Monday, 30 March 2015

Random Berliner Weisse stuff

Some random stuff about Berliner Weisse that I found in the newspaper archive. Though they do tell us something. And I don’t mean about the habits of German sailors

Sunday is the great day of recreation for the men of the German Navy at Kiel. As in Great Britain, the shops are shut, and churchgoers go to church in the morning, but the rest of the day is given up to pleasure. The Germans cannot be said a religious people from our standpoint—dogma being nebulous, and religion a State duty. One German Protestant cathedral that I know has as its chief pastor or dean a minister who openly doubts the existence of the Deity. On Sunday evenings there is much dancing and beer-drinking. Dancing is the rule of the day in every cafe of any size, and if energetic it is always orderly. The amount of beer that is consumed on these occasions is wonderful. A great favourite with the ladies is the frothy Berlin white beer, drunk out of large bowl-shaped glass, and with a liqueur-glass of raspberry syrup added to it. On these days the German sailor, and his beard trimmed to a point in a sort of goatee, appears resplendent his full uniform, bare-chested, and many buttoned to a perfectly surprising degree. Drunkenness is nowhere as obtrusive as in England, and any disorderliness in the street, at once leads to the offending sailor being arrested by the patrol, and promptly consigned to custody. Discipline is severe.— J. Morin in Chambers's Journal.”
Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 01 November 1905, page 6.

What have we learned? That Berliner Weisse was popular with the ladies. And also that it was being served far from Berlin – Kiel is 350 km away.

But what really caught my attention was the reference to Berliner Weisse being drunk with raspberry syrup. I’d thought that this didn’t become a common practice until after WW I. Clearly it dates from before that.

Here’s a somewhat older article:

The foreign correspondents, having little else to write about, have been giving us descriptions of the Easter customs in the countries where they live. In Germany, we read, there is a so-called Easter soup, which is the seasonable dish at dinner or supper. It is a species of egg-flip, but as the beer used in its composition is the Berlin white beer the result is proportionally thin, and unsatisfactory to the normal English palate. With regard to customs, the principal one unknown in England is that of concealing Easter eggs, made of sugar or chocolate, under the furniture, behind the sofa cushions, and in similarly undiscoverable hiding places, for the children to seek.”
Belfast News-Letter - Monday 05 April 1869, page 4.

Doesn’t sound like they were very keen on Berliner Weisse, even when it was made into soup.

Funny about the Easter-egg hiding tradition. We did it with our kids. Then again, it was Dolores’s idea and she is German.


Jeff Renner said...

Hiding dyed Easter eggs is a long established tradition in the US. Wonder if it came with the large number of German immigrants.

Barm said...

I’ve a reference to raspberry being added as far back as the 1890s:

I suspect it’s been done as long as industrially manufactured fruit syrup has been available, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find it older still. There seems to be a bit of crossover with the fruit Bowle family of drinks.

Pivní Filosof said...

Wait a second! Sailors, Kiel, popular with the ladies. I know where that is going...

Gary Gillman said...

At the end of this long, opinionated (but interesting) mid-1800's article, it is said in France, Strasbourg and Paris at least are mentioned, that German beers are replacing the former "Celtic" preference for raspberry syrup and water.

I have heard of various mixtures of fruit syrups and water, sometimes in the form of a light vinegar, which was drunk by farm-workers. Northern England had such drinks and perhaps parts of Ireland and Scotland. I've heard of a similar drink surviving in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

I wonder if the Germans, as wheat beers and that style became widespread with their commercial production, added the raspberry and other fruit essences as a kind of merging of a previous tradition with a new one. The "bowles" mentioned by Barm, or vessels of sweetened fruit mixtures in some German pubs that Michael Jackson wrote about (for some alt bier I think), may be the same kind of idea).