Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tudor Monastery Farm Reviewed

As a Medievalist, who doesn't love Tales of the Green Valley, Tudor Monastery Farm, or Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands, Tom Pinnfold, and others?  Don't even get me started on Time Team!  And as an amateur ale/beer experimental archeologist,  one of my favorite episodes is Tudor Monastery Farm, episode 3, which first aired on November 27, 2013.  Part of the episode was dedicated to making a gruit ale.  Here are the highlights:

Calories & Ale (0:48 - 2:26)
  • workers consumed a 2 lb. loaf of bread & 8 pts. of ale per person per day
  • 80% of daily calories from bread & ale
    • Pint of ale equals half a loaf of bread
  • Drank ale because well water was contaminated
    • Alcohol (and boiling) killed any bacteria
  • 6 acres of wheat & barely per person per year
Yeast Collection (07:50 – 08:50)
  • Yeast is not bacteria.
Malting (10:13 – 12:01)
  • Farm with 10 workers drinks 300 gal. per month?!
  • Didn’t mention:
    • Barley is to Europe as grapes are to the Mediterranean
    • 2 row (Hordeum distichum L.) vs. 6 row (Hordeum vulgare L.)
      • 2 row: less protein, more fermentable starch
      • 6 row: more protein, less fermentable starch
    • Growing, cutting, drying, beating, winnowing, storing
Kiln Drying, Ale vs. Beer, Brewing Part I (20:36 – 22:21)
  • “Next, the malted barley is boiled in water to release the sugars.”  WHAT?!
  • “…come up to the boil and simmer for about half an hour.”
  • “Boiling sterilizes the water and alcohol keeps it sterile.”   (Duck Pond Ale anyone?)
Brewing Part II (32:51 – 34:34)
  • A neolithic recipe?  I was kinda hoping for a Tudor period (1485 - 1603) recipe.
  • So much for manic sanitation!
The Butt (36:20 – 37:05)
  • Storage (for a fortnight, maybe).
Barm (37:56 – 38:14)
  • Not how you thought it worked?  Brewers often claim that yeast was obtained from the baker, not the other way around.
I shared this video and discussion at BrewU, Great North Eastern War (GNEW), and Pennsic War in 2014.  

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