This evolution is, at least for me, one of the things that makes the history of beer so interesting because it shows that beer is ultimately a human product. Let's face it, what are the chances of barley malting itself, having a quick mash and sparge then boiling itself with some hops, and finally adding yeast? While beer may be made from natural ingredients, and in the case of malt even that is debatable (ever seen malt in the wild?), it is anything but a natural product, it is as man made from beginning to end as the electronic device you are using to read this. As a result of its man made nature, beers from the past can be re-brewed, revived and it is possible to get some idea of what your grandfather was drinking.
Around this time for each of the last three years I have organised the International Homebrew Project, where homebrewers from around the world brew a common recipe and write about the results. Last year, and the year before, we brewed historic beers, a 1930s Milk Stout and 1850s 120/- Mild Ale, and in keeping with this tradition we will be brewing a historic beer again. As you've probably guessed by now, the 'style' we will be brewing is a Burton Ale, but from which era in its development? Well, over the right is a poll with choices of various recipes that I have access to, for different kinds of Burton Ale, whichever polls highest will be the recipe of choice, simples.
The choice of recipe will come from the following:
- 1860s Scottish version of Burton
- 1870s English recipe, originally brewed in Burton itself
- 1900s American Burton recipe
- 1910s English 'Mild' Burton
- 1930s English Old Burton Extra
- 1990s English recreation of 1840s pale Burton
NOTE: I will be replacing the IHP 2012 page above with a 2013 version later today with a proposed schedule for this year's project.