Uncle Lumpy's Lacrimae Sole

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Full Recipe Name
Uncle Lumpy’s Lacrimae Sole: 15th century Belgian Abbey Golden Strong Ale
Recipe Source
Max the Executioner
Panel Information
Panel Location: Brew U
Panel Date: 2014
Score: 79
Beverage Information
Period: Late Middle Ages
Division: Division 1: Ales, Beer, Braggot, Lambic, Stout
Origin: Belgian


Belgium, what a strange and wondrous place. To call this country multi-cultural is an understatement. There are at least 3 distinct cultures, each with their own language and customs: Dutch, French and German. The two largest contributors to the Belgian style ale I made were French and German. We know from the Roman historian Gaius Cornelius Tacitus that in the 1st and early 2nd century, he found the local inhabitants of Germania brewing a wine-like beverage from what he called adulterated “fermented” barley, wheat and water.[1] We know from the Greco-Roman geographer Strabo that the Germanic tribe, the Cimbri, possessed a large bronze kettle capable of holding 22 amphorae or roughly 130 gallons of wort.[2] Fast forward about 600 years, the gruit ales of Europe were going through a transformation. Brewing spices (gruit) were being replaced with hops. A document of September 768 which contains a listing of areas which King Pepin the Short (Charlemagne’s father) granted to the abbey of St. Denis (France) including ‘humlonariae completely’. This could mean ‘hop gardens’, which is areas where hops were cultivated.[3] In the 12th century, the Abbess Hildegard of Bingen in Rupertsberg, Germany mentioned the use of hops to prevent the spoilage of beer.[4] By the early 1400’s, monasteries throughout what is now Belgium and Germany were planting their own hop gardens. At this time, Germany also had two large hop growing regions, the Tettnang and the Hallertau.[5] Germany shipped these hops throughout Europe. Also, the monastic orders throughout Europe tended to have the most advanced brewing equipment and techniques of their day. This is due to the monasteries’ large bank accounts. They also had greater access to the exotic spices that were brought back on the Crusade routes from Jerusalem. In Belgium unlike other parts of Europe, this transformation to solely hopped ales was never completed. To this day, a combination of spices and hops are still used to flavor these ales. For my rendition, I chose to two spices commonly available during the 1400’s. They were orange peel[6] and suker.[7] I also used a common hop imported into Belgium from Germany (Hallertau). The monasteries produced several levels of ales. The average first run ale was about 7% ABV. They also produced ales for export and sale. The higher end ones would have had higher alcohol content in order to make them sturdier for transport and aging. The Germans would call these starkbiers (strong ale) which are 8% ABV or above.[8] My rendition came in a 9.6% ABV putting it firmly in this category of Starkbiers. Also, in order to market their ales, monasteries would often come up with a catchy name to help pedal their brew. To match its beautiful golden color, I named mine Lacrimae Sole (Latin for Tears of the Sun). Enjoy.

Here is how I deviated from the original process and my reasons for doing so:


I ground my own grains using a Corona Hand Grinder as opposed to the stone grinding methods that would have been used.
  1. My kettles were stainless steel as opposed to the copper ones that would have been used in the 15th century.
  2. I used a minor amount of unmalted barley to mimic the inefficient malting procedures of the 15th century.
  3. I used an ancient variety of barley (pearl) which I roasted (in an electric oven) myself which was the same variety grown during that era.
  4. I used some smoked malt to mimic the wood fired kilning used to roast grains in the past.
  5. I used some home grown Hallertau hops and some Hallertau hops that I had imported from Germany.
  6. I used a Franco-Belgian ale yeast from someone else’s previous batch.
  7. To mimic the oak flavor that would have been produced by fermenting in wooden barrels, I added oak chips into my plastic fermenter.
  8. After fermentation was complete, I kegged my Belgian Strong ale in a stainless steel keg as opposed to the wooden ones of that time.
  9. In period times, the leftover spent grains were dried and then fed to livestock. I follow that practice by giving my spent grains to a friend to feed to his chickens.


11 lbs. Pilsner (2 row) German Malt

2 lbs. Cara-pils

1 ½ lbs. Smoked Malt

1 lb. Melanoiden Malt

½ lb. Aromatic Malt

1 lb. Flaked Barley

1 lb. Pearl Barley

3.5 oz Hallertau Hops

3 lbs. Suker

2 oz. Orange Peel

1 pkg Franco-Belgian Yeast

Process:# Roast 1 lb of un-malted Pearl Barley at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in an electric oven for 90 minutes.

  1. Stirring grains every 15 minutes for more even roasting.
  2. Put aside to cool and later grind.
  3. Sterilize and rinse all brewing equipment.
  4. Heat 7 gallons of water to 170 degrees Fahrenheit in 1 kettle.
  5. At the same time, heat 2 gallons of water in mashtun to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. While heating the water, grind all grains to make them ready for mashing process.
  7. Place grain bag inside mashtun.
  8. Put all ground grains inside grain bag.
  9. Pour 18 quarts of 170 degree water over grains into mashtun.
  10. If necessary, adjust grain water mixture to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. Mash grains for 90 minutes stirring mash every 5 minutes.
  12. Take remainder of 170 degree water and bring to a boil.
  13. Once water is boiling, add 2 ounces Hallertau hops for bittering.
  14. Boil for 30 minutes.
  15. Add one half ounce Hallertau hops and 1 ounce of orange peel for flavoring.
  16. Boil for 20 minutes more.
  17. Add 1 ounce of Hallertau hops and 1ounce of orange peel for aroma.
  18. Boil for 5 minutes.
  19. Once hop boil is complete, put hop tea mixture aside to cool.
  20. At the 90 minute mark for the mash, sparge mash with hop/spice tea mixture using the grain bed to strain out the hop/spice pieces.
  21. Once sparge is complete, take wort and bring to a boil to sterilize it while stirring in 3 pounds of Suker until dissolved.
  22. Take and cool wort down to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  23. Steam oak wood chips for 5 minutes in pot.
  24. Put steamed oak chips into primary fermenter.
  25. Put cooled wort into primary fermenter.
  26. Add yeast.
  27. Sit back and watch it bubble.
  28. Once fermentation is complete, rack into secondary fermenter straining out wood chips as you go.
  29. In one week, transfer clear finished ale to keg.
  30. Pressurize keg.
  31. Place in cool storage.
  32. Drink really good ale.

Started on 02/08/14

Racked on 2/22/14

Kegged on 3/9/14

Starting Gravity: 1.100

Final Gravity: 1.024

ABV: 9.6%

Primary Sources:

The Barbarian’s Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe by Max Nelson, Routledge, New York, NY, 2005

Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Richard W. Unger, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2007

Belgian Ale: Classic Beer Style Series, vol. 6 by Pierre Rajotte, Edited by Ed Yost, Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 1992

Bock by Darryl Richman, Classical Beer Style Series, Edited by Anne Higman, Technical Edit by Charles Papazian, Brewers Publication Inc., Boulder, CO, 1994

Extract from the Account Rolls of the Abbey of Durham for Surtees Society, Volume 1 by Andrews & Company, Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1898 -

The Free – Definition of Sugar -

German Beer Institute, The German Beer Portal for North America – Three Millennia of German Brewing -

Geography by Strabo, Book 6 and Book 7, Loeb Classical Library, Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Translated by Horace Leonard Jones, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; London, England, 1924

Medieval Use of Herbs: a class presented in the East Kingdom Pages program by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, 2000 -

The Oxford Companion to Beer, Edited by Garrett Oliver, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2012

  1. German Beer Institute,, Eins, Zwei, G'suffa … 2000 Years Ago section, 4/6/2014
  2. Strabo, Geography, Book 7, Chapter 2, page 171
  3. Max Nelson, The Barbarian’s Beverage, page 107 and Richard W. Unger, Beer in the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance, page 53, 54
  4. Richard W. Unger, Beer in the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance, page 27 and Max Nelson, The Barbarian’s Beverage, page 110
  5. Garrett Oliver, Oxford Companion to Beer, German Hops, page 386
  6. and Pierre Rajotte, Belgian Ale, Classic Beer Style Series, page 36
  7. Darryl Richman, Bock, page 2