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Beers and Ales

Audit Ale (from The Yellow Admiral)
Beer and Cheese - Charlezzzzz
Cock Ale - Matt Cranor
Small Beer - Doug Essinger-Hileman
Beer Strengths - Ray Martin
Mead, A Recipe - Marian Van Til
             Mead Sources:
                          Chaucer's Cellars Honey Mead - Bill Nyden
                          Carroll's Mead - Bruce Trinque
Sinking Guinness bubbles are down to science - The Guardian
Beer Alcohol and Calories - Alcohol and Calorie Content of About 200 Popular Beers - Martin Watts
An Olde Ale Song - Adam Quinan
Ginger Beer
             Bruce Trinque
             David Scheidt
             David Millians
             Allan Janus
             John Gosden - Consumer
             Bob Henrickson
             John Gosden - Brewer
             Conrad Risher
             Jessie Strader
             Astrid Bear
             Doug Essinger-Hileman
             Jan Hatwell's DIY Ginger Beer
             Fred Kiesche's Online Resources

Audit Ale
Marshall Rafferty writes: Been enjoying THD again, with all it's faults, and wondering what 'audit ale,' mentioned in the Commodore, signified.

Edmund Burton replies, from the Andrew Cusack website:
Drink Audit Ale in Heaven With Me
I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink to them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!
Hilaire Belloc, Lines for a Christmas Card

John Meyn finds Audit Ale in...
Lord Byron's Age of Bronze
But where is now the goodly audit ale?
The purse-proud tenant, never known to fail?
The farm which never yet was left on hand?
The marsh reclaim'd to most improving land?
The impatient hope of the expiring lease?
The doubling rental? What an evil's peace!
In vain the prize excites the ploughman's skill
In vain the Commons pass their patriot Bill;
The Landed Interest--(you may understand
The phrase much better leaving out the Land)--
The land self-interest groans from shore to shore,
for fear that plenty should attain the poor.
Up, up again, ye rents! exalt your notes,
Or else the ministry will lose their votes,
And patriotism, so delicately nice,
Her loaves will lower to the market price.

Beer and Cheese - Charlezzzzz
Yesterday, there being for the moment no properly crusted Stilton in the night lunch, I took a brick of Cheddar from the third shelf of the refrigerator. Having no port, I took three cans of well-chilled Coors. I poured the Coors over the Cheddar and let the entire degustation age in a salad bowl for half an hour, slowly coming to room temperature. Then I ate it with a two dozen carefully selected Ritz crackers (the kind you can find only in Doylestown's five best supermarkets,) cutting the cheese with an electric carving knife, decanting the Coors out of the soup bowl and into a coffee cup. Serves one. Several thousand calories per serving. Not very good: perhaps I should have aged it longer.

Cock Ale - Matt Cranor
Set 10 gallons of Charlezzzzz's wort to fermenting. Take a large cock, the older the better. Parboil the cock, flay him, and stamp him in a stone mortar till his bones are broken (you must craw and gut him when you flay him), then put the cock into two quarts of sack, and put to it three pounds of raisins of the sun, stoned, some blades of mace, a few cloves; put all these into a canvas bag, and a little before Charlezzzzz's ale is done working, put the ale and the bag together in a vessel. In a week or nine days bottle it up and give it the same time to ripen as other ales.
Ripen indeed!
Adopted from The Floating Bowl (Edward Spenser, 1899, attributed to The Compleat Housewife).

Small Beer - Doug Essinger-Hileman
Since homebrewing beer has been a thread on this list several times, let me offer Washington's recipe for beer, quoted from City Tavern's cookbook:
To Make Small Beer:
Take a large siffer full of bran hops to your taste -- Boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 gall n into a cooler put in 3 gall n molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather draw the molasses into the cooler. Strain the beer on it while boiling hot, let this stand till it is little more than blood warm. Then put in a quart of ye[a]st if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blank[et], let it work in the cask -- Leave the bung open till it is almost done working -- Bottle it that day week it was brewed.

Beer Strengths - Ray Martin
You can learn about beer strengths and the problem of providing the Empire and the navy with beer at
BT - India Pale Ale, Part I: IPA and Empire--Necessity and Enterprise give Birth to a Style

Mead, A Recipe - Marian Van Til
Marian quotes from Rich Webb's Mead page:
At it's most simple, mead is a fermented beverage that uses honey as its primary source of sugar. (This compares most favorably with wine, where the grapes supply a ready source of sugar, and most unfavorably with beer or sake, where the sugars come from starch in grain which is transformed into sugar by enzymes or mold cultures.) Because the sugar is readily available, making mead is much easier to make than beer, but slightly more difficult to make than wine.
There is no need to spend the entire day mashing grain, nor is there any need to spend an hour or more in a full boil as with beer. Honey also mixes well with other juices and sugar sources, and so leads to a great variety of fermentation experiments. One of the favorite of these are the various fruits, with strawberries leading the list.... I've also made meads with blueberry, raspberry, apple, cherries, wine grape juice, chili peppers, spices, and malt sugars. I've had no small measure of success with several of these, and I have the ribbons and trophies to prove it.
A typical 5 gallon batch of mead starts with a gallon of honey.... This much honey in this much water will yield a fermentable liquid (called "must" like beer is called "wort") with a starting gravity of about 1.080. Adjust this up or down depending on what you are trying to achieve. The higher gravities lead to a more wine-like drink, while lighter gravities can seem more like champagne, or alcoholic soda pop in the extreme.
As a process, start with the water. Bring your 4.5 or so gallons of water up to a steady, rolling boil. Because honey does not have sufficient nutrients to enable yeast to undergo a vigorous and healthy ferment, put perhaps 1 tsp of yeast nutrient, or 3 tsp of yeast energizer (follow package directions, but err on the side of less is better) into the vigorous boil. You will also find that the sweetness of the mead requires the sour tartness of some sort of acid in order to balance it out. I've added from 1 to 3 tsp of acid blend, grape tannin, citric acid, or a combination thereof to this rapid boil. However, the fermentation will be more vigorous if you wait until after fermentation to add the acid. It is also easier to blend the acid to your taste if you wait until after the fermentation. Your choice. Pour the honey into this hot bath, and turn off the heat. Cover the must and hold this temperature for a while....
And to see how it all turns out, go to: The Beginner's guide to Mead making Page. Or for a slightly more complicated recipe: Richard's Dry Sparkling Mead Recipe

Sinking Guinness bubbles are down to science
Gerard Seenan
Wednesday March 17, 2004
The Guardian
It will give reassurance on St Patrick's Day to a nation of stout drinkers that their eyes, despite the alcohol, are not deceiving them.
After decades of public-house debate and more than a little scientific argument, researchers in Edinburgh and California say that it is counter-intuitive but true: the bubbles in freshly poured pints of Guinness really do float down.
Andrew Alexander, from Edinburgh University, began his experiment in the pub a few years ago. That investigation proved inconclusive.
So with his then boss, Dick Zare, of Stanford University, California, he transferred the experiment to the laboratory.
Using a high-speed digital camera with a zoom lens, they tracked the movement of the elusive bubbles on film. They believed they would prove downward-floating bubbles were nothing more than an illusion, but found the opposite to be true.
They say the nitrogen bubbles which touch the walls of the glass experience drag, which hinders them from floating up. Bubbles in the centre of the glass, though, can rise freely. This creates a circular flow causing the bubbles at the edge of the glass to be pushed downwards.

An Olde Ale Song - Adam Quinan
This is very like the old song I used to sing as a debauched youth. However the tune and words are attributed to that good old English folk song composer known to all his friends by the simple name of Trad.

Come landlord fill the flowing bowl until it doth run over
Come landlord fill the flowing bowl until it doth run over
For tonight we'll merry merry be, for tonight we'll merry merry be
For tonight we'll merry merry be
Tomorrow we'll be sober

The man who'd kiss the pretty girl and go and tell his mother
The man who'd kiss the pretty girl and go and tell his mother
Ought to have his lips cut off, ought to have his lips cut off
Ought to have his lips cut off
And never kiss another

The man who drinks his small ale and goes to bed right sober
The man who drinks his small ale and goes to bed right sober
Fades as the leaves do fade, fades as the leaves do fade
Fades as the leaves do fade
And drop off in October

But the man who drinks his real ale and goes to bed right mellow
But the man who drinks his real ale and goes to bed right mellow
Lives as he ought to live, lives as he ought to live
Lives as he ought to live
And dies a jolly good fellow

Ginger Beer
Bruce Trinque

One of my favorite soft drinks -- although I don't know if I'd care for a steady diet of it -- is ginger beer (not to be confused with the milder ginger ale). I don't know of a major American soda (pop) manufacturer that produces that flavor these days; most of the traditional soda flavors -- sarsaparilla, birch beer, spruce beer -- are today the preserve of smaller local soda makers (root beer being something of an exception). But even among them, ginger beer with its spicy, rather peppery bite seems relatively uncommon. There was a southeastern Connecticut bottler that used to do a nice fiery ginger beer, but they apparently have gone out of business. I was lamenting about this to a Jamaican-born co-worker the other day, and she suggested I try the "international foods" aisles of area supermarkets. And, sure enough, a nearby supermarket stocked three different brands of ginger beer, all imported from the West Indies.
Note: I have never tried alcoholic ginger beer. I understand the main difference in the manufacturing process is that the soft drink variety is only slightly fermented, while the alcoholic version is fermented several days.

David Scheidt
Most commercial ginger beers aren't fermented. They're just mixed ginger, sugar, lemon, maybe some other flavors, and industrial C02. Real ginger beer is made by fermenting sugar, ginger and lemon juice using what's called a "ginger beer plant". A ginger beer plant is a sort of starter or sponge, that's made up of ginger, sugar, yeast and a lactobacillus. I made a (alcoholic) ginger beer a few years ago, using a plant given to me by a friend. It was so-so, it could have had a lot more ginger in it. I don't remember the gravity numbers, but it was pretty light.
A ginger plant could be made at home, as lactobacilla are everywhere, and I suspect the one used in ginger plant is common. Using baker's yeast would work fine, as you're not interested in the alcohol content. The rest of ginger beer is easy.
I've also had a few beers (the sort made with barley and hops) with ginger as a flavoring. They're very strange. I think I could get used to them, but they're not much like beer, ginger or normal.

David Millians
May I recommend Blenheim's Ginger Ale. From Wikipedia: Blenheim Ginger Ale
They have two varieties: mild and what-happened-to-the-top-of-my-head, I'm-sure-it-was-here-somewhere.
I can eat scotch bonnets straight. I can't drink more than a sip at a time of the spicy variety of Blenheim. Different heat, I know, but wow, it's strong.
Blenheim Bottlers Ginger Ales - Online Ordering for ordering. Lots of other ginger beers there, too.

Allan Janus
And Goya makes a decent ginger beer - often available in the "international" section of my grocery store. Very good with Gosling Black Seal rum.

John Gosden - Consumer
Schweppes make an acceptable one (not available here). The only one I have found here is made in Malaysia under the brand name "Elephant" (which makes one ponder on the source of the fluid). It is a little sweet for my taste, but still a very acceptable drink in this climate. Have thought about making my own - the only problem is bottles (the commercial stuff comes in cans): sterilisable screw-cap bottles are not easy to come by.

Bob Henrickson
I brewed a gingered ale a year or two ago -- strong ale fermented with the addition of some grated fresh ginger. Made two cases (a standard 5 gallon batch). Good tasting, but best with food rather than alone. If I do another batch, I'll brew a milder ale, and add a bit less ginger.

John Gosden - Brewer
Most of the recipes I have found on line seem to be both non-alcoholic and probably minimally fizzy. - see - Recipes - Ginger Beer
The only one I found which may be both slightly alcoholic and properly fizzy - and provides a "ginger beer plant" - is this: Tudor Recipe for Ginger Beer - All recipes

Conrad Risher
"Easy" Ginger Beer...
Boil water. Add sugar, ginger. (I add lemon zest). Simmer 1hr. Allow to cool. Add yeast. Let sit overnight. Bottle. Wait 1 week. Drink.

Jessie Strader
Try the Ting Soda website
Which it's Jamaican and you can't get more ginger beery than that.

Astrid Bear
The ginger beer I brought back from Victoria was pleasant, nothing more. Adding lemon vodka turned it into a verrry tasty cocktail, though.

Doug Essinger-Hileman
We sought out some Ginger Beer to go along with our dinner last night (tapas of chicken with garlic and lime, cauliflower marinated with Spanish paprika (smoked), cumin-marinated carrots and "quick" pickles).
Though the Ginger Beer we found touts a heritage straight from Bermuda -- Regatta, proclaiming itself "Understated British elegance coupled with the exotic island flavor of Bermuda. Regatta is a unique blend of ginger roots from the Caribbean and Africa. It’s the natural beverage that Bermudians have savored for over a century" -- we found it a bit lacking.
Reading a bit further on its self-proclamation, we discovered the reason for our disappointment: "Strong top notes of ginger with secondary notes of citrus, apple, and banana. The finish has a ginger "bite" without the burn so often associated with "Jamaican Style" ginger beers." But it's the ginger burn which we so dearly love.

Jan Hatwell's DIY Ginger Beer
450g (1lb) Sugar
4.5lt (8 pints) Water
1 Lemon
40g (1-1/2 oz) Root Ginger
25g (1 oz) Cream of Tartar
25g (1 oz) Brewers or Wine Yeast

Bruise the ginger (wrap in a clean cloth - hit with hammer) to release flavour.
Finely peel the lemon, removing only the outer waxy layer and squeeze the juice.
Place the ginger, lemon rind and cream of tartar into a bucket or large bowl.
Pour over the boiling water, add the lemon juice and stir well.
Allow to cool to about 21°C (70°F), remove a little of the liquid and mix with the yeast, stir the yeast mixture into the liquid.
Cover the container with a clean cloth (ensuring that the cloth cannot come into contact with the liquid) and secure with string or elastic.
Leave in a warm place 21°C (70°F) for 24 hours.
Strain the liquid through a fine cloth or skim off the froth and use a jug to bale out the liquid (being careful not to disturb the sediment).
Pour the ginger beer into strong bottles and cork.
Secure the corks with wire, leaving a little play (for possible expansion).
Store the bottle in a cool dark place.
If the corks begin to rise, release the wire slightly and re-secure.
The beer should be ready to drink after 2 - 3 days.

Fred Kiesche's Online Resources
Bring Back Ginger Beer - New York Times, May 17, 1992
Ginger Beer / Ales
Old Tyme Ginger Beer?
Beverages Direct