18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Confused about acid malt? You won't be after you post your malt-related questions here!
Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:01 pm

I thought i'd post a much briefer report on making a diastatic brown malt at home. the objective was to make a malt that met several criteria for 'brown malt' in the 18th century. i wanted to examine several questions about brown malt from this period: specifically what might it have tasted like? was it smoky? how dark was wort of a gravity around that of porter (say roughly 1.060-80) made from 100% of this malt? what was a 'transition porter' from the early 19th century like prior to black patent malt in terms of colour? what were the differences between torrified and non-torrified brown malts? Was it possible to make a diastatic amber malt using similar processes (as described in some texts)? What might the terms 'snap malt', 'blown malt', 'high dried brown' and 'close-amber brown' mean, and why wasn't there a very clear distinction between 'brown' and 'blown' malts in some texts?

Without going through all the details (as i think there are only a few people interested in this topic - based on the frequent glazed looks i've been getting lately) I went through a number of iterations of making a diastatic brown and an amber malt, cured over a hardwood fire using a miniture 'kiln', using different materials and different processes. This included malting my own barley and following some of the descriptions of making brown malt that appear in the London and Country Brewer, by William Ellis, published in 1736. In summary i found the following:

Different fuels were known in 1736 to produce different levels of smokyness in brown malt. Although Brown malt wasn't at this time made over coke (which was apparently used to make pale malt), straw, wood and fern were known fuels in brown malt production. the order of 'smokyness' follows the order of the materials listed, such that fern was regarded as one of the most smoky and least desirable (at least for the London market). Wood kilned malt could also be smoky, and specific type of wood are mentioned in texts of the period: oak, beech, hornbeam and i have also seen at least one mention of birch. However Ellis doesn't distinguish between the types of wood used in different regions. i found that oak produces a smoky brown malt, but the flavour and aroma work well with the fairly unique flavour of old-style brown malt. A wood i had to hand - sycamore - produces the type of smoky malt that Ellis described as being unpleasant, and all the steps he recalled for reducing the smoke flavour would be worth trying if using that wood. interestingly hornbeam - the wood used in Hertfordshire where london got most of its brown malt from, did not produce a smoky malt. The wood burns very cleanly with a subtle, delicate and pleasant aroma that doesn't impregnate the malt.

wood-cured brown malt produces a very dark chestnut, almost black wort, and typically takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to self convert. The flavour and colour are very similar whether I made my own malt and kilned and cured it over wood, or simply took modern whole pale ale malt and ‘cured’ it brown over wood. The flavour is ‘deep’ malt, some rich toastyness, perhaps a slight nuttiness (hazelnut?). If the malt is cured over oak, there is also that pleasant flavour reminiscent of high-quality bacon, but different to modern beech-smoked Rauchmalt. As brown malt has to be made ‘by eye’, different degrees of ‘brownness’ are possible through a spectrum from amber to a very dark brown. All have been diastatic, but the darkest version (hornbeam cured) also developed a very prominent, pleasant, fresh coffee flavour. There is no none of the thick toffee like flavour of some modern crystal malts. Possibly the closest approximation might be a blend of dark Munich and modern brown malts.

Torriefied or ‘puffed’ brown malt tastes the same as ‘high dried’ or well cured dry brown malt. It is less desirable for the modern home brewer because it is very differcult to mill, and very differcult to get the moisture level right to also dry it thoroughly after ‘puffing’. Ellis describes a ‘withered’ green malt (air dryed for up to 20 days) that is then briefly kilned and cured until it becomes brown malt. The curing over a hot wood fire until it ‘snaps’ is termed ‘blowing’ yet the malt does not ‘puff up’ in this account. Ellis mentions that some maltsters sprinkle water on the malt whilst it is on the kiln, or sometimes after to catch ‘the eye’ . It takes up more volume, it looks ‘nice’ because the grains are plump, but is otherwise the same flavour-wise. Other texts describe this as a fraudulent practice (as the malt swells, and malt was measured by volume at that time). Ellis also suggests the quality of the malt was diminished by this practice. My limited experiments support this view - ‘dry’ blown brown malt is much better quality malt.

‘Snapping’ is a sign the fire is hot enough not to bake or stew the malt. If the malt snaps and jumps off the wire floor of the kiln without the malt catching on fire – you’ve hit the sweet spot. The malt should go through progresivly darker shades of amber/brown until you reach a ‘wall’ where it will just start to catch on fire and/or carbonise.

Sorry for the long post. I hope this is of use/interest to someone somewhere. If it is, please leave a message. Thanks.

Eadweard
Lost in an Alcoholic Haze
Posts: 683
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:17 am
Location: Woking

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Eadweard » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:24 pm

Excellent work! Very please to see that using pale malt as a starting point gives a similar flavour, I really must give this a go...

User avatar
Cully
Even further under the Table
Posts: 2231
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:36 am
Location: with the powers of light and dark... I.e. Newcastle

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Cully » Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:17 am

+1 what an interesting and informative read! I'd love to read more stuff like this.
Nothing's forgotten, nothings EVER forgotten...

User avatar
Blackaddler
Under the Table
Posts: 1322
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:28 am
Location: Addlestein, Surrey

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Blackaddler » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:44 am

Is this really the final instalment? It'd be a shame if it is.

Did you have to dry the different types of wood for long periods, or were they used when still a bit "green"?
Image

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:42 am

hi, many thanks for the feedback.

i think Ron Pattinson's blog and Randy Mosher's 'radical brewing' got me interested in this, particularily when thinking about making some of those early 18th and 19th century recipes. This probably isn't the last post (or mini-essay) i'll add but i think for the moment the 'experiments' have run their course and i'm keen to start brewing with all this brown malt i've got sat around.

re. the dryness of the wood - i tried the following combinations: 'seasoned' sycamore (had been stacked for perhaps 18 months), fully seasoned hornbeam (purchased from a wood yard), scavenged unseasoned oak from a local woodland floor, fully seasoned oak from a wood yard. obviously the seasoned stuff is the best, but i'd avoid sycamore completely. I'd love to have another go using beech.

Perhaps the next step will be to start actually making some porter and other old-style beer using these malts. I've already tried a Whitbread 1811 recipe that called for a big portion of pale malt and a smaller about of brown (black patent hadn't been invented). The brewing schedule was rather tedious - 3 gyles, each boiled sperately with hops for 1.5, 2.5, and 4.5 hours. I found the boils were needed to get the wort to darken properly. straight of the grist the wort was copper coloured like a regular bitter, but by the time the gyles were blended 'entire', the beer was a very dark chestnut, like a dark mild really, but lighter than most modern porters and stouts. i started at 11.30am and finished at 2.30 am the next morning so a long brew day. I'll probably post about that in the 'brew days' section as i took photos through the process. I'd also like to make a early 1700's 'Stout Butt Beer' using 100% brown malt, and perhaps from the second runnings a 'common brown ale' or 'starting Butt Beer', a kind of protoype early porter. I'm intending to age the stout Butt Beer for 12 months and innoculate the the white labs Brett culture (the one apparently identified from a cask of early 20th century English keeping beer?).

thanks again for the feedback and interest in these 'experiments': will keep you updated. - By the way Cully, I'm in Hexham if you ever wanted to meet up and try some of this porter and/or brown malts?

cheers,

Ben

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:09 am

Hi Chris,

many thanks for your post and thoughts. I'm very interested in swapping notes with you about your blown malt so will send you an PM.

re. the smokiness, although i didn't dry my own malted barley over hornbeam, the malt i made and then dried over oak wasn't much different in smokiness compared to that simply 'cured' or 'blown' over oak (although to be fair both were smoky). I do wonder if i'd dried my home-made malt with hornbeam if there would be any smokyness? hornbeam was quite unique in producing (to my tastes) a virtually smokless malt, even using an open mesh basket in a 'kiln'-like setup where all the fumes from the fire passed through the malt bed. personally i really like the oak-smoke version of brown malt, but the hornbeam is also really nice.

thanks again,

ben

User avatar
themadhippy
Even further under the Table
Posts: 2872
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:53 am
Location: playing hooky

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by themadhippy » Fri May 18, 2012 1:29 pm

My guess is the diffrence in the base grains,stuff from the 1800's would be a diffrent beast,more grown for bread not beer,and not force feed a diet of nitogen fertilizers
Warning: The Dutch Coffeeshops products may contain drugs. Drinks containing caffeine should be used with care and moderation

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Wed Jun 06, 2012 4:28 pm

Hi,

sorry for the long delay in responding - didn't see this thread was still active.

The difference is in making the malt to suit different purposes, so the diastatic brown malt i made produced a very dark, almost black wort when mashed by itself a la 1700's style porter. However, when this malt was mashed in a 'mixed grist' (i.e. with pale), following an 1800's recipe, the wort was a mid to dark brown, and the flavour was much more akin to a rich, strong brown ale - so althogether very different. I made a second batch of brown malt, but this time in the style of 'porter malt' from the 1800's. I cured it over oak this time, but with the intention of boosting flavour and colour at the expense of diastatic power. This malt, when employed in an 1800's recipe with pale malt, produced a dark, almost black wort, with a complex, coco, bitter chocolate and a slight smoky edge (i.e. within the bounds of what we might expect a porter to be like). This 1800's version of the brown malt was not diastatic (at least to any practical extent). The 1700's porter with the diastatic brown was/is very smoky - matching period descriptions of the provincial porters brewed in the West country (which weren't viewed in high esteem by London drinkers). Since making both sorts of brown malt i have come to learn that the london porters of the 1700's were generally made with straw or superior materials (coke), to produce a brown malt with limited smoky character. if wood was used for brown malt in the 1700's it was regarded as an inferior fuel and the resulting malt would be aged before use in an attempt to dissipate the flavour (except in 'the provinces'). By the 1800's this might not have been an issue (judging by my attempts) as when blended with pale the stronger roasted, non-distatic brown malt doesn't impart nearly as much smoky chracter as its diastatic cousin. my next attempt will be to return to the diastatic brown malt, but this time curing it with straw. Also contrary to my previous post i found hornbeam still produced a smoky malt, once fermented, but it was still cleaner than other woods.

in terms of flavour these malts produce beers that modern drinkers might recongise as having some similarities to modern porters - but they are really very different (at least the ones i have made are). These are sipping beers that have full on, sometimes quite suprising flavours (think coco, bitter chocolate, smoke, woody notes and even sweet 'silage' - ie. fermented vegetable matter, but nicer than it sounds, in the 1700 beer). In comparison i think modern porters are a lot cleaner, lighter, choclately, or 'cleanly roasty', and generally more appealing to a mass market but also - to me at least - less rewarding in some respects. adding Rauchmaltz for example to a modern porter grist doesn't really bring them much closer to a porter made with a historically 'inspired' brown malt as the flavour component brought by the brown malt is much more than just smoke. sometimes when i drink these beers the image i have to mind is of cracking open a rock and seeing a half-fossilised, leathery raptor come out. it doesn't really fit in the hear and now and what our pallets expect to taste, but it is interesting all the same.

hope that helps,

cheers,

ben

User avatar
orlando
So far gone I'm on the way back again!
Posts: 7037
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Location: North Norfolk: Nearest breweries All Day Brewery, Salle. Panther, Reepham. Yetman's, Holt

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by orlando » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:10 pm

Thank you for a fascinating insight. I just wish I could try some of the beer you have produced. Really admire your dedication.

I have used "modern" brown malt in a Porter and was wondering what the main differences are between this and yours from a flavour giving point of view. Why also is one diastatic and the other not?
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Riders On The Storm
Conditioning: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (Wee Heavy) till December.
Drinking: Kings & Queens (Eldridge Pope Royal Oak clone), Gyle brewed Little Red Ruth(ster) & Red(Ruth)Rain 1867 recipe, From Russia With Love (RIS)

Up Next: Stout! In The Name Of Love, Elusive Butterfly
Planning: Autumn drinking Beer

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:29 am

Hi,

thanks for your interest in this topic Orlando. if you are ever in Northumberland give me a shout and you'd be welcome to come and try some of the few porters i have bottled. in fact if you gave me enough time in advance you could try one drawn by gravity from an oak cask.

The modern brown malt, to my limited knowlege, is treated like most modern roasted malts and cured in a revolving heated drum. The malt roasts in this environment as the temperature increases over an extended period of time which kills off the enzymes before the malt is finished. 1700 style brown malt, as far as i have been able to tell (from the work of Ron Pattinson and Graham Wheeler, reading period texts that have been scanned and are availble online, and from my practical 'experiments') was dried at a low temperature to start with, then the drying process was finished quickly by rapidly 'turning up the heat' via the application of straw or wood (or even fern in really rubbish malt) to the fire. this also gave the malt a brown colour and contributed flavour and aroma through chemical reactions that are beyond my knowledge (i'm guessing some kind of Malliard type reactions). A key point is also in the earlier malting processes - malt intended for brown (rather than pale) malt was according to at least one source, also allowed to dry and 'wither' a bit before dry/curing in the kiln. So once it was on the kiln, and fuel (cost) was being consumed, the idea was to keep the process short rather than drawing it out, as with the better grade pale ale malts. Anyway, sorry a bit of waffle there - but the point is modern brown is a completely different material to 1700's or 1800's brown malts. flavour wise modern brown lends a really nice biscuity, toasty richness to dark beers (though i confess i haven't used it a lot). The 1800's style brown malt (non-diastatic)is probably a better comparison with modern brown - but even then the flavour is quite different. with the 1800 style malt i think you get much harsher flavours intially. i think in the 1800's mild (young) porter was still aged for at least 4 months, and stale (old/mature) 12-24 months. i have found so far that 4 months ageing was a minimum for the harsh and strong flavours to mellow to an acceptable level, although having said that i've only brewed with the malt once so far, when it was fresh off the kiln. I'd like to brew with it again soon, now that it has had 5-6 months to mellow. The 1700's brown malt is nothing at all like the modern brown malt - bitter coco comes to mind as a dominent flavour (as opposed to say 'toasty' and 'biscuity' for the modern brown). the 1700's malt is also smoky but not in the 'bacony' type way that Rauch maltz can be sometimes. having said that i have read references to the use of Beech during that time (i've only used oak and hornbeam). Really the key to making a 1700's London porter, 'Entire', Stout or brown ale would, i think, be making the diastatic brown malt with straw-kilned malt, which is my next project. the malt has to be handled carefully to roast it but retain its diastatic potential. i found it quite easy to do this the first few times around - but replicating it with the straw after all this time will be a good test to see if i have the technique or i just got lucky.

thanks again, and just shout if you want to discuss more or try some of the porter.

cheers,

ben

User avatar
orlando
So far gone I'm on the way back again!
Posts: 7037
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Location: North Norfolk: Nearest breweries All Day Brewery, Salle. Panther, Reepham. Yetman's, Holt

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by orlando » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:52 am

Brilliant offer Ben and if I did find myself (unlikely in the near future unfortunately) I would even be prepared to drag my seriously reluctant Wife along to try some and talk malt. Can you just expand on diastatic. Is it temperature and/or time that is the key to destroying this and is the object if you do entirely down to flavour or are there other issues?
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Riders On The Storm
Conditioning: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (Wee Heavy) till December.
Drinking: Kings & Queens (Eldridge Pope Royal Oak clone), Gyle brewed Little Red Ruth(ster) & Red(Ruth)Rain 1867 recipe, From Russia With Love (RIS)

Up Next: Stout! In The Name Of Love, Elusive Butterfly
Planning: Autumn drinking Beer

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:58 pm

Hi Orlando,

both time and temperature will have an effect on the enzymes in the malt. with the 1700's stuff the goal seems to have been to make a ready-to-use malt quickly by drying it quickly (first by whithering it, then a relativly short period on the kiln, then finished quickly over straw which produces an intense heat). The 'side effect' of this was a malt that also had a pleasingly malty, coco, roasty flavour (based on my 'provincial brown malt'). However it also ran the risk of producing a very smoky malt, unless the material was carefully chosen. Once the hydrometer had been invented it became apparent that although this quick-drying malt was cheaper to purchase by volume (bushel or quarter) than pale malt, the amount of sugar you could extract for a given volume was less. So brewers started to use more pale malt and blend this with brown. as you can imagine this caused some changes to the flavour and hue to the beer, leading to all sorts of attempts (some illegal) to colour and flavour the porter and return it to something vagulely like a 100% brown malt porter. Towards the end of the 1700's and into the early to mid 1800's brown malt also evolved. its purpose was no longer to produce a beer 'by itself' as it was now always blended with pale. what was required from the brown malt wasn't diastatic power, but colour and flavour. So brown malt (also sometimes called snap, blown, or porter malt) became more highly roasted than it was before, producing stronger flavours and deeper colour, but at the expense of enzymes. i hope that makes sense? essentially there is a trade off between roasting malt and its enzymes. just think about the DP of darker munich compared with light etc. There is also quite a bit of debate about the different names for brown malt(s) i just threw in there. my experience is that brown malt will always snap on the kiln if the kiln is hot enough, and it will swell or become blown if it is either (a) still quite damp or (b) sprinkled with water. Blown malt is of lower quality to simply 'snapped' malt because it can be differcult to ensure it has dried properly (and thus will be slack), and it is very hard to mill/crush if it is damp. it also takes up more volume (but looks pretty as it looks like extra large grain kernals). I have made both snapped and blown brown malts and found no advantages to the blown whatsoever. However i have also read that some people have steamed or steeped malt then 'blown' it by slowly increasing the heat so that there is some reaction (malliard or perhaps caramelisation?) making a kind of munich malt - but i don't think that is historically accurate for British brown malt. i have malted my own barley and kilned the green malt which leads me to that conclusion.

cheers,

ben

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:45 pm

Sorry just another update - made 10kg of diastatic brown malt today using straw which seems to fit best with how the brown malt for London brown beers and porters were made in the 1700's. I did a mini-mash and tested with iodine, and it converted easily within 45min. I have only tasted the unfermented wort - but no smoky flavour at all - in fact it tastes very 'clean', toasty, biscuity and malty. No roastyness in this sample. colour is a deep brown/red (like some dark milds), so it looks dark in the glass, but the clarity can be quickly assessed. i think this hue might be close to the historical beers because clarity was considered a defining feature of good porter, and if the beer was too dark you wouldn't really be able to tell. When i brew with it i'll try and record it, but so far really pleased with this attempt. much better than the wood cured version (except the 1800's style stuff, but that's a different beast).

cheers,

ben

User avatar
orlando
So far gone I'm on the way back again!
Posts: 7037
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Location: North Norfolk: Nearest breweries All Day Brewery, Salle. Panther, Reepham. Yetman's, Holt

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by orlando » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:10 am

Hi Ben, I'm planning what I've called an "Imperial" Porter (see my sig) I would really like to brew it with the sort of brown malt you have described. Some of the other descriptions you have regaled us with have had me wondering whether my modern palate would stand up to it but this one sounds more like it. OK that's the blah blah out the way here comes the pitch. Can I buy some off you? My recipe, which I would like you to look at, is currently asking for 400g of brown malt. It might be more appropriate etiquette to take this to PM's rather than here.
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Riders On The Storm
Conditioning: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (Wee Heavy) till December.
Drinking: Kings & Queens (Eldridge Pope Royal Oak clone), Gyle brewed Little Red Ruth(ster) & Red(Ruth)Rain 1867 recipe, From Russia With Love (RIS)

Up Next: Stout! In The Name Of Love, Elusive Butterfly
Planning: Autumn drinking Beer

Fuggledog
Steady Drinker
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:19 pm

Re: 18th century style Brown malt 'at home' - final

Post by Fuggledog » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:47 pm

Hi Orlando,

no need to buy it from me, I'd be very happy to post you some if you are ok covering the postage? Were you wanting some of the 18th Century style diastatic brown, or the 19th century brown porter malt? I imagine you are following a period recipe for your porter so i can supply the appropriate malt for whatever era. If you are using that 400g with pale malt for example, the 19th century stuff would probably be good because it has enough 'punch' to add something to the mix. The 18th century stuff is better as a base malt as otherwise it tends to get a bit 'diluted' by the pale and you won't get much effect (assuming a typical 25L brewlength). Alternativly i could send 400g of both and let you play?

Also do you want it pre-crushed or whole?

just send me a pm with your postage details and i'll get it sorted.

cheers,

ben

Post Reply