hist-brewing: 1577 Recipe

Dennis Walker ansel at hom.net
Sat Sep 27 10:07:27 PDT 1997


Wylie A. & Gail D. Smith wrote:
> 
> What do you think Arras is?
> Could it be FLORENTINE ORRIS ROOT?

	In the Edelen edition of Harrison's work the spelling given is 
'orris'. I am thinking this may be a reference to the blue iris, which 
appears to have been widely cultivated in medieval England. The root was 
called orris. I don't know if this is the same as florentine orris root 
or not. 

>Would Sweet Gail be a good substitute for the Bayberry mentioned?

	I think bayberry may be a reference to the berry of the sweet bay 
or laurel tree, laurus nobilis, common in medieval England with a number 
of uses for the leaves and berries.
	
> What quantities for 10 gal batch?

	That is a very good question which leads to several others. 
Harrison's wife was making a total gross volume of 240 of their gallons. 
It seems that she added the brackwort (the reserved portion to which she 
originally added the orris and bayberry) back into the main batch:
	"Finally, when she setteth her drink together, she addeth to her 
brackwort or charwort half an ounce of orris and half a quarter of an 
ounce of bayberries finely powdered, and then, putting the same into her 
wort, with an handful of wheat flour, she proceedeth in such usual order 
as common brewing requireth." The brackwort itself was "of eight or nine 
gallons".
	In a later section of his work Harrison notes that the English 
gallon has 96 ounces but that doesn't tell us the volume of his ounce.The 
'Queen Anne' gallon was in widespread use in England in Harrison's time, 
and was equivalent to 231 of our modern fluid ounces. If this was  
the gallon Harrison used, their gross batch size was approximately 441 of 
our gallons.
	They used half an ounce of orris and an eighth ounce of 
bayberries. Harrison states elsewhere in his work that their weight 
measure was either the Troy or Avoirdupois pound. He states that their 
liquid and dry measures were sold by Troy but that other artificers and 
chapmen used Avoirdupois. I wonder whether the Harrisons grew their own 
orris and bayberries, bought the bulk produce from a 'chapman' who might 
measure by avoirdupois, or bought small ground quantities ready to use 
from, perhaps, an apothecary using Troy. 
	In any case, Troy or Avoirdupois, I think a half ounce and an 
eigth ounce are going to be virtually undetectable in 441 gallons. If you 
want to try to duplicate just the brackwort, at 8-9 of their gallons that
works out to about 14.5-16 of ours so in a 10-gal batch you'd want to use 
1/3 less or about 1/3 oz. orris and 1/12th oz. bayberry, using Troy or 
Avoirdupois as you think appropriate. I wonder whether even in that 
proportion the amounts are going to be noticeable.
	I wonder why they bothered with so small a proportion. It seems 
Mrs. Harrison's chief concern was the impact on color: "...she taketh out 
a vesselful, of eight or nine gallons, which she shutteth up close and 
suffereth no air to come into it till it become yellow, and this she 
reserveth by itself unto further use, as shall appear hereafter, calling 
it brackwort or charwort, and as she saith, it addeth also to the color 
of the drink, whereby it yieldeth not unto amber or fine gold in hue unto 
the eye." 
	My own interest lies in recreating the main batch. If the 
brackwort was not mixed back in then no orris or bayberries are needed; 
if it was mixed back in, then I am back to wondering what difference such 
a minute quantity (1/8 and 1/2 oz. in 441 gallons) would make.
	     
 	 > I am thinking of a 90 minute boil, adding hops  with 60 
minutes remaining, and 10 minutes remaining, and infusing the Sweet Gale 
at the end of the boil and another spice (Orris Root?).

	I don't think that hopping schedule will duplicate Harrison's. 
Their hops were all boiled for at least 90 minutes.
	The orris and bayberry were added to the brackwort, a portion of 
the first mash which was not boiled: "before she putteth her first wort 
into the furnace or mingleth it with the hops, she taketh out a 
vesselful...". This first wort came out for me at about 154F. 

	--Dennis Walker

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