Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Brausteuergebiet (2)

How could I not return to the Brausteuergebiet in 1992-93? It's hard to think of a topic that grabs the attention more. (Just nod when appropriate and think of something else. That's what my family do.)

I would love to regale you with jokes, anecdotes and the usual crap with which I fill this blog. But I'm knackered. I've had a long day in Archeon with the family. Amsterdam has good public transport, but not all Dutch towns are so lucky. No buses run from Alphen station to the only tourist attraction, Archeon. It's a good 30 minutes walk.

Look, I'm not as fit as I was. Once, I could dance all night and still sprint to work. Now I'm glad if I can make it back from the corner shop without panting for air. It will happen to you one day, too.

Drifting off into gloomy thoughts about mortality again. I'll try to keep on topic. The programme about Indian railways on BBC 4 I wanted to watch has just started. I have no time ramble.

Brausteuergebiet - what word stirs the heart more? You have to admit there's a certain magic in the way German nails nouns together. An English equivalent couldn't match its elegance. (If you disagree, submit your suggestions. Impress me and I'll hold one of my special word-eating banquets.)

Damn. Wandering again.

Here are some figures indicating the number of breweries of different sizes in the Brausteuergebiet inn 1892/93. They are ranked by the amount of tax they paid. We'll have to assume that they were honest chaps and that the numbers accurately reflect the quantity of beer brewed.

Note that a huge majority (6,927 or 81,88%) brewed less than 2,500 hl a year (those, based on the total amount of beer brewed and total amount of tax paid, of paying less than 3,000 M a year). A shade under 95% were brewing less than 10,000 hl a year. If you want a comparison, a large brewpub can shift 2,500 hl.

The overwhelming majority of German breweries were still tiny. I'm sure I've got some similar figures for the UK. I must dig them out.The pattern in the UK by then was quite different, I'm sure. Hang on a minute . . . let's have a look . . . Here they are. Whoops. wrong again. Though I've forgotten to imention it, the numbers heading the columns refer to the number of barrels brewed a year. Making a quick calculation, in 1890 there were 12,000 brewers in the UK, of which 9,986 produced less than 1,000 barrels (approx. 1,636 hl). That's 83%. So even worse than the Brausteuergebiet, despite the UK having industrialised earlier.

These are for the amount of tax paid by the biggest paying brewery per Bezirk:

The biggest payer was in Berlin (listed under Brandenburg). A great illustration of how far the process of industrialisation of the brewing industry had progressed in the different regions of North Germany by the 1890's. I'm sure you've been waiting all your life to find that out. I had been.

I was shocked that Rheinland ranked so low, behind East Prussia, Pommerania, Thüringen and Schleswig-Holstein. You tell me what pattern there is to them. I'm buggered if I can see it. I would expect the largest breweries in the most industrialised, populous, beer-thirsty regions. That isn't the case. Answers on a postcard to . . . .

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