hist-brewing: period sparging

Baden,Doug baden at oclc.org
Thu Apr 8 09:40:19 PDT 1999

Sparging is the step where one runs hot water through the mashed grains to
rinse the wonderful sugars out of them into the embryonic liquid called wort
for the little yeasties to eat.

There is no evidence of sparging before 1800.  First, the recipes themselves
do not specify sparging and they are fairly explicit.  Digby talks about
bottom mashing, but not sparging, and this was a major innovation that
changed the industry.  Platt, White, Thomas, Jefferson, and others were
explicit in how to make beer because they were doing the "how-to" manuals.
A lot of these books were "good housewives" manuals for their new brides to
make dinner and keep house by.  Gerevese Markham is an excellent example of
this, but there are many others, most available on microfilm.  Honestly,
nobody would want their wife to waste good beer or make a bad dinner!

A little plug about research here.  If you cannot find it in brewing books
from the 16 and 1700's, it was not done earlier.  Not always true in
cooking, but if you read these, most talk with a "My grandpappy did it, and
pappy taught me, and by gosh, that is the way it is done!" attitude that
makes for excellent continuity.  Experimenters were rare, most brewers being
happy to make a good beer and not wanting to tempt fate (expensive and gets
one fired).  Oh, and if grandpappy did it that way when grandson wrote
about, then that would be an interesting tidbit, would it not?

Also, there is a specialized piece of equipment needed for sparging in
larger quantities, and a cloth sleeve will not work.  The wort runs out the
sides and not through the husks, where it is filtered and picks up the
sugars we all love.  This piece of equipment was not present in designs
until the early 1800's in the brewing houses.

Look here for more details:
|  ISBN/PRICE: 1852851279 BX T00607; USD 55.00 R
|  PUB STATUS: Active Record
|      AUTHOR: Sambrook, Pamela A.
|       TITLE: Country House Brewing in England, 1500-1900
|     IMPRINT: Rio Grande :  : Hambledon Press, , March 1996
|    LANGUAGE: eng
|        LCCN: 95-045976
|PUB ORDER NO: Hambledon Press

Amazon.com or the Hambledon Press carries this book.  The bibliography is
excellent and the text is detailed giving research directions and hints of
what is very good to look into.


Doug Baden    My opinions are my own. 
When I see "And it is obvious that" I know that
I have many hours of work to see the obvious...

-----Original Message-----
From: Brokk [mailto:H940114 at stud.kol.su.se]
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 1999 10:58 AM
To: 'hist-brewing at pbm.com'
Subject: SV: hist-brewing: period sparging

I'm not assuming they did it just because i haven't found evidence of
the opposite....
Correct me if i'm wrong here but isn't sparging the step where you rinse
off your malt after mashing?
IMHO it's a simple enough step to omit from books, sure, the water
volume and grain size matters but to me it feels like a recipe for
peanut butter
& jelly sandwiches that has "open the jar" included.  Just take a sleeve
and tie a knot in one end, pour in the malt and pour some water over it.
Maybe it comes from being an analytical chemist (i'm used to rinse
things over and over) *shrug*
Anyhow I mostly make meads so I haven't given the whole thing much


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