WW I was a funny time for British brewers. Especially if they were interested in brewing Lager. There were only a handful of breweries in the UK making Lager at the time. Mostly spcialised companies like the Red Tower Lager Brewery in Manchester and the Wrexham Lager Company. Many brewers had been put off by the spectacular failure of a couple of Lager startups in the late 19th century.
The war closed off the main sources of Lager in the UK. Not just Germany and Austria, but also Denmark and Holland. It gave brewers a new incentive to brew Lager themselves. Also because Continental Lager was no longer available in the Far East, which remained an impportant export market for UK brewers.
"A Modern Lager Beer Brewery: Its Product, Equipment, and Organisation.The Japanese didn't just flood British colonies with beer. I know from Dutch newpapers in the East Indies that their colonies also received large quantities of Japanese beer. You can't blame the Japanese. With supplies from Europe cut off, it was an obvious business opportunity.
By Fred. M. Maynard.
In order to avoid any misconception, I will explain that the two considerations which have prompted me to bring this subject before you at such a time are, firstly, that as our Teutonic enemies are now shut out from our Colonies and Dependencies, I feel that every endeavour should be made by our exporting firms, and that without delay, to place a true lager on the foreign markets. Such a beer will need to be, however, in every respect, as good an article as the Continental and better than the Japanese, for I understand that India is being flooded with lager, made in Japan, to the prejudice of British brewers. Should this suggestion be acted upon, I would strongly impress upon any firm contemplating taking such a step, to firmly set their face against coquetting with any of those bastard methods of producing a lager beer to compete with the genuine article; the only royal road to that result being found in the three mash decoction process, bottom fermentation in open vessels, and above all, lengthy storage at low temperatures, as practised at the original export brewery on the Continent, which was, I may say, one of those at which I acquired my knowledge of the subject.
In the second place, the question arose in my mind as to whether, in view of the weak beers brewers are now called upon to brew, a consideration of the peculiarities of lager beer and the methods employed in its production might not perhaps give us some hints not altogether valueless under present conditions of brewing. Further, as several writers, notably Chas. Graham and Wright, have drawn attention to the nutritious and non-intoxicating properties of lager beer, in order to verify these statements, two of our members, Messrs. Pope and Case, have kindly acceded to my request to make some independent analyses of various types of lager. These analyses are interesting at the present time, and more especially so when they are compared with the corresponding figures of top fermentation ales and stout.
Comparative Analyses of Stout, Ales and Lagers, and their corresponding values if reduced to one common original gravity of 1040°. In 100 grams of beer. In 1 pint Analyst. Description of beer. Original specific gravity. Grams absolute alcohol. Grams malt extract. Grams absolute alcohol. Grams malt extract. M.Lambert Dublin stout 1074.4 6.58 5.65 37.51 32.2 If at 1040° 3.54 3.04 20.2 17.3 M. Lambert Dark lager 1048.8 3.08 6.02 17.56 34.31 If at 1040° 2.53 4.94 14.39 28.12 M. Lambert Pale ale 1001.4 5.5 4.33 31.86 24.68 If at 1040° 3.64 2.82 20.75 14.4 T. H. Pope Pale lager 1048.2 2.97 5.87 17.2 34 If at 1040° 2.46 4.87 14.27 28.2 A. E. Case Special lager (all malt) 1037.4 2.2 5.2 12.44 29.48 If at 1040° 2.35 5.56 13.35 31.52 M. Lambert Light dinner ale 1049.5 4.25 3.93 24.22 22.4 If at 1040° 3.4 3.17 19.57 18.1 A. E. Case Shell 2 per cent. ale 1011.2 0.8 10 5 5.6 If at 1040° 2.87 3.57 17.8 20
From these figures it will be seen that lagers vary in their strength and composition, but the "Special Lager" (see Table) is one perfectly well obtainable by suitable modifications in the malting and brewing processes, beers of this type having been regularly produced for some time at one of the oldest and most successful genuine lager beer breweries in England. The accompanying diagrams show the comparative analyses in a more striking manner."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, vol. XVII, 1920, pages 485 - 486.
I won't argue with Mr. Maynard about the processes required to brew a good Lager. Triple decoction, open fermenters and long lagering. That's exactly how most Franconian breweries still operate today.
More to come on this topic,