"Her Majesty's Skip 'Assistance,' Wellington Channel,
October 31, 1853.
"1. In compliance with your directions, I have the honour to report upon the beer brewed from the essence of malt and of hops on board this ship during the winter 1852-1853, as follows, viz.:—
"2. An experiment was made on the 6th of August, 1852, to brew with the proportions prescribed by the makers (Hudson and Co.). Eighty pounds of malt and three pounds of hops were mixed with boiling water, and then started into a fifty-six gallon cask (filling it), placed by the side of the galley-fire: when the temperature had fallen to 90° there was added half a pound of yeast, in a state of fermentation, made by mixing dried yeast, sugar, and flour, in hot water; but although signs of fermentation were occasionally apparent at the bunghole during the day, yet, from the low temperature that prevailed at night (consequent upon the absence of the galley-fire), it could not be got to work satisfactorily. The beer produced, although palatable and drunk by the ship's company, was so weak, from the inadequacy of the quantity of ingredients used, and so flat, in consequence of the inability to raise sufficient fermentation, that it was scarcely equal to the smallest table beer.
"3. On the 23rd of October, 1852, the ship being fixed in winter quarters, and the Sylvester warming apparatus at work, maintaining a constant equal temperature, brewing operations were commenced, with the view of keeping up a periodical supply for the ship's company.
"4. The proportions used were,—essence of malt, 120 lbs., and of hops 4 lbs., to fifty-four gallons of water: these were boiled together for two hours in the ship's coppers, and then put into a fifty-six gallon cask, which was placed (for the purpose of obtaining the highest temperature in the ship, steady at about 70°) by the side of the funnel of the Sylvester warming apparatus. In about eighteen hours after, the temperature of the mixture had fallen to 90°, when yeast was added, and generally in a few minutes produced vigorous fermentation, which was maintained for seven or eight days, the froth being thrown off at the bung-hole and received from a leather spout, nailed on the side of the cask, into a tub placed on the deck, from which the cask was kept filled as it became necessary, for the first two days almost every hour, and afterwards at longer intervals, as fermentation slackened. As soon as it had ceased to work, the cask was bunged up and removed, to settle and fine for a fortnight; it was then broached for issue.
"5. The beer thus produced was highly prized, and I think I may venture to state that, both for strength and flavour, it was all that could be desired.
"6. From this time (October 23rd) until the end of the following April, a constant supply of this beer was maintained, at the rate of one pint for each person twice, and sometimes three times, a week, besides other occasional extra issues; for which purpose it was necessary to appropriate three fifty-six gallon casks,—one to issue from, the next to settle and fine, and the third in a state of fermentation.
"7. The total quantities of the essences consumed during this time were—of malt, 1620lbs.; hops, 44lbs.; and the beer produced was 702 gallons.
"8. Although the beer thus necessarily issued a fortnight after being brewed was of good quality, yet I would beg leave to remark, that had it been practicable to have allowed it to stand for a longer period (a3 in the case of beer brewed in England), there is good reason to suppose that it would have become scarcely inferior to English porter of the first quality.
"9. There now remain for brewing (to be commenced, in pursuance of your directions, as soon as the hold is cleared), essence of malt, 780lbs.; hops, 40lbs.
"I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
Clerk in charge."
Captain Sir Edward Belcher, Kt., C.B.,
Her Majesty's Ship ' Assistance,' and Commanding
Arctic Searching Squadron.