Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Extra Porter

I've really caught the Porter bug. This is another bit from the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1824.

This is the weirdest way of brewing a beer from different malts I've ever heard:
"The porter-brewers in London use three kinds of malt; namely, pale malt, amber malt, and brown malt. These three are mashed separately, and the worts from each arc afterwards mixed together in the same fermenting vessel. In some breweries, as in that of Barclay and Perkins in the Borough, there are three separate mash-tuns. In other breweries, the custom is to mash one kind of malt the first day, another kind the second day, end л third kind the third day. The first day's wort is put into the fermenting vessel, and mixed with yeast; and the other two worts are added to it successively as they are formed. Hence it is very difficult to determine with accuracy the strength of the worts in the London breweries. It could only be done by knowing the quantity of wort from each malt, and its specific gravity when let into the fermenting vessel."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

Any homebrewers fancy having a go at that? All that trouble - 3 days of work - for one brew. I'll add that I've seen no evidence of this practice in the archives. Let's say I'm sceptical that anyone really brewed this way.
"We have had an opportunity of determining the strength of the porter wort in all the principal breweries in London. The average specific gravity of brown-stout wort is 1.0624. The wort of the best common porter is of the specific gravity 1.0535; that of the worts or weakest is as low as 1.0374. The average specific gravity deduced from 20 brewings was 1.0500. Such wort contains about 46.4 lbs. per barrel of saccharine matter."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

This bit is more believable. Those gravities look about right. But didn't they just say you couldn't really measure the gravity accurately? If they could take measurements in the major London Porter breweries, it implies said breweries weren't using the three-mashes-on-three-days method. I have no brewing logs for 1824. The closest is 1812. Barclay Perkins: Porter 1052, Brown Stout 1070.
"Judging from the taste of some of the worts, quassia seems to be employed in considerable quantity by some of the brewers, and much more sparingly, if at all, by others. The fermentation of porter is carried on with considerable rapidity, so that it is over in two or three days. The specific gravity of the porter is usually brought down to 1.013 or 1.017. The specific gravity of the best brown-stout, after standing some months in the bottle, is 1.0106. The proportion of pale and brown malt used in the different houses varies. One of the best brewers in London uses nearly 2 parts pale malt to 1 part brown."
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1824, page 488

I put this bit in for you, Lachlan. The quassia bark mention. Using it in beer was strictly forbidden after 1816, but it keeps coming up. I've read elsewhere that it was country brewers who were mostly guilty of its use. But that could just be townie brewers slagging off the yokels.

The final gravities seem right, too. About quarter OG, if you use the 1062.4 and 1053.5 quoted as OG for Brown Stout and Porter. I would work out what that made the ABV, but I'm too tired. Maybe later.

Here's some more about dodgy ingredients.
"Adulteration. Laws respecting brewing, &c. By the laws of England, which have existed, with slight modifications, ever since the days of Queen Anne, nothing is allowed to enter into the composition of beer but malt and hops. The cupidity of the fraudulent brewer has, however, frequently induced him to introduce other ingredients with the view of imparting a false strength to his liquor, or as a substitute for one or other of its constituents. Thus, to impart bitterness, and to lessen the quantity of hops required for the beer, quassia, gentian, wormwood, and broom-tops have been used ; to give pungency and flavour, capsicum, and grains of paradise (in concentrated tinctures), ginger, corianders, orange peel, and caraways ; to give intoxicating properties - opium, cocculus indicus, nux comica, tobacco, extract of poppies and tincture of henbane; as a substitute for malt - molasses, colouring and sugar ; to impart a false appearance of age - sulphuric acid, alum, green vitriol, and common salt. The following is a list of the unlawful substances seized at different breweries, and brewers' druggists' laboratories in London, as copied from the minutes of the committee of the House of Commons. "Cocculus indicus, mulium (an extract of the cocculus), colouring, honey, hartshorn shavings, Spanish Jnice, orange powder, ginger, grains of paradise, quassia, liquorice, caraway seeds, copperas, capsicum, mixed drugs."

Sugar and coriander seeds may be mentioned as a very common addition to beer. It is said that 6 Ibs. of the former, and 1 lb. of the latter, are equal in strength and intoxicating quality to a bushel of malt. The sugar is employed in a roasted state, for the sake of its colour ; even coffee has been used for this purpose. Publicans generally reduce their strong beer with water, or table beer, and add treacle, (which they call "foots") and a mixture of copperas, salt, aud alum, (which they call " heading"), to make it bear a frothy head, and in many cases, gentian, sugar, or other similar ingredients, are added to keep up an appearance of strength, and to impart a flavour. The "cheap beer" sold by some taverns in London, is made by dividing the contents of two butts among three butts, filling them up with water and adding a bladder of porter extract (technically termed P. E.) to each."
"A Cyclopaedia of Practical Receipts" by Arnold James Cooley, 1845, pages190 - 191

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? But remember only one of the large London Porter breweries ever got busted. Even Accum doesn't say a bad word about them.

But using coffee to flavour and colour Porter? How modern. Did I mention that I'd found something about oak ageing? Deliberately maturing beer in new oak vats to get the taste of the wood in the finished beer. I'll have to dig it out. Remind me to do it tomorrow. I'm off to watch the end of Supersize vs. Superskinny.


Zythophile said...

Actually, wordwood and broom were permitted as infusions in ale (though not in the brewing/boiling) even after hops were taxed.

I atgree with you, Ron, about the oddness of that "three-day mash regime" - I've never seen any old brewing manual recommend anything at all like that.

Bailey said...

I've often wondered if it wouldn't be quite efficient to create a big bucket of light wort and a small bucket of dark wort and mix them in different proportions, with different hops, to create a range of beers from dark to light. But there must be a good reason people don't do that, right...?