hist-brewing: Re: Dorchester Ale

JazzboBob at aol.com JazzboBob at aol.com
Fri Dec 1 22:32:19 PST 2000

As excerpted from Brewing Quality Beers by Byron Burch.
"With 1 pound of the following ingredients per US gallon of water, you may 
reasonably expect the following specific gravities.  Grain yields, however,  
will be quite variable, depending on the efficiency of your grinding, 
mashing, and sparging systems.
Malt Syrup    1.036
Dry Malt Extract  1.045
Pale Malt       1.030
Crystal/Caramel Malt  1.020 "
He also lists 10 other grain and sugar types.

I have found these averages to be similar to the results of my brewing 
conversions and yields. Crystal Malt will definitely add fermentable sugars 
to your mash yield. 
It just doesn't have as much yield as Pale Malt and I calculate this into my 
recipe results.  I have made several all grain Barley Wines with a small 
amount of Crystal Malt in a 45 pounds of grain mash and yielded OG in the 
range of 120 to 130.  This is much higher then the OG 90 that happened when 
making the Dorchester Ale recipe.  My math indicates what I should get from 
15# pale malt (15 x 30points = 450) and 20# crystal (20 x 20 points= 400).  
This would indicate I got less then 100 points from my 10 pounds of homemade 
brown malt.  Total of 900 points in my yield for the batch.

The process for producing Crystal Malt seemed to be developed in the 1840 - 
1850 period.  The middle range of Crystal Malt has a coloring power similar 
to brown malt.  Whereas modern brown malts have no residual diastatic 
properties and therefore cannot be made the major part of a grist, crystal 
malt is pre-mashed and does not have that limitation.  Harrison says that the 
flavor of crystal malt is similar though not identical to that of brown malt 
and has found it useful to replace part of the brown malt in some old beer 
grists with crystal malt to enable a satisfactory extract to be obtained.  
The 1800 Dorchester Ale was originally made with two parts amber and one part 
brown malt (rapidly cured over a hardwood fire).  His modern recipe is an 
adaptation that is designed to make a close approximation to the original 
beer with materials currently available.
Please do not misunderstand his intentions and research or my writings!  John 
Harrison's book is full of many recipes that are direct quotes from old 
brewing archives and ledgers.  There are a couple of beers that John has 
taken a hand at modernizing the recipe ingredients in an attempt to allow a 
modern day brewer recreate a beer that meets a historic description and 
guideline.  He is very clear in stating that these couple of beers are not 
authentic, but that they are quite good tasting and result in flavors that 
meet the old style guidelines of black, strong, and bitter.

I was very interested to see what a beer produced from such an extreme amount 
of crystal malt would be like.  The Dorchester Ale is quite a remarkable beer 
and the effects of all that crystal is probably not at all what you would 
imagine.  It is not sweet and cloying.  Attempting to describe this beer is 
quite limiting and impractical for me.  I happen to like it enough to have 
brewed it three times over the past ten years.  It's enjoyed by everyone else 
that has tried it and they ask for more of it even though my guests have a 
choice of quite a few other award winning ales made by me. 
I still feel that the modern day brewing recipe adaptation shows that a very 
dark ale resulted from the use of brown malt.  I did not use any black malt 
in this Dorchester Ale, yet it is as black in color as Guinness Stout. 
  My personal contention is that the introduction of black patent malt after 
1817 allowed 19th Century brewers to reformulate their Porter recipes to 
substitute smaller amounts of the black malts for larger quantaties of brown 
malt while attempting to maintain some of the dark color and roasted flavors 
of the brown malt.  I do not know the economic costs of this. Obviously, they 
also would have saved volume in the mash tuns by using some black roasted 
grains.  The extraction rates of historical brown malt will never accurately 
be known but they must have contained enzymes and the ability to convert from 
the way they were used in old grists. It is the taste profile that matters to 
me.  I'd love to be able to make a big roaring hardwood fire and make some 
historically accurate Brown Malt.
Bob Grossman

In a message dated 11/30/00 7:35:18 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
owner-hist-brewing-digest at rt.com writes:

<< For you 1800 Dorchester Ale you list as you grains, 15# pale, 20# crystal, 
 and 10# Brown malt.  Do you really mean crystal, or is there some historic =
 version of crystal that is different than modern.  Modern crystal will add =
 minimal gravity, and at almost half the grist, I would imaging it would =
 not appeal to many peoples tastes, I know at least not mine, I usually =
 cant stand over 10% crystal.  And, using those grains, if you really do =
 mean modern crystal, I get an expected OG of about 1.090, consistent with =
 your results, if I assume that brown malt will have the same conversion =
 and pale.  This would indicate you got full conversion from your brown =

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