The method described appears very similar to that employed in the 19th century, with faggots of wood being used to fuel the kiln. Smoke was deliberately allowed to come into conmtact with the malt in order to flavour it. This is in sharp contrast to the 18th century method, where straw was usually used (in Hertfordshire") as fuel. And, unlike the praise heaped open the "empyrheumatic" flavour of 19th century brown malt, 18th century maltsters tried to avoid any smokiness.
"Hertfordshire had many Brown Malt Kilns and together with Norfolk, provided
almost the total production of Brown Malt.
The kilns tended to be small with a capacity of about 2 Quarters (672 pounds) and were funnel shaped above the bed of malt. The top of the kiln had a cowl, that in many cases turned with the wind, so that themetal top was always facing downwind.
The bed of the kiln itself was made of woven wire (not wedgewire commonly used for later kilns) and this was maintained to the end of production.
Barley was always used and was subjected to screening, then put in tanks of water (steeps) where it remained for up to 72 hours. The grain was then thrown out on to floors where it remained in heaps (couching) for24 hours. It was then spread out to a depth of about 5 inches. It wasturned by hand to stop the roots, then developing, from mattingtogether. In the case of Brown Malt the green malt was left to "seer"off or become very withered over a period of about 14 days and was then spread very thinly on the kiln (about 2 to 3 inches thick).
The kiln was fired by Faggots and poles. Faggots are brushwood about 3 feet long and were held together by a forked branch at the base. The brushwood was held in place by a "tyer" of strong string. The wood was always hornbeam. The poles were again hornbeam with a thickness of about3 inches and again about 3 to 4 feet long. The idea was to start thefire with faggots until colour was gained by the malt itself (using last year's drier crop). At this point the malt was turned off the kiln. Avery hot job. It was not surprising that 2 gallons of beer were drunk before breakfast!!
The process was very dangerous from a fire point of view and many brown malt kilns were burnt down. Our own in Stanstead Abbots were brought to the ground in 1902.
A modern equivalent of Brown Malt is produced in a roasting cylinder,but lacks the smoky flavour of the true material.
Production ceased in about 1957, when many smaller maltsters were being taken over, and with the very small amount being needed in modern brewing, it no longer became economic, particularly with the hugeinsurance premium being charged."
"The Production of Brown Malt", Guy Horlock , 2002/2009 (Curator, French & Jupps Museum, Stanstead Abbotts,Hertfordshire)
Many thanks to Michael Newman who provided me with the above text. Fascinating stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.
Whitbread were customers of French & Jupp, buying both brown and black malt from them. They appear in the brewing logs just as "French".