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Want to know how they used to brew IPA? Yeah, sure you do.

Old brewing manuals can be frustrating. For what they miss out. Often it's assumed that you already know how to brew standard stuff like Ales. So they don't bother describing the recipe or process. Where detailed instructions do appear, it's usually for new-fangled things. Like Pale Ale.

That's what we'll be looking at today. Instructions on how to brew the latest fad: India Pale Bitter Ale.


This beverage, so highly recommended by the Faculty for its digestive and invigorating properties, has become, from its extensive demand, a profitable branch of business.

Bitter Ale differs from other ale only in the quantity and proportion of material employed in its production; that prepared for the home market is, however, less bitter and spirituous than that which is prepared for exportation to India. The spirit of hop, which enters largely as a constituent in this beer, has ascribed to it several valuable qualities,—the following among others:—that it is cordial and warm, aperitive, digestive, diuretic, stomachic, and sudorific. It certainly acts as a tonic and anti-spasmodic; and its aromatic bitter restores the depraved appetite, corrects unwholesome nutriment, promotes digestion, and increases the nutritive virtue of all food united with it.

The malt employed should be of first-rate quality, of the lightest possible colour, and thoroughly dried. The hops of the palest growth; those known as the Farnhams, Golding's, or the very best East Kents, are to be preferred; about 18 lbs. per quarter of malt are needed for the home, and 23 lbs. for the foreign, market. Mash as for other ales, drawing a length of about three barrels per quarter for the home, and full that for the export, trade. It would be advantageous to steep the hops for nine hours in water of any temperature between 142° and 172°, when such a heat can be conveniently sustained, as the extract would be much improved thereby. Hops absorb a considerable quantity of raw wort, averaging a barrel to every 60 lbs. used. This wort they retain after the operation of mashing is closed, together with much of their original bitter: they may, therefore, be employed profitably in brewing porter next day, as the absence of aroma in the half-spent hops will not be so much missed in that beverage as in any other; and, in such a case, half or a third only of the usual quantity of new hops will suffice for the brewing. You should guard against leaving these partially-spent hops in the hop-back all night, or even more than four hours, before their bitter is extracted for future use; because within that period a partial decomposition sets in, by which the quality of the bitter is deteriorated in proportion to the time they are exposed to the air. It is best to boil them moderately in each of the after worts. The fermentation should be slow and gradual; and to secure this, the gyle must be pitched at a low heat—say, when the brewing waters are soft, at from 55° to 62° ; when hard, some degrees higher: but here is ample scope for judgment and experience, as temperature and season will severally call for their exercise. A portion of the yeast may be mixed with the wort as it flows into the tun, and other portions occasionally added afterwards. The heat of the gyle should not be suffered to increase more than 3° or 4°, during the first fifty hours, by which time the saccharometer should indicate a diminished gravity, of some 8 lbs. or 9 lbs. As soon as the saccharometer indicates a 7-lb. gravity in the gyle, and the temperature stands about 66°, a third or more of the yeasty head may be removed ; another portion when the gravity is reduced to 5 lbs.; and when reduced to 4 lbs. gravity, it may be skimmed close; repeating the operation whenever the light head thickens. It should then be allowed to cool and clarify for two or three days, at the end of which it will be found fit for vatting. If racked into store casks, 2 lbs. of the best and fullest flavoured hops per barrel should be added, and the casks rolled over every day, that the liquor may impregnate the hops, and extract their flavour. Cane vents may be used with advantage, after fermentation is partially complete.
"The brewer: a familier treatise on the art of brewing" by William Loftus, 1856, pages 59-61.
Let's explain those numbers. 18 lbs of hops per quarter a 3 barrels per quarter is 6 lbs a barrel. Or a load. Assuming a yield of 80 brewers pounds per quarter, that would give a gravity of about 1074, which seems rather on the high side. The finishing gravity of 4 lbs per barrel is about 1011. Or around 85% apparent attenuation, which does seem more like it. Early Pale Ales had a very high degree of attenuation.

The range of pitching temperatures suggested, 55 to 62º F, is pretty wide. A few years later, in 1866, Whitbread's PA was pitched at 58º F, or just about bang in the middle.

Great care in was taken to fully ferment out the beer before racking. But that dry hopping. That's just crazy, man. Two pounds per barrel. One pound is the most I've seen in brewing records. Though many logs don't record the dry-hopping so my sample size is smaller than usual. In 1900, Barclay Perkins used 0.75 lbs of dry hops in their PA, half a pound in the their weaker Bitter, XLK.