Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Carlsberg's Lager cellars in the 1880's

As promised, we're taking a peak inside Carlsberg's Lager cellars.

They went to great pains to make sure the cold air didn't escape from their cellars:

"The entrance doors to the tun rooms and lager cellars are single doors, but between the outer air and the room door proper there is at least always one door sometimes two, In every case the entrance is down a stair. This is built of stone and about 30 inches wide with 9 inch steps. It is only intended for entering or leaving these places. In the cellars at Old & New Carlsberg these stairs are covered on the top with a well fitting door balanced with weights. This is raised and lowered every time a person enters or leaves. The idea running through the construction and working of these houses is by all means avoid draughts of air or allowing the cold air to escape. These cellars are not ventilated except to the ice house, and the ice house is only ventilated to the cellars. In the lager cellars (which are preferably to be placed right under the ice house) the melted ice runs down open channels in the walls. These are 4.5 inches wide, two inches deep and extend rom the roof to the floor where the water is allowed to run through a slight open gutter to the centre of the floor where it is all collected and discharged into the drain. In this manner full benefit is got from the ice."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
 All that melt water running down the walls doesn't sound wonderfully hygienic. Though I suppose it did make full use of the ice. But you can see their logic. Cooling was expensive and you didn't want to waste it.

Neither the cellars nor the casks inside them were particularly large.

"These cellars are comparatively small being about 30 feet long and 18 feet wide and from 14 to 20 feet high. On a gantree raised about 18 inches from the floor are placed the store casks, ons cask being placed above and between the two immediately below it. These casks contain about 15 to 16 barrels but of late they are inclined to enlarge these casks. The size they are making now are intended to hold 20 barrels. They are filled from the top and have only a tap and a bung hole. They are not provided with the man hole in front as in America and many places in Germany. These casks are taken out every 6 months and re-resined. This gives two secondary ferments in each cask previous to re coating with pitch. They are particular not to send out beer for home consumption which has not lain in the Lager cellar for three months. Export beer lies for nine months or a little longer. They use no dry hops for home consumption and only 2 oz. per barrel for Export."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
Even 20 barrels isn't really that big for a lagering vessel. Interesting that they were used twice before repitching. Pilsner Urquell repitched theirs after every use.

Three months, of course, is the classic lagering time for standard-strength beers. Nine months sound pretty excessive. Using the one week lagering per degree Plato of gravity, you would only need to lager that long for a massively strong beer.

As this is in the section on lagering and not racking, I'm assuming those dry hops were being added to the lagering vessel. Not sure I've heard of that before. 2 oz. is much less than William Younger in the way of dry hops. Their Pale Ales got 11 to 14 oz. and even their weakest Mild Ale got nearly 3 oz.

"One end of these store cellars opens out into a common passage running between two rows of these cellars. This is utilised for storing the empty casks which are to be filled and sometimes for racking the beer. This is always done during the night.

To enable the casks to be taken out they require a large door in the cellars but this door is only made use of to handle the casks. The real entrance door is only 20 inches square and is kept closed when a workman is engaged inside at other times they are securely fastened and padlocked the cellarman keeping the keys. When the casks are filled in one of these cellars (and this is only one days brewing) they are lightly bunged and allowed to undergo their second fermentation quietly for about 6 weeks. After this period the bungs are driven in tight, and the generates gas is absorbed by the beer, giving it condition and brilliancy. Isinglass as finings is not used but instead they emply beech shavings 1 inch wide and I should think about1/32 of an inch thick or so. The quantity used is one bushel to 8 barrels. These shavings are only used for beers which seem to be slow in clearing and never for export beer. After being used they are washed in a cylindrical machine working on the common priciple of the dash wheel. After the thorough washing they are gently steamed and again washed with hot water, and if they are to be used at once they are without delay put into the casks. If they are not to be used for some time they are dried and tied neatly into long flat bundles."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.

I'm assuming that they racked at night because the temperature was cooler.

Not sure I'd want to squeeze my way into one of those cellars. Not sure I could, with my current fat gut. They certainly were keen on retaining the cold in their cellars.

Seems like Carlsberg were carbonating their beer the classic way, by bunging towards the end of the lagering process. And using beech shavings for clarifying the beer is very Budweiser. And very economical washing and reusing them. I wonder how many times they could be used?

Racking and bottling next.

You may have noticed that I'm not using any Ny Carlsberg labels. That's because they have swastikas on them. Don't want to give anyone the wrong idea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You'll probably enjoy this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE8mNAAvvLE