Brewing in Tindalls Cottage

This week we have a guest blog written by Sam Williams, a pewtersmith, who has been working with Marc Meltonville and another expert food historian from Historic Royal Palaces, on a personal project to trial brewing recipes from the 1700s.

The Museum’s Tindalls Cottage exhibit was, of course, a perfect place for this activity and their days were supported by members of the Museum’s Interpretation team.

“Our aim was to create Strong Ale from a recipe found in London and Country Brewer (1736). To achieve this we needed a few key ingredients: spring water, collected from the Malvern Hills, malted barley (Maris Otter), malted wheat, East Kent Goldings Hops and some Safale Brewers Yeast.”

mash 1 crop

“The first job of the day was to light the fires under the copper. We needed to get the fires as hot as we could in the least amount of time possible. Our aim here was to heat 9 gallons of the spring water to boiling temperature.”

mash 2 crop

“We then measured out the appropriate weights of the malted barley and wheat accordingly, similar to how you would follow a modern day recipe.”

mash 5 crop

“Once the copper had finished boiling the water we transferred it over to our mash tub. Once the 9 gallons had been added it was time to add the barley and wheat into the tub. After a thorough stir with our mash rake we then let the ingredients sit for 3 hours for the water to soak all of the nutrients out of the grains.”

mash 3 crop

“After the 3 hours is passed it was time to drain the “wort” (liquid which has now taken up the nutrients of the grain) from the tub. We then transferred the wort into the copper and added our East Kent Goldings Hops to the wort and got it up to boiling temperature.”

mash 6 crop

After approximately 90 minutes, the liquid was transferred out of the copper and left to cool to around 20 degrees. It was at this point that we added our yeast to start the fermentation process and then transferred the wort into the fermentation barrels.

In around 7 days we hope to have a strong ale, which we can then send off to the London Distillery to be turned into our Aqua Vitae – Old English Whisky.”

The team are aiming to return to the Museum in May 2016 to continue their project. We also have in-house demonstrations of brewing in Winkhurst Tudor kitchen on a regular basis.

If you’d like to find out more about the diets of people from c. 1300-1900, Marc will be one of the speakers at our Food and Drink: 1300 – 1900 study day, 25 September 2016.