Friday, 24 October 2014

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Modern German beer styles

You might have noticed that Lager, especially German Lager has been very much on my mind recently. I have these occasional bouts of obsession. I'm sure I'll get over it eventually.

In the background I've been collecting as much data about German beer as I can. As much as I can collect within a reasonable time frame. The set has about 350 beers, mostly from Bavaria. Assigning styles to them has been fun. And by definition, to a certain extent arbitrary. I thought to myself "Why not check up the official German style definitions?" So I have done. No, it's not the BJCP deinitions. I've opted for those of the Deutscher Brauer-Bund, the German brewers' trade organisation. They should know what they're talking about, shouldn't they?

I'll admit that it's a pretty slimmed down set. They've lumped together plenty of things I would have split apart - the different colours of Hefeweizen, for example, and Lager Hell and Export Hell. And it's odd they've not bothered with a separate entry for Doppelbock, which is defined in German law.

What I'll be doing is to compare the specs I've harvested with the definitions of the Deutscher Brauer-Bund. I doubt there will be any huge disconnect because of the restrictions on gravity for certain types of beer. For example, any beer in a Vollbier style cannot have a gravity below 11º Plato, while a Bock must be above 16º Plato.

Here's the Deutscher Brauer-Bund's schema:

Modern German beer styles
Style category OG Plato ABV Comment
Alt Vollbier  11.5 4.8
Berliner Weisse Schankbier 7 to 8 2.8
Bockbier Starkbier min 16 7
Kölsch Vollbier 11.3 4.8
Lager dunkel Voll- or Schankbier 10 to 12 4.6-5.1 min 50% dark malt
Export dunkel Vollbier 12 to 14 5.1-5.6 min 50% dark malt
Lager hell Voll- or Schankbier 10 to 12 4.6-5.1
Export hell Vollbier 12 to 14 5.1-5.6
Pils Vollbier min 11 4.8
Schwarzbier Vollbier min 11 4.8-5
Weizenbier Vollbier 11 to 14 5.4
Leichtbier Voll- or Schankbier 7 to 12 2-3.2
Malztrunk Vollbier 11.7 0.5 top-fermenting
Kellerbier/ Kräusenbier/Zwickelbier/Zoigl Vollbier 11 to 14 4.5-5.5
Märzen Vollbier min 13 4.8-5.6
Oktoberfestbier Vollbier min 13.5 4.8-5.6
Rauchbier Vollbier 11 to 14 4.5-5.5
Roggenbier Vollbier min 11 5
Dinkelbier Vollbier min 11 5
Deutscher Brauer-Bund

The distinction between Lagerbier Hell and Export Hell seems to have been pretty much eroded. Many are just called Helles by the brewery no matterwhat their gravity. Overall, I've not too many arguments with their definitions.

Their list of styles I've identified in my 350 smaple beers is a little bit longer:

Bock Rauch
Bock, Bernstein
Bock, Dunkel
Bock, Hell
Doppelbock Rauchweizen
Export, Bernstein
Festbier, Bernstein
Hefeweizen Dunkel
Kellerbier DunkelKellerbier, Bernstein
Lagerbier, Bernstein
Pale Ale
Spelt Beer
Vienna Lager

Though many of my extra entries are due to splitting a style like Bock into substyles and including foreign styles like Pale Ale and IPA.

This is all going to be handy background information for my slow trawl through the style numbers. I won't claim it'll be great fun, but it will be educational.

First under the microscope will be Helles. Or Lager Hell as I should really call it. Lager Hell - sounds like being in a pub that only sells Carling and Tennents

Thursday, 23 October 2014

My November Northwest tour events

I've just about got all the events arranged for my upcoming tour of the Pacific Northwest. I can almost stop worrying. Almost.

This is what I have planneed:

Narrows Brewing Company
9007 S 19th St,
Tacoma, WA 98466.
Saturday 8th November at 3pm. Short, informal talk on Stock Ale.

Hogshead brewery
4460 W 29th Ave,
Denver, CO 80212.
Sunday 9th November at 6pm Chat about beer and tap the "Beer from the Wood" version of 1845 Lovibond XX. Also a cask conditioned Stout based on Barclay Perkins 1928 OMS.

Hair of the Dog
61 SE Yamhill Street,
Portland OR 97214
Wednesday 12th November ??pm. Tasting of the beers brewed from recipes in the Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer at the brewery.

The Cobalt
917 Main St,
BC, Canada
Thursday 13th November 7pm. Talk: the Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer, plus beers brewed from the book.

Foggy Noggin Brewing
22329 53rd Ave SE
Bothell, WA 98021
15th November 4pm. 12:00 – 16:00 book signing
Release of 8 collaboration brews
18:00 vintage beer tasting event

So a fairly relaxed schedule.

Brewing in WW II (part four)

I'm skipping one bit about nitrogen in malt that made my head hurt when I read it. We'll move directly on to yeast problems. Though you'll see that there's still a connection with the nitrogen level in malt.

And remember, this the less head-melty part of the article:

"The nitrogen constituents which are precipitated on cooling go forward into the fermenting vessel, and although some of them and those precipitated in the copper which have not been completely removed in the hop back rise to the surface with the first dirty head, a proportion, however, drop through the wort and settle on the bottom of the fermenting vessel; and, as Bishop has demonstrated (ibid., 1938, 70), forms points of disengagement for the CO2, the bubbles of which become coated with yeast as it rises through the beer and by thus bringing it to the surface is liable to restrict the attenuation of the beer. Where there is an excess of this type of nitrogen compounds this effect will be enhanced. The ph value of the wort has a direct influence on the cold break of wort, and when this is not normal the precipitation in the cold is not complete and a type of nitrogen compound will remain in a state of fine dispersion in the wort. There are other nitrogen compounds which are not precipitated on cooling but tend to coagulate as the ph value is altered during the progress of fermentation, and all these are capable of being adsorbed on the surface of the yeast cells. This coating on the surface of the yeast restricts its power of assimilating the yeast feeding material in the wort and results in a deterioration in its health and vigour. This effect was especially noticeable during the past year, for although the malts contained a high percentage of permanently soluble nitrogen the greatest difficulty was experienced in producing healthy and vigorous yeast crops. This was one of the most serious difficulties with which the majority of brewers had to contend throughout the war years, but it was most pronounced during the years when the malts were high in nitrogen and poor in quality. Another effect of the coating of the yeast is to cause it to agglomerate or flocculate, and when this happens it is inclined to purge out of the beer at an early stage of the fermentation. leaving the attenuations high and causing the beer to rack very clean. Slow cask conditioning is the result, and where there is any infection with wild yeast this has an opportunity of developing and cask frets inevitably follow."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 120.

This is how excess nitrogen buggers up a fermentation. They mess up the cold break and leave crap in the wort. This nitrogen crap coats the yeast and either drags it up to the surface or prevents it working properly. So brewers couldn't get a decent crop of yeast from their fermentations.

Presumably because it racked so clean there was too little yeast from the secondary cask conditioning. I guess there was a lot of flat beer in pubs. What a shame the Whitbread Gravity Book inspectors weren't around.

More about yeast problems:

"Yeast weakness has been a constant source of trouble throughout the country, and caused the brewer the greatest anxiety. The average gravity of beers when war broke out was down to 1041°, but this figure varied considerably in individual breweries, and when it became subject to a reduction of 20 per cent, some of those whose original average gravity was low were faced with considerable difficulty, which was appreciably increased in those years when the malts were so poor in quality. While lack of attenuative power is often taken as a measure of yeast weakness, it is not always so, as a weak yeast will more often than not cause excessive attenuation. The appearance of the yeast cells under the microscope is the surest method for determining yeast weakness. Signs of elongation of the cells are the first indication, and the more numerous and pronounced these become the greater is the deterioration in health and vigour. This is readily confirmed by the appearance of the heads on the fermenting vessels. The first effect of a falling off in health and vigour is the development of a "yeast bite" in the beer, which becomes more pronounced as the deterioration becomes progressive. It has been noticeable in low gravity beers of an average gravity of 1030° and under, and he was afraid that there have been many beers brewed of even a lower gravity. In beers of higher gravity a weak yeast tends to produce an unpleasant unclean flavour, and when this becomes very pronounced it renders the beer almost undrinkable. That flavour also is associated with an unclean nose, which can be readily detected on the fermenting vessel, usually at about half gravity, and, in fact, can often be detected as soon as the fermenting room is entered."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, page 120.

Occasionally there are higher gravity brews in brewing logs during the war years where it specifically says they were to produce a good yeast crop. It might also explain the weird practice of some brewers like Truman and William Younger who in the years imnmediately after WW I fermented fairly strong worts then blended them to produce a weaker finished beer. Were they doiing that for the sake of their yeast, making sure some of it was healthy?

I'm not sure I follow why a weak yeast would over-attenuate. Makes absolutely no sense to me on any level. An "unclean nose" sounds more like an infection than just crappy yeast. It doesn't sound as if the end result was much fun to drink. Presumably in the difficult war years, even almost undrinkable was better than no beer at all.

Now something about Californian barley and nitrogen:

"In discussing possible war-time problems he had suggested that the lack of Californian malt might prove a difficult one (ibid., 1940, 272), he stated then that "Practical experience had shown that the use of Californian malt improves the brilliance of beers and assists in obtaining polish in bottled beers. It is evident, therefore, that it must be effective in adjusting the balance of the nitrogen constituents in the wort and effecting a stable equilibrium." Various opinions were expressed on this point during the discussion, and the general opinion appeared to be at that time that no serious difficulties had been experienced by reducing the proportion of Californian malt or discontinuing its use altogether. This, however, was experience gained in 1940 with the well-made malts from the sound barleys of 1939. Later on, when the quality of the malts deteriorated, and especially during the two very bad years, there is no doubt that the usefulness of Californian malt would have been clearly demonstrated. There is no question that the maltsters would have welcomed a supply of Californian barley, especially in those years when the quantity of held-over barleys was small and the quality was poor, as it would have enabled them to hold off malting the new season's crop until it had recovered from its dormancy and satisfactory results could have been assured."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 52, Issue 3, May-June, 1946, pages 120 - 121.

So it wasn't just the nitrogen content of Californian barley that made it attractive but also the fact that it was ready to malt earlier than British barley. Which also gave the home-grown stuff time to get into shape before it was malted. How complex this is.

Next time we'll be looking at flaked grains.

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.