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There were puffs of steam and flavours of sweet-wort and gales of hop odours, and men in white aprons and red faces, and all the usual concomitants of a brewery. The visitor took everything with great com posure; but as she turned to depart, a look of disappointment overspread her countenance, and she said, But you have not shown me where they put in the poison ! We trust our readers will not expect similar disclosures. Even in the trade of a rectifier there are, we believe, no secrets except such as yield to the analysis of the chemist; and certainly in malting, brewing, and distilling there is nothing required except skill, care, the use of two instruments—the thermometer and hydrometer, or saccharometer as brewers call it, good materials, and good water.
The first thing to be done in the process of malting is to follow Mrs. Glasse's recipe and buy your barley. In this matter considerable skill and experience are required, and in some markets, knowledge of your customer as well. Some farmers habitually put up' their barley better than others, both in measure and in quality, and part of the maltster's business is to compare the bulk when delivered with the sample, in order that the load, if found not to be up to sample,' may be pitched in its sacks and not shot out upon the heap in the barley chamber. A good barley buyer will by his use of a skilful hand estimate very nearly the weight of the bulk per bushel from the small sample, generally about two handsful, which is offered to him. His eye will tell him whether it has been cut before perfect ripeness, in which case there will be a variety in the colour of the 'pickles' or barleycorns, some being a bright, and some a dead and greyish yellow.* He will also have to judge whether it has been heated or 'mow-burnt' while lying in the field after being cut, or in the stack after harvest. This is apt to take place when the weather is showery and when the crop of clover, which is usually sown with or after the barley, is luxuriant. In these cases the barley is apt to sprout, and as the process of malting is a process of vegetation which once done cannot be repeated, barley which has already sprouted is useless to the maltster. This tendency, common to all grain, to sprout under conditions of heat and damp, makes it a matter of risk to use foreign barley for malting, as it is liable to heat on the voyage. This risk, however, is constantly run, particularly by the bitter-beer brewers, as the very finest foreign barley is superior to almost all English
* Barley, of all grain, is the most liable to ripen in a patchy manner. Being sown in the spring, and not undergoing the equalising tendency of a lowering temperature as wheat does, it is apt to grow in distinct crops, and so to come to perfection not simultaneously.
grain in bright pale yellowness, a quality essential to secure the light colour so much admired in bitter beer.
We need hardly observe that when the sample shows brown or dark grey discoloration it is evident that it has had much rain upon it either before or after cutting, and the experienced buyer will either discard it or use it at a reduced price for porter and such ale as does not require great paleness of colour.
The barley, once deposited in the chamber, and having been screened or passed over an ingeniously-devised sieve, by which all stones, lumps of clay, seeds of charlock and other weeds, very thin kernels of the grain itself, and other extraneous substances are got rid of, is ready to undergo the process of malting. As the malt duty is charged in respect of the bulk of the malt, it is the maltster's, or rather the brewer's interest, that as little extraneous matter and as few husky kernels as possible should come under the exciseman's measuring rod; hence great care is taken to get rid of all useless bulk before
Excisc take place, that is, before malting begins. Now what is malting ?
Malting is a process by which grain, usually barley, has the starch of which its flour is composed converted into sugar; the object being to apply that sugar, which is nearly, but not quite, identical with cane sugar, to the manufacture of beer and spirits. This process is carried on under rules laid down by the Excise authorities; but it is only fair to observe that these rules, which admit of considerable divergence in practice, cannot be said in any way to affect injuriously the manufacture of malt, This is carried on in a building called a malt-house or malting, consisting of four parts,—the steep or cistern, the couch, the floor, and the kiln. The barley, being housed in a chamber above, is let down by a shoot into the cistern, which is rectangular in form, and made to hold a certain number of bushels. In the cistern it is mixed with water, and soaks or steeps for a given number of hours. The next step is, after drawing off the water, to throw the wet barley out of this cistern into a frame called the couch, constructed so as to admit of its sides being taken out at pleasure, by which the barley contained in it, having been further drained of its moisture, sinks down into a heap on the cement-covered floor of the malt-house. The couch, like the cistern, is rectangular, having a side of the cistern for one of its sides, the other three sides being formed by boards fitted against moveable uprights so as to be easily shifted. The grain is now fairly set a-growing; each cisternful of barley, or “piece,' as it is called, is kept by itself, laid out on the malt-house floor in a rectangular shape, about a foot thick to begin with, and moved from time to Vol. 131.-No. 262.
time lengthwise of the floor, which is somewhat in shape like the main-deck of a man-of-war, long in proportion to its breadth, and capable of holding four or five separate steepings. These steepings, arranged like asparagus-beds in a garden, are gradually moved to the other end of the malt-house, where the kiln is placed, the place of each steeping being successively taken by that which follows it, an interval of four or five days usually intervening between each time of filling the cistern with dry barley. All this time the process of vegetation has been going on, the roots chipping the husk and appearing as small white prominences at one end of the kernel. Before the sprouting barley has made its journey from one end of the floor to the other, these roots, which are constantly being distributed and prevented from interlacing by the shovel which from time to time shifts and turns the pieces of malt, attain a length of about halfan-inch, while the future stem, starting from the same end of the kernel as the roots, but in an opposite direction, makes its way under the husk towards the other end, where, were it not for the heat of the kiln, it would show a green point and develop into a blade. The maltster likes to see this rudimentary shoot proceed as far as possible along the back of the kernel ; or, as he terms it, likes his malt to be well up in the backs,' as this is a proof that the chemical process going on within is attaining to perfection. When the growing barley has been some fourteen or fifteen days on the floor, and has gradually travelled from one end to the other, it is cast up by shovels on to a wire net-work fine enough to prevent the kernels from passing through, and dried by a fire of anthracite coal, coke, or, in some cases, charcoal, the heat of which passes through the wires. This process kills and dries the rootlets, stops the vegetation, and completes the manufacture. The malt has then only to be screened to get rid of the rootlet which is sold to feed cattle, and it is ready for use.
From malting we turn to brewing. In a previous page we observed that all the processes we are describing are adaptations of natural results; some of vegetable growth, some of chemical change. The process of malting combines both these results. In the course of germination the substance of which the barley-corn is composed has been converted into sugar. The process of brewing is strictly chemical. This sugar is dissolved in water. The solution is first boiled with hops, for flavour and in order to make it . keep;' it is then fermented, and becomes beer. To make an account of this process intelligible, we must give a short description of the place in which it is carried on--a Brewery. Asin most other manufactures, so in brewing, diverse methods are
pursued in different establishments; but we shall simply describe the leading features of an ordinary brewery, as they are to be seen in hundreds of such structures all over the country.
It is said that no dairy can be profitably conducted without the pump, the cow with the iron tail. Certainly in a brewery even the first step cannot be taken without water. Water for brewing, water for cask-washing, water for refrigerating, water for the steam-engine, water for general purposes of extreme cleanliness, water everywhere is required. It is long since Thames water, except as supplied by the Water Companies, was used in the great London breweries. In most cases these gigantic establishments. have, we believe, supplied themselves by means of artesian wells, which tap the underground lake which lies beneath London. In the country, such expedients are not uncommon. Sometimes unlucky accidents occur in the search for water. We remember
case where an enterprising brewer, finding his supply run short, determined on deepening his well dug in a solid rock. He bored and bored until he bored through the rock into some stratum which absorbed and did not give, or into some subterranean cavern; the result being that all the water ran out at the bottom of his well, a misfortune which he only succeeded in averting by plugging up the hole he had spent much good coin in creating. On the quality of the water depends very much the character of the beer, We have been told by the owner of two breweries in parts of the country far distant from one another that, pursuing exactly the same process in every respect, he finds the beer brewed in one place distinctly different from the beer brewed in the other. We have met with a similar instance where the breweries are only a few miles apart. So much for the water. Now for the brewery itself and the method of brewing.
The first step in the manufacture is to prepare the malt (which we left in the malt-house) for being most efficiently and conveniently mixed with water, or, as in brewery language it is termed, • liquor.' By such mixture its saccharine properties are disengaged, dissolved, and converted into wort. This is done by crushing the malt between steel rollers so as not entirely to disintegrate each kernel, but to break them up just enough to allow their contents to be thoroughly searched out by the hot (not boiling) water with which they are to be mixed. The malt so crushed falls into a hopper or close vessel placed above the mash-tun, and communicating with it by a closed trough or spout, so arranged that while the malt slides down this spout it meets a gush of hot water conveyed by another pipe into a common channel, in which channel the malt and hot water are made to pass through sets of revolving brushes which mix them together before they fall into the mash
tun. This is a cylindrical vessel, proportionate to the size of the plant, that is, to the quantity of malt which the brewery uses at
It has a false bottom perforated with small holes, and is usually fitted with an instrument called a mashing-machine, consisting of a set of revolving rakes so arranged as to stir up the whole contents of the mash-tun in the most perfect manner possible, and thus to extract from the malt, now called 'goods, the largest possible amount of saccharine. In this mash-tun the mixture is allowed to stand for a certain time, just as tea does in a tea-pot, and the liquid part is then strained off by means of the false bottom, leaving the husks of the malt and any insoluble part of the kernel behind. This liquid extract is called a wort. The process is repeated, and any remaining saccharine is washed out of the 'goods' by fresh infusions of hot water. The grains or refuse of the malt are then thrown out of the mash-tun, to be sold to cowkeepers and farmers or otherwise disposed of as manure.
The worts being now concocted, are pumped from the underback or vessel into which they were conducted after being strained out of the mash-tun, up into the copper, there to be mixed with the hops and boiled. Here we must leave our brewing to take care of itself while we say a word or two about hops.
There have been no small contests as to the part which bops play in the manufacture of beer. Some have been bold enough to contend that they possess no preservative qualities whatever, and only contribute flavour. The balance of opinion, however, is clearly on the side of hops being preservative; and whichever view be right, it is quite certain that their pleasant flavour has done more than anything else to make the beverage of which they are an ingredient so universally popular.
Hops, as is well known, are largely grown in the south-east of England, and even so far north as Worcestershire. Our climate, however, is just too cold and damp to produce the finest qualities; and although the best Farnham Town hops are equal to any foreign growth, they are exceptionally good for England, while Austria and Bavaria can supply large quantities not inferior to our most superior examples. We understand that Herr Dreher and the great Bohemian and Bavarian brewers keep their hops unpressed, loose in bins like corn, not tightly packed in bags or pockets, as we do, and that the fact of the hops never having been pressed or artificially dried adds greatly to the delicacy of their
Be this as it may, the repeal of the excise on hops, bringing with it that of the Customs duty on foreign hops, has largely increased the facilities for using hops from America, from Belgium, from Alsace, and from other parts of Germany, while the acreage of English hops does not appear to be on the decline.