Thursday, 5 August 2010

Schultheiss in 1907

I thought this might interest you. It's an account of a visit to the Schultheiss brewery in Berlin by a delegation from the Institute of Brewing.

It's a glimpse into the early days of large-scale, industrial brewing in Germany.

"Dr. Schultze-Besse was in early attendance at our hotel another day, having made arrangements for us to visit two Berlin breweries. We were first taken to the Schultheiss Brewery, which we were informed was the largest in Germany, employing 1200 men. This brewery worked in three sections and we were taken over one section, first inspecting the stables, where they had accommodation for 330 horses. Here we noticed that to each stall a small water tank was provided, connected up with a ball syphon. The horse was thus able to drink at any moment, presumably any quantity—quite a new theory to us, and on humane grounds I see every reason to appreciate the idea, and think it well worth our further attention.

We were next taken to the engine room, which contained several large and beautifully designed engines for ice making and electrical power generation. The cost of machinery in this room alone must have run into many thousands of pounds, and the ice plant undoubtedly forms a most important item in the process of lager beer manufacture. Each ice engine was fitted with two stroke compressors, and all worked on the ammonia system by direct compression.

The ground floor fermenting room was kept at a temperature of 44°, the atmosphere being carefully filtered through cotton wool before entering the room. It contained a few hundred fermenting vessels, holding something like 15—20 barrels each. These vessels were not fitted up with attemperating pipes, we saw an occasional small, flat, portable attemperator, about 2 feet square and 2 inches wide, suspended by a thin iron bar across the top of the fermenting vat and connected up with detachable rubber piping, but it appeared to me that very little attemperating was required.

The beer remained in the fermenting room for 8—12 days, it appeared to ferment- very slowly and was just able to throw up a brown head. The gravity of the pale lager was 18 brewers' lb [1050º]. and the dark lager 22 lb [1055º]. The pale lager was sold to the trade at 18s. per hectolitre, which averages almost 30s. per English barrel, and the dark lager at 20s-. per hectolitre, about 33.s. per barrel. Both beers were retailed at the same price, 2.5d. per litre (or reputed pint), and the firm was paying a dividend of 18 per cent. per annum.

From here we were taken to the lager cellars, of very large capacity. The atmosphere let into this cellar was also filtered, and the temperature kept at 32°—36°. The lagers held about 40—50 barrels and were " horsed " three high. You will imagine the enormous number of these lagers required, when the output of this brewery last year was 13,904 English barrels per week, and that the pale lager was stocked for six to eight weeks, and the dark lager from three to four months. In this brewery they had already commenced to use, as an experiment, the American glass-lined iron tanks, to substitute the wooden lagers, and in this case their capacity would be from 200 to 300 barrels. The tanks, unlike the lagers, were fixed permanently, and the cylinder had a full-sized doorway of entry at the side, to enable them to be examined and washed, whereas the lagers had to be taken out of the cellars and washed on the ground floor, entailing, of course, a great amount of labour. I am unable to say whether the experiment has proved a success; it is generally recognised that the use of birch pitch has an influence on the flavour of lager beers, which will be lost in a glass-lined cylinder.

In the mashing and boiling house they appeared to be kept busy throughout the whole day. Their vessels were of small dimensions compared with the large trade they were doing, mashing approximately 15 to 20 quarters at a time, and boiling in certainly not more than 100 barrel lengths. The decoction system is the only system employed in the production of lager beers, and it does not appear to lend itself to brewing in very large lengths, which consequently necessitates an increase in the number of mashing and boiling tuns. Rakes were used in the mash-tuns, and long oar-like arms in the boiling pans. Only steam boiling was resorted to, and the mash-tuns were close to the boiling pans, elevated just sufficiently to empty themselves into the pans, and the pumps were immediately underneath to throw back the wort. The interior of this department was elaborate and costly, and no expense had been spared in the construction of the plant.

The beer duty was assessed hereby the malt passing through an automatic weighing machine, which registered the amount of malt mashed. Only malt and hops were allowed to be used in the production of their beers. I might also draw your attention to the fact that wet grains were in great demand, and were selling at 6s. per quarter, obviously making the price that grains are realising here a very low one, indeed much below their value.

The bottling department bore out the impression we had formed at the Exhibition, that it had become a very large and important branch of the brewing trade. I omitted to enquire what their output was in bottled goods alone, but it must have been very considerable from the great number of men we saw at work in this department. They worked in sets of fire or six; the dirty bottles were taken from the boxes, put into a bottle-washing machine, brushed, rinsed, conveyed by a small revolving machine fitted with pegs, to the filling machine, then filled, labelled, and carried away. 1 was struck by the fact that there was no attempt to dry the bottles; they were filled wet. The enormous amount of work that was being got through, and the rapidity the men were working at, suggested they were being paid on piece work.

The last portion of the brewery was an agreeable surprise to us, and one I think I should refer to. We found a number of children at play in a playground attached to a handsome building containing various rooms, where the children received instruction in the well-known system of Kindergarten by a staff of teachers, or, rather, some of the children were so young, it would be more correct to call them children's nurses. We were informed that the employees had the privilege of sending their children here free of charge, to be looked after during the day. Nor had the workmen themselves been overlooked; in a separate building erected for them was a range of bathrooms, also dining rooms with every facility for cooking.

We were very much impressed by our visit to this brewery, and came away with feelings of admiration for the careful planning and working details of the brewery, as well as for the generosity and consideration which the firm were showing to their workpeople."
"Journal of the Institute of Brewing vol XIV", 1908, pages 47-4.

Fascinating, eh? 


MicMac said...

Fascinating indeed - free creche, staff restaurant, & the money to invest in good new equipment - a world away from many modern breweries!

I'll pass this on to a former brewing colleague - ex-Berlin, via London, now US - I'm sure he'd love this too.

Barm said...

I wonder that none of our innovative brewers have revived pitch-flavoured lager yet. I'd try it.