BVC - RE: hist-brewing: historical mashing/new "old ale" (fwd)

Pug Bainter pug at
Fri May 15 04:47:00 PDT 1998

From: "Baden,Doug" <baden at>
To: hist-brewing at

Yes, I do this all the time.

Sources for most of this is Pamela Sambrook: "Country House Brewing in
England, 1500-1900:, Markham, Lightbody, James; "Every man his own
gauger...", Thomas Tyron "A new art of brewing beer, ale, and other
sorts of liquors...", William W, Wyworth: "Cerevisiarii comes, or, The
new and true art of brewing...", and others.

The start temp of the water is about 170F when the steam clears and you
can see the top of the water in a still room.

You may dipper the hot water in (German/European) or pour (English),
stirring madly with your oar (spoon).

The removal of the grains from the wort was accomplished by shoving an
ale stick (looks like a broom) down over the reverse drilled bunghole in
the bottom of the buck (big buck-et), and popping the cork out to let
the wort drain into the underbuck (the buck below the buck, and that is
the term! :)).

The thermometer was not used until around the 1700's.  Most brewing
masters did not believe in anything their grandfathers did not do, so
change in the gentleman's brewery was slow.  Commercial breweries (and
there were quite a few) took these innovations on immediately.  The pump
was another such innovation.

I have made these 5 gallon mashes and the results were spectacular.  I
started with the water at 170 F by the steam check rule (and it was at
172F by the thermometer), and poured the water in as I stirred the
grains wildly (a fun time!) and when I had a little water over the grain
(about an inch) I took the temp and Viola!  It was 152F!  What a
concept!  It worked!

I was in a plastic primary for all of this, so I wrapped my sleeping
bags, blankets, and all of my camping warm bedding around the fermenter
to keep the temp even and simulate a covered wooden vessel.  It worked
pretty darn well, my ending temp being 150F after 3 hours in the vat.

The brew coming off was very heavy, so I cut it with what would have
been the small beer (the next batch off), something that was done in the
1500's, and then I made a very small beer.  Sparging would give the same
results.  The very small (third mash) was actually pretty good for a hot
day, being just a tiny bit alcoholic (about 1-2% at MOST) and with a
decent flavor, though thin, pleasant on a good grass cutting day!  The
main mash was wonderful and came out about 7% alcohol.

BTW this type of infusion mash is still used today, but only in the
better beers.  It is a little tricky with variable results, but it gives
a better product when it is right.  Today breweries are worried about
consistency, so they sacrifice the top end of quality to get that.

You recipe looks a lot like some of the earlier recipes I have seen.
They did the hops in the brewing process too, but did not boil the hops
into the water as you propose to do.  I would not boil the hops before
the infusion, as it would not help you any.  If you do not like hops,
use less and add something else.  Your honey will make an interesting

The only change I would suggest is not to use an Edme yeast, but instead
a liquid Wyeast.  Choose one and you will not regret the change.  The
cost is much higher, but the off flavors you will avoid because of your
low hops count will be the payoff.

Remember that sparging was not done until the 1800's.  Not a big deal,
but a note.  The lader tun (grain bag) was not used until the latter
half of the 1600's, but it was a major innovation propounded by Digbie,
who changed the face of cooking and brewing with his marvelous insights!

Go for it!  As for being lazy, I usually do 2 batches during this time
to take up the boring time waiting for the mash to complete.  I can
continuously brew that way until I run out of primary fermenters, and
with 8 I can go for a while :).

Doug Baden/Arundel

Doug Baden              | When I see "And it is obvious that" I know
My opinions are my own. | I have many hours of work to see the
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