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16th Century English Beer

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bikegeek

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The Hobbit Brew thread and my general interest in 17th Century English history got me interested in what beer of that period may have been like. I've come across several sources quoting "recipes" of the period, but most are more of an outline of the process than an actual accounting of ingredients and quantities. Below is a recipe I found from The Description of England, written by William Harrison in 1577. I wasn't happy with the various interpretations found on the 'net or in A Sip Though Time, so this is my attempt at converting the original to a 5 gallon, all-grain recipe.

I welcome your input, especially concerning yeast and hops.

The original text:
Nevertheless, sith I have taken occasion to speake of bruin, I will exemplifie in such a proportion as I am best skilled in, bicause it is the usuall rate for mine owne familie, and once in a moneth practiced by my wife and hir maid servants, who proceed withall after this maner, as she hath oft informed me. Having therefore groond eight bushels of good malt upon our querne, where the toll is saved, she addeth unto it half a bushel of wheat meale, and so much of otes small groond, and so tempereth or mixeth them with the malt, that you cannot easily discerne the one from the other, otherwise these later would clunter, fall into lumps, and thereby become unprofitable.

The first liquor which is full eightie gallons according to the proportion of our furnace, she maketh boiling hot, and then powreth it softlie into the malt, where it resteth (but without stirring) untill hir second liquor be almost ready to boile.

This doone she letteth hir mash run till the malt be left without liquor, or at the leastwise the greater part of the moisture, which she perceiveth by the staie and softe issue thereof, and by this time hir second liquor in the furnace is ready to seeth, which is put also to the malt as the first woort also againe into the furnace, whereunto she addeth two pounds of the best English hops. and so letteth them seeth together by the space of two hours in summer, or an houre and a halfe in winter, whereby it getteth an excellent colour and continuance without impeachment, or anie superfluous tartnesse. But before she putteth her first woort into the furnace, or mingleth it with the hops, she taketh out a vessel full, of eight or nine gallons, which she shutteth up close, and suffereth no aire to come into it till it become yellow, and this she reserveth by it selfe unto further use, as shall appeare hereafter, calling it Brackwoort or Charwoort, and as she saith it addeth also to the colour of the drinke, whereby it yeeldeth not unto amber or fine gold in hew unto the eie.

By this time also hir second woort is let runne, and the first being taken out of the furnace and placed to coole, she returneth the middle woort into the furnace, where it is striker over, or from whence it is taken againe. "When she hath mashed also the last liquor (and set the second to coole by the first) she letteth it runne and then seetheth it againe with a pound and a half of new hops or peradventure two pounds as she seeth cause by the goodness or baseness of the hops; and when it hath sodden in summer two hours, and in winter an houre and a halfe, she striketh it also and reserveth it unto mixture with the rest when time doth serve therefore. [Finally, when she setteth her drink together, she addeth to her brackwoort or charwoort half an ounce of arras, and half a quarter of an ounce of bayberries, finely powdered, and then, putting the same into her woort, with a handful of wheat flour, she proceedeth in such usual order as common brewing requireth. Some, instead of arras and bays, add so much long pepper only, but, in her opinion and my liking, it is not so good as the first, and hereof we make three hogsheads of good beer, such (I mean) as is meet for poor men as I am to live withal, whose small maintenance (for what great thing is forty pounds a year, computatis computandis, able to perform?) may endure no deepeer cut, the charges whereof groweth in this manner.] I value my malt at ten shillings, my wood at foure shillings which I buie, my hops at twenty pence, the spice at two pence, servants wages two shillings sixpence, both meat and drinke, and the wearing of my vessell at twentie pence, so that for my twenty shillings I have ten score gallons of beer or more, notwithstanding the loss in seething. The continuance of the drinke is always determined after the quantitie of the hops, so that being well hopped it lasteth longer. For it feedeth upon the hop and holdeth out so long as the force of the same endureth which being extinguished the drinke must be spent or else it dieth and becometh of no value.


My work, so far:
The Recipe (80 gallons * 3)
eight bushels of good malt
half a bushel of wheat meale
and so much of otes
two pounds of the best English hops
againe with a pound and a half of new hops or peradventure two pounds

Assumptions:
1. Modern British measures are comparable to 16th century measures.
2. 1 gallon of malt, 1 gallon of wheat, and 1 gallon of oats all weigh the same. (I have no wheat or oats on hand to weigh)
3. Second hops addition is 2 pounds
4. 0.10 gallons water absorbed per pound of grain
5. 10% evaporation per hour of boiling
6. Storage in wood casks (size unknown)

Conversions
1 gallon (UK) = 1.201 gallons (US) (Pocket Ref, 3rd Ed., Glover, T.J.)
1 bushel (UK) = 1.032 bushels (US) (Pocket Ref, 3rd Ed., Glover, T.J.)
1 bushel (US) = 9.309 gallons (US) (Pocket Ref, 3rd Ed., Glover, T.J.)
0.5 gallons (US) of malted barley = 2 lbs, 6.625 oz or 2.414 lbs (personal experience)
1 gallon (US) malted barley = 4 lbs, 13.25 oz or 4.828 lbs (calculated)
1 bushel (UK) = 44.943 lbs (US) of malted barley (calculated)
1 pound (troy) = 0.823 lbs (US)

The Recipe Re-visited (288.24 gallons US)
359.54 lbs malt
22.47 lbs wheat meal
22.47 lbs oats
1.65 lbs hops (first running - 96.08 gal US)
1.23 - 1.65 lbs hops (third running - 96.08 gal US)

First running (96.08 gal US)
35.9 gallons absorbed by the grain
8 gallons removed for other uses
12.04 gallons lost to evaporation (2 hours)
40.14 gallons remaining

Second running (96.08 gal US)
grain saturated, no further absorption
19.22 gallons lost to evaporation (2 hours)
76.86 gallons remaining

Third running (96.08 gal US)
grain saturated, no further absorption
19.22 gallons lost to evaporation (2 hours)
76.86 gallons remaining

Return the 8 gallons of brackwort

Total yield: 201.86 gallons US (168.08 gallons UK), not quite ten score gallons

Scaled for yield of 5 gallons (US)
(359.54/201.86)*5 = 8.91 lbs malt
(22.47/201.86)*5 = 0.56 lbs wheat meal
(22.47/201.86)*5 = 0.56 lbs oats
(((1.65*2)*16)/201.86)*5 = 1.31 oz hops
 

Revvy

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FYI, the November/December issue of Zymurgy has an interesting article on the problems associated with recreating an historic porter at collonial Williamsburg. I know it's later than your period, but it might give you some insight. I'd be interested in hearing about your results.

One of the interesting thing to learn is that there was no Sparging done in Colonial times.

So I guess you would only be working with your first runnings as well.
 
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bikegeek

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Revvy said:
FYI, the November/December issue of Zymurgy has an interesting article on the problems associated with recreating an historic porter at collonial Williamsburg. I know it's later than your period, but it might give you some insight. I'd be interested in hearing about your results.

One of the interesting thing to learn is that there was no Sparging done in Colonial times.

So I guess you would only be working with your first runnings as well.
This recipe is essentially doing a batch sparge since she is limited to doing 80 gallons at a time. The line "she striketh it [the third running] also and reserveth it unto mixture with the rest" suggests to me that all three runnings are mixed. So, I'm basing my ingredient quantities proportional to her final yield of nearly 200 gallons.

Thanks for the tip on the Williamsburg article. I'd be interested to see how it compares to accounts of the brewing in nearby Jamestown in the early 1600s.
 

david_42

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Because of the way malts were dried (over smoky fires), you might consider using a Brown Malt or Rauch.
 
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bikegeek

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david_42 said:
Because of the way malts were dried (over smoky fires), you might consider using a Brown Malt or Rauch.
That's another thing I've been giving some thought to. I don't think the malts used in Mr. Harrison's brewing would have been overly-dark or smoky, but I can't say with any certainty what the most appropriate modern malt would be. Harrison writes: "In some places it [malt] is dried at leisure with wood alone, or straw alone, in other with wood and straw together, but, of all, the straw-dried is the most excellent. For the wood-dried malt, when it is brewed, beside that the drink is higher of color, it doth hurt and annoy the head of him that is not used thereto, because of the smoke." It seems logical that the malts in use by his wife would be of the lighter, straw-dried variety.
 

Dynachrome

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Revvy

...I have taken occasion to speake of bruin...
I'm a Tolkien fan.

I like beer.

I occasionally brew things off the beaten path.

I'm intrigued by how simple beer can be.

Subscribing kind of bookmarks it within the site. I log on from different computers and don't have portable favorites.

I have a brew going right now "Crash Test Dummy" that is mostly free ingredients. The closest I came to buying something for this batch was some malt extract I won at a raffle. (I had to buy a ticket to win).

I won some Zymurgy mags at that raffle too. I'll have to see if that article you mentioned is included in them.

....and just maybe one of the original posters might chime in with a little thread update on how things worked out.

I supposed I could have just PM'd bikegeek and seen if I got a reply.
 

patto1ro

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Bushels, being a volume measurement, a bushel of barley weighs considerably more than a bushel of malt. 8 bushels is a quarter. A quarter of pale malt is about 336 pounds. A quarter of brown or amber malt only about 250 pounds.

The modern Imperial volume measurements only date from 1829. Until then there had been separate wine and beer gallons and they decided to standardise on the wine gallon. A beer gallon had been slightly larger, but not enough to really make a difference in a recipe like this.

From the description, it appears that they mashed three times. That was typical before sparging (which spread to England from Scotland in the middle of the 19th century) was introduced. There were two, three or even four mashes, with the temperature rising for each successive mash.
 
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