Friday, 16 July 2021

Dutch Pils in 1943

By the time 1943 rolled around, the situation was getting pretty dire. Even Pils, which was the strongest beer produced during the war, was well under 2% ABV.

Not sure what was going on with the Leeuw sample. Perhaps it was old stock. What was the point of drinking such watery beer? I’d prefer to get half the volume of beer, but at double the strength. Then you’d at least get a little of the good alcohol effect.

Let’s add a little context by looking at the strength of beer in the UK in 1943. In 1943, average OG hit its wartime nadir. But that was still 1034.34º,  which would have left average strength at around 3.5% ABV. More than double the average for Dutch Pils.

However, there were beers a good bit stronger than that average, as a large percentage of the beer sold in Britain was3% ABV Mild Ale Here’s the set of Ales from a randomly selected UK brewery:

Whitbread Ales in 1943
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
21st Jul XX Mild 1028.3 1008.0 2.69 71.73%
22nd Jul IPA IPA 1031.4 1005.5 3.43 82.48%
28th Apr PA Pale Ale 1039.2 1008.5 4.06 78.32%
22nd Jul XXXX Strong Ale 1042.8 1013.0 3.94 69.63%
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/110.

I imagine Dutch drinkers would have ripped your arm off to get a beer of a heady 4% ABV.  

Dutch Pils in 1943
Date Brewer Town OG Plato FG Plato ABV App. Atten-uation Colour
18th Dec Amstel Amsterdam 3.77 0.96 1.41 74.83% 0.42
25th Jan Grolsch Groenlo 4.28 1.12 1.60 74.17% 0.6
25th Jan Amstel Amsterdam 3.76 0.87 1.46 77.13% 0.42
25th Jan Heineken Rotterdam 4.02 0.66 1.71 83.80% 0.55
25th Jan Bavaria Lieshout 4.13 1.14 1.51 72.73% 0.48
25th Jan Hengelo Hengelo 3.70 1.21 1.26 67.63% 0.48
16th Feb De Leeuw Valkenburg 8.81 2.57 3.26 71.55% 0.4
27th Jul Heineken Amsterdam 3.86 1.42 1.23 63.58% 0.58
27th Jul Heineken Rotterdam 4.03 1.19 1.44 70.81% 0.58
  Average   4.48 1.24 1.65 72.91% 0.50
Rapporten van laboratoriumonderzoeken naar producten van Heinekenbrouwerijen in binnen- en buitenland en naar producten van andere brouwerijen held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 834 - 1794.


Anonymous said...

Do you think they were watering beer to get them that low? I start to wonder if the yeast would fizzle out trying to ferment at such low gravities.

Ron Pattinson said...


at Heineken, they really did seem to be brewing them at that low a gravity. Not sure how they did it. Earlier in the war they di water their beers, but pre-fermentation.