Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Beer colour in Munich

Beer colour is a fascinating subject. You'd be surprised how often drinkers change their mind about which colour beer they like best. Fickle bunch.

I bought a dead good book the other day. About the Löwenbräu brewery in Munich. It's called "Löwenbräu. Von den Anfängen des Münchner Brauwesen" and was written by Wolfgang Behringer. (He alsio wrote an excellent history of Spaten.) It's justr the sort of book I love. Full of statistics and facts. Researched facts rather than the imaginary kind.

It has some fascinating titbits abour beer colour in Munich. Now, I'd always assumed (a dangerous thing to do, I know) that, before the 1890's, Munich lagers had always been dark. Turns out things are a bit more complicated than that.

In the 1840's someone made a survey of the Munich breweries and their beers. And took the trouble to note the colour. About half the beers were described as "wine yellow". Doesn't sound like dark to me. But a few years later, all the beers were dark. At least up until the 1890's when Helles was introduced. Though, as you'll see from the table below, it took a while for Helles to win over the throats of the locals.


I maintain my prediction of an imminent move in public taste from pale to dark beer. You may be surprised just how quickly it occurs.

10 comments:

Matt said...

Do you predict a move in public taste to dark beer in England? To dark mild, porter or something else?

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, yes, at some point. It needn't necessarily be a type of beer that already exists. It could simply be lager with added colouring.

rod said...

"It could simply be lager with added colouring."

Interesting. There was some market research done whilst I was in the wine trade years ago - members of the public were invited to taste various red wines (at a time when white wine was MUCH more opoular here in Britain), one of which was simply Liebfraumilch coloured red.
Guess which "red" wine most people liked? You're right - red Blue Nun.

You could be right, Ron, about a change in colour preference. After all, isn't a lot of this, certainly nowadays, a matter of fashion? Witness the rise in popularity of rose wine recently - when I was selling wine, you couldn't give rose away, as it was associated with Mateus Rose, and therefore a naff chavdrink.

However, I would be interested to hear what lays behind this prediction - have you started to see the beginnings of trends, or is this an extrapolation of what has been the case before in beer consumption history?

First Stater said...

Cannot wait to try the Bud Dark Light. However as long as the perception of dark beers being strong and heavy exists the twigs that are the young drinkers will not consume a dark beer so I am afraid you will have a long wait for the change. It's about perception, not flavor. How else can you explain the success of Bud Light?

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, I think beer colour has been driven by fashion for at least 200 years. It's all about the values consumers think a certain colour of beer embodies.

I'm just extrapolating from past trends. There's bound to be a point soon when all the old blokes nursing a pint in the corner will be drinking lager. Then every self-respecting youngster will not only want to be drinking something else, but also for it to be obvious that they're drinking something else. A beer that's a different colour is an easy way to achieve that.

rod said...

"beer that's a different colour is an easy way to achieve that."

If they stay with beer, of course. I understand that cider is a big growth area with young drinkers, and there's also alchopops to contend with.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, that's true. But I can't imagine everyone turning their backs on beer.

Rod said...

Well I hope you're right, Ron. I take comfort in the fact that once upon a time it looked pretty certain that English cask ale was going to die out within our lifetimes, but now it seems to me to be in rude health.
Incidentally, it seems to me that, in Germany, Weizen is the new Pils - do you have any figures on this?

Lager Bore said...

Hoy hoy one and all,
I can't help but notice that a little event now known as the Second World War took place between the first and second columns.
I'm no rocket scientist, so I'm wondering if others have taken into account the slight upsettings this event may have caused in terms of calculations?

zythophile said...

"There's bound to be a point soon when all the old blokes nursing a pint in the corner will be drinking lager. Then every self-respecting youngster will not only want to be drinking something else, but also for it to be obvious that they're drinking something else."

You're so right, Ron, and I think we're starting to see its effects now, as, for example, the beerblogosphere becomes younger, new breweries are started by young enthusiasts, not, as they used to be, laid-off former brewery workers from the big firms, and so on.

On an associated note, it won't be long before Sharon and Tracey are names typically asociated with pensioners ...