Historical Beer Question: What did brewers use before pale malts?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Groenebeor, Jan 3, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    Did things like pale ales, light lagers, hefeweizens, or other beers that use pale malts exist, and in what form? What kind of malts did they use?
  2. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (183) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Pale malts existed before any of those styles took on their modern form. It was air-dried, so more expensive than darker kiln-dried malt.

    Most brewing was local so most people would be familiar with only a couple of basic types of beer. Air-dried malt was used for beers that can be considered the ancestors of today’s witbier and Berliner Weisse.

    Dark lager was more common than pale lager well into the twentieth century. If you mean the Bud Light type of light lager, these are a development of the late twentieth century.
  3. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (211) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    I'm also curious as to the history of pale malts, which I try to sort out in this thread: http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/the-history-of-pale-malts.58472/#post-781305

    Basically before pale malt kilning, malt would have been smoky in taste and dark in color, though I wonder how dark it could have been without destroying the enzymes needed to turn the starches into maltose and other convertible sugars, since a dark beer nowadays typically uses a pale base malt which has an abundance of the required enzymes, enough to convert the starches of the dark malts in the rest of the grain bill.
  4. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    So things like Pilsners, Maibocks, etc, had no historical precursors using the malts that were lighter for their time? I wonder when certain malts came into style as well.

    I thought hefeweizens had been brewed for a long time? Did they just use what we'd call Munich malt or normal 2-row in conjunction with malted wheat?
  5. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    The reason it's called "Weissbier" is because it was made with white (air-dried) malt. It didn't necessarily have to be wheat malt. There was Weissbier made from 100% barley malt, some types of Broyhan, for example.
    BedetheVenerable likes this.
  6. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    Weizen = wheat

    Hefe = yeast

    I did not use the turn weissbier. That's not even a common term in Bavaria - that's more common in the NW, and Benelux countries. It turns into witbier in the local language there.
  7. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (183) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    The term weissbier is much more common in Bavaria than Hefeweizen is.
  8. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    Even if so, that has no bearing on my question whatsoever. Wheat beers have been brewed in Bavaria for a long time, and pale malts have only existed for about 250-300 years in Bavaria. They certainly weren't used in large numbers until the 1800s.
  9. GregoryVII

    GregoryVII Initiate (150) Jan 30, 2006 Michigan

    Pale malts have existed for as long as malt itself has existed.
  10. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Didn't you read my explanation above?

    Weissbier = beer brewed with air-dried malt
    Braunbier = beer brewed with kiln-dried malt

    And these were around long before 1800. I can point you at some pre-1800 sources if you want.
  11. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Here's an old German source. The rubbishy translation into English is mine.

    Auch unterscheidet man Luftmalz, welches nach dem Einweichen und Keimen an der Luft getrocknet worden, von dem Darrmalze, welches auf einer Darre oder Röste getrocknet, gedörret oder geröstet wird, und in den mehrsten Fällen viele Theile vom Rauche annimmt.

    Luftmalz which is dried after soaking and germination in the air, is differentiated from Darrmalze which is dried or roasted in a kiln or roaster, and in most cases takes on much smoke.
    "Oekonomische Encyklopädie" by Johann Georg Krünitz, 1773. 83, 495

    In Ansehung der Farbe des Bieres, ist die Eintheilung in braunes, (oder, wie man es auch an einigen Orten zu nennen pflegt, rothes) Fr. Biere rouge, und weißes, Biere blanche, bekannt. Unter einem sogenannten Braunbiere verstehet man ein Getränk, welches aus etwas scharf gedarrten Malz und einem Zusatz von Hopfenextrakt bereitet worden ist; dahingegen zum Weiß=Bier theils bloßes Luftmalz, oder doch ein nur wenig gedarrtes Malz, entweder von Gerste allein, Weizen allein, oder beiden zugleich, genommen wird, und wo man den Hopfenextract entweder gar wegläßt, oder doch sehr wenig damit vermischet.

    With regard to the colour of the beer, the division is between brown (or, as it is customary to also call it in some places, red) [Fr rouge] beers and white beers [blanche]. Braubiere [brown beers] is a beverage that has been prepared from highly-kilned malt and an addition of hop extract, and Weiß=Bier [White Beer] which is made either from air-dried malt alone, or maybe a with little kilned malt, either from barley alone, wheat alone, or both at the same time, and where the hop extract is either omitted, or very little.
    "Oekonomische Encyklopädie" by Johann Georg Krünitz, 1773. 5, 8

    Crusader likes this.
  12. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Ron, where did Reinheitsgebot stand regarding brewing with wheat in Bavaria? I was under the impression that RHG was expressly to prevent this use.
  13. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    It's complicated with wheat beer. It was a monopoly of the Kurfürst (ruler of Bavaria) for a long time. For a couple of centuries up until the early 1800's. I don't know all the ins and outs so I'll shut up now.
  14. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (183) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I suspect it has a fair bit to do with the nobility not being subject to the same laws as everyone else. Feudalism didn’t have much time for ideas like "equality before the law".
  15. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (211) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    That's really interesting and it answers some of my questions regarding the origins of pale malts. So you have kiln dried dark malts and then pale air dried malts. Makes sense. But at some point we get pale ale malts and pilsner malts that involve not just air drying but an additional heat source but it does not produce the same smoky flavor and color of the previous kiln dried braunmalz (simply due to the use of coke rather than wood?). So if I've understood things correctly, the pilsner malts and pale malts of the 1800s and onwards were the result of using the increased efficiencies provided by the heat from a kiln whilst retaining the color and flavor properties of the air dried malt by shielding it from the smoke and controlling the temperatures (perhaps via indirect heat rather than direct heat)?

    (This is me assuming that the production of air dried malt was less efficient than that of braunmalz at the drying stage, which might be incorrect, but if they developed the process further, and modern day drying processes aren't simply air drying under a different name, it would seem as though there have been efficiency gains which would make the air drying technique of the old days seem like a less efficient process)
  16. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    Very nice :slight_smile: Thanks dude!
  17. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    So did pale lagers exist at all before the invention of coke kilned malts?
  18. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (211) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Found this:

    2. It's a bread protection rather than beer protection law. The original idea in limiting the permissible ingredients of beer, was to stop people using grain better suited to making bread for making beer. Specifically, rye and wheat. Barley, not so suitable for baking but very much so for brewing, was to be reserved for beer. No wheat beer can claim to be brewed to the Reinheitsgebot of 1516, because until the 17th Century when the aristocracy were given the privilege of brewing beer with wheat (the equivalent of eating white bread), the use of wheat in brewing was specifically forbidden in Bavaria. In the original law only barley malt is permitted.


    I take it it's the same guy as here in the thread that is behind the website?
  19. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I should fix that. It wasn't the aristocracy. Just the Kurfürst.
    Crusader likes this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.