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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Sanitation in the "old days"?
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:34 PM   #21
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Beer was first dammnit.

Seriously though, beer history is amazing in itself. I too liked the DFH Midas Touch despite all of the bad reviews I had heard about it. The concept of brewing a beer that "might" have been similar to a several thousand year old drink is amazing. As for how beer came to be back then, I think the aliens probably had something to do with it, or zombies perhaps.

It's been weeks...WEEKS since I got to do this

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Old 07-23-2008, 01:02 AM   #22
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One of the central thesis of "Sacred Herbal Healing Beers" is that the discovery of fermentation was NOT merely an "accident" (i.e. a bucket of grains getting wet and warm and innoculated with a wild yeast, turning into the first beer).

Rather, the knowledge of fermentation by the ancients was often accompined by mythology about the knolwedge being a gift given to humans by gods or by the spirits of the plants themselves.

Even from a more scientific standpoint, I also disagree with the oft-suggested "accidental discovery" scenerio. I think that fermentation of grains, of honey, of fruit was an intentional act by the ancients.

Ancient peoples, even without modern scientific understanding, surely knew that 1) sweet things could be fermented into alcohol, 2) when grains germinated they became sweeter.

I've tried the Midas Touch. Wasn't real impressed to be perfectly honest. Important to note that the ancient brew wouldn't have contained hops which I'm assuming (perhaps wrongly) that the DogFishHead version has. The concentration of alcohol from all the sugar sources would have more likely been the primary preservative. Couldn't really taste the saffron either. The Author of "Sacrded Herbal Healing Beers" talks about Saffron as a highly enebriating herb, which enhances the inebriating effects of the alcohol because it "contains an essential oil that has phychoactive and stimulating effects and evokes long, distinctive orgasmic sensations."

Kind of wandered away from the Sanitation topic here. I guess the reason I brought it up was because I saw an old thread where a guy got mobbed for suggesting that washing with dishsoap and letting the equipment dry thoroughly was sufficient sanitation -- http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=61832

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Old 07-23-2008, 01:47 AM   #23
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One of the central thesis of "Sacred Herbal Healing Beers" is that the discovery of fermentation was NOT merely an "accident" (i.e. a bucket of grains getting wet and warm and innoculated with a wild yeast, turning into the first beer).

Rather, the knowledge of fermentation by the ancients was often accompined by mythology about the knolwedge being a gift given to humans by gods or by the spirits of the plants themselves.
As a theologian/minister, who has studied both ancient/primitive spirituality and contemporary religions, I don't buy that premise, I never have...Man creates religion, religion doesn't "create man." Actually, I should clarify before I get mobbed by fundamentalists and athiests alike...Man creates the rituals, and usually the mythology surrounding the worship of the deity that they believe created them.

In many of my papers in seminary and in ministry I wrote the "god created man, but man created God." The unamed, unknowable supreme source created man, then man in turn gave it a name, God, Allah, Krishna, The great Creator, etc, ad nauseum....and then we created "religion" to honor it....

Meaning that most of the "mythos" no matter which religion are a result of learned, passionate humans trying to come to terms with the "unexplainable."

A rock crashes on the earth a million years ago..."Primitive" Man doesn't understand "outer space" or asteroids...and therefore tries to come to terms with this thing out of his (and his culture's ) understanding...So he mythologizes it. Explains that the rock came from "god" or whatever supernatural being he or his culture believed in...if they didn't have one then, as soon as this paradigm shifted, they created one.

Jesus casts out "demons" in the New Testament...2000 years ago no one knew anything about mental illness, schizophrenia and mpd in particular...So it was explained in the language of the day....

Same thing with, like I mentioned earlier, the "use" of Judaic Religious mythology/law to prevent people from dying from eating undercooked pork and shellfish. People were getting sik and dying, so the religious l leaders of the day then decreed it was "un holy" to eat of it...

In order for there to be a ritual, or a mythos, or a religion about something, that something has to exist first (except in the case of the church of Scientology, the Church of All Worlds, or Discordianism, all based on Sci-fi novels.)

So in order for a ritualistic/spiritual belief about fermentation (whether it was, beer, wine, or mead) fermentation had to exist first...Intentionally created or otherwise...

I still believe in the notion of spontaneous first fermentation, no matter if it was grain, honey or grape juice...Since we didn't KNOW that if we added yeast to wort or must, it had to have been observed occurring in nature....and some idiot actually drank it...(Then it made him see the face of God. )

This to me lends more credence to the ritualistic nature of brewing or meadmaking....it was something, that to the early people happened "invisibly" (I would say "spontaneously" in nature...wild yeast falling onto whatever sugar/water was first available.) Since it was invisible it had to have come from the gods/god/grand creator of the universe.

BTW, when I use the term "Mythology" or "myth" in my work, I'm not referring to the idea of "A fiction or half-truth," rather I use it as the "stories we tell to define a particular thing, or idea." In my definition then, the creation myths of a particular culture are just as valid as the "creation myths" of Islamo/judeo/christianity... To me the bible is a collection of myths (stories) about Christianity as is the bhagavad gita is a collection of stories about the hindu pantheon.

As to the soap thing...well I wrote something in my first blog about it...that beer couldn't have been that foul initially (without modern sanitization methods) to have survived so long....so I posited that even our most basic human sanitization methods like simply bathing regularly put us leagues ahead of the early brewers, who didn't understand about germs....So I guess one would argue that soap and water is better that what the ancient had, and is better than nothing....but starsan and iodophor is better than soap and water....

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Old 07-23-2008, 01:49 AM   #24
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Sanitation was basically boiling. Beers were brewed, fermented and drunk. New beer meant the fermentation was done and not much more. If they went sour, you drank sour beer and/or mixed it with new beer. The sour cut the green taste.

Side note on ciders: That's how Johnny Appleseed made his money, selling trees for making cider and to a lesser extent baking. Eating apples weren't common. You crushed the apples, made cider & fed the pulp to the pigs.

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Old 07-23-2008, 02:29 AM   #25
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American beer snobs a hundred years from now will be paying big bucks for this, and sticking table legs in their carboys!"
I think I'll go put a gym sock in my primary. the fact is that you're probably right. good thing i'll be gone by then.
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Old 07-24-2008, 04:39 AM   #26
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I think I'll go put a gym sock in my primary. the fact is that you're probably right. good thing i'll be gone by then.
Well, I curently make my living selling cheese, the best (and most expensive) of which smells similair to gym socks, bad breath, rotting broccoli, and other such things.

No shame here. I hate cryo-vaced cheese. It tastes like plastic. Just like Miller--Pabst--Bud tastes like piss. I like my cheese to have natural rinds. Yeah, they are full of molds, bacteria, yeasts, and stuff that modern science doesn't even completely understand. But that's what makes them wonderful. They don't taste like plastic.

If craft brewing is going survive, its going to need to get past this barrier. Its too bad that many you anal-retnentive techno-science-fanatics folks don't see this.

I don't fear the microbes, and I don't depend on hops. I'd rather understand them than fight them. And I'd rather use fresh herbs in my beer than stuff from half a world away, if possible.

I don't mean to insult anyone. I just don't understand the irrational dogmas that surround home-brewing. They are counter-productive and harmful to the movement.
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:03 AM   #27
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I don't think it needs to be a competition or debate over which came first. I have fermented all of the above (mead, wine, cider, & beer) and can appreciate the qualities of each one, though beer is my preffered drink of choice.

However, we have to be honest with ourselves. Brewing beer is a very complicated process. Making mead, wine, and cider, on the other hand, is considerably simpler. The sugars in honey and fruit are freely available and don't have to be converted and extracted through a long and labor-intensive malting, grinding, mashing, and lautering process.

The anthropological evidence for the brewing of mead dates back at least 40,000 years, while we know that barley was first domesticated in the fertile crescent roughly 10,000 years ago.

I'm not trying to knock beer. I like it.

Hey so back to the original topic of the thread...

Do you think that perhaps sulfur was used for santition in beer-brewing vessels, much as it has been used to kill off spoiling bacteria in winemaking for centuries?
My guess is that it's possible/probable that apple cider would be the first "fermentable" drink. After all, you mash up the apples, strain out the juice, and the wild yeast on the apple skin will make cider. With mead, you're dealing with pissed off bees who don't like you attacking their homes. My guess is that the first alcohol derived from storing whatever into the winter months, cracking a cask or clay pot open, taking a swill, and getting your buzz on. Hence the long association between booze and staying warm!

As far as sulfur was concerned, it's possible, but what information I've read indicates that most ales (beer without hops in it, as late as the early 1600s in England) were made quick and dirty, in a big-ass cook pot, was boiled to help the mash, and was poured into an oaken barrel to age. This barrel might have been burned on the inside to char for either color or flavor, or even to help sanitize/clean things up, or it might have been left natural. Wood itself is rather a special material as it does have slight antibacterial properties, which is why wooden cutting boards are still considered superior to the artificial ones.

What I have also found conflicting reports on are aging times. I've read that beer was brewed in the spring, casked, and left to age for a year, resulting in a lot of skunked and undrinkable beer. I've also read that it was brewed and drank quickly, with very little carbonation either way due to the nature of wooden casks at the time.

I've also read that you'd sparge your mash repeatedly, and used the second runnings and so on to make smallbeers, moreso to spread out the liklihood of making a drinkable beer.

Even as early as Hippocrates infections were understood to be related to cleanliness and "sanitation". Soap was used for millennia. I imagine a good scrubbing with soap made from lye and rendered animal fat, and possibly even a scrubbing with lye itself would do a pretty hardcore job cleaning. I'm not sure what *does* survive in lye and water.
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Old 07-25-2008, 06:52 PM   #28
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The techniques for brewing varied depending on the region and the time period. So all the techniques you mentioned were probably used at one time or another in some region.

One of the reasons I bring up the sanitation issue is because I share a concern with the guy from the thread I linked to above.

I don't know if I like the idea of having Star Sans in my beer. While I recognize the need for good sanitation, I am also very skeptical of industrial chemicals and modern "scientific" dogmas.

I recently purchased some Star Sans, but I don't know how to use it correctly or what its benefits and detractions are.

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Old 07-25-2008, 07:13 PM   #29
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I don't know if I like the idea of having Star Sans in my beer. While I recognize the need for good sanitation, I am also very skeptical of industrial chemicals and modern "scientific" dogmas.

I recently purchased some Star Sans, but I don't know how to use it correctly or what its benefits and detractions are.
Well if that's what you are looking for here's some info for you to help you make a decision as to whether or not you want to use starsan, iodophor or something else....I was nicknamed the "yoda of sanitzation" on here for awhile, because I had a lot of info on this stuff..primarily because I did a lot or research before deciding what to use...

First stuff comes from the "horses mouth" I-views on Basicbrewing radio.

Quote:
March 29, 2007 - Sanitizing with Bleach and Star San
Charlie Talley from Five Star Chemicals tells us best practices in using household bleach and Star San in sanitizing equipment.
http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicb...br03-29-07.mp3


March 22, 2007 - Sanitizing with Iodophor
Murl Landman of National Chemicals talks to us about sanitization techniques in general and using Iodophor specifically.
http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicb...br03-22-07.mp3
A good discussion on santizers in general http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=54932

This is the best resource I have found on food safety and sanitization, Basic Elements of Equipment Cleaning and Sanitizing in Food Processing and Handling Operations, University of Florida.


Although I don't use it, starsan is one of the best and most benign sanitizers around for brewing, any left in the carboy or bottles is converted to yeastfood...It's also good for septic fields, were you to dump it there.....Several people, including CHarlie Talley, and at least one member of this forum, has even drank the dilluted solution.

So, use the info and make up your mind as to what works for you, and down the road, if you have a "sanitation failure" then try something else...I use bulk dairy Iodphor sanitizer from the local farm and feed, I get it for 20 bucks a gallon...but if i ever have a problem, then I'll switch to something else...probably starsan...since Iodophors and starsan are the two best ones for brewing out there, and the only 2 so far, that are FDA certified as sanitizers.

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Old 07-25-2008, 07:15 PM   #30
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Did you guys hear about the drunk moose that was in the news? Apparently it ate some yeasted apples and bit some girl.

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