Saturday, 27 September 2008

Water 1815-1850

I've a wealth of material for the early 19th century. As you may have noticed, over the past week. So much, that the section I posted yesterday about Porter has already been expanded. But you'll have to wait for the book to see it all.

This is the period when the properties of different types of water came to be analysed more closely. I was particularly pleased to find an analysis of Bass water.



Water
There were quite diverses opinions on the subject of the best brewing water, or liquor as it was called within breweries. "Brewers differ most widely in their opinions of the necessary qualities of water, some preferring hard, others soft, and others again treating the choice indifferently;" (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 105.) Brewing authors were likewise divided, but with a majority having no preference. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 106.)

Tizard was a hard water man. "Water that is free from saline matter, or that holds it in scarcity, is not fit for the brewery, being impotent." The softest water came from snow, followed by rain water. The latter picked up some "sulphate of lime" from the mortar betwween roof tiles. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, pages 107-108.) Next came spring water, which was rain water that had passed through the ground. Its composition varied according to the nature of the ground. In the purest spring water there was a quantity of "carbonate of lime and common salt" as well as air and carbon dioxide. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 108.)

Well water was basically the same as spring water, but could become hard due to accumulated deposits. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 108.) River water was a combination of rain and spring water. The addition of rain water made it, in general, softer that spring water. It contained air and CO2, but little salt or carbonate of lime. The composition varied, depending on the amount rainfall. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, pages 108-109.)

According to Tizard, hard water had a restraining effect on fermentation. Worts brewed from hard water needed to be pitched at a higher temperature - between 10º and 15º F higher than worts from very soft water. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 114.) Attenuation was also lower in hard water worts, leaving a fuller-bodied beer with less tendency to turn sour. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 114.)

The effect of the local water on Burton-brewed beers was already understood. "The Burton ales principally owe their superior quality and uniform permanency to the nature of the water there used, and which, according to the best evidence, is strongly impregnated with this hardener or water, gypsum or sulphate of lime;" (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 114.)

In 1830 a group of Burton brewers took the Society for the Diffusing Useful Knowledge to court for libel over allegations in a book they had published, "A Treatise on the Art of Brewing". The author, Booth, claimed that he could duplicate Burton beer by adding a saline solution, mostly gypsum, to a wort. He accused Burton brewers of doing exactly that, whigh would have been illegal. What Booth hadn't known, was that Burton water naturally contained a large concentration of gypsum. This came out in court and the Society lost. They were forced to print an apology in the next edition of the book. The judge presiding, Lord Tenterden, summed up saying: "the lovers of Burton ale may now drink it without fear." (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, pages 114-115.)

Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton revealed that analysis had shown their well water had the following characteristics:

specific gravity: 1.0013
CO2: 7.5 cubic inches per imperial gallon
Solids: 79 grains per imperial gallon, consisting of:
___carbonate of lime (chalk) _________9.93 grains
___sulphate of lime (gypsum)_________54.4 grains
___muriate of lime (calcium chloride) ___13.28 grains
___sulphate of magnesia____________0.83 grains
___total________________________78.44 grains

(Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 116.)

Water-treatment was recommended for those with water that was too soft. "When waters run off moors and fens, and the brewers in certain districts are compelled to use them for want of better, it will be found desirable to impregnate them second hand with gypsum, or with such limestones as are easily procurable." (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, page 118.)

Water was filtered before use to remove any suspended particles. Beds of porous material, such as sand, charcoal and limestone, were laid in layers, the coarsest on top, the finest underneath. Water was passed through these beds. The disadvantage of this system was that over time dirt would get stuck in the beds and clog them up. There were various alternative patented machines, with filters which could be more easily cleaned or replaced. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, pages 118-120.)

Tizard maintained that hard water was best for brewing, particularly that containing gypsum. He disagreed that the extract was worse than with soft water, as some other authors claimed. His main reason for preferring hard water was the greater stability of beer brewed from it, especially in the summer. (Source: "The Theory and Practice of Brewing" by W.L. Tizard, London, 1846, pages 122-123.)

1 comment:

Thom said...

The stability of the beer from Burton was most likely down to the high calcium levels. Levels of at least 150mg/l are needed for decent mash, colloidal stability and fermentation.

Is there are suggestion that the brewers of this time understood the chemical nature of the water constituents? I suppose I'm wondering at what point it could be said that brewing became 'science'.