Tag Archives: brewing

A Gem from the History of Fermentation at Sea

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term inspissated is an adjective meaning: brought to a thick consistence; thickened.

I mention it because in the 1777 volume, A Voyage Toward the South Pole, Captain James Cook speaks of having been given several barrels of inspissated wort — syrup of unfermented beer — to carry aboard the H. M. Bark Endeavour as it sailed to the South Pacific and around the world. It was thought, he writes, that the syrup would require to be fermented with yeast, in the usual way of making beer.

But things do not, apparently, always go as planned at sea. So active was this inspissated wort — because of the heat of the weather, and the agitation of the ship — that it reached the highest state of fermentation all on its own, and evaded all our endeavours to stop it.

If this juice could be kept from fermenting, Cook writes, it certainly would be a most valuable article at sea. But alas. It was not to be.

Those same shipboard conditions that proved so beneficial to the aging of Madeira wine made this particular fermentation experiment a spectacular, perhaps explosive, failure.

And the sailors — poor sailors — were left with a sticky, beery mess to clean.

Melomel; or, Strawberries Part I

Melomel; or, Strawberries Part I

It wasn’t my plan to start a new mead this past week. On Monday, I thought to myself that this summer might be a good time to test the waters of melomel, fruit mead, a style that I had never attempted before. But later in the summer would be better, I thought, when blackberries were ready, or even once pears had come into their bloom. Definitely, there should be melomel sometime this season. But definitely, that sometime was not now.

And then there were strawberries — buckets and buckets of the best strawberries in the greater Philadelphia area, ripe almost to bursting, at a price that was far too good to be refused.

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Special Bitter, and Floor Malted Barley

Malted Barley

So I’m making a new beer, probably next weekend.  It’ll be a Special Bitter — largely minimalist in hops and grain, and as true to the style as it exists in Britain as I can manage.  That means British hops, which I prefer anyway.  And it means Maris Otter malt, which has, for the past […]

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