It is always customary to convert barley into malt before employing it in the manufacture of ale. Not that this conversion is absolutely necessary, but that it adds considerable facility to the different processes of the brewer. The writer of this treatise has several times tried the experiment of making ale from unmalted barley, and found it perfectly practicable. Several precautions, however, are necessary in order to succeed. The water let upon the ground barley in the mash-tun must be considerably below the boiling temperature ; for barley-meal is much more apt to set than malt, that is, to form a stiff paste, from - which no wort will separate. The addition of a portion of the chaff of oats serves very much to prevent this setting of the goods, and facilitates considerably the separation of the wort. Care must likewise be taken to prevent the heat from escaping during the mashing, and the mashing must be continued longer than usual; for it is during the mashing that the starch of the barley is converted into a saccharine matter. This change seems to be owing merely to the chemical combination of a portion of water with the starch of the barley; just as happens when common starch is converted into sugar, by boiling it with very dilute sulphuric acid, or any other acid. This method of brewing from raw grain answers admirably for small beer. Some years ago it was practised to a considerable extent by several brewers of small beer in Edinburgh, and their beer was considered as greatly preferable to small beer brewed in the usual manner. The practice was stopped by a decision of the Court of Exchequer,—a decision which, in our opinion, proceeded upon arbitrary grounds, and which was at all events detrimental to the public; for surely it is highly impolitic to prevent ameliorations in the manufactures in order to guard against any deficiency in the produce of the taxes. A wise government would have permitted the improvement, and would have levied the malt-tax in a different manner. In our trials the raw barley did not answer so well for making strong ale as fot small beer. The ale was perfectly transparent* and we kept it for several years without its running into acidity ; but it had a peculiar flavour, by no means agreeable. Probably a little practice might have enabled us to get rid of this flavour, in which case raw grain would answer in every respect as well for brewing as malt does.
A duty was first charged upon malt during the troubles of the reign of Charles I. But it continued very moderate till the war with France recommenced in 1803. It was then raised to the following sums ' per bushel:—
Malt of Scotch barley, ... 0 3 8J op 84*856 Malt of Scotch big 0 3 or 69-472
But two shillings of this tax were to continue only till the end of the war, and Tor six months after its conclusion. In consequence of this very heavy tax, several regulations were imposed upon the maltster, with a view to facilitate the levying of the duty, and to prevent him from defrauding the revenue. The most important of these are the. two following:—1. The barley must remain in the cistern in which it is steeped with water for a period not less than forty hours. 2. When the malt is spread uponN the floor the maltster is not at liberty to sprinkle any water upon it, or to moisten the floor. For a number of years past the malt-duties have been as follow —
1. For malt made from barley, or other corn or grain, in any part of the United Kingdom, 2s. 7d., and 5 per cent., making together 2s. 8£d. per bushel.
2. For malt made from bear or big, in Scotland or Ireland,2s. per bushel,and 5 per cent., equal together to 2s. l£d.
The 5 per cent, was imposed in the year 1840, on all custom and exciseable articles, except spirits. We shall now describe the process of malting, as is practised by the best-informed malt-makers in Gre&t Britain.
Malting consists of four processes, which follow each other in regular order; namely, steeping, couch-ing, flooring, and kiln-drying.
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