hist-brewing: light colored beer

Jay Hersh aka Dr. Beer (SM) drbeer at doctorbeer.com
Thu May 15 09:05:09 PDT 1997

>A couple of considerations:  Is the beer/ale made from a historical
>recipe that was followed faithfully?  If so, the methods used may not be
>conducive to making clear beer.  Up until the introduction of Pilsners,
>beers were served in pewter or earthenware mugs/vessels.  The clarity
>didn't matter.  With the refinement of brewing methods and materials and a
>better understanding of the brewing process, much clearer beers and much
>lighter colored beers became possible.  If the beer/ale is historically
>"accurate" the haze is not a flaw.

this isn't strictly true.  Light colored beers were always possible.  Given
that malt could be air dried.  The problem with air drying was the
susceptibility to mold and spoilage during warm weather and freezing during
cold.  Malt was typically dried in kilns for these reasons, but prior to
about 1812  (when smoke free malt kilns were developed) in Germany (a little
earlier in Britain) drying in kilns meant the malt acquired a smoky taste
because it was either dried directly over the fire on metal plates or wire
screens (after those were invented) or in piles next to the firebox inside
the kiln.  The former technique had problems with scorching the malt since
temperature control inside the kiln was difficult if not impossible so the
latter technique was typically utilized.

With light colored malts the smoky flavor was typically very overwhelming
and stronger flavored beers with darker colored malts were typically
preferred to balance the smoky taste.  What actually helped change this
preference for darker colored beers wasn't that nonsmoky light beers could
be made, but that clear glass became reasonably inexpensive and widely
available around the middle of the 19th century.  The advent of Pilsner
style beers being brewed in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia starting in 1842 coupled
with this new glass ware made light colored beers very fashionable and their
popularity spread very quickly.


Hopfen und Malz, Gott erhalt's

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