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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > [historical brewing experts?] Help me reconstruct a recipe.
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Old 12-03-2011, 04:34 AM   #1
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Default [historical brewing experts?] Help me reconstruct a recipe.

I'm looking to brew a very early English ale.

Specifically, I'm looking at one documented in the Domesday book, brewed by the monks of St. Paul's Cathedral in London in the late eleventh century. The beer is strong - OG has been estimated at 1.113 - and the grist is mostly oats, with some wheat and barley as well.

The documentation is silent on the rest. It's a tax ledger, so all it documents is how much of the grains the monks used and how much ale they produced.

I've never brewed an un-hopped beer before. This would have been. I have seen it asserted, without documentation, that un-hopped beers of the middle ages were literally just malt, water, and (usually wild) yeast. I've also seen it asserted that they were all gruit ales with gruits we would recognize as such today - again, with no documentation. Anybody have any primary sources (or respectable secondary ones) that even come close to hinting at what if any herbs would have gone into an English brew in the 1080s?

For yeast, I'm assuming this was wild fermentation and was planning to go with Wyeast's Roselare Ale Blend, but I'm quite willing to be talked out of this assumption.

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Old 12-03-2011, 03:17 PM   #2
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Interesting project, especially since you are looking to formulate your recipe using only primary sources for your information.

This is definitely not a primary source, but in going through this website yesterday:

The Journal of the The Institute of Brewing&Distilling

I came across an entry covering brews made with 100% oats. You might ned some valuable information on the dynamics of that type of mash since it is not a common practice. I only went down to the 2007 editions, so it is in there somewhere from now till then.

I am starting a Brewing History class in January which the professor already told me will include reading primary historical documents. If I come across anything pertinent to your project, I will let you know.

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Old 12-03-2011, 04:24 PM   #3
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Do you know which Monastic sect it was associated with at the time.

If you find that out sometimes you can find records from the vatican and might actually yeild a record or two of the recipe.

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Old 12-03-2011, 04:46 PM   #4
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Google "Jeff Renner Domesday" and look at the info especially in the archives of the Hist-brewing listserve. He brewed a version of it back in the 90s...he talks about his recipe there. He used like 22 pounds of oats in a 3 gallon batch.

THere's also a post here about it as well.

Jeff's info is all through the web about the domesday brew. He even talked about it various times in the comments section of the Shut up about barclay perkin's historical blog.

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Old 12-03-2011, 05:36 PM   #5
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My best attempt so far is here.
You kinda have to decide what you want to make of the available information.

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Old 12-03-2011, 09:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
He used like 22 pounds of oats in a 3 gallon batch.
Holy cow
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airborneguy View Post
Interesting project, especially since you are looking to formulate your recipe using only primary sources for your information.
Eh, I'm happy to see secondary sources, but only reliable ones. "This is the best guess we have, given that the relevant sources are silent on the matter" works for me, though I'd prefer to see some indication of why it's considered a good guess. "This is the truth," uncited, leaves me wondering whether it's documentable fact, a good guess, or a terrible guess.

Quote:
The Journal of the The Institute of Brewing&Distilling

I came across an entry covering brews made with 100% oats. You might ned some valuable information on the dynamics of that type of mash since it is not a common practice. I only went down to the 2007 editions, so it is in there somewhere from now till then.
That's definitely useful even if they haven't got a word to say about history - what worked and didn't back then for chemical reasons would not be any different today, since chemistry never changes.

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I am starting a Brewing History class in January which the professor already told me will include reading primary historical documents. If I come across anything pertinent to your project, I will let you know.
Excellent. And if you learn any juicy tidbits that aren't relevant to this, toss them our way anyhow!
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Do you know which Monastic sect it was associated with at the time.
I'm not aware of any organized monastic orders other than the Benedictines that were active that early. (It's a few years before the Cistercians split off, and the Trappists are over a century later.)

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If you find that out sometimes you can find records from the vatican and might actually yeild a record or two of the recipe.
Ooh, that would be awesome. Any idea how to go about finding that sort of thing?
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by teucer View Post
I'm not aware of any organized monastic orders other than the Benedictines that were active that early. (It's a few years before the Cistercians split off, and the Trappists are over a century later.)



Ooh, that would be awesome. Any idea how to go about finding that sort of thing?
An official request can be made of the Vatican Libraries for research purposes. It could take months or years but it can be done. I'm at work right now but I can look into it a bit more later and get back to you.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:53 PM   #10
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I'm brewing my first oat ale this weekend, but that will be a conjecturally Dutch recipe (based on an oat-intensive grist from 1404 and a detailed recipe from later that calls for all barley, both found on SUABP). It'll be made from very pale malts (standing in for historical unkilned ones), boiled for four hours. (The process all comes from the later recipe, which is guiding me because it was the first Dutch or Belgian one I could dig up very easily that called for hops, and the grist is for a "hopbier" at a time when hopped beers were not the norm.)

Anyone know anything specifically English about earlier medieval malting? I know later on Gervase Markham makes high-kilned malts, and lighter ones than most earlier processes are becoming available by then (early kilned malts are dark and smoky), but I don't know how widespread kilning versus not was when. (They're both documentably old practices.) If I go pale and boil for a long time, this could turn out to be a heavier, gruited version of the Dutch oat beer.

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