Monday, June 22, 2009

Beer in Colonial America, Odd Mixtures and Small Beer

Here are some interesting drinks from the late 17th century. They range from pleasant to downright nasty.

An historical writer of that time gives a list of the beverages which were then drunk in America. Among others he mentions "manatham," which was made from small beer, rum, and sugar; "tiff" or "flip," prepared in the same manner, with the addition of a piece of toast and butter; "hotch-pot," a beverage made of warmed beer with the addition of rum; and "sillibub," which was a mixture of warm milk and beer.

Then there was small beer, which was made from syrup by heating some water and adding a quantity of molasses and a little malt. The brew was then thoroughly shaken and afterwards a small quantity of hops and yeast was added and the whole was put in a barrel and allowed to ferment. The following day the beverage was cleared and was ready for use. "The Brewing Industry and Brewery Workers' Movement in America", page 36.

Suddenly I have the urge to stroll up to the bar at Drink and demand that the bartender (fuck you yuppies, I'm calling your precious mixologists what they really are) toss together a sillibub.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beer in Colonial America, Regulation

Today's post is another excerpt from TBIBWMA (ooooh, an unwieldy acronym). I'm surprised that it took the colonists seventeen years to begin regulating beer production. Maybe they were just too busy figuring out how to stay alive.
The government of the colony made various regulations in regard to the preparation, price, and sale of beer. In 1637 the brewers of Massachusetts were forbidden to sell stronger beers to tavern keepers than such as cost eight shillings a barrel. In 1640 it was decreed that no one should be allowed to brew beer unless he was a good brewer. The price of beer was also regulated. Beer that sold for threepence per quart had to contain six bushels of malt per hogshead; beer for twopence per quart, four bushels; at one penny a quart, two bushels; and less proportionately. In 1645 the price of beer was fixed at twopence a quart. In 1677 is was officially decreed in Massachusetts that beer which contained three bushels of malt per barrel was to be sold at threepence a quart. Every additional bushel of malt per barrel raised the price of beer one penny. In spite of all their piety, the Pilgrim Fathers seem at an early time to have known the adulteration of beer. In 1677 the General Court of Massachusetts established a regulation according to which beer might only be prepared from good barley malt. Additions of syrup, raw sugar, or any materials other than malt were punishable with a fine of five pounds for each offense. The authorities also looked out for the comfort of travelers and in October, 1649, the General Court issued an order that each hotel keeper must keep good beer, so that travelers should not be compelled to buy expensive wines.
"The Brewing Industry and Brewery Workers' Movement in America", pages 24-25.
The author does not cite his sources so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the prices and punishments, but the specific nature is encouraging.

Beer in Colonial America, Parsnips and Wood Shavings

I have slowly been working my way through The Brewing Industry and Brewery Workers' Movement in America by Hermann Schl├╝ter, from 1910 and available on Google Books.

I will start with a passage on obtaining the necessary ingredients in the first years of colonization.

In the first year of the settlement the colonists planted the grain necessary for brewing beer, but with poor result, for the soil of Massachusetts was not well suited for the raising of barley. They therefore imported the materials for brewing, and also some beer itself, from England. In the year 1629 forty-five barrels of beer and four hundred weight of hops were brought to Massachusetts Bay at one shipment. Malt was also imported after the attempt to make it from maize had been tried with but slight success. A poem of that time informs us that the Pilgrim Fathers had such a tremendous thirst after alcoholic drinks that for want of beer they made intoxicating beverages out of pumpkins, parsnips, and shavings of walnut wood.
"The Brewing Industry and Brewery Workers' Movement in America", pages 24-25.

Barley and hops couldn't grow for shit in the rocky soil and harsh New England climate, no surprise there. Compared to beer from parsnips and wood shavings, corn beer doesn't sound so bad.

This post powered by Ten Fidy, the wonderful imperial stout from a can by Oskar Blues Brewery.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Les Framboises du Mal

Last year I experimented with making a funky raspberry beer. It turned out great but had one problem, I only made one gallon. The pre-fruited beer is fairly similar to Les Fleurs du Mal but with some wheat malt and the hops turned down to let the funk and raspberries shine after several months of aging. As with Le Fontaine du sang, half a gallon was removed and funkified with "infected" oak. Raspberry season should be just starting when primary fermentation finishes.

85% Belgian 2-row pale malt
10% Wheat malt
5% Crystal 20

80 Minutes - 0.45 Galena 12.2 % AAU
80 Minutes - 0.3 ounce Saaz 6.8% AAU
15 Minutes - 0.18 ounce Perle
15 Minutes - 0.18 ounce Cascade, 9.3 AAU
0 Minutes - 0.18 ounce Perle
0 Minutes - 0.18 ounce Cascade, 9.3 AAU

113 - 20 minutes
145 - 60 minutes
162 - 20 minutes

repitched De Dolle yeast from Le Fontaine du Sang

OG: 1.069
72 % Efficiency.

6/22/2009: Down to 1.004 SG. Blended in the funkified half gallon portion, which had a wonderful bright lactic, yogurty acidity and a bit of bretty funk. Like a low gravity lambic! Might be another week or two before raspberries arrive at the farmer's market.

6/26/2009: Racked to secondary with 10.5 oz raspberries from farmer's market.

7/1/2009: Added 14 oz raspberries from farmer's market.

7/8/2009: Added 10 oz raspberries from farmer's market.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to See Boston in 1890

Here we have an excerpt from a guidebook on touring Boston's brewing district. The area is certainly no longer the pastoral outskirts of a busy city, though Franklin Park and Arnold Arboretum still provide a leafy respite for the weary city dweller. Only the Haffenreffer Brewery (called Boylston Brewery here) lives on as the headquarters for the Boston Beer Company.



"By this route we 'do' the most rural of the outlying districts of the city. Within it are elegant country estates and charming rural homes, and the walks about it are exceedingly pleasant. In this district, also, are the great Franklin Park, yet to be improved, but already a most inviting place ; the Bussey Institution and Arnold Arboretum, connected with Harvard University ; and Forest-Hills Cemetery. The latter can best be reached by steam-cars over the Providence Division of the Old Colony Railroad ; and there are street-cars direct to Forest Hills, through the Roxbury District, and to Franklin Park by way of Oakland Garden, by the street-railway.

"Street-cars for Jamaica Plain start from the Tremont House, Tremont Street, a short walk from our general starting-point ( Scollay Square ). The ride out is directly through Tremont Street and the South End.

"At the Roxbury Crossing of the Providence Railroad, just beyond the Roxbury station, Tremont Street turns to the right. The Brookline cars here follow the line of Tremont Street, while the Jamaica-Plain cars continue almost straight ahead up Pynchon Street.

"We are here in the midst of the breweries district. Over to the right, across the railroad-track, we can see the great Burkhardt and Vienna breweries. Burkhardt was one of the pioneer German beer brewers of Boston and vicinity. His brewery is the solid, substantial, stone structure. The Vienna brewery is of brick, and a more modern building.

"As we enter Pynchon Street, we can see up Roxbury Street, on the left, Prang's extensive art-establishment, which we have already noticed in a previous route. Soon we pass, also on the left, the immense brewery of John Roessle—a fine structure of brick, with yards and outbuildings well-kept, all wearing an air of substantial prosperity. Next to the Roessle brewery is that of Pfaff, and, beyond that, the Norfolk brewery. Across the way, at the right, on streets parallel with Pynchon Street, are the great Highland Springs and Burton breweries. Farther along, not to be seen from the car, but not a great distance beyond, is the Boylston brewery. Others are in this neighborhood."

-How to See Boston: A Trust Worthy Guide-book By Grand Army of the Republic National Encampment. 24th, Boston, 1890, National Encampment, Grand Army of the Republic