Historic Brewing Literature #1

There have been many advances in brewing over the years but after watching a few YouTube videos on primary sources for historic beer brewing recipes, I thought it might be interesting to see if there was any information in historic brewing sources that still held true, or any practices that were now no longer good practice.

So (fade to sepia tint) in the first of a series (hopefully)…

Historic Brewing
Historic Brewing


The Private Brewer’s Guide to the Art of Brewing Ale and Porter

by John Tuck – 1822


On Boiling

It certainly cannot be controverted that in long boiling the essentials will waste more particularly the oily particles of the hops. For the first wort, three quarters of an hour I should consider quite sufficient, from the time the copper is through. It must be observed, at the same time, that the copper must be in full ebullition. Always avoid simmering; it is waste of time, and a great chance of spoiling your gyle. Therefore, while you are boiling, drive her to the full extremity.

Advice to ensure a good rolling boil still stands good today.

On Cooling

I perceive Mr Accum considers washing tubs good things for cooling. I should consider them the worst, the greasy soapy matter will at a certainty ruin your gyle … He also says, page 73, that “the Wort should be laid in the coolers that it will cool in seven or eight hours.” The best practice is to cool fast as possible.

Although not something I’ve seen in any of the more recent literature, it maybe that Mr Tuck’s scorn for the advice of Mr Accum, put paid to the continued suggestion to use one’s bath tub to cool your wort!!! Also, don’t leave your wort to cool over 7 or 8 hours!


{Sourced from Google Books and scanned historical books on Brewing}

Honey Saison Recpie

This has turned out to be a pleasant batch. Worthwhile posting the recipe if anyone were interested in having a go at a Saison, but not having done one before (process sheet and calculations courtesy of BeerSmith) based on my own tinkered recipe for a Belgian Saison from a number of sources (Brewing Classic Styles getting a particular mention):


Recipe: Honey Saison TYPE: All Grain
Style: Saison
SRM: 10.2 EBC SRM RANGE: 9.8-27.6 EBC
IBU: 27.0 IBUs Tinseth IBU RANGE: 20.0-35.0 IBUs
OG: 1.076 SG OG RANGE: 1.048-1.065 SG
FG: 1.012 SG FG RANGE: 1.002-1.012 SG
BU:GU: 0.357 Calories: 632.2 kcal/l Est ABV: 8.4 %
EE%: 73.00 % Batch: 11.02 l      Boil: 17.72 l BT: 90 Mins

Total Grain Weight: 3.59 kg Total Hops: 61.00 g oz.

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU
2.45 kg               Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC)            Grain         1        68.3 %
0.41 kg               Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC)                Grain         2        11.4 %
0.39 kg               Munich Malt (17.7 EBC)                   Grain         3        10.8 %

Name                Description                   Step Temperature Step Time
Saccharification    Add 15 l of water at 67.3  64.4 C           90 min
Mash Out            Heat to 75.6 C over 7 min     75.6 C           10 min


Remove grains. Light sparge with 4 ltr of water at 76 C, and prepare to boil wort

—BOIL PROCESS—————————–

Est Pre_Boil Gravity: 1.049 SG Est OG: 1.076 SG
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU
39.00 g               Hallertauer Hersbrucker [2.00 %] – Boil  Hop           4        14.0 IBUs
22.00 g               Saaz [3.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min            Hop           5        13.0 IBUs
0.12 tsp              Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              Fining        6        –

—FERM PROCESS—————————–

Yeast Lallemande – Belle Saison: 1 Pack (rehydrated)

Primary Start: 15 Aug 2015 – 7.00 Days at 24 C
Style Carb Range: 2.30-2.90 Vols
Bottling Date: 25 Aug 2015 with 1 Coopers Carbonation Drop per (small) bottle


Crickey!!! This fermented fast. What with the weather and adding a brew belt (note to self – bad brewer! not needed! be more patient!) this reached a top temp of 26 C at some points, and fermented really fast. 5 days was all it took to get to a FG of 1010. At bottling 10 days after fermentation started, it was down to 1008! Definitely the lowest FG I have ever achieved. The Belle Saison dry yeast had no difficulties at all, and no stuck fermentation.

After putting into small bottles with 1 carbonation drop each, and left in a warmish spot for a further 5 days this is shaping up really well! Spicy, not too phenolic and malty rather than hoppy. You can taste the high alcohol content, but it is not spirit like. Overall it is refreshingly dry – but strong! 7.4% ABV or thereabouts! Not much of a honey flavour (in hindsight I remember having a great honey beer in Belgium called Barbar which I would love to emulate) so I think the recipe could take more honey.

In hindsight I would change out a slightly cooler fermentation and add more honey. Other than that, great balance of malt to hops, spicy Belgian flavours and not too “farmyardy”. Not a Saison du Pont clone (which I was lucky enough to try within the last 3 months), but definitely a style that warrants a repeat brew another time.

Honey, I’m brewing a Saison…

It’s been a while but this brew evening felt a bit special. It was definitely long overdue.

I’ve wanted to brew a Saison for a while and I had some odds and ends of some grain that I could use up. So this was the perfect opportunity to cycle through my stock – and stay true to the origins of this Belgian farm house style, and get back into the brewing swing of things after the unplanned hiatus of the last month or two.

I also invested in a digital thermometer from Lakeland so I could also try this out too! The realtime measurements and programable alarms for max and minimum temperatures really helped keep the mash within the planned target of 64 degrees C. Definitely worth the money.

As you can see, I was bang on!

The recipe was made up on the fly but mostly based on the Brewing Classic Styles recipe from Zainasheff and Palmer less the cara steeping grains as I have mostly just crystal malts at the moment for British style ales.

I decided to use honey rather than table sugar to achieve that dry finish that characterises a Saison. Mostly for additional flavour, but also as it was simplicity itself to just pour it in from the squeezie bottle rather than measure out table sugar (it also seemed a bit more historically accurate somehow opposed to refined sugar).

The mash work out well and hit the expected OG of 1.067. I suspect that the 90 minute mash makes all the difference in this BIAB method based on my equipment.

A 90 minute boil with this modest hop addition of Hersbrucker and Saaz made this simplicity itself to brew.

Fermentation is proceeding nicely with a thick foamy chocolate coloured Krausen at 20 degrees C. The brew belt is to ramp up the temperature to ensure a complete finish and high attenuation. Otherwise the cellar is keeping a fairly regular 18-20 degrees C at the moment.

All good fun, and hopefully some good beer at the end of it.
(I’m posting this by phone so I plan to upload the recipe as a separate post to keep them separate.)

So, what was your longest break between brews? Is your next batch on the go as the wort leaves the kettle, or have you waited decades between your batches? All comments great fully received.