A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Craig -

The Beaverkill ran a few hundred yards behind what is now the Cultural Education Center, where I work. So on the drive home, I went to see if I could tell where it was. Most definitely! What Lincoln Park is today was obviously the valley floor which cradled the creek. As I moved west toward Hinkel Brewery I could see the valley narrow and rise quickly, this is the area, I believe, was know as Buttermilk Falls. The narrow valley parallels Park Avenue, continues west and pans out at the top of the hill at Delaware Avenue.

I had no trouble seeing that creek, 150 years ago, in my minds eye.

Stan Hieronymus -

Alan - Thinking about you and performance art, perhaps recruiting Laurie Anderson for some sort of beer-related fund raiser, makes me pause.

Craig -

I read that wrong at first. I thought it said Loni Anderson!

I think she's living on the air in Cincinnati... Cincinnati WKRP

Alan -

"...Oh, Superbeer..."

Pok -

I think that if Albany brewers were taking their water from either surface or groundwater it would not be particularly salty. Not salty in the way that the groundwaters of the Syracuse area are. The salty waters derived from teh Salinas formation don't come to surface in the Albany area the way they do in Syracuse.

So, parhaps the Albany Ale is not particularly "soft" with salt.

Alan -

P., you might have missed that they were adding masses of salt in the boil. Perhaps to replicate the "mineral springs" idea is one idea bouncing around.

Gary Gillman -

Alan, on the salt thing again. Ron has a current posting from Barclay Perkins in the 1930's, disclosing details for various types of porter.

Something caught my eye, the reference to adding 3 oz salt to the copper per barrel. That would be a 36 gallon barrel.

Thomas Read in the 1835 NY Senate testimony said he used 4 quarts of salt for 60-70 barrels. Since some of his fellow brewers said they used only a "little" or "trifling" amount of salt, and some used none, let's take his 70 barrels, which was probably for winter brewing. That's a total of 2240 gallons beer (32 gal. to the barrel). Or 62.2 English barrels (36 gal. to the barrel). That is a shade over 2 oz salt per English barrel, used by Read. Yet in London in the 1930's, after attemperators and other refrigeration, they are still using 3 oz. salt per barrel. I can't see the use of salt by Albany brewers as anything unusual. I don't say of course that pale ale brewers all used salt addition in England over this 100 period, but this seems a typical practice of Anglo-American brewers. (Some didn't add salt in my view because their water was hard enough).

It might be interesting simply to add table salt to one of your home brewings in the proportions mentioned and see what comes of it. Does the taste survive in the finished product? I ask this because I am mindful of the advice of the late Quebec-based chef and cookery writer, Jehanne Benoit. She said, don't add salt to a salad dressing made with an olive oil base (oil and vinegar), it simply falls to the bottom. Might the same occur with salt in a finished beer?

Gary

Alan -

Ron had confirmed by email a few weeks ago that he understood the salt to be far higher than anything in England. And, as indicated, it is far higher than anything in an natural water table. Time for the math to be checked.

Alan -

I couldn't find my salty math but <a href="">it was over here</a>:

"4 dry quarts of table salt = 11.21 pounds according to this calculator and 9.6 pounds this one, too.. That converts to 2.5 to 3 ounces a 31.5 gallon barrel or about 0.085 to 0.1 of an ounce (or 2.4 to 2.8 grams) per gallon. That adds 247 to 291 ppm NA and 381 to 448 ppm Cl. That is a lot. More than any city listed in table 9-2 of Al Korzonas's Homebrewing, Vol 1. Nearing four times Dortmund, the natural saltiness of the brewing towns.

So either I botched the ppm calculation or it is very high. In any event, it is 3/8ths of a tablespoon of salt in a pint of water.

Gary Gillman -

Well, maybe I am off because of dry quarts, I hadn't thought of dry measure. But 3 oz. per 32 gallon barrel more or less doesn't seem that different to me to 3 oz. per 36 gallons considering too the natural differences in salinity and taste in various salts. And considering also there was a range of usage amongst the Albany brewers. Some used a trifling amount, or very little (their words), and this must mean in some cases 3 oz per barrel as in the 1930's in London for BP would not have surprised them.

Gary

Alan -

Could be. I am going to try a pint of the stuff tonight as I don't trust my ppm calculation. I will report.

Craig -

3/8 tablespoon = 1-1/8 teaspoon. That seems pretty salty. Standard medical saline is is about .16 oz (1 teaspoon) of un-iodized salt to 16 oz of water .

Craig -

okay, 3/8ths of a tablespoon of salt in a pint of water is very salty... yuck!

Alan -

Now I have the math all the other way:

9.6 pounds to 60 barrels
0.16 pounds to 1 barrel
0.16 pounds to 31.5 gallons
2.56 ounces to 31.5 gallons
0.08 ounces to one gallon
0.01 ounces to one pint

Craig -

Okay, so that's actually not that much. 0.01 Ounces = 0.06 Teaspoons. That's like 1/16 of a teaspoon.

Craig -

So I just did a test with a 1/6 of a teaspoon in 16 oz of normal, Albany tap water. If I were served this at someone's house, I don't know if I would notice it's salinity. I compared to an "unsalted control" and I could only notice a slight bit more salt. Maybe in distilled water, it would be more noticeable, but not in this test. I've had Saratoga water and it has a significantly more pronounced mineral and salt flavor.

Alan -

Good thing I redid the math before horking back the bitches brew that I thought was the ale of our fathers.

Craig -

Think of it this way. The salt issue is settled AND we now have a piece of the puzzle. Salt was a named ingredient by twenty of the brewers in the 1835 Senate hearing. Water, barley, hops and yeast have to be there, salt does not. They state it is added for flavor, and it's preservative and clarifying properties.

Alan -

And stuff. Yea, that's it. It wasn't a dead end at all. We're great. No time wasted. I wasn't on a goose chase at all...

Alan -

I had no idea of the other "salt" and Albany connection.

Craig -

Ironweed, Salt, The Other Guys, the Time Machine, Age of Innocense, Scent of a Woman all were partially filmed in Albany.

Craig -

Albany and Troy, my bad

Craig -

Check number 6 from Abraham Nash's testimony in the 1835 report. It notes the water to be soft, but still with an addition of salt. the soft water and country ale, in his words, was "much preferred" in NYC.

Alan -

When I was a kid in Halifax bars in the early 1980s, old men salted their beer, tapping the shaker on the rim of the two eight ounce glasses that was considered the single serving.

Pok -

I have a similar recollection of the old tavern fixtures in Northern Ontario salting their "50". I don't know why they did it but I presume it was for taste.

Alan -

Oh, I took to salting it, too, there for a while. Not being backwards pretentious either. Makes a pretty rough like Moosehead pale ale or Olands Ex much smoother.

Gary Gillman -

Just on the point of salting beer in the tavern: I recall this practice from Montreal taverns in the 1970's. It was done to raise a head on the beer, and perhaps for additional flavor.

Gary

Alan -

In Halifax, the reason I heard from old guys was to make it less bitter. But the same old guys told us to not drink bottled beer because of all the bugs and rodent feces that get in the bottling process.