hist-brewing: Period Questions

Scott Mills smills at verinet.com
Thu Jan 21 15:17:26 PST 1999

I know many other people have already responded to the post  but I did have
a few comments.

1.  Almost always single stage brewing.  In fact I have ready many accounts
that indicate that almost all wines and beers were consumed fairly young and
hardly aged at all.  Until glass bottles with corks became readily available
it was just too hard to keep the stuff from going bad.

2.   It seems that wooden vessels where used almost exclusively for the
larger batches.  For beer at least these where often large open-topped
vessels.  There are still small craft breweries that have open-topped
fermenters.  Perhaps, ceramics where used for smaller batches but it would
be hard to find a kiln to fire large fermentation vessels.  Wooden vessels
on the other hand can be made quite large.

Wooden vessels are still used today in at least one large, world class
brewery.  Marston's in Burton-on-Trent still uses large wooden casks
interconnected via the Burton-Union system and I have some Marston's
literature here that shows large wooden mash vessels.   you can find
information about Marston's at  http://www.breworld.com/marstons/.  Also, I
have been told that is was only recently that The Pilsner Urquell Brewery
got rid of all of its wooden fermenters.  You can still find some small
wineries today that may do small "Barrel Fermented" batches.

However, I have wondered if there where not perhaps some period brewers that
had large masonry/pottery/ceramic vessels, particularly in late period.  I
very good friend took a trip of breweries in the former Soviet Union with
Charlie Papazian and a group of other professional brewers as part of the
Goodwill Ambassadors program.  At some of these breweries they were shocked
to find large concrete fermentation vessels.  The local brewers knew that
this was not ideal since it is hard or impossible to stearalize but not
overly concerned since brewers had used such fermenters for centuries.  It
seems possible that perhaps large masonry/pottery/ceramic fermenters could
have been used in period but I have no direct evidence of this.

3.  By and large I dont think that there was any extra sugar or tannins
added to most wine.

4.  Amphorae where teardrop shaped vessels usually two handled that where
used throughout the Mediterranean regions and later the Roman Empire.  The
word "amphora" is actually of greek origin.  Amphora were used to hold and
transport almost anything including goods such as  wine, oil, fish, fruit,
and grain by cultures such as the Syrians, Egyptians, Greek, and Romans.  On
more than one occasion I have wondered at similar the shape of an amphora is
to a modern cylindro-conical fermenter

Take a look at the following web pages.

The AMPHORAS Project

Roman Amphoras in Britain

The amphorae from the Taberna in Via Ripa
has some good photos

Pottery Found in Lebanon
http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Louvre/6039/index.html  also has some good

Just before the holidays the local Sams club warehouse was selling cherry
vinegar in small clear glass amphoras with an iron stand.  I bought a couple
because I thought it would be neat to put some mead up in these for entry in
period brewing competitions.

When you finish your research please post any papers that you have prepared
for your class to this list.

Have Fun,

Ld Eadric Anstapa
mka Scott Mills

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