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Old 05-03-2006, 02:55 PM   #1
pgarrett
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May 2006
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Hey everyone, I'm just getting ready to try my first batch this weekend. I've got a new standard double pail kit, a new 34qt SS turkey fry kit and a brewers best red ale mix. I was wondering if there's anything I should do to the equipment (aside from the standrd sterilization) to get it ready for brewing. Does it need to be 'seasoned'?

Also, a related question. After much reading over the past week or so, sterilization has been beat into my skull. I'm just wondering how beer was brewed before sterilization? Was it just pot luck on how it would turn out?

 
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:19 PM   #2
sonvolt
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Beers brewed before sterilization often tasted like sweaty horse blankets . . . from the infections. In fact, the "older" a beer aged the more susceptible it was to this off-flavor. Fermenting and storing in wooden containers that were not properly sanitized contributed to this.

It is for this reason that pub owners would often "mix threads" - literally mixing an older (raunchier) beer with a newer, less infected one. This was done so as not to waste the old, nasty beer but still create a drinkable product. (The origins of our modern porter style may lie in this practice).

I would be willing to bet that if we (modern homebrewers) were able to take a brew tour (Bill & Ted style) through history, we would find much of the early products to be very undrinkable by our standards.

 
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:21 PM   #3
Walker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgarrett
Hey everyone, I'm just getting ready to try my first batch this weekend. I've got a new standard double pail kit, a new 34qt SS turkey fry kit and a brewers best red ale mix. I was wondering if there's anything I should do to the equipment (aside from the standrd sterilization) to get it ready for brewing. Does it need to be 'seasoned'?

Also, a related question. After much reading over the past week or so, sterilization has been beat into my skull. I'm just wondering how beer was brewed before sterilization? Was it just pot luck on how it would turn out?
First: SANITIZE, not STERILIZE. There is a big difference.

You don't need to sanitize (or season) anything that is going to be used to boil your beer. The boiling itself will handle that.

As for brewing before the advent of sanitization... they still boiled the stuff, so it was relatively sanitary (certainly more so than the unboiled water that was available at the time.) After fermentation, the hops and alcohol kept things sort of 'clean'. I don't know how they kept the bulk of the brew from getting infected form the time of boil to the time of putting it into barrels, but beer back in those days didn't keep very long and would go sour realtively fast.

-walker
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:22 PM   #4
david_42
 
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Basically people drank what was available, sour, sweaty, etc. So long as they got hammered, who cares about flavor? This attitude seems to still exist in some quarters.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:26 PM   #5
sonvolt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker-san
I don't know how they kept the bulk of the brew from getting infected form the time of boil to the time of putting it into barrels, but beer back in those days didn't keep very long and would go sour realtively fast.

-walker
Yeah . . . most beer was called "running ale," because the brewers wanted to get this stuff out of the barrel and into their patron's bellies as quickly as possible. These beers were shipped to the pubs as soon as primary fermentation was over . . . the beer was actually finished fermenting on its way to the pub. These "real" ales were tapped straight from the secondary fementer (a cask) and drank as quickly as possible before the Brettanomyces had the chance to really nasty up the beer.

 
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:32 PM   #6
sonvolt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
Basically people drank what was available, sour, sweaty, etc. So long as they got hammered, who cares about flavor? This attitude seems to still exist in some quarters.

There is probably much truth in this statement, but I can't help think about the manner in which humans "tastes" change through history. Flavors that we may consider undrinkable may have been considered acceptable in certain time periods. For instance, I read recently that IPA were brewed with up to 200 IBUs!!! Even the most serious of hopheads in modern times would consider this to be overkill. English Mild Ales used to have a specific starting gravity over 1.070 . . . ! Today, they are barely starting at 1.035. Last night, I looked at a product marketed as a Barley Wine . . . it was only just over 8% ABV.

My point is that tastes change, and I would wager that those bar patrons may have actually enjoyed some sourness and sweaty taste in their beer. No too much, though, or they wouldn't have begun mixing threads when the tastes got too strong for their enjoyment.

Of course, I may be full of bs . . .

 
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:35 PM   #7
Walker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonvolt
Flavors that we may consider undrinkable may have been considered acceptable in certain time periods. For instance, I read recently that IPA were brewed with up to 200 IBUs!!!
I'm guessing tha this wasn't done for flavor, but rather for the preservative properties that hops provide. If what I have read can be believed, anything over 100 IBUs goes right off the charts for human taste. You can't tell the difference between 110 IBUs and 200 IBUs.

-walker
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:45 PM   #8
sonvolt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker-san
I'm guessing tha this wasn't done for flavor, but rather for the preservative properties that hops provide. If what I have read can be believed, anything over 100 IBUs goes right off the charts for human taste. You can't tell the difference between 110 IBUs and 200 IBUs.

-walker
Yeah . . . you are probably right, but this assumes that this practice began because brewers knew then about the preservative qualties of hop flowers, which is possible. Even so, BJCP indicates a 40-60 IBU range for modern English IPAs (which is the modern version of these early beers we are discussing). American Imperial IPAs are probably closer in style to what these early English Ales were like . . . but 200 IBUS even exceeds BJCP guidelines for the modern version of this style (60-100+).

I look at it in context . . . you enjoy what you can get. When I was in college, I loved Keystone Light . . . it was all I could afford to drink, so I had to get used to it. I'll bet early ale drinkers learned to enjoy horse-blanket ale.

Man . . . I love discussing beer . . . but I think that we may have hijacked this thread!!! We need a "History of Ales" forum . . . on this board.

 
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Old 05-03-2006, 04:01 PM   #9
magno
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker-san
I'm guessing tha this wasn't done for flavor, but rather for the preservative properties that hops provide.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonvolt
Yeah . . . you are probably right, but this assumes that this practice began because brewers knew then about the preservative qualties of hop flowers, which is possible.
I thought that IPAs were hopped up to preserve the beer for the long trip from England to India.



BTW pgarrett, just sanitize everything that comes into contact with the chilled wort, and you should be in good shape.

- magno

 
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Old 05-03-2006, 04:05 PM   #10
Walker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magno
I thought that IPAs were hopped up to preserve the beer for the long trip from England to India.
They were. The preservative properties of hops were kown at the time IPAs were 'invented'.

-walker
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