Saturday, 6 December 2014

American bottom-fermenting styles of the 1930's (part one)

Did I mention that "Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint” was my birthday present from Dolores? Obviously, I told her what I wanted. She’d no more randomly buy a beer book for me than I would buy clothes for her.

It’s a fascinating book, which has been reprinted by Beer Books. And I’m very grateful they did because it’s full of handy stuff. Though it does appear to be a bit out of sync with the times. The information applies really to the pre-Prohibition, not the late 1930’s. That doesn’t make it any less useful.

Especially his quick rundown of beer styles. We’re starting with the bottom fermenters. This is the overview:

“Beers Classified. According to the system of fermentation employed, beers may be classified as follows:

1. Bottom Fermentation
Bohemian Lager Beer Pilsener, Michelob
American Pale Beer Bohemian Type
Austrian Lager Beer Wiener, Dreher
American Vienna Beer Vienna type
German Lager Beer Muenchener
American Munich Beer Munich type
German Würzburger Würzburger
American Wüurzburger Würzburger type
German Nürnberger Nürnberger
American Nürnberger Nürnberger type
German Bock Hamburger
American Bock Hamburger type
German Dortmunder Dortmunder
American Dortmunder Dortmunder type
California Steam Beer San Francisco
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 150.

As you can see, American Lager styles are all closely based on European examples, save for California Stream Beer. Some are what you would expect: Pilsener, Dortmunder, Muenchener. I’m a bit surprised to see Nürnberger and Würzburger in there. And that Bock is specified as a Hamburg style. I think they really mean Einbeck, but I still find it odd. By the 20th century Bock was much more associated with Bavaria.

Notice also how Pilsener and Michelob are listed as generic types of Bohemian Lager. Sounds very BJCP, doesn’t it, Bohemian Lager? Though I’m pretty sure by this point that Anheuser-Busch had trademarked Michelob.

Here’s some more details , starting with a BJCP-ey declaration:

Quality, Character, Properties, Types and Composition of Beers
Before selecting and weighing the materials in order to start brewing operations, the brewer should clearly understand the requirements the finished product is to meet and every operation he carries out should be understood with a knowledge of the influence it may have in shaping the character of the beer desired. A beer has quality if it possesses recognized merit and meets the requirements of the trade. A beer has character if its properties conform to those of a recognized standard or type. Typical beers may differ widely as to their distinctive properties. We may distinguish for instance:

The Bavarian type of lager beer, with a light brown to dark brown or amber color, malt flavor and a mild smooth taste as the main features, with the aroma and bitter taste of hops but little pronounced, usually lively and sparkling, alcoholic content about 3.75 to 4.5 per cent by weight, from worts of about 14 per cent original extract, usually called Muenchener type; typical of Bavarian beers are the Muenchener. Nürnberger, Würzburger. Kulmbacher is a Bavarian beer brewed with considerable body and as dark as English stout.”
"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 151.

Nothing too odd there, other than the gravity, which looks a bit high. I know – why don’t I check?

These are the handful of analyses I have of Munich Dark Lagers from the 1930’s:

Munich Dunkles in the 1930's
Year Brewer Acidity OG FG colour ABV App. Atten-uation OG Plato ABW
1930 average of 4 samples 1055.2 1018.6 3.5 4.69 65.15% 13.66 3.75
1930 strongest sample 1056.9 1020.4 3.9 4.72 62.92% 14.05 3.77
1930 weakest sample 1053.6 1016.4 3 4.82 68.27% 13.27 3.85
1935 Löwenbräu, Munich 0.05 1055 1020.8 4.42 62.18% 13.60 3.53
"Van Brouwerij tot Bierglas" by F. Kurris, Doetinchem, 1948, pages 26-27
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

It looks to me as if 14º Plato is a little high, but not as much as I’d thought. Looks like around 13.5º Plato was more on the mark. The ABW given also seems a little too high – all the samples in the table are at the bottom end of the range.

Kulmbacher is a type of beer that really intrigues me. It appears to have been quite well-known internationally at the end of the 19th century, but which faded quickly. About all I've been able to glean about it was that it was very dark in colour and hoppier than the Munich style.

That’s enough fun for today. I’ll be annoying you for a few more days yet with this stuff.

1 comment:

Jeff Renner said...

Your link to beerbooks is actually in California, which doesn't have the book. Here is the link to the book

I've ordered it. It's right up my alley. Thanks for the alert.