Rich Creamy Porter and Stout (Part II)

In my Part I, I referenced a chart of cellaring practice used for draught beers by British Army canteens in 1903. It is notable for diverging, in numerous respects, from current practice especially for porter and stout.

I mentioned that high condition – a lively carbonation and high foam in the glass – was likely the reason not to vent the barrels before tapping.

I speculated that unfermented or incompletely fermented wort – the extract of malt boiled with resinous and aromatic hops – was added to finished but flat beer to impart the necessary condition. The beer would ferment anew from the fresh infusion of maltose and other sugars via the wort.

This practice was usual at the time for Irish stout producers, as documented in Frank Faulkner’s 1884 textbook on brewing. I’ve referred to it on numerous occasions. See pg. 272 , although his full explanation of Irish stout brewing is illuminating. Would that a revivalist would follow it today!

The question is to what extent this was done in U.K. (non-Irish) porter brewing, versus i) using a sugar addition (priming) to achieve the carbonation, ii) adding flour or another starch of some kind, or iii) simply blending old matured beer with a newly-made (unvatted) fizzy beer.

Ireland did no. iii) too, at least later, the high cask-low cask system that preceded introduction of stout dispensed with mixed nitrogen and carbon dioxide gas.

I cited one 19th century English reference to adding wort to finished beer in a brewing manual.

I’ve found another, which is interesting for two reasons. First, it appears in 1899 in a London-based trade journal, The Brewer’s Journal – essentially the period covered by the cellaring chart. (The other was some decades earlier).

Second, and very unusually, the writer uses the German term “krausen” to elaborate his meaning.

The writer, responding to a question how to produce a genuine stout, advised in part to add “strong wort”, or “krausen”, to a brew aged for some weeks (not months or years, by this time). He was precise in his meaning: the wort is added 24 hours after pitching in the yeast.

While he does not identify the breweries which did this or indicate his own affiliation, it seems evident some U.K. porter brewers were doing this by this time. The brewing writer Ron Pattinson in fact confirmed it for the London brewer Barclay Perkins in 1929 (for stout). This adds to the inference it was occurring among some porter brewers in the capital 30 years earlier.

The fact that circa 1900 we have an English cellaring chart telling canteen stewards not to vent casks of porter and stout ties in perfectly to all this.

Krausening is an old German way to carbonate long matured but fairly flat lager, by adding wort in active fermentation.

Britons very rarely used German terms in 19th century brewing manuals and recipes. After all they had their own tradition to rely on. Only later, when German, Austrian, and Czech lager-brewing expanded its reach across the Continent and finally the world did German practice and terms start to make a mark in British brewing.

By 1899 lager was being brewed in the UK and slowly was finding a market. U.K. brewing started on a long path of having to accommodate the newcomer or its associated technology such as (later) the cylindrical-conical fermenter, and pure yeast culture.

Today most beer sold in the UK is lager. I doubt very much of it is krausened, though. The same for most (all?) stout still produced. Technology marches on. Does taste? I’m not sure.

For Part III to this discussion, see here.




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