Beer I

July 6, 2010

After the last attempt to get some sugar out of the malt I wanted to try to make a very small amount of beer using just about half a jug of malt. This would give me the opportunity to test three things. Can the soapstone vessels be used to to keep a constant temperature, can I get the wort to ferment using just the airborne yeast and would it be possible to crush the malt fine enough to get a good exchange of sugars in the malt.

For the task of crushing the malt I would have used a large mortar somewhat similar to the illustration in In the lack of such an instrument I chose to attack the problem a bit more primitively. Using the sort of make shift mortar consisting of a rounded rock and a soapstone vessel I started to grind the malt in a circular manner, this produced some grist that was larger than the one I milled, some crushed malt, and maily untouched malt.

The resulting malt was then mashed in the soapstone with water that I tried to heat carefully and slowly. Though I managed to keep the pot from boiling for almost two hours, my method of monitoring the temperature was also of the more primitive kind – I dipped the finger into the brew. Though primitive I assumed that it worked out all right since the wort turned out quite sweet in the end and had that particular smell of malt that has been turned into mash. After letting it be warm for a long time, I boiled it briefly in order to skim of any proteins. However it reduced quite quickly so I had to take it of the fire.

As the next step came the rather ungrateful task of filtering the wort. Though it was not much I did not really have any equipment that would be good for the task, if I have had a larger quantity and if the vat with a tap was not leaking like a sieve I should have used the method of juniper twigs and straws. Now all I had was a jug of wort and a linen sack. Trying to sieve the wort through the sack was a rather long and unrewarding task, as the sack seemed to seal up and more or less contain the wort. Perhaps due to the sugarcontent? In the end I grew tired of it – and the museum was closing- so I sneaked into the modern kitchen of the museum and borrowed a modern sieve. The result was a wort that was far from clear and filtered.

I poured the wort into a jug and left it there to see if it would ferment on its own.


3 Responses to “Beer I”

  1. ArchAsa said

    I love your blog posts! The beer experiement is especially interesting to me as I am interested in the possibility of acohol production in the Neolithic. Most of the materials and tools available then would have been similar to those of the Iron Age, only pottery would have been used ratehr than soap stone.

    Fingers crossed the fermentation starts. But I thought you needed to add some yeast, or at least chewed malt to the wort.

    • eldrimner said

      Thanks. That would be most likely, have you checked out the work by Merryn Dineley
      She has been working on neolithic brewing in the Orkneys. A real good source when it comes to brewing.

      Fermentation may start by the yeast cells that flots around in the air as the in the belgian Geuze, or it may originate from herbs or plants if they are added after making the wort.

  2. ArchAsa said

    I can’t believe I missed her. Following her work now on Academia (you should sign up too).

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