A risk for the unborn child

DOSSIERS
Alcohol, pregnancy and breast feeding  A risk for the unborn child
How much can you drink during pregnancy?
Alcohol and breast feeding

During pregnancy alcohol has the same effect on health as with non-pregnant women, but for the unborn child alcohol is indeed a risk. For these reasons it is best to avoid alcoholic drinks as much as possible during pregnancy.

When an expectant mother drinks alcohol, it is absorbed in the blood and goes straight to the unborn child via the placenta. When a pregnant woman is under the influence, so is her child.

With pregnant women who drink regularly, the baby is often smaller at birth. Whether this effect can be fully attributed to alcohol consumption is not clear, because women who drink alcohol regularly often smoke too. Smoking during pregnancy in itself leads to a lower birth weight.

Older pregnant women and pregnant women with a higher level of education seem to regularly drink alcohol during pregnancy. Smoking, on the other hand, occurs more often in younger pregnant women and women with a lower education level. Research shows that for women who smoke a lot during pregnancy and who drink more than 12 glasses of alcohol per week, the birth weight of the child is 7% less on average than with women who smoke a lot but do not drink (1).
A clear relationship was also found between high alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the behaviour of the child at 5-6 years of age. Children whose mothers had drunk more than one glass a day were 12 times more likely to exhibit hyperactive behaviour than children whose mothers had not drunk during pregnancy. By the age of 15, this link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and behaviour could no longer be demonstrated, however (1).

References

 

Incorporation in national law after foundation of the Second Reich in 1871 Beer Purity Law alive and well throughout the centuries …

DOSSIERS
Beer Purity Law  The wording
The historical background
Day of the Beer Purity Law
The German brewing trade
Alive and well throughout the centuries…

 

Anyone who is familiar with the history of the legal background of the Beer Purity Law and the fundamental conditions for the rise and emergence of the German brewing trade can hardly be surprised that the Beer Purity Law should ultimately also be incorporated in German constitutional law and be consistently observed by German brewers to this day. The quality of beer brewed in compliance with the Beer Purity Law was so convincing and the pride in the complete mastery of the brewer’s art using only four ingredients was too evident to allow this law to fall by the wayside of history.

… and finds its way into Imperial law

The unification of national law after the foundation of the Second Reich in 1871 prompted other German states to align with the Beer Purity Law. Baden adopted the Beer Purity Law in 1896, Württemberg followed in 1900, though similar rules had been decreed there back in the 18th Century. From 1906 it applied throughout the whole German Empire. It was anchored in the Beer Tax Law, which states that beer must be brewed using only malt, hops, yeast and water.

the Weimar Republic …

The Weimar Republic also adopted the Beer Purity Law. Bavaria made its membership of the new republic in 1918 conditional upon, among other things, the continued validity of the Beer Purity Law throughout Germany.

… and the Federal Republic of Germany

In the Federal Republic of Germany the Beer Purity Law has its legal basis in the Beer Tax Law. This states that only hops, malt, water and yeast are to be used in the brewing of beer (=absolute Beer Purity Law). The Beer Tax Law further governs the trade in beer (§ 10). This law states that only beverages brewed in accordance with the provisions of § 9 of the Beer Tax Law may be placed on the market bearing the description “beer”.

Day of the Beer Purity Law: 23 April 1516

DOSSIERS
Beer Purity Law  The wording
The historical background
Day of the Beer Purity Law
The German brewing trade
Alive and well throughout the centuries…

Regulation and inspection demonstrably contributed to continuous quality improvement of the beer. Continuing the line of this happy trend, the meeting of the Bavarian Estates on 23 April 1516 – a gathering of knights and landed gentry – in Ingolstadt summoned by Duke Wilhelm IV decreed the Beer Purity Law for all Bavarian brewers. The strict guild supervision of quality had given the brewers of North Germany a position of dominance in the market. Now the situation was changing. Bavaria soon caught up, to the advantage of South German beer and brewing law. Interesting to note that Germany once applied two different legal systems in respect of beer:

Civil law and Guild law in the North

Beer in mediaeval North Germany was considered to be “people’s nourishment” and was subject to the civil law that had formed in the urban centres and successfully represented the townspeople against the nobility and clergy. This explains why rules and regulations on beer should, first and foremost, be a matter for municipal authorities and guilds.

Regional law in the South

In the South, however, regional rulers had a direct influence on all decrees concerning beer. This happened to be unusually positive in the case of the Reinheitsgebot, since it took immediate and full effect throughout Bavarian territory. Fiscal aspects did not enter into consideration in this decree. A tax on local beer was not introduced in Bavaria until much later (1572). The strict law did, however, impose a binding quality standard for all Bavaria and closed the door against watered-down and adulterated beer. The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot gradually found favour and application in other parts of Germany, even if the Bavarian system was not simply adopted in unaltered form. The general intents and purposes of these laws were the same as in Bavaria but – for a variety of reasons – the letter of the law was now not quite as precise.

… the Hamburger Brauordnung 1695

Like, for instance, in the new Hamburg Brewing Law of 1695, holding the South German model up to the brewers and impressing upon that, “… they must brew good, wholesome beer, spare no endeavour to procure supplies of the best quality grain and produce each brew according to the rules …”.

The historical background of the Beer Purity Law

DOSSIERS
Beer Purity Law  The wording
The historical background
Day of the Beer Purity Law
The German brewing trade
Alive and well throughout the centuries…

Beer Purity Law – culmination of a long legal development

The Beer Purity Law is the oldest currently applicable food regulation in the world. It is also the outcome of a legal development reaching back several centuries in Germany, whereby the relevant legal authorities and bodies strove with their various decrees to improve the quality of beer, a staple item in the popular diet. Similar regulations are also to be found outside Germany and in the mists of early pre-Christian antiquity.

First documented beginnings in Germany: Augsburg 1156

The first documented references on German soil date from the reign of Barbarossa. In 1156 the Emperor gave the City of Augsburg a new statute, the famous “Justitia Civitatis Augustensis”, which is the oldest German town charter. And it gets down to the business of beer: “A publican who serves bad beer or gives short measure shall suffer punishment …” The punishment, incidentally, was quite considerable, in the amount of 5 Gulden. The licence was withdrawn on a third offence.

Nuremberg 1393

A further regulation is known from the City of Nuremberg. In 1393 the local City Council decided to use only malted barley for the brewing of beer. Some 30 years later, in 1420, Munich Town Hall decided to store or “lager” the brew before sale.

Regensburg 1447

In 1447 the good people of Regensburg engaged their Municipal Physician to inspect the locally brewed beer and to take particular interest as regards the ingredients used in the brewing of beer. His alarming reports led to a Brewing Regulation in 1453.

Munich 1363

The people of Munich were also concerned about the quality of their beer in 1363. They charged 12 members of the City Council with the task of beer quality assurance. And in 1447, they expressly instructed the brewers to use only malted barley, hops and water for the brewing of beer; “… und sonst nichts darein oder darunter tun oder man straffe es fuer valsch” – and neither add nor subtract any ingredient lest it be treated as a case of adulteration.
40 years later Duke Albrecht IV confirmed the demand of the Munich City Council, for he had seen that the beer trade in North Germany was flourishing mainly because the local brewers’ guilds insisted on the production of good quality beer.

Weißensee (Thuringia) 1434

In 1998 mediaeval Runneburg in Thuringian Weißensee delivered up a hitherto unknown document on the subject of beer purity. Article 12 of the Tavern Law “Statuta thaberna” of 1434 states that beer may not be brewed except with hops, malt and water. It goes on to impose penalties for offences against the rules of the brewer’s art.

Duchy of Bavaria-Landshut 1493

A little later, in 1493, Duke George the Wealthy followed suit and decreed this rule for his entire Duchy of Bavaria-Landshut, the old Bavarian heartland: “Brewers and others shall use only malted barley, hops and water for the brewing of beer; brewers, publicans and others adding any other ingredients to the beer are liable to incur physical and material punishment.”
All these decrees were duly controlled: beer inspectors paid regular visits to the brewers, tasted and tested the beer. They themselves were bound by strict regulations and were not allowed to undertake more than six inspections in one day. On inspection days they were also not allowed to eat foods that might affect the taste buds, or drink wine or even smoke tobacco.

The wording of the Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law)

DOSSIERS
Beer Purity Law  The wording
The historical background
Day of the Beer Purity Law
The German brewing trade
Alive and well throughout the centuries…

The Beer Purity Law enacted by Duke Wilhelm IV in April 1516 was worded as follows:

How Beer Should be Brewed and Served in the Country during the Summer and the Winter

We and Our Regional Parliament hereby decree, request and require that, throughout the cities, market towns and rural districts of the Principality of Bavaria having no special bye-laws for the purpose, one Maß (Bavarian unit of volume = 1.069 Litres) or one Kopf (semicircular drinking bowl holding slightly less than a Maß) of beer shall henceforth – from St. Michael’s Day to St. George’s Day – be served and sold for not more than one Pfennig in Munich currency and that the Maß shall henceforth – from St. George’s Day to St. Michael’s day -be served and sold for not more than two Pfennig of the said currency, the Kopf for no more than three Heller (= usually one half Pfennig). Failure to comply shall incur the penalty stated hereunder. Where, however, no strong light Märzen but some other beer is brewed or otherwise to be had, the Maß shall in no wise be served nor sold for any price exceeding one Pfennig. We more specifically request and require that, henceforth, no beer served or sold in Our cities, market towns and rural centres shall contain nor include any ingredients other than water, hops and malt. Whosoever should wilfully contravene or fail to comply with the present Law shall see his barrels of beer forthwith confiscated by the local legal authority as often as necessary. Where, however, a local brewer purchases two or three Eimer (= contains 60 Maß) from a beer-brewing in Our cities and towns or rural districts or in Our market towns in order to sell the same on to the peasants, he alone, and no-one else, shall be allowed, without let or hindrance, to present, sell and serve the Maß or Kopf of beer for one Heller more than specified in the foregoing.

Decreed by Wilhelm IV
Duke in Bavaria
St. George’s Day,
Ingolstadt, anno 1516

Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750).

DOSSIERS
Brewing beer toan 18th-century recipe  Objectives
The brewing process
Science happening in Bokrijk
Science is not always dry as dust
The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”
Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750)
Sources

The experiment of 4 May 2002

A variety of historic publications tell us that our ancestors were serious beer-drinkers : per capita beer consumption, from the 14th to the 18th Century, was: 0.6 litre per day (by way of comparison: in 1998 we drank only 0.27l per day) . But whether they drank ‘skull-attack’ or strong beer, or a beverage more like ‘liquid bread’, drunk more for its health-giving effects than for its taste, is now a matter of educated guesswork. Nor, in fact, are we any the wiser as to the organization and daily running of the country breweries in the 18th Century . How did the good people of Diepenbeek organize matters to pool their supplies of grain to produce this or that beer? How much of this, how much of that cereal did they use for their beer? Did they use wheat, barley and oats? Or did they brew wheat beer and nothing else? Where did they get their recipes from? Where did Diepenbeek get its hops from?

The experiment will not yield answers to all the questions. We know that the grain used in the Ancien Regime would not pass the quality test for today’s brewing grain, that today’s malting techniques are much more efficient. So, can we draw any conclusions? The experiment will in any event tell us whether the brewer’s tanks, vats, coppers, etc., as set up in the refurbishment, were set up in their correct positions. Whether the pumps work, whether the cooling vessel ought not to have been lower after all, whether the logic of the successive brewing operations can be respected. But, and this most of all, the researchers from Antwerp University will have experienced for themselves just how hard our forefathers had to work.

 

The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”

DOSSIERS
Brewing beer toan 18th-century recipe  Objectives
The brewing process
Science happening in Bokrijk
Science is not always dry as dust
The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”
Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750)
Sources

A visitation report, in 1719, by a certain Cox informs us that a stone “paenhuis” stood in the centre of the village of Diepenbeek, by the Roman road. The old one, Cox says, burnt down. Cox was intendant for the Commandery Alden Biezen; his document outlines the situation in Diepenbeek. He does this by answering 36 questions set by the Commander’s administrative staff. The administrative staff – and therefore the Commander himself – were thus kept abreast of all the latest comings and goings, profits and losses on all possessions on the estate of Diepenbeek: farms, smallholdings, mills, paenhuys.

We may not know the actual questions, but we can deduce from the answers, which begin with a brief geographical or historical description, that Commander Hendrik van Wassenaer (1690-1709) ordered the Paenhuis to be built somewhere around 1701. It was a “brauhaus” without house, farm, garden or estate. He himself was not even a brewer. Cox kept the keys, managed the building, kept the installation in good working order, and handed over the key (against useful consideration) to such persons as wished to brew beer there. A car wash or a juke box before its time. With the difference that the villagers were obliged to brew their beer in the Paenhuys; that was how they were taxed on their beer.

The villagers would bring their own brewing ingredients; equipment and water was included in the hire price. The water was drawn from the “Fonteyne” in the next street, from a lake, or from rainwater collected in a “bricked-up lump of stone”. The intendant paid for the regular cleaning of the lake and the rain pit.

The local farmers presumably malted their grain at home, in the loft, if indeed at all. Beer was also brewed on unmalted wheat or barley . Brewing observed the principle “first come, first served”. All the intendant required was prior notice. This was also on the understanding that the brewing would yield a minimum quantity of respectively 10 and 8 barrels of beer, to avoid damage to the coppers. The maximum capacity of the Paenhuys usually ran to three big and three small coppers per week. 18 to 20 batches would be brewed during the Summer, and 7 to 8 during the Winter. The villagers would pay 2 Liège guilders for a big copper of 21 aams, or 18 barrels of beer (3 000 litres); the price for a small copper – 14 aams (10 barrels) of beer – was 1.5 Liège guilders. By way of comparison: the construction of the Paenhuys itself cost the commander 7 000 Liège guilders out of his own pocket.

Why was there no resident brewer, like in the towns, or tenant taking the brewing franchise? A tenant-brewer who, as in other rural districts, could brew and sell beer as well as offering accommodation for the passing trade . Diepenbeek, with its 1 500 souls, was hardly a small village in 1719. And it was situated on a major highway. The answer is probably to be found in the meagre profits. Cox himself wrote that efforts had been made to rent out the Paenhuys, but no-one was interested. Profits for Alden Biezen eventually seemed so modest as not even to be able to repay the initial construction costs.

 

The French occupation after the French Revolution put paid to the system of excise, which the people of Diepenbeek were incidentally late in adopting. Late because, unlike other domains where the villagers were obliged, ever since the early Middle Ages, to brew their beer in the “bannale Paenhuys”, this was not the case in Diepenbeek until during the 18th Century. This came to pass because the original owners of Diepenbeek, Isabella Francesca de Merode and the de Gavere family were unable to assert their rights. However, the Teutonic Order did as much, after acquiring the manor during the last quarter of the 17th Century. Until 1700, the people of Diepenbeek were able to brew their beer, as it were, under their own steam (i.e., at home). Regional Commander Van Wassenaer asserted his right to knock down all brewing installations in Diepenbeek and oblige the local population to have their beer brewed in the newly-built Paenhuys so as to collect the revenue himself (for Alden Biezen).

After the French Revolution, the estate was sold to the public. The Paenhuys now became the property of the gemeente. However, the accounts show that brewing went into gradual decline from 1835, and that there was no income whatsoever from brewing in 1865. The local council therefore decided on 18 January 1866 to close the Paenhuys as a working brewery and to sell off all the furniture and fittings. The building was now used as a communal storage depot and, later, as a “remand centre”. Later still, there were plans to use the building to accommodate a library and, more recently, attempts have been made to protect the building as a monument . In the end, relocation to Bokrijk Open-Air Museum seemed to offer the ideal solution.

The building was in a sorry state of repair on relocation. Unfortunately, no foundations had been laid and, by the time of reconstruction, almost all traces that may otherwise have helped us today gain a better idea of the state of the building in the 18th Century had been completely erased. The demolition report mentioned the fact, among other things, that the left side of the door frame was set 80 cm deeper into the ground than the existing doorstep. The curator at the time, Weyns, suspected that the ground was built up over the years. Judging by the position of the windows, this conclusion now seems premature . No answer is forthcoming. Not even as to purpose of the square hole discovered reaching 80 cm into the east frontage. A mill post? A mechanism for animal propulsion? A water run-off? A hatch? To send the sodden malt draff direct to a nearby cowshed? Educated guess. Idle speculation. Too few clues.

Work on reconstruction in Bokrijk began in 24 October 1955. The report mentions that the original dividing walls were left out to create a single inner space, “perhaps its original form in earlier years, …” The ommission of the interior walls and the creation of big, open spaces still seemed to suit Weyns’ purposes in the beginning of the construction of the Open-Air Museum. Why is not altogether clear. Come to mention it, he did the same in Sint Gummarus; the interior walls came a-tumbling down to create a great banqueting hall.

Closer examination of the archives of Alden Biezen, of the ordinances of Diepenbeek, of the writings of J. Weyns, of those of the Ridderschap van de Roerstok , should lighten the relative darkness. It would appear from the memo by architect Kristien Ceyssens that restoration of the interior fixtures and fittings likewise presented serious problems. Wort boiler, stirring vats and cooling vessel came from the Tomsin brewery, Hoegaarden. They were set in their spatial context on flights of romantic fancy. The request of the Orde van de Roerstok, who financed the installation, to make the Paenhuis a “living tableau” of a bygone age, when “guildsmen made important decisions”, was resisted at the last gasp by Weyns himself.

Closer research should further reveal whether the Paenhuys, being a semi-public building , also had other functions. Examples include court sessions and information rounds for the local population. Perhaps the brewhouse also had a role in the social fabric of the village, like the village pump, where men and women came not only to work and to brew, but also to swap the news and share the general scuttlebutt. Maybe there were rules and regulations forbidding the use of grain for brewing in times of shortage etc.

 

Science is not always dry as dust

DOSSIERS
Brewing beer toan 18th-century recipe  Objectives
The brewing process
Science happening in Bokrijk
Science is not always dry as dust
The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”
Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750)
Sources

No-one really knows how things were at these small home breweries circa 1750. However, what is all too clear is that the brewers back then had a really hard time. No closed systems, no gas, only wood to fuel the fires, no automatic stirrers, no pumps for the boiling water, … brewing in those days was a genuine craft, passed down by tradition, in all the sweat of the brow you might expect. From a strictly biochemical viewpoint, brewing is quite easy in this brewery. But this is not a case of ‘brewing by numbers’, to modern biochemical know-how, it’s a case of rolling up your sleeves, and getting stuck in! The only thing that really counts is re-enacting, in a historically correct manner, the brewing of 1750 using the available historic infrastructure. This may seem an odd choice for a university offering a course in biochemistry but without a course in brewing technology and applied science. But enthusiasm is great, and the intention is clear: the University of Antwerp regards this project as a challenge that should provide new insights in this historic brewing process and, by its very atypical character, fit in perfectly with the mission of the university (Education, Research and Provision of Services). It is also an excellent way to show the university from another angle: science is not always in deadly earnest; it can sometimes be an adventure in an exact historic and scientific context.

Ticking things off, one by one, it begins to dawn on us why so many should have declined the offer,… Given the size of the different tanks, and after a spot of mental arithmetic, we arrive at a minimum volume of some 1 500 litres if we don’t want to end up with a forlorn-looking puddle of liquid in the bottom of the tank. And these 1 500 litres have to be drawn off, stirred, filtered and pumped by hand. As a biochemist, as a home-brewer, I know only too well what it means to work a full 30 litres of sticky, boiling sugar-water at 110°C (!), never mind 1 500 litres. Nor is the prospect any more inviting once you discover that, at the start of the brewing process, you have to mix up 700 litres of water and 300 kg in the mash tun. An hour later you get a thick, viscous pulp. If 30 litres is difficult to stir using just a big spoon, you can imagine the effort required for 1 000 litres if you have to use mash-staffs weighing 10 kilos each!

Workers, that’s what we needed: people who are interested, enthusiastic and, perhaps most of all, poor, unsuspecting, …and we found them. Friends, colleagues and acquaintances from the university, all pricked up their ears. So, eventually, we put together up a team of twelve men (and a woman). We certainly needed them! First, a stoking gang had to get up at the ungodly hour of 6 in the morning to fetch and boil up several hundred litres of water. Mashing began at 9 o’clock: bearing in mind that one mash-staff is worked by at least two persons, that the boiling copper has to be stoked at the same time, and that, meanwhile, people have to scoop and pump hot and cold water, 12 pair of hands is hardly a luxury. Stuikmanden, plate-filter boxes, then had to be stoked for filtering, scooping, ladling, running off, …And me? Well, I think I’ll go delegate a bit, … Later that day, a 6-hour simmer draws to a close with the manual pump-over of the seething wort into the cooling vessel. Only then (midnightish?) can our team crawl beneath the covers. A few hours’ sleep, then the brewery calls us back. Then we finally knock the spigot off the cooling tank and, after filtering, the old draff can be seeded back in the fermentation tank.

Now for the tank fermentation. The young (‘green’) beer is covered by a woolly sheet of top yeast that sinks to the bottom a few days later. That’s when the brewer knows that the time has come to run the beer off into barrels, to set the barrels on the stillage and, at long last, to sit back let the beer grow old gracefully. It’s mainly the added yeast that converts the sugars into alcohol and into carbon dioxide. However, since the curator was keen to brew the beer as authentically as possible (i.e., non-pasteurized), the local wild yeasts and bacteria, such as the lactic acid and acetic acid bacteria, were also invited to the party. In a word, the tap-end beer will host a motley crew of micro-organisms, each gracing the beer with its own peculiar taste and scent. Will the result keep its charms a few months hence? Authentic yes, but well, sort of … sour, bitter. ‘Dry’ beer, the lambic way, … a high note for ‘them as likes it’, and a bummer for the rest, … BOTTOMS UP!

 

Science happening in Bokrijk

DOSSIERS
Brewing beer toan 18th-century recipe  Objectives
The brewing process
Science happening in Bokrijk
Science is not always dry as dust
The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”
Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750)
Sources

During the Science Happening of 13 October 2001, beer was brewed in Bokrijk for the first time by researchers from Antwerp University. They staged a demonstration of the brewing process in the then newly restored 18th-century Paenhuys. The purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate, through the medium of simple brewing equipment, that the rather “mysterious world” of biochemistry underlies our everyday life (for those of us who appreciate the good things of life, at any rate). The event proved to be such a popular success that the curator, Mrs. Boesmans, and head of the educational department, Mrs. Vaes, of Bokrijk Open-Air Museum immediately suggested to us brewing, not only in the Paenhuys, but completely in the Paenhuys, … It had not occurred to anyone to use the restored brewery, including the infrastructure (from a Hoegaarden brewery), also 18th-century, for the very purpose for which it was originally intended: the brewing of beer. The fact that the brewery was wood-fired, that 1 500 litres had to be run over, filtered and pumped by hand, that the stokers would start work at 6 in the morning and that they would work until around midnight before the wort was ready frightened many away. For the brewing process to be authentic, use of modern equipment was not allowed. The challenge seemed just too much for all comers, …

That was all the reason Antwerp University needed to come and try their hand! Where, in October, the accent was mainly on the biochemistry of brewing, the 2002 experiment also focused on the history behind the brewing: the central question this time is “what happened first, second, third, … in the old brewing process, and how can we rerun it as authentically as possible?” Professors Bouwen and Clauwaert, Patrik Claes and Ludwig Callaerts began to dig and delve, to ferret and rummage around. Together with Prof. Derdelinckx (KUL), and with the scientific support of Prof. Van Uytven, they immersed themselves in old recipes.

The many contacts with the brewer family Martens from Bocholt, and the gift of 300 kilos of malt by the brewery “Het Anker”, Mechelen, got the project off to a flying start. Our thanks go out to the Martens and to “Het Anker”, helping us as they did in both word and deed, as well as making this historic brewing process possible with their creative contributions in the form of modern installations and methods. Shovelling crushed malt into the round coppery belly of the boiling vessel of the brewery “Het Anker” gave us plenty of time to reflect. To reflect … about what? Perhaps about divine or wonderful inspiration.
Antwerp University saw this history as a challenge, and threw its weight behind a project that drew together history and science. This instructive experiment has taught me that ‘trubzak’ is not a Limburg accordion, that ‘koelschip’ has nothing to do with our Antwerp merchantmen or with frozen food, and that ‘draf’ – draff – is more than the trip-trap of our heavy Brabant drayhorses.

Pasteur, a famous 19th-century chemist to whom we owe the microbiology course, was first to demonstrate the existence of yeast cells and bacteria. Thanks to his first steps, we now know that the processes of baking, beer brewing and wine-making have a common biochemical denominator: yeast. Beer has excellent keeping properties and is a healthy drink, free of harmful bacteria. Besides the fact that, to start with, the formed alcohol protects the beer against infection with microbes, the brewing process also involves a long boiling dwell that kills any bacteria that happen to be present. Although nobody knew any of this before Pasteur, trial-and-error use was made of it during the cholera and plague epidemics. In the days of the cholera and plague epidemics, it was noted that beer-drinkers did not fall ill. The monasteries doled out beer (naturally reserving the stronger versions for home consumption), and decrees were issued urging the townsfolk to drink beer instead of water, measures designed to contain the menace of cholera and the plague, … a Golden Age! The wonders of this divine process would not be revealed until much later, …

All this knowledge is now to hand in the Biomedical Department: besides its role in the cloning of genes, the mapping of protein structures, the unravelling of disease processes, etc., biochemistry, as it happens, also forms the scientific basis for the brewing process, although, much to the chagrin of some of us, Antwerp University has not yet founded a Department of Brewing Technology, …

Now at last, biochemistry, the history of the 18th Century and craft tradition come together in a historic context, here in the Paenhuys; a tradition that traces its origin back to the numerous abbey breweries. As you no doubt already know, part of the University of Antwerp consisted of the University Faculty of Saint Ignatius but, unfortunately, this Jesuit Order contented itself with the study of the history of the matter, … The fathers preferred pure water, holy mass wine and scientific knowledge. The interest of some of our students is somewhat different and is directed more towards the end-product …that is, towards the practical learning and ‘inward digestion’ of the adage: “Beer brewed with TLC should be drunk with a certain IQ”.

 

The brewing process

DOSSIERS
Brewing beer toan 18th-century recipe  Objectives
The brewing process
Science happening in Bokrijk
Science is not always dry as dust
The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”
Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750)
Sources

How things were in a ‘small’ home brewery remains a mystery to many. What we do know, however, is that the brewing process involved hard manual labour. Brewing was a genuine craft, passed down by tradition.

So brewing beer the old-fashioned way is hardly child’s play. For example, the different tanks (capacity 3 000 litres) take a minimum volume of 1 500 litres. This is shovelled over, stirred, filtered and pumped by hand. Then they set to work with mash-staffs weighing several kilos each. Perhaps this “hard labour” is the reason why the experiment was not attempted earlier. A team of 17 was finally recruited for the job in Bokrijk.

To keep a close track of the various stages of the brewing process, the brewery hands from Antwerp University spent the night in the historic village. After all, the process would take a good 72 hours start to finish. The complete process was carried out step by step: from malting and filtering through to hopping. Visitors could observe the brewing activities. So researchers from Antwerp University and ‘anorak’ home brewers could watch over the historic brewing process by day and by night.

The timetable below sets out the different phases of the brewing process. The most aromatic moment is the addition of the hops, around 16:00 hrs.

After much sweat and hard work, a fermentation is finally started in the “kuip”. A frothy layer of top yeast forms on the young beer. The beer now contains a variety of micro-organisms, each gracing the beer with its own particular taste and scent.
1 000 litres of beer will be run off into wooden barrels, 300 litres will be sent for analysis to Antwerp University. The beer will be tested in the university laboratory after a succession of fermenting and maturing periods.

 

Timetable

That craft brewing is “no small beer” is illustrated by the following brewing moments:

4 May

07.00h: Fill and fire wort boiler to 80°C 09.00h: Prepare mash of crushed malt flour and lukewarm water.
Malt flour = grain (usually barley) steeped in water, left to germinate in the cellar, then allowed to dry out in the loft. 12.00h: Run sweetened mash from mash tun to filter vat. 13.00h: Filter mash and transfer wort extract to brewing copper. 15.00h: Boil wort to obtain a sterile liquid. 16.00h: Add hops, keep wort mixture on the boil for 6 hours. Hops give beer its typical bitter taste and improve its storage life and clarity. 22.00h Second hopping for that nice ‘beery’ flavour.
Extinguish fire, allow hopped wort mixture to cool in copper. 24.00h Pump wort over to cooling tank.

5 May

10.00h: Filter wort mixture.
Add yeast.
Allow wort to ferment 48 to 72 hours; clarify beer.

Finishing, 6, 7 and 8 May

  • Flocculation (formation of a thick layer of foam on the wort).
  • The sinks after approximately 72 hours.
  • The beer is run off into barrels and allowed to mature.