hist-brewing: flat beer

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Sat Feb 24 07:40:32 PST 2001

Dan Butler-Ehle wrote:

>adam larsen <euphonic at flash.net> writes:
>>However, a
>>great many ales made prior to the industrial revolution were served
>>"live", directly out of the primary fermenter and were consumed flat.
>Even if it is served by dipping it right out of an open fermenter, it is not
>*necessarily* flat (perhaps "very nearly flat", though).  Unroused,
>fresh, live beer can hold dissolved CO2 much in excess of equillibrium
>concentration.  Maybe a quarter to a half volume even.  Or maybe none.
>For some beers, "fermented to completion" means "stale".

I had meant to comment on this, too.  I'm sure that I read somewhere 
that cellar temperature beer would hold one volume of C02 at 
atmospheric pressure, but I can't find that now.  I do think that one 
volume is closer to what I want in a real ale, not the close to two 
volumes (if possible) that Al Korzonas (brewinfo) suggested.  I think 
two volumes would be hard to handle coming through a beer engine 
(hand pump).  I'd think it might foam uncontrollably.  Maybe not.

Regarding someone's (sorry) earlier suggestion that a foil wine bag 
be used for real ale.  I'd be afraid that such a bag could not 
withstand even the little pressure generated by conditioning.  A 
British friend of mine keeps his real ale in 20 liter think 
polyethylene cubes that someone suggested, and they bulge out to 
nearly a sphere.  As the late Dave Line pointed out in his _Big Book 
of Brewing_, that means you have to regularly tap it to relieve the 
pressure.  Terrible chore.

BTW, anyone who is not familiar with Line's 1974 classic (I found it 
in 1979 or 1980), might seek it out.  It is still in print and a fine 
introduction to mashing, though a bit dated (most particularly in its 
suggestion of the addition of saccharine).  It now qualifies as a 
historic brewing resource!  It was a godsend to those of us wandering 
in the (brewing) wilderness 20+ years ago.  I had of heard of mashing 
before, and had even tried it, but what a wonderful resource and eye 
opener it was.  Tragically, Dave was struck down by cancer before he 
was forty.  I've always wondered if it was from fermenting in 
non-food grade "dustbins."  How I wish he could have see the homebrew 
revolution explode.

So tip a glass to St. Dave, patron saint of homebrewing.

Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943

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