Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cop That!

The other day as I was looking for something entirely different, I came across an online copy of Joseph Coppinger's 'The American Practical Brewer and Tanner'. This book was eagerly sought out by Thomas Jefferson as it contains a method for malting 'Indian corn' and in 1814 Jefferson's enslaved brewer, Peter Hemings, successfully made a beer using malted corn.

Something that really jumped out at me as I read the process for malting corn was Coppinger's claim that malted corn is 'peculiarly adapted to the brewing of porter'. Coppinger goes on in later sections of the book to give three processes for brewing porter, a description of porter malt and also a section on using 'essentia bina', a colouring derived from brown sugar which I assume is similar to black treacle. Coppinger claims that porter
is a liquor of modern date, which has nearly superseded the use of brown stout, and very much encroached on the consumption of other malt liquors, till it has become the staple commodity of the English brewery, and of such consequence to the government, in point of revenue, that it may be fairly said to produce more than all the rest.
I find that comment about porter superseding brown stout very interesting, as conventional wisdom is that porter preceded stout, though of course we know that at the time 'stout' was a synonym for 'strong'. Coppinger continues that:
when well brewed, and of a proper age, is considered a wholesome and pleasant liquor, particularly when drank out of the bottle; a free use is made of it in the East and West Indies, where physicians frequently recommend the use of it in preference to Madeira wine
More things of interest there, porter was considered better when bottled, and that it was being shipped from England to the Colonies in both the Caribbean and India - where have we heard that story before? But that last phrase got me thinking, doctors prescribed it more than they did Madeira wine. We all know that the hopped up pale ales that were shipped to India underwent a process of madeirisation on their 6 month journey around the globe, so it stands to reason that porter was affected in the same way, and don't forget that more porter went to India than pale ale. It makes me think that an experiment along the lines of Martyn's IPA 'hot maturation experiment' would be fascinating!

I can see Coppinger turning up in quite a few posts over the next wee while, especially as he has a few interesting looking recipes for various types of ales from the early 19th century...

1 comment:

  1. Brown Stout was around before Porter. At least as a name. I wouldn't say Porter ever replaced it, though.


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