Just finished a research session on BeerAdvocate. Everything you need to know about beer, you can find there. What would I do without it?
I've had very positive responses to an earlier post about 18th century brown malt. But, as usual, the story is much more complicated than it at first appeared. I'm now going to say much that directly contradicts the other post. Like I've said many times before, there's always lots more to learn.
I'd already noticed that 19th century sources gave a very different account of the production of coloured malts. In particular, the addition of wood to the furnace at the end of the kilning process. I think I've found an explanation for the difference: malting techniques changed in response to demand from brewers.
Brewers could get any colour malt they wanted, not just pale, amber or brown, but any shade between. Either by malting themselves or by instructing the maltster exactly what colour they wanted. (Source: "The Art of Brewing and Fermenting" by John Levesque, 1836, pages 21-22.)
The kiln was heated slowly, the temperature slowly increasing over the first 12 hours. The intensity of the final temperature was determined by the type of malt being made. The malt went through each shade, starting at and ending up as high-dried brown, if the process was carried that far. "The drying is finished by a clear sweet fire, increasing the strength according to the colour required." "Coloured malt will require, towards the finish of the drying, some dry billet wood, of beech or birch" (Source: "The Art of Brewing and Fermenting" by John Levesque, 1836, pages 25-26.)
The use of wood in the final stages of kilning gave malt a deeper colour, something which became to be highly-valued with the advent of Porter. Maltsters adapted their methods to produce this type of highly coloured malt. In the early 18th century maltsters in Hertfordshire and Berkshire (the main suppliers of malt to London) had used almost exclusively straw as fuel for their kilns. They began to use beech or birch wood in the final stages of kilning. Some even used more expensive oak for this purpose as it gave an even stronger colour and flavour. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, pages 484-485.) London brewers, who had scorned smoked brown malt in the 18th century, were, by the 19th century, demanding it.
Early 19th century is described thus: "The qualities of the porter at present admired are, perfect brilliancy, a dark brown colour approaching to black, considerable bitterness, with a fine empyreumatic flavour, and a close creamy head. Without these requisites, porter is little valued." (Source: "A Practical Treatise on Brewing" by Thomas Hitchcock, London, 1842, page 46.)
Tell me if I'm wrong, but doesn't empyreumatic mean "smoky"?
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