Most Medieval Beer IV: The Finale

Ok so here’s where all the research and work from 2 years comes to it’s fruition. All these pieces I’ve been doing seperately come together in one Major project:

So first we’re going to draw from our Decoction Mash recipe because this is the technique we’re going to use. The same recipe applies but we’re going older school. We’re going to start by using our Hot rock beer and Stein Beer technique we did at the Inn and at Pennsic a couple years ago. So let’s start:

First, we’re using the same recipe we used in the Decoction Mash recipe:

Original Recipe and Translation:

Johannes Colerum Berlinensem  1596

The German –

X. Capital.
Vom Brewen.
Wiewol ich droben gesagt/dz die weise zu brewen in einem jedern Lande und ort von den Einwonern mus gelernet werden/So wil ich doch hier anzeigen/was wir allhier zu Berlin für eine art zu brewen haben. 1. Schütt man die Gerste in eine Butte/und lefft sie drey Tage und Nacht drinnen weychen/im Winter auch wol viere. 2. Schütt mans auff einen Söller oder Pühne uber einen hauffen/biß es beginnet zu keimen oder zu schiessen. 3. Rüret mans immer ein wenig und aber ein wenig von einander/biß es an den spitzen fein lödicht wird. 4. Wenns genug geschossen oder gewaschen/so bringet mans fein weit von einander/und treugets/entweder in einer Stuben/oder in der Sonnen/oder in einem Dörrofen.

The translation –

Chapter 10.

On Brewing.

As I said above/the wise must learn to brew in any one country and place from the residents/so I want to show here/what kind of brew we have here in Berlin. 1. Put the barley into a butt/and leave it for three days and nights/in Winter four is as well. 2. Put it in a pile or a heap/until it begins to germinate or shoot. 3. One always stirs it a little, but separates a little from another/until it has at the point a made a fine sprout. 4. When it is sufficiently shot or washed/so one brushes the fine parts far from it/and dries it/either in a stove-room/or in the sun/or in a drying-oven.


  1. Mehlet mans auff der Mühlen ein wenig grob/dz sich das Mehl darinnen fein außschelet. 6. Lesset man Wasser in der Pfanne darzu sieden/und schüttet das gemahlene Maltz in die Butten/und geust das heisse Wasser drauff/und rürets umb. 7. Schöpffet mans miteinander aus der Butthen in die Pfanne oder Kessel/und rührets in der Pfanne oder Kessel wol umb/daß das Maltz nicht anbrennet/denn wenns anbrennete/so würde das Bier brandenthend. 8. Legt man Höltzer wie Lattenstück eines neben das ander in die Butthen/und Stroh umbher fein dichte drauff/daß das Maltz nicht durch das Stroh kan lauffen/die Butthe aber mus ein loch/und einen langen Zapffen vorgestackt haben.


  1. Mill the meal a little coarse/so that the meal is finely separated. 6. Let water boil in the pan/ and put the ground malt into the butt/and pour the hot water on it/and stir it. 7. Scoop together from the butt into the pan or kettle/and stir it in the pan or kettle well/that the malt does not burn/because if it is burned/so would the beer be burnt. 8. Put one wooden lath next to another in the butt/and straw around it tightly/that the malt cannot run through the straw/the butt needs a hole/and to have a large tap in front.


  1. Geust man das gekochte Maltz in die Butthen/auff das stroh/und zapffts abe/unn schöpfts oder samlets wider in eine andere Butte darneben/Ist des Maltz es viel/so macht man noch eine Pfanne oder Kessel voll heiß Wasser/unnd geusts auch darauff so viel als man Bier haben wil: Wil man gut Bier haben/so geust man wenig/wil man viel/aber nicht allzu köstlich Bier haben/so geust man viel.
  2. Darnach/wenn das Bier also gesamlet ist von den Maltz/so geust man ein wenig daruon in die Pfanne oder Kessel/das die Pfanne etwan das dritte theil voll bier wird/schütt den Hopffen auch hinein in die Pfanne.
Sol das Bier lange ligen/so nimpt man ein wenig desto mehr Hopffe/sols aber nicht lang ligen/so nimpt man seiner etwan einen Scheffel weniger:und rührt ihn zu erst/und lests darnach miteinander sieden/so lange einen düncket/das es gnug ist/welches durch stetiges kosten mus erfahren werden/unnd da mus man fleissig zusehen/das es ja nicht rohhöpffet bleibet.
  1. Wenn der Hopffe gnug mit dem Biere gesotten hat/so folget man nach mit den andern Bier auff der Böden/unnd geust die Pfanne vollend voll/und lefts damit auffsteden (du darffts als denn nicht mehr umbrüren.)


  1. Pour the cooked malt into the butt/on the straw/and tap it/and draw or collect it again in another butt next to it./If there is a lot of malt/so make a pan or kettle full of hot water/and also pour onto it as much as one wants to have beer. If one wants good beer/then little is poured/if you want a lot/but not too delicious beer to have/so you pour a lot.
  2. Afterwards/when the beer is collected from the malt/then pour a little into the pan or kettle/so the pan is about a third full of beer/put the hops into the pan.

If the beer should lie long/then add a little more hops/but if it should not lie long/one takes a little less from his bushel: and stir it first/and let it boil together/as long as one thinks/that it is enough/which must be experienced by constant tastes/and then you should be diligent/that raw hops do not remain.

  1. When the hops have been boiled enough with the beer/so you follow with the other beer in the cask/and pour the pan full/and leave it to stand with (you must not boil it more.)

So now we’ve got our translation and our decoction. Now this may lose me a few points because I didn’t do an original recipe. I’ve done this one before and i’ll gladly admit it. But beyond that, this is going to be almost a new recipe as you will soon see.

Original recipe:

  • 10 Lb 6-Row Pale malt
  • 10 Gal Hard Water (Well Water)
  • 2oz Tettanger Hops


  • 2 Large Stones
  • 10-12 small stones
  • Water Heating barrel (food grade plastic in this case)
  • Malting Tun (in this case my thermos)
  • 3 Containers (Using my steel pots but not for heating, just holding)
  • Stirring Spoon
  • Fire Poker

Now in this case we used the metal pots and plastic barrels I had. I could have bought a real barrel that would be used once made no sense when I have perfectly good containers that serve the same purpose. So that’s what we went with.

To start, we had to get the water hot. Which required heating the rocks.

I started by taking the first big rock and surrounding it with other rocks we intended to heat. A large fire was built around it and the secondary rock was put up against the fire. I let the stone heat for 2 hrs and continued to move the wood to keep it around the stones. Meanwhile the Barley I had malted was mixed with the other 9lbs of 6 row malt and prepped

After the two hours of rock heating we took the first big rock and dropped it into the water bucket. As seen HERE

The Process of moving the stone from the fire to the hot water bucket didn’t go exactly as planned

I was very impressed with the affects of the rock. The 10 gallons of water was roughly 50*F when we started. After dropping the rock in, we heard much rumbling in the barrel and after 20 min the water had already been raised to the level needed for the first wort temps (40C/ Protien Rest). The wort was kept at that level for 30 min and then we drew off the liquid from the malt and heated it with a bunch of the smaller stones

So after the protein rest, I was really nervous because the first sign things are going well is that you get the undigested proteins showing on every surface the malts have touched. Looking at the empty malt tun, we got our results:

So now the grains have gone into the second phase:
Saccharification / Enzyme Rest(50*C). Unfortunately there’s no visible signs of anything happening except that the amino acids we pulled out during the protien rest are now having the sugars seperated. Again the liquid is pulled away from the grain bed and I’ve noticed during this process that the grain continues to act as a filter keeping any dirt or ash (from the rocks in the water) out of the liquid each time it’s drawn through the grain bed. It also gives the sugars left behind a chance to get caught up in the mix

So the liquid has been heated to 50*C and held there for another 30 min while I enjoyed a quick beverage. Again the liquid was seperated from the grain bed and there were just enough small rocks left to do the final mashout at 60*C for another at 30 min until the entire mash had been completed. At this point the hot water in the big barrel was moved. I was quite surprised to discover how even after 2 hrs, the temp was still too hot to put my hand in.

Now the wort was brought to a boil by the rocks in the bottom of the barrel. Once it was fully boiling, we added the tettnanger hops that I grew . The rock allowed the wort to boil for a full hour and probably would have continued for 2 more hours if allowed but we seperated the wort from the stones.

Now we’ve gotten the wort into the final vessel we’re using to cool the mix. During the cool down process, we’re going to add our adjunct beet sugar we made in lieu of cane sugar to up the sugar content.

So now the wort has been cooled and it goes into the carboy, it’s then introduced to the ale yeast that I harvested from a previous batch of beer. It took off and the beer brewed for 2 weeks at which point the beer was moved into an oak barrel for storage and serving at the Birka Paneling.

We will let you know the results

**Update. This beverage was paneled at Birka XXX/ Jan 26,2019. Final score was 95 out of 100. Strangely, the beetsugar use was frowned upon being used as an adjunct sugar. I’m thinking if I had left the beets out, I might have seen a perfect score because in some of the categories I got 14/15 and it was mentioned the beet sugar use wasn’t well documented. Who knew? Well it’s a grandmaster score so I can’t complain. Can’t ask for much more than that.


Alright, I think I’m finally ready for this one.

So, last Pennsic, as I mentioned before, was my 20th Anniversary being with my Lady Sine Ruadh Friseal.    And for so many reasons, this Pennsic 44 was amazing.  The OoM was great, I was finally able to go out in the evening with my Lady, and we discovered the Octagon Bar.  We visited some other bars that only hard core brewers manage to keep track of and visit.  We saw far flung friends and visited with our own Barony, all of which was far more enjoyable than in previous years barring our first years at Pennsic.

My friend Hildemar von Regensburg apparently forgot the bottles she had intended to give to someone and came a calling to see if I had some to spare.  I provided her with a bottle of my Hard Cyder and after her heartfelt gratitude, she departed and I thought no more of the subject.

It was at this point I received a summons.  No not the legal court type but a request for my presence by one Master Daniel del Cavallo (Master Brewer from Aethelmarc).   Over coffee he spoke to me a bit about my Hard Cyder and we discussed the flavors and nuances.  He was surprised that I had not used yeast nutrient as he thought he had detected flavors associated with it’s use.  Various brewing discussion continued and during in the process I learned about a beverage referred to as Lanted Ale.    We parted ways, and I thought no more on the subject until the other day when this reared it’s ugly head:

Do not go here

What is wrong with you?!?!  Don’t you listen?!?!

Anyway, the use of “naturally occurring yeast” in a beer as a catalyst brought me back to the previous conversation about Lanted Ale.  You see, Lanted Ale is beer made with Urine. No really, it’s true.   Brewers and Bakers have served Lanted items using a syrup (urine boiled down until thick) as an additive.  For bakers, it was a glaze put over pastries (1).  For brewers, it was an additive to the beer to make it stronger.

The Tincker of Turvey, Or, Canterbury Tales: An Early Collection of English Novels

makes mention of the common beverage as both Lanted and Double Lanted Ale:



You will notice several kinds of Ales mentioned.  Upon researching several of these other Ales (mostly in branching out research hoping for an alternative lost recipe to urine beer) they are all mostly Ales made by specific location bars.  Darby Ale, Ale of Gottam, Dagger Ale(3) and Bother-Bunches Ale, to name a few, are all based on the specific Ale made at those drinking establishments around England.  Further researches find that Lanted Ale goes back at least as far as end of period (4).


So apparently they pissed in their beer.  The question that comes to mind now is WHY?

Urine is made up of the following:

urine-compositionIf there is such small quantities of anything else then water, then we can surmise either they used the urine for water purity (urine is sterile when it first comes out/but we can boil regular water for that)  or they needed large quantities of urine boiled down to make an additive with higher concentration.  At 100 gallons, you’d be boiling down to a little more than 5 gallons to make a thick syrup.  If you add sand and distill it, you create phospherous (6). Although we now have a thick syrup which is both salty and sweet.  Things like ammonia, sulfide and chloride would boil off.  The sugars would be fermented away by the yeast and a few of these minerals would contribute to the body of the beer.  This is leaving salt (about 10% content)  which may act as a preservative but probably does something else:

pretzel bowlIt was the pretzel of their day.

Salt makes you drink more and if you are already drinking a salty beverage, you’ll drink more of it.  We will come back to this subject at a later time………………







(2)The Tincker of Turvey, Or, Canterbury Tales: An Early Collection of English Novels By James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps /  

Link –


(3)  Burton and it’s Bitter Beer  1852

(4)  Oxford English Dictionairy:

Link –

(5) A Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language:


(6) Pee is Cool-(how to make phospherous)



Where the hell have you been Kythe?

547264_10152116076566702_325011168_nSo you’re saying to yourself “Hey, I wonder what ever happened to that Kythe dude.  He was posting a whole bunch of stuff in the fall but now, nothing.”

Rest assured I’m not sitting on my Christmas Laurels.  It’s been a busy holiday season.  I’m sure you can relate that up until Christmas, you’re running around like a Mad Hatter.  Pair that with the fact that I’m also the Seneschal (President) for the local chapter of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism)  and our biggest event of the year was just last weekend: “BIRKA”.  Big merchanting event where I was helping with the Arts & Science display and coordinating a Panelling for brewers attempting to move up the ranks of the East Kingdom Brewer’s Guilde

I was apprenticed almost 2 years ago and along with my own studies and projects, I’m expected to be teaching my craft to others.  I’ve always felt the best way to instill your own knowledge is to pass that knowledge onto others because it reinforces the material with yourself.  To date, I’ve taught close to 15 classes on various subjects: Hop Farming, Whole Grain Brewing, Sekanjabins, Tasting and a few others that escape me at the moment.  I’ve had 2 classes over the Holiday Season (1 in Nov and another Mid January).

My trusty KitchenAide mixer with Grain Mill attachement

My trusty KitchenAide mixer with Grain Mill attachement

Various Grains

Various Grains

Usually it has to be on the largest setting because if the grain is broken too small we'll be eating oatmeal for weeks.

Usually it has to be on the largest setting because if the grain is broken too small we’ll be eating oatmeal for weeks.

And then there’s the various projects.  Over the holiday season I’ve done 2 Belgian Pale Ales, a Dopplebock, Maple Hard Cider (finish), Crabapple Cider (finish), Apple Beer¹, Raspberry Beer², Cider³, and a Belgian Quad with Cherries and Raspberries.  That’s not including the 2 gallons of Apple Cinamon Mead that I’m “storing” for a friend.

Maple Hard Cider

Maple Hard Cider

Belgian Quad with Cherries and Raspberries

Belgian Quad with Cherries and Raspberries

Stingy Jack - Robust Pumpkin Porter

Stingy Jack – Robust Pumpkin Porter

Crabapple Cideer

Crabapple Cider

Belgian Pale Ale

Belgian Pale Ale x2

¹ One of the beers made by an attendee of the brewing class.  ² One of the beers made by an attendee of the brewing class    ³ A tale of horror and woe .

So we haven’t completely gone dormant.  As soon as the waterheater in my house gets replaced with a new propane hot water on demand system, we’ll be probably well into our next project which you’ll see details of here soon.  Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait.

Stien Beer (Stone Beer) at Pennsic (aka Stien Beer 2: The Sequel)

So after our last attempt at stone beer brewing was rather mediocre, I decided to give it one more shot in an environment that truly contributed to the format.  Yes, I decided to do a whole grain brewing class at Pennsic War 42 (Don’t Panic).

First we (read that as “my wife”) decided the recipe this time would be an Oatmeal Cookie Ale.  No oatmeal cookie is complete without raisins so I had to make sure we had some:

  • 4lb  Maris Otter
  • 16 oz Malted Oats
  • 10 oz Brown Malt
  • 10 oz Dark Brown Sugar
  • .3 oz Northern Brewer (60 Min)
  • .5 oz East Kent Goldings (5 Min)
  • Raisins/ Vanilla Extract
  • .2 oz Irish Moss
  • Yeast- White Labs WLP0006 Bedford British Ale

My friend MHP recommended using Belgium Block which are hand struck granite blocks.  The nice thing about these is that they are a very hard stone which are not prone to temperature cracking but are also able to be easly broken by cracking the block against a curbstone or another Belgium Block.

Stien_beer_blocks  I got ten of these blocks at Home Depot for $2.50/ea.  They were having a sale.

So I built a fire, cleaned the blocks and set them in to heat.  In the meantime I got a 8 gallon pot and filled it with water.  When the rocks were heated enough they were dropped into the water which immediately went from 50 degrees to 220 in about 5 min.  I took turns with the rocks, moving them from the fire into the water and then back to the fire to add new hot blocks.  It’s a good idea to have about 10 blocks of which 3 of them were split in half (more on why later)

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The water was actually brought up to boiling and I added 2 qts of cold water back into the 8 gallon container to bring the temp down to 180.  We have our grains already in our mash barrel and we put a metal plate on top to evenly distribute the water.  I started this part of the mashing about 45 min before the class started.  No point in everyone sitting there watching starches convert.

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Towards the end when I was drawing off and re-pouring the wort through the grain bed, 3 folks showed up for the class.  2 of the individuals had whole grain brewed before and we had a new brewer who was still doing extract.  All of us extolled to him the virtues of whole grain brewing and we had a beer while we preached to the choir.

After a drink or 2, or 3,  we were ready to draw the wort off into a bucket and the Belgium Blocks went back into the fire again.

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Now at this point, any flakes of granite or dirt that got into the water was filtered out through the grain bed.  Our second exposure to the blocks will add some of the smokiness from the fire as well as carmalize some of the sugars onto the blocks themselves to add flavor.  When the blocks are back in the fire we want to keep them out of the ashes and then use a hand brush to make sure any loose debris is removed before it’s dropped into the wort.  Here’s where we add the brown sugar and vanilla and then after we get the wort to a rolling boil, our first hop schedule goes in.

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Those half size blocks we were discussing earlier are just to keep the temperature boiling the full hour.  I had six half sized blocks and they were very good to just keep bumping the temp back up to a rolling boil when it started slowing down.

After 55 min we threw our second hop packet in and let it go another 5 min.  After the process was over we brought out all the half sized blocks and you can see the carmelization which occurred.  I’ll probably be scrubbing these with a stainless steel brush to get the residue off, or better yet, a really hot fire to burn the blocks clean again.

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Due to class time restriction (I only had 1 hr) I did the sparge of the grains after it was over to top the batch up to 5 gallons.  What you’re seeing here is nothing more than the first runnings.


So, as always I’m learning a lot about this “No Direct Heat” process.   If you’re going to do this I highly recommend your wort  bucket be ATLEAST twice the size of the amount of wort you’re going to boil.  As you can see some of the stuff will boil over and you can lose 1-2 gallons of wort in the process.


The hope was that the beer would be done early enough in the week that we could drink it at the end of Pennsic.  No dice.  I ended up having to keep it in the carboy all the way home where it’s now sitting in my kitchen still bubbling away nicely.  It’s probably 1 day away from being done.  I’ll drop some notes on it’s taste and any other findings.

Special Thanks to Lord Otto Gottlieb for handling the camera while I was risking life and limb dropping hot rocks into cold liquid.