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Old 07-21-2008, 12:01 AM   #1
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Default Sanitation in the "old days"?

Any idea how sanitation was done without Star Sans or other industrial chemicals?

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Old 07-21-2008, 12:13 AM   #2
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my guess would be boiling water

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Old 07-21-2008, 12:55 AM   #3
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alcohol could be used too.

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Old 07-21-2008, 01:42 AM   #4
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People are clever. When they find out about bacteria etc, they find ways to deal with them. If they don't know about bacteria, they wouldn't sanitize, but I'm sure they cleaned really well.

-a.

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Old 07-21-2008, 02:05 AM   #5
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How far back are you referring to when you mean old days???....remember most of the "scientific" understanding of microbes and sanitization didn't really come into understanding til Pasteur's findings on germ theory...Or Snow's realization that Cholera was water born and him having the pump handles in London removed or locked during the 1854 Cholera outbreak...

Prior to that it was pretty much conjecture, without understanding....People knew much further back that boiling water and/or adding sugars to water and fermenting with it was safer than drinking from the streams, but they didn't really inderstand why...and fermentation was still pretty hit and miss.

They may have realized that boiling water killed whatever was making them sick, but it wasn't til Napoleons time that the idea of boiling things (like jars and utensils) in water did what we now would call sterilization....In other words you could still boil water, but if you stored it in an unsanitary container you were then re-infecting it....

If you go back to the earliest brewing....Ancient Babylon...there was next to nothing to our understanding, that would have constituted "sanitization" except for the making of the alchohol itself, if by chance you greated the habitable environment, where the "good" yeasts (which were usually wild) out preformed the "bad" things like lactobacilus & acetobactor.

For the homebrewer though...the pre-starsan and iodophor method would have been bleach/water....

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Old 07-21-2008, 02:07 AM   #6
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Or, they drank alot of semi-infected beer, wine and mead. I know many people who still have sour-ish wines and think it's normal.

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Old 07-21-2008, 02:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
Or, they drank alot of semi-infected beer, wine and mead. I know many people who still have sour-ish wines and think it's normal.

Yup!!!! And called it "Heineken"

Seriously, think about the "intentionally" sour styles of beers around today (I don't know if there are any intentionally soured wines...except to make vinegars)...They weren't at first done on purpose...someone actually choked some down and said..."hey this isn't bad...American beer snobs a hundred years from now will be paying big bucks for this, and sticking table legs in their carboys!"
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:17 AM   #8
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Yea I think there was a lot of infected beer / wine in the old days. remember IPA was made with higher alcohol / hops to prevent infection in oak barrels on the way to India, and that wasn't even very long ago. As long as they are protected form light it wouldn't be an issue in modern times.
Also homebrewing was commonplace years ago because the well / river water made people sick without the boiling / alcohol / hops. people knew what tasted good and kept them from getting sick but didn't seem to have much of an understanding of sanitation / sterilization.

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Old 07-21-2008, 02:23 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by k1v1116 View Post
Yea I think there was a lot of infected beer / wine in the old days. remember IPA was made with higher alcohol / hops to prevent infection in oak barrels on the way to India, and that wasn't even very long ago. As long as they are protected form light it wouldn't be an issue in modern times.

Yup, but even the IPA was a product of the 18th century and an understanding of the preservative/antibacterial properties of hops.

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Early shipments to India contained bottled porters, the favorite beer in London, which generally arrived flat, musty, and sour. The answer to the great beer problem finally came from a recipe created by George Hodgson at the Bow Brewery in East London. India ale was a variation of his pale ale, which Londoners had been drinking since the mid-1750s. Hodgson took his pale ale recipe, increased the hop content considerably, and raised the alcohol content. The result was a very bitter, alcoholic, and sparkling pale ale that could survive the challenges of travel and shelf life in India. IPA reached India in an enjoyable condition and Hodgson's success became legendary. Hodgson began shipping Hodgson's India Ale during the 1780s. By 1784 advertisements were appearing in the Calcutta Gazette for "light and excellent" pale ale.
Thank you George Hodgson!!!!
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:10 AM   #10
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I have read from numerous sources that the fermentation of grain was (possibly) the reason that homo-sapiens began the practice of grain cultivation, agriculture, and thus civilization.

Of course there is a lot of grey area in that assertion. I wouldn't say that early humans didn't understand "germ theory." They just understood it in a different way than we do today.

But regardless of the causes for agriculture (they are many and complex) why would we choose to substitute the easily spoilable beer for the stregnth and preservability of mead? I can't imagine that people went to great legnths to create something so unpalatable when there were clear alternatives that they were surely aware of.

On the surface it seems that even wine is more stable than beer, though that came later.

Perhaps there were deeper social reasons or spirtual reasons for the cultivation of grain for beer? Or is there some scientific explanation for it?

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