hist-brewing: Postings???

Wylie A. & Gail D. Smith wyliesmith at isomedia.com
Wed Sep 17 17:17:51 PDT 1997

On Wed, 17 Sep 1997, bjm10 wrote;

Okay, so were you brewing an English beer of Renaissance style or were 
you brewing an "Old Ale" of the modern style, with some reference to the 
older recipe?  The "Old Ale" style does not refer to the antiquity of the 
recipes, but to the fact that these beers are aged for a long time.

I respond:

Actually, I am finding yet another excuse to brew!  I agree that the
Crystal may have been a bad choice, and next time I will use brown, or
roast some on my own (on the order of 1 pound).  

Anyway, can you give me directions for roasting in the oven?

Here is the other text documentation for the Hopped/Unhopped base recipe:

Being a redaction and recreation of a 1577 beer recipe 

Brewed and Presented by HLS Rauþúlfr Rúnameistari

This beverage is the redaction of a recipe which appears in: A Sip Through
time: A collection of Old Brewing Recipes, by Cindy Renfrow, 1994. It came
about as I was looking over the redaction which Ms. Renfrow gave for the
recipe and upon close comparison with the original found it wanting. The
matter of her error lead me to ignore her proposed redaction in preparing
the one which I give. The key was her failure to recognize the fact that
the recipe was intended to yield three batches of eighty gallons each,
while she numbered only two.[ A Sip Through time: A collection of Old
Brewing Recipes, by Cindy Renfrow, 1994, p. 4.] The original is from The
Description of England, by William Harrison, 1577; The original and my
redaction are given in parallel text beginning on page 2. 

Recreating this recipe required a very different approach to brewing than
that to which I am accustomed. Among other things I have never worked with
open fermentation before, nor have I ever attempted to cask condition beer
before. The open fermentation turned out to be much less mysterious than I
originally expected, however the matter of cask conditioning was not so
simply solved nor so simply researched. 

The entry consists of three parts. The first is the redaction of the recipe
itself. The second is the cask conditioned ale. The third is the same brew
bottled. Bottling the majority of the brew provides something of a known
quantity against which to judge the qualities of that which is cask

On the whole, this was an interesting project. I have documented the
process point by point following the recipe. Because of the complexity of
the recipe, the discussion is perhaps longer than I might have preferred.
"Nevertheless," he says, "sith I have taken occasion to speake of bruin", I
will exemplifie in such a proportion as I am best skilled in, bicause it is
the usuall rate for mine owne familie, and once in a moneth practiced by my
wife and hir maid servants, who proceed withall after this maner, as she
hath oft informed me. 

Having therefore groond eight bushels of good malt upon our querne, where
the toll is saved, she addeth unto it half a bushel of wheat meale, and so
much of otes small groond, and so tempereth or mixeth them with the malt,
that you cannot easily discerne the one from the other, otherwise these
later would clunter, fall into lumps, and thereby become unprofitable. 

The first liquor which is full eightie gallons according to the proportion
of our furnace, she maketh boiling hot, and then powreth it softlie into
the malt, where it resteth (but without stirring) untill hir second liquor
be almost ready to boile. 
This is all the introduction which is included by Ms. Renfrow. 

These quantities converted into pounds would be:
[Conversions based upon The Complete Anachronist: Issues 81 and 82]
The English Bushel = 8 gallons of wheat
a gallon of wheat = 8 troy pounds = 64 troy pounds
53 US pounds per bushel = 421 pounds of malt;
27 pounds of wheat;
27 pounds of oats.   
2 Troy pounds of hops = 1.65 US pounds 

Meal is used because of its availability and cost. This gives 475 pounds of
grain to 240 gallons of water. Or about 2 pounds of grain per gallon. Each
batch uses eighty gallons of boiling water. 

This doone she letteth hir mash run till the malt be left without liquor,
or at the leastwise the greater part of the moisture, which she perceiveth
by the staie and softe issue thereof, and by this time hir second liquor in
the furnace is ready to seeth, which is put also to the malt as the first
woort also againe into the furnace, whereunto she addeth two pounds of the
best English hors. and so letteth them seeth together by the space of two
hours in summer, or an houre and a halfe in winter, whereby it getteth an
excellent colour and continuance without impeachment, or anie superfluous
tartnesse. But before she putteth her first woort into the furnace, or
mingleth it with the hops, she taketh out a vessel full, of eight or nine
gallons, which she shutteth up close, and suffereth no aire to come into it
till it become yellow, and this she reserveth by it selfe unto further use,
as shall appeare hereafter, calling it Brackwoort or Charwoort, and as she
saith it addeth also to the colour of the drinke, whereby it yeeldeth not
unto amber or fine gold in hew unto the eie. 

My notes: Eighty gallons of boiling water is poured "softly" over the grain
and allowed to steep without stirring. This would extend the grain so that
there was not excessive extraction for the first and second batches. The
second eighty gallons is put on the fire and when it boils the mash is
allowed to drain until it will produce no more liquor. The second eighty
gallons is put to the wort and then set to steep in the, and the first
liquor is put to the fire along with 2pounds of hops. This is allowed to
simmer for two hours in summer or an hour and a half in winter. Eight or
nine gallons of the first wort are set aside before the hops are added.
This will have herbs and spices added to it later to create medicinals.
These recipes are not included here. The wort is then returned to the heat.

By this time also hir second woort is let runne, and the first being taken
out of the furnace and placed to coole, she returneth the middle woort into
the furnace, where it is striker over, or from whence it is taken againe.
"When she hath mashed also the last liquor (and set the second to coole by
the first) she letteth it runne and then seetheth it againe with a pound
and a half of new hops or peradventure two pounds as she seeth cause by the
goodness or baseness of the hops; and when it hath sodden in summer two
hours, and in winter an houre and a halfe, she striketh it also and
reserveth it unto mixture with the rest when time doth serve therefore.
[The discussion of the preperation of brackwoort or charwoort has been
ommited] I value my malt at ten shillings, my wood at foure shillings which
I buie, my hops at twenty pence, the spice at two pence, servants wages two
shillings sixpence, both meat and drinke, and the wearing of my vessell at
twentie pence, so that for my twenty shillings I have ten score gallons of
beer or more, notwithstanding the loss in seething. The continuance of the
drinke is always determined after the quantitie of the hops, so that being
well hopped it lasteth longer. For it feedeth upon the hop and holdeth out
so long as the force of the same endureth which being extinguished the
drinke must be spent or else it dieth and becometh of no value. 

When the first batch has simmered sufficiently, it is removed from the fire
and set to cool. The second batch of liquor has all drained from the wort
and is then returned to the furnace for its simmering. This batch is
simmered without hops added to it. While this is happening the third batch
of eighty gallons of water is put to the wort for steeping. When the second
batch is removed and set aside, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of hops are added and
this is then simmered for the appropriate amount of time. Final Notes: This
produces three batches of beer equaling about 200 gallons. One premium
beer, one good quality brew, and "small-beer" which was a drink for every
day consumption. The tone tends toward frugality and economy. This passage
seems to indicate that the hops were not only left in the brew during
fermentation, but perhaps also during aging. 

Observations and surmises: What we do not know based upon the recipe above.

1) We do not know what method was used to achieve fermentation, however
because of the frugal tone of the recipe, we can presume that Ale-Barm was
used to start fermentation. [ See appendix 1 for a discussion of beginning
2) If Ale-yeast was added, we do not know what sort it was. It would have
been close to a wild yeast in nature.
3) We do not know what the liquor was fermented in, or for how long.
4) We do not know what the beer was aged in, or for how long. 
We can surmise the following:
1) The hops were not strained out of the beer prior to fermentation.
2) The beer was open fermented.
3) The beer was aged and stored in wooden kegs.
What I did differently, and why:
1) I made only one batch of beer rather than three, because I do not have
the space to brew, bottle, and age fifteen gallons of beer at the same
2) I used malt extract because of the lack of facilities to malt grain at
my home. The six pounds of extract which I used would be equivalent to
using eight pounds of malted grain
3) I used milled wheat, but used flaked Oats rather than ground because
that is what I could get. 
4) The ratio of malt/grain to water is a bit lower in my recipe. Being
about 1.9 pounds of grain to a gallon of water, rather than the original
2.0. Hopefully the lower ratio was compensated for because it was all used
in one batch rather than trying to get three batches of beer from my grain.
5) I added the malt extract to the boiling water before pouring it over the
grains. This gave the extract time to dissolve into the water. This took
about five minutes. With a total time of about ninety minutes to bring the
five gallons to a boil.
6) The grain was allowed to steep for ninety minutes, however I did agitate
the grain in order to improve the contact with the water.
7) One ounce of fresh Fuggles hops was added to the liquor after the grain
was removed, and before it was returned to the heat. The liquor was added
to the fermenter with the hops still in it.
8) I used a trappist yeast. This is fairly close to a wild yeast, and is
very tolerant of the environment. For example, it remains hardy up to 13%
alcohol! When fermentation didn't really take off I added a dry standard
brewers yeast.
9) Prior to bottling, 3/4 cup of corn sugar was added to the fermenter. 
10) Two gallons of the beer was cask conditioned. The remainder was
bottled. This allows for a comparison of the beer itself, and the beer as
it turned out in the cask. I opted for a two gallon keg for three reasons.
The first of which is that the beer must be consumed within 24 hours of
tapping the cask; thus a five gallon cask would have required a reasonable
number of folk to finish it off. The second of which is that the two gallon
cast cost $67.00 U.S.. The five gallon was just too expensive! Thirdly, if
something weird happens to the cask, there will still be bottles to sample!

The recipe:

The original recipe was: 
421 pounds of malt;
27 pounds of wheat meal;
27 pounds of ground oats
1.65 pounds of hops for batch one
No hops for batch two
1 1/2 -2 pounds of hops for batch three
240 gallons of water

Converting these amounts for the production of five gallons of beer gave
these rounded amounts: 

8.7 pounds of malt
.7 pounds of ground wheat
.7 pounds of ground oats
0.54 ounces of hops (for the first batch)
0.41 ounces of hops (for the third batch)
5 gallons of water

The Redaction:

6 pounds light malt extract ( 8 pounds of malt
.75 pound milled wheat
.75 pound flaked oats
1 ounce of Fuggles hops
3/4 cup corn sugar
5 gallons of water
1 ounce of live Trappist yeast
1 ounce of dry Brewers Yeast, (for stuck fermentation)

The reasons why were: 1) The ratio of a malt extract, to a malted grain, is
about 1.25 : 1, so my malt was slightly lighter in quantity than in the
2) I used .75 pounds of wheat meal, rather than .7 for simplicity.
3) I used .75 pounds of flaked oats rather than .7 for simplicity.
4) I used one ounce of Fuggles hops. This will make the beer slightly
'hoppier", but not significantly so. In the absence of any other
information Fuggles seemed appropriate for a brew of this sort; it is what
the English would currently use. 
5) The corn sugar was used as an aid to fermentation, and to help the yeast
get going which is important in open fermentation. (Particularly because I
have never tried open fermentation before.)

The Process: 

Because of the winter household temperature, two days before the start of
brewing the yeast was activated. It was placed in a 2 liter bottle with an
air trap. Roughly one quart of nutrient wort was mixed up and one ounce of
trappist yeast was added. Trappist yeast was selected for reasons noted
earlier. Brewing was begun using a six gallon stainless steel pot with five
gallons of water which was brought to a boil. The sugar and the malt was
added to this before the water was removed from the heat and poured over
the grain. The grains were placed in a six gallon pot with a mesh bag
lining it to aid in removing the grain. The boiling water and the malt was
poured over this and the wort was allowed to steep for 1 1/2 hour. After
that time, the grain was removed from the liquor, and was allowed to drain
completely. The Grain was lightly squeezed to extract the most water
possible. The liquor was then returned to the heat and the hops were added.
The liquor was simmered for 1 1/2 hours and was not allowed to boil. It
remained at about degrees F. for that time. Fermentation was open, in a ten
gallon crock. The yeast was added after the temperature fell to about 85
degrees F. Because of the winter temperature of my home, I used a warming
pad under the crock to help maintain a constant temperature at night. The
temperature remained between 70o and 80o during fermentation. Fermentation
was very slow in beginning, and so on the next day I added one ounce of a
standard dry brewers-yeast. This seemed to liven things up. One difference
between open and closed fermentation was apparent rather quickly. While one
does hear gasses escaping from the trap with closed fermentation, one can
hear a constant hiss from the open crock. There is also an increased
brewing aroma, which is probably to be expected. On the whole, the effect
is to make it more obvious that something is indeed happening!  

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