hist-brewing: brewers and sanitation

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Mon Jul 12 12:32:46 PDT 1999

Mel writes (quoting me):

>>and more reliable ferment in the second batch.  We now know that they
>>were pitching yeast, but they didn't know that back then.  In a video
>>called "The Brewers of Helston" they show a small brewpub called the
>>Blue Anchor in England.  In this video, they show the brewmaster taking
>>a bucket out of the refrigerator and scooping out a few cups of yeast.
>>Okay, besides not being sanitary, this also has other implications to
>>our current discussion.
>They also dried the yeast on a branch & put it up to indicate a pub then
>dipped the branch in to restart the next batch & so on.
>Why do you say unsanitary ? As beers & other alcohlic drinks were used in=
>alot of cases as MORE sanitary than pure water as the alcohol kills off t=
>nasties the logic seem wrong to me, I cannot see anything unsatitary abou=
>it ? I'm probably being dense or something.
>And most of the pubs brewing their own here probably still do the same !

In the grand scheme of things and in the context of Historical Brewing,
it is perfectly fine and dandy.  However, storing yeast in a galvanised steel
bucket with no lid in the fridge next to the milk and taking a cup off
the shelf with which to scoop out the yeast is unsanitary in terms of
modern brewing technique.  The brewpubs around here (US) and *most* of
the ones I've been to in the UK practice far more modern yeast handling
tecniques... storing the yeast in sanitised containers with lids, etc.
The bigger ones even have full labs with microscopes, plating out the
yeast, checking for mutations, doing bacterial counts with media like
HLP, etc.

I've mentioned this before... if you are trying to imitate historical
beers, you had better include some lactic bacteria in there, because
I'll bet anything that all beers from 300+ years ago had a noticeable
lactic character.  Traditional Lambics (like Cantillon, Boon, Cuvee Rene)
probably taste like most beers did 300+ years ago.  They just didn't
know enough about sanitation and the role of bacteria to make lactic
acid-free beers.  Two other beers to try are Rodenbach Grand Cru and
Celis White which also have a lactic component.


Al Korzonas, Lockport, IL
korz at brewinfo.org

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