hist-brewing: Medieval brewing assistance needed!

Wade Hutchison whutchis at bucknell.edu
Tue Dec 7 07:16:53 PST 1999

It seems fairly clear that if you're talking about up to (about) 14th century
English _Ale_ (gruited or not) there is no post-mash boil.  As some other
members of the list have commented, if you boil post-mash, whether or not
you add hops or gruit, your ale (or beer) will last an equivalent amount
of time to modern home-brew.  Written accounts _from period_ don't agree
with this, as they frequently refer to the very short periods of time in
which Ale must be sold.  The final evidence, as presented in the "Ale, Beer
and Brewsters" book, is the economics of brewing as enforced by the
Assize of Ale do not allow any profit if firewood is purchased to boil
the ale post-mash.  Now, that being said, I do believe that pre-14th
century there were some Ales being boiled.  This is mostly based on
looking at surviving brewhouses, or plans for them.  A typical home
Ale brewery had a single copper for heating the mash water, and a
(probably wooden) mash tun.  There are surviving examples in many monasteries
where there are fittings for two coppers.  I believe that this, along
with some references to the various strengths of ale that monks drank, or
shared with their guests, indicates that they could have boiled the ale after
the mash, while they were heating the water for a 2nd or 3rd running 'small'
or 'weak' ale.  Boiling the strongest brew would greatly increase its life
span.  Since the monks didn't drink the strongest brew daily, they would have
to store it for longer periods than the 'ordinary' or 'weak' ales that
were consumed every day.  Note that there is really no strong evidence for
this, and it is only some (slightly informed) conjecture on my part.

Now, for the Wars of the Roses crowd that started this whole thing, I think
you have several choices.  You could brew Ale (no hops, no post-mash boil),
or you could make a 'continental' beer, brewed with hops and boiled.  The
earliest 'recipe' that would work for the beer would be in Harrison's
"Description of England" (Based on the original text from Holinshed's
Chronicles, 1587 ed., and on a collation of Furnivall's ed.
of Harrison's Description of England in Shakspere's youth issued 1877-81.)
Where he describes the home production of Beer, only about 150 years after
your period.  The only tricky thing is to convert the measurements to
to pre-17th century standards.  I'm sure amoung your sources there is
something printed that has the gallon/bbl/hogshead equivalents for
mid-15th century.

Hope this helps,
         -----Gille MacDhnouill

At 11:54 PM 12/6/1999 , Jerry J Harder wrote:
>I would disagree on the not boiling Idea.  I've come across recipes
>suggesting not to boil but the source indicates that it ( not boiling) is
>clearly unconventional.
>Master Gerald Goodwine
>On Thu, 2 Dec 1999 18:10:30 -0600 "Sean Richens" <srichens at sprint.ca>
> >As Brokk said, Cindy Renfrow is the nexus for the best historical
> >brewing
> >info.  Look down the following link for two articles on mediaeval and
> >Elizabethan brewing.  When you find the one that tells you not to
> >boil,
> >you've got the right article:
> >
> >http://members.aol.com/renfrowcm/links.html
> >
> >By the way, the clarity of beers made with buckbean is not
> >exaggerated!
> >
> >Sean
> >
> >----------
> >> From: Sarah Wakely <sarwak at hotmail.com>
> >> To: hist-brewing at pbm.com
> >> Subject: hist-brewing: Medieval brewing assistance needed!
> >> Date: December 2, 1999 4:42
> >>
> >> To the knowledgeable members of this list...
> >> Help! I am a member of a UK war of the roses re-enactment group, and
> >I
> >> really need to find out some information about authentic medieval
> >ale
> >> brewing - in other words, how can I do it as our ancestors (circa
> >late
> >15th
> >> century) would have done? Does anyone know any good links that might
> >be
> >able
> >> to help me, or does anyone have any advice?
> >> Regards to you all,
> >> Sarah
> >>


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