Thursday 18 June 2020

Artificially sweetened Einfachbier

The Reinheitsgebot has been very good at promoting itself. At least the bits of it  German brewers want you to know about it.

The full document, Vorläufiges Biergesetz, as it's called in German, is much longer than you might expect. And contains more ingredients than the much-touted malt, hops and water. The most surprising being artificial sweetener, which is allowed in certain types of weak, top-fermenting beer. Such as the type of beer described here:

"b) Einfachbier sweetened with artificial sweetener
Out of the old brown beers, which were not everywhere expected by customers to be weak, sweet-tasting beers, but sometimes also as moderately bitter beers, today's Einfachbier has emerged, which, as in the past, is still mostly referred to as Malzbier; according to old custom, according to which both these weak dark beers, as well as the stronger dark, top-fermented beers, are usually called by this name in trade and commerce."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135.
In the past, then, there was low, gravity Braunbier which was bitter rather than sweet. That's interesting to know. The following, I'm sure, explains one of the reasons why: the use of artificial sweetener.

"In contrast to its old predecessors, the old Braunbier, today's Einfachbier should mostly have a very sweet taste. However, added sugar will gradually ferment. The requested sweetness would be lost. The demand of the broad circles of customers could therefore only be met by adding artificial sweetener (saccharin or dulcin) for sweetening. The Beer Tax Act expressly permits this use as an exception. It was first approved in the war. However, the restriction has now been made that the sweetener may only be used in beers whose original wort content does not exceed 4% (i.e. practically in beers whose original wort content is between 3% and 4%)."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135.
This is the same reasoning as behind Milk Stout: add something which was sweet but unfermentable. It's interesting that such Einfachbier only developed during WW I. The odd  thing being that even before the introduction of the Reinheitsgebot to all of Germany in 1906, the use of saccharin hadn't been allowed in North Germany.

This is a list of substances banned everywhere in Germany in the late 19th century:

"Precedent, as established by decisions of the highest tribunals, shows that penalties have been inflicted for additions of salicylic acid, liquorice, caramel, and saccharin; also for making use of liquid carbonic acid in the manufacture of what is known as “champagne beer; "while for clarifying purposes isinglass shavings and other "finings” that will not mix with the beer, but the action of which is purely mechanical, are alone tolerated."
"The Brewers' Journal, 1898", page 243.
There were two ways such beers were prepared for sale:

"These light beers are marketed under different sales conditions.
1. As a young beer pitched with a with little yeast, and some not yet fermenting wort; tapped from larger containers by the liter while driving around; or in small barrels with a content of about 6 liters, which are preferred by households. From there it is filled into bottles, where it is ready to drink in a few days.

2. As a fermented, bright, carbonated beer, which is made ready to drink in the Brewery.
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 135.
Method one was the traditional way, where bottling and secondary fermentation was left to the customer. Such beer would have needed to be left for a few days to condition. With method two the brewery was carrying out the conditioning and selling the beer ready to drink.

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