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.


Washing Yeast

One of the things we deal with is purchasing yeast every time we create a wine, beer, mead or other alcoholic beverage.  As far as “In Period” is concerned, this is a foreign concept.  A brewer may have bought beer from another source and used the residual yeast in the bottom of the container to start a new batch.

Yeast was a location by location commodity because brewers were not aware of it’s existence beyond the brown scum left in the bottom that they poured into the next batch or thrown out.

If we’re to assume that yeast was poured from one batch to the next, eventually the quality degrades and the batches of beer or wine become sour.  The safer route would be to allow a new batch of naturally occurring yeast to be introduced.  This leaves a lot of lottery play in the beer creating process.  The next yeast to innoculate the beverage could be stronger or weaker or induce off flavors.  Consistency would be a miracle at best.

It wasn’t until later that the process of bacteria, virus and yeasts were starting to be understood by Louis Pasteur.  Once recognized, yeast could be introduced to the next batch with far better regularity but it’s still important to come up with a clean batch of yeast for use.

Today, purchasing yeast is a no brainer.  For about 1-2 dollars a batch of yeast can be purchased and used with little effort.  However, if you want to get more than one use out of your yeast, it’s possible to condition it a few more times.

img_20161022_1312425_rewind.jpg So we have moved the beer from the carboy and are left with the nasty sludge at the bottom of the container.  Not all of this is useful.  We want to seperate the yeast that’s still alive from the dead yeast and hulls.  The dead yeast can be dried and sold as “Yeast Nutrient” but we’re not going to go there.  We’re only interested in the live stuff.

First we want to take about 1 gallon of water and boil it to kill any bacteria.  Once this is done we rapidly cool the water and then pour it into the carboy.  By agitating the sludge together with the water, it breaks it free and we can get the live and dead yeasts suspended in the water.

img_20161022_1320074_rewind.jpg After the water is mixed with the yeast you can lay the carboy on it’s side and give it 30 min.  As you can see the carboy is open to the air.  The water protects the yeast and the live yeast will continue to float while the dead stuff drops the bottom.  After the 30 minutes are over, pour off the lighter colored liquid into a 1 gallon container.

img_20161022_1354522_rewind.jpgAgain we’ll leave the mixture alone.  Usually for two hours the yeasts will seperate further and then you’ll pour the mixture off again into batch containers, leaving the smaller sludge behind.

img_20161022_1445302_rewind.jpg  At this point, the mixture can be put in the refrigerator and in a couple days the brown liquid will continue to clear so that all is left is a small amount of yeast at the bottom and a large amount of clear liquid.  The yeast is viable for another two or three weeks in this format.  When you go to use the yeast again, pour of most but not all of the water.  Use the last little bit to raise the yeast off the bottom of the container to create your starter.

The starter begins as a simple sugar syrup equal parts granulated white sugar, poured into boiling water and rapidly cooled to about 70 degrees.  Add the yeast to the mixture and within the time it takes to whole grain brew your next batch of beer or process your next wine, the yeast will be ready.