This recipe is actually a combination of some traditional Orkney recipes and Fraoch (heather ale). This is a full mash recipe as you dont get extract bere malt, but light LME would be ok but obviously will have a different flavour. Bere malt is a type of early barley grown in the Northern Isles of Scotland and is still used for home brewing and baking in the Orkney Islands.
Heather was widely used in early times as hops were unavailable or scarce. Also the legendery Pictish Heather Ale which recipe is lost or may have survived in small outlying places deserves a mention.
An Example of every step in making "Genuine Orkney Ale" from Ernest Walker Marwick
Genuine Orkney home-brewed ale was prepared as follows:
To make the maat
Take good Orkney bere, dress it well, and see that it is free from stoor. Put it into sacks-a bushel or so in each two-bushel sack-and tie them near the top to give the bere room to swell. Place the sacks under water in a quarry-hole or loch for two days and nights, then take them out and let them sype for another two days or more.
When white rootlets begin to appear, spread the bere nine or ten inches deep on the floor of the barn loft. So that the growth stays fairly even, turn it twice a day-or more often if the roots grow too quickly. The bere will have to be spread thinner as time goes on, especially if the weather is mild or muggy, and there is a tendancy for the grain to heat. Winter is by far the best time to make maat.
After a week or a little longer on the floor, the young shoot inside the mettins should have grown about two-thirds the length of the mettin. You should break single mettins every now and again to find out, cracking them with your thumb nail. This is just about the right length for the shoot in making maat for ale, and by this time too, withering of the roots should have begun. If you have turned the grain properly and the young shoot does not grow appreciably longer, the grain should be left on the floor for another day or two to let the withering of the roots continue.
The bere is then piled into a heap called the sweet-haep or sweet-bed, where it becomes warm, and reaches the right stage of sweetness, which can only be judged after much experience. The sweet-haep will need to be turned over now and again to prevent it from getting too hot and to promote evennes in the heating and mellowing of the grain. It may be necessary to start the process by sprinkling water over the sweet-haep.
When the bere leaves the sweet-haep it is shoveled into sacks and sent to the grinding mill to be dried. This is a critical process. Some millers used to put it on the warm kiln plates immediately after oats had been removed from them. The kiln was gradually allowed to grow warmer. When the bere was nearly dry it was given an extra burst of heat to finish it off. It must be winnowed after it comes from the kiln to remove the withered roots.
The process of making maat, which will have taken about three weeks, is now completed, but it needs to be crushed or lightly bruised before it is used. In old times it was crushed in a hand quern, set so as to merely crush the corn. Ale makers used to crush just enough maat for the amount they intended to brew, the rest being kept in a dry place, often in sacks suspended from beams in the kitchen
To brew the ale
First of all put a stone (the old millers stone of 17 1/2 lbs) or more of the maat into the brewing kirn. Over this pour over five or six gallons of very hot water, this is to mask, or infuse, the brew. The resulting liquor, or wort, should be left for two hours before being strained and drawn off into pails. In most of the old kirns the tap was merely a wooden plug, and the liquor was strained through straw placed on the bottom of the kirn with a flat stone on top of it.
To the strained wort is added a quantity of hops-four ounces perhaps-in a muslin bag. The amount is determined by the flavour desired: more hops, the more bitter will be the brew. The wort is then boiled for an hour and a half to two hours, strained ounce again and cooled to blood heat. A bucketful, or rather less, is returned to the kirn. At this stage a small quantity of barm, or yeast, is sntroduced. When the wort in the kirn has begun to work, or ferment, properly, a little more of the wort is added, and so on until all the liquor is in the kirn. You must now wait until the barm has sunk to the bottom of the kirn an the ale is clear. Which will take a couple of days. When bottling, use for preference 5-gill bottles with an ordinary cork; ruber or composition corks are unsatisfactory.
To strengthen the brew
To make the ale dangerously ‘heady’ was the aim of some brewers. This was accomplished in earlier days by adding saave (the tops or blooms of heather or common ling) to the maat, usually under a stone at the bottom of the kirn, where it also acted as a strainer. Another way to strengthening the liquor was by allowin an oat sheaf, with the ears of grain set down at the bottom of the kirn, to mask with the maat. In more modern times oatmeal was sometimes added to the maat, or double-brewing was resorted to. This meant that another lot of maat was masked in the wort, making the resulting liquor very strong indeed.