Monday, 10 September 2012

Vienna Beer in Paris

I've learned a new word today. It cropped up the article below. Not sure I'll have much chance to use it. And there is a word with the same meaning and far fewer syllables.

The war in the title in the Franco-Prussian War. An unmitigated disaster for the French, apart from getting rid of their useless Emperor. The war also interrupted supplies of Vienna Lager, though once again it's called "German beer" in the article.

A terrible piece of news for thirsty Paris is just announced. The numerous cafés supplied with Bock beer by the great house of Dreher & Co., of Vienna, exhibit in their windows a placard stating that in consequence of the war no beer is to be had by the usual railways, that the stock is out, and that their numerous customers must be good enough to wait for the completion of arrangements set on foot for bringing German beer to Paris by way of  Switzerland and Italy. It is only in the best houses that this momentary scarcity will be felt. By far the geater part of the soi-disant bocks consumed in Paris are muanufactured in this city or the environs. There is an enormous brewery of "Vienna" beer at Pantin, the suburb , made famous by the Tropmann murders. I believe the interests of this brewery have rather suffered by the notoriety of its existence. But for Tropmann its products would have passed off as true "bock" more easily than they do now. But, although the brewers cannot produce beer as good as those of Munich and Vienna, or even as the bock of Strasburg, but their efforts to rival the genuine article have very much improved the average of the beer brewed in Paris. Some years ago Paris beer was a vile, flatulent, saponaceous deception. Now a very palatable, refreshing, and not unwholesome preparation of malt - and possibly of hops - though I believe other bitters are more commonly used, is a very general drink. The French cannot understand beer as a concomitant to a repast, With their meals they must have wine. But in the evening, among the better classes, far more beer is now drunk in Paris than in London. That MM, Dreher & Co may therefore speedily make their new arrangements, must be a very general wish."
Glasgow Herald - Thursday 28 July 1870, page 2.

It's a sign of how renowned Dreher's beers was that it's mentioned by name. For a brief period in the 1860's and 1870's, it was the most famopus Lager in the world. It didn't last long and Viennese brewing was left behind when the Pilsener train pulled out of the station. Rather like the stout gentleman in the story we'll read tomorrow.

I'm intrigued to learn that most of the Lager drunk in Paris was brewed locally. Viennese Beer only really got a name in Paris during the exhibition of 1867. Viennese beer halls had sprung up almost immediately afterward. I'm impressed at how quickly local brewers had moved into the trade themselves. It took 10 years before the first Lager was brewed in Britain.

Saponaceous is the word I learned. It means soapy. Not sure why you'd use a 5-syllable word when there's a perfectal good 2-syllable synonym. If you want to sound posh, I guess.

The beer situation in Paris would get much worse. In September Paris was under seige by the Prussians and nothing could get in or out, other than the odd balloon.

Next we'll be learning about yards of Vienna Beer.


Martyn Cornell said...

And for those wondering about the "Tropmann" (properly Troppmann) murders, Jean-Baptiste Troppman was a 22-year-old who wiped out, successively, Mr and Mrs Kinck of Pantin and their six children, and went to the guillotine for it in January 1870: see eg here. Not sure what the brewery had to do with the murders, though.

Matt said...

The nineteenth century Anglican bishop Samuel Wilberforce who debated Thomas Huxley over Darwinism was nicknamed "Soapy Sam" after Disraeli called him "unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous" which has a nice ring to it ("Soapy Sam" is also the nickname Rumpole bestows on his similarly saponaceous head of chambers Sam Ballard in Rumpole of the Bailey).