It’s drinking month! With recipes!
“I had once determined to go with Frank to-morrow and take my chance, &c., but they dissuaded me from so rash a step, as I really think on consideration it would have been; for if the Pearsons were not at home, I should inevitably fall a sacrifice to the arts of some fat woman who would make me drunk with small beer.”
~Jane Austen to Cassandra, 1796
The Ale-House Door by Henry Singleton, circa 1790, Yale University Press.
This week’s recipe comes courtesy 19th century Yorkshire handyman Thomas Denton, who was through paying outrageous pub prices for his pints and came up with his own less expensive home brew. This recipe produces 72 pints, so clean out your cupboards or make this around the holidays to share as gifts. But Mr. Denton was correct about his savings; his total cost was three shillings three pence (about £8.05 total/11p a pint today). Not too shabby.
Recipe for Cheap Beer
Put one peck of barley or of oats into an oven just after baking, or into a frying pan first to steam off the moisture, and dry it well, but on no account to burn the grain then grind or bruise it roughly.
Boil two gallons of water and pour it into a tub and when it has stood 10 minutes (say a heat of 175 degrees, or so hot as to pain the finger sharply) put in the grain; mash it well, and let it stand three hours: then drain it off.
Boil two gallons more water, which power [pour] on the grains, rather hotter than before but not boiling, say 196 degrees, and mash them well and let it stand two hours and draw it off. Mash the grains again well with two gallons more water, and in 1 1/2 hours draw it off. The three worts will be about five gallons.
Then mix 7lbs of treacle in five gallons of water, and boil the whole 10 gallons with 4oz of Hopes for 1 1/2 hours, taking care to stir it so long as the Hops float off the top.
Let it cool and when about milk warm take a good teacupful of yeast; and stir it well together beginning with about a gallon of the wort at a time.
Let it ferment for 18 Hours in a tub covered with a sack: put it into a nine gallon cask and keep it well filled: bung it up in three days, and in 14 days it will be good sound fine beer equal to London Porter.
The nine gallons of beer thus brewed will cost as follows –
1 Peck of Barley 1s 3d
7lbs of Treacle 1s 9d
4oz of Hops 3d
Cost 3s 3d
If you cannot get Treacle take 5lbs of the cheapest and darkest sugar you can get; this is better for your purpose than finer
Mix 14lbs of Treacle and 11 gallons of water well together, and boil them for two hours with 6oz of hops.
When quite cool; add a teacupful of yeast and stir it well, by a gallon or two at a time;
Let it ferment for 16 hours in a tub covered with a sack: then put it into a nine gallon cask, and keep it well filled up.
Bung it down in two days – and in seven days it will be fit to drink; and will be stronger beer than London Porter.
This is the simplest as it requires no skill: a washing copper or tea kettle are the only requisites: and nine gallons of beer can be obtained at the following cost –
14lb of Treacle 3s 6d
6oz of Hopes 4d
Cost 3s 10d
Recipe for Cheap Beer by Thomas Denton, circa 1825, courtesy Daily Mail.
Recipe for Cheap Beer Recipe by Thomas Denton, circa 1825, courtesy Daily Mail.
Descriptions of Battles by Sea and Land, attributed to Robert Dighton, circa 1801, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.