hist-brewing: measurments

Henry Davis henry at henry-davis.com
Wed Apr 5 20:55:19 PDT 2000

At 03:47 PM 4/5/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Search through the archives of this list for "Domesday"
>and you will find that there has been a lot of previous
>discussion about this recipe.

That's a fact! For those who were interested in my references for weight vs 
volume measure, there are several postings (or should still be) in the 

>After all the discussion and conversions what was
>eventually agreed upon by most people was that the
>ratio of barley:wheat:oats are virtually 1:1:4 and the
>recipes uses about 4 lbs of grain per gallon.

That's about what I recall. However there is a fairly large difference in 
volume vs weight of oats (and wheat I think). So you can have some largish 
swings in the grain bill. Still, the grain bills did change from year to 
year according to the harvest.

>For those who say that the malts are different,
>yes they probably are, but we have to start somewhere
>and getting the measurements close seems the right
>place to start (it was for me when I did this recipe).

So far as I can tell, earlier barley had a higher ratio of protein than 
current grain. My reason for saying this is that de Clerk makes the 
observation regarding protein content in his book on Brewing Science. This 
was for a fairly short period of time that he referenced. I don't have 
sources for protein ratios in earlier grains, and don't expect to find one.

>Floor malting methods have not changed much in
>centuries and I imagine an experienced maltster
>would have produced well modified consistent malts.

I agree. The exception being home maltsters who worked in smaller batches.

>The biggest differences in malts probably come from
>the modern kilning methods.
>Remember that the malts from this period would not
>have been intentionally darkened in kilning.  In
>fact I have only seen one period recipe that speaks
>of intentionally darkened malts (If other people have
>primary references indicating the use of dark malts
>please share them).  The one reference I have seen calls
>for a handful of malts to be roasted in an iron pot.

Mind sharing the reference? I haven't found any yet, although there are 
assorted references advising housewifes to watch the malt closely and not 
build too big of a fire in the kiln (oven).

>   If you consider that this was a
>common practice then the redaction of the Domesday
>reference into a real recipe can be interpreted a
>countless number of ways.

For this reason I believe that using volume measure isn't a big impact on 
the outcome.

>  Doubtless the monks didn't
>use all of this grain at once so there where many
>batches of ale made over a good length of time.  I think
>it is possible and perhaps even likely that the grain
>bill changed slightly from brew to brew and the ratio
>of barley:wheat:oats changed.

Undoubtedly. Other factors that play a bigger role than the grain bill (I 
think) are water composition and yeast strains. We can recreate the former 
assuming little or no change in the water composition compared to present 
day. OTOH, the receipt doesn't include where the water came from. I don't 
know how to deal with the yeast types.


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