But it’s a very important table. One that offers a glimpse into the world of American pre-Prohibition beers. It’s not just telling us about the physical nature of specific beers, it’s also saying what type of beers were popular and where they were brewed.
Now I knew that Milwaukee was a major brewing town. But I hadn’t quite realised how important it was nationally. 22 of the 35 beers in the table were brewed there. What’s even more interesting is that just one beer wasn’t brewed in the Mid-West – Salvator from Munich.
There’s not a single beer from the East Coast. Which is odd, as I know that as late as the 1930’s New York produced more beer than any other state, 17.5% of total production. Followed by another eastern state, Pennsylvania*. I infer from this that the beer brewed in the East was mostly consumed fairly locally. Not so odd as those were also the most populous states.
A disadvantage Eastern brewers had was that they brewed a large percentage of Ales, for which the demand decreased the further West you went. While the Mid-Western brewers were Lager all the way. I’m pretty sure than not a single beer in the table is an Ale.
A word about the styles in the table. I’ve added them, as the original table only had the beer name. They’re mostly my guess, though most I’ve simply classified as Lager.
Here’s the table. You may recognise a few names.
|Nationally-distributed pre-Prohibition bottled beers|
|Brewer||Town||Beer||Style||Acidity||FG||OG||OG Plato||ABV||App. Atten-uation|
|Cream City||Milwaukee||A. I. Cream||Lager||0.18||1014.0||1048.3||12.02||4.21||69.97%|
|Cream City||Milwaukee||Extra Stock||Lager||0.19||1013.9||1048.0||11.94||4.25||69.93%|
|Pabst||Milwaukee||Red, white & blue||Lager||0.16||1015.1||1047.0||11.72||3.43||66.81%|
|Grand Rapids||Grand Rapids||Silver Foam||Lager||0.15||1013.2||1049.9||12.4||4.5||72.66%|
|Hammond||Hammond, Indiana||Malt Extract||Lager||0.18||1018.9||1054.6||13.51||4.41||64.17%|
|Heilemann||La Crosse||Old Style Lager||Lager||0.16||1010.8||1044.9||11.2||4.32||75.09%|
|Anheuser Busch||St. Louis||Budweiser||Pilsner||0.2||1014.1||1051.8||12.86||4.8||71.70%|
|"Beer from the Expert's Viewpoint" by Arnold Spencer Wahl and Robert Wahl, 1937, page 168.|
Interesting, eh? A general point first. It looks to me as if some of the beers are the same, just with a different name. For example, there are three Cream City beers with almost identical gravities: A. I. Cream, Extra Stock and Pilsner.
The three Muenchener beers look very much like the Wahls’ description of the style: around 14º Balling and a low degree of attenuation.
At just over 13º Balling, the average for the Exports looks about right, but that doesn’t really match any of the three examples. Two are just over 12º Balling and the third almost 15º Balling. I don’t think that’s really telling us anything.
Most of the beers I’ve classified as Lager have gravities around 12º Balling, though there are some over 13º Balling. The average degree of attenuation, at just under 70%, is about what you’d expect. Though it looks quite poor by modern standards.
The Pilsners average out to almost exactly 12º Balling, though there are two real outliers, Miller High Life and Tosetti Bohemian. The latter looks like a Czech vycepni pivo, with a gravity of just under 10º Balling.
I’m not sure that the single Vienna Lager tells us much, other than to confirm a pretty standard gravity.
I’m not totally finished mining the Wahls’ book. Still something on beer colour to go.
* Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 42, Issue 5, September-October 1936, pages 416.