Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Malt Liquors Sold in the UK - Bavarian Beer

19th-century London was more cosmopolitan than you might imagine. New-fangled Lager beers were already being imported from the continent.

I've only one complaint: I wish they could have found more different examples to analyse.




The sample of this beer was much of the same general character as the Austrian beer, of which analyses were given in the previous report. It was darker coloured, rather thinner, and dryer than the Austrian beer, and was also less sparkling and fresh tasted than it; probably, in consequence of less attention being paid to keeping it at a low temperature, which is one of the chief causes of that condition which renders the Austrian beer, as drunk in Vienna and Pesth, so agreeable. The analysis of this beer gave the following results in 100 parts by weight.

Bavarian Beer, bought at the Royal Bavarian Restaurant, 30, Oxford St.
Specific Gravity 1019
Alcohol 4.09
Acetic acid 0.12
Extract 6.55
Original gravity 1057.84

According to these results, the proportion of malt used in brewing would be 2.14 bushels per barrel of 36 gallons.

This beer has somewhat less alcoholic strength than the Austrian beer; containing about .4 per cent, less alcohol. It also contains less extract; and, according to the original gravity, a smaller amount of malt had been used in brewing it. The price, however, was the same as the Vienna beer, and in this respect it contrasts unfavourably with British beer, which is at once stronger and cheaper. In regard to this point of price, Mr. Videky, of the Vienna Beer Saloon in the Strand, has fallen into an error in his comments on the report upon Vienna beer. In his letter to the Daily News of the 30th ult., he gives the price of Dreher's Marzen beer as 10 or 12 kreutzers the seidel; and he represents that sum as being equivalent to two-pence halfpenny or three-pence, which is not the case, for that is the price paid in paper money, and, according to the present and now usual rate of exchange, it is equivalent to only two-pence, or at most two-pence farthing. Of course, the import duty* paid on Austrian or Bavarian beer has something to do with the price charged for it here; but that has nothing to do with the comparison intended to be instituted between its intrinsic value and that of British beer, which is sold at two-thirds and even one-third the price charged here for the Austrian and Bavarian beer. As regards the latter, that sold at the Royal Bavarian Restaurant is certainly inferior in strength to the best kinds of Bavarian beer, the composition of which is as follows, according to Kaiser and Leo.

Lager beer from Schneider in Munich. Salvator from Zacherl in Munich. Bockbeer  from the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. Heiliger Vater.
Specific gravity 1015 1022
Alcohol 3.9 4.5 4.7 4.94
Extract 5.19 7.97 7.48 13.03
Original gravity 1049.6 1065.7 1065.4 1090.6
Amount of malt used in brewing, bushs. per barrel 1.84 2.43 2.42 3.35

For the purpose of conveniently comparing the qualities and cost of Austrian and Bavarian beer, the contents of a pint of each sample are given in the following table, together with the contents of a pint of British ale of similar character taken at random.

Pint of  Alcohol.  Extract.  Price.  Amount of One Imperial malt used in brewing.
Dreher's beer 1.13 1.43 6d 2.3
Liesing beer 1.14 1.39 6d 2.28
Bavarian beer 1.05 1.31 6d 2.14
Crowley's Alton ale 1.59 1.97 4d 3.2

In the next report will be given the results of analyses of a large number of samples of British ale, which will afford a better opportunity of comparing its general characters with those of Austrian and Bavarian beer.

* We are informed that an alteration of the import duty on beer will shortly be made; by which, foreign beer will, in that respect, stand on nearly the same footing as British beer."
"British Medical Journal 1869, vol. 1", 1869, page 218.

It's a shame WW I brought about the demise of London's German beer halls. It would be great if you could still drop by the Royal Bavarian Restaurant for a few Lagers.

It's funny how the relationship between British beer and continental Lagers has completely reversed. Before WW I, Britain's beers were quite a bit stronger than Lagers. The change was remarkably rapid, between 1916 and 1920.

Lager and bad value. Now there's something that has never changed. It started out more expensive than British styles and has remained so, despite there being no rational reason why it should be. I shouldn't complain. It means the stuff I drink when I'm in Britain is relatively under-priced. I surprised by the bit about the import duty on foreign beer being reduced. It seems awfully sporting to let German and Austrian Lager compete on a level playing field.


Gary Gillman said...

That comment about being "less fresh-tasted" is the first time I've read a comment about beer quality expressed in the modern sense. You often see comments about beer being "vapid" or "old" or "fretted" but this observer knew a fresh mild beer when he found one (or not) and he expressed the difference in a way we can recognize today.

I think all in all German beer has changed less over the years than some might think given the time lapse. True, some differences in ABV appear for some types, but the descriptions of lager being full in taste or sweet, yet often bitter as well, with the bitter being of a different quality to English, still rings true today. So does the comment about the "barley" taste in German beer: some beers from the German lands and some Czech beers do have that kind of worty barley taste, it's an oats-like flavour I sometimes encounter in lager from these places.

I wonder what that Alton Ale was like...


Jeff Renner said...

Heiliger Vater (Holy Father) at 1.091! A triple bock? ;-)

I'll have to brew one of those.

Rod said...

Ron -
"Lager and bad value. Now there's something that has never changed. It started out more expensive than British styles and has remained so, despite there being no rational reason why it should be."

There is kind of a reason why properly made lager should be a bit more expensive than cask ale. Long slow fermentation and maturation cost money and tie up your product and capital for quite some time.

Rod said...

Also, if you're brewing strictly to the Reinheitsgebot, that's not always the cheapest way of making beer either.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, I'm glad you said "properly made lager", because that's the point. Most British lagers weren't brewed the proper way. Though I was surprised at how authentic the early 1960's Harp Lager was.

Martyn Cornell said...

Gary - I wonder what that Alton Ale was like... judging by the alcohol level, it was quite probably their XXXX ale, so strong, pale, fruity, not much hop and either sweet or tart depending on whether it was mild or old would be my guess. Alton had a good reputation for pale ales, of course …