Monday, 29 April 2013

Lager arrives after WW II

It may not look like at the start of the article, but it does eventually get around to the topic of Lager. Of damned foreign Lager invading our shores.

You need to understand the context of the article. In 1947 there were still restrictions on brewing, specifically on the gravity of beer produced. There was some relaxation in 1947, allowing brewers to make slightly stronger beer. Of course, these restrictions didn't apply to continental brewers, which is why some feared foreigners would gain an unfair advantage. The solution was to limit imported beer to a maximum OG of 1036º*.

"Derby To Get Stronger Beer After Whitsun

Supplies of the stronger beer, already "in brew" at Ind, Coope and Allsopp's Burton breweries, will reach the firm's houses in Derby and Burton a week after Whitsun.

BASS brewers in the town are also preparing some stronger bitter, but at Marston's breweries an official stated that the gravity increase would hardly affect the strength of any of their beers.

A "Telegraph" representative was officially informed at Ind Coope and Allsopp's to-day that the old prices applying up to July, 1946, would be restored for the stronger beer.

8d. A HALF

This will mean a return to 8d. a half pint for best bitter (the present price for bitter is 7.5d. in Burton) and several other qualities of the firm's beer will be affected.

It was pointed out that the quality was not being restored in every type of beer brewed.

"We have still got to have quantity as well as quality," an official stated, "and this means that supplies of ordinary beer will have be maintained."

He added that Ind Coope houses in Derby and Burton would receive the bulk of the supply of stronger beer.

In the meantime, supplies of ordinary beer to public houses in the district from all the Burton breweries are gradually increasing each week.


Many houses have received nearly double their reduced quota this week for the Whitsun holidays.

Main reaction of Burton brewers to the news of Continental beer—mainly lager at about 1s. a half-pint—arriving in this country shortly, was to ask how it is intended to send it.

They assert that bulk supply is out of the question as the acute bottle shortage in this country would make it impossible to deal with the bottling here.

If as they anticipate It is sent over already bottled, they forecast heavy losses through the non-return of bottles.
Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 23 May 1947, page 6.

Bottled beer is pretty costly to export in comparison with bulk beer. All those bottles take up space, increase the weight and have to be returned or discarded, both expensive options.

Which foreign Lagers were imported? Glad you asked that, as it gives me a good excuse to produce another table.

You can see that most of the beers below were clearly trying to stick to the rules, though a few are a gravity point or two too high. The usual versions of beers like Tuborg, Carlsberg, Amstel and ZHB were much stronger, at or around 5% ABV. They were obviously brewing special versions just for the UK.

During the 1950's Heineken produced three versions of their Pils, one for domestic consumption, one for the UK and one for the USA.

Here they are:

Heineken's Pilsners
Year Beer FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1957 Pils 1012.5 1051 3.7 4.8 75.49%
1957 Pils (UK) 1007.5 1030.5 3.1 2.9 75.41%
1957 Pils (USA) 1012 1049 3.7 4.6 75.51%
Heineken (Rotterdam) brewing record held at the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, document number 834 - 1770.

Note how much weaker the UK version was. Not sure why the US version was slightly weaker. It hardly looks worth the trouble of brewing a different version.

A note on the colours. The ones from the Whitbread Gravity Book below use a large cell than the modern EBC numbers and are approximately double the modern EBC number.

Foreign Lagers 1947 - 1950
Year Brewer country Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1947 Carlsberg Denmark Lager Lager pint bottled 1008 1033 3.24 75.76%
1947 Carlsberg Denmark Pilsner Pils half bottled 0.05 1008.5 1035.6 13.5 3.52 76.12%
1947 S. Holland Brewery Holland Z.H.B. Lager Lager 1/3d half bottled 0.06 1008.2 1032.4 11.5 3.14 71.91%
1947 Tuborg Denmark Pilsner Pils half bottled 0.05 1009.1 1036.6 11.5 3.57 75.14%
1947 Tuborg Denmark Pilsner Pils pint bottled 1009.5 1035.5 3.37 73.24%
1950 Amstel Holland Lager Lager half bottled 0.06 1008.1 1033.6 15.5 B 3.31 75.89%
1950 Breda Holland Lager (light) Lager half bottled 0.06 1007.8 1036.9 13.5 B 3.78 78.86%
1950 Carlsberg Denmark Lager Lager half bottled 0.06 1010.9 1031.8 13 B 2.70 65.72%
1950 Ekla (Brussels) Belgium Lager Lager half bottled 0.06 1009.6 1037.5 10 B 3.62 74.40%
1950 Lamot Belgium Lux Lager Lager bottled 0.07 1009 1048.9 7 B 5.20 81.60%
1950 Lamot Belgium Lager Lager half bottled 0.06 1010.2 1037.4 6 B 3.53 72.73%
1950 Pilsner Urquell Czechoslovakia Lager Lager bottled 0.08 1013.5 1049 10.5 B 4.61 72.45%
1950 Pilsner Urquell Czechoslovakia Lager Lager half bottled 0.05 1010.3 1038.9 11 B 3.71 73.52%
1950 Tuborg Denmark Lager Lager half bottled 0.06 1006.1 1032.9 11.5 B 3.48 81.46%
1950 Tucher Brauerei Germany Tucher Pils Lager Pils bottled 0.06 1014.4 1055.1 15 B 5.29 73.87%
1950 Z.H.B. Holland Lager Lager half bottled 0.07 1008.4 1033.7 12 B 3.28 75.07%
1950 Lowenbrau Germany Atomator Bock bottled 0.14 1025.7 1076.6 40 + 12 6.60 66.45%
1950 Lowenbrau Germany Pale Bock Beer Bock half bottled 0.06 1013.9 1067.9 7.5 B 7.06 79.53%
1950 Spatenbrau Germany Doppel Spaten Bock bottled 0.31 1029.6 1076.7 40 + 10 6.09 61.41%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002
Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document TU/6/11

* "The Brewing Trade Review 1947" page 367.

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