These instructions on how to brew Wiltshire October beer, in the form of a letter from a reader, appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine" in 1752.
"Mash twelve bushels of the finest pale malt with water, almost but not quite boiling hot, and let it stand three hours, then begin to draw of the wort, sprinkling on, at the same time, boiling water, till your full quantity of strong wort be run out. Supposing your copper sufficient to to boil a hogshead of water, the first copper serves for the first mash, and in the three hours the mash is standing you may boil two coppers more, the first to be set aside for small beer, the last for sprinkling, to make up the quantity of strong wort, and if a hogshead is not enough for the small beer, you may sprinkle on cold water for the last running. As soon as the third copper is emptied, boil the strong wort (which should be done as quick as possible) with six or seven pounds of the brightest Farnham hops, for half an hour, then strain it immediately into coolers, no more than three inches deep, that it may cool the sooner, which adds greatly to the flavour of the drink, especially if it be kept well stirred in the [illegible line in the original] . . . of the coolers to put it into the working tun, be sure to stir it well to the bottom. When it has cooled to about blood warm, take out five gallons, and put to it a quart of good yeast in a pail, and let it ferment till quite cold, then put it and all the wort into the working tun. In 24 hours it ought to have a good thick head, not a frothy one, as in case of too violent a ferment, which is the most material thing to be avoided, both at the time of brewing and afterwards. The head of the yeast must be taken off, and the wort put into a clean sweet dry cask, which has been well scalded, and it is to be filled up with the same wort two or three times a day, till the ferment is over. Let it stand 3 weeks or a week before you bung it up, only put something over the bung hole to keep rats and mice from pissing or dunging in it, which they are very apt to do, and would infallibly spoil your drink. In a month you may bung it up close, but always let there be a peg near the bung, which should be opened once a week. If you find it still to ferment, leave out the peg, and if that will not stop it, open the bung for a day or two. But what we call the second fermentation, and usually happens in the spring, if the beer was brewed in October, or November before, requires your utmost care. Good beer will always then be foul, after which crisis it never will be so again. You must therefore visit the peg hole often, and give vent if the ferment be too strong, which yet should be held up until the drink falls fine again, but it should be gentle, else the drink will be weak and sour, when it is quite fine, you may drink or bottle it, but the long 'tis kept, the better. It will be in high perfection in two years. I would advise to brew as much the first year as you shall want in two years, for without a good stock you never can be sure to keep your cellar in order; and as some casks will prove better than others, you will by that means have it in your power to cure what proves bad, and make it as good as the best; but this is an art, which I may communicate at some other time.I particularly like the bit about covering the bung hole to stop vermin pissing in your beer. Very good advice. Other points of interest are the use of 100% pale malt and the very short boil of just 30 minutes. As well as all the necessary equipment, a good bit of patience was required, if you were to wait the two years until it reached perfection.
Yours &c, Sarisburiensis.
P.S. I look upon November to be the best month for brewing keeping beer, the hop and malt being then in their perfection. It will be some advantage to grind your malt a week or ten days before you brew."
I suspect that the name Sarisburiensis means it was some nob (or should that be knob?) who wrote the letter. I'm sure Zythophile will know.