company for its long journey.

We're brewing 10 US barrels and Kris will brew another 10 tomorrow. That's one conical's worth.

There are just two hop additions, at 90 and 60 minutes. That's what it says in my recipe, but it's just a guess. Few brewing records give details of hop additions. None I've seen from the 19th century. I made an educated guess, based on what brewing text books of the day recommend. Could be totally wrong. But as they weren't interested so much in aroma, more in preservative qualities, early additions make sense.

Grant from ChuckAlek gets to make the second and final addition. While his intern Kaleb gets to rake the spent grain out of the mash tun. I know which of the two I'd prefer.

Before I know it, four o' clock has rolled around. When my book signing is due kick off. It's in the garden. On the way to lunch I'd been surprised to spot a couple of punters out there. Anyone sensible was inside with the air conditioning.

I'm set up at the back of the garden. Most importantly next to the bar and in the shade. It's still roasting, even out of the sun. Stick an apple in my mouth and you can have roast pork for tea.

I've plenty of time to consider my own mortality as, books arranged enticingly on the table, I sweat in a garden deserted save for the staff. At least I've a beer in my hand - more Go To.

Around 16:45, with brewing done, the others join me. Grant wants to try his own 1832 Brown Stout, but it's not on until 17:00. He decides to wait.

It's worth waitng for. A Lovely beer, full of chocolate notes, but finishing with a persistent bitterness. That's what you get from large early hop additions. A bitterness that lasts all the way to next christmas, without ever jumping up and slapping you around the face.

As the sun drops lower and the air cools a little, more are tempted outside. But none of them pay much attention to my little book stall. The signing is supposed to end at 18:00. My first sale is 5 minutes before that. I decide not to shut up shop but to carry on as long as anyone is showing interest.

I'm relieved when Mitch turns up. He's not been able to do much in Escondido. The police wouldn't let him anywhere near the brewery. But at least the fire hadn't reached it either.

We chat and drink and eat and occasionally I sell a book. It's even quite pleasant, once the sun is down.

"It's a day.", I say eventually. I'm back in my hotel by 22:00.

Next time I'll be going to a museum and some breweries. Quite a few breweries. Including the main Stone plant in Escondido. If it's still there.

* Imperial Black Kolsch.
Imperial Black Kolsch
Imperial Black Kolsch
Imperial Black Kolsch

Stone Liberty Station
2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116‎,
San Diego, CA 92106

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065