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Boiling required?

joeb33050

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I'm researching brewing in 1675 Massachusetts. Does the brewing process require boiling the water used in brewing?
Thanks;
joe b.
 

grathan

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It kills the bacteria. Bacteria don't make alcohol when they eat your sugar, only yeast can do that. Your boiling more than just the water. Your boiling boiling the sugar and hops too. Since beer already required 150*F to convert starch to sugar, boiling is just a simple addition of more heat.
 

joeb33050

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Well, I don't understand how they could boil a barrel of water in a fireplace, especially when a family might use/drink 1000 gallons of beer a year. Is boiling mandatory? Is boiling ALL the water mandatory?
Thanks;
joe b.
 

brewfun

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Colonial historic societies have some information on brewing in 1675. Both the Jefferson and Jamestown societies have investigated beer, wine and distillate making in those eras.

Jefferson was fond of a brewing book called "London & Country Brewer," published in the early 1700's and reflects some of the techniques from the era you're researching. Google has it online as part of the Guttenberg project.

At that time, the terms "Ale" and "Beer" were describing unhopped and hopped beverages, respectively. Ales, or Gruit, as is the modern term, would use boiling water to start the process, but not be further boiled. By 1720, the use of boiling would be commonplace, so you can bet that brewing at this time had some of it going on.

The making of ale or beer wasn't a kitchen process. The brewery usually had it's own stone foundation holding a copper metal insert, called a "Keeler" and yielded three gyles of about 20 gallons each. This would mean a single brewing day cold yield 3 weeks of beverages, though there was usually a brewing season and then they'd store much of it. The gyles were fermented separately according to records from elite households. They were presumably blended as needed depending on who was consuming and what time of year. Fermenting the whole wort together wouldn't be common until around 1720 with the rise in popularity of "Entire" or Porter, when London brewers regularly aged their beer at the brewery, instead of shipping it out young to be aged by publicans.

In the late 17th century, three were several variations to making hopped "Beer." The most familiar involved boiling just the wort with hops. However, I  believe it was equally common to boil hops separately, then add it to sweet wort. Other variations included reboiling the same hops for each successive gyle.

The weaker gyles were typically served while very young, perhaps just a few days after primary fermentation. Yeast was not well understood (microbes were basically unknown), except that it could be reused from a good batch of beer and had been known as "God is Good." Mostly, it was thought of as an acid that split the sugars into spirits, but if not skimmed and left too long would split the spirits into vinegars. Periodiaclly, the yeast was rousted by stirring with either a paddle or oversized straw broom, which would naturally inoculate the next batch.

In addition to grain (not always barley malt), molasses, honey and other sugar sources were often used in the early colonial beers. Often these were made out of requirement, rather than for taste.
 

brewfun

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This question lead me down a lovely path of old brewery investigation.

You might contact Susan Kern at the College of William & Mary. They recently excavated a brewery building that dates back to 1710.
 

Scott Ickes

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joeb33050 said:
Well, I don't understand how they could boil a barrel of water in a fireplace, joe b.

It's called a "stein" beer.  You heat rocks up to extremely high temperatures and add them to the pot, which raises the water to boiling.  In addition, the sugars will carmelize on the rocks.  You keep rotating rocks between the fire and the boil pot.  This does result in a loss of sugars, that carmelize on the rocks in the boil pot, then get burned off when reheated in the fire.  They needed to aim higher on their gravity, to account for this loss.  There is an entire article on it in Brew You Own. 

Here is the link...

http://byo.com/stories/beer-styles/item/857-hot-rocks-making-a-stein-beer

Enjoy the read...
 

joeb33050

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BREWFUN says that brewing isn't a kitchen process. I've read some of the cited references, and I get the idea. In 1675 beer wasn't brewed by the farmer. Brewing  required a lot of equipment and skill; and there were/are great economies of scale. Hav I got it right? No home brewing in 1675?
Beer and cider were the drinks in that time, water and milk were dangerous and caused disease. Thus large amounts of beer and cider were required. the cider acid kills most germs, I guess boiling kills most beer germs. ?Not enough alcohol to kill germs?
Thanks;
joe b.
 

brewfun

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Please understand that there is s HUGE difference between "germs" and PATHOGENS.

Some renaissance scientists had seen very small flora swimming in common water. The correlation between things in the water and disease was not made until the mid-late 1800's. There was no germ theory of disease; it was all about vapors and balancing humors.

The thing to realize is that fermentation kills PATHOGENS, but not all "germs." There is still much that can survive fermentation and taste bad, but none that can kill you. It's not even a lot, either. The amount of fermentation to create a half percent of alcohol is sufficient.
 

Kevin58

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joeb33050 said:
BREWFUN says that brewing isn't a kitchen process. I've read some of the cited references, and I get the idea. In 1675 beer wasn't brewed by the farmer. Brewing  required a lot of equipment and skill; and there were/are great economies of scale. Hav I got it right? No home brewing in 1675?
Beer and cider were the drinks in that time, water and milk were dangerous and caused disease. Thus large amounts of beer and cider were required. the cider acid kills most germs, I guess boiling kills most beer germs. ?Not enough alcohol to kill germs?
Thanks;
joe b.

I think brewfun may have misspoke about brewing not being a kitchen process. Throughout history brewing beer most certainly was done on the homestead. It just wasn't done on the massive scale as at a dedicated brew house or commercial enterprise. I have a book published in the late 1700's called The complete Family Brewer that describes brewing beer "for the use of private families" and includes process of brewing "from a peck to a hundred quarters of malt".

Also, water from dedicated wells dug solely for household use was plenty safe enough to drink... as was milk.

As an aside I am curious what is the significance of the date 1675? Why have you chosen that specific year for brewing?
 

brewfun

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Kevin58 said:
As an aside I am curious what is the significance of the date 1675? Why have you chosen that specific year for brewing?
Simply, joeb33050 asked specifically about colonial brewing in 1675. The rest of the information I cited springs from that.

I never mentioned cider or milk in my reply, that would've been off topic. Water supply contamination issues were usually artifacts of more densely populated areas and really fairly rare, but serious. Getting more specific than that become convoluted in traditions across different centuries and continents. Clearly, the fact that we are all here today is evidence that there were many, many ways to survive.

Kevin58 said:
I think brewfun may have misspoke about brewing not being a kitchen process. Throughout history brewing beer most certainly was done on the homestead. It just wasn't done on the massive scale as at a dedicated brew house or commercial enterprise.

Brewing evidence from that time shows purpose built structures for beer, on the homestead and in "urban" areas. The reply from joeb33050 misstates what I was saying. My original reply says that gyles were typically about 20 gallons each and seldom blended into one beer. Certainly comparable to modern "homebrewing" scale.

I have a book published in the late 1700's called The complete Family Brewer that describes brewing beer "for the use of private families" and includes process of brewing "from a peck to a hundred quarters of malt".

Kinda imprecise measurements since it's founded on volume and the weight of these depended on what was in it. Further, the definitions of what constitute a peck, bushel and quarter change depending on which system of measure is used. You're not wrong, but there's a lot of nuance.
 
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