On January 22 at the Cast Iron Chef event at Fort Mifflin, I will debut the Regimental Brewmeister’s new 1 barrel brewery set up including a 30-gallon kieve (aka keeve) and a 30 gallon kühlschipp.(AKA koelschip). As we strive for ever increasing levels of authenticity to both the beer and our experience brewing, this new equipment takes us back to the basics of 18th Century zythology.
In our previous presentations on Colonial Brewing, I presented field brewing as it would have been done in most homes. Malt is placed in a loosely woven bag and then dipped into the hot water to make a mash. This can then be hoisted (its heavy) above the kettle to lauter. While this approach is effective is not terribly inaccurate, tavern brewers and military brewers used a more sophisticated approach primarily because of the scale of brewing that had to be done. For this we need a kieve or mash-lauter tun.
A Kieve is a tub or vat used to mash and subsequently lauter wort. The term comes from the German word kübel which means bucket and my kieve is just that, a large (30 gallon to match the copper) bucket with wooden sheathing to keep in the heat. The kieve is about twice as efficient at extracting sugars from the malt so the beer will ultimately be stronger and better.
Mashing is the process of extracting soluble materials from the grains with water and enzymatically converting them into a form the yeast can use. This requires that the grain be exposed to warm (not hot) water for an extended period of time. Lautering is the physical separation of the sugars extracted from the malt from the husks and bulk material in the grain. This is essentially a filtering operation. So a kieve is a large vessel into which hot water and malt can be mixed, with a filter apparatus that allows that grain to be separated at the end of the mash. The primary advantage of the kieve over the brew bag is that because it has a fitted “false bottom” the grain can be washed (sparged) with an extra amount of hot water to rinse the sugars from the grains allowing us to extract more malt sugar from a pound of raw malt which creates stronger, richer beer.
When Arthur Guinness opened the St James Gate Brewery, he started with “a copper, a kieve, a mill, [and] two malthouses….” The Regimental Brewmeister has a similar set up to debut on 1/22 at Fort Mifflin.
In our post Prohibition world, almost all beer is brewed using much the same equipment, material and methods. We make a lot of noise about very small differences in craft beers but in the wider range of beers and brewing, there is so much more. The kieve gives us some insight into what beers and brewing were like and could have evolved into. In the experimental world of “living history”, we are relearning the art and science of extracting sugars from our wort.