hist-brewing: Hvalba ale

Rókur Tummasarson rokur at imr.fo
Fri Jul 1 06:06:00 PDT 2005


I would like to get in contact with the person who wrote the piece about Hvalba ale.


R. Tummasarson

Subject: hist-brewing: Hvalba Ale & Mumm's Ale historical bits
>     Additional requests for local ales encouraged me to send in this
> post because it ties in well with some previous inquiries regarding
> Mumm's ale.  Many thanks are due to Eddi Schesel of Augsberg for his
> partial translation of K.W Pepy's "The Forgotten History of Ale" (1888)
> and Dana Gundersen of the Sandvik Historical Society for help in digging
> up all this stuff.
>     Hvalba ale is named after the Hvalba coal mines on the isle of
> Suduroy and was popular in the isle's largest community of Sandvik  as
> well as smaller villages in the area.  According to oral tradition the
> ale was well liked by the famous 10th century martyred chieftain
> Sigmundur Bretisson although i suspect that such a notion is more whimsy
> then fact.
>     In terms of real history the ale was known to have been made as
> early as the late 1400's via shipping manifests which listed Hvalba malt
> in terms of  a certain number of sacks, each apparently being roughly 36
> kilograms to  40 kilograms each, being suitable for a given number of
> barrels which were roughly 28 gallons each.  The last mention i can find
> mention of shipments of  Hvabla malt was from 1789.  A further source of
> information comes from a contemporary English merchant named Arthur
> Denby of  who died in Sandvik in 1497 but whose birth date is not listed
> in church records.   His rather fragmentary logs and surviving shipping
> manifests indicate he purchased 30 barrels for import to Stromness and
> Kirkwall in 1391.
>     While we don't know what kinds of gruit was used at the time we can
> say with certainty that myrica gale, fir, century, wood sage, avens,
> ground ivy and linden comprised the gruit during the mid 1500's when the
> Henderdal family roadhouse near Hvalba used to brew it. It also seems
> that some form of sweet syrup was added long with sloes.
>     While there doesn't  seem to be any surviving indication of
> particulars relating to how it was made we do know the composition of
> malt.  According to Ms. Gundersen, Trade Monopoly records of  the late
> 1600's and  early 1700's  indicate that the malt consisted of  equal
> parts "bracked" or "smoke" malt, "white" malt, oats, and wheat.   I
> would hazard a guess that "smoke/bracked" would refer to a dark, overly
> modified malt perhaps browned in a skillet or pot.  I assume that "white
> malt" means a light malt of particularly good quality.  No mention is
> made as to weather the wheat and oats are malted but i would assume so.
>     Finally, from the historical display at the old Henderdal roadhouse
> we know that three sacks of malt were used per barrel of Hvalba ale
> which was used locally.  Four sacks of malt were required for export
> along with two eggs and an additional three bundles of fir shavings.
>     What is interesting about this is that the Braunschweig  variation
> of Mumm's ale supposedly made by the famous brewer Christoph Mumme
> starting in 1492 used exactly the same grist composition as mentioned
> earlier.  According to K.W. Pepy's aforementioned work the amount of
> grist used per barrel was also startlingly similar.  However, the
> qualifier must be added that i have no idea as to what the capacity of a
> Braunschweig barrel was at the time.  Of  further interest is that the
> same source indicates a similar gruit with the exceptions of the absence
> of  the sweet gale and the addition of bentony and burnet.
>     Interesting questions arise from thinking about these bits of
> information in total.  As an example, one can't help but to wonder the
> extent to which trade in terms of both brewing ideas and actual product
> happen between Denmark and her territories, England and Germany during
> the period in question.  I for one wonder weather the the terms brak,
> brack'd, smoke, smokish as well as white and fyne are in fact as similar
> as i suspect.  The fact that trade of this ale did exist to some extent
> combined with the apparent similarities makes me wonder who bought
> imports and whom was influenced by whom.  Also, i wonder if weather the
> oats and wheat used were malted.   Finally, it would be an interesting
> mental exercise to try and determine how these variations were actually
> made.  I have some thoughts on this matter and would be interested in
> hearing the hypothesizes of others on the list.
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