Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Reinheitsgebot II

I was going to talk about Lichtenhainer. You know of the article I found about Lichtenhainer, don't you? Well, you should pay more attention. I mentioned it at the end of yesterday's post.

I won't bore you with the details (not these ones, I have some others already prepared). Today I discovered an incredible resource. I quadrupled my material on Lichtenhainer in 5 minutes. More than enough to make me a total Lichtenhainer bore. I'll be droning on about it for years. But not today.

Everyone's heard of the 1830 Beer Act. When the whole country was pissed for days after the price of beer was halved. That Beer Act. But there was another Beer Act in 1823. Not as radical as that of 1830, but with one fascinating section.

"That such persons brewing porter, or using in the brewing of such ale or beer any other ingredients than water, malt, hops, and yeast, or mixing therewith, or with the wort or worts thereof, any water, or other ingredient than hops and the necessary quantity of yeast and fining, all such porter, &c. shall be forfeited, and may be seized by any Excise officer ; That every offence against these rules shall be visited with a penalty of 200/- ; and a penalty of 50/- for every offence is imposed upon persons selling, or permitting to be sold, beer brewed under this Act, in any quantity at one time of nine gallons, or quarter barrel, or upwards, at a higher price than 27s. per barrel, or any quantity at one time, less than nine gallon-, at a higher price than 10d. per gallon."

A British Reinheitsgebot.

The Reinheitsgebot is often (somewhat contentiously) portrayed as a piece of consumer protection legislation. Now the second part of the quote - that's what I call consumer protection. A fify shilling fine (about the price of two barrels of beer) for trying to overcharge you. You may think "Look at those quantities - the smallest is a gallon. Who buys that much at once?" Ah, things were so different in the 1800's. There was a big trade in selling beer by the barrel to private households.

Notice how Porter is mentioned first? In the bits I haven't quoted, it just says beer and ale. Only when talk turns to the use of illegal ingredients does Porter get a mention.

Oh yes, and the bit about not adding water to the wort is relevant. I'm sure that's one of the reasons London brewers brewed the way they did. Three or four worts blended together to get spot on the right gravity for perhaps as many as three different strength beers. And why brewing manuals of the period have detailed instructions on how to do the calculations needed for blending worts.


Boak said...

That's interesting. Has it ever been repealed, I wonder.

Ron Pattinson said...

Yes. I think the first change was in the 1860's when the use of sugar was allowed. In 1880 the Free Mash Tun Act allowed pretty much anything that wasn't harmful to be used in brewing. However the part about not adding water to wort was I trhink in force until the 1970's.