hist-brewing: Herbs

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Thu Sep 24 12:53:31 PDT 1998

You all may remember that I am going to brew a Domesday Ale," for which I
malted my own oats, since I couldn't find any, inspired by the following:

"The monks of St Paul's Cathedral brewed 67,814 gallons of ale using 175
quarters of barley, 175 quarters of wheat and 708 quarters of oats,"  The
Domesday of St. Paul's of the Year M.CC.XX.II by William Hale Hale [sic]

I will, for the purpose of practicality, use equal weights of each grain.
We don't need to go into all of the computations we did last winter on
deciphering the measures.  I had considered going with no herbs (we also
had a discussion regarding hops, and I've decided not to use them - I'm
sufficiently convinced that they wouldn't have been used in England at this
time (again, we thrashed this out).  I am now considering that I may need
some balance to the malt sweetness with something more than the "bite" of
dark malt (again, I'm convinced that malts would have been somewhat dark
back then).  Perhaps some herb or spice.  A British correspondent from HBD
suggested "Bog myrtle pretty much had the brewing industry cornered before
hops came in in the 16th C. But there are problems associated with high
dosages of it (like involuntary muscle contractions)."  He suggested some
kind of spice.

I solicit the suggestions of this group regarding flavoring that would be
historically appropriate, safe and pleasing.  I will make a strong ale from
first runnings and, if the mash isn't too stuck, a braggot from the second


Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943. 

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