hist-brewing: Welsh fruited table ale

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Thu Jul 20 19:08:39 PDT 2000

    R.K. Sykes'   "Instructions For  Thrifty Ale Wives" (1797)  fifth
recipe is provided instead of  the planned Fresian strawberry ale as a
result of illness afflicting the translator Christgan Paftler.  I picked
it because its a nice summer ale for readers from more balmy climes then
mine. My next installment will discus how to make this recipe given the
vagueness found at points in accordance with Donnsby's recommendations.
    This recipe was, according to Sykes, conceived during the reign of
Richard II in Caernarvonshire where it apparently served during Sykes'
time in local roadhouses.  As is the case with a great many old recipes
copied during latter yet still distant eras verification of the
originating recipe is dodgy at best.  It certainly has all of the
elements common to what little i know Welsh recipes of the time in
question but i certainly can't verify it.
    Oh, measurements are in imperial units throughout.  By the way, a
gill is equal to a four ounces.  As always,  a *  signifies that the
reader should consult the relevant note found further on.

1 firkin
(9 gallons)

Grist Bill:

malt, "fyne" -  12 pounds
malt, amber - 8 pounds
oats, type unspecified - 4 pounds
beans, unspecified type - 4 pounds


fir, rind, 1/ 2 pounds
fir, tops, 1/2 pounds


Cream - 2 quarts


one gill of of  each of the following:
elder berries
and two gills of  Alecost*


pears, ripe, cut & crushed: a pin's worth ( i assume 4 1/2 gallons)


"Boil your brew water along with the fir rind for a goodly amount of
time so as to draw the goodness out"


    "Combine the oats with an equal portion of  malt and a bucket of
nearly twice boiled boiled water.  Allow the gruel like mix to work as
per the art for two hours.
Into a larger ale tub place the remainder of  the grist, the hot gruel,
beans, half a gill of alecost and elderberries as well as  two buckets
of  the wooded water boiled a second time.   Allow the new mix to work
for a couple of  hours.  Boil the remaining wooded water once again and
pour it into the tub so as to stop the work.
    Draw off the sweet liqueur into the brew pot on top of the fir tops
as slowly as possible.  Keep a reserve of  the sweet liqueur generous
enough to allow one to gyle wort the cask in bottles kept in a cool
cellar. "


 "Boil the sweet liqueur vigorously for two hours along with the
remainder of  the spices and cream before drawing it off into a
coolship.    Once the liqueur is cool place it into a kilderkin ( an 18
gallon cask i reckon) along with a goodly amount of  "country creamed
ale balm" (this reference escapes me) and the peaches."


   " let the ale work till it becomes still and rack to a smaller cask.
After a month taste the ale and if it be overly sweet add a bit of
bitter alecost tea and wait another month."



  *  Alecost (chrysanthemum balsamita) is a great bitting agent and
preservative that i have yet to find a commercial supplier for.   I
would recomend that when following this recipe that you substitute the
Alecost with Alehoof/ground ivy which one can get for five dollars per
pound in the states with little bother.
   * When i made it i was unable to locate a source for avens which i
substituted an equal amount of Linden flowers for.  Also, when i made it
i did not know what marshmallow was so i didn't use it either.  The
orginal recipe called for the use of eyebright which Sykes dismissed as
"harsh and fouling to both ale and drinker" and left it out accordingly.

   * I have made this ale using cream as recomended for the first time
with great results after a six week wait.  Off hand i don't know how to
substitute the proper amound of lactose for the recomended amounts of
cream so the more chemically minded memebers of the readership should
consider this as i doubt that urban folks could get fresh cream easily.
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