Friday, 1 June 2018

Norwegian- and Swedish-brewed Lager in the UK 1955 - 1963

You may recall me expressing some surprise that Norway featured as a source of UK beer imports in the 1950s and 1960s. It seemed quite odd.

Then I got to thinking. Norway was one of the first places outside of central Europe to bottom ferment. There was a very simple reason why: they had an enormous supply of natural ice. Before the advent of artificial refrigeration, brewing Lager in a country with a temperate climate like the UK was problematic. Where would you get the ice required for lagering?

Some readers speculated that it was most likely Ringnes that brewed the imported Norwegian Lager. As it turns out, it looks like three breweries were in the business: Frydenlund and Schou, as well as Ringnes.

The Ringnes Export is a full-strength beer, so I doubt that it was made specifically for the UK market. The Frydenlund, on the other hand, has an OG similar to a domestic UK Lager. I'm not sure about Schou. The first two examples, though stronger than normal UK Lager, aren't quite full continental strength. While the final example is clearly designed for the UK.

I'm surprised at how strong Three Towns is. I though that was the classic mellanöl.

Norwegian- and Swedish-brewed Lager in the UK 1955 - 1963
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint d OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1956 Frydenlund Peak Lager 30 1034.3 1005.7 3.72 83.38% 12
1959 Frydenlund Peak Lager 1036.6 1007.5 3.78 79.51% 17
1955 Ringnes Export Pilsener 48 1053.8 1010.9 5.59 79.74% 11
1957 Ringnes Export Lager Beer 1052.5 1006.9 5.96 86.86% 13
1957 Ringnes Export Lager 48 1054.5 1008.8 5.97 83.85% 9.5
1957 Schou Norwegian Beer 1042.2 1006.6 4.64 84.36% 12
1959 Schou Norwegian Beer 36 1041.2 1005.5 4.66 86.65% 8.5
1963 Schou Export Lager 34 1030.4 1003 3.43 90.13% 6
1955 Swedish Beer Export Co. Three Towns Beer 30 1052.9 1008.7 5.77 83.55% 9
Average 37.7 1044.3 1007.1 4.84 84.23% 11.1
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.


Bacon said...

According to the current owners of the Three Towns brand, Galatea, the beer was first brewed as starköl for export, mainly to the US. It was no success abroad but became popular in its home market, and when the law was changed in 1965 to allow the mellanöl class of beer to be sold, the famous (in Sweden) mellanöl version was introduced.

Anonymous said...

Three Towns started as an Export strenght brand post 1955 (introduction of class III beer to the Swedish monopoly), brewed by Pripps, Skånebryggerier and St Eriks. Once class IIB or mellanöl was introduced it became a well known brand of mellanöl. It was however also brewed as class I (lättöl). I suppose the English name was intended to give the beer a better chance in Export markets whilst refering to the three towns or cities of the founding breweries.

Unknown said...

Interesting series of posts. I don't understand how Whitbread would know the OG and FG of their competitors beers. Why would this data come from the Whitbread Gravity Book?

Ron Pattinson said...

Kathy Scott,

it was very simple: Whitbread bought samples of their competitors' beers and analysed them. The Gravity Book recorded the results. They weren't the only brewery to do it. They just have the most extensive and long lasted version I've come across. It's one of the most important documents on Britiish beer in the 20th century.

Unknown said...


Thanks for that.
Do you know how they worked out the OG and the attenuation? You know the FG and the ABV in the finished beer. If I knew the attenuation I could work out the OG or if I knew the OG I could work out the attenuation. I'm not sure how you could measure both variables from just the finished beer. Must be a way if Whitbread did it.

Ron Pattinson said...

Kathy Scott,

they've been chemically analysing beer for 200 years. You weigh and take the gravity of the finished beer, then heat it up to drive off the alcohol and weigh it again to get the ABW. Then you can work out what the OG was.

The Whitbread Gravity Book doesn't list ABW or ABV, just OG and FG. I calculate the ABV from those.