hist-brewing: Re: hist-brewing-digest V1 #170

Al Korzonas korz at xnet.com
Mon Sep 28 10:51:41 PDT 1998

Paul writes:
>   For 2 1/2 gallons of ale:
>  Ingredients:
>     * 4 2/3 lbs., Hugh Baird brand English Pale malt
>     * 1 1/2 lbs., oats (rolled)
>     * 13 qts., water
>     * 1 pkt, Lalvin brand Nottingham ale yeast
>     * 1 pkt, Lalvin brand Windsor ale yeast
>     * 1/4 oz., Light Oak chips

>   Let the ale ferment for a day; the yeast should have started, and
>   activity should be well under way. Boil the oak chips in approx. 1 cup
>   water. When the water is the color of a cup of tea, take off heat and
>   allow to cool some. Pour off water, then add approx. 1/2 cup of water
>   back into chips. Raise this Boil this to a boil again, then allow to
>   cool; it should be just barely darker in color than normal water. Add
>   this oak-water to the wort.

>   to the final addition of boiling water just before straining out the
>   liquor. This would tend to have the effect of extracting tannins from
>   the hulls of the barley.

If the oak was added to imitate polyphenols from the barley (actually,
there are virtually no soluble polyphenols in the husks... virtually
all the polyphenols (tannins) are in the pericarp which is one of the
layers beneath the husk), the flavour is not going to be even close.
We are talking very different polyphenols and therefore very different

If the oak was added to imitate the effect of oak fermenters or casks,
this too is unlikely to be authentic.   Please see my website for a
short article I wrote on oak in beer:


Finally, I'm willing to bet that all beers made more than 200 years
ago had a significant amount of bacterial and Brettanomyces sourness.
For authenticity, I'd pitch the dregs from a bottle of unfiltered
Lambic (like Cantillon, Boon Marriage Parfait or Lindeman's Cuvee
Rene) for the Brettanomyces and lactobacillus that was most certainly
a part of any beer made more than 200 years ago.  Pitch it early in
the ferment for more character, late for less.  You can expect to
have a rather long, lingering fermentation when you add Brettanomyces
because it is pretty slow and because it will eat many carbohydrates
that Saccharomyces simply won't eat.  If yoy plan to bottle, a year
is not too long to wait for the Brett and lactos to finish their work.

I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm picking on you, Paul... I don't mean
to... I guess I'm still just a little miffed at the alleged "ancient
beer" made by Scottish and Newcastle in which they researched the grains
and spices and then simply pitched some standard S&N production yeast.
The people who did this "experiment" clearly don't understand the importance
of yeasts and bacteria in the flavour of beer.  Pitching a clean yeast
will result in beer that tastes more modern than ancient, regardless of
the efforts you go through in getting the grains and spices (or hops)

*Traditional* Lambics and some homebrewed Sahtis are the closest we can get
to ancient-tasting beers, in my opinion.


Al Korzonas, Palos Hills, IL
korz at xnet.com

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