Greetings my faithful readers!
This week's Links List is about Medieval Beer, Ale and the like. How to make it. What to drink it in. Recipe sources. Messages on the topic. The History and significance of Ale through the ages. Now that we're gearing up for War season, we'll need something hearty to sustain us, and we can't drink water (gasp)! So it's time to buckle down and get our vats bubbling, because nothing is more refreshing on a hot Pennsic day than a nice, historical brewski.
Enjoy this Links list, and please share it where it will find a ready audience.
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
m/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt
If you wish to correspond with Aoife directly, please send mail to: mtnlion at ptd dot net.
Recipes from Kenelm Digby--1669
Digby is the first source most folks turn t when they begin to make historical brews. This page contians 22 links of Digby's recipes and lists.
How to Brew Your First Beer
By John J Palmer
(Site Excerpt) These instructions are designed for the first-time Brewer. What follows can be considered an annotated recipe for a fool-proof ale beer. Why an ale? Because ales are the simplest to brew. There are two basic kinds of beer: ales and lagers. Ales can be brewed in a relatively short period of time at room temperature. Lagers require longer times (a month or more) and cold temperatures.
14th century beer mug
The Northerner is a commercial outfit, but they have several images of reproduces beer mugs, steins, and glasses from our period of study.
Medieval/Renaissance Brewing Homepage
60+ links on the subject of historical brewing
The SCA Brew Historical Brewing Library
A vast array of links on the subject
Brewing with Period Recipes by Lord Corwin of Darkwater
(Site Excerpt) "The monks of St Paul's Cathedral brewed 67,814 gallons of ale using 175 quarters of barley, 175 quarters of wheat and 708 quarters of oats."
Domesday Book (1086). Finally, a brewing reference with some hard data! A quarter is defined as a unit of weight equal to 2 stones, or 28 pounds. It is also defined as a unit of dry volume equal to 64 gallons. Since 1 gallon of grain weighs about 4 pounds, we have a quarter being equivalent to 256 pounds of grain. Pounds of grain used is good to know, for we can then estimate the strength of period brews. Malted barley is about 80% fermentable sugar, and malted wheat is about 75%. I don't have a figure for oats, but it should be in the neighborhood of 70%. Restating things a bit, "The monks of St Paul's Cathedral brewed 67,814 gallons of ale using 196,314 pounds of sugars", or 2.9 pounds per gallon.
ALSO SEE (in addition to his many other articles on the subject)
Brewing on the Dark Side by Lord Corwin of Darkwater
(Reprinted from Scum #6)
(Site Excerpt) Alas, as the malters discovered, you can't rush Mother Nature. Malt dried too long, or too hot, will caramelize. The sugars in the malt closest to the heat source darken and are no longer fermentable into alcohol. But progress is inevitable, and malters sought a balance between production, profit, and malt quality. Kiln dried malt became the status quo, and beer and ale darkened as a result. How dark is perhaps impossible to say, but one account, that of Archdeacon Becket in 1158, claimed that "Two of these chariots were laden solely with iron-bound barrels of ale, decocted from choice fat grain, as a gift for the French who wondered at such an invention - a drink most wholesome, clear of all dregs, rivalling wine in colour, and surpassing it in savour."
A 1503 English Beer By Lord Frederic Badger
(Site Excerpt) "To brewe beer x. quarters malte. lj. quarters wheet ij. quarters ootos/ xl. ll weight of hoppys.// To make lx barrell[es] of sengyll beer
- arnold chron. (x-um 20), fol.xciv.r/b (r.i.r/b)"
"To make 60 barrels of single beer, use 10 quarters of malt, 2 quarters of wheat, and 2 quarters of oats, with 40 pounds of hops."
- Richard Arnold, "Customs of London", 1503
Bring That Beer Bock to Me
by Caleb Reynolds
(Site Excerpt) In the fist quarter of the fourteenth century a medium sized town called Einbeck, in Lower Saxony, became the epicenter of a beer that was so different and fulfilment that it managed not only to outlive its place of birth, but to remain one of the most popular styles of beer even up to today. Ainpöck'schen Bier, as it was known, was exported all over Northern Europe. The Bavarians eventually shortened the name to Bock, which we know it as today.
Gruit and Unhopped Ales
An treatise on the subject of older-style Ales and those with extra flavor ingredients.
A short bibliography of Medieval/Renaissance Brewing
Sources for Historical Brewing
Age, Clarity, and Smoke in Medieval Beers
A posting from the historical brewing mailing list:
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 11:36:00 -0700
From: Dennis Walker
(Site Excerpt) Harrison writes of beer: "The beer that is used at noblemen's tables in their fixed and standing houses is commonly of a year old, or peradventure of two years' tunning or more, but this is not general. It is also brewed in March and therefore called March beer; but for the household it is usually not under a month's age, each one coveting to have the same stale as he may, so that it be not sour..." [stale enough to be not sour...could this mean, old enough the yeast has settled?]
The Development of Beer Through History
by Ricardo Roces
(Site Excerpt) What made beer so cherished was probably due to health reasons. In a period of plagues, water was probably the most unsafe beverage. However, beer, because of the "cooking" process was some how sterilized. By then beer had become a standard beverage, drank by men and women of all ages, and enjoyed with a meal or in a tavern. Monasteries had the best brews, with monks becoming experts at brewing. The beer they served, no doubt, had the effect of cheer for the troubled population.
Regia Angolorum: Early Medieval Brewing
(Site Excerpt) Beer is a very simple drink to produce. In its simplest form it is quick to produce, but almost unpalatable to modern tastes! Before I describe how the beer is made, here are a few background details: Correctly any beer made in our period should, in fact, be referred to as Ale. The word Beer used to refer to a brew containing hops, or Beor (honey). Hops were not used in this country until much later. The first record of their use being 1236 A.D.
Medieval English Brewing
by Fred Hardy
(Site Excerpt) Perhaps I can shed some light on several of these areas. As for carbonation, the Celts and Brits had the same pressure vessels as did the Burton brewers who shipped IPA around the world. They are called "Barrels", and the coopers' art was well established in the British Isles before the Roman Invasion. It had not been forgotten during Henry's time (The Renaissance), since it was the vessel of choice of both the Burton brewers of IPA as well as the modern day Real Ale advocates of CAMRA. The carbonation was less than Bud, but equal to today's real ale served in England. For a killer head the Norse (and probably more than a few Brits and Celts) would plunge a hot poker into the mug to release dissolved CO2 and produce accompanying foam. At a time when central heating was unknown, the alcohol and actual warmth of the drink were probably welcomed.
Recreating Medieval English Ales
(a recreation of late 13th - 14th c. unhopped English ales)
(designed and brewed by Tofi Kerthjalfadsson, Sept. 23rd -- Dec. 28th, 1998)
(Site Excerpt) These recipes are a modest attempt to recreate ales that are not only "period", i.e. pre-17th century, but is actually medieval. These ales are based on newly available evidence from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Not only was beer significantly different some three hundred years ago, in 1700, in comparison to today, ale was significantly different around 1300 than either ale or beer was in 1600. The primary reason for this difference in the product is a seemingly small difference in technique: for an ale, the wort, the liquid containing sugars and protein extracted from the grain, was not boiled prior to fermenting. For a beer, the wort had to be boiled with the hops. This seemingly small difference was in fact a change in technology that had long-reaching consequences for the preservation, as well as taste and nutritional value of the beer.
Stefan's Florilegium: Beer-msg
(additional Florilegium links on the topic appear at the top of the page)
(A collection of messages about Medieval Beer and Ale. Site Excerpt for one message) Digby is good, but pulls from late in period. There are some earlier works, German 15th and 16th century, that are specifically about distillation of spirits. Also, "Il Herbario de Trento", an Italian herbal from in-period. Also, some research into the origins of various European liqueurs may reveal the original uses of some of the herbs and spices in brewing (e.g., hyssop, angelica, anise, fennel, grains of paradise, cubebs, cumin, cloves, etc.). A review of the complete Gerard's herbal (versus the excerpt reprints that are more common) may yield useful information. Also, Bancke's herbal (English), and a manuscript of Dodoen's (Dutch, from whom Gerard may have generously 'borrowed').
Gambrinus' Mug (formerly Cat's Meow) Recipe Archive
An overwhelming amount of informqtion about Beer, Ales and much more.
All About Beer Online
Advice, recipes, supply sources, etc.
Mr. Goodbeer: Virtual Beer Technician
Homebrew "troubleshooting and repair advice"
Harvest Moon Brewers Yahoo group
(Site Excerpt) Harvest Moon Brewers, Inc., is a non-profit organization based upon the education of brewing sciences throughout history. Our membership base is derived of many professionals as well as talented and experienced homebrewers and commercial brewers who have a passion for sharing their knowledge in brewing sciences. Our members portray monks and townsfolk from the Renaissance Era to re-enact history at faires.