Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Anglo-Bavarian Brewery

This bunch has got me really confused. Did they bottom-ferment or not?

The evidence of the type of beers they brewed - Pale Ales, Mild Ales, Porter and Stout - would suggest that they didn't. There isn't a continental type beer among them. There is a Vienna Prize Beer, but that's just the description of the beer that won them a prize at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873.

But this advert has me all confused, it seems to imply that they were brewing to the Bavarian system. See what you think (I've transcribed the advert because the original is close to illegible):


And only medal awarded for marked progress in
These ALES combine the essential properties of the production of Burton-upon-Trent with the best Beer of Munich and Vienna, Brewed upon the BAVARIAN SYSTEM.

Special attention is invited to the present Season's Brewings, and particularly to the VIENNA PRIZE BEER, which for Purity, Delicacy of Flavour, and Freedom from Acidity cannot be surpassed.


PALE ALE (Vienna Prize Beer) ................. 1s 3d per Gal.
AMBER ALE (Family Bitter Beer) ............ 1s 2d
OTHER ALES (Mild, Bitter, or Strong) ..... 1s to 2s 0d
PORTER and STOUTS (Mild Drinking) .... 1s to 1s 6d


Western Daily Press - Thursday 12 March 1874, page 4.
What do you reckon? It's not very clear, is it? If they were brewing the Bavarian way, why wouldn't they have produced a Lager, that sold at a considerably higher price than British styles of beer.

It all makes no sense. Unless they just wanted to cash in on the renown of Bavarian brewing by making people think they brewed the Bavarian way.


dana said...

Maybe they thought it would be clever to use the very bavarian method of decoction for ales. They might wreck the body of the beer, though.

Sounds like something a homebrewer would do.

Martyn Cornell said...

Barnard, when he visited the place in 1890, only talks about them brewing "ales", his brief description of the mash sounds like a straightforward infusion mash to me, and the fermentation appears to be a fairly standard (for the time) "double drop" after a few hours into shallow "skimming backs", where fermentation was completed. He also talks about the brewery making "running beers", which are "ales for immediate consumption" and "stock beers, which are not intended for consumption until at least two months after they have been brewed", which was all standard British ale brewing practice at the time. And he quotes from the British Commission on Beers about the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Company's "ales in barrel". And in a short addendum on the Anglo's bottlers, Barnard says that "The special product of the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery (as is well known) is a brilliant, light and sparkling pale ale". So no, I don't believe they made lager, and yes, I think the name was just marketing.

Gary Gillman said...

This makes sense, especially too as it was "in the air" to attempt a German palate using English methods, as the Perry book, on brewing "dry lager" by "English methods" attests, which I mentioned a few comments ago.

Perry's book gives certain clues how this was done, e.g., he refers to using German hops (but advises against "coarse" ones to avoid the garlic taste) and pitching of casks as examples of imparting a lager palate, but also speaks to the importance to have a brilliant beer with a high amount of CO2.

If you have a clean ferment (not too warm), use German hops, use pitch in the casks (though whether anyone did in England for lager is not clear though), cold-age the beer and make it brilliant and very fizzy, you will get a Germanic palate.

In effect, some light dinner ale of the late 1800's was probably of this character, i.e., beyond the confines of breweries advertising a lager taste.

The surprisingly detailed account of the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery in Wikipedia suggests some German influence by reason that German brewers were employed in the works, it says.



P.S. Perry worked in the Torquay Brewing and Trading Company, and looking into its beer and history may provide further clues as to an apparent hybrid pale ale-lager in England in this period.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, a correction: Thomas Perry states specifically that pitch should not be used in casks or fermenters. He states rather, see page 6, that at the underlet stage, "resin" should be "dissolved in" and also that both his casks and fermenters are lined with "fresh" enamel. He refers to a proprietary type, Crawford's enamel, for this purpose. (One may note incidentally that this is good evidence that Torquay Brewing & Trading Co.'s casks, i.e., a top-fermenting 1800's English brewer making German-style products, were lined).

Also, a little earlier, he states that a good lager beer should be clean on the palate, so clean that if you mixed it with dry sherry 1:1, it wouldn't impair the flavour of the sherry! This is a clue to the desire of some 19th century brewers for a non-assertive palate. I can't think of too many beers that would fit this bill. Coors Light, maybe? So much for the old days! :)



Anonymous said...

Gary, that Wikipedia article claims it was employing German brewers, but fails to give a source for that claim. I've been meaning to go into it for some time to add some doubts about the claim of it being Britain's first lager brewery, and I have now done so: ads from the time when it had supposedly started brewing lager only show it brewing a standard British line-up, eg the ad in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Saturday, May 24, p1, shows it brewing only pale ale, mild ale, strong ale, porter, stout and amber ale, not lager.

Gary Gillman said...

If there is no substantiation to the Wikipedia claim, it should be removed or qualified, I agree. (I rather think such a claim came from somewhere, but that is neither here nor there if no source can be pointed to).

However, both by dint of the name of the brewery and ads such as the one recounted in this link,


I believe the brewery sought to give a German character to its beers. The reason it called them ales and stouts is likely that they were top-fermented. But you can use top-fermentation and still produce German-tasting beers.


Anonymous said...

I am almost embarrassed to add a comment to such an august group of enthusiasthists and researchers, as I have no proof only family stories, I was told by my father that his grandfather and some colleagues who worked at the Anglo Bavarian Brewery spent time in Germany learning how to brew lager the German way. This may only be heresay and even if true they may not have returned to Shepton and started to brew lager, but I was so impressed with the comments I thought I would leave you with some family gossip for some grist to your research mill