Sunday, 30 September 2012

The industries of Alsace

We're back with the fallout of the Franco-Prussian War again. It amkes a change of bankruptcy proceedings.

The Alsace, which France lost to Germany in the peace treaty, was one of the most industrialised regions of France. Transferring to German control wouldn't necessarily be easy for many of those industries. Including the one we're most interested in: brewing.

A meeting has just been held of delegate of the various industries of German Lorraine and Alsace, to compare notes and concert defensive measures for the future. The industry the most important and the most seriously menaced is that of the cotton manufacture. The new province contains within its borders 56 per cent, of the collective spindles of Germany, and 69 per cent, of its looms. Its weaving sheds have of late turned out yearly 4,500,000 pieces of calico of 1,000 yards each, five-sixths of which were destined for France, and if its preseut duties against German cotton goods are maintained, a competition will ensue of the most depressing kind between the rival fabrics of Westphalia, Saxony, and Alsace, for which the last, with its crutch of protective tariffs knocked from under it so abruptly, is quite unprepared. The large factories of Mulhausen have been working on short time for several months past, with the benevolent intention of maintaining the large artisan population in making stock designed for the French markets ; and this is threatened by duties with exclusion. Possibly temporary admission may be granted until time has been allowed the Alsatian manufacturers to adapt themselves to the new order of things, or if, as is not improbable, they are so minded, to depart across the border.

An industry which has rapidly grown to not unimportant proportions, that of Strasburg beer, is in jeopardy. Strasburg brews nearly twenty million gallons yearly, one-tenth of the entire produce of France ; this has hitherto been shielded by a protective tariff, which in 1869 only let in 1,000,000 gallons of German beers, 700,000 Austrian, and 50,000 of English. This industry, modern in its great dimensions, has stimulated in Alsace the culture of hops. In the Lower Rhine department the crop has increased four-fold within the last fourteen years. The lastest comparative figures show a yield in 1806 of 1,140,000 kilogrammes, valued at upwards of £120, the Upper Rhine department producing an additional tenth. The culture has been recently improved, with the view of a market in England."
Westmorland Gazette - Saturday 25 March 1871, page 3.

Becoming part of Germany doesn't seem to have damaged Alsace's brewing industry much. Alsace is today responsible for a huge proportion of the beer brewed in France. Much more than 10% of total production, as in 1870. Admittedly, it comes from just a couple of breweries.

The refence to the hop industry got me thinking. I've seen Alsace hops in brewing records. When was that? Before or after 1870? Sort of both.

This from a Truman's Porter brewed in July 1870:

And this is from  a Whitbread KKK brewed in December 1877:

I can see one change: the name. Tehy're using the German rather than the French name.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Jean-Paul Sartre talks about Franco-German relations in Alsace in his childhood memoir Words. Sartre's mother's family was from there - her cousin was Albert Schweitzer - and he recalls trips with his grandfather, who chose France in 1871, back to his home town of Gunsbach just before the First World War, including run-ins with German officials as well as relatives who had opted to stay and become citizens of the newly-formed Reich.