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Old 01-11-2010, 11:54 PM   #1
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Default modern vs. medieval ale

Hello,

In researching for a book, I found a thread here about brewing medieval ale. I'm wondering if anyone could give me an idea of how modern ale would taste after a lifetime of drinking only the medieval style.

Thank you!

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Old 01-12-2010, 12:23 AM   #2
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And who responding to this thread would have any idea what a lifetime of drinking mediæval ale would be like? Even if we're generous and extend the Middle Ages to the 15th century, a person would have to be over 500 years old. Some things translat, and some don't. The first thing you'd need to do, to approximate an answer, is find someone who uses gruit, and not hops. The trouble with gruit as a mediæval adjunct is that it was some kind of hell-broth of herbs & etc. that varied from place to place. Some ingredients could actually be poisonous.
There's no reason to believe that our tastes would ever be compatible with those of that age. With no refrigeration, they ate & drank many things that would be considered rotten / spoiled in our age. Some of their tastes are incomprehensible. We use ketchup and mustard. In the Middle Ages, they used something called garum. Look it up and decide -whether or not we can understand the mind of the Middle Ages- if we can share their tastes.

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Old 01-12-2010, 12:29 AM   #3
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LMAO!....but....that was a little harsh.

All info was pretty spot on. Not much left to say.

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Old 01-12-2010, 12:31 AM   #4
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Garum doesn't sound like anything medieval. Sounds more like the Greek.
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:41 AM   #5
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One resource you might look to is Randy Mosher's "Tasting Beer". He goes a little into historic brewing.

One thing for sure, by our terms, it probably didn't taste good. It was probably low in alcohol, cloudy and pretty yeasty. More than likely, it was probably flat, unless they were lucky enough to have casks. It probably all was sour too. They didn't know yeast existed, much less about sanitation. Since there are reports of Porters being somewhat sour into the Industrial Revolution, you can bet Medieval brews were too.

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Old 01-12-2010, 12:57 AM   #6
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Gruit was largely drunk on the continent. "Ale", in its original meaning -- and it's gone through several, most recently being haphazardly applied to any top-fermented grain beverage -- was preferred in Britain, and was made without hops and usually without any herbs. So it would have likely been quite sweet by modern standards, and probably at least somewhat sour or horsey from wild yeast. "Beer", that being brewed with hops, didn't arrive in England probably until the 1400s, and only gradually took hold, with unhopped ale being enjoyed in rural areas at least into the 1600s. I would imagine that a medieval Englishman would have found modern beers to be unfamiliarly and unpleasantly bitter.
All of this of course only applies to Great Britain, and my knowledge of historical styles elsewhere is pretty lacking.

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Old 01-12-2010, 01:19 AM   #7
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This just came to me when reading santosvega's post about sweetness. Attenuation rates were relatively low too. That, combined with not using hops would have made beer very sweet indeed.

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Old 01-12-2010, 01:23 AM   #8
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We might have to call on Captain Sully Sullenberger to land this one.



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Old 01-12-2010, 06:17 PM   #9
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In addition to the sweetness, medieval brews likely had very low carbonation. If a person in the middle ages was given a modern macro lager, like Budweiser, I imagine they would find it very bitter and painfully carbonated.

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Old 01-12-2010, 06:36 PM   #10
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Don't forget that before coke was used to roast malt in the 1600s, it would have been kilned over wood, straw, manure, coal, etc.-- to some degree, most every beer was a smoked beer.

Okay, so I made up the bit about manure, but why not?

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