Time to start a new series. I've not written much about Dutch beer of late. Time to put that right. Big time.
And with something that actually forms one coherent, larger whole.
Dutch Lager Styles 1870 - 1960
It might come as a surprise that not too long ago Holland was insignificant as a brewing nation, producing far less beer than its smaller southern neighbour, Belgium.
Late 19th century
Dutch brewing lagged far behind Britain and Germany. In the 1870’s and 1880’s beer production was a feeble 1.3 to 1.5 million hectolitres per year*, far less than the 2 million hectolitres brewed in the province of Holland alone in the early 1600’s**. While Britain and Germany were brewing more than 40 million hectolitres a year*** and Belgium between 9 and 10 million****.
The process that turned Holland into a major player in world brewing began in the 1860’s and 1870’s with the establishment of a new type of brewery. Ones inspired by new developments in central Europe. Lager breweries.
The first of these new breweries was the Beiersch Bierbrouwerij Artevelde, founded in 1852 in Groningen*****. Koninglijke Nederlandsche Beiersch Bierbrouwerij, followed in 1866. A few years later, in 1870, Heineken started brewing Lager in his new brewery in the edge of Amsterdam and in 1871 Bavarian Brewery de Amstel was established. De Zwarte Ruiter in Maastricht began in 1872. The Amersfoortsche Beiersch-Bierbrouwerij started in 1873. Taking advantage of experimentation and innovation elsewhere in Europe, these were amongst the most modern breweries on the continent.
Lager brewing in countries like Holland with relatively mild winters was given a huge boost with the development of artificial refrigeration in the 1870’s. Van Linde’s ice machines meant that brewers were no longer dependent on supplies of natural ice harvested in the winter******. It made the cost of brewing Lager much cheaper.
A change in the tax system in 1867 also helped Lager-brewing more financially viable. Until then tax was charged on every time the mash tun was filled. For top-fermenting beers which were brewed by the infusion method, the mash tun was only filled once. With a decocted Lager, it was filled two or three times, thereby multiplying the amount of tax due. After 1867 brewers also had the option to pay tax based on the quantity of malt used. By opting for this new method of taxation, it was possible to brew bottom-fermenting beer much more cheaply*******.
The new “Bavarian” style beers were such a success that in 1873 Heineken stopped brewing top-fermenting beers and concentrated 100% on Lagers********.
* "A History of Brewing in Holland 900 - 1900", by Richard W. Unger, 2001, page 371.
** "A History of Brewing in Holland 900 - 1900", by Richard W. Unger, 2001, page 372.
*** "European Statistics 1750-1970" by B. R. Mitchell, 1978, pages 283 and 284.
**** "European Statistics 1750-1970" by B. R. Mitchell, 1978, page 283.
***** "Opvallend anders: De Amersfoortse Phoenix Brouwerij 1873-1870", bu Onno Kleefkens, page 16.
****** "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948", by H. A. Korthals, 1948, pages 83-84.
******* "Dommelsch Bier, 'n eeuwenoude traditie" by Henk Hovens, 2004, pages 44 - 45.
******** "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948", by H. A. Korthals, 1948, page 63.