The Country Housewife, by Richard Bradley


This Month all sorts of Pond-fish are in Season; viz. the Jack, the Carp, the Tench, the Perch, and the Eel; but it must be noted, that both the Males and Females of every kind of Fish are in their greatest Perfection before the Spawning-time, and they are sick and unwholesome for three Weeks after Spawning. The Eel, indeed, has not yet been known to lay any Spawn, but is likely to be Viviparous, as I have mention’d in the Month of January. The Jack, or Pike, this Month runs, as the Sportsmen call it; that is, they retire into the Ditches, if there are any in their way, and feed upon Frogs; or else, in warm Days, lie upon the top of the Waters, and are easily taken by Snares: However, they are this Month full row’d, and are then in their greatest Strength, and in the best condition for the Table. We judge those are the best which are broad-back’d, and deep Fish; for those that are long and slender, have not their Flesh firm, which is reckon’d the Perfection of a Fish. The way of preparing this Fish in the best manner, in my Opinion, if it is large, is to roast it according to the following Receipt, which I had from Mr. John Hughs, an excellent Cook in London.

When a Jack or Pike is discharged of its Scales and Entrails, and well clean’d, prepare a Mixture in the following Manner, to be sew’d up in the Belly of the Fish: Take of grated Bread about one third part, the Rivet, or Liver of the Fish cut small, with Oysters chopped, or the Flesh of Eels cut small; mix these with three or four Eggs butter’d in a Sauce-pan, to which add Pepper and Salt with some dry’d Sweet Marjoram well pouder’d, or such other Sweet-herbs as are most grateful to the Palate, an Anchovy shred small, and fill the Belly of the Fish with the Preparation, and sew it up. When this is done, cut two small Laths of Willow, or any other Wood, except Deal, or such as has a Turpentine Juice in it, of the length of the Fish, and lay the Fish upon the Spit, with the two Laths upon the Fish, and bind them together with a Fillet of Linnen, about an Inch wide, which must be wrapp’d round them in a Screw-like manner, and then laid down to the Fire, and basted very well with Butter, and drudged with Crumbs of Bread, and the same sort of Sweet-herbs that were used in the Mixture abovemention’d. Where you have not the conveniency of Oysters, or Eels, to compose the aforemention’d Mixture, you may add a larger quantity of butter’d Eggs. Where there is the conveniency of an Oven, we may bake such a Fish with less trouble than roasting it; and in that case rub the outside with the Yolk of an Egg, and roll it in some of the Mixture abovemention’d, the Anchovy and butter’d Eggs excepted, putting some Vinegar and Butter in the Pan. The Sauce to this Fish is Butter melted, a little White-wine, and mix’d with a third part of season’d Beef Gravy, with a Spoonful or two of Mushroom Ketchup, and an Anchovy or two dissolved.

The smaller Sort of these Fish, i.e. such as are about a Foot long, are most commonly boiled, but they will do well baked, as above directed. The same Sauce may be used with the boil’d Fish; or instead of Beef Gravy, may be used the Mushroom Gravy, as directed in this Work, which will have a much finer Relish than the Beef Gravy.

In this Month likewise, the Carp is fit for the Table, and is commonly much admir’d, if it be well stew’d; otherwise I think it makes but an indifferent Dish, being a Fish full of Cross-bones. The Head is accounted much the best part of the Fish, and is therefore presented as a Compliment to the greatest Stranger at the Table. The Carp, as it is a Fish which thrives best in black, deep, standing Waters, is therefore commonly given to taste of the Mud; but to cure this, those Carps you intend for the Table should be put into a clear Water for a Week before you use them, that they may purge themselves. You may keep two Brace of large Carps well enough in a two-dozen Hamper, plung’d into any part of a River where there is a clear Stream, or Trench that is fed by a Spring, and they will become of an extraordinary sweet Taste. And so we may do with Tench and Eels, when we catch them in foul feeding Waters. When your Fish are thus purify’d, dress your Carps after the following manner:

To Stew Carps or Tench.

Take a Brace of live Carp, scale them, gut and wash them, and bleed them in the Tails, so that the Blood be not lost; for according to all the Receipts for stewing this kind of Fish, the Blood, however small the Quantity is of it, must make part of the Sauce: Lay these in a Stew–Pan with the Blood, a Pint of Beef–Gravy, a Pint of Claret, a large Onion stuck with Cloves, three large Anchovies, a Stick of Horse-radish sliced, the Peel of half a large Lemon, Pepper and Salt at pleasure, a Bunch of Sweet-herbs, two or three Spoonfuls of Vinegar. This Liquor should nearly cover the Carps; so that if the Gravy and Claret, mention’d above, be not sufficient, add equal quantities of each till you have enough; cover this close, and set the Stew-pan over a gentle Fire, till the lower-side of the Fish are stew’d enough; then turn them, and keep them stewing as before, close cover’d, till they are enough; after which, lay them in a Dish upon Sippets of fry’d Bread, and strain off the Sauce to be thicken’d and brown’d with burnt Butter. This must be poured over the Fish, and the Dish garnish’d with the Row or Milt, Barberries, and Lemons sliced.

The same Method is also used for stewing of large Roach, Dace, and Chubb; but a Tench stew’d this way, is much better than a Carp, The Back of this Fish, and the Head, are the Pieces which are most in esteem.

It is worth our remark, that when we find our Tench cover’d with black Scales, they Will always taste muddy, which is the fault of the River–Tench about Cambridge; but where we find Tench of a golden Colour, we are sure of good Fish, that will eat sweet without the trouble of putting ’em into clear Water to purify.

As there is some trouble in the dressing of this Fish, they may be stew’d the Night before they are to be eaten, and will keep very well; and half an hour before they are to be serv’d up, set them over the Fire to be thoroughly hot, and then brown their Sauce as before directed.

It is to be observ’d, that to bake these Fish with the above Ingredients is as good a Way as the stewing them. It is likewise necessary to observe, that all Fish which will keep a long time alive out of Water, will sicken, and their Flesh become unfirm by lying in the Air; therefore, if Fish are to be sent a Day’s Journey, or kept a Day before they are used, kill them as soon as they are taken out of the Water, and the Flesh will be firm.

I shall add one thing more concerning the boiling of Fish, which was communicated to me by a very ingenious Gentleman, who has made Fishing his Study for many Years: He says, that the Goodness of boil’d Fish consists chiefly in the Firmness of the Flesh; and in the next place, that the Flesh parts easily from the Bone; to do which, he directs to kill the Fish immediately after they are taken out of the Water; and when you design to boil ’em, put a large handful of Salt into about two or three quarts of Water, and so in proportion: Put in the Fish while the Water is cold; then set them over the Fire, and make them boil as quick as possible, without any Cover over the Pan. This is approved to do very well. This Receipt is particularly good for boiling of Flounders. His Receipt for Sauce for boil’d Fish, is the following.

Sauce for boil’d Fish.

Take Beef–Gravy, an Onion, a little White-wine, some Horse-radish sliced, Lemon-peel, an Anchovy, a Bunch of Sweet-herbs, boil them well together, and strain off the Liquor, then put a Spoonful of Mushroom Ketchup to it, and thicken it with Butter mix’d with Flower: or for Fast-days the Gravy may be omitted, and in the place of it put Mushroom–Gravy, or a larger quantity of Mushroom–Ketchup, or some of the Fish–Gravy mention’d in February, which is good to put in Sauce for any sort of Fish.

As this is the Month when Eels begin to be good, I shall give two or three Receipts for the Dressing of them in the best manner: The first for Roasting of Eels, or Pitchcotting them, I had from the Crown at Basingstoke some Years ago; and that for Collaring of Eels, from Mr. John Hughs, a celebrated Cook in London. But I shall first observe, that the Silver Eel is counted the best; and that all such as lie and feed in clear Streams, may be used without purging them, as I have directed above; but all Pond Eels must be put into clear Waters for a Week, at least, before they are used, if you would have them in perfection. And now to the Receipts.

To Roast or Broil an Eel, from the Crown at Basingstoke, An. 1718.

Take a large Eel, rub the Skin well with Salt, then gut it and wash it well; cut off the Head and skin it, laying by the Skin in Water and Salt; then lay your Eel in a clean Dish, and pour out about a Pint of Vinegar upon it, letting it remain in the Vinegar near an hour; then withdraw your Eel from the Vinegar, and make several Incisions at proper distances in the Flesh of the Back and Sides, which Spaces must be fill’d with the following Mixture:

Take grated Bread, the Yolks of two or three hard Eggs, one Anchovy minced small, some Sweet–Marjoram dry’d and pouder’d; or for want of that, some Green Marjoram shred small: to this add Pepper, Salt, a little Pouder of Cloves, or Jamaica Pepper, and a little fresh Butter, to be beat all together in a Stone Mortar, till it becomes like a Paste; with which Mixture fill all the Incisions that you cut in the Eel, and draw the Skin over it: then tie the end of the Skin next the Head, and prick it with a Fork in several Places; then tie it to a Spit to roast, or lay it upon a Grid-iron to broil, without basting. The Sauce for this is Butter, Anchovy, a little Pepper, and Lemon-juice.

To Pitchcot Eels.

Take a large Eel, clean well with Salt and Water both the Skin and the Inside, then pull off the Skin, and prepare the following Mixture of Bread grated, Sweet-herbs pouder’d, or minced small, such as Sweet-marjoram, Sage, and some Pepper and Salt; then rub your Eel with Yolks of Eggs, and after that, roll it in the Mixture, then draw the Skin over it, and cut your Eel in several pieces about three Inches in length, dipping them again in Yolks of Eggs, and after that, in the above Mixture: then lay them on the Gridiron, and when they are enough, serve them to the Table, with the Sauce prescribed for the roasted Eels, abovemention’d.

To Collar Eels, from Mr. John Hughs, a famous Cook in London.

Take a large Eel, and scour the Skin and the Inside very well with Salt, cut off the Head, and split it down the Back, then lay it abroad upon your Dresser, and season it well with Spice, Salt, and a good quantity of Red Sage minced small: mix these well, and sprinkle the Mixture thick upon your Eel, then roll it up, and tye it close in a thin Cloth at each end, and in the middle; boil it then in a strong Pickle of Vinegar, Water, Salt, some Spice, and a Bay-leaf or two; and when it is boiled enough, take out the Eel, and let it stand till it is quite cold, and when the Pickle is cold likewise, pour the Pickle into a glazed Earthen–Pan, and put your Eel into it to keep for Use; this will remain good several Weeks, if it is kept close cover’d. When the Eel is quite cold, take off the Cloth.

The Eel is also good in Pyes, fry’d and boil’d, which every one knows how to prepare.

About the end of this Month, the Trout begins to come in Season; for before this time, its Body is cover’d with little Insects, which is a Demonstration of its being sick and unwholesome. The best way of eating this Fish is to boil it, and serve it with Butter and an Anchovy for Sauce; as is commonly practis’d about Hungerford, Spenham–Land, and other noted Places for Trout.

If the Season is now mild, about the end of the Month the Sap in the Birch–Tree will begin to be very fluent. And so in the Choice of Fish to be seasonable, we must have regard to the Temper of the Air; for if the Air be mild and gentle, sooner or later all parts of the Creation are govern’d by it: but when I direct for this Month or another any thing to be done, I suppose the Temper of the Air to be what it is for the generality; but the Birch–Tree Sap we will suppose begins now to flow, and then we are to take the opportunity of making Wine of it. The best Receipt I have met with for making this Wine, is the following.

To make Birch–Wine. From Lady W.

When the Sap of the Birch–Tree will run, cut a large Notch in the Bark of the Trunk of the Tree, in such a place as one may conveniently place a Vessel to receive the Sap; which Will flow at the Incision very plentifully, without doing any harm to the Tree. If the Trees are pretty large, you may expect about a Gallon of Liquor from each of them, which must be order’d in the following manner. Take five Gallons of the Liquor, to which put five Pounds of Powder–Sugar, and two Pounds of Raisins of the Sun stoned; to this, put the Peel of one large Lemon, and about forty large fresh Cloves: boil all these together, taking off the Scum carefully as it rises; then pour it off into some Vessel to cool, and as soon as it is cool enough to put Yeast to it, work it as you would do Ale for two days, and then tunn it, taking care not to stop the Vessel till it has done Working, and in a Month’s time it will be ready to bottle. This is not only a very Pleasant, but a very Wholesome Wine.

This Month is esteemed one of the principal Seasons for brewing of Malt Liquors for long keeping; the Reason is, because the Air at this time of the Year is temperate, and contributes to the good Working or Fermenting the Drink, which chiefly promotes its Preservation and good Keeping: for very cold Weather prevents the free Fermentation or Working of Liquors, as well as very hot Weather; so that if we brew in very cold Weather, unless we use some Means to warm the Cellar while new Drink is Working, it will never clear itself as it ought to do; and the same Misfortune will it lie under, if in very hot Weather the Cellar is not put in a temperate state, the Consequence of which will be, that such Drink will be Muddy and Sour, and, perhaps, never recover; or if it does, perhaps not under two or three Years. Again, such Misfortunes are often owing to the badness of the Cellars; for where they are dug in springy Ground, or are subject to Wet in the Winter, then the Drink will chill, and grow flat and dead. But where Cellars are of this sort, it is adviseable to make your great Brewings in this Month rather than in October; for you may keep such Cellars temperate in Summer, but cannot warm them in Winter, and so your Drink brew’d in March will have due time to settle and adjust itself before the Cold can do it any great harm. It is adviseable likewise to build your Cellars for keeping of Drink, after such a manner, that none of the external Air may come into them; for the variation of the Air abroad, was there free admission of it into the Cellars, would cause as many Alterations in the Liquors, and so would keep them perpetually disturb’d and unfit for drinking. I know some curious Gentlemen in these things, that keep double Doors to their Cellars, on purpose that none of the outward Air may get into them, and they have good reason to boast of their Malt–Liquors. The meaning of the double Doors, is to keep one shut while the other is open, that the outward Air may be excluded; such Cellars, if they lie dry, as they ought to do, are said to be cool in Summer, and warm in Winter, tho’ in reality, they are constantly the same in point of Temper: they seem indeed cool in hot Weather, but that is because we come into them from an hotter abroad; and so they seem to us warm in Winter, because we come out of a colder Air to them; so that they are only cold or warm comparatively, as the Air we come out of is hotter or colder. This is the Cafe, and a Cellar should be thus dispos’d if we expect to have good Drink. As for the Brewing Part itself, I shall leave that to the Brewers in the several Counties in England, who have most of them different Manners even of Brewing honestly. What I shall chiefly touch upon, besides what I shall speak of Cellaring, will relate to Water, Malt, Hops, and the keeping Liquors.

The best Water, to speak in general, is River Water, such as is soft, and has partook of the Air and Sun; for this easily insinuates itself into the Malt, and extracts its Virtue; whereas the hard Waters astringe and bind the Parts of the Malt, so that its Virtue is not freely communicated to the Liquor. It is a Rule with a Friend of mine, that all Water which will mix with Soap is fit for Brewing, and he will by no means allow of any other; and I have more than once experienc’d, that where the same Quantity of Malt has been used to a Barrel of River Water, and the same to a Barrel of Spring Water, the River Water Brewing has excell’d the other in Strength above five degrees in twelve Months, as I prov’d by a small Glass–Tube with a Seal, and was much preferable to the Taste, I must observe too, that the Malt was not only in Quantity the same for one Barrel as for another, but was the same in Quality, having been all measur’d from the same Heap; so also the Hops were the same both in Quality and Quantity, and the Time of boiling, and both work’d in the same manner, and tunn’d and kept in the same Cellar. Here it was plain that there was no difference but the Water, and yet one Barrel was worth two of the other.

There is one thing which has long puzzled the best Brewers, which I shall here endeavour to explain; and that is, where several Gentlemen in the same Town have employ’d the same Brewer, have had the same Malt, the same Hops, and the same Water too, and brew’d all in the same Month, and broach’d their Drink at the same time; and yet one has had Beer which has been extremely fine, strong, and well tasted, while the others have hardly had any worth drinking. I conjecture there may be three Reasons for this difference: One may be the different Weather which might happen at the different Brewings in this Month, which might make an Alteration in the Working of the Liquors: Or, secondly, that the Yeast or Barm might be of different sorts, or in different states, wherewith these Liquors were Work’d: And, thirdly, that the Cellars were not equally good: for I am very sensible, the goodness of such Drink, as is brew’d for keeping, depends upon the goodness of the Cellars where it is kept; for at a Gentleman’s of my Acquaintance, who for many Years has used the same Brewer, and the same Method, his Beer is always of the same Taste, his Cellars, or Vaults, are very dry, and have two or three Doors to them.

The Dorchester Beer, which is esteem’d preferable to most of the Malt–Liquor in England, is for the most part brew’d of chalky Water, which is almost every where in that County; and as the Soil is generally Chalk there, I am of opinion, that the Cellars being dug in that dry Soil contributes to the good keeping of their Drink, it being of a close texture, and of a drying quality, so as to dissipate Damps; for damp Cellars, we find by experience, are injurious to keeping Liquors, as well as destructive to the Casks. The Malt of this Country is of a pale Colour; and the best Drink of this County that I have met with to be sold, is at a small House against the Church at Blackwater, four Miles beyond Dorchester, in the Road to Bridport, in Dorsetshire; they broach no Beer till it is a Year old, and has had time to mellow. But there must be such Cellars as I speak of, which inclose a temperate Air, to ripen Drink in; the constant temperate Air digests and softens these Malt Liquors, so that they drink smooth as Oil; but in the Cellars which are unequal, by letting in Heats and Colds, the Drink is subject to grow stale and sharp: For this reason it is, that Drink, which is brew’d for a long Voyage at Sea, should be perfectly ripe and fine before it is exported, for when it has had sufficient time to digest in the Cask, and is rack’d from the Bottom or Lee, it will bear carriage without injury. It is farther to be noted, that in proportion to the quantity of Liquor, which is enclosed in one Cask, so will it be a longer or a shorter time in ripening. A Vessel which will contain two Hogsheads of Beer, will require twice as much time to perfect itself as one of a Hogshead; and from my experience I find there should be no Vessel used for strong Beer, which we design to keep, less than a Hogshead: for one of that quantity, if it be fit to draw in a Year, has Body enough to support it two, or three, or four Years, if it has strength of Malt and Hops in it, as the Dorseshire Beer has; and this will bear the Sea very well, as we find every day.

There is one thing more to be consider’d in the preservation of Beer; and that is, when once the Vessel is broach’d, we ought to have regard to the time in which it will be expended: for if there happens to be a quick Draught for it, then it will last good to the very bottom; but if there is likely to be a slow draught, then do not draw off quite half, before you bottle it, or else your Beer will grow flat, dead, or sour. This is observed very much among the Curious.

One great piece of Oeconomy is the good management of Small Beer; for if that is not good, the Drinkers of it will be feeble in Summer-time, and incapable of strong Work, and will be very subject to Distempers; and besides, when Drink is not good, a great deal will be thrown away. The use of Drink, as well as Meat, is to nourish the Body; and the more Labour there is upon any one, the more substantial should be the Dyet. In the time of Harvest I have often seen the bad Effects of bad Small Beer among the Workmen; and in great Families, where that Article has not been taken care of, the Apothecaries Bills have amounted to twice as much more as the Malt would have come to, that would have kept the Servants in strength and good health; besides one thing more, which I observed above, good wholesome Drink is seldom flung away by Servants, so that the sparing of a little Malt ends in loss to the Master. Where there is good Cellaring, therefore, it is adviseable to brew a flock of Small Beer, either in this Month or October, or in both Months, and to be kept in Hogsheads, if possible: The Beer brew’d in March to begin drawing in October, and that brew’d in October to begin in March, for Summer drinking; having this regard to the quantity, that a Family of the same number of working Persons, will drink a third more in Summer than in Winter,

If Water happens to be of a hard nature, it may be softened by setting it exposed to the Air and Sun, and putting into it some Pieces of soft Chalk to infuse; or else when the Water is set on to boil, for pouring upon the Malt, put into it a quantity of Bran, which will help a little to soften it.

I shall now mention two or three Particulars relating to Malt, which may help those who are unacquainted with brewing: In the first place, the general Distinctions, between one Malt and another, is only that one is high dried, the other low dried; that which we call high dried, will, by brewing, produce a Liquor of a brown, deep Colour; and the other, which is the low dried, will give us a Liquor of a pale Colour. The first is dried in such a manner, as may be said rather to be scorch’d than dried, and will promote the Gravel and Stone, and is much less nourishing than the low dried, or pale Malt, as they call it; for all Corn in the most simple way is the most feeding to the Body. I have experienc’d too, that the brown Malt, even tho’ it be well brewed, will sooner turn sharp than the pale Malt, if that be fairly brewed. I am told, that a Gentleman in Northamptonshire has dried Malt upon the Leads of a House, and has made very good Drink of it: And the Method of drying Malt by hot Air, which was once proposed to the Publick, will do very well for a small quantity, but ’tis much too tedious to be ever rendered profitable; however, any means that can be used to dry Malt without parching of it, will certainly contribute to the goodness of the Malt. At the Greyhound at Marlborough I have drank of the palest-colour’d Ale I ever saw, and the best tasted, and the strongest that I have met with. In that place they dry their Malt very tenderly, and brew with chalky Water, and their Cellars are dug in Chalk: So at the Crown at Hockrell near Bishop–Starford in Hertfordshire, is excellent Beer of a pale Colour, strong, and well tasted; there the Malt is tenderly dried and the Soil chalky: likewise at Nottingham and Derby they brew with pale Malt, chalky Water, and their Cellars are dug in Chalk.

These Places are noted for the Goodness of their Ale all over England, insomuch that it has been computed, that there has been above two Hundred Thousand Pounds worth of Ale sold in and about London, under the Denomination of Nottingham, Derby, Dorchester, &c. in one Year’s time: but it is not in London that we must expect to taste these Liquors in perfection; for it is rare to find any of them there without being adulterated, or else such Liquors are sold for them as are unskilful Imitations of them; and I may add, are unwholesome into the bargain. While I am writing this, a Gentleman of good Judgment in this Affair informs me, that the Brown Malt he finds makes the best Drink, when it is brew’d with a coarse River Water, such as that of the River Thames about London; and that likewise being brew’d with such Water, it makes very good Ale: but that it will not keep above six Months, without turning stale, and a little sharp, even tho’ he allows fourteen Bushels to the Hogshead. He adds, that he has try’d the high-dry’d Malt to brew Beer with for keeping, and hopp’d it accordingly; and yet he could never brew it so as to drink soft and mellow, like that brew’d with Pale Malt. There is an acid Quality in the high-dry’d Malt, which occasions that Distemper commonly called the Heart-burn, in those that drink of the Ale or Beer made of it. When I mention Malt, in what I have already said above, I mean only Malt made of Barley; for Wheat-malt, Pea-malt, or these mix’d with Barley-malt, tho’ they produce a high-colour’d Liquor, will keep many Years, and drink soft and smooth; but then they have the Mum–Flavour. I have known some People, who used brewing with high dry’d Barley-malt, to put a Bag, containing about three Pints of Wheat, into every Hogshead of Drink, and that has fined it, and made it to drink mellow: others I have seen put about three Pints of Wheat-malt into a Hogshead, which has produced the same Effect. But all Malt–Liquors, however they may be well-brew’d, may be spoiled by bad Cellaring, and be now and then subject to ferment in the Cask, and consequently turn thick and sour. The best way to help this, and bring the Drink to it self is to open the Bung of the Cask for two or three Days, and if that does not stop the Fermentation, then put about two or three Pounds of Oyster-shells wash’d and dry’d well in an Oven, and then beaten to fine Pouder, and stirring it a little, it will presently settle the Drink, make it fine, and take off the sharp Taste of it; and as soon as that is done, draw it off into another Vessel, and put a small Bag of Wheat or Wheat-malt into it, as above directed, or in proportion, as the Vessel is larger or smaller.

Sometimes such Fermentations will happen in Drink, by change of Weather, if it is in a bad Cellar, and it will in a few Months fall fine of it self, and grow mellow.

It is remarkable, that high-dry’d Malt should not be used in Brewing till it has been ground ten Days, or a Fortnight, it yields much stronger Drink than the same quantity of Malt fresh ground; but if you design to keep Malt some time ground before you use it, you must take care to keep it very dry, and the Air at that time should likewise be dry. And as for Pale Malt, which has not partaken so much of the Fire, it must not remain ground above a Week before you use it.

As for Hops, the newest are much the best, tho’ they will remain very good two Years; but after that, they begin to decay, and lose their good Flavour unless great Quantities have been kept together; for in that case they Will keep much longer good than in small Quantities. These, for their better preservation, should be kept in a very dry Place, tho’ the Dealers in them rather chuse such Places as are moderately between moist and dry, that they may not lose of their Weight. I cannot help taking notice here of a Method which was used to some stale and decay’d Hops the last Year 1725, to make them recover their Bitterness; which was to unbag them, and sprinkle them with Aloes and Water, which, together with the badness of the Malt of the same Year’s growth, spoil’d great quantities of Drink about London; for even where the Water, the Malt, and the Brewer, and Cellars are good, a bad Hop will spoil all: So that every one of these Particulars should be well-chosen before the Brewing is set about, or else we must expect but a bad Account of our Labour. And so likewise the Yeast or Barm that you work your Drink with, must be well consider’d, or a good Brewing may be spoil’d by that alone; and be sure that be always provided before you begin Brewing, for your Wort will not stay for it.

In some remote Places from Towns it is practised to dip Whisks into Yeast, and beat it well, and so hang up the Whisks with the Yeast in them to dry; and if there is no Brewing till two Months afterwards, the beating and stirring one of these Whisks in New Wort, will raise a Working or Fermentation in it. It is a Rule that all Drink should be work’d well in the Tun, or Keel, before it be put in the Vessel, for else it will not easily grow fine. Some follow the Rule of beating down the Yeast pretty often while it is in the Tun, and keep it there working for two or three Days, observing to put it in the Vessel just when the Yeast begins to fall. This Drink is commonly very fine; whereas that, which is put into the Vessel quickly after ’tis brew’d, will not be fine in many Months.

We may yet observe, that with relation to the Season for brewing of Drink for keeping, if the Cellars are subject to the Heat of the Sun, or warm Summer Air, it is best to brew in October, that the Drink may have time to digest before the warm Season comes on: And if Cellars are inclinable to Damps, and to receive Water, the best time is to brew in March, and I know some experienced Brewers, who always chuse the brewing of Pale Malt in March, and the Brown in October; for they guess that the Pale Malt, being made with a lesser degree of Fire than the other, wants the Summer Season to ripen in; and so on the contrary, the Brown having had a larger share of the Fire to dry it, is more capable of defending itself against the Cold of the Winter–Season. But how far these Reasons may be just, I shall not pretend to determine; but in such a Work as this, nothing should be omitted that may contribute to give the least Hint towards meliorating so valuable a Manufacture; the Artists in the Brewing Way are at liberty to judge as they please.

But when we have been careful in all the above Particulars, if the Casks are not in good order, still the Brewing may be spoil’d. New Casks are apt to give Drink an ill Taste, if they are not well scalded and season’d several days successively, before they are put in use; and for old Casks, if they stand any time out of use, they are apt to grow musty: unslack’d Lime, about a Gallon to a Hogshead, with about six Gallons of Water put in with it, and the Hogshead presently stopp’d up, will clear it of its Taint, if the same be repeated four or five times; or burning of Linnen dipp’d in Brimstone, to be close stopped in a Cask, three or four times repeated, will do the same: or else put Water in your Vessels, and throw in some burning Coals, and stop them close, will do the like, if it be often repeated.

I have now but little more to say about the Management of Drink, and that is concerning the Bottling of it. The Bottles first must be well clean’d and dry’d; for wet Bottles will make the Drink turn mouldy, or motherry, as they call it; and by wet Bottles, many Vessels of good Drink are spoiled: but if the Bottles are clean and dry, yet if the Corks are not new and found, the Drink is still liable to be damaged; for if the Air can get into the Bottles, the Drink will grow flat, and will never rise. I have known many who have flatter’d themselves that they knew how to be saving, and have used old Corks on this occasion, that have spoiled as much Liquor as has stood them in four or five Pounds, only for want of laying out three or four Shillings. If Bottles are cork’d as they should be, it is hard to pull out the Corks without a Screw, and to be sure to draw the Cork without breaking, the Screw ought to go through the Cork, and then the Air must necessarily find a Passage where the Screw has pass’d, and therefore the Cork is good for nothing; or if a Cork has once been in a Bottle, and has been drawn without a Screw, yet that Cork will turn musty as soon as it is exposed to the Air, and will communicate its ill Flavour to the Bottle where it is next put, and spoil the Drink that way.

In the choice of Corks, chuse those that are soft, and clear from Specks, and lay them in Water a day or two before you use them; but let them dry again before you put them in the Bottles, lest they should happen to turn mouldy: with this care you may make good Drink, and preserve it to answer your expectation.

In the bottling of Drink, you may also observe, that the top and middle of the Hogshead is the strongest, and will sooner rise in the Bottles than the bottom: And when once you begin to bottle a Vessel of any Liquor, be sure not to leave it till all is complcated, for else you will have some of one Taste, and some of another.

If you find that a Vessel of Drink begins to grow flat, whilst it is in common draught, bottle it, and into every Bottle put a piece of Loaf–Sugar, about the quantity of a Walnut, which will make the Drink rise and come to itself: and to forward its ripening, you may set some Bottles in Hay in a warm Place; but Straw will not assist its ripening.

Where there are not good Cellars, I have known Holes sunk in the Ground, and large Oil Jars put into them, and the Earth filled close about the sides: One of these Jars may hold about a dozen quart Bottles, and will keep the Drink very well; but the tops of the Jars must be kept close cover’d up. And in Winter time, when the Weather is frosty, shut up all the Lights or Windows into such Cellars, and cover them close with fresh Horse–Dung, or Horse–Litter; but ’tis much better to have no Lights or Windows at all to any Cellar, for the reasons I have given above.

If there has been opportunity of brewing a good stock of Small Beer in March and October, some of it may be bottled at six Months end, putting into every Bottle a lump of Loaf–Sugar as big as a Walnut; this especially will be very refreshing Drink in the Summer: Or if you happen to brew in Summer, and are desirous of brisk Small Beer, bottle it, as above, as soon as it has done working.

Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 22:17