Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Me in Brussels

Yes, I've got yet another gig. This time in Brussels. This Saturday (30th May) in Elzenhof at 9 PM.

I'll be talking about the history of British beer styles and, of course, be signing my wonderful book.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer 

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1952 Strong XXX Mild

The final Mild recipe for May is one of mine. From one of the many breweries gobbled up and spat out by Whitbread. Good news for me, because Whitbread were very good at preserving the brewing records of the breweries they bought.

I could have drunk Strong’s beers as they didn’t close until 1981. Except I’ve never been to that bit of the country (Hampshire) and Strong’s beers never travelled far. Whitbread had bought them in 1965, along with 950 pubs.*  They were still brewing a cask Mild at time of closure. It was probably the descendant of this beer, though the gravity was a little lower.

Speaking of which, 1033.5 is a little high for a 1950’s Mild gravity. I’ve just averaged the OG for the hundred Milds I have from the period and it came to 1032.5. What does that tell us? What I already knew. That British beer strength haven’t changed much in the last 60 years. At least not the established, traditional styles.

The recipe itself is unspectacular: base malt and sugar. No maize and no slops in this one.  Note the complete lack of dark malts despite the reasonably dark shade of the finished beer. The colour all comes from the No. 3 invert and caramel colouring.

I realise that back in my home brewing days I got Mild recipes totally wrong, using black or chocolate malt for the colour. I now realise few Milds were ever brewed that way. Had Dark Mild developed a couple of decades earlier, that might not have been the case. Then again, it’s probably only because simple ways of obtaining were available after 1880 when the use of sugar exploded. It had been legal in beer since 1847, but the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880 seems to have boosted sugar use. Especially specialist brewing sugars.

The hops are a total guess. But, knowing as I now do that 75% of the British crop was Fuggles in the early 1950’s, it seems a reasonable assumption. Especially as most of the other 25% consisted of Golding types. And you wouldn’t usually throw Goldings into Mild. You’d save those for classier, more hop-focused beers like Bitter.

I like the fact that there’s a full fermentation record in Strong’s logs. Which means that not only am I pretty confident about the FG, I also know that Strong used the dropping system. The fermenting beer was dropped 2 days into a 7 day primary.

Right that’s me done. I need to write a stack of posts to cover my California trip.

1952 Strong XXX Mild
MA malt 3.75 lb 57.69%
PA malt 1.25 lb 19.23%
no. 3 sugar 0.50 lb 7.69%
candy sugar 0.75 lb 11.54%
malt extract 0.25 lb 3.85%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 min 0.75 oz
OG 1033.5
FG 1007
ABV 3.51
Apparent attenuation 79.10%
IBU 21
SRM 23
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP007 Dry English Ale

*“The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, page 317.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Beer, scientifically and socially considered (part four)

I’ll admit it. I’d forgotten about this. Blame my travelling. This series started as some of the posts I queued up to cover my last trip to the USA. And I got distracted by other topics on my return. No matter. I’ll finish it off now if it kills me.
Which is probably what much of the beer sold in Liverpool 150 years ago would have done. Here a list of some of the crap unscrupulous characters threw in it:

“This report, it will be seen, affords experimental confirmation of what was said by Mr. Glover at the Liverpool Workhouse meeting, and it will therefore be interesting to inquire a little further into the matter. Our authorities tell us that the following substances are employed to adulterate beer. "Cocculus indicus multum (an extract of cocculus indicus), colouring, honey, hartshorn-shavings, Spanish juice, orange-powder, ginger, grains of paradise, quassia, liquorice, carraway seeds, copperas, capsicum, mixed drugs.” These, we are told, were seized at different breweries in London, and brewers’ druggists’ laboratories"* in addition, sulphuric acid, alum, salt, Datura stramonium, picric acid, and other substances, are mentioned by different writers.
* Report of Committee of the House of Commons. See Watts’s 'Dictionary of Chemistry.’ vol. i, p. 537.”
Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 05 July 1870, page 6.

To be honest, not all of those are dangerous or even unpleasant. Honey, liquorice, carraway seeds and ginger weren’t going to do you any harm. The reason these are listed as adulterants is the strict law on what could be used in beer. A decade later, after the introduction of the Free Mash Tun Act, all of those would have been legal.

Hartshorn shavings turn up in a lot of recipes from the early 19th century aimed at private brewers, i.e. those brewing for their own household rather than for sale. In the early 1800’s these brewers produced a high percentage of the beer in some parts of the country. Being able to use ingredients commercial brewers couldn’t was one of the advantages they had and probably helped keep the tradition going.

Cocculus indicus was a bittering agent used as a hop substitute. But it’s also a stimulant sop presumably could also disguise watering down. Its active ingredient is picrotoxin, which doesn’t sound like something I’d like to ingest. Cocculus indicus is still used for medicinal purposes in Asia, but is no longer used in the USA and Europe because of fears about its safety. Though it is still used in quack, sorry homeopathic, medicine.

Pretty sure I don’t want sulphuric acid in my beer. Nor alum, which is used in pickling and tanning leather. I’ll let the article describe Datura stramonium:

“Of Datura stramonium Mr. Prescott says,** “It has been frequently used by desperate characters for hocussing or stupefying of the intended victim of a robbery by surreptitiously adding it to his beer in the public-house bar. It is the seed of the thorn-apple, a native of Greece, and belongs to the same family as the tobacco-plant.” The same author also describes very minutely the microscopical structure of the various seeds which ought, and which ought not, to be used in the preparation of beer, including barley, hops, cocculus indicus, grains of paradise, and Datura stramonium, his object being to facilitate the detection of fraud and crime ; and I would recommend my microscopical readers, who take interest in the question, to examine these various substances with the aid of a microscope and Mr. Prescott’s beautiful diagrams.”
** 'Strong Drink and Tobacco Smoke,’ p. 37.”
Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 05 July 1870, page 6.

Datura stramonium sounds really, really dangerous. It has medicinal uses as an analgesic, but is also a hallucinogen. The dangerous part, is that a fatal dose isn’t much higher than an effective one. Plus there’s huge variation in the amount of the active ingredients present from plant to plant, or even in different parts of the same plant. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re likely to kill yourself. Or in the case of a beer adulterer, your customers.

Here are the used of some of the other muck:

"Of the various adulterants named, sulphate of iron, alum, and salt are employed to give beer "head" or froth (salt stimulate the thirst as  well); sulphuric acid is used to bring it forward,” or harden it, and impart to new beer the character of old ; carbonate of soda to neutralise acidity whilst cocculus indicus, quassia, wormwood, grains of paradise, and similar substances, are mixed with beer either to impart bitterness or pungency, and to disguise the true character of the drink."
Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 05 July 1870, page 6.

Sulphate of iron is one of the adulterants people were most often prosecuted for. Nowadays its only use seems to be as a herbicide for killing moss in lawns. Would you really want that in your beer? I think not. Quassia and wormwood are also drugs and ones you wouldn’t want to ingest too much of.

It sounds like some beer was awash with drugs, more like a chemical soup.

We’ve still quite a way to go with this article. More about the how and why of adulteration next time.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Hops yesterday, today and tomorrow

I’ve found some good articles about hops in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing. And I’ve only been looking in the 1950’s.

The one I’m looking at this time has a nice overview of long term trends in English hop cultivation.

“Hops have always been quick to react to demand and supply, and, until recently, to attacks of pests and diseases. This is shown well in Fig. 1, representing acreage and yields from 1870-1958. In the old days, favourable years with a bumper crop would often cause a fall in price with a sharp cut in acreage, e.g. 1886-1888, till a disastrous year would give a hop famine, a recovery in price and a gradual build-up in acreage, e.g. 1890-1894, though the general trend has been steadily down since the peak of 1878. Recently, however, and particularly since 1946, we have had much more stable conditions, thanks on the one hand to the Hops Marketing Scheme and the Board which administer it, and on the other to improvements over the last thirty years in the control of disease and in husbandry generally.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 467.

I’d noticed that myself looking at the numbers for hop production and prices. There were crazy fluctuations from year to year. It can’t have made life easy for hop growers. But in the 20th century the trade become controlled and that seemed to have a stabilising effect. Though the graphs show a clear long term downward trend in the amount of hops grown. There’s a simple explanation: British brewing required far fewer hops due to the fall in both beer output and hopping rates.

There’s an interesting point here:

“The main factors at work to-day in influencing the acreage, the varieties grown and the methods of growing and the distribution of acreage are Quota, Verticillium wilt and the development of mechanical picking. If we compare (Fig. 2) the trends in barley and hop yields over the past 70 years, it is noticeable how the yields of barley have increased lately — particularly with the advent of the combine harvester and Proctor—while yields of hops have fallen under the artificial influence of Quota and the effects of wilt and of machine picking.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 467.

I understood that disease had an effect on the varieties of hops grown, but not mechanical picking. Though it makes sense. And there had been a real surge in machine picking after WW II. In the US the move away from hand picking had occurred a few decades earlier.

“Picking machines which tend to lower yields  have increased from about 10 in 1948 to 256 in 1956, and the quantity picked by machine from 2% to 48% of the crop, while the importance of disease is shown by the distribution of acreage and the spread of Verticillium wilt.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, pages 467 - 468.

I’m surprised that mechanical picking had a negative impact on the yield. It’s fascinating to see how quickly the industry was moving to machines. I wonder what was spurring the change. Was it shortages of labour or purely a matter of cost?

I’m not sure that I understand what this is saying:

“In the last 10 years the class of person coming hop picking has improved visibly, and while in 1946 the 3,000 London pickers at the Bodiam Farms of Guinness Hop Farms, Ltd., arrived in 4 or 5 trains, now there is one train and a fleet of lorries and cars.  Opinions vary on the changes in the standard of hand picking today, though the best is good.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 469.

It seems to imply that fewer but better off pickers were coming to Kent.

Here’s something more about the problems with picking machines:

“Picking machines have come on with a rush since 1950: good samples can be obtained but this is usually at the expense of up to 10% to 20% of the crop which is too often replaced by leaf and stem. There is also a substantial loss of soft resin which nothing can replace, and the hops are often so bruised that they tend to ferment and heat before drying, with ill effects on the colour and brightness. On a broader view, machine picking is stimulating a requirement for firm hops with a habit of growth suitable for mechanical picking and for hops of a wide range of ripening times. For hand picking, hops are normally fit for 2-3 weeks, but for machine picking the optimum period is shorter and a range of several varieties is desirable.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 469.

That’s quite a large loss of the crop. Not only that, there was extra rubbish in with the hops and the hops could be damaged and resin lost. With all those disadvantages there must have been some other big incentive to move to machines.

What I really liked about the article was the table of hop varieties grown. I can’t recall ever seeing numbers for the different types before.

“Wilt has also begun to have a real effect on the varieties of hops grown, illustrated (Table I) by the change between 1912 and 1952 and the rapid build-up of tolerant varieties since 1952.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 468.

Here’s the table. You know what this tells me? That I got it right by mostly sticking to Fuggles and Goldings for the recipes in The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer.

1912: 1952: 1957:
Varieties Varieties % of crop Varieties % of crop
Goldings (Canterbury or Old Goldings) Old Golding } Old Golding }
Canterbury Goldings } Canterbury Goldings }
Bramlings Bramlings } Bramlings }
Mathons Mathons } Mathons }
Hobb's Early Goldings Early Bird Bramlings } Early Bird Bramlings }
Searle's Early Goldings Eastwell Goldings 24% Eastwell Goldings 25%
White's Early Goldings Rodmersham or Mercer Golding } Rodmersham or }
Buss's Late Goldings Petham Golding } Mercer Golding }
Late or Wild Goldings Cobbs } Petham Golding }
Bate's Brewers Tutshams } Cobbs }
Cooper Whites Whitebines } Tutshams }
Whitebines }
Green Bines
Red Bines
Fuggles Fuggles 72% Fuggles 67%
Jones Brewer's Gold } Brewer's Gold }
Grapes Bullion } Bullion }
Meophams Northern Brewer } NorthFronrdrewer }
Henhams John Ford 4% John }
Mayfield Grapes Pride of Kent } Pride of Kent 8%
Colegates Early Promise } Early Promise }
Prolifics Keyworth's Midscason }
Whitbread Golding }
Variety }
Bramling Cross }

I’d never have guessed that almost as three quarters of the hops grown in England were Fuggles. Even by 1957 newer varieties were still making up a pretty small percentage of the crop.

Given their unsuitability for machine picking, it’s a surprise so many Fuggles were still grown:

“Picking machines have also had an influence in popularizing New Varieties in place of the older varieties—especially Fuggles—which shatter very easily, resulting in loss of crop and a broken sample, always with reduced brewing value, usually with excessive leaf and stem, and frequently overvalued. New Varieties are denser in the cone and so shatter less easily, and can be picked to a cleaner sample with less loss. Picking machines are here to stay and now pick over 50% of the crop, so it is important that growers should be told which New Varieties are most acceptable and learn to grow and pick them properly, while brewers should become more willing to accept them and to learn to brew with them.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, pages 468 - 469.

I’d be really interested to see what the percentages are for the different varieties today. I wonder if the figures are available anywhere? My guess would be that the first group – what could loosely be called Golding varieties – would still account for about a quarter of the crop.

Lots more to come on hops when I can get my arse in gear.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Brewing in the 1950’s – North American Hops

I’m finally getting to the end of Jeffery’s discussion of hop varieties. Sorry it’s taken so long.

This time we’re looking at North American hops. Starting with Canada.

British Columbians. Unfortunately, we have only had the pleasure of seeing a very few of these hops, but we were greatly impressed by them. They combine brightness of appearance with a fair size of cone, and, above all, a flavour which could well equal that of the best Kent Fuggles. It is a pity that more are not available. Their preservative value is high, and they could be used with advantage even in the best beers.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 176.

I’ve seen these turn up occasionally in brewing records. Though I’m damned if I can find any examples at the moment. Was Canada much of a hop producer? I feel like a table coming on. I knew all that crap I collected about hops would come in useful sometime. Actually, I didn’t think that, but collected it anyway. Because the crazy obsessive type of thing I do.

As you can see, Canada wasn’t exactly a player on the world stage:

World Production of hops 1951 - 1957
Country 1951 1952 1953 average 1950-54 1955 1956 1957
cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts.
Northern Hemisphere
USA 564,634 546,991 372,786 478,812 329,233 342,705 358,349
Canada 17,339 17,920 15,179§ 17,214 12,554 12,902 10,563
United Kingdom 321,821 282,348 266,000 298,216 256,821 184,170 267,670
Czechoslovakia 98,420§ 80,705§ 98,420§ 98,000 120,428 96,304 73,813
Germany 252,795 206,187 280,500 256,688 253,358 277,027 283,473
France 41,330 34,446 48,223 39,660 41,214 33,071 33,696
Belgium 19,366 17,062 19,179 20,750 26,571 16,027 23,821
Spain t 2,607 3,661 t 5,732 5,812 6,893
Poland t t t t 24,992 12,580 24,598
Yugoslavia 24,652 23,652 25,589 25,661 36,616 45,866 52,848
Other European t t t t 875 1,134 982
USSR t t t t 78,812 57,723 65,196
Japan 9,054 16,241 13,286 11,026 15,187 15,795 16,205
Total 1,349,411 1,228,159 1,142,823 1,246,027 1,202,393 1,101,116 1,218,107
Southern Hemisphere*
Australia 18,384 31,920 28,000§ 27,376 34,376 25,902 31,429
New Zealand 7,795 8,036 7,589§ 8,946 11,062 8,964 8,929
Union of South Africa 2,482 3,384 3,125§ 3,071 2,098 1,625 1,376
Argentina 1,179 1,179 1,116§ 1,330 1,571 1,714 2,411
Total 29,840 44,519 39,830§ 40,723 49,107 38,205 44,143
World Total 1,379,251 1,272,678 1,182,653§ 1,286,750 1,251,500 1,139,321 1,262,250
* crops harvested early in the following year
t not available
§ estimate
1951, 1952, 1953: 1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 65.
average 1950-54, 1955, 1956, 1957: 1962 Brewers' Almanack, page 63.

If I show Canada’s share in percentage terms, it’s clear how insignificant the country was as a hop producer:

Canada's share of hop production
Year Canada World Total Canada's %
1951 17,339 1,379,251 1.26%
1952 17,920 1,272,678 1.41%
1953 15,179 1,182,653 1.28%
average 1950-54 17,214 1,286,750 1.34%
1955 12,554 1,251,500 1.00%
1956 12,902 1,139,321 1.13%
1957 10,563 1,262,250 0.84%

This originally Canadian variety is still with us:

“A cross between a wild Manitoba hop and an English hop, called Brewer's Gold is remarkable for its very high preservative value (120-140 on the dry hop). It has a rather strong aroma, but if blended it can be used as a copper hop. It has even been used as a dry hop.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 176.

Now on to the USA:

“United States. Hops from the New York district are usually ranked first in value, on account of their greater delicacy in flavour. Next in order is placed those grown in and marketed as Sonomas, Oregons, and Sacramentos. These hops all have a very distinctive colour, being pale primrose without a trace of a green tinge. This feature is probably due to the climatic conditions under which they are grown and harvested. In wealth of resins they have no equal, the amount being in some cases remarkable. For this reason they have a very high preservative value. Unfortunately, they have some rather noticeable and serious defects, one of which is the large amount of stick and leaf present, which weighs up to a considerable amount. This defect is due to the introduction of machinery for picking, and we fail to see how the defect is to be obviated. In our opinion, it detracts greatly from the brewing value. Furthermore, American hops are prone to attacks from blight and vermin. In some instances the infection is so intense that the insides of a large proportion of cones is rendered black and foul. Even the strigs are sometimes affected. The vastness of the gardens makes the situation even more difficult to handle than is the case when dealing with a scourge in England. Sonomas are supposed to enjoy a certain amount of freedom from attacks by blight. All the same, we have seen specimens of them in a most undesirable condition.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 176 - 177.

I thought New York’s hop industry was long gone by the 1950’s. Didn’t they have terrible problems with pests and disease?

Sonoma and Sacramento, of course, are in California. We’ll be hearing later about the effect of machine picking on yields and hop quality. All I can say is that it must have saved a stack of money on labour, because it had all sorts of disadvantages. The US industry had abandoned hand picking before WW II.

A recurring theme when British brewers discuss American hops is the horrible blackcurrant flavour. They were saying the same back in the 19th century.

“In flavour, Sonomas are certainly entitled to pride of position because they are much milder than Oregons, and free from that intense and objectionable black-currant flavour. Great efforts have been made in recent years to eradicate or lessen this by planting hills of delicate flavoured Kent and Worcester hops nearby. In some cases a degree of success has been met with, but, whether it is due to the nature of the soil or to the climate, there is always a gradual tendency to hark back to the strong flavour.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 177.

Not sure why planting British hops close by would make the others taste better.

Before WW II US hops were as common as muck in Britain. But, with UK-grown supplies being sufficient after the war, they seem to have disappeared pretty much completely. Whitbread look like they were using up some old Oregons they had during the war, but when they ran out in 1945, they disappear from their records.

It’s one of the biggest changes in ingredients I’ve seen, wartime excepted. American hops had been a mainstay for British brewers for around 100 years. Then suddenly they were discarded, like a lover who’s become fat or bald. Or both.

“The cones of some of the Oregon hops are of immense size, and we have seen some 3 in. or more in length. The bracts are long and pointed, and come away from the strig easily, displaying much resin. Unfortunately, the resins quickly change from soft to hard when stored under ordinary conditions. They emit, in a hard state, a pungent and uninviting aroma. Sacramentos are the coarsest of the series, and compare unfavourably both in resinous content and preservative properties.
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 177.

Don’t think I’ve ever come across anything specifically called Sacramento. Though they could just have been described as American or Californian. They sound pretty crap – bad flavour and with lesser preservative power.

Unbelievably, there’s loads, loads more about hops in the 1950’s to come. Unless I get distracted, obviously.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Brettanomyces – hero or villain?

I thought this article about Brettanomyces would interest you. It contains some great stuff.

First, an overview of Brettanomyces and its role in brewing:

“Brettanomyces spp. have long been known as important factors in the production of condition and flavour in certain high-gravity beers and in lambic beer. They have also been mentioned as possible spoilage organisms in beer but have generally been considered as of little importance in this connection. Thus Wiles stated that Brettanomyces had only once been reported as a spoilage organism of beer, and that although Brett. bruxellensis was sometimes detected it was not of common occurrence and was unlikely to be a cause of spoilage. On the other hand, Shimwel1 found a Brettanomyces to be the cause of a fret in beer and suggested that it might be widely encountered as a spoilage organism. It has been stated that Brettanomyces can cause a mawkish "nose" and turbidity in beers of original gravity less than 1060.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 257.

Now isn’t that fascinating? That Brettanomyces produces a funny flavour in beer under 1060º. Why would that be? They seem undecided on whether Brettanomyces was a common spoilage agent. By ‘fret” they mean a too vigorous secondary fermentation in the cask.

I’ve mentioned this before. Although Claussen (of Carlsberg) was the first to publish about Brettanomyces, it had been discovered earlier:

“Occurrence of Brettanomyces.—The earliest reference to Brettanomyces, or secondary yeasts, was in a patent for the use of these organisms for the preparation of English beers which was taken out by Claussen in 1903. In a paper to the Institute of Brewing in 1904, Claussen described the importance of Brettanomyces for secondary fermentation and the production of the characteristic flavour of English stock beers. Claussen did not give a detailed description of these organisms, which he included in the genus Torula. Shortly after this, Seyffert of the Kalinkin Brewery in St. Petersberg announced that he had isolated a "Torula" in 1889 from English beer which produced the typical "English" taste in lager beer, and which was similar in other respects to Claussen's Brettanomyces. In 1899 J. W. Tullo, in the Chemist's Laboratory, Arthur Guinness Son & Co. Ltd., Dublin, had already isolated two types of "secondary yeast" from Irish stout, and in an unpublished report described the characteristics of these yeasts and their importance in secondary fermentation.  At this time the "secondary yeasts" were important constituents of the flora of all stock beers, and in particular of those beers, designed for the export trade, which under-went long maturation in the brewery. These export  beers  depended indeed on  the "secondary yeasts," not only for their characteristic flavour but also for the production of condition in bottle by means of their ability to ferment higher polysaccharides which the "primary yeast" could not ferment.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 257.

If I tell you that secondary fermentation  was very important at Guinness because they still vatted Stout, particularly their export version. Meaning that information about the process had commercial value. The same was probably true of the brewery in St. Petersburg.

Here’s something about the nature of Brettanomyces.

“Properties of Brettanomyces.—The cells of Brettanomyces are small, oval or round, frequently with a pointed end (ogive).  In some strains elongated cells and branched chains ("trees") are frequently seen.  On suitable media most strains show a tendency to form pseudomycelium.  In malt extract Brettanomyces spp. grow slowly but give a high final attenuation' and a characteristic aroma.

Under aerobic conditions they produce considerable acid; this may be the reason why malt-agar cultures have a short life. In agar-streak cultures they give yellow or brown raised growth. The genus has always been considered anascosporogenous, but van der Walt & van Kirken have recently reported sporulation in a number of species which would necessitate the placing of the genus in another family. The fermentative abilities of the various strains in the species as described by Lodder & Kreger-van Rijn and by van der Walt & van Kirken are given in Table I. One of the most interesting characteristics of the metabolism of Brettanomyces is that young aerobic cultures exhibit a negative Pasteur effect.  That is, they have a very much stronger fermentative ability under aerobic conditions than under anaerobic conditions, in contrast to other yeasts. Another important characteristic of the genus is that secondary products of fermentation accumulate to a much greater extent than is the case with Saccharomyces. Ethyl acetate, glycerol, acetic acid, succinic acid and 2,3-butane-diol have been estimated by Peynaud & Domerce in the completed fermentations with Brettanomyces.  These authors consider that ethyl acetate and acetamide are the two main organoleptic products of Brettanomyces fermentations, but that some strains may also produce a butyric smell.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 258.

Reverse Pasteur effect? That’s a new one to me. Maybe that’s why Brettanomyces scavenges oxygen so well in bottle-conditioned beer.

Here’s an overview of the properties of various types of Brettanomyces isolated from bottle-conditioned beers:

“Group 1. -21 strains fermented glucose, sucrose and maltose only.  These strains agreed with the published descriptions of Brett. bruxellensis Kufferath et van Laer and were similar to authentic strains of this species. Brett. bruxellensis has been isolated from Iambic beer, from Cork porter, from French grape must and from Brazilian wine fermentations."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 259.

Now the second group:

“Group 2. -11 strains fermented glucose and galactose only.  These strains agreed with  Peynaud & Domercq and were similar to an authentic strain of this species. Brett. schanderlii has been found in French and South African wine fermentations. It has not previously been reported as occurring in beer. "
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 259 - 260.

Interesting that this had previously only been found in wine, not beer.

This sounds like a weird one:

“Group 3. -12 strains fermented glucose, galactose, sucrose and lactose. This combination of fermentative abilities does not correspond with any established species. These strains are most like Brett. anomalus but differ from this species in that they ferment sucrose rapidly. A further study is being made of these strains and, if the differences are sufficient to establish the strains in this group as a separate species, this will be reported in a further communication. For the present these strains will be described as Brettanomyces sp. 1. It seems strange that so many strains unable to ferment maltose (Groups 2 and 3) should be found in beer, but Custers isolated Brett. anomalus, which also is unable to ferment maltose, from English beer. It was because of this peculiar circumstance that Custers gave this species the name "anomalus."”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

You wouldn’t want that getting into your Milk Stout. Bottle bombs would be the inevitable result of the Brettanomyces chewing its way through the lactose.

But its odder that so many of the strains were unable to ferment maltose. Though, thinking about it, that’s probably preferable fore brewery use. It means that the Brettanomyces can’t take any part in primary fermentation. Just what you’d want in the case of running beers.

Here’s a table of what the different types of Brettanomyces can ferment:


Fermentation of
Species Glucose Galactose Sucrose Maltose Lactose Raffinose Trehalose Melibiose Melezitose Cellobiose
1. Brett. Bruxellensis* Kufferath & van Laer  .. + + + + +
2. Brett. Anamalus Custers + + + + + +
3. Brett. Claussenii Custers + + + + + 1/3 + + +
4. Brett. Intermedius ** Peynaud and Domercq, van der Walt  + + + + + + +
5. Brett. Schanderlii Paynaud & Domercq + + +
* The strains known as Brett. bruxellensis var. not -membranaefaciens Custers, Brett. bruxellensis var. lentis Custers, and Brett. lambicus Kufferath & van Leer, are included in the species Brett. bruxelensis as suggested by van der Walt & van Kirken. 
** This strain was named Brett. vini by Paynaud & Domercq. It was found to be identical with Mycotorula intermedia isolated by Krumbholz & Tauschanoff and was re-named Brett. intermedius by van der Walt & van Kirken.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 259.

I’m a little shocked that they were able to find 11 naturally-conditioned bottled beers in 1961. I though the technique was pretty much dead by then. Or maybe they weren’t 11 different beers.

Many of the bottles from which the yeast was isolated contained multiple strains of Brettanomyces:

“The distribution of the individual strains from the 11 bottles is given in Table II, from which it will be seen that from 5 of the bottles only one species of Brettanomyces was recovered; in all the other bottles two or more species were found. The infection therefore regularly occurs as a mixture of species of Brettanomyces.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

Here’s a summary of the strains of Brettanomyces found per bottle:

Bottle No. No. of strains studied No. of strains of Brett. bruxellensis No. of strains of Brett. schanderlii No. of strains in Brettanomyces sp. 1 group
1 4 0 4 0
2 4 2 1 1
3 4 1 3 0
4 4 0 1 3
5 4 2 2 0
6 4 4 0 0
7 4 2 0 2
8 4 4 0 0
9 4 4 0 0
10 4 2 0 2
11 4 0 0 4
Total 44 21 11 12
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

I like the fact that they carried out taste tests based on bottle-conditioned beers inoculated deliberately with their strains of Brettanomyces.

“Tasting experiments were carried out with 36 of the pure cultures of Brettanomyces isolated from beer. In these tests the culture of Brettanomyces was added to beer at bottling at the rate of about 5 cells of Brettanomyces per 100 cells of culture yeast present in the beer. The beers were naturally conditioned at 18° C. and, after 2-5 weeks, they were tasted against a control of the same beer which had been bottled at the same time but which contained no added infection. The results are summarized in Table III for each of the three species. The taste of the infected beers became more objectionable as the beers became older but, for simplicity, the results of the tastings at different periods have been combined. It is clear that Brett. bruxellensis has much the worst effect on flavour of beer, although the other groups have an appreciable deleterious effect. The flavours most complained of in the infected beers were "harsh," "strong after-bitter," "mawkish" and "old beer flavour."”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

Here’s the table of those results:

Species Strains Times tasted Better than control Equal to control Worse than control Much worse than control
Brett. Bruxellensis 19 133 0 15 39 46
Brett. schanderlii 8 58 2 53 41 4
Brettanomyces sp. 1 9 46 0 37 61 2
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 67, Issue 3, May-June 1961, page 260.

It doesn’t look like the Brettanomyces character was much admired by the tasters. The infected samples were almost always judged as no improvement – in some cases much worse – than the non-infected ones.

Of course, it could just be that the tasters weren’t accustomed to Brettanomyces character in beer. It would be fascinating to know what tasters would have thought of the infected beers 100 years earlier. They might actually have liked them.

Friday, 22 May 2015

San Francisco in June

You may recall that I'll be in San Francisco next month. As usual, I'm trying to set up some events while I'm there.

I've sorted out a couple outside the city, but I'd really like to have something in the city itself.

So if you're a homebrew club or brewery and fancy listening to me bullshit away about some historic brewing topic while trying to glog my book, please get in touch.

The dates I'll be in town are Friday 5th June to Tuesday 9th Jun.

This is my masterpiece that I'll be tarting:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer 

Let’s Brew Wednesday – 1871 Carlsberg Mild

As an extra special treat, two Let’s Brews this week. And let’s face it, this is a pretty special beer.

The historian at Carlsberg told me Carl Jacobsen had wanted to brew both Lager and Ales when he returned in 1871 from his study trip to Britain. But I was still amazed to find Mild Ale on the very first page of his Copenhagen brews. It’s not as odd as it might first seem.

British beers still had a good reputation internationally and there had been plenty of brewers taking on British styles on the Continent. Porter and Stout were the most common, but there were also Pale Ales and IPAs made. And Dutch newspaper adverts prove that Mild Ale was exported as well as the more fashionable styles.

These pages in Jacobsen’s personal brewing book are particularly odd. He mixes up imperial and metric measurements. Sometimes he gives the gravity in SG, others in Balling. There are quarters and kilos and who knows what size of barrel he means. Are they imperial or Danish beer barrels? Or something also altogether? It’s hard to say because I can’t get the numbers to make sense. Either he was getting truly dreadful efficiency, of the barrel is at least a hogshead in size.

Not that Jacobsen brewed loads of Mild. The first brew was on 3rd March 1871 and the last on 25th September. A total of 7 brews in all. Table Beer fared better, lasting until 1872. Strong and Pale Ale were still around in 1874. And DBS, his Stout, that still pops up in the last Carlsberg brewing record I looked at, from 1934.

Jacobsen’s first Ales were brewed with yeast from Kongens Bryghus, but later he used Evershed and Lovibond yeast that he must have picked up in Britain.

That’s all I’ve got for the moment. Over to Kristen . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: What a little treat it was to receive this from Ron. Wow, he must really hate me for giving me this piece of crap log!! Ha!! Seriously though, this is one of the most maniacal, ADHD logs I’ve ever seen. A mix of units, weights, volumes, temperature scales, gravity scales, random numbers, etc etc etc. The funny thing though that they used the log of what looks like Youngers gyle books from the same era but everything is hand written in Danish and some of the columns are used for god knows what. Anyway, when all was said and done, it got sorted. I can’t help to think of the poor bastard that had to actually keep these records and replicate anything. Onward…

Malt: A single malt for every single beer in the log. Seriously. One malt. It’s a pale one to be sure. Probably not English. It was based on volume measurements not weights so the exact same beer has a different weight of malt added to it. Which essentially says to me, if they couldn’t be buggered with having the same recipe time and again, lets just choose something nice and be done with it. Belgian Pale malt. That’s what I’m going with. Castle is nice…so yeah, Castle pale malt.

Hops: It’s funny. You have a log that has no really remarks about malt…for any of the beers. Then you have the hops. Where are broken down very well and easily legible. All Saaz. No question. This thing is even dry hopped! A mild. Dry hopped. But look at the amount. Something like 2oz/US bbl. Seriously!? Why go do the trouble of doing it at all?? The only thing I can think of is that it added in the fining process but that’s pretty sketchy as most of the other beers weren’t dry hopped. So. Saaz it is. Dry hop if you’d like. Really up to you but you could go higher if you’d like. Enough so you could taste it but be nice about it. No need to go all bonkers on this one.

Yeast: I count like 4 different yeast strains or there abouts in the log. With the FG being so high, pick something that doesn’t attenuate very well. Like the Northwest ale, or the ESB. Both very nice.

Standard procedure:
1) let the beer ferment until finished and then give it another day or so. For me right around 5-7 days.
2) Rack the beer to your vessel of choice (firkin, polypin, cornie, whatever).
3) Add primings at ~3.5g/L
4) Add prepared isinglass at 1ml/L
5) ONLY add dry hops at 0.25g/l – 1g/L.
6) Bung it up and roll it around to mix. Condition at 55F or so for 4-5 days and its ready to go. Spile/vent. Tap. Settle. Serve at 55F.