With my focus on 18th Century brewing, don’t generally brew extract beers any more but this was the proverbial deal I could not refuse — FREE MALT. You see there was this guy who was cleaning out his homebrew supplies. I learned about him because I was in the market for an old fashion alcohol thermometer (yes the fancy electronic ones are better but…). He was cleaning out and he offered to GIVE me an old carboy of dark UK Malt (with the import seals intact). This stuff was old but I thought, what’s the downside, its free.

I had some old keggles (converted kegs into brew kettles) that had been sitting around for several years and this month I decided they could be the kernel for our new commercial enterprise — BATTLEFIELD BREWING. Of course the reason these have been in storage is that they are top heavy and big (15.5 gallons) and I really did not have a way to safely use them until now. I converted some metal tubing I had been using to build my Sukkah into brew stands and began making these ready to used. In essence, I have been battling with kegs all week. Today they were finished and I am testing them with this old malt. We’ll see how everything works.

This is a one off beer. I will never repeat it but I have 3 kegs and they will only be served at Fort Mifflin.

Recipe Specs

Batch Size (G): 15.0
Total Grain (lb): 33.000
Total Hops (oz): 8.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.097 (°P): 23.1
Final Gravity (FG): 1.019 (°P): 4.8
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 10.19 %
Colour (SRM): 24.8 (EBC): 48.9
Bitterness (IBU): 46.9 (Tinseth)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Boil Time (Minutes): 60

Grain Bill

30.000 lb Dry Malt Extract – Dark (90.91%)
3.000 lb Corn Sugar – Dextrose (9.09%)

Hop Bill

2.00 oz Centennial Pellet (10% Alpha) @ 90 Minutes (Boil) (0.1 oz/Gal)
2.00 oz Centennial Pellet (10% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (Boil) (0.1 oz/Gal)
2.00 oz Centennial Pellet (10% Alpha) @ 30 Minutes (Boil) (0.1 oz/Gal)
2.00 oz Centennial Pellet (10% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Boil) (0.1 oz/Gal)

Fermented at 68°F with American Whiskey Malt

The Battle of the Kegs

Early in January, 1778, David Bushnell, the inventor of the American Torpedo, and other submarine machinery, prepared a number of “infernals,” as the British termed them, and set them afloat in the Delaware River, a few miles above Philadelphia, in order to annoy the royal shipping, which at that time lay off that place at the port of Philadelphia. These machines were constructed of kegs, charged with powder, and so arranged as to explode on coming in contact with any thing while floating along with the tide. It was hoped that they would contact British warships along the riverfront and explode as river mines. As the floating mines moved downriver, however, few of them contacted the ships of the British navy. The British had hauled their ships into positions that protected them from floating river ice, and as a result of this precaution the ships also avoided the exploding kegs. The operation did not achieve strategic results, and the British fleet was little damaged. One of the kegs sank a small British barge, killing four sailors and wounding an unknown number. The sudden explosion alerted the British to the point that soldiers flocked the wharves and were ordered to shoot at any piece of wood in the water.

The ensuing emotional scene did lift the spirits of the people of occupied Philadelphia who flocked to the riverfront to observe teh spectacle. Various poems and ballad were sung sarcastically praising the “courage” of the British occupation force.


GALLANTS attend, and hear a friend,
Trill forth harmonious ditty,
Strange things I'll tell, which late befell,
In Philadelphia city.
'Twas early day, as poets say,
Just when the sun was rising,
A soldier stood, on a log of wood,
And saw a thing surprising.
As in amaze he stood to gaze,
The truth can't be denied, sir,
He spied a score of kegs or more,
Come floating down the tide sir.
A sailor, too, in jerkin blue,
This strange appearance viewing,
First damn'd his eyes, in great surprise,
Then said, "some mischief's brewing.
"These kegs, I'm told , the rebels hold,
Packed up like pickled herring,
And they're come down, t' attack the town,
In this new way of ferrying."
The soldier flew, the sailor too,
And scared almost to death, sir,
Wore out their shoes to spread the news,
And ran till out of breath, sir.
Now up and down, throughout the town,
Most frantic scenes were acted;
And some ran here, and others there,
Like men almost distracted.
Some fire cried, which some denied,
But said the earth had quakèd;
And girls and boys, with hideous noise,
Ran through the streets half naked.

Sir William, he, snug as a flea,
Lay all this time a snoring;
Nor dreamed of harm, as he lay warm,
In bed with Mrs. Loring.

Now in a fright, he starts upright,
Awak’d by such a clatter;
He rubs his eyes, and boldly cries,
“For God’s sake, what’s the matter?”

At his bedside, he then espied,
Sir Erskine at command, Sir,
Upon one foot he had one boot,
And t’other in his hand, sir.

“Arise! arise, Sir Erskine cries,
The rebels – more’s the pity –
Without a boat, are all afloat,
And rang’d before the city.

“The motley crew, in vessels new,
With Satan for their guide, sir,
Packed up in bags, or wooden kegs,
Come driving down the tide, sir.

“Therefore prepare for bloody war;
These kegs must all be routed,
Or surely we despis’d shall be,
And British courage doubted.”

The royal band, now ready stand,
All ranged in dread array, sir,
With stomachs stout, to see it out,
And make a bloody day, sir.

The cannons roar from shore to shore,
The small arms make a rattle;
Since wars began, I’m sure no man
Ere saw so strange a battle.

The rebel dales, the rebel vales,
With rebel trees surrounded,
The distant woods, the hills and floods,
With rebel echoes sounded.

The fish below swam to and fro,
Attack’d from every quarter;
Why sure, thought they, the devil’s to pay,
‘Mongst folks above the water.

The kegs, ’tis said, though strongly made
Of rebel staves and hoops, sir,
Could not oppose their powerful foes,
The conquering British troops, sir.

From morn till night, these men of might
Display’d amazing courage;
And when the sun was fairly down,
Retir’d to sup their porridge.

An hundred men, with each a pen,
Or more, upon my word, sir,
It is most true would be too few,
Their valor to record, sir.

Such feats did they perform that day,
Against those wicked kegs, sir,
That years to come, if they get home,
They’ll make their boasts and brags, sir.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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