Monday, March 23, 2009

You mean... they DRANK???

So in the course of research I sometimes come across something that takes me completely by surprise. The other day I came across this description of pioneers making beer. It surprised me! Particularly, I was intruiged by how detailed the description is. I don't ever find these kind of detailed descriptions of how to cure a ham or butcher a steer. But look at this detail for yourself. From Anna Madsen Bench:

"For beer making, mother first made the malt. This was done in the summer time. Clean grain was selected, put into a wooden tub that was used only for that purpose, and soaked until it would hold no more water. Then drained and put up in an attic on a scrubbed platform, heaped in a pile, well covered, to make it heat and sprout. When it was well sprouted and matted together it was spread out gradually and thoroughly dried. Then taken to the mill and crushed or ground. A wooden tub with a hole in the bottom near the edge was used in which to brew the beer. Clean straw was scalded, twisted and put in the hole; this served to strain the beer. A stick the size of the opening and as high as the tub was forced into the hole. A portion of the malt was placed in the tub, and boiling water poured over it, in proportion to the malt. When the strength of the malt was well absorbed by the water, the stop was loosened a little, so the beer could filter through the straw. This dripped into another wooden tub, and while at blood heat, yeast saved from the last batch was added. A little flour was sprinkled over the top, the vessel well covered, and the liquid allowed to ferment. When well worked and settled it was put into jugs, stored in a cool place, and was then ready for use. The yeast which had settled in the bottom was carefully stored for breadmaking and for the next batch of beer. Sometimes for the sake of variation part of the malt was put in the oven and slightly browned to make the beer a darker color and sometimes hops were boiled and the liquid added to give it a bitter tang. Beer was made as much to obtain fresh yeast as for the drink."

I found that all very curious. Now don't you go trying this at home!


lis said...

not only beer, but dixie wine. alcohol production was pretty common in the early days. .

Brock said...

Yeah but don't go telling everyone that or they might think its ok to drink nowadays too ;-)