Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Barnstaple Ale, Bavarian Ale

More quotes from old texts. What's the difference between old texts and an egg? You can beat an egg, but you can't beat old texts.

Today's guest publication is "A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts, and Collateral Information" by Arnold James Cooley, 1854, page 44.

It starts with the earliest mention I've found of the term "barley wine", mentioned as a synonym for Ale.

"ALE. Syn. BARLEY WINE. ALA. CEREVISIA A pale-colored liquor, brewed from
lightly-dried malt It is usually described as containing more saccharine matter
and mucilage than beer or porter; but this is not a characteristic of the finer
kinds of ale, as Old Burton, Scotch, East India, and other varieties, that have
undergone a thorough fermentation. New or mild ale, on the contrary, abounds in
undecomposed sugar and gum, and is thus rendered more nutritious, though less
alcoholic, than the above varieties."

I've included this general description of Ale because it includes hopping rates. How does it compare to what we've read about Scotch Ale?

"Process of brewing ale. The various operations of brewing are nearly the same for every species of malt liquor, the differences in the product« arising from the materials employed, the heat of the water used for mashing, and the temperature at which the fermentation is conducted. (See BREWING.) For ale, pale or lightly-dried malt should be chosen, as well as pale hops, if it be desired to brew a liquor possessing but little color; and the fermentation should be carried on at a low temperature. Almost every county in England has its variety of ale, but the difference consists chiefly (the same quantity of malt and hops being used) in the preparation of the malt. The water may in some cases vary in quality, the boiling may be longer or shorter, or the liquor may be turned on at a different heat; but these circumstances being considered, one general process serves for the whole, as before observed. For immediate use, the malt may be all pale; but if brewed for keeping, or in warm weather, one- fourth should be amber malt. 6 lbs. of Kent hops should be used to the quarter, or 8 to 10 lbs. for keeping ale. The stronger ales contain about 5% of absolute alcohol; ordinary ales from 5 to 6%."

If you can remember back that far, we've seen hopping rates mantioned of between 4 and 8 lbs per quarter for Scotch Ale. My provisional conclusion is that Scotch Ale may well have been slightly less well-hopped than English Ale, but not by a massive amount. Do you have any thoughts on the matter? I'd love to hear them.

The Cyclopaedia goes on to list recipes for a variety of Ales. The first is Barnstaple Ale:

"ALE, BARNSTAPLE. Boil the water, then throw two pails of cold water into the mash tun, and afterwards the boiling water; then immediately put in the malt, half a bushel at a time. After stirring it till it is soaked, cap it with malt or bran, cover it close, and let it stand three hours; then see if the mash is sunk in the middle; if so, it must be filled level with boiling water, to stand half an hour; when it should be run off in а goose-quill stream, and be returned upon the grains, by a bowl or pailful at a time, as far back as possible from the cock, until the liquor strains through the body of the grains, and at last comes very fine; otherwise the thick parts are forced down to the cock. This is called "doubling;" continue to do so for half an hour, then atop, and let it stand half an hour longer in winter, but not in summer. Then rub four pounds of hops very fine into the sieve, for the wort to run through; do not draw it off too near before lading over more boiling water out of the copper. This is to be continued until the whole quantity of ale wort is obtained, which, with all the hops, is to be boiled till the liquor breaks or curdles. Now empty all into large tubs or coolers ; work, when cold, with the same hops altogether, thus: put a little yeast, and that not a day old, to a quantity, and mix that with the rest, to work 12 or 14 hours, and then strain it directly into the barrel, where keep filling it until it has done working. "

Here's one to annoy the stylists - Bavarian Ale. I think they mean lager. Though by the definitions of the time, lightly-hopped Bavarian lagers would probably have been classified as Ales in Britain.

"ALE, BAVARIAN. This is a beer which has been made to ferment at a low temperature, until all the substances which favor acetification have been rendered insoluble. The fermentation is conducted in wide, open, shallow vessels, which afford free and unlimited access to atmospheric oxygen, and this in a situation where the temperature does not exceed 46° to 50° Fahr. A separation of the nitrogeneous constituents, the exciters of acidification, takes place simultaneously on the surface and within the whole body of the liquid. The clearing of the fluid is the sign by which it is known that these matters have separated. The beer obtained in this way is invariably far superior, in quality and stability, to that far superior, in quality and stability, to that brewed according to the common method. (Liebig.) To be enabled to keep the temperature at the proper point, the operation is conducted in a situation removed as much as possible from the influence of atmospherical changes of temperature, and at such seasons as are favorable to the same."

If you're good I'll continue with Burton, Dorchester, Edinburgh and Essex Ale tomorrow.


Zythophile said...

Er, well, the REAL earliest use of "barley wine" as a synonym for ale was Xenophon. writing in around 390BC, who said the Armenian villagers he and the Greek mercenaries of "The Ten Thousand" met on their march to the Black Sea drank "oinos krithinos", literally "barley wine" in Greek. You can never be too certain, alas, that someone like Cooley isn't giving a nod to Xenophon, whose Anabasis was a favourite university text, especially when he also used the Latin cerevisia,

Ron Pattinson said...

Interesting point. I'm sure I saw barley wine mentioned somewhere else recently, again in a 19th century text.

What about this one:

Add a pint of sherry wine to a quart of barley gruel. Boil it down until there is only one-third of the quantity left. Add any fla-
vouring approred, or a drachm of tincture of cinnamon. A teacupful several times in a day is very strengthening."

"The Invalid's Own Book: A Collection of Recipes from Various Books and Various Countries"
by Mary Anne Boode Cust, 1853, page 135.

Anabasis a university test? I studied a passage at school. I don't remember anything about barley wine, though.