Wednesday, 22 October 2014

German brewing in 1966 - top-fermenting styles

There's some fascinating information this time about German top-fermenting styles. A topic very dear to my heart as an enthusistic drinker of  both Kölsch and Alt.

But first a recap of the crazy rules on gravity in force until the 1990's:

"According to existing regulations, beers with original gravity from 5.5 to 7%, from 8 to 11% or from 14 to 16% may not be sold. The weaker "Einfach Bier" (below 5.5% O.G.) and "Schank Bier" (7-8% O.G.) have no importance at present, but they may become important as beers suitable for drivers, owing to their low alcohol contents. Since the last war, top-fermentation beers have also become more popular."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 14.

There are still very few beers brewed to the old forbidden zone gravities. For a long time almost all the beer sold in Germany has been in the Vollbier band: 11º to 14º Plato. About the only Schankbier used to be Berliner Weisse, though in recent years low-gravity versions of Pils and Hefeweizen have appeared.

Which top-fermenting styles were gaining popularity? Was it Kölsch and Alt? I'm pretty sure the Weissbier revival came later.

"The Bavarian wheat beer with its in-bottle fermentation is being replaced by filtered beer of high CO2 content which is bottled under high pressure and has a content of 7-9 g. CO2 per litre."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 14.

This reads so odd now. I've just been trailing through current Bavarian breweries beer ranges. And while pretty much all brew at least one Hefeweizen, I can't recall more than a couple of Kristallweizen. The style has clearly lost a great deal of popularity at the expense of the unfiltered version.

Now some stuff about other top-fermenters:

""Kolsch" is produced mainly in the Cologne area. It has a very pale colour, is heavily hopped (400 g. per hl.) and until recently has only been available on draught. It is now being sold in bottles with a considerable advertising campaign behind it. The so-called "Alt bier" from the Dusseldorf area is now being produced in the lower Rhine area; it is nearly as dark as the Munich beer but not as malty: the colour of the beer comes from coloured malt. It also is strongly hopped (approx. 400 g. per hl.).

Generally speaking, the 11.5-13% top-fermentation beers require a shortened fermentation and storage time and they are therefore popular with the brewery technician, although the very necessary separation between top and bottom fermentation results in certain complications to the brewing process."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 14.

Two intersting points there: the high hopping rate of Kölsch and Alt; and that their hopping rate is quoted as being the same at 400 gm per hl. Both at the top end of the Pilsner range. My guess woiuld be that for Alt the hopping rate haas remained similar, while for most examples of Kölsch it has been considerably reduced.

Is it true that beers like Kölsch and Alt require a shorter storage time? Surely if they are lagereed the way they should be there's no great difference?

Finally, one of those weird almost beer German styles:

"To this already considerable number of beer types there must be added the so-called "Nähr-Biere," which may be roughly translated as food beer, and the so-called sweet beer, which is Nahr-Biere enriched with sugar. Despite a normal original wort they have very low alcohol contents (0.5-1.5%). In order to achieve this, the fermentation is either interrupted or slowed down; alternatively, the beer is originally brewed with a weak wort, and only after filtration is its gravity increased by the addition of first worts or sugars. It is easily understandable that these types of beers have to be pasteurized in the bottle."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 14.

As you've porobaly noticed, the usal restrictions of the Reinheitsgebot did not apply to Nähr-Bier. There used to be lots of types of weak, top-fermenting beer in North Germany which gradually died away after WW I. there are still odd examples, but the quantites produced are tiny. They're also sometimes sweetened with artificial sweetener. How exactly that is consudered acceptable under the Reinheitsgebot is a mystery to me.

Next time it's malting.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Brewing in WW II (part three)

Lots more stuff about barley and malting during WW II. I admit much is going straight over my head. All this nitrogen stuff.

I'm now totallty confused about nitrogen in barley. It seems it's not so much how much nitrogen, but how much of which sort, that counts.

"There was another wet harvest in the following year, 1942, although the barleys showed an improvement over 1941. The yield was high, however, but the quality was variable, and while there was a limited supply of good quality, a large quantity was weathered and spoiled by the wet, and there was much that was of low grade. The nitrogen varied from 1.2 to as high as 1.8 per cent, in the barleys which were malted. In view of the limited supply of good quality barleys, these could only be obtained by the buyers if they were prepared to take some of the poorer quality as well. Malts were in consequence variable, and those made up from the poorer qualities showed poor modification and were high in nitrogen."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 118.

Let me get this right, 1942 was a poor harvest, despite the yield being high. So it was poor in terms of barley quality rather than quantity. Loads of barley around, but not much of it very good. And the crap barley made poorly modified malt with loads of nitrogen. Still not sure I get this nitrogen thing.

It sounds like much the same story in 1944:

"Harvesting conditions were again bad in 1944, as the weather broke in early August and persisted into September. Barleys were variable and the bulk was of poor quality, while the nitrogen was high. Those harvested early, before the rain, were in good condition and of fair quality, but the maltsters were not in a position to buy very heavily as large quantities of the good barleys of 1943 had been held over to commence malting the next season, and their bins were full. The consequence was that most of this early harvested barley was taken up by the Ministry of Food, and when the maltsters came into the market wet weather conditions had spoiled the crop and the barleys available were of poor quality. The yield was low, and in order to meet the brewers' requirements, a larger quantity of very low grade barleys were malted than ever before, and the season was described as the worst ever experienced. Malts were exceedingly variable and as a large proportion of the worst barleys were malted late in the season which extended well into the summer, the malts produced were deplorable.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 118.

Sounds like a real cock up in malting in 1944. Though I'm surprised to hear that maltsters still had lots of barley left over from 1943. When they say the barley was taken by the Ministry of Food, I assume it was being used to make bread. The "national loaf" contained a certain percentage of barley

Wet weather at harvest time definitely seems to be the enemy. I must take a look in brewing records of the period to see if there's evidence of crap malt. A poor yield should be an indication of low-quality malt. It sounds as if a lot of it was made.

Here's an overview of wartime barley harvests:

"Such a sequence of years, only two of which produced malts that could be considered as of average quality, would have produced innumerable difficulties in mamtaining a satisfactory standard of quality even in peace time where the brewer was not hampered with restrictions in respect to materials and when he had sufficient staff and labour was plentiful. It is to his credit that he succeeded as well as he did, although perhaps the standard of quality which was attained, especially as the years went on, was not always very high and, he was afraid could have hardly given some brewers, at least, much cause for congratulation, but the demand always exceeded supply, and the public had to be satisfied with what they were given or go without and so complaints were useless.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 118.

BAsically, the harvests were generally so bad that brewers would have had difficulties even in peacetime. Of course, one advantage of wartime was taht the public learned to be less fussy. Brewers could get away with below par beer because drinkers had no alternative, otehr than to go without. A real sellers market.

And finally a non weather-related problem: labour shortages.

"Conscription and the insistent demands of the munition factories had taken such a toll of labour that the shortage became acute quite early in the war. Although everyone in the brewing industry suffered, it was perhaps the maltsters who were hardest, hit as malting operatives have to be expert at their job and take time to train. This handicap was most serious in 1940 and 1941 and again in 1944, when the quality of the barleys was poor and the nitrogen content high. Such barleys require more skill and attention on the floors and a longer flooring period, which few maltsters found it possible to give, and consequently modification was poor and the standard of quality of most of the malts was low."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, pages 118 - 119.

I suppose it's obvious that you can't operate as well without skilled and experienced staff. I can imagine the combination ofd a lack of skilled workers and rubbish quality barley must have driven maltsters to despair.

There may be more on malting next time. Or I may jump forward to adjuncts. It depends on my mood.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Calling Victor

I accidentally deleted your message. Please get in touch again so I can send you the book.

German brewing in 1966

I've been poking around the Journal of the Institute of Brewing abd I've found more stuff about postwar German brewing. They fit in nicely with my current Lager kick.

There are articles from the 1960's and the 1970's. I'll be starting with the former purely for reasons to chronology. The article we'll start looking at today was written by Professor Dr. L. Narziss of Weihenstephan. I'd like to hope he knows what he's talking about when it comes to German brewing.

First something about German drinking habits.

"During the last 15 years the change in drinking habits has had the effect of transferring much of the beer consumption from the public house to the home, and at the same time causing a change from cask beer to bottled beer. Beer outlets now include sales from off-licence and supermarket, direct delivery from the brewery to the home and sales in the factory canteen. All this has resulted in a considerable increase in the possible time interval between the beer leaving the brewery and being drunk by the consumer. It is none the less taken for granted that the beer will survive this increased distribution interval even though it may repeatedly move from cold to warm rooms and finally may spend several weeks behind the bar. It is expected by the public that the beer will remain bright and without deposit and at the same time retain its character and freshness. Despite the restrictions of the German beer law, which is based mainly on the Bavarian Purity Law dating from the year 1516, the brewer has the task of providing a beer with good biological stability and an extended flavour stability."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 13.

The move from pub to domestic consumption is ongoing in Britain, while in Germany it happenbed several decades eaarlier. The point he makes about the supply chain being longer for take home beer is one I'd never consider, but it makes a lot of sense. In turn this means that brewers need to make their beers more stable to cope with rougher handling. Does he mean pasteurisation? Which, of course, is perfectly fine according to the Reinheitsgebot.

Now here's something about the types of beer breweed in Germany:

"Types of Beer Brewed

Although light, bottom-fermentation beers with original gravities of 11-5 to 14% (46-57°) form the basis of most requirements, flavour preferences in the various areas may be quite different. In Bavaria the light, full-bodied, mild lager beer of 11.5 to 12% original gravity (46-48°) is mainly preferred whilst the famous dark beer, once in great demand, continues to be pushed more and more into the background. The dark, strong beers of 18-20% (74-84°) are generally welcome only at certain times of the year. The other two types are basically the Pilsener (up to 12.5% O.G. with 240-400 g. of hops per hl.) and the pale strong export beer (up to 14% O.G. with 180-270 g. of hops per hl.). At the same time, there are many variations between the two types and it is quite possible that a beer known as Pilsener in the Wurttemberg area may be less bitter than an export beer in the Rhine Ruhr area.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 72, Issue 1, January-February 1966, page 13.

I love the way he calls Helles "mild lager beer". I've always thought of it aas the Lager version of Light Mild myself. Nice to know such an eminent brewing scientist agrees with me. You'll remember from my earlier writings that Dunkles was Munich's favourite beer until WW II, after which it was replaced by Helles, which remains the most popular style.

Bock remains mostly a seasonal style, usually sold in the colder months. Or, in the case of Maibock, in spring. Though he only seems to be talking of Doppelbock. Standard Bock would have an OG between 16.5º and 17.5º Plato.

How handy that he's given hopping rates. Because we can compare them with ones from the late 19th century:

19th-century hopping rates
Beer OG Plato gm hops per hl
Bohemian Lagerbier  12.5° 420 - 500
Bohemian Export  13.5° 450 - 550
Munich Summer Bier 12.5-14.5° 200 - 300 
American Handy Book of Brewing , Malting and Auxiliary Trades byWahl & Henius, Chicago 1902, pages 780-792.

It's clear that hopping rates had declined, though the styles and regions aren't an exact match.

Next time it will the turn of top-fermenting styles.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Brewing in WW II (part two)

This time we'll be looking at malting during WW II. I  must say that there have been some surprises for me.

"Imported barleys were not allowed to be malted for use in brewing, and so when stocks of Californian barley in the hands of malsters or brewers were exhausted, no more was available. Since the end of 1940, therefore, no Californian malt has been used in brewing. This order also applied to barleys from the Mediterranean ports, and barleys from Central Europe ceased to be available. Brewers, therefore, have had to depend entirely on malts made up from English barleys throughout the greater part of the war years.

It is customary for maltsters to begin the malting season with Californian barleys and continue malting these until November, when it is held that the English barleys are in a condition to steep. During the war period it has been necessary to start the malting season with English barleys and to steep early in September. If these barleys are held over from the previous season they will of course malt quite satisfactorily, but there have been some seasons when the quantity available was insufficient or the quality was too poor to enable the malting of these to be carried on long enough to ensure satisfactory growth from the new barleys when they were steeped, and the quality of the malt has consequently suffered. Past experience has shown that after kiln drying, barleys require a rest before they will grow evenly and modify satisfactorily. This is due to a state of dormancy in the grain from which it only recovers after kiln drying or sweating and a period of storage. Dormancy is much more pronounced in barley which has not been kiln-dried, and it consequently requires a much longer period of storage to recover and become fit for malting. The very poor results obtained with many of the early made malts can be explained in this way."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, pages 117 - 118.

It makes sense that barley from the Mediterranean and Central Europe would be unavailable - these wre areas under enemy control but California? It was all about shipping capacity. As this was limited, certain goods got priority. It was the British governemt, not the Germans, who stopped the importation of Californian barley

It's news to me that Californian barley was the first to be malted each season. Was it just because it was harvested earlier than British-grown barley? I also hadn't realise the quality problems of tyhe malting industry during the war.

"Such being the circumstances it was unfortunate that out of the six years under review there were only two in which the barleys were of good quality, and even these were not considered exceptional. The 1939 crop was one, but while the nitrogen content was on the low side, the grain was not well ripened, it was variable and was only considered to be of medium quality. The other was the 1943 crop, which was harvested in good weather conditions and was of good medium quality. It gave a high yield and the nitrogen content was low, and it made up into sound malts. The quality of the 1940 crop varied considerably, over 80 per cent, was tough and steely, the amount of good quality being comparatively small. The yield was low and the nitrogen was on the high side. It was rather difficult to modify and the bulk of the malts were of indifferent quality."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 118.

Only two good barley crops? That's pretty bad. And it must have put all sorts of pressure on both the brewing and malting industries. In peacetime, I assume the solution to a poor harvest would have been to import more malt. Of course, that wasn't an option during the war.

So even the good years weren't great. Then there were the bad years:

"In 1941 the harvest was persistently wet and the condition of the barley crop was pronounced to be the worst on record. The yield was poor and the nitrogen high. There were a number of combine harvesters in use that year, and owing to the high moisture content, many of the barleys harvested in this way suffered damage in the sack or by unskilful drying on farm dryers. Malts were generally poor in quality, showing variable modification, the majority being no better than second grade mild ale quality. Owing to the poor yield an appreciable bulk of very low grade barleys were made up, and as malting operations were carried on well into the summer that also had its effect on quality, generally resulting in inefficient modification."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 118.

You know what's odd? 1941 was a disastrous year both for the barley crop and for malting. And remember that it wasn't possible to import barley and Britain never imported malt. But the amount of barley produced increaased:

UK barley production 1930 - 1950 (cwt)
Year ended Dec. 31. Acreage. production (cwt.) yield per acre (cwt.) Average Price per Quarter.  Barley. Imports. (cwt.) % imported
1930 1,129,000 16,680,000 14.77 7 11 15,208,000 47.69%
1931 1,119,000 16,960,000 15.16 7 11 15,243,000 47.33%
1932 1,031,000 16,680,000 16.18 7 7 10,178,000 37.90%
1933 813,000 13,780,000 16.95 7 11 15,985,000 53.70%
1934 959,000 16,400,000 17.10 8 8 15,476,000 48.55%
1935 871,000 14,700,000 16.88 7 11 17,097,000 53.77%
1936 894,000 14,640,000 16.38 8 3 18,294,000 55.55%
1937 906,000 13,160,000 14.53 10 11 18,176,000 58.00%
1938 988,000 18,080,000 18.30 10 2 19,876,000 52.37%
1939 1,013,000 17,840,000 17.61 8 10 13,740,000 43.51%
1940 1,339,000 22,080,000 16.49 18 2 9,146,000 29.29%
1941 1,475,000 22,880,000 15.51 24 0 1,277,000 5.29%
1942 1,528,000 28,920,000 18.93 45 8 0 0.00%
1943 1,786,000 32,900,000 18.42 31 5 0 0.00%
1944 1,973,000 35,040,000 17.76 26 5 0 0.00%
1945 2,215,000 42,160,000 19.03 24 5 2,037,000 4.61%
1946 2,211,000 39,260,000 17.76 24 3 2,195,000 5.29%
1947 2,060,000 32,380,000 15.72 24 0 2,257,000 6.52%
1948 2,082,000 40,540,000 19.47 26 10 15,618,000 27.81%
1949 2,060,000 42,580,000 20.67 25 10 9,223,000 17.80%
1950 1,778,000 34,220,000 19.25 27 11 15,289,000 30.88%
1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 61.

The answer is simple: the acreage dedicated to barley had increased dramatically. You can see how the amount of land dedicated to barley doubled between 1939 and 1945. If that hadn't happened British brewing would have been buggered.

Because in the second half of the 1930's around 50% of barley had been imported. When impoorts dwindled to nothing growing more barley domestically was the only option. It seems to have worked pretty well, with barley production more than doubling during the war years. It's interesting that the yield per acre also rose, with the exception of 1941 and 1944.

Clearly the war years were good for British barley growers. Output continued to rise through the 18950's and 1960's and by 1969 had reached 170,540,000 cwt - about 10 times the 1939 level. Imports never again reached their pre-war level.

Also remarkable is how stable the price of barley was during the war years, actually falling in 1943, 1944 and 1945. Only 1942 seems to have been a problem year. This price stability is a good indication that barley supplies were sufficient.

Not quite done with barley and malting yet.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

German brewing in 1960 - packaging

Now were at the glamour end of the brewing process: filtering and bottling. Not that I agree with any of that, obviously, as a 100% committed CAMRA member.

I've nearly finished this short series. It's helped to plump up "Decoction!" a treat. I've just passed the 500 page mark. Is there anyone else writing about Lager history? Not that I can see. "Decoction!" is becoming a great little source. I'm sure it will used as a source by many. Now if only I could be arsed to translate that early 19th-century text describing the Munich method of decoction.

"Filtration and bottling.— Little home beer was pasteurized and the commonest procedure was to pre-filter by kieselguhr and polish by pulp, giving a life of up to 6 weeks: this could be increased to 3-6 months for export beers by pasteurizing. In some cases, sterilization of bottles was attempted by flushing with sulphur dioxide gas, and bottles for home trade were often manually closed with swing-top stoppers, crowning being reserved for export."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 500.

This sounds much like the situation in the Czech Republic in the 1980's. Czech beer was almost never pasteurised and bottled beer would start throwing a sediment after a few weeks, presumably because it had only been roughly filtered. My guess is that they only did the kieselguhr filtration. A short shelflife wasn't a huge problem for Czechs. They never left beer lying around for long anyway.

It's good to be reminded how recent the domination of the crown cork as a beer bottle stopper really is. Swing-tops had been the standard in Germany before WW II and were clearly still very popular. They've been making a comeback in the last ten years by brewers striving to cultivate a traditional image. I quite like them myself. No bottle opener is required and you can reseal the bottle. Which can be handy when you're travelling.

"The sale of filtered beer in pressure casks corresponds to the English draught beer trade, and in the Dortmund area the sale of this type amounted to over half of the total trade. Until recently all casks were wooden and lined with pitch or wax, which was melted out and renewed for each filling. This practice was still observed in all breweries, but aluminium kegs were gaining popularity and these too were often pitched, particularly for the American trade. Beer filled into cask was often kieselguhr pre-filtered and plate-pasteurized in bulk."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 500."

Keg beer is what he means. It's a shame bayerischer Anstich isn't mentioned. I'm sure it was still quite common at the time in Bavaria. But even in the Rhineland there must have been some. It's still not rare today to serve Alt and Kölsch directly from a barrel. The percentage of draught beer is much lower now. The proportion of draught is now way lower than 50%:

German beer production by package type (%)
Year Draught Returnable bottles Nonreturnable bottles and cans
1993 23.25 61.31 15.5
1994 22.7 60.3 17.1
1995 21.7 59.6 18.7
1996 21 60 19
1997 19.9 59.9 20.1
1998 19.5 58.8 21.7
1999 19.3 57.9 22.8
2000 19.6 55.2 25
2001 19.5 53.4 27.1
2002 19.3 51 29.7
2003 19.52 64.81 15.7
2004 19.9 62.14 18
2005 19.34 63.5 17.2
2011 15.0 74.0 11.0
Deutscher Brauer-Bund, Bonn
"Beer Statistics 2012 edition", the Brewers of Europe, page 10.

While I'm doing tables I may as well put in another at this point: beer sales by type.

German beer production by beer type (%)
Beer type 1968 1970 1976 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2001 2002 2005 2006 2009 2010
Pils 19 25 41 64.1 66 68.1 67.8 67.9 66.9 68.6 61 60.3 55.2 55.1
Export/Edel/Spezial 57 50 32 10.1 9.7 8.8 8.8 9 9.5 7.3 12.4 12.5 10.1 9.8
Weizen 4.5 4.8 4.9 5.3 5.7 6 6.3 8.5 8.7 7.9 7.9
Hell 4.5 4.4 3.7 3.7 3.4 3.2 2.9 4.5 4.6 4.5 4.5
Alt 3.6 3.5 3.4 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.9 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.2
Kölsch 2.7 2.4 2.2 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.1 2 1.9 1.7 1.7
Malz 2.1 2 1.9 1.9 1.8 1.8 2.6 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2
Alcohol free 3.7 3.4 2.9 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.6 2.5 2.6 3.3 3.7
Leichtbier 1.7 1.4 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.6
Schwarzbier 1 1.3 1.6 1.6
Bock 1.1 0.7 0.5 0.5
Diet 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3
1968, 1970, 1976: Die Biere Deutschlands, 1993.
1992-2001: Brauwelt Brevier 2003
2002-2006: Deutscher Brauer-Bund, Bonn
2009-2010: Deutscher Brauer-Bund, Bonn

This is just take home, not the on-trade. I find that a confusing picture. Pils is clearly in decline but there's no obvious winner. With numbers two and three - Export and Weizen - also in decline. Bizarrely pretty much all the styles in the table are in decline. I wonder when IPA will start showing up in these figures?

"Most bottling halls employed the Seitz type of filling head in which contamination of the beer with air was largely avoided. Carbon dioxide top pressure could be employed to feed the filling reservoir which was permanently filled with beer, and return air and beer from the bottle passed up a tube to a separate collecting tank, the recovered beer being returned for subsequent processing. Reports on hot-bottling were obtained from the Dortmund area. This process involved plate pasteurizing to about 143° F. and filling pressures were of the order of 100 lb. per sq. in. using the Meyer type of filling system; no after-cooling was employed. Canning was well established in the larger breweries."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, pages 500 - 501.

I'm surprised about the canning comment. Cans have never been very popular in Germany the last figures I have - for 2011 - show their market share as 4%*. I've not really anything more to say about that.

I've just about mined out this article. Unless you're interested in Danish and German brewing laboratories.

 * "Beer Statistics 2012 edition", the Brewers of Europe, page 10.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Brewing in WW II (part one)

This is from another really useful artilce in the Journal of the Istitute of Brewing that I somehow forgot about. Which is incredible given its subject. Oh well, better late than never, I suppose.

"While it cannot be denied that the brewing industry has gone through a very difficult and trying period it is to its credit that it has been able to surmount these difficulties, probably not always with complete success, but the output of beer has nevertheless been maintained and there has certainly been no difficulty in disposing of it.

In the war of 1914-18 the brewing trade was continually harassed by frequent restrictions, cuts in materials, increases in duty, the rising price of materials, and finally a drastic reduction in output and the regulation of gravities and prices, while in addition to all these was added the threat of State purchase. At the outbreak of the second war, the Government, profiting by their previous experience and in anticipation of a long drawn-out struggle, formulated a definite policy which has been very little altered throughout the whole 6 years.

The decision that beer was essential to maintain the morale of the country was a happy one as it disposed once for all of the bogie of prohibition. It would have made it much easier for everyone concerned, however, if brewing had been listed as an essential industry. It was fortunate that brewing was treated as a "willing" industry and that harmonious relations were established between the Brewers' Society and the Ministry of Food which prevented the imposition of arbitrary orders and regulations that might have been difficult to carry out, and brewers were afforded an opportunity of adapting those which were found to be necessary."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 117.

The author is right to highlight the difference in the government's attitude to the brewing industry in the two world wars. There had been considerable friction between the industry and the Liberal government in the years leading up to WW I. Many in the Liberal party, including chancellor Lloyd George were teetotallers and generally hostile to the brewing trade.

Temperance campaigners saw the war as a great excuse to push through prohibition on the pretext of alcohol weakening the war effort and had some support for their view withing government. Lloyd George, for example, said that drink was a greater threat than the Germans. Total bollocks, of course. Workers saw things quite differently. Harvest worker threatened to strike if they didn't get beer, which was a long-standing custom. But that didn't stop many anti-alcohol measures being introduced, including a drastic reduction in opening hours.

The situation in WW II was quite different, especially after WInston Churchill becamne prime minister in 1940. He recognised that a steady stream of beer was vital for morale. But the temperance movement had changed, too. Its successes in WW I ended up undermining its campaign. With reduced gravities and consumption after the war, drunkenness was not perceived as the same threat it had been before the outbreak of hostilities.

It's fascinating to see how, though beer tax increased greatly during both wars, the different way that happened:

Beer tax in WW I
Year tax per standard barrel % change
1914 7s 9d
1915 23s 196.77%
1916 23s 0.00%
1917 24s 4.35%
1918 25s 4.17%
1919 50s 100.00%
1920 70s 40.00%
1921 100s 42.86%
change 1914 - 1921 1190.32%
1928 Brewers' Almanack

Beer tax in WW II
Year tax per standard barrel % change
1939 80s
1940 80s / 104s 30.00%
1941 135s / 165s 29.81%
1942 165s 22.22%
1943 240s 7.5d 45.83%
1944 281s 10.5d 17.14%
1945 286s 5.5d 1.63%
change 1939 - 1945 258.07%
1955 Brewers' Almanack

In WW I, there were massive increases at the start and end of the war, with very little change in 1916, 1917 and 1918. While in WW II the increases were smaller but happened in every year of the war. In percentage terms the increase in WW I was much greater - almost 1200% - compared to just 250% in WW II.

Brewers had one big advantage in WW II when it came to beer quality. During WW II

"With the rationing of food early in the war came the rationing of brewing materials. The amount of malt each brewer was allowed to use was not to exceed the amount he used in the year immediately previous to the war, while the amount of sugar was also restricted. Brewers were obliged to reduce the average gravity of their beers by 20 per cent, of the pre-war strength, mainly with a view to conserving materials as much as possible, and this of course was strictly enforced."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 117.

The British government learned well from WW I in terms of food policy. Unlike the Germans who hoped for a quick war, Britain assumed from the start that it would last many years and planned accordingly. This early planning definitely benefitted Britain's war by making sure no resources were wasted. Which meant there was never a crisis simialr to that in 1917, when for a while it looked as if Britain might run out of grain.

Next time we'll be looking at malting during the war.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

German brewing in 1960 - fermentation and lagering

Isn't this fun, our stroll through the kitchen garden of the past? Just keep an eye out for wasps.

We're going to kick off with fermentation, the heart of the brewing process.

"Fermentation.— Standard practice in 9 of the 10 breweries visited was to arrest fermentation at a suitable attenuation for racking to the lager cellar. Temperatures were in the range 40-48° F. and much variation in yeast behaviour was apparent, comparable attenuations taking from 5 to 14 days. All the larger breweries had pure-culture yeast propagators in operation and yeast washing was general. Liquor at 34° F. was used and storage was generally under this liquor as a thick paste. Pitching rate was measured volumetrically: from 0.3 to 0.5 litres of the pasty yeast was pitched per hectolitre of wort, i.e. approximately 1.5 lb. per brl. for 1045° wort. Fermenting vessels were predominantly of ebon or aluminium, with newer installations in stainless steel but rarely enclosed. Mixing of worts often took place in large starting tanks and attemperation was by cooled drinking water at 34° F. It was common practice to skim off the resinous scum with a perforated scoop just before racking."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 500.

The obvious question is what did the tenth brewery do? And how did the nine stop fermentation? By cold crashing?

Let's so how that compares with British practice. This is the fermentation record of Barclay Perkins Export from 6th November 1962:

You can see that it was pitched at 45º F and most of the fermentation was round 48º F, putting at the top end of the German range. While at 10 days, the primary fermentation was on the long side. I was going to compare the pitching rate, but unfortunately I can't understand the yeast details in Barclay Perkins Lager logs. Can you tell me what 61/3 + 13/3 means? I thought not.

Instead I've looked at Whitbread PA from 26th October 1959. A beer of 1039.5 which received 0.8 lbs of yeast per barrel. About half the German Lager rate. It makes sense that you'd need to pitch a lot more yeast in a Lager.

Barclay Perkins both repitched yeast from earlier brews and used pure propagated yeast in their Lagers. They never used pure yeast in their top-fermenting beers, only repitched harvested yeast.

This doesn't quite tally with what I've seen in the fermentation rooms of small Bavarian breweries. True enough, the fermenters are open. But the wort isn't cooled with attemperators inside the fermenter. The whole fermentation room is kept refrigerated. Fermenting vessels mostly seem to be made out of stainless steel, though it's hard to tell when they're filled with wort.

Now lagering:

"Lagering.— In German cellars it was essential to allow tank pressures to rise to between 6 and 9 lb. per sq. in., as no further artificial carbonation was allowed. Bentonite was commonly added to the lager tank, and bunging tended to be individual, with not more than 3 tanks in a column. Cellars were often maintained at a temperature just below freezing, particularly with export beers, to allow maximum precipitation. Storage periods varied from 2-6 months, with one extreme case of 9 months in a brewery with extensive storage space. New tanks were of aluminium, but pitch- and glass-lined iron tanks were common and many old wooden casks of up to 50-brl. capacity persisted in Bavaria."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 66, 1960, page 500.

The original method of carbonating Lager was to seal - "bung" - lagering vessels after a certain time to allow pressure to build up inside them and the beer to naturally carbonate. This was the process recommended for brewing Harp Lager in the early 1960's. I'm sure they quickly dropped the practice and switched to artificial carbonation. German brewers had no option, being limited in their actions by the Reinheitsgebot.

The classic lagering period is 1 week per degree Plato of the beer. So a 12º Pilsner needs 3 months lagering, an 18º Dubbelbock 4.5 months. 6 months seems long for anything other than a Bock. From my inquiries at various Franconian breweries, modern lagering times are between 2 and 4 months. At least amongst small, old-fashioned breweries. I'm sure they're much shorter at the big boys. If they bother lagering at all.

Not sure how many still use wooden lagering vessels, even in Bavaria. The only ones I've ever seen in use were at Brauerei Schmitt in Singen, a museum brewery. Even there it looked like they were being replaced by metal tanks. And the only more old-fashioned breweries I've ever seen were communal Zoigl brewhouses.

Next time it will be packaging. How exciting.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Kulmbach area Export 1878 - 1893

I'm back with analyses from "Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel" by Joseph König. Sorry about the delay. There's a good reason.

I've been out in the internet fields harvesting modern beer details. Lots of them. Because I want to make some comparisons between 19th-century and 21st-century Lagers. And because I enjoy collecting data. It's addictive.  I'm building up an impressive set. Which I'm sure we'll have loads of fun with in future.

There's a decent set of beers from Kulmbach and nearby Kitzingen in "Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel". Enough to handle them separately.

I'll start with a note on colour. Some are specified as being Helles or Dunkles, but most aren't. However, it being Kulmbach, I'd assume most were dark. Kulmbacher was one of the early Lager styles which was imitated abroad (one of Heineken's early Lagers was a Kulmbacher). From what I can gather, it was darker and bitterer than Münchner.

Let's take a look at the 19th-century samples first.

Kulmbach area Export 1878 - 1893
Year Brewer Town Beer Style OG FG OG Plato ABV App. Atten-uation lactic acid % CO2 %
1878 Puszta Kulmbach Export Hell Helles Export 1049.9 1015.3 12.40 4.49 69.34% 0.170 0.227
1878 Gebr. Christ Kulmbach Export Hell Helles Export 1050.4 1015.1 12.52 4.58 70.04% 0.180 0.232
1884 Unknown Kulmbach Export Export 1052.6 1020.2 13.04 4.19 61.60% 0.120 0.130
1878 Puszta Kulmbach Export Dunkel Dunkles Export 1053.2 1018.2 13.18 4.53 65.79% 0.130 0.201
1884 Aktien-Export-Brauhaus Kulmbach helles Export Export Helles 1053.6 1013.3 13.27 5.24 75.19% 0.132 0.140
1879 Kulmbacher Aktien-Br. Kulmbach Export Export 1054.5 1017.4 13.49 4.80 68.07% 0.198
1885 Ehemann Kitzingen Export Export 1056.3 1017.0 13.91 5.10 69.80% 0.210
1878 Export-Brauhaus Kulmbach Export Export 1059.0 1016.0 14.54 5.59 72.88% 0.302
1893 Aktien-Export-Brauerei Kulmbach Monopol-Kulmbacher Export 1059.2 1013.1 14.59 6.01 77.87% 0.203
1884 Unknown Kulmbach dunkeles Export Export Dunkles 1061.9 1024.0 15.22 4.90 61.23% 0.153
1893 Aktien-Export-Brauerei Kulmbach helles Exportbier Export Helles 1062.5 1014.1 15.35 6.31 77.44% 0.150
1891 Aktien-Brauerei Kulmbach Export Export 1062.7 1015.5 15.40 6.15 75.28%
1879 Export-Brauhaus Kulmbach Export Export 1062.8 1019.3 15.41 5.64 69.24% 0.200
1891 Aktien-Brauerei Streitberg Streitberg "Löwenbier" (nach Art des Münchener Exportbieres) Export Dunkles 1064.2 1013.5 15.75 6.63 78.97%
1879 Ehemann Kitzingen Export Export 1064.4 1017.5 15.79 6.10 72.83% 0.230
1879 Sandler Kulmbach Export Export 1064.9 1018.2 15.91 6.08 71.96% 0.230
1879 Rizzi Kulmbach Export Export 1065.5 1013.2 16.05 6.84 79.85% 0.270
1891 Unknown Kulmbach dunkeles Exportbier Export Dunkles 1065.7 1027.9 16.09 4.88 57.53% 0.137
1879 Pätz Kulmbach Export Export 1067.5 1021.4 16.50 5.98 68.27% 0.260
1884 Aktien-Export-Brauhaus Kulmbach dunkeles Export Export Dunkles 1067.6 1025.9 16.53 5.39 61.69% 0.180 0.189
1891 Unknown Kulmbach dunkeles Exportbier Export Dunkles 1067.6 1023.0 16.53 5.78 65.98% 0.142
1891 Aktien-Brauerei Kulmbach Export Export 1068.6 1026.2 16.76 5.48 61.81%
1879 Eberlein Kulmbach Export Export 1070.5 1024.0 17.20 6.03 65.96% 0.280
1878 Aktien-Brauerei Kulmbach Export Export 1072.9 1022.0 17.75 6.61 69.82% 0.300
1878 Unknown Kitzingen Export Export 1074.4 1025.0 18.09 6.41 66.40%
1893 Aktien-Export-Brauerei Kulmbach dunkeles Exportbier Export Dunkles 1076.9 1025.8 18.65 6.63 66.45%
Average 1062.7 1019.3 15.38 5.63 69.28% 0.188 0.213
Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel by Joseph König, 1903, pages 1102 - 1156

There'a a big spread of gravities. The weakest would only just about count as Export today. While the strongest are at Doppelbock level. Mmmm... not sure I can make any sense out of that.

Attenuation isn't as bad as it could have been. With a couple of examples even pushing 80%. The samples identified as Dunkles have a worse than average attenuation - 65.38%. Interesting, but I'm not sure how significant as I don't know how many of the others were also dark.

The lactic acid level is high again. I can't believe any modern Lager would be over 0.05% acidity. I've still not ween enough CO2 measurements to say anything sensible about them. Maybe I should start studying up on carbonation levels. What I can see is considerable variation, from 0.13% to 0.30%.

Now the modern Lagers. Again, they're from Kulmbach and environs.

Kulmbach area beers in 2014
Year Brewer Town Beer Style OG FG OG Plato ABV App. Atten-uation bitterness
2014 Brauerei Reblitz Bad Staffelstein Reblitz-Räucherl Rauchbier 1049.1 1012.1 12.2 4.80 75.33%
2014 Arnsteiner Brauerei Seinsheim Landbier Export 1049.5 1009.6 12.3 5.20 80.70%
2014 Distelhäuser  Tauberbischofsheim Kellerbier Kellerbier 1049.5 1010.3 12.3 5.10 79.18% 25
2014 Kulmbacher Brauerei Kulmbach Mönchshof Naturtrübes Kellerbier Kellerbier 1049.9 1008.5 12.4 5.40 82.96%
2014 Privatbrauerei Kesselring Marktsteft Urfränkisches Landbier Landbier 1049.9 1009.2 12.4 5.30 81.56%
2014 Göller Zeil am Main Dunkel Dunkles 1050.3 1010.4 12.5 5.20 79.43%
2014 Privatbrauerei Gessner Sonneberg Alt-Sumbarcher Dunkel Dunkles 1050.3 1010.4 12.5 5.20 79.33%
2014 Privatbrauerei Kesselring Marktsteft Urtyp Export Export 1050.3 1009.7 12.5 5.30 80.82%
2014 Distelhäuser  Tauberbischofsheim Landbier Export 1050.3 1011.1 12.5 5.10 77.94% 22
2014 Distelhäuser  Tauberbischofsheim Export Export 1050.3 1010.4 12.5 5.20 79.33% 22-23
2014 Kulmbacher Brauerei Kulmbach Kulmbacher Export Export 1050.3 1008.9 12.5 5.40 82.31%
2014 Kulmbacher Brauerei Kulmbach Mönchshof Landbier Landbier 1050.3 1008.9 12.5 5.40 82.31%
2014 Brauhaus Leikeim Altenkunstadt Landbier Landbier 1050.3 1008.9 12.5 5.40 82.31%
2014 Göller Zeil am Main Kaiser Heinrich Urstoff Spezial 1050.3 1010.4 12.5 5.20 79.43%
2014 Kulmbacher Brauerei Kulmbach EKU Export Export 1050.7 1009.4 12.6 5.40 81.57%
2014 Püls-bräu Stadtsteinach Weismainer 1798er Kellertrunk Kellerbier 1051.2 1011.2 12.7 5.20 78.11%
2014 Seinsheimer Kellerbräu Seinsheim Kellerbier Kellerbier Dunkel 1051.2 1013.4 12.7 4.90 73.81%
2014 Seinsheimer Kellerbräu Seinsheim Rauchbier Rauchbier 1051.2 1013.4 12.7 4.90 73.81%
2014 Kulmbacher Brauerei Kulmbach Tradition Dunkles 1051.6 1011.6 12.8 5.20 77.51% 24
2014 Göller Zeil am Main Rauchbier Rauchbier 1053.7 1010.8 13.3 5.60 79.98%
2014 Braugasthof Grosch Rödental Grosch Fuhrmannstrunk Dunkles 1054.1 1011.9 13.4 5.50 78.02%
2014 Distelhäuser  Tauberbischofsheim Spezial Spezial 1054.6 1013.8 13.5 5.30 74.71% 26
Average 1050.9 1010.6 12.6 5.2 79.11% 24.3
Relevant brewery websites

You can see not many are actually called Export. There's Dunkles, Landbier, Spezial, Rauchbier and Kellerbier in there. The ones called export cover a very narrow gravity range, from 12.5 to 12.6º Plato. Basicaly I've put together a set of beers stronger than Helles or Pils, but weaker than Märzen. That's not so unreasonable, is it?

As you'd expect, the attenuation is better than in the 19th-century samples, around 10 points higher at 79%. There's not one under 70%.

There's a fair mix of different-sized breweries represented. Kulmbacher being pretty big - 2,259,000 hl in 2013* - Braugasthof Grosch pretty small - 3,000 hl in 2013**.

People take the piss out of British cask beer all being in the range 3.6% to 4.2% ABV. But German Lager isn't any better. That's mostly between 4.8% and 5.4% ABV.

More Exports to come. Obviously.

* Brauerei-Addressbuch 2014/15, page 101.
** Brauerei-Addressbuch 2014/15, page 137.