Friday, 17 July 2015

Dutch Lager Styles 1870 - 1960 (part five)

Lager styles of the 1890’s
Cartel forming amongst brewers is nothing new. They were at it back in the 1890’s. Luckily for me, because the draught agreement tells us a lot about what was being brewed in the 1890’s.

1893 price-fixing agreement
beer type max. º Balling minimum price per litre
Hollandsch Bier 7 cents
Nieuw Hollandsch Bier 7 cents
Lager Bier 11º 9 cents
Extra Lager Bier 11º 9 cents
Pilsener 15º 9 cents
Münchener 15º 9 cents
Dortmunder 15º 14 cents
Brown Stout 16º 16 cents
Extra Stout 19º 20 cents
"Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948" (p.421, 422)

It’s worth noting that these are maximum gravities. In practice, Pilsener would have been well below 15º Plato. Dortmunder, on the other hand, with its minimum price of 14 cents, was probably closer to that maximum.  Lager Bier and Extra Lager Bier were presumably lower-strength pale or dark Lagers.

1900 - 1914
Despite the success of these new concerns Dutch beer production was stagnant at around 1.5 million hectolitres annually in the years leading up to WW I .

A range of Lager styles were produced, in a variety of strengths and colours. At this point Pils still did not have the dominant position it later acquired. That’s demonstrated by a quick look at Heineken’s brewing records. I won’t claim this is a definitive breakdown of the relative amounts of if each type of beer brewed by Heineken. It’s just what’s on four random pages that I photographed. But it does give some idea of the proportions.

On every single page around half of the brews were of Gerste. Second most popular, by a long way, was Lager , a lower-gravity Pale Lager that was the equivalent of Winterbier or Schenkbier.

Heineken Rotterdam production by type in 1911
type no. of brews size of brew (HL) total amount % of total
Lager 226 270 61,020 36.13%
Gerste 356 220 78,320 46.37%
Beiersch 28 200 5,600 3.32%
Pils 107 200 21,400 12.67%
Bok 17 150 2,550 1.51%
total 734 168,890
Heineken brewing record held at the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, document number 834-1752.

It’s clear that Pils was still very much a minority drink and that Beiersch was already a marginal product.

The share of Bok was undoubtedly lower as I’ve based these figures on the number of brews of each type at a certain point in the brewing year, in this case June. It ran up until the end of September so while all the brews of Bok appear in the figures, only about 75% of those for the other styles do.

This is an overview of the beers Heineken Rotterdam brewed in 1911:

Heineken Rotterdam beers in 1911
Bier OG Balling FG Balling attenuation % ABV Colour hops (gm/hl)
Pils 13.2 4.15 68.56% 4.8 6 235.3
Lager 9.8 3.3 66.33% 3.4 9 168.1
Gerste 12 5 58.33% 3.7 13.5 180.2
Beiersch 13.1 5.3 59.54% 4.2 13 175.9
Bok 16.7 7.5 55.09% 5 14 196.1
Heineken brewing records held at the Amsterdam Stadsarchief

The poor degree of attenuation is typical of early Lagers. Even the Pils is less than 70% attenuated. You’ll see how this changed  over the course of the 20th century.

1 comment:

Roel Mulder said...

Hi Ron,
Interestingly, the share of pilsener in total production varied widely per brewery. In 1911, 23% of output at Phoenix (Amersfoort) was pils, while at Oranjeboom (Rotterdam) it was only 1,3%. In both breweries, its share was rising. In Dordrecht, in 1911 De Sleutel's output was 82% bottom-fermented, but with no pils at all; they only started producing it in 1919.
In these breweries Lager, Belegen Gerste en Gerste seem to have been the most popular beers in 1911.
I'll be publishing more on this on my own blog as soon as I have the time.