Of The Kind Of Grain Used By Brewers

Every kind of grain, with perhaps hardly an exception, may be employed for the purposes of the brewer. In America it is not uncommon to make beer with the seeds of Indian corn or Zea mais. In order to convert it into malt, it is found necessary to bury it for some time under the ground; and when germination lias made sufficient progress, it is dug up and kiln-dried. (See Philosophical Transactions, vol. xii., p. 1065.) Mr Mungo Park informs us, that, in Africa the negroes make beer from the seeds of the Holcus spicatus, and the process employed, as he describes it, seems to differ but little from the one followed in this country. (See Park's Travels, p. 63, 8vo edition.) Dioscorides assures us, that in Spain and Britain wheat was employed for the manufacture of beer ; and the writer of this treatise has been informed by a gentleman in the service of the East India Company, that he )ias made beer from wheat at Madras. We have ourselves seen oats employed for this purpose in Great Britain ; and in Germany and the north of Europe we believe that it is not uncommon to employ rye for the same purpose. But the material which answers best, and which is almost solely used in Great Britain, and we believe in every part of Europe where beer is manufactured, is barley.

Barley is, the seed of the Hordeum vulgare, a plant which has been cultivated from time immemorial, chiefly for the manufacture of beer. There are two species of hordeum under cultivation in Britain. The first is, the Hordeum vulgare, or barley in which the seeds are disposed in two rows on the spike. -This is the species usually cultivated in England and in the southern parts of Scotland. The second is the Hordeum hexastichon, called in the south of Scotland bear, and in Aberdeenshire big. In this species, the grains are disposed in two. rows, as in the other; but three seeds spring from the same point, so that the head of big appears to have the seeds disposed in six rows. Big is a much more hardy plant than barley, and ripens more rapidly. Hence it thrives better than barley in cold and high situations. On this account it is sown in preference in the Highlands and northern parts of Scotland, where the climate is colder than farther to the south. We have been assured that there is a third species of hordeum cultivated in Scotland, in which the seeds in the spike are arranged in four rows. To this the term bear is exclusively confined by some. But we do not find it noticed by botanists. The trivial name tetrastichon might be applied to it.

The grains of barley are much larger than those of big, and the cuticle which covers them is thinner.

Indeed the thickness of the skin of barley itself varies according to the heat of the climate in which it is cultivated, being always the thinner the warmer the climate. Thus it will be found that the cuticle of Norfolk barley is thinner than that of Berwickshire or East Lothian barley; and if Norfolk barley be sown in Scotland for several successive years, its cuticle will be found to become thicker.

The specific gravity of barley is rather greater than that of big. The specific gravity of barley, tried in more than 100 different specimens, was found by us to vary from 1-333 to 1-250, and that of big from 1*265 to 1-227. The average weight of a Winchester bushel of barley was found to be 50*7 lbs. avoirdupois, and the average weight of a bushel of big 46*383 lbs. The heaviest barley tried weighed 52-265 lbs. per bushel, and the heaviest big weighed 48-586 lbs. The big grew in Perthshire, and the season was peculiarly favourable. It was not absolutely free from a mixture of barley, as was ascertained by sowing a quantity of it, but the proportion of barley was very small. The average weight of a grain of barley is 0-6688 grain, or very nearly two-thirds of a grain, while the average weight of a grain of big is 0-5613 grain. The average length of a grain of barley, from many thousand measurements, is 0*345 inch, while that of a grain of big is 0-3245 inch. So that the average of both would give us very nearly the third of an inch, which it ought to do, according to the origin of our measures, as commonly stated. The average breadth of a grain of barley is 0145 inch, while the average breadth of a grain of big is 0-186 inch. The average thickness of a grain of barley is 0*1125 inch, while the average thickness of a grain of big is 0*1055 inch, Thus we perceive that the grain of big is smaller than the grain of barley in all its dimensions.

To determine the relative weight of the skins of barley and big, we made choice of three parcels of grain, all excellent in their kinds, namely, Norfolk barley, Haddington barley, and Lanark big. The weights of the whole grain, and of the cuticles of each of these, were as follow :

Norfolk barley . Haddington barley Lanark big . .

Weight of a corn in grains.

Weight of cuticle in grains.

From this we see that there is little difference between the weight of the skin of Norfolk and Haddington barley, but a very considerable difference between Haddington barley and Lanark big. Hence it would seem that this difference is not owing to the climate in which the barley vegetates, but rather to the nature of the two species.

The bulks of these two species of grain with relation to each other are as follow:

Barley Big .

0-00217 cubic inch. 0-001777 cubic inch.

These qualities represent the average bulk of a corn of each kind. Thus it appears that a grain of barley is rather more than ¿th part larger than a grain of big.

Finally, from a comparison of many thousand corns of each species with each other, it appears that the inequality between the size of different grains of big is greater than that between different kinds of barley. Indeed, if we examine an ear of big when nearly ripe, we shall perceive that the corns towards the bottom of the ear are smaller than those towards the summit and about the middle of the ear. Several of these bottom grains are usually abortive, or consist only of skin; but this is not always the case. In an ear of barley, on the contrary, we shall find almost all the grains nearly of a size, though in some cases the grain, constituting the upper termination of the spike is rather smaller than the rest.

Thescr circumstances may strike the reader as too minute and trifling to be stated in such detail; but we shall find afterwards that they will furnish us with an explanation of some anomalous circumstances which occur when these two species of hordeum are converted into malt. The value of barley, or its produce in alcohol, is rather improved, while big, on the contrary, is deteriorated, by malting it, at least twenty per cent.

The constituents of the kernel of barley and big, as far as we are able to ascertain at present, are the same. Barley has been subjected to an elaborate chemical analysis by Einhoff, who obtained from 3840 parts of barley-corns the following constituents :

Volatile matter 430 Husk or cuticle 720.

Meal 2690

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