hist-brewing: British White Ale

PBLoomis at aol.com PBLoomis at aol.com
Mon May 13 12:19:20 PDT 2002

In a message dated 5/13/02 10:28:33 AM Central Daylight Time, 
rmosher at 21stcentury.net writes:

> I'm trying to track down any information on a white beer brewed in SW
>  England up until 1850 or so. It was generally described as cloudy and 
>  had egg (white?) and flour in it (not that uncommon in those days), some
>  kind of seasoning called "grout." The name "lober agol" or "loberagol" was
>  applied to it. Apparently a rustic country survivor of earlier days, it was
>  last reported in Southern Devonshire, Plymouth and Cornwall.
>  A search of the whole internet turned up approximately zero. Anybody got
>  anything? Especially a clue on the specific spices? I'd love to get this 
>  going.
    I'd be willing to bet this is a Gruit Ale.  Gruit is any of a group of 
used to flavor ale during the Middle Ages.  Hops replaced gruit in Germany 
sometime before 1172 AD, and seem to have spread westward from there, 
but gruit continued to dominate in England until about 1500.
    The cloudiness is probably due to malted oats as a significant part of 
the grain bill.  Malted oats were standard in medieval and Renaissance 
brewing; I have not yet seen a recipe which does not use them.  Nevertheless, 
they are difficult to find today.  I only know one malt house, J.D.Fawcett & 
Sons in England, that produces them, and one vendor in North America, 
North Country Malt Supply, PO Box 665, Rouses Point, NY 12979 (518 / 
297-2604), which imports them.  They only sell them in 55lbs bags.
    Here's my favorite (so far) recipe for 5-gallons gruit ale:

7 lbs.      pale malted 2-row barley
3 lbs.      malted oats
1 oz        dried alehoof  (boil for 60 minutes)
1/2 oz      dried yarrow (boil for last 5 minutes)
Wyeast liquid   Thames Valley yeast

    This is a wonderful cool summer ale, and took a Masterwork at the 
Inter-Kingdom Brewing Contest at Pennsic XXX in 2001.
    Knowledge is never wasted, nor is the time to acquire it.

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