Saturday, 16 February 2008

Oat Ale, Bran Ale

I told you I had more on Oat Ale. As an extra treat, I've also included a Bran Ale. No , don't thank me. It was nothing.
"1610. EDINBURGH OAT ALES
Should be made from the best white heavy sweet oat made into malt, the same as barley is. The Scotch oats are preferred, and the ale made from them are said to be of a soft healing quality and is of great repute in England, where it is not common. Though this ale requires a greater quantity of malt, it is brewed at a less price than others, as ten bushels will make a hogshead of fifty-four gallons rich and soft, as no table beer is taken from it. In four or six months it will be fit for use; it must be brewed, hopped, &c. in the same manner as Welsh ales; some persons who grow their own oats make this ale with a part oat malt and a part barley malt."
The Illustrated London Cookery Book: Containing Upwards of Fifteen Hundred First-rate Receipts" by Frederick Bishop, 1852, page 395.
Unlike the Yorkshire Oat Ale recipe, this does require the malted oats to be mashed. I would tell you the gravity, but I haven't the faintest clue what the yield from oat malt is. Ten bushels is 1.25 quarters and a hogshead is 1.5 barrels, which makes 1.2 barrels to a quarter. If the yield were 50 pounds from a quarter (remember pale malt was 80 pounds, brown malt 54 ponds from a quarter) that would give a beer of around 1100. But the yield could well be worse than that.

"Bran beer.
Good fresh table beer may be made with sound wheat bran, at the rate of 2d. per gallon, beer measure, estimating the price of bran at 4s. per cwt, and the saccharine density of the wort еxtracted, at 15 lbs. per barrel; but the use of the instrument called saccharometer, in domestic practice, is not necessary, the process in brewing with wheat bran being sufficiently known to every good housewife, especially to those of labourers in husbandry, as well its that for this purpose nothing of apparatus is needful, but such as ought to be in common use with every cottager in the country. A few pounds per barrel of treacle, or the coarsest Muscovado sugar, would be a cheap improvement as to strength, which indeed might be increased to any degree required."
"Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts: In All the Useful and Domestic Arts" by Colin MacKenzie, 1854, page 14
This is better. I can tell you the strength. Fifteen ponds per barrel is 1042º. I suspect that the finished beer may have been a little thin.

"Yorkshire oat ale.
Grind a quart of oat malt, made with the white sort, and dried with coke, and mash with forty- four gallons of cold soft water, let it stand twelve hours; then allow it to spend in a fine small stream, and pat two pounds of fine pale hops, well rubbed between the hands, into it; let it infuse, cold, for three hours, then strain and tun it; put yeast to it, and it will work briskly for about two days; then stop it up, and in ten days it will be fit to bottle. It drinks very smooth, brisk, and pleasant, and looks like white wine, but will not keep."
"Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts: In All the Useful and Domestic Arts" by Colin MacKenzie, 1854, page 14.
This is practically identical to the last Yorkshire Oat Ale recipe. It's fair to assume one is a copy of the other.

"Of MALT.
This precious article has not, I apprehend, been made, of late years, from any other grain than barley. In former and comparatively untaxed days, malt was currently made from wheat, and oats likewise. The only instance of this kind within my knowledge was of a Mr. Dobson, a maltster at Ipswich, Suffolk, in 1767, who made a considerable quantity of wheat malt, wheat being then at about 28s. per quarter. Wheat malt produces a strong-bodied, fine, and high-flavoured liquor ; oats, a light, mild, and pleasant beverage. I have heard much commendations of oat-ale, as a summer drink, but have never tasted it."
"A Practical Treatise on Breeding, Rearing, and Fattening All Kinds of Domestic Poultry, Pheasants, Pigeons and Rabbits" by John Lawrence, 1842, page 347.
It seems at one time malting oats was commonplace. This tallies with the practice in the Low Countries in the period 1400 - 1600, where beer was brewed with a mixture of barley, wheat and oat malt. Surprisingly, oats often made up more than 50% of the grist.

"In the evening, the men filled our house, bringing with them some jars of a liquor they called chica, made of barley-meal, and not very unlike our oat-ale in taste, which will intoxicate those who drink a sufficient quantity of it, for a little has no effect. As soon as the drink was out, a fresh supply of victuals was brought in; and in this manner we passed the whole time we remained with these hospitable Indians."
"A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in Systematic Order" by Robert Kerr, 1824, page 383.
I've included this passage to give some idea of what Oat Ale might have been like. I was intrigued to see this comparison with chica. Odd that Oat Ale should be just a distant memory while chica is still with us.

2 comments:

Fatman said...

Today oat malt would yield around 2/3 the extract of pale malt. Assume it was the same back then so your estimate at 50 pounds per quarter looks pretty good.

brendan said...

In chicha the starch is converted by the enzymatic action of saliva... yum-o.