Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

There's a lot of history and 'lore' behind bourbon so discuss both here.

Moderators: Brewer, brendaj

Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:36 pm

This is a recipe for distiller's beer from the Johnathan Taylor diary at the Filson Historical Society, ca 1810.

Transcript from Taylor Diary circa 1820 - Filson Club

Distillery - 2 stills - one One of 110 gallons the other 70 gallons _____.
The size of the still House Twenty four feet by thirty. Six feet pitch from the floor of the tubs to the loft.
For a distillery of this kind it will require Eighteen Tubbs. One Doubling Cask 20 Gallons and four Singling Cask to contain 15 Gallons each a Cask to hold Singling with an open end to hold 70 Gallons. The Still Tubs for mashing out (aught?) to be low and it is most convenient to mash in another cool somart (somewhat?) in one two gallon piggins - one spouse buckett to hold four gallons one Yeast cann to hold two Gallons a mash stick.
The art of making whiskey in the first Place the Distiller must be an Industrous man a Cleanly Sober watchfull man _____.
To Prepare the Yeast take two Eggs which you are to break up in three pints of Tolerable warm water with a spoon full of salt Then Thicken it with Rye Mealover shorts so as it wont turn set it where it will keep about milk warm it will work in about Twenty four Hours this Yeast will do to make Bread with but for Distillery after your Water in the Stills Boils say you want to mash four tubbs put one pint of yeast to each after your Tubbs are Cooler so as to be able to bear your hand in then the yeast must be put in, it is a fact that the warmer you put in your Yeast the sooner your Beer will be ready for Stilling.
Mash one Bushel and a half in each Tubb if you have Rye to mix put corn in first & twenty Bushel of Corn make use of 24 Gallons of Scalding waterlet it stand covered up an hour then put in the malt after pouring in a small quantity of warm water from the Flakestand (?) on the top of the crust let it stand so for 20 minutes then stir it up and put in the rye meal let it stand then about one hour before you begin to stir then stir as much as possible and when you get it cool enough to bare your hand put in the yeast and in four days the beer will be ready

Mike Veach
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4063
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby bunghole » Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:36 am

Very interesting, Professor Veach! No mention of malt, or of malting some of the rye or corn. Curious.

:arrow: imawannadistillery :smilebox:
User avatar
bunghole
Registered User
 
Posts: 2158
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 10:42 am
Location: Stuart's Draft, Virginia

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Jul 29, 2005 9:27 am

Linn,
You should read it again! Pay particular attention to "Let stand covered up an hour...".

Mike Veach
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4063
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby bunghole » Fri Jul 29, 2005 10:34 am

bourbonv wrote:Linn,
You should read it again! Pay particular attention to "Let stand covered up an hour...".

Mike Veach


Yeah I read that, Mike! "then put in the malt". What malt??! Whose malt?

Malt Disney?

Hey, that's funny. Ima gonna change his name to 'Malt Disney'.

Malt - :welcome2:

These pants are your pants.

These pants are my pants.

From the Gulf Stream waters

to Staton Island.

From the Redwood Forests

to the something Umm Um Thing

These Pants Were Made In U.S.A!

-Malt -"Shake Your Groove Thing" - Disney!
User avatar
bunghole
Registered User
 
Posts: 2158
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 10:42 am
Location: Stuart's Draft, Virginia

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:49 pm

Bump-a bump-a bump-a-dump bump.

I'm in complete agreement with mr. bung.

Nowadays you can be an armchair historian, with Websters 1828 dictionary online, and puzzle out some of those old words.

Piggin: A small wooden vessel with an erect handle, used as a dipper.

shorts: The bran and coarse part of a meal.

flake stand: (not in Websters) but in the moonshine world, that's the name for the water filled wooden box or barrel in which the condenser is cooled. What Taylor is describing is taking some of the warm water from the top as the flakestand is an open vessel. This may also well imply that Taylor was (correctly) using counterflow condensing whereby the cooling water enters the flakestand at the bottom and the warm water exits at the top. I'd have to check my copy of Forbes, but this idea wasn't common at this time (if I remember correctly).

The second part of the phrase

The Still Tubs for mashing out (aught?) to be low and it is most convenient to mash in another cool somart (somewhat?) in


is difficult to understand. It could be he's saying ought to be low and is most convenient. The words "another cool <something> in", could that be "another cool spring water in" basically saying have another tub available with cool water?

The ratios for grain to water is also difficult to understand. No way for twenty bushels of corn with 24 gallons of water. Most modern recipes you read have anywhere from 1.3 to 2 pounds of grain per gallon of water. The 1818 sweet mash recipe calls for between 2-3 lbs/gallon. If he's saying a bushel of corn (56 lbs.) for 24 gallons of water, then that sounds right for this kind of old recipe. Note: a bushel of water is 9.3 gallons.
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
User avatar
delaware_phoenix
Registered User
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:15 am
Location: Walton, NY

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:49 am

Cheryl,
I should point out that the question mark by "Flakestand" is due to the writing and I am assuming the word is flakestand. With that said, what you have pointed out makes me more certain I am right in the transcription.

Have you tried to capture yeast using this method? I have always thought I should try this and see if the yeast captured would be good for whiskey. A good rye and malt dona should give some indication if the yeast was a good whiskey yeast or not.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4063
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:37 pm

I checked Forbes, and counterflow condensing is documented by 1771 for use in distilling sea water on ships, so at least it was known if not prevalent at that time. Given that many of these early distilleries established themselves next to streams certainly indicates that they may have taken advantage of the free water, through they would have needed a means of pumping it to the flakestand (or into the distillery). And 50 years seems like it would have been enough time for a good idea to have generally caught on. :roll:

Perhaps the "another" phrase is saying "another [tub] [to] cool some wort in". not sure about that.

Haven't had a chance to try catching wild yeast. Now would be the time. I'll have to see if I can find some time. Interestingly you may not have to "catch" the yeast. It may already be naturally present on the rye grains. And I wonder whether they added some native fruit or berries.
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
User avatar
delaware_phoenix
Registered User
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:15 am
Location: Walton, NY

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby PaulO » Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:32 am

When I was reading the instructions, I was thinking that the distiller must have had a yeast starter culture to begin with. It just wasn't mentioned. They could have started it themselves from wild yeasts, or obtained a starter culture from someone else that had a good strain going. I can see somebody playing with wild yeasts to get a new culture started. I think anybody that would be careful setting all this up, would have dependable yeast in enough quantity ready to pitch as soon as the wort (unfermented beer) was not too hot to kill the yeast.
Last edited by PaulO on Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PaulO
Registered User
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:02 pm
Location: Greenwood Indiana

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:40 pm

He certainly says "To prepare the yeast" and this could mean he already has some yeast, and he's describing a starter. But from his description, he doesn't describe any of the typical mashing as he does for the regular distilling. Not sure how you're going to get the starches converted to sugars for the yeast without gelatinizing them. It could be the rye is assumed to be malted rye, so you'd have some enzymes to work things off.

These really aren't step-by-step instructions, but merely notes describing his processes.

Commercial yeast only became available in the US post Civil War (1868).
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
User avatar
delaware_phoenix
Registered User
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:15 am
Location: Walton, NY

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:41 pm

"Flakestand" is not strictly a moonshiner term. It's used by legal distillers as well. The barrel-a-day distillery Vendome made for Michters, that David Beam now owns, has a flakestand.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:53 pm

In current distillery parlance, the term condenser is used to describe the equipment that condenses the vapors. Condensers come in different forms. The traditional condenser consisted on a worm coil in a wooden barrel/tub. Modern condensers are often of the so-called "shotgun" type. They take up much less space and are much more efficient in condensing the vapors and using much less water to do so.

Taylor is saying this during a description of mashing:

let it stand covered up an hour then put in the malt after pouring in a small quantity of warm water from the Flakestand (?) on the top of the crust


Any condenser must transfer heat from the vapors into the water (or other coolant) in order for the vapors to undergo the phase transition. An open condenser with a worm coil will get warm more so at the top than the bottom because the vapors are hottest when they are first coming into contact with cooler surfaces/surroundings. So Taylor is basic saying take some warm water from the condenser to soften up the crust on top of the corn. Because next is

let it stand so for 20 minutes then stir it up


then he adds the rye. So if you're going to stir the whole thing (that remember he's added 24 gallons of scalding water to), it doesn't make a lot of sense to pour a little warm water maybe to soften the crust when you're going to stir the whole thing. Why doesn't he get water from his boiler? Condenser water might not be the cleanest (which is maybe why he wants it, maybe that's where he's easily able to get his Lactobacillus to get some souring going of the mash?) Or is it really that he's got a rock hard crust and a little warm water will soften it up so you can stir it?

I suspect the moonshiner use of the term flakestand comes from early 1800 legitimate distilling terminology and it refers to a wooden, square box to hold the water for condensing. Here's some pics from moonshine operations going back to the 20's in Virginia that show flakestands.

http://www.blueridgeinstitute.org/moonshine/still%20_types_and_techniques.html
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
User avatar
delaware_phoenix
Registered User
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:15 am
Location: Walton, NY

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby bunghole » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:41 pm

Wow Cheryl! Thanks for posting that link http://www.blueridgeinstitute.org/moonshine/still%20_types_and_techniques.html I didn't even know that existed. Quite a lot of good information.

Linn
"A Kind Word Never Broke A Tooth."
User avatar
bunghole
Registered User
 
Posts: 2158
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 10:42 am
Location: Stuart's Draft, Virginia

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby cowdery » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:27 am

I think mash continued to be made the way it was even after the stills became steam fired because a steam-jacketed cooker would have been expense and probably wouldn't contribute any benefit if you were still going to agitate the mash by hand. The system of making periodic additions of boiling water and more grain and cooking in small batches was appropriately scaled to the labor use and available technology.

I've made mash the old-fashioned way. No modern human would do that by choice. It is very hard work.

As for yeast, I think it's probably fair to say one of the most important if not the most important skill for a distiller, not just on the frontier but up to and including the early 20th century, that would distinguish a true master distiller from an average or poor distiller would be his yeast-making ability.

I've listened to Booker Noe talk with admiration about how his grandfather, Jim Beam, made yeast on his back porch during Prohibition's waning days. He described it as a process of trial and error. I've asked contemporary distillers if they thought anyone still had that skill and the best answer I got was "maybe."

The craft had two components, the recipe for a yeast mash and the ability, observationally and organoleptically, to distinguish a good yeast from a bad one. Many yeast mash recipes have survived but the observational and organoleptic skills have to be passed down from master to apprentice.

As much as this can be made to sound like a terrible loss, even today I don't see any craft distillers clamoring to make their own yeast from scratch the old fashioned way.

As for what was killing people, it probably was all the things that have been mentioned but leading the list was probably inexperience with distilled alcohol. When someone who is used to drinking a 5% alcohol fermented beverage suddenly has access to even a 30% or 40% alcohol distilled beverage they might have a bad experience.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:01 pm

I don't think any distilleries are looking to capture wild yeast though some wild yeasts are used to make Belgian sour beers. The profitability of the craft trade is limited as it is, no reason to make it harder or more dicey than it already is.
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
User avatar
delaware_phoenix
Registered User
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:15 am
Location: Walton, NY

Re: Distillers beer from Johnathan Taylor Diary

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:16 pm

cowdery wrote:As for yeast, I think it's probably fair to say one of the most important if not the most important skill for a distiller, not just on the frontier but up to and including the early 20th century, that would distinguish a true master distiller from an average or poor distiller would be his yeast-making ability.


I would agree with this statement 100%. I don't think that this is apparent to many distillers both large and small. You can tell this by the fixation on fiddling with cooperage rather than yeast strains. I guess it's easier to sell whiskey that's finished in sherry/rum/whatever barrels than it is to sell the fact that an interesting yeast strain or strains are. From a brewer's perspective, it's all about yeast handling until you get larger and then it's all about yeast handling and subsequently shelf life. The rest is sound and fury if your yeast isn't healthy.

I will say that very, very few Master DIstillers or Master Brewers handle yeast when the plants are regionally sized or larger. Their lab techs do all the work, and the Master merely reads the reports. Only the small guys do it all...assuming they're fermenting, that is.

But you're right, Mr. Cowdery: I'd bet that the majority of craft distillers these days have never handled yeast in their short careers. But some of that is because of tradition. Gin and Abisnthe distillers, as an example, never work with yeast....and this practice is over a hundred years old. In fact, it's illegal for English producers of Gin to produce the neutral spirit on the same site that the Gin is redistilled. I don't think less of those who don't ferment....that's not my place....but I do think that they're missing out on a craft, and a heck of a lot of fun that can be a PITA sometimes!

DIstillers of high ester rums will spontaneously ferment, btw. One of my classmates in distilling school was a Caribbean high-ester rum maker, and he told me that the most important guy on the campus was the groundskeeper. He had to keep the right mix of flora in a perfect state of health if the wild yeasts and bacterias were to ferment the open pit molasses slurries properly. Pretty neat.

Using that egg method presumes that you've got the proper wild yeast in the air to begin with. I suspect that this wouldn't work as well in the dry climate that I work in, but I'll give it a try before the summer's out and let you know how it works. If it works, I'll put down a barrel.
Leopold
Registered User
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:09 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Next

Return to Bourbon Lore

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest