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Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:37 pm
by Deb
Greetings all,

I am interested in portraying a Medieval Ale Wife and brewing some medieval ale (or at least having a go at brewing some ale) :thumbup:
I am new to the whole re-enactment and living history scene, so would really appreciate any hints and tips you lovely people can provide. :P

Thanks everyone

Deb x
:D :D

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:13 am
by Brother Ranulf
I found this website some time ago and it seems to cover the subject in detail quite well:

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pwp/tofi/medieva ... h_ale.html

The process is extremely long and complex, with many distinct stages including malting which may not lend themselves too well to a living history environment. Sourcing all the coopered vats, tubs, tuns and so on may not be easy.

Here's a medieval German monk brewing up some ale:
german monk brewing.jpg

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:28 pm
by gossip
Deb wrote:(or at least having a go at brewing some ale)
I like the way you think :)

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:20 pm
by Langley
Have had a go at this myself. Practise some modern brewing first. Make from kits to start then move on to doing your own mashing etc so you get the hang of keeping nasty bugs out of it. You can end up with some fould tasting or worse - instant hangover inducing side fermentations if you are not careful. There are som recipes for fast low alcohol small beer around and one of them works really well. I took a brew to an event at Tutbury one hot summer. It is described in the book as tasting like the smell of new-baked bread and people were very dubious. It smells very bready like too. However, the whole brew vanished on the Firday evening and I had none left for the show! Downside - it is very wasteful and expensive as you basically do a quick extract and throw much of the good stuff away unused.

I am also working on a new brewing demo for weekend shows which obviously means it has to be quick and ferment out almost overnight if you start it on the Saturday morning. My approach is to get some spent mash from the local brewry - I have several tame brewers I am going to get mash from in different parts of the country. (Upside - you are absolutely forced to visit breweries and drink enough to get chatty with the brewer). It will be small scale of course. I use a bucket as you can get reasonable ones for the purpose without the expense of a large vat.

I did do one famously awful brew at Archaeon in Holland (Clarenceboy will recall as will Gregory23B). That was mostly due to the fact I could not carry normal kit so had to borow an authentic bucket from the site. It was provided very willingly and I could not say no but the horse did go thirsty for the weekend and no matter how much boiling water and my entire supply of Sodium Bisulfite I used, it seems there were some commensurals lurking about it!

What are you thining of flavouring with? Hops are a late introduction. You can do small beer which has no flavouring but look for things like using heather or nettles. Try Fraoch heather beer to get an idea.

Good luck! Hope this has been a help. There are not enough brewers about in re-enacting.

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:27 pm
by Brother Ranulf
The herb alecost (costmary, bible leaf or balsam herb tanacetum balsamita) is supposed to have got its name from being widely used as an ale flavouring. Not one that features in my own herb garden so I can't speak for its properties.

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:01 pm
by Medicus Matt
We brewed a three day honey ale at Chedworth one year. Only equipment we used was a big cauldron, a wooden tub and some linen for straining. One batch was flavoured by the addition of sweet gale, alecost, borage and loveage. The un-herbed batch was nice, the herbed batch was ....well frankly we're not sure what it was but it tasted great and seemed to be mildly pyschotropic...which was interesting.

Anyway, I've got plenty of alecost growing in the herb garden if anyone wants to try some.

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:49 am
by Brother Ranulf
This coming Sunday (28 August) is the feast day of St Augustine of Hippo, father of the Church and patron Saint of brewers . . . :D

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:04 pm
by Langley
Did a small scale - about enough for one person for a day - small ale brew at the Bewdley Museum Food and Harvest event over the weekend. It helps that there is a brewery with a friendly brewer right at the end of the little park who let me have some used mash from the morning's brew which I was able to re-mash. He also let me have some of his yeast which was fed with a little sugar water to get it going and added to the cooled liquor in a wooden bucket which hasd been scoured and covered with a cloth and left in the arm sunshine to get on with it. It was clearing by Sunday evening as it brewed out quite quickly. Modern mashing with a sparging step extracts more sugar than the older techniques so it did turn out pretty weak. Next time I would add a small amoung of sugar to move it along a bit I think - but then it might look great frothing and bubbling - you can let the public peek under the cloth and the smell is certainly authentic. There is a little left in the fridge - it tasted quite like barley water with a little fizz and tonight we get to see what it is like when cooled. My last brew using a quick extract technique to get a weak sugar solution to bew fast and weak was tastier - lovely in fact, like drinking the smell of fresh made bread but a completey inauthentic way of doing it. Maybe I will add a little fresh grain to the mash next time rahter than sugar. Some more experimenting to be done but loads of volunteers to get rid of the product.

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:48 am
by Captain Reech
Medicus Matt wrote:We brewed a three day honey ale at Chedworth one year. Only equipment we used was a big cauldron, a wooden tub and some linen for straining. One batch was flavoured by the addition of sweet gale, alecost, borage and loveage. The un-herbed batch was nice, the herbed batch was ....well frankly we're not sure what it was but it tasted great and seemed to be mildly pyschotropic...which was interesting.

Anyway, I've got plenty of alecost growing in the herb garden if anyone wants to try some.
Alecost is reported to contain minute amounts of beta-thujone, the same chemical alleged to be responsible for the hallucinations experienced by Absinthe drinkers. I believe you'd have to drink an awful lot of it to experience any effect however!

I've got a fair amount of Alecost as well, along with some Sweet Gale and plenty of borage seeds to raise a crop for next year, have you any record of the other ingredients/quants you used? I'd like to have a crack and it would be nice to start with a recipe that has worked before.

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:20 pm
by Clarenceboy
Just had a read through the thread above as I am looking at running a 7 day event in July and one of our lot is interested in having a go at brewing. As well as that I am in touch with a "nano" brewery near the site who are willing to have a go at making 60 liters of a pre-hop beer for a local pub to try out with a view to supplying us at the event with something similar as well as two diffrent strength old ales run from the same sparge.

He has been speaking to a Dr. and a Prof on the subject but I would be interested if there are any books out there that cover the subject in detail, ideally with recipes and methods that the brewery could adapt and follow.

Also if you have a method and/or recipe for the fast brew beer Langley it would be greay as i quite like the idea of seeing how bucket brewed beer fares against a more professional method

Re: Medieval Ale wife

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:57 pm
by Captain Reech
As a spin off from this, after re-reading what has been said about authentic methods being wasteful of the grain and the use of sugar water to boost the strength of a weak mash, has anyone considered Braggot? The idea being that you re-use your original mash and bulk it out with honey to produce a second brew that is somewhere between a mead and a beer. Not sure how succesful this would be with a short fermentation as honey is a notoriously slow fermenter(I have a gallon of mead sitting on my window ledge that has been fermenting now for thirteen months with barely 2 kilos of honey which is showing no signs of stopping just yet!) but it might be worth a shot for a "Taste and see" session on the LH (For re-enactors only, not MOPs!)

I'm going to try a few of the recipes from this site, particuarly the 14th Centruy style ale fo small batches which looks to be quite simple.
http://www.gruitale.com/recipes_en.htm