hist-brewing: Welsh Strong Ale (unhopped)

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Fri Oct 20 16:04:20 PDT 2000


    I have noted that a great many of the readers on this list are quite
keen on Celtic ales in general and Scottish in particular.  At their
request i have been rummaging about in my research material that has yet
to turn up any thing particularly old and Scottish but i have found a
fine Welsh ale that i copied a few couple of years ago out of Roy
Suggsden's "The Curious &  Quaint Ales of  Our Forefathers" (1912) pages
21-23.  Suggsden states that a similar ale was still popular in Caerwys
just a generation prior to book's publication and he say that it came
into popularity in 1578  when it was first made as a celebratory drink
consumed on Nos Galan but apparently became more frequently available as
time when on.  Unfortunately, Suggsden  only mentions support for date
of origin in the form of comments to that effect made by an elderly
local brewer William Madoc from which came the recipe apparently came.
    I do understand that rather vaguely similar ale also existed in
Scotland and is in production to day by Scottish specialty brewer
although i have yet to try it.  I have made the ale 3 times and i must
say that it is fantastic, if you are interested in historical brewing or
just like strong ales you owe it to your self to whip up a batch.
    Oh, the quantities are mentioned in imperial measures as i have not
had the time to transfer them in to American terms.

                                              Nos Galan Ale (one Firkin)

Grist Bill:

 "dark malt" (i assume brown or blackened): 8 quarts
"bright malt"( i assume pale but i am not sure): 8 quarts
oats (unspecified type, i assume unprocessed): 8 quarts

Sugars:

2 quarts of cream

Wood:  thinnest possible fir shavings ("a halt foot long or so and half
as
much a cross")

Gruit:

Meadow sweet: 1 pound
ground ivy: 1/4 pound
Mugwort: 1/8 pound ( i presume a  18th. or 19th. century addition)
woodruff: 1/8 pound
wood sage: 1/4 pound
Spanish juice: 1/8 pound (i assume licorice)
Pearl or Iceland Moss: 4 spoonfuls (i think that this is a fining agent
like Irish moss)
lavender: 3 spoonfuls

Production:

    The original mashing regimen was according to Suggsden "the most
incomprehensible bother known to ale making in the land"  and precedes
to provides a  simplified, but still unusual mash method which he says
works well.  He states that:
    "you take one third of the malt and combine it with the oats and
combine it with 6 gallons water heated till the steam starts to rise for
from it. Which I measured this to be about 55 C.  After half an hour so
one draws off a gallon, boils it and adds it back to the mash before
waiting another half an hour.
    Next boil four gallons of water along with the fir for half an hour
and add the spiced water to the mash along with the remainder of the
malt and half of the ground ivy.  After an hour passes 10 quarts of
boiled water are added and let set for three fourths an hour. Lastly,
one draws off 2 gallons from the mash and combines it with a gallon of
water and boils the mixture prior to adding it back into the mash and
allowing it to set for an hour and a half."
    The liquid is then drawn off and set aside while the mash " is
reworked with fir spiced water."  The two worts are then combined and
"boiled along all the spices and cream  save the Spanish juice, mugwort,
lavender  and pearl and boiled for no less then an hour and a half. As
the wort cools add the Spanish juice, lavender and pearl."
    Once the wort cools you are to "drop the liqueur into a cask
containing the fresh residue of  a suitably strong ale and allow it to
work for a week before adding an additional 2 quarts of fresh ale balm
or yeast.  After the ale stops working add the mugwort to the ale in a
muslin sack and let it set for a week prior to being bottled or served."


------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When i make this ale i usually heat it with a poker prior to serving
it as the carmelization does seem to add something to flavor profile.


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