hist-brewing: Medieval brewing

Donald Beistle dbeistle at arches.uga.edu
Thu Dec 9 08:13:34 PST 1999

Sarah, et al.:

If rural Scandinavian brewing practice as it survived into the middle part
of this century really is the honest reflection of archaic brewing
tradition that it seems to be, then medieval brewers preserved their
yeasts either by straining the dregs from the fermenting tun through a
linen or horsehair strainer or by collecting actively working yeast on a
stick or whisk dipped into the fermenting wort at the peak of
fermentation. In either case, the yeast then was hung to dry in the
rafters or other dry, temperate, and draft-free location.

There's much more to this, of course, but I'm short of time. As I've
mentioned before, Odd Nordland's "Brewing and Beer Traditions in Norway"
(Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1969) is an indispensible resource. Chap. 18
(pp. 237-62) is devoted to yeast management.

By the way, participants in the recent boil/no-boil debate might want to
take a look at chap. 15 (pp. 173-94), which describes in detail eight
distinct methods of wort preparation, ranging from "both mash and wort
boiled" to "neither mash nor wort boiled." The incredible variety of
ingredients and means of production documented in this book should make
anyone think twice before insisting that all brewers used this spice or
that method prior to the 19th century.

There's also a nice article on the brewing of "Gotlandsdrikka" out there
somewhere, but I can't locate my notes on this. John, do you have the
reference in that bibliography I sent you?

Waes hael,

Donald Beistle
Athens, Georgia

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