Boiling honey or not(Re: hist-brewing: mead)

Nick Sasso njs at
Wed Sep 29 10:38:33 PDT 1999


Good to see you here.  How's the Elizabethan going?  I'm going to have another go at it in October.

Knits are fun to pick :o)  The issue of steel is one I intentionally shied to a little inaccuracy.   I know of the steel in medieval cultures and the it was Bessemer steel processing that I was referencing.  It was that technology that actually made steel an affordable and ubiquitous alloy for making such things as cookware.  Until then, making a brewpot or canister for beer out of steel (much less stainless of today) would have cost enough for body parts of several relatives, would it not?

I also chose my words carefully about dried yeast cultures.  We have lovely 'clean' packets of yeast to innoculate beer.  The ones I've bought recently have been infected at the factories far too often of late, but cleaner than the 'broom yeast'.  It is the modern culturing that I meant to emphasize.  We end up with varietal yeast strains by and large rather than the more conglomerates that would likely have been used for brewing before Pastuer.  

Your reference to the brooms is great, I am seeing some similar things in "Ale, Beer and Brewsters".  It's cultivated yeast, but not what I would consider a culture.  I'd love to make a beer with that stuff scraped off the broom, though. . . couldn't be any worse than some of my infected beers have been.

pacem et bonum (peace and all good,)

Nick Sasso

    Nick, I agree with your general point completely, but I have to pick nits
with two of your supporting factoids.

In a message dated 09/28/1999 3:43:03 PM EST, njs at writes:
<< dried yeast cultures are a late 19th century invention >>
    The broom over the door of a medieval tavern represented the other broom
inside which was used to collect, dry, and save skimmed yeast from the 
fermenter for use in the next batch.  It wasn't pure, and it wasn't sanitary, 
but I'll bet it was effective or our pragmatic ancestors wouldn't have been 
doing it.

 << until steel was invented in the 1800's >>
    Steel is an alloy of iron and small amounts of carbon.  Sir Henry 
Bessemer developed the first process for producing steel in large batches 
sometime after 1830, but its existence had been known empirically for 
centuries.  The Japanese were making folded and layered steel swords by the 
1200s, and the swordmakers of Damascus were earlier than that.
    The roots of our technologies of today reach far into the past, 
the efforts of generations of unsung geniuses.
    "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood upon the 
shoulders of giants."   -- Newton

    In joy and service,

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