Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Brewing of Beer for Bottling

You may recall that I have a bit of an obsession about bottling and bottled beer. Not sure why that might be. You'll just have to indulge me.

This comes from the early days of bottling, when brewers were just starting to dip their toes in the water. The vast majority of bottling itself was performed by third parties. Though, obviously, brewers still had to supply suitable beer.

The article starts at the beginning: with the water used.

"The Brewing of Beer for Bottling.
GOOD water is the first important factor in brewing ale, either for draught or bottle. There are several kinds of water, such as spring water, river water, rain water, deep well water, surface water (from cultivated lands), sand rock water, chalk water, &c. Some brewers prefer soft water for brewing, such as sand rock water (these waters are generally fairly pure), but the majority prefer hard water, especially for bottled ale. There are two kinds of hard water, temporary and permanent hardness; the latter kind generally contains a large percentage of gypsum (calcium sulphate), while the former contains a large percentage of carbonates in solution, which are precipitated on boiling."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 381. 
That doesn't really contain any information firectly related to bottled beer. And it's all pretty vague, other than saying that most brewers preferred hard water.

Now on to the grist:
"A suitable water having been obtained, the grain has to be chosen; here again there is a slight difference of opinion, some brewers obtain a better extract from rice, with malt, but malt alone is more generally mashed. The best pale malt is required; it should possess a thin skin, be full and plump, crisp and easily broken, and weigh about 40 to 45 lbs. per bushel. The required quantity must be crushed, not to a powder, but broken enough so as to allow the water to dissolve the powder inside the husk; this is usually done the day before brewing; but it must not be done sooner, because malt rapidly absorbs moisture from the air. The mashing is now proceeded with, the liquor ranging from 160° to 170° Fahr., as required: much depends upon this part of the operation, and a high extract is needed for bottling purposes."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 381. 
This article was written just a few years after the use of adjuncts was made legal by the 1880 Free Mash Tun Act. While in the 20th century the adjunct of choice was mostly flaked maize, in the early years flaked rice was also common.

The concentration on quality pale malt implies that he's talking about brewing a classy Pale Ale. 

"There are two systems of mashing— (a) the infusion process, (b) the decoction process. The former is mostly practised in England, the latter in Germany. A greater extract can be obtained from the former process with good mashing apparatus. After mashing the goods are allowed to stew about two hours, then the worts are run off into the copper. They should be quite bright, if the mashing has been properly carried out. The worts should have nearly reached the boiling-point by the time the required length is obtained."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 381. 
Mashing schenes were a bit more complicated than that. Few UK breweries outside Scotland had a single infusion followed by sparges. Almost every brewery I've looked at employed what I would call an underlet mash at this point. That starts an infusion at a lowish temperature - 147º F to 150º F - which is left to stand for 90 to 120 minutes, followed by an addition of hotter water via the underlet which raises the mash temperature 4º F to 5º F. This is held for 30 minutes or so berfore sparging begins.

Not sure what the bit about the worts almost having reached boiling point before the end of sparging. Unless it means sparging at a very high temperature.

The bit about hops makes more sense:

"The hops must be added when the worts commence boiling. Brewing ales for bottling is generally begun about October, because the weather is favourable and new hops can be obtained. Ales for bottling must be well hopped. Twelve to twenty-four pounds of the best pale hops should be used to each quarter of malt. Farnhams, Goldings, or East Kents will be found to answer the best. These hops must be of a pale green colour, contain plenty of seeds, smell well when rubbed between the palms of the hands; they must also be free from sulphur and mould. The boiling should be continued from one and a half to two hours."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 381. 
12 to 24 pounds of hops per quarter is an awful lot. The upper end of the range is what you'd expect in a high-class Burton pale Ale. That you'd use the best hops - which is what Farnhams, Goldings and East Kents are.

"The worts are then cooled rapidly. This is done by running on to the cooler, down the refrigerator. into the fermenting-tun, at about 60° Fah. The yeast, which should be examined microscopically, should be in a healthy condition, otherwise the brew Will be ruined. The cells in healthy yeast are round and budding; the dead cells may be easily distinguished by adding a drop of indigo carmine to the glass slide. The indigo will stain the dead cells, but the living yeast will remain unaffected."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 381. 
 The cooler is what you ignorant youngsters would call a coolship. This is the standard cooling method of the time: start in the cooler and then finsih the job whith a refrigerator. That's a seeries of copper pipes through which cold brine was circulated. The wort was run over the top of them to cool.

60º F is a pretty standard pitching temperature. Though I'd expect the classy sort of Pale Ale the author seems to be describing to be pitched a couple of degrees cooler than that.


Barm said...

I think they mean that you would start heating the copper while running the wort into it and while you were sparging, so that you would reach boiling point quicker. No sense in waiting until the sparge was done before firing up the copper – it would take longer and use more fuel.

rod said...

Ron -

"The worts should have nearly reached the boiling-point by the time the required length is obtained."

What he means here is "the wort in the copper".
You can start to heat the wort as soon as the bottom of the copper is covered (or,today, when the lower steam jacket is covered). The wort in the copper is being heated all the time that running-off and sparging are taking place.

Ideally, in order not to waste time waiting for the wort to come to the boil, heating should be such that, at the end of running-off, the wort in the copper is just coming to boiling point.

This can be harder to achieve in a manual brewery than it might sound.

Jeff Renner said...

The wort would be nearly boiling by the end of the sparse because they applied heat to the boiler as the wort ran in. It’s what I do as a rule.

Theo Muller said...

As to the "worts almost having reached boiling point" - it may refer to a pre-heating of the collected worts in the copper before all are collected, as to reduce the time between batches.

qq said...

Interesting to see the insistence on lots of seeds in hops, given the horror of seeds of most brewers these days, certainly overseas.