hist-brewing: George Washington Porter

stencil etcs.ret at verizon.net
Sat Dec 15 21:25:09 PST 2012

On Sat, 15 Dec 2012 12:00:01 -0800, 
in hist-brewing Digest, Vol 37, Issue 6 
Bob Grossman JazzboBob at aol.com  wrote:   
>I am looking for assistance to translate and make a recreation for  the 
>George Washington Porter recipe that is often cited.  
>Was the Small Beer in Washington's recipe made from the last runnings of a  
>party gyle brew with the addition of molasses or was it truly a molasses 
>beer  without malt?  Was Washington's small beer equivalent to the British 
>Mild's  of the period which were made at a gravity of approximately 1.060 or 
>was it  a table beer of low alcoholic strength?  

Three gallons of molasses in 30 gallons of wort should yield
around 45 gravity points.  Since no mention is made of
sparging or drawing-off of wort prior to the "straining out"
onto the molasses, I would have to believe that the mash and
the boil were conducted in the same vessel;  the long period
from firing-up under the cold tun to full boil would provide
enough time at moderate temperatures for good conversion and
probably would run close to three hours.  Boiling the mash,
of course, would bring out a lot of tannins, but that might
well balance the heaviness of the molasses.  
It would be wonderful to know how many pounds of malt -
"bran" - a "siffer" held.  There's a Courbet painting, "The
Wheat Sifters" (Wikipedia has a cut) that shows an implement
that might hold fifteen pounds, but probably less.  If you
allowed a yield of 20 point-gallons per pound - about two
thirds what today's home brewers get - then a fifteen-pound
grain charge would yield 30 gallons of 1010 wort, which,
fortified with 45 points of molasses, puts you right at 1055.
Of course if the 30 gallons was the result of an extended
boil-down, the gravity of the barley wort would be higher. 

My take:  there's no reason to believe that the wort was a
parti-gyle, but rather that it was brewed from scratch as a
fairly small beer, fortified with massive amounts of
"colour."  Given the relative cost of molasses in America as
opposed to England, it seems a reasonable way of doing
business.  The barley wort would provide body and serve as a
vehicle for first-wort hopping, and the molasses gives a
major cheap buzz.   

gds,  stencil

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