Brewing 17th/18th Century Ales and Beers

The Homebrew Forum

Help Support The Homebrew Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
3,557
Reaction score
1,806
Location
North Wales
Cheers @Big_Eight, slapping a "like" on my old (but only last Feb) summary of brewing with "brown malt" (Alternative to old brown malt) was a timely reminder that I had created it! I had wandered off track over summer looking at "Invert Sugars" and "Pyknometers" while I still had plenty to do with "brown malt".

I had stalled doing "brown malt". I realised brown malt evolved after brown malt started to be replaced by more economical pale malt (late 18th C.), by the introduction of black malt (1817), increasing use of rotating cylinder kilns (indirect heat) as used for black malt for at least some of the process, and from the end of 19th C. into 20th C. the introduction of rotating cages into the directly heated kilns. Brown Malt increasingly became non-diastatic as more heat was applied to get the flavour demanded by the drinkers. I guess the rotating cages allowed more heat with remote turning of the grain to get a more uniform product and smooth out hot spots as burning down malthouses was getting more common.

I was getting tempted into all this extra work, but more recently have put it on back-burner, taken a diastatic brown malt emulation and returned to brewing beers and ales from the earlier 18th and 17th Century. I had a dodgy recipe for the 18th C. hopped ale (as opposed to a gruit ale) "Stitch" and adapted that.

20221125_202246_WEB.jpg


No head! But carbonation would be virtually nonexistent back then. Actually, in this case the sample is straight from the fermenter! "Stitch" was reputed to be an ale for head bangers, but this drink of mine was only 5% ABV so perhaps not a copy of "Stitch". It was based on all I could find about "ales" of old, in particular, it was "food": You could go in to battle on this stuff (soldiers had a daily allowance), that and a bit of bread perhaps. I very nearly made a terminal mistake with it, forgetting I was using an enzyme deficient "brown malt" and went ahead with a high temperature mash, but I got away with it. Some (modern day) specifications:

Mash: 69-71°C
OG: 1.071
IBU: 10.5 (calculated .... I did say it was an "ale"!)
Fermentation: 22-24°C (ales fermented warm ... they were covered, not open like beers)
Yeast: A WY#1099 was used, a low attenuating dextrin averse yeast seemed most appropriate
FG : 1.035 😲 (I was aiming at a rather mediocre 1.027, but forgot that brown malt).
ABV: 5%

It was of course 100% diastatic brown malt and Golding hops (one addition only). And remarkably, you can drink an OG 1.070 within two weeks of making (it won't get much better with time?).

And it is not ridiculously sweet (yeast ferments the sweet tasting sugars). "Thick" is a reasonable description.
 
I want to at some point get in to the process of malting my own grain specifically to recreate the brown malt of old or at least as close as I can. Then throw in a little distiller's/enzyme malt to ensure enough diastatic power.

This would be mainly because it would be fun and interesting.
 
I want to at some point get in to the process of malting my own ...
I'd be jealous of someone doing that! That route is closed to me, hence "emulations". The emulations on based on work and descriptions from Francois Dyment who's from the USA and has this blog: Brewing Beer the Hard Way

Also, a book:
1669882455070.png
I'm sure his work would be valuable to anyone thinking of making their own malt (he seems to have his head screwed on right).

My emulations are great for quickly working through parameters, but I'd really like to try some for "real" to confirm I'm on the right path. But even without the cross-reference with "real stuff" I know it's much closer than modern kilned brown malt which simply doesn't have the components of the old stuff (colour and flavours from "stewing"). Some refuse to believe all that and stick with the modern kilned stuff citing the one-liner descriptions as proof it's close to the same - so be it 🤷‍♂️

The disadvantage with my emulations is they are immensely complicated: The basic composition based on colour (EBC) fits a distribution curve (positive skew) to which I can substitute smoked malt and crystal malts to imitate features like methods that changed over time. I use "Munich Malt" because the elements they introduce must be more like old fashioned brown malts (reading Dyment's work). All rolled into an (unfinished) spreadsheet. So, the brown malt I used in the "Stitch" came out as:

Screenshot BrownMalt 2022-11-05 112345.jpg

Ignore the "2g", I didn't add that (rounding error). The rest is fairly straight-forward o_O
 
Last edited:
... Wow, that is a complicated grist.
It is. But I don't dream up the crazy figures, the Spreadsheet does that and I just (crazily and blindly) follow the outcome. The other bit of the Spreadsheet does the hard graft (okay, so the Spreadsheet isn't crazy, it's following my instructions so it might still be me who's crazy?).

1670005830030.png


At the moment I'm manually filling in the "bin sizes" (it's a Bar Chart with variable width "bins" - or "bars" - so the size of the "bins" is directly proportional to the ingredient it represents). Out-of-control geeky (I put it down to having a good whack on me head). Eventually the spreadsheet will work out the bin sizes rather than me measure them from a scaled drawing. But that'll test me Excel abilities (or I may just blow a mental fuse oh no ... not another!).
 
It is. But I don't dream up the crazy figures, the Spreadsheet does that and I just (crazily and blindly) follow the outcome. The other bit of the Spreadsheet does the hard graft (okay, so the Spreadsheet isn't crazy, it's following my instructions so it might still be me who's crazy?).

View attachment 78593

At the moment I'm manually filling in the "bin sizes" (it's a Bar Chart with variable width "bins" - or "bars" - so the size of the "bins" is directly proportional to the ingredient it represents). Out-of-control geeky (I put it down to having a good whack on me head). Eventually the spreadsheet will work out the bin sizes rather than me measure them from a scaled drawing. But that'll test me Excel abilities (or I may just blow a mental fuse oh no ... not another!).
I like your work Excel is a great tool. Keep working on it putting those bin sizes on autopilot sounds like it'll make life a lot easier in your pursuit of the perfect brown malt representation!

I plugged in Tinseth equations and built my own IBU calculator a while back just for fun. That's when I realized how up in the air and controversial IBU calculations were lol.
 
Mmmm ... may have to rethink my "Brown Malt" for these "Ale" recipes? The composition above was based on descriptions of brown malt for 18th C. "Porter" which may well have been darker than might have been used before. This is a piccie of my finished "Ale" (from a couple of days ago when it still looked Christmassy - and before noon so I'm only left with a small sample to quaff).

20221215_115823_THUMBNAIL.jpg


That's pretty dark!

Perhaps something closer to my "Amber Malt" composition? (And an example of the drawings I derive "bin-sizes" from in that spreadsheet above).

Amber Malt Emulation.png


That's an advantage of using "emulations": It doesn't require much effort to mold them to something more appropriate. This graph (still of a "positive skew" distribution curve) would represent more careful, less hasty, "kilning". (The amber and brown malt are further divided in the spreadsheet, because both, especially the amber malt, can impart much astringency to the finished beer).

In reality, malt made by these old methods would come out an infinite range of shades depending on who's making it (... phase of the moon, etc.? ✨).



The pictured "Ale" is visibly very, very, low carbonation, only enough CO2 to lift the ale out of the keg (50mbar, or about 0.75PSI). But it's remarkable how such low carbonation affects the ale. I've not clearly experienced it in beer although I often hear it as an explanation of this "fault" (maybe the level of dextrin emphasises it?). The "Ale" is markedly acidic and metallic tasting until its rested for 20-30 minutes (and presumably the CO2 level has dropped still further).
 
After convincing myself that the colour of my "Ale" attempt was a bit too dark, I attempted to put the evolution of "brown malt" into a chart so as to better model my brown malt creations next time. It came out as:
Brown Malt Development.jpg


Time (1600 through to 1999) on the bottom (x-axis), relative quantity in order of colour up the side (y-axis). No scale, so don't look for one!

I don't want to repeat the explanation in more detail. you may go to Jim's forum for that (three posts, starting: Ales and Beers (17th, 18th and a bit of 19th Century) - Page 6 - Home Brew Forum).

Note the brown and amber malts become extinct. The names of these malts are resurrected to describe some modern malts, but the original malts remain extinct!
 

Latest posts

Back
Top