The Hart Brewery’s c. 1800 Recipe and the Recreation

Part of the directions in the Hart Brewery’s c. 1800 recipe deal with malting which I will omit in this discussion. For the brewing part, basically the recipe states a three mash system, i.e., the first run off the grains was brewed separately to produce the strongest ale (8% abv or more), the next a middling (4% abv or more), the last a small beer or ale (1-2% abv).

Here is the text, my own “transcription”:

Mash with water 176 to 180 degrees half an hour, let it stand 2 1/2 hours, boil it with a quick fire 50 minutes, add hops 1/2 to 1 lb per minot, when it is cool 52 degrees let it in the working Tub [fermenting vessel] and add 1 Gallon yeast for every 1 1/2 hhd [hogshead] Beer, watch it so immediately that the head begins to fall, draw it off in cask, and the cask kept constantly filled up till done working.

Second mash 180 to 184 degrees.

Third mash the same.

(?) when the worts are in the copper to be often stirred to prevent the hops from burning and the whole kept as much covered as possible to prevent the oils, or gases from escaping.

There is no suggestion the worts were mixed and I doubt the brewery’s small scale allowed for it. We are talking of a smallish country brewer.

The result was, save where brown porter was made, a typical 1700s strong ale, a type that lived on into the 1800s. The hopping regimen was low in comparison to “beer” in the technical sense (e.g., porter, IPA), albeit high by modern commercial standards.

IPA or India Pale Ale was a late 1700s-early 1800s innovation. It resulted from the trade with India and was a “beer” as mentioned, that is, much more hopped than the ancestral ale and typically aged; also, IPA was less strong, by about 2 points if not more, than all ales except the “common” (low-cost) type. IPA was just really starting when the Harts set up in 1796, and clearly not what they brewed.

Hart’s recipe (see the malting part) clearly calls for pale malt for ale, one type only as was typical then. For hops, same thing, one type. The thermometer had come in use since a temperature range is given for the mash, one very similar to what you read in manuals of the day for ale, e.g., John Tuck’s book from 1822. The method of cleansing, or clearing most of the yeast, is very similar to one of the methods advised in Tuck’s book. Such beer went into casks, was replenished until the active foaming stopped, and soon sent to market.

In both terminology and concepts, the recipe is typical late 1700s-early 1800s English ale brewing. I should add, in France and Belgium at the time, the norm was a not dissimilar top-fermentation brewing. So French consumers around Trois-Rivières probably did not consider they were drinking anything much different than what French brewers in Canada made before the British took over.

The recreation by Reservoir brewpub – I have now discussed it in detail with the brewer, Nathan McNutt – is very authentic IMO. A single pale malt was used, called Frontenac, and one hop, both productions of Quebec’s soil as the original would have used. A first run off only was used to produce the beer – no sparging. 1.3 lbs hops per barrel (36 gallons) were used.

Now, a minot was 8.3 imperial gallons, which is 1.03 an imperial bushel. (A minot was dry measure, not wet).

English practice was to use, for mild ale (not kept long), about 1 lb hops per bushel of malt, see e.g. David Booth in 1829, here. Some sources said less, e.g. 3/4 lb hops per bushel of malt, see here.  The Harts were using up to 1 lb, but sometimes less, perhaps due to the generally colder Canadian climate. It may be they used 1 lb for porter and a 1/2 lb for the ale, or 1/2 lb for mild ale and 1 lb for aged ale.

In England, three bushels of malt would produce one barrel of strong ale. Taking 3/4 lb per bushel, that is just over 2 lbs per barrel. The Reservoir’s use of 1 1/3 lb hops per finished barrel of beer is certainly in tune with this. The alpha acid content for the type of hop used (Newport) was over 8% (I was told), and historically alpha acids were more like 5%, probably, so the 1.3 lbs can be viewed (my opinion) as 2 lbs historical per barrel. 

True, the historical ale barrel was 32 gallons, the beer barrel, 36, after which it changed [see my second comment below], and I was quoted the 1.3 lbs hops figure based on a 36 gallon barrel (my request to them). But close enough, eh?

Nathan added the hops during the boil in two additions, which is very possibly what originally was done. It’s possible all hops were all added at the end of the boil, more to infuse the aroma than make the beer bitter, but perhaps not since the recipe states it is important to stir the boil to avoid the hops sticking. This implies the hops were added during an active boil.

The Newport hop is derived from German Hallertau and other ancestry and not strongly citric I understand. This hop makes good sense historically as the C-hop taste (think grapefruit) didn’t exist c. 1800. Whatever type of hop was grown in Quebec in 1800, the Newport is closer to it than any C-hop or that type, IMO.

The Reservoir’s beer is light amber, a touch hazy, 8.6% abv, I am told only lightly bitter.

Net net, the recreation sounds like classic strong English mild ale of the 1700s-early 1800s; it sounds like something close to what the Harts brewed.

We must bear in mind, too, the Harts’ beers were probably far from consistent. The Reservoir’s beer almost certainly is like some of the first-mash ale the Harts brewed. In fact, the Harts – and their clientèle – surely would have loved the recreation.

1 thought on “The Hart Brewery’s c. 1800 Recipe and the Recreation”

  1. Regarding the ale and beer gallons, they were set at 32 for ale and 36 for beer in Elizabethan times, then equalized at 34 for both everywhere except London where beer stayed at 36, then finally set at 36 for both ale and beer. There is no point to set out the dates for the changes, some of which occurred while the Hart Brewery was operating, as any use of hops today to approximate the recipe’s directions will be … approximate.

    We cannot be certain too what the Hart’s hogshead was. It was probably 54 in beer gallons but may have been 57.

    By any measure, the Reservoir’s 1.3 lbs per 36-gal.barrel of Newport, 8% AA hops is well within the historical range for strong English ale in the period of the Hart Brewery’s operation.

    It almost goes without saying in these discussions too that grain and starch characteristics may have differed then than now and it is known for a certainty they differed annually or with the harvests, as they still can. Yield/efficiencies may have been different for the Harts – possibly lower – even if the same amount of malt is used for a given amount of mash water, and this factor too is a question mark since the recipe is compressed and lacks a direction on the last point. Nonetheless, a beer between 8 and 9% abv is considered within the range of strong ale in the early 1800s. When alcohol was finally measured accurately, many sources of the 19th century known to researchers confirm this number as typical of strong ale and indeed it sometimes went higher still for certain types, e.g. Burton ale, Albany ale in the U.S., a XXX, and so on.


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