Wednesday, 2 September 2009

German beer styles in 1915

Technical publications are great sources. Especially chemistry publications. I've found so much useful stuff in them.

Below is a quick overview of German beer types in 1915. Read it carefully. I'll be asking questions later.
"Bottom-fermenting beer types. First in line amongst dark beers is the Munich type of dark beer. It tastes malty, full-bodied, lightly-hopped and not greatly attenuated. Munich Export Beers are more highly attenuated and consequently differ in taste from the local beers. Nürnberger beer - also Salvator and Bockbier - are darker than Munich beer. Märzenbier is usually paler than the standard dark Schankbier and Lagerbier.

Beers with a middle colour are represented by Wiener Beer, which however no longer always retains its former character of a golden to red-brown pithy-tasting beer, and which is less malty and full-bodied than Munich beer.

Amongst pale beers there can be differentiated beers of the Pilsen or Bohemian type which are yellow, with little malt flavour but a strong, pleasant hop aroma and the paler Dortmunder and Berlin or north German beers. Dortmunder is more highly attenuated than Pilsner, has more alcohol and a higher starting gravity. Hop flavour is not particularly strong, the flavour noble and full-bodied, the head less lasting than with Pilsener. Berlin beers are halfway between Pilsner and Dortmunder: they are mostly yellow to dark yellow powerful-tasting beers without such a prominent hop flavour as Pilsener.

Top-fermenting beer types. In Germany lightly-hopped Malzbier, Süßbier and Braunbier are brewed that vary greatly in original gravity. Only beers sold under the name of Malzbier have to contain a minimum amount of malt according to the Brausteuergesetz of 15. Juli 1909 for the North German Brausteuergebiet. These beers are sometimes light and sweetened with sugar, sometimes heavy (Malzkraftbier, Malzextraktbier, etc.).

Sour-tasting beers are Berliner Weißbier and Lichtenhainer, brewed from smoked barley malt, even more so Gose, which is also seasoned with cooking salt. Grätzer Bier, brewed from smoked wheat malt, heavily hopped but of a low gravity, also tastes smoky.

Apart from sweet, sour and smoky top-fermenting beers, there is another bitter-tasting type, mostly found in thge West of Germany. These beers are pale in colour, heavily-hopped and are lagered in cold cellars."
"Encyklopädisches Handbuch der technischen Chemie, Volume 4, Part 1", 1915, pages 209-210. My translation.

So, did you notice? Do I have to do all the work? That Märzen was listed amongst the dark lagers. And pale lagers. Split into Pilsener, Dortmunder and Berliner. The Berlin type is a new one on me. And no mention of Munich Helles.

And top-fermenting beers. I love the division there: sweet, sour, smoky and bitter. Not quite how the BJCP sees them.

Below is the original text, should you wish to check my translation.

Untergärige Biertypen. Als dunkles Bier kommt in erster Reihe das dunkle Bier vom Münchener Typus in Betracht. Es schmeckt malzig, vollmundig, schwach hopfig, meist ist es niedrig vergoren. Münchener Exportbiere sind höher vergoren und deshalb auch im Geschmack von den Lokalbieren etwas verschieden. Dunkler als das Münchener Bier ist der Typus des Nürnberger Bieres, ebenso das Salvator- und das Bockbier. Die Märzenbiere sind etwas heller als die gewöhnlichen dunklen Schank- und Lagerbiere.

Die mittelfarbigen Biere werden durch das Wiener Bier repräsentiert, das allerdings nicht immer den früher vorherrschenden Charakter eines goldgelben bis rothellbraunen, kernig schmeckenden Bieres bewahrt hat, und weniger malzig und vollmundig als das Münchener Bier schmeckt.

Bei den hellen Bieren sind zu unterscheiden Biere vom Pilsen er oder böhmischen Typus, gelbe wenig malzig schmeckende Biere mit starkem, aber angenehmem Hopfenaroma, und die helleren Dortmunder und Berliner oder norddeutschen Biere. Das Dortmunder Bier ist höher vergoren als das Pilsener, es ist alkoholreicher und aus stärkerer Stammwürze hergestellt als letzteres. Der Hopfengeschmack tritt nicht besonders stark hervor, der Geschmack ist edel und vollmundig, die Schaumhaltigkeit geringer als beim Pilsener Bier. Die Berliner Biere stehen zwischen Pilsener und Dortmunder Typ etwa in der Mitte; es sind meist gelbe bis tiefgelbe kräftig schmeckende Biere mit einem nicht so stark wie beim Pilsener Bier in den Vordergrund tretenden Hopfengeschmack.

Obergärige Biertypen (s. auch S. 303). In Deutschland stellt man schwach gehopfte Malz-, Süß- oder Braunbiere her, deren Stammwürzegehalt in sehr weiten Grenzen schwankt. Nur für Biere, die unter dem Namen Malzbier verkauft werden, ist die Verwendung einer Mindestmenge von Malz durch das Brausteuergesetz vom 15. Juli 1909 für das norddeutsche Brausteuergebiet gesetzlich vorgeschrieben worden. Die Biere sind teils leicht, mit Zucker gesüßt, teils schwer eingebraut (Malzkraftbier, Malzextraktbier usw.).

Säuerlich schmeckende Biere sind das Berliner Weißbier und das aus geräuchertem Gerstenmalz hergestellte rauchig schmeckende Lichtenhainer Bier, ferner die Gose, die noch durch einen Zusatz von Kochsalz gewürzt wird. Rauchig schmeckt auch das Grätzer Bier, ein aus geräuchertem Weizenmalz hergestelltes, stark gehopftes, schwach eingebrautes Bier.

Außer den süßen, den säuerlichen und den rauchigen obergärigen Bieren kennt man noch einen bitter schmeckenden, hauptsächlich im Westen Deutschlands vorkommenden Typus. Diese Biere sind von heller Farbe, sie werden stark gehopft und machen eine Lagerzeit im kalten Lagerkeller durch.


MentalDental said...

That makes quite sad reading. Since then the German brewing industry has tried to flood the market with a "range" of almost identical beers, and (ducks quickly) quite a lot of them not very special. Bloody Reinheitgebot. I can't really take it seriously as a quality control measure when it allows hop extract. Yuck!!

And yes I know there are some damn good beers in Germany but you have to look quite hard for them compared with, say, Belgium, Holland, or UK.

Ron Pattinson said...

MentalDental, I'd have to agree that diversity took a nosedive after 1900. Some bits of Germany aren't too bad, but there's a lot of dull stuff in the North.

The book I've quoted from today has a longer description of top-fermenting styles in a later section. Maybe I'll translate that, too.

Gary Gillman said...

What I find interesting is that by this early date, German and Austrian bottom-fermented beers already had regional characteristics which are mostly still familar today. Only Munich pale lager seems not to gelled into a style (Helles) although I think some examples were being brewed by this date.

E.g., Vienna beer had already lost its bronze colour of the mid-1800's.

All of this would have occurred in about two generations, quite remarkable.

It is true that the top-ferments were going down but the diversity of the rising (ahem) bottom-ferments was evident. It was probably more detailed if you took into account local variations such as kellerbier and the unbunged types.

Since 1915, the bottom-fermented beers surely have become more uniform, e.g., the disappearance of most of the large-scale Dortmund concerns and of Berlin lager as a style.

The statement that Pilsen beer is not malty seems odd but I think that was being said in relation especially to full maltiness of Bavarian lager.

I gather the last reference is to Dusseldorf altbier, or that that is one of the beers intended by this reference to bitter darker beers.

I am still interested in the origin of Colner beer, maybe this will appear in the next extract.

A very interesting bird's eye view at a key juncture in the history.


Gary Gillman said...

Good contemporary (in more ways than one) account of Lichtenhainer, which gives some idea of what these old top-ferment beers were like:

One can see I think why most of these styles did not survive or required adaptation if they did.