Home « Forum « Author Hangout

Forum: Author Hangout

Check story details - very well - and a request

Ernest Bywater

I've almost got another story ready for posting, awaiting the final editor responses. It's set in the late 1850s. I did a lot of research on various aspects, as is my usual approach, but have made a last minute change because the back of my mind niggled at me to do more research on an aspect.

It's only a very minor point, but I had a saloon gambler with a cigarette lighter sitting at the table - you see it in a lot of movies. However, he mentions it used to be his father's. Now it is possible for him to have a cigarette lighter of some sort at that time, but they'd be a brand new invention and no way would it be a hand me down from his father - something the extra research made clear to me. Thus I had to change the device he had on the table for the minor scene.

What this did make clear to me was that the early research showed he could've had a cigarette lighter, it didn't make it clear it had to have been a brand new invention. This became clear in the later research. The issue arose because lighters were invented in 1823, but they were large table items about the size of a hurricane lamp, and the pocket sized ones were a few more decades before they appeared.

In some research for another story I intend to introduce something a reader has suggested I do, but I want to know all the details of how it was done way back when and can only get details on how it's been done for the last couple of hundred years, which is no good for the story. So, if anyone knows where I can find how they made beer back before the 1600s, please let me know where I can find that information. It needs to be how they made beer without boiling the mash at all.

Replies:   Chris Podhola  ustourist  Zom
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

I don't know if this will help you or not, but there is an entire culture centered around beer brewing. It is extremely popular in some sectors of the United States. While it is true that most of this culture focuses on the modern practices of brewing beer, the people who enjoy this pastime also get into the history of brewing beer. I haven't done too much research on this myself, but my suspicion is that this information shouldn't be that difficult to search on the internet.

ustourist

@Ernest Bywater

If you want to make life easier and still be accurate, consider mead instead of beer. the system hasn't changed in centuries because it doesn't need to.
Mead is just fermented honey (honey and water) and was a staple before water became safe to drink due to public supply systems.
The only thing to watch there is which country you are using as a location. Honeybees aren't native to the USA and were introduced after 1600 in the east and probably after 1800 in the west.
In Australia they weren't introduced until after 1800, but they were present in Europe, Africa and Asia as native species.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

As ustourist suggests, stick to what was popular back then. They've found sample of beer going back to the Egyptians who build the pyramids (I don't believe the Aztecs drank beer, as they favored chocolate).

For thousands of years, beer and Mead were a form of currency. You could pay people jack shit, as long as you supplies them with free beer. Every time the beer run in short supply, revolutions occurred and some royalty would get toppled.

Figure out what period you want, then research the ingredients found in archaeological samples. You won't get the brewing techniques right, mainly because most of it was forgotten once they developed better ones.

Zom

@Ernest Bywater

without boiling the mash at all

That is interesting. What leads you to believe that beer was ever made artificially without boiling?

If you are prepared to accept it, the article at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_beer
indicates that beer was brewed with boiling as far back as the 12th century, and probably earlier.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  tppm
Crumbly Writer

@Zom

If you are prepared to accept it, the article
indicates that beer was brewed with boiling as far back as the 12th century, and probably earlier.

I seem to recall that the Aztecs had a variation of Mead produced from something native to Mexico at the time, though I can't remember what it was.

Replies:   Dominions Son  tppm
Ernest Bywater

My issue with the beer is it's for a Chaos story and it would be prohibitive to have a large metal container for the boiling and I seriously doubt a wood one would last too long. I do know beer and mead have been around for thousands of years, from before metallurgy was about, so they had to have ways of doing it without boiling in a metal container of some sort. At the least, I suspect the old trick of rocks heated in a fire being dropped into the wooden vat would heat up the mixture, but wish to learn if there is something better and what is known about what they did do.

Replies:   Zom  docholladay  tppm
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

what is known about what they did do

You may find
http://www.stonepages.com/news/archives/000123.html
interesting. It seems fired earthenware pots may be the answer you are seeking.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I seem to recall that the Aztecs had a variation of Mead produced from something native to Mexico at the time, though I can't remember what it was.


Mead is made from honey. My understanding is that there are/were honey bees on every continent, so they very well could have a variation on mead that is in the end different in little more than name.

Replies:   ustourist
Dominions Son

@Zom

interesting. It seems fired earthenware pots may be the answer you are seeking.


https://books.google.com/books?id=UwgTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA286&lpg=PA286&dq=prehistoric+stone+bowls&source=bl&ots=2AmO-tnqxI&sig=by9IGk24d4qUKVfstJmE1Cshz6w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj069q_wp7JAhWFXD4KHS4DBUIQ6AEIMTAF#v=onepage&q=prehistoric%20stone%20bowls&f=false

carved stone bowls would also be a viable vessel for boiling water.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Dominions Son


carved stone bowls would also be a viable vessel for boiling water

In ancient times, yes. There is evidence of using same in ancient Egypt. But in medieval times, if you could use pots then stone would probably be inefficient in the extreme.

I guess it would depend on the state of technology in the Chaos world in question.

docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

My issue with the beer is it's for a Chaos story and it would be prohibitive to have a large metal container


I remember reading in at least one Chaos story about the harvesting and usage of clay. A large clay pot or other container could be used for brewing beer. It just has to be a container which will both hold liquids and be fire proof. Something like those large milk containers utilized by farmers for storing fresh milk could possibly work.

The limitations would be in how big a batch of beer you could make at any given time.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

I remember reading in at least one Chaos story about the harvesting and usage of clay.


Clay pottery is an option, however clay pottery does have a minor leak factor unless you can glaze it. It's an option I'm considering, but am looking for some definitive info to work out what's best.

In Shiloh they now make good glass and ceramics, so they can be an option for that area and expanded out from there. But I want to see more options before committing to something.

Thank you all for your input.

ustourist

@Dominions Son

My understanding is that there are/were honey bees on every continent,

There were honey bees in the American continent in prehistoric times, but they died out and only one fossil example has been found. Pollination was by other types of bees and insects, but honey bees were reintroduced just after 1600 to the Americas. There were no native honey bees in Australia or the Americas.
Both European and African bees were introduced to the south Americas, though the latter only more recently (in Brasil) and their movement north is why the Africanized or 'killer' bees are now in the US.
Native Americans didn't have access to honey before colonization.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Wheezer

I'm no expert on the details of the Chaos universe, but it is my understanding that iron is available. Good quality steel is what is lacking - and then only from lack of knowledge how to make it, not lack of raw material. I do not recall reading anything in official dogma that copper, tin, zinc or any alloys such as brass or bronze were unavailable. Since stew seems to be the most common tavern meal on Chaos, they obviously have some sort of large pots to cook it in sufficient quantities to feed the tavern guests and patrons. The problem of a pot to cook the mash in seems to be moot to me.

tppm

@Zom

If you are prepared to accept it, the article at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_beer
indicates that beer was brewed with boiling as far back as the 12th century, and probably earlier.


Did you leave off the "BCE" or is the article incomplete. The Sumerians brewed (and had a goddess of) beer. There's even speculation that the invention of beer led to the invention of bread, not the other way round.

Replies:   Zom
tppm

@Crumbly Writer

I seem to recall that the Aztecs had a variation of Mead produced from something native to Mexico at the time, though I can't remember what it was.


Fermented agave. When the Spanish discovered it they distilled it and invented Tequila.

tppm
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


I do know beer and mead have been around for thousands of years, from before metallurgy was about, so they had to have ways of doing it without boiling in a metal container of some sort.


Ceramic containers, i.e. clay pots, albeit three to five feet in diameter.

I'm not speculating here, archaeologists have found the vats in Mesopotamian and Egyptian digs.

Kid Wigger

@Wheezer

Native Americans did have access to maple sugar where maple trees grew. Maple sugar was a trade commodity. If they had sugar, at some point somebody must have discovered you can make alcohol from it.

tppm

Water (and other liquids) can be boiled in wicker baskets, which can be made water proof with the application of pitch or naphtha. The trick is to keep the water line above the fire line.

And the objection to ceramics because clay leaks is not valid. Yes, clay leaks, but the loss is insignificant, and less than many other alternatives. Remember liquids were stored in clay jars for millennia.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Wheezer

I'm no expert on the details of the Chaos universe, but it is my understanding that iron is available.


There is some iron, mostly bog iron, some copper, and some pewter - but all metal objects are very expensive because of the scarcity and the primary usage being for weapons.

Most food cooking is either over and open fire or in fired clay pots over an open fire, or in wood ovens made of clay and stone.

The inns and pubs mostly sell locally made (often made by them) wines because they can make them in wood vats and barrels. I know there are option like beer and mead, but I need to have enough details to make the story complete without having the innkeeper going bust to buy metal gear just for making a brew.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Wheezer
Ernest Bywater

@tppm

pitch or naphtha


Good ideas, except petroleum products are also in very short supply, but can be used in limited application. Many items we see as common resources, and have been through history, just aren't there on Chaos. That makes life difficult.

Replies:   tppm
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I know there are option like beer and mead, but I need to have enough details to make the story complete without having the innkeeper going bust to buy metal gear just for making a brew.


fired clay or carved stone vessels should work fine.

Wheezer

@Ernest Bywater

It's always struck me as odd that Chaos residents do not have metals in any quantity. Unless the planet is an artificial construct, it should have all metals, and iron in particular, in relative abundance. After all, planetary formation as we understand it, suggests that the planet will have a rocky crust over an iron core. It makes more sense to me to think that the scarcity of metals on Chaos has more to do with ignorance and lack of development of mining industry than lack of natural resources. Still, as has been shown, beer was brewed in clay containers for millennia.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Wheezer

Unless the planet is an artificial construct,


You should read the background information:

http://storiesonline.net/s/76905/damsels-in-distress-rules

Chaos is the result of many meteorite collisions which has then been terraformed.

Replies:   Wheezer
tppm

@Ernest Bywater

petroleum products are also in very short supply


That reduces the likelihood of naphtha, are trees also in short supply? Pitch is boiled tree sap.

Zom

@tppm

Did you leave off the "BCE" or is the article incomplete

Sorry. I don't understand the question. The article I linked refers to the production of beer well (very well) before the 12th century, but does not infer boiling until the 12th century. There almost certainly was, but all I was saying was what the article inferred, in respect of the timeframe in the original question. I didn't do a search for boiling evidence before that timeframe, even though it might be incidentally interesting.

Replies:   tppm
Wheezer

@Ernest Bywater

The planetary formation of Chaos is just like every other planet, so it should have the same distribution of natural elements. Since Lazlo has allowed Chaos to be described as being terraformed vs. naturally evolved, that would have to account for the scarcity. Ya know, that kinda contradicts some DiD stories that mention other life-forms such as dragons, fairies, unicorns, etc. Oh well, I'm not writing in the DiD universe, so it really isn't important to me. Lazlo has allowed people to do just about whatever they want. The Canon is not set in stone, by a long shot, but seems to evolve with every new writer that takes a stab at it.

tppm

@Zom

People were making beer (and stew, in fact some proto-humans made stew) in ancient Sumer and ancient Egypt. Beer is brewed, not just fermented barley and hops.

The 12th century CE would be the 1100s. A century after the Norman conquest of England, among other things. In fact, the 12th century BCE would be millennia after the discovery of boiling, and inventions to accomplish it.

Replies:   Zom
Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

Native Americans didn't have access to honey before colonization.

By "some alternative to mead", I didn't mean they used honey, but had some other agricultural product they made a sweeter alcoholic product from. Which is what you'd expect from a culture who's favorite beverage was chocolate. However, I recall reading that a long time ago, and no longer have any references to it.

Ah, good, I see tppm traced my rumor down for me. Agave.

Zom

@tppm

In fact, the 12th century BCE would be millennia after the discovery of boiling, and inventions to accomplish it.

I must be a really poor writer, or maybe I am trying too hard to be indirect, so here goes the direct approach.

Again - I know all that and agree with all that. There are a multitude of references that all say that. It is not news.

All I was saying is that *particular* article inferred boiling prior to the 12th century. The only reason I referenced it was because that was the technology period the question pertained too. If EB had asked about a technology period equivalent to Sumerian times, then maybe all this stuff about stone pots would be relevant. But it isn't, because he didn't.

Yep. That seems clear enough.

And BTW, the earliest 'beers' were simply collected from crushed grain plant stems where the fermentation had occurred naturally, if you want to go back that far, but I don't.

Back to Top