hist-brewing: spontaneous ferment mead

Henry Davis henry at henry-davis.com
Wed Jan 17 06:31:39 PST 2001

At 08:42 PM 1/16/01 -0500, you wrote:

>     Interesting.
>     I knew about collecting the ale yeast on a broom and drying it for
>re-use.  And putting the broom out over the door while drying to show
>you had fresh ale for sale.  But I never heard of using a plain wooden

Using a yeast stick is a long standing tradition in many Scandinavian 
countries. I have read of the stick being made of birch, fir, juniper and I 
think ash but I don't specifically recall ash as a species. The stick 
wasn't exactly smooth. In many cases the reports are of a stick similar to 
a "feather stick" made to start fires. The stick was  carved on the sides 
so that curls of wood stuck up from the main portion of the stick.

Other accounts describe carvings to the gods etc on the sides of the stick.

Yeast sticks are still used in parts of Scandinavia by traditional brewers 
(Finland for sure) to make Sahti. There is a book titled "Small Scale 
Brewing" that discusses the making of Sahti and the brewing tradition. My 
copy is packed away but the author was on the historic brewing mail list a 
few years ago.

While I haven't found any specific references to the use of the broom to 
inoculate the wort, there are references to using the zoigle to teach the 
wort. Incidentally, the display of a broom was by no means universal even 
in England. The practice included posting a plain pole outside when brewing 
was underway, and topping the pole with a fir branch or branch of another 
tree when the ale was ready to drink.


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