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The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer: Rediscovered Recipes for Classic Brews Dating from 1800 to 1965 Spiral-bound – January 1, 2014
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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From the Publisher
Broyhan has a rather sad history. It was the most common type of beer in north Germany for 300 years, yet has disappeared virtually without trace. In the preindustrial period, Broyhan was incredibly popular and inspired many similar beers. Berliner Weisse is reckoned by some to be a development of Broyhan.
It was first brewed in Hannover but spread throughout north Germany. The reality is a little more complicated than that. Broyhan was brewed over a wide area for a long period of time and took many forms. Whatever grains were used, they would be in the form of Luft-Malz, or air-dried malt. Some versions did contain wheat malt or oats, and the exact composition of the grist probably depended on what grains were available. Others contained small amounts of hops and some ground spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and coriander seeds. As the ancestor of Berliner Weisse, it should come as no surprise that Broyhan was a sour beer, though; as the analyses in the table show, the level of acidity varied. It ranged from the mouth-puckering levels of a lambic to mildly tart. The level of attenuation was quite poor and, combined with a low OG, resulted in a beer of only 2 or 3 percent ABV. Broyhan is mentioned in technical literature in the early years of the twentieth century and was presumably still being brewed then. It probably finally disappeared around the time of World War I. “This beer is named after its creator, Cord Broyhahn, who first brewed it in 1526 in the brewhouse of Hans von Sode in Leinstrasse, Hannover. The genuine Broyhahn is very pale, similar in colour to young white wine, has a winey aroma and a pleasant sweetish yet acidic taste. Broyhahn differs from other white beers chiefly in that it is brewed from pure barley malt without the addition of wheat malt or hops. ” —“Grundsaetze der Bierbrauerei nach den neuesten technisch-chemischen Entdeckungen” by Christian Heinrich Schmidt, 1853, page 444 [My translation]
Note that despite containing no hops, the wort was boiled. There were many variations of Broyhan, so feel free to modify this recipe by adding a few hops or spices, or use wheat malt and oats in addition to barley malt. As the level of acidity varied, you could also ferment just with yeast.
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The issue is malt, beer's most important ingredient next to water. These vintage British beers all used pale, amber, brown, and black malt in different quantity. Pattinson is forthcoming in the malt section when he explains that brown malt "is a tricky devil to pin down" and amber malt is "downright impossible." But he does not even attempt to give brewers a practical modern stand-in for these key malts. These elusive malts are required in nearly every recipe. So how do we proceed? I'd argue that it's not enough to shrug one's shoulders at this as an irreconcilable mystery. As an author purveying a book of recipes, it's incumbent on you to provide your readers with SOME clue of how to brew them using contemporary ingredients. Otherwise we might as well be dealing with unicorn horns and dodo bird eggs.
On this same point, the book has no tasting notes or evidence that the author has actually brewed the recipes. They are simply listed in a standard format (easy to read, I'll give him that). I heard Pattinson say on a podcast that he does not really brew, at least he hasn't for a while; he has someone do it for him (which is fine). But where is the evidence that the cited recipes comprising the book have actually been successfully created by a contemporary brewer? I would like to have even a vague idea of how Stout recipes A, B, and C differ from one another. Does anyone actually know?
Finally, the recipes. Let's pick on Stout for a moment. The history section that precedes them lists the sub-categories of Sweet, Oatmeal, Milk, and London, with Brown as a presumptive baseline. So I tried to locate a Sweet Stout among the recipes. Or Oatmeal, or Milk. Nope. At least none are pointed out. I couldn't find lactose or oats in any of the recipes. Perhaps Pattinson did not find any, or they were not included, but it's a bit misleading.
In short it's a fun book, but the point of buying it for most is probably to actually brew beer. I'm going to try doing so regardless, but there are significant oversights towards the aim of using the book in that practical way. As another reviewer more succinctly states, the book "doesn't go far enough."
For those unfamiliar with Pattinson's writing, the review is not so simple. The book looks at a lot of topics that are rarely discussed in homebrewing literature. For most, the concept that beer styles have evolved over the years will be an eye opener. I don't believe there is a book that is as comprehensive on British styles. The German styles discussed in the final pages are not commonly seen in print either. The chapters are clear and concise charting the evolution of styles such as IPA, pale ale, mild, and others. There are at least a half dozen recipes for each style. Any experienced homebrewer should be able to recreate these beers with these recipes.
This book is not for beginning homebrewers. There are no extract recipes in here. It is strictly for someone with a couple of all grain batches under their belt. At times, Pattinson is a too little concise. It would be nice for someone with so much knowledge of his subject to expand a bit on what is presented. Pattinson discuses the use of Brettanomyces in stock ale production. He stops short of mentioning which strains that a homebrewer may want to use. This information is readily available online, but should have been included in a book with this title.
This is a fantastic book and I look forward to more like it. It's great that homebrew writing has gotten to the point where people will do hard research to present a book that dispels the myths that preceded it. My complaints are minor and not unexpected for someone who reads Pattinson's blog. On the balance, this book is an eye opening read about what beer styles are with a few slight technical oversights.
If you are looking for brewable vintage English historic recipes, including those brewed by the likes of Pretty Things, this is the book for you.
This was a very quick read, 150 pages, over 7 days, with multiple tags set to mark specific recipes as ones I'd like to brew.
Edit - added _english_ description to the description.
Pattinson does a solid job of adapting historical brewing records to small home-sized batches in the recipes. He also debunks many historical brewing myths, like the pre-1930 use of roasted barley in Guinness (they didn't), and explains corrections to other items, such as style origin and terminology.