Friday, 7 September 2012

Vienna Beer trivia

Just some random bits of stuff about Vienna Beer. Bits that aren't big enough for a post by themselves. I don't want to waste it, so here it is.

First, a report of Vienna Beer arriving in Glasgow:
"A New Beverage.— Vienna beer has been introduced into Glasgow by the proprietor of a well-known establishment in Miller Street, resembles in appearance and to a certain extent in taste a light English sweet ale. It is much more effervescent however, than any beer of British brewing that we have seen, so much so indeed that it might be called a malt liquor champagne. We should think that on a hot summer's day a bottle of it taken out of the ice-chest would form a particularly grateful drink. One drawback to its popularity in the meantime will be the price, which as yet is just double that of Bass ; but we observe that the subject of lowering the import duty upon it has already been twice mooted in Parliament, and if this were carried out we should not be at all surprised if Vienna beer became a common beverage with us."
Dundee Courier - Tuesday 23 March 1869, page 2.

That's a very early date. Probably less than 12 months after Lager first appeared in London. Those Scots and their Lager, eh? It did indeed become a common beverage (every time I see that word, I can't help thinking of Rab C. Nesbitt) in Scotland. But only around 100 years later.

A lot of this next piece is slag. But it does contain one real nugget of information:
"GERMAN BEER. - Millions of gallons of bear are annually produced and consumed in Germany, and especially in the south of that country. Vienna beer has not long been known in England, and its importation maybe dated from the year of the great Paris Exhibition, on which occasion the, dark, amber-coloured beverage, with white, frothy head, was much appreciated by visitors. It has obtained a firm footing in Paris, to judge from the annually increasing quantity consumed in that capital within the last three years. From the very earliest times beer has kept its place in the households of civilized nations. Millions look upon it as liquid food, and whether right or wrong, science holds that beer contains nutritive substances. Whenever sugar is subjected to a certain treatment, it is transformed into alcohol and carbonic acid. The latter is a well-known gas, exemplified in champagne and soda-water, to which it imparts their refreshing taste and effervescence. Whenever starch undergoes a certain treatment, it is transformed into sugar, and it is used on account of the easy convertibility of this substance into alcohol. The process by which starch is converted into sugar, and sugar again into alcohol and carbonic acid, is called fermented, and hence the term "fermented liquors." The usual admixture of hops or pine cones with the wort gives a peculiar and distinguishing flavour to the beer. Simple as these principles may appear, the art of brewing is not easily acquired, for we have to deal with troublesome and fickle material; and, without care and knowledge, it is as difficult for an inexperienced person to brew beer, as it is to navigate a ship. Instead of sugar, a wort not unlike sour milk may be the result; and instead of beer, vinegar, or even worse substances, the odoriferous properties of which would rouse the neighbourhood in self-defence.-Food Journal."
Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 17 April 1870, page 2.

"Amber-coloured". That's the nugget, in case you were wondering. Confirmation that the early Lager in Britain wasn't the pale stuff. And that The Paris Exhibition was a pivotal event in its introduction to Britain.

Anyone else think it odd that they keep calling Vienna Lager German Beer?

There will be more of this. As I try to work my way through my material pile.


Bailey said...

The Vienna/German thing is a bit odd, but this was just before unification, so perhaps 'German' is being used in the broader cultural sense?

Lars Marius Garshol said...

Bailey took my comment. :-(