hist-brewing: Devonshire White Ale (long)
glenn at raudins.com
Tue Dec 17 07:07:10 PST 2002
Back in May, Randy Mosher asked about a White Ale
from the Devonshire area:
> 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 thick, 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.
I am working on reprinting a book entitled "The Town &
Country Brewery Book" from England, circa 1830. (Should
be available early next year.) The book contains some
esoteric recipes like Edinburgh Oat Ale and ......
Devonshire White Ale! Below you find a passage on the
topic then a recipe. The passage discusses the eggs and
flour question. The recipe includes the "grout" and I
have added a reference for grout.
DEVONSHIRE WHITE ALE.
This liquor is brewed from pale malt, after
the best method known in the western parts of
this country; and as it is drank at Plymouth, in
particular, by the first people in the town, the
ale-wives, whose province this comes under to
manage from the beginning to the end, are most
of them as curious in the brewing of it, as the
dairy-maid in making her butter; for as it is a
white ale, it is soon sullied by dirt, and as easily
preserved in its frothy head; besides, their slut-
tishness hue would perhaps be more exposed
than in any other part of England; as in this
town there are few or no cellars, on account of
their stony foundation, which is all marble; their
repositories, therefore, being above ground, are
generally exposed to the view of their guests,
who may occasionally see this liquor fermenting
in a row of earthen steens, holding about two
or more gallons each; and though the wort
is brewed by the hostess, the fermentation is
brought on by the purchase of what they call
ripening, or a composition, as some say, of the
flour of malt mixed with the whites of eggs;
this, however, is a nostrum not generally known,
and for a great length of time was only in the
possession of a few master brewers, who sold it
out as yeast is now done, at so much for a
certain quantity; and at every time a fresh
brewing of this ale took place, a great ball or
lump of it was generally sufficient to work four
or five steens of wort, and convert it from a
very clear body into a thick fermenting one, near
the colour and consistence of buttered ale, and
then it was only fit to be used; for if it was let
alone to fine or stale, it was rejected as not
worthy of buying or drinking. Yet some, out of
curiosity, have kept it in bottles, racked it off
clear, and made of it flip and other very good
Now this white ale, thus fermented into a
gross body, becomes a sort of chyle, ready pre-
pared for digestion in the stomach, and yet so
liquid as to pass several of the secretory ducts
of the animal economy soon enough to give room
for fresh supplies of this pleasant tipple, even at
one common sitting; for though this drink is
not so thin and clear as the brown sorts, yet by its
new, lubricous, and slippery property, it is soon
discharged out of the stomach; and notwith-
standing such evacuations, it leaves a very nutri-
tious quality behind it in the body, that brings
it under a just reputation for consumptive la-
bouring people; it is recommended also as an
excellent drink for wet nurses, to increase and
nourish their milk.
Its strength also is so great, that it is equally
intoxicating as the common ales or beers; and
if any one think fit to make it stronger, as is
often done, it is only necessary to add half a pint
of sherry with a little loaf sugar and nutmeg;
and it will not only be stronger, but more plea-
sant to the taste.
The Devonshire white ale is recommended by
the west country physicians in colic and gravel;
and for its diuretic properties, and as possessing
generally medicinal virtues, far superior to any
other malt liquor.
Later on in the book, the author includes the
DEVONSHIRE WHITE ALE.
Pale ale wort, 25 gallons;
Hops, 2 handfuls;
Yeast, 3 pounds;
Groats, 6 or 8 pounds:
When the fermentation is at its height, bottle
in strong stone half pints, well corked and wired.
This ale effervesces when opened.
The Groats ingredient was a bit puzzling, and
people had guessed that maybe it was gruit. Last
night, in Arnold's Origin and History of Beer and
Brewing, I came across a passage where Arnold lists
a number of synonyms in other languages for gruit,
and there was "groat" for English!
Enjoy and have happy holidays,
Reprints of old brewing and distilling books.
More information about the hist-brewing