hist-brewing: 1577 Recipe

Wylie A. & Gail D. Smith wyliesmith at isomedia.com
Thu Oct 2 20:25:34 PDT 1997

I contacted a local microbrewery today to ask about reenacting the Harrison
Recipe sometime this winter.  He is going to try to schedule it... He is
also interested in this project.

For those in Washington State, that's the Lake Tapps Brewery near Bonney
If it flies, I will need a lot of folks to buy the wort.... and hopefully
make it an SCA event.
Three good Hogsheads of beer (a Hogshead is anywhere from 63 to 140
gallons, and even then it is vague)

> From: Dennis Walker <ansel at hom.net>
> To: hist-brewing at pbm.com
> Subject: Re: hist-brewing: 1577 Recipe
> Date: Saturday, September 27, 1997 10:07 AM
> Wylie A. & Gail D. Smith wrote:
> > 
> > What do you think Arras is?
> 	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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