Thursday 7 May 2020

History of North German top-fermenting styles

It took a couple of hours, but I scanned and OCR'd the last third of  Schönfeld's "Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung". The bit about top-fermenting beer styles.

It kicks off with a little history of North German styles.

"Brewing grew more and more into an art. Everyone who knew how to make a good beer kept the knowledge as a strict secret, on which reputation and economic success depended. Recipes were brewed, which one should never let fall into the hands of others. Thus a secretiveness developed, which led to the fact that in each community, each town one or more special types of beer were produced, which differed in their quality among the numerous others, which also differed from each other."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 125.
It's a shame that he doesn't give a date for when this happened. Sometime in the Middle Ages, presumably. Something similar happened in England, where brewing changed from a domestic to commercial activity. At least partially. Large quatities of beer were still being brewed domestically in the first half of the 19th century.

"The reputation of the individual types of beer penetrated far into the country and beyond the national border. Märkische breweries were proud to export beer and particularly heavily hopped beer to England in large quantities in the 11th and 12th centuries. Cologne's hopped beer was no less famous and was widely sold in England. Certain cities in Bavaria had a reputation for brewing a light beer, which was on par with English ale, which was particularly preferred by women. Hamburg enjoyed the reputation of producing excellent wheat beer, which was widely shipped even to England. The beers from Bremen, Rostock, Wismar and Lübeck earned their reputation. Güstrow's Kniesenack had also become famous. The Eimbeck beer, the heavy Danzig Jopenbier, the Braunschweiger Mumme are well known. Even porters were brewed, for example in Halberstadt, Alt-Haldensleben, Stettin. Grätz understood early on how to brew a special smoky, bitter beer from wheat malt, just as Grätzer beer still occupies a special position among top-fermented beers."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 125.
Märkische breweries were in the region around Berlin. I can't say I'd heard of them exporting hopped beer to England in the 11th and 12th centuries. I thought hopped beer only arrived a couple of centuries later.

With the mention of Porter we seem to have jumped ahead a few centuries. Porter was still brewed by considerable numbers of breweries when the book was written, though mostly in what would later become the DDR.

"Also worthy of mentioning, amongst others, is Broyhan, a beer that was named after the brewer Breihan, Broyhan or Broihan from Hanover, who learned beer brewing in Hamburg, had returned to Hanover with the Hamburg recipe for white beer, and here (1526) began brewing Hamburg-style beer. It was very well received and soon became known as Breihan beer. The name Broyhan has been used as a collective name until very recently. In general, in contrast to the original Broyhan, which was very light in color and was only made from barley malt and without hops, it is used to denote a simple, top-fermented, slightly sweet, dark beer, often made from wheat and barley malt, for which, especially in the countryside there was a demand."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, pages 125 - 126.
That's very interesting about the change in Broyhan. I'd already noticed that old sources weren't very consistent in their descriptions of Broyhan. I'd always assumed that, as it was brewed for a long period of time and in many locations, that it must have varied quite a bit depending on where and when you were.

I'm no longer shocked by beers changing colour. I've seen it happen with other styles, for example Mild Ale. Though I've seen recipes where it was pale, brewed from a mix of barley and wheat malt, with some, if only a few, hops. I'm pretty sure the reality was a good deal more complicated than Schönfeld describes.

"Gosebier, Berliner Weißbier, Schweidnitzer Bier and Breslauer Schöps are also among the beers that enjoyed great preference. Significantly, it was not the beers of Bavaria, but the beers of northern Germany that enjoyed the great reputation as quality beers and because of their excellent properties were shipped far beyond the national borders. And all of them were beers, which were only fermented in a top-fermented way."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 126.
 It's often forgotten that Bavaria was a bit of a brewing backwater until the 19th century. Only with Sedlmayr at Apaten did the Bavarian industry become of any significance.


qq said...

Ooh wow, does he give a source for that comment about the Märkische breweries? The usual story is that exports didn't really start until Hamburg wheat beers in the 13th century with the rise of the Hanseatic League although individual hansa/guilds had existed before then.

And of course any beers exported from the Berlin area via the Havel and Elbe might have been rebadged as "Hamburg" beers in the same way as people originally thought Burton beers came from Hull.

There's passing mentions of hops in monastery records going back into the 7th-8th century or so that suggest they were doing *something* with hops back then, you'd imagine that they'd be using them for brewing. Certainly you can't really have beer be stable enough to export it without hops with a reasonable alpha acid content.

Martyn Cornell said...

Import of beer from "Hambur" [Hamburg] "Whiche makyth oft tymes men to stambur" were still being mentioned around 1500.

qq - the records of the Abbey of Corbie in Picardy in the early 9th century make it clear they were putting hops into beer, but these were wild hops, not cultivated, and there is no indication that they were boiling them with the wort: my suspicion is that for a long time hiops were used, like many other plants, as a flavouring, and SOME preservative effect might have resulted, as indeed happens with other plants, eg meadowsweet, but it took a LONG time before anybody realised that what you needed to do with this plant is boil it in your wort for an hour or more to really get the benefits. Norwegian farm brewers today who make "raw" (unboiled) ales will still run their hot wort through a bag of hops as it comes out of the mash vessel, and this does seem to have some flavour/preservation effect.