Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The difference between Lager and British beer in 1882

What a snappy title. But descriptive, you have to admit that. It's sort of a continuation of yesterday's post, if you can remember back that far.

You've already seen that Lagers contained loads more dextrine than English Bitters and Milds. Well there was something else they had more of. CO2.

"The Bavarian beer, if of the same original gravity as the English, has greater fulness on the palate, because with less attenuation, and, therefore, less alcohol, and also more albuminoids.

These various differences show why a beer of 1040 original gravity, if brewed on the German method, tastes very different from English harvest ale of the same gravity. There remains, however, a still more important factor in giving fulness to beers of medium original gravity, and that is the carbonic acid. Beer cooled to a few degrees above the melting point of ice must necessarily contain more carbonic acid than at 60° F., which may be taken as the average temperature of English beer as consumed. We all know that draught or bottled ales, if allowed to stand some hours, become insipid and flat, and taste as if several pounds per barrel less in the original gravity. The important influence of carbonic acid in making beers taste fuller and rounder has long been carefully attended to by the German brewer, whose great aim has been to secure as large an amount as possible. Hence an important part of the duty of a German brewer is to have his beers in perfect condition in the cellar, so that with a fortnight's closing of the bunghole, a sufficient amount of carbonic acid shall be formed and retained. For the same object one often finds in restaurants and beer kellers, air or carbonic acid forcing pumps to increase the amount of gas when the beer becomes too flat. The greater amount of carbonic acid in German beer is partly due to the greater amount of saccharine and albuminoid matters, but chiefly to the low temperature. The influence of temperature in the lager cellar upon the amount of carbonic acid has been the subject of some experiments by Professor Langer and Dr. Schultze. The beer they experimented on was made from a wort showing 10 degrees Balling, and had been attenuated 60 per cent. The carbonic acid found in 100 volumes of beer was at—

0.4° C. . .. 0.332 by weight 100 volumes by volume
1.6° C. . .. 0.320 by weight 96.4 volumes by volume
2.8° C. . .. 0.311 by weight 93.7 volumes by volume
4.0° C. . .. 0.297 by weight 89.5 volumes by volume
4.7° C. . .. 0.285 by weight 85.8 volumes by volume"

"Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, Volume 1, 1882" page 23.

Did you see the temperature British beer was usually consumed at? 60° F, according to this article.Seems a little on the warm side, even for cask beer.


Gary Gillman said...

Well, now we can see the U.S. soldiers' complaint when "over there" was right. :)

One thing I don't follow is in one of the tables in the previous posting, you can compare German/Austrian and English beers with a content of approximately 4% ABV each - yet the dextrine content of the Continental is much high (almost twice), which seems to go against the opening part of the phrase quoted (from Charles Graham I believe).

Can double decoction vs. infusion explain this? Might certain enzymes activated by DD result in a greater production of non-fermentable sugars than in the other process?


Barm said...

Is the implication that British beer back then was served a lot flatter than it is now?

Tandleman said...

Not in London it ain't!

Gary Gillman said...

All the answers are here:

Very clear and informative, well done Strand Brewers.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, except that it implies British brewers used to decoction mash. Whereas in fact they used multiple infusion mashes (if you're talking pre-1830 or so).

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, the language might be a little loose but I didn't read it that way. I think he meant that because British maltsters became skilled at producing highly modified malts, U.K. brewers had no need to resort to decoction mashing. Indeed, perhaps the Continent has caught up with Britain since as the author states, some large brewers on the Continent may be using only single decoction today or even infusion mashing. This may explain perhaps the fall-off in quality I've noticed in some mass-market lagers over a 30 year period.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I'm just being picky.