Sunday, 8 July 2007


I spoil you lot. I really do. I should keep this for myself. Andrew says that: "Dad, keep it to yourself." He actually says: "Dad, shut up." But I know what he really means.

A challenge. I like a challenge. I slip that into every job interview.

My wife, Dolores, is a very intelligent woman. She could have done so much better. "Why do you waste our money? What use are those stupid old books?" Good questions. Too (two) good questions. Why didn't I choose the stupid girl?

Here's my response.

What kept me sane when I lived in Australia.

Today was a family day for me. The kids wanted to go "downtown". Sure enough, they'll be selling stuff and they wanted to shop. I could make this very long, but the kids, despite promising dad an hour of "writing that rubbish", are demanding food. Next they'll be demanding clothes. Occasionally their comments are more useful. Like today in Bierkoning. "Dad, isn't that yellow beer the one you like?" Little angel, he'd remembered my affection for Cooper's Stout. Who says I'm teaching my children nothing?

What is that? A product of German unification (like pig iron and dreadnoughts). It was a complicated thing. Far too complicated for you lot. Or me, for that matter. So let's not get too detailed.

In the early years of the Empire, some states retained many rights, such as taxing beer. In the Brausteuergebiet, beer taxes went to the Imperial government. It covered all of Germany except for Bavaria, Baden , Württemberg, Alsace, Lorraine and Luxemburg. In a word, The North. (Though that's technically two words, not one. I aim for 100% precision.) In two words: The North.

If you want to see where Oldenburg or Westpreussen were, there's a useful map on this page of pre-WW I German regions. It shows the big ones. Use your imagination for the rest.

The table in the image shows various stuff (sorry if I get too technical) about the brewing industry in the Brausteuergebiet in 1892/93. Each row covers a different administrative area. These are the most significant columns:

5 - total number of operational breweries
6 - number of breweries brewing top-fermenting beer
7- number of breweries brewing bottom-fermenting beer
8 - volume of top-fermenting beer brewed (hl)
9 - volume of bottom-fermenting beer brewed (hl)
10 - total volume of beer brewed (hl)
11 - percentage top-fermenting beer
12 - percentage bottom-fermenting beer

Significantly, although 64% of the breweries were top-fermenting, only 23% of the beer produced was. The average annual output for top-fermenting breweries was 1,400 hl, but for bottom-fermenting breweries 8,300 hl. (That's far too many fermentings for one paragraph. Good style dictates no more than two.) Educated guess: the top-fermenting breweries were small and old-fashioned.

Between regions there was considerable variation. In Sachsen, 41% was top-fermented. In Grossherzogtum Hessen none at all.

I can't help fiddling. It's in my nature. Which is why I've added more information to the original table, most importantly, population. (Not the one you see, I'll hasten to add. The one for my use.) It means I can make some other neat calculations, such as number of breweries per head of population. 4,700. Over the whole Brausteuergebiet, there was one brewery for every 4,700 inhabitants. Top region was Hohenzollern, with a brewery for every 300, worst Hamburg with only one for every 21,800.

I've also calculated output per head of population: 83.5 litres. Top region is again Hohenzollern with 185 litres, followed by Thüringen with 176. Worst in Oldenburg with just 37 litres.

Sad isn't it? But if you've got this far, that's one for me.

You expected more jokes, didn't you? Sorry.

Tomorrow: "No-one's interested in that crap."

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