hist-brewing: Gruit and unhopped ales

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Tue May 16 14:01:44 PDT 2000

    My second recipe is for one of  Matti Sorenson's Gottland Drinkas.
I am unsure as to the actual vintage of this recipe.  I have seen the
original recipe hand written on three separate sheets of  some very aged
material  i believe to be parchment. Sorenson's family has been using
this recipe for a great number of generations and assures me that
Gottland Drinka is one of  the oldest styles of  ale known to Northern
Europe.   I will use the same descriptive method for this recipe as i
did for the previous recipe.

Sorenson Family Drinka (five gallons)

Grain Bill:

amber malt, smoked: 8 pounds
pale malt, smoked: 8 pounds
flaked malt: 2 pounds
flaked rye:1 pound
wheat, unmalted, 1 pound


honey, unspecified but not clover,  2 pounds


Bog bean or Carduus to taste
bog myrtle:  roughly 1 tablespoon


juniper branches


    Place a bunch of short juniper branches with berries along with 15
liters of  water into a kettle and  boil for one hour.  Draw off the
water and set the branches aside to dry in the sun.   Use the Sorenson
Mash technique described in my April 22ed. posting with one exception.
When it comes time to mash out raise the juniper flavored water to a
boil and place it  in the mash/lautun.  Place half  of  the bog myrtle
in the brew pot.  Next,  draw off the wort as described in the Sorenson
method of my April 22ed. posting.
    Place the now dried juniper branches back into your brew kettle
along with the sweet wort and bring to a boil. While waiting for the
wort to come to a boil make a bog bean or Carduus extract following the
procedure described in pages 142 & 144 of Clive La Pensee's "The
Historical Companion to House Brewing" .   One can also use purchased
bog bean and carduus extracts for providing a bittering element to this
ale with good results.
    Once, the wort comes to a boil place the extract mentioned earlier
into your  brew pot.  One can adjust the bitterness during the course of
the hour long boil by following La Pensee's method.  After the wort has
boiled for 40 minutes place the remaining bog myrtle into the brew to
be.  During the last five minutes of the boil add one pound of  honey.
    Once the wort has cooled transfer it too a cask and pitch three
quarts of  yeast slurry.  Wait one day before drooping to a second cask
with the second pound of  honey poured directly into the new cask
first.  After visible signs of fermentation have ended transfer the ale
into an earthen ware milk churn.  One should place a sugar cube into the
churn each day for the next three weeks.
    After three weeks the ale is primed with one cup of  honey per five
gallons of ale.  The ale should be allowed to condition for no less then
2 months, preferably three.

Additional Production Notes

    With regards to the grain bill i should state right away that i
don't know the malting specifications for amber malt.  Matti floor malts
his own barley in an old fashioned manner and  i am not sure if  a
modern commercial equivalent exists. Amber malt appears and tastes like
a much more mild form of  modern brown malt.  The original recipe, as
found on the parchment, differs from the one above in that it calls for
12 pounds amber and  4 brown malt.  If  one is interested in making a
historically more accurate version of this recipe i'd  suggest adjusting
the grain bill accordingly.
    The malt used in this ale is smoked on an outdoors clay oven that
resembles an old American smoker in construction and operation.  The
method for smoking is as follows: the grain is placed into a large pot,
covered with water and allowed to soak for a few minutes.  The whet
grain is then scooped out and placed in thin layers upon wooden sheets
with a great number of very tiny holes drilled throughout the bottom.
These sheets are then placed into the smoker and left  for 20 minutes or
so once the hard wood fire has died down.    One should flip the malt
two, perhaps three times while it smokes with a spatula.
    I have been able to smoke my own barley using modern equipment as
described in various contemporary books and magazines with good
results.  If anyone wants specific references just let me know.
    Although this ale is supposed to be made a wooden combination
mash/lautun  called a rostbunn i have had fine results with a
conventional home brewing setup.  If any one wants the additional
historical accuracy of  building their own rostbunn contact me and i'll
tell you how to build and use one.
    One does not need a cask to make this ale.  I have used carboys in
conjunction with oak chips with fine results.  I'd suggest 3-4 ounces of
oak chips be used during each phase of fermentation.
    Lastly, this is a high gravity recipe and as such you must following
the pitching guidelines in order to have a well attenuated product.
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