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Old 04-21-2010, 11:34 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by KingBrianI View Post
Please, everyone. For the love of god. Boil your wort!!!
Words of wisdom. I tried some of KingBrianI's no-boil "authentic" batch on two occasions. I think I finally nailed down the main flavors: cigarette ash, maybe some pond water with a little sweetness and yeast. If this is what they drank in the 13th century....**** I'm not cut out for that.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:38 PM   #92
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Haha! Did it gush on you?

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Old 04-22-2010, 12:30 PM   #93
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Haha! Did it gush on you?
Not at all for about a minute. Then I heard it start to fizzle and a slow stream of foam starting coming out of it. So kind of. I got to work an hour late today because I felt weird and had a terrible headache when I woke up. I don't know if it was medieval ale related, but I think that is my last dance with that stuff. It really did taste like it was steeped with cigarette butts.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:20 AM   #94
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/bump for a good cause

http://www.fantasybrewmasters.com/dwarf-brew-2010

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Old 08-05-2010, 05:36 PM   #95
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Aarhhg this thread is back from the dead!

Wonderful information in here, I am going to do a small batch of Bob's medieval ale as well:

70% Oat Malt
15% Wheat Malt
15% Barley Malt

It's going to be for a ren fest outing (some friends and I always go in the fall and camp and all that fun stuff). Good times. I want to do it as authentic as possible, so I'll be brewing shortly before we go so we can drink this stuff really young. I'll try to bottle it in 1L flip-tops a little before fermentation is over to get some natural carbonation in the bottles. I'm probably going to do a short 15 minute boil to pasteurize the wort, not necessarily very authentic, but I don't want to give anyone diarrhea during a camp out. I think the amount of live yeast in the beer will be bad enough.

I had a few thoughts about the process though.

Dough-in water temperature? I am wondering about this one. I would assume that medieval brewers weren't making 5 gallon batches, but much bigger ones. Their temperature drop on adding the near-boiling water to the grist would be larger than ours with their larger grain bill, and their bigger mash tun, I just don't know by how much.

Microbes, infection, etc.? I am also interested in the difference between the airborne wild yeast spores and bacteria of today, and the composition they would have had hundreds of years ago. I would guess we get different sorts of infections if we leave our beer out (I'm just conjecturing here...) The middle ages were significantly more agrarian than today. From what I've been reading I gather that (at least before the black plague) most if not all of the available land was used for agriculture, or pasture. Everyone grew something as a matter of survival, and I suspect that his must have resulted in a different "infections" in the beer. I'd be hesitant to let wild spores infect my batch today, especially since I live in a city, and suspect that there are far nastier things around than there would have been on a manor in the middle ages. Even a city like London, which was huge by their standards, is a pretty small town by ours, and was surrounded by farms to boot. I'm thinking they must have had more "lambic" style infections, and less gut-rotting slime mold-type infections than we'd get today. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Smokey character? How did they kiln grains back then? Unless they took great pains in separating the smoke from the grains they were roasting, I would guess their ales and beers had a lot more smokey, roasted character. Would it be more authentic to use smoked malts instead of plain ones?

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Old 08-13-2010, 03:26 PM   #96
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I think your ratio of Oats to Barley is off. As posted by flyangler, check out this article.

Why use so many oats? The guy did the research on this (the article I linked) uses a 3:1 ratio of barley to oats, almost the opposite of the recipes on here. Has anyone tried the recipes from this article? I plan to soon.

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Old 08-21-2010, 09:42 PM   #97
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I think your ratio of Oats to Barley is off. As posted by flyangler, check out this article.

Why use so many oats? The guy did the research on this (the article I linked) uses a 3:1 ratio of barley to oats, almost the opposite of the recipes on here. Has anyone tried the recipes from this article? I plan to soon.
I don't see that the 3:1 barley/oat ratio is based on the Monks of St. Paul's Cathedral inventory. And it is an inventory more than a recipe. There is another article somewhere out in internetland that discusses whether the units are by weight or measure which can make a difference.

I have attempted 2 small batches of the recipe in this thread and they have failed for one reason or another. I will give it another go sometime. First batch-the oat malt did not convert. I added amylase to the second batch and tried it no boil. Tasted sour and lemony and carbonated in the bottles with no priming sugar addition. I'll be boiling then next attempt.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:51 PM   #98
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As a medieval reenactor who got into home brewing to try out some of the recipes I've been carrying around for years, I'm pleased as heck to see this thread and the enthusiasm of the people in it. Thought I'd post this here for anyone who's interested. It's a Restoration-era honey ale dated 1669:


Sir Thomas Gower makes his pleasant and wholsom drink of Ale and Honey thus. Take fourty Gallons of small Ale, and five Gallons of Honey. When the Ale is ready to Tun, and is still warm, take out ten Gallons of it; which, whiles it is hot, mingle with it the five Gallons of Honey, stirring it exceedingly well with a clean arm till they be perfectly incorporated. Then cover it, and let it cool and stand still.

At the same time you begin to disolve the honey in this parcel, you take the other of thirty Gallons also warm, and Tun it up with barm, and put it into a vessel capable to hold all the whole quantity of Ale and Honey, and let it work there; and because the vessel will be so far from being full, that the gross foulness of the Ale cannot work over, make holes in the sides of the barrel even with the superficies of the Liquor in it, out of which the gross feculence may purge; and these holes must be fast shut, when you put in the rest of the Ale with the Honey: which you must do, when you see that the strong working of the other is over; and that it works but gently, which may be after two or three or four days, according to the warmth of the season. You must warm your solution of honey, when you put it in, to be as warm as Ale, when you Tun it; and then it will set the whole a working a fresh, and casting out more foulness; which it would do to violently, if you put it in at the first of the Tunning it.

It is not amiss that some feculence lie thick upon the Ale, and work not all out; for that will keep in the spirits. After you have dissolved the honey in the Ale, you must boil it a little to ski, it; but skim it not, til it have stood a while from the fire to cool; else you will skim away much of the Honey, which will still rise as long as it boileth. If you will not make so great a quantity at a time, do it in less in the same proportions. He maketh it about Michaelmas for Lent.

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Old 10-07-2010, 09:57 PM   #99
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Now -- a few notes on the above, and some random info for the benefit of anyone who's ever puzzled over archaic source material:

-A 'tun' is a barrel holding about 250 gallons, or about five times more than a hogshead (!), a 'lead' is the pot you boil/seethe your wort in (which often *was* made out of lead [ugh]), 'barm' is the yeast you skimmed off another batch of beer, and an 'arm' is a long-handled stirring spoon -- not the one your hand is attached to!

-For a modern homebrewer with an airlock, adding the yeast and the honey separately is probably not necessary. We don't have to worry about the 'gross feculence' blowing the top of our tun off!

-Michaelmas is in September and Lent is in March, so you're letting this stuff age in the cask about six months. You can bet the honey had been completely broken down by that time, and the final product was nice and bubbly and prolly not that sweet at all.

-Medieval brewers impartially used whatever kind of malted grain came to hand. A lot didn't have any barley in them at all. But a good safe starting point is what the English called drudge, or drutch, or dredge depending on what source material you're looking at. It's basically a half and half combo of oats and barley, and everybody used it for everything for centuries, at least in Britain -- bread, pastry, ale, animal feed.

-Brit brewers typically boiled their grain twice, and got a first and second running out of it. Boils might last up to an hour and a half total, which corresponds roughly to our mash for an hour/boil for an hour. Often both runnings were combined in the final product.

-Note that with Gower's recipe you're starting with a fermented ale -- not wort -- and adding more yeast and honey on top of *that*. This is a double-fermented ale and I'll bet you it packs quite a wallop. Also note that 'small' ale, and small beer, might refer either to the stuff you brewed off the second runnings of the grain *or* a product that wasn't that strong to begin with. A good many medieval and Renaissance-era beers and ales were pretty doggone big, so how 'small' the ale Sir Thomas refers to is open to question. One recipe for ordinary household ale I have, dating from the late 1500's, calls for the equivalent of 15 lbs. of malted grain per 5-gallon batch. (Remember when breaking down bushels to cups that a bushel of grain is different than a bushel of something else, and different kinds of grain have their own bushels). So I've been hazarding a private guess that six to eight pounds of mashed grain for the modern home brewer would qualify as 'small.'

- As you can imagine, fuel was expensive. One recipe from 1577 by a professional brewer says he values his malt at ten shillings and his wood at four. So imagine paying twenty bucks for your malt and eight bucks for propane or electricity, every single batch! However, most ordinary folks who made their own ale at least got it to the point where it was bubbling. 'Seething' is a term you'll see a lot in period recipes.

-People who couldn't afford barrels generally stored their ale in large stone crocks, where it could achieve the same sort of happy critical mass as cask ale. It would indeed not have been carbonated, but it *would* be nice and cool and pleasant to drink. Casked ale was, and is, stored in the cellar and is both bubbly and cool when it is served, though not ice-cold.

-All brewing instruments and containers, including the barrels, were routinely scalded with hot water to sterilize them. English ale during the 1300's was exported all over Europe, and it was said to be as clear as a glass of Bordeaux wine -- high praise for the period. I've drunk several authentic medieval ales and beers at SCA events, and a lot of this information comes from the people who brewed it. Anyone who cleaves to the line of 'oh, it was flat and syrupy because our primitive barbarian ancestors didn't have hops or sugar, and cloudy because they didn't have sanitation' ought to get a boot in the rear.

I am off to a hunting trip in Montana at the end of the month and do not have time to attempt it now, but when I get back I intend to make some of Sir Thomas' ale for myself, using dredge as a base. I'll certainly provide this gentle company with a progress report in due time.

/doffs his hat

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Old 10-07-2010, 11:41 PM   #100
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PhilOssiferzStone, interesting stuff! When I feel like I've mastered modern beers, I might try to take one of these on one day

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