A Good Beer Blog

Thomas Read and Son, Strong Pale Ale, 1835

Here is the text provided by Thomas Read of Thos. Read and Son Brewers of Troy NY in testimony given to the New York State Senate in 1835:

...say from 3 to 3 1/2 bushels of malt to the barrel, and from 2 1/2 to 5 pounds of hops to a barrel, and about four quarts of fine salt to 60 or 70 barrels; say in our pale, we put about two or three pints of honey to the barrel, we think makes the pale ale finer, and is rather an improvement; but we use none in brown beer; the malt is the chief material used, and the article which chiefly communicates tho different tastes, qualities and colour to the beer and ale; and the different shades are chiefly owing to the manner in which the malt is dried on the kiln, and in some measure to the colour of the hop. When we make pale ale, we always select the palest malt and the palest bales of hops. We use no water, but pure, clean water, formerly from a spring, and at present from the city water-works.

What can we make of that?

  • Salt: 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.
  • Hops: 2.5 to 5 pounds of hops? Wow. Four pounds of hops to a barrel is the same as 10 ounces for five gallons. Or 122 IBU if we use 5% alpha acid.
  • Malt: three bushels of malt is about 144 lbs which is what is needed for a barrel. That makes 22 pounds per five gallons. Which, according to the venerable Recipator, makes for an OG of 1.106. If we have a FG of 1.020, that makes for an 8.7% beer. A notch higher if that honey is added.

What does this tell me? I have no idea. It's a hefty boozy beer with massive hopping and over the top soft water. Would I like it?