Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Brewing in the 1500's...
Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 03-22-2007, 05:54 PM   #1
San Jose State University
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 65
Default Brewing in the 1500's...

Brewing good beer is a tough process. Sanitation is Key.

How, then, did those guys back in the ancient days of brewing produce quality beer in open vats with their family "brewing stick." Wouldn't the beer get infected?


San Jose State University is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:05 PM   #2
zoebisch01
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
zoebisch01's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Central PA
Posts: 5,198
Liked 9 Times on 9 Posts

Default

Well, tbh sanitation is really only part of the story. The process itself, if done correctly should inherently form self protection against problem areas. In open fermentors, the Krausen itself acts as a large protective layer. The proper conditions in the primary fermentation lead to good yeast growth. Once the yeast activity is dominating the process, it tends to push out other competing microflora etc. Also, the production of alcohol and the drop in pH lead to less than favorable conditions for some critters. This is of course an oversimplification.

In addition, most places have yeast strains that have been around for centuries and those strains are very well acclimated to that geographical location. Also, there may have been many batches that were 'infected' with such things as Acetobacter and/or Lactobacillus. The real key to interpreting this 'infection' is that it is a thing to be desired in some styles. The Lambics were born out of this very idea. My guess is that the folks got used to the idea that this process is what happened when they made beer and enjoyed it for what it was.

So I guess the idea of what 'quality' beer is needs to be defined in a sense. This isn't to say that they all made good beer back then either and perhaps some of the steps we have made in brewing beer have led to a more consistent, stable product.

If you look at the following link the chart "General Fermentation" gives a brief introduction to the conditions necessary for various bugs:

charts


__________________
Event Horizon ~ A tribute to the miracle of fermentation.

Brew what you like. Do this, and you will find your inner brewer.

zoebisch01 is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:06 PM   #3
kornkob
Resident Crazy Uncle
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
kornkob's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Madison WI
Posts: 1,843
Liked 17 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 3

Default

Sanitation is one of those things that homebrewers obsess over that isn't as bad as all the obsession makes it seem.

In fact, one could argue that those old 'brew paddle pitching' days (that brew paddle was once the primary vector for the yeast to enter the brew) proves that all you reall need for sanitation is quality tools and lots of water.

Sanitation is one of those terms taht is often misused. It doesn't mean 'nothing but sanitizer has ever touched this' or 'these thigns can't possibly have anything at all on them'. It means that there are no singificant amounts of any contaminant harmful on it. How much is 'significant'? That's the real debate.

I'd argue that 'significant' is the point at which there is a real risk that the contamiant can impact the beer or the persons who consume it. The hard part is quantifying that, since that level of contaminant is so small as to be functionally indetectable to humans.

And this is why I think people obsess over it. Since there is no functional way to detect this problem, people overengineer the solution to the invisible problem.


Off topic, sorta: This behavior is typical of humans, by the way. Apply the same logic to other 'hidden' dangers and you'll see that communities of people frequently engage in this practice for a wide range of things, from the insignificant to the really and truly dangerous.
__________________
Jason 'Kornkob' Robinson

I wanna move to Theory. Everything works in Theory.
kornkob is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:07 PM   #4
Pumbaa
I prefer 23383
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Pumbaa's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,230
Liked 72 Times on 54 Posts
Likes Given: 66

Default

think of beer like dogs . . . before there were pedigrees and breeds there were dog, then people started breeding select qualities of certain dogs to get "better" dogs.

before there were ales, lagers, pilsners, stouts, porters, etc there was beer . . .
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. O'Rourke
"There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself."
Pumbaa is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:14 PM   #5
brewt00l
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Doylestown, PA
Posts: 3,739
Liked 11 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 2

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumbaa
think of beer like dogs . . . before there were pedigrees and breeds there were dog, then people started breeding select qualities of certain dogs to get "better" dogs.

before there were ales, lagers, pilsners, stouts, porters, etc there was beer . . .
That's prbly an excellent point. Most articles/info that I have read about historic brewing techniques and recipes stress the difference between the end result of that process and the various beers that we brew today.
brewt00l is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:18 PM   #6
kornkob
Resident Crazy Uncle
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
kornkob's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Madison WI
Posts: 1,843
Liked 17 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 3

Default

I'd be willing to bet that, if we were to teleport an ancient master brewer from the 1500s to now to discuss beer he'd be f-ing amazed at the accuracy of our home brewing processes but still be familiar with what we're doing. (Setting aside any discussion about industrial beer processes--- that woudlprobably kill him. "you make how many thousands of gallons per year and it all tastes exactly the same?")
__________________
Jason 'Kornkob' Robinson

I wanna move to Theory. Everything works in Theory.
kornkob is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:23 PM   #7
Cheesefood
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Poo-Poo Land
Posts: 6,809
Liked 36 Times on 25 Posts

Default

Think about the alternatives : local water/sewage mix; unpasteurized, unrefridgerated milk (if you could afford it); or seasonal fruit juices and clean water sweetened with sugar. You'd go for juice and sweet water right?

No matter how bad it was, they liked it. And it's not like any of them would say "This tastes like band-aids" or "this tastes like soap".
__________________
Past Winners: Caramel Cream Ale #1, Hoegaarden Clone, Boom-Boom Vanilla Ale, Lazy Monk Abbey Style, Amarillo Cream Ale. (AG),

Buy a shirt now!!! Please! Did I help you? Buya shirt!
Cool Shirts.


Cheesefood is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:25 PM   #8
zoebisch01
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
zoebisch01's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Central PA
Posts: 5,198
Liked 9 Times on 9 Posts

Default

Sort of OT, but this is the reason we are deathly afraid of 'midnight soil' in this country. But look to places like China where they have successfully been bridging the consumption cycle having used it for centuries. We of course in the US are way too sophisticated for such folly. Instead we have created other means of dealing with our waste. The system itself is not designed around those natural processes that would otherwise deal with it.

To bring the point back around, in those age old open fermentors, it was basically setting up proper conditions for good yeast growth and lettin 'er rip. I was reading somewhere how that in Belgium some of the officials began pressuring the producers of Lambics to 'clean up' their cellars because there was just too many cobwebs and how it was unsanitary. Well the wild yeast for fermentation have basically inoculated the webs, dust, etc. and are what are responsible for the spontaneous fermentation. Also the spiders themselves were the watchmen against things like flys and all those critters. Thankfully iirc, they were never made to totally clean up.
__________________
Event Horizon ~ A tribute to the miracle of fermentation.

Brew what you like. Do this, and you will find your inner brewer.
zoebisch01 is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:27 PM   #9
Kaiser
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Kaiser's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Pepperell, MA
Posts: 3,904
Liked 121 Times on 73 Posts
Likes Given: 4

Default

Beer back then the beer just sucked compared to what we have now. Infection was just part of the berwing process. Sometimes it was less of a problem other times the beer became undrinkable. That's why they tried to soothe the beer goods back in the days.

It wasn't until the late 1800s that brewers started to understand infections and started to pay attention to sanitation. That's when the beer got better.

Kai
Kaiser is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2007, 06:41 PM   #10
Cheesefood
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Poo-Poo Land
Posts: 6,809
Liked 36 Times on 25 Posts

Default

Way back when, they were all makingitgood. We should totally go back in time and EAC their asses back to the 16th century.


__________________
Past Winners: Caramel Cream Ale #1, Hoegaarden Clone, Boom-Boom Vanilla Ale, Lazy Monk Abbey Style, Amarillo Cream Ale. (AG),

Buy a shirt now!!! Please! Did I help you? Buya shirt!
Cool Shirts.


Cheesefood is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
hook & ladder brewing co. & Southern Tier brewing starrfish General Beer Discussion 22 12-10-2009 04:46 PM
Basic Brewing Radio - German Brewing History Kaiser General Beer Discussion 8 10-30-2009 01:20 AM
Brewing my first batch, but already looking to modify malt extract brewing. leapinglords Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 6 08-10-2009 10:57 PM
Naked City Brewing invades Double Vision Brewing dblvsn Washington HomeBrew Forum 13 06-23-2008 03:11 PM
Victory Brewing ~ Downingtown, PA 37 minute brewing tour video SuperiorBrew General Beer Discussion 5 01-23-2008 07:14 PM


Forum Jump

Newest Threads

LATEST SPONSOR DEALS