hist-brewing: Re: Domesday ale feedback

Jeff Renner JeffRenner at mediaone.net
Wed Jan 30 13:18:33 PST 2002

Argyle <argyle at excite.com> wrote:

>22 lbs. for 3 gallons? Yowza! Not your everyday brew by a *long* shot!

I seemed to have hit the mark historically.  Of course, my starting 
point for the whole project was this quote:

"The monks of St Paul's Cathedral brewed 67,814 gallons of ale using 175
quarters of barley, 175 quarters of wheat and 708 quarters of oats."

I thought this was from the original Domesday Book (1086), but Paul 
Robertshaw wrote:

>I think the source for this "recipe" is:
>The Domesday of St. Paul's of the Year M.CC.XX.II
>by William Hale Hale [sic]:

We did a bit of interpretation here on the list to interpret how much 
malt that would be and came up with 22 lbs. per 3 US gallons (10 
kg/11 liters).

In November, 1998, Paul Placeway wrote this about the amount of malt I used:

>22 lbs of grain for 3 gallons of ale is really
>close to the same amount of grain for the Clare household ale (about
>24 lbs. for 3 gallons, but 3/4 barley + 1/4 oats).

Argyle continued:

>And about that belief that "period malt was dark" - don't think so. 
>There is ample evidence in malting directions over the years about 
>keeping the malt drying fire low to avoid both smoking and scorching 
>the malt. From what I have found, period malt was *intended* to be 
>pale, although it was not necessarily perfectly so. Any darkness 
>tended to be regarded as a flaw which could be compensated for, 
>rather than a desired goal. This changed over time, of course, but 
>our love of dark beer is a *relatively* new thing, from what I have 

I think there is good evidence that ales were dark.  Here's what I 
wrote Feb. 13, 1998 here in the discussion leading up to my brewing 
the ale in response to a similar question:

>Harrison's 16th-century "Description of England" mentioned that light
>malts were preferred to dark ones.  I would say that malts may have been
>more uneven, but not necessarily uniformly darker than modern malts.

While pale malt may well have been preferred, I believe that other than
wind malt, even a pale malt was likely to be somewhat more highly colored
than modern pale malt, and brown malt was likely by far the most common.
It's my understanding that the "new" pale ale of several centuries ago was
pale only in contrast to older brown ale.  Brown ale was esteemed because
it was an indication of strength, "the Beste and Brouneste that the
Brewsters sullen..." (Piers Plowman, 14th Century).  So I will include some
dark malt.

Second and third runnings would have been increasingly paler due to their
being weaker.  Small beer was likely rather astringent (from extraction of
tannins and other phenols) as well as weak, and would have had very poor
keeping qualities as well.  It was apparently disdained ("I will make it
felony to drink small beer...when I am king, as king I will be -- " says
Dick in Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part Two.)


Thanks for the encouragement on the possible improvement of the ale 
with more age.

Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, JeffRenner at mediaone.net
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943

More information about the hist-brewing mailing list