hist-brewing: soranzo's beer

daleron at pacbell.net daleron at pacbell.net
Sun Jan 11 14:54:05 PST 1998

Paul Robertshaw wrote:
> Dear all,
> I've come across a report by a Venetian envoy called Saranzo in 1554 on the
> activities of London's beer brewers.  He noted that they "make it
> stronger or weaker by adding more wheat and less barley and produce a
> contrary result by reversing the process" - an observation I found
> surprising considering that barley was (& is) the preferred grain for
> brewing.  Was Soranzo correct?
> With thanks in advance,
> Paul Robertshaw
> Greetings!
	To answer your question precisely (as if I've ever been precise with my
brewing!), the term "strength" would have to be defined.  If by strength
you mean alcohol content, I don't think that wheat would make a stronger
brew.  The amount of fermentable sugar determines the alcohol content of
the finished product.  If I'm not mistaken, malted wheat lends the same
amount of fermentable sugar that malted barley does to a brew.  German
weizen is an example of a beer with a high wheat content that is
available today.  If by strength you mean flavor, generally, the
addition of wheat tends to lighten the flavor of your beer.  The
previously mentioned weizen will have a strong flavor (cloves and/or
bannana) if it is made in the traditional German fashion, however this
is due to the particular yeast that is used.  American wheat beers are
known for their crisp, light flavors.  Anybody else?

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