Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Stumbling around

I'll own up. I'm not as organised as I should be. On Sunday I wanted to write about rice beer. There was one problem: the marker had fallen out of "Zeitschrift für das gesammte Brauwesen".

I have a very simple system of keeping track of interesting tidbits of information in my books - paper bookmarks. Just pieces fo scrap paper, sometimes colour coded, sometimes with a little text scribbled on them. (I hope I'm not boring you. Skip a couple of paragrapghs. It might get better.)

Just when I needed to look it up, the one marking the article on malt substitutes in the Brausteuer Gebiet had gone walkies. As a result, I spent much of Sunday morning flicking through "Zeitschrift für das gesammte Brauwesen" looking for it. In the process I stumbled across a couple of other things I would like to share with you. Yes, they are numbers. How did you guess?

Austrian beer production
One difficulty when looking at statistics from before WW I is the way national borders have been moved around in the hundred or so years since. Austria is particularly tricky. Which is what makes the production figures on page 210 of the 1894 edition of “Zeitschrift für das gesammte Brauwesen”: they are broken down by state. Much more useful. It means I can (relatively) easily remove what no longer belongs. Let's see: Bosnia, is that part of Austria? No, I don't think so. Bascially all I need to do is strip out the bits that have recently had a civil war and hey presto, modern Austria. Or at least close enough.

While I was about it, I though that I may as well include the figures for the modern Czech Republic (Böhmen and Mähren in the table). It makes for some interesting (odd use of that word yet again) comparisons. You'll see that in in 1893 more than half of the beer produced in Austria came from what is now the Czech Republic. In fact 45% came from Bohemia alone. Secondly, whilst beer production increased 46% in present-day Austria between 1893 and 2005, in the Czech Republic it has gone up by 118%. Fascinating stuff. I could hardly sleep on Sunday night.

Attenuation in British beers in the 1890s
The next one is slightly odd. Why were the Germans so interested in the attenuation of British beers? No idea, though the article had been translated from English.

The tables do give an idea of the characteristics of typical British beers of the 1890s. Note that the Milds are stronger than all the Light Bitters and most of the Bitters. Mild didn't mean meek in those days.

Much has been said about the sweetness of 19th century Mild. I can't see any evidence for it in these figures: there is no appreciable difference in the degree of attenuation between Mild and the Bitters, nor is there a greater proportion of fermentable material left in it. But maybe I'm just looking at it the wrong way. Let me know if you can see something different.


Anonymous said...

Given that the boundaries moved around so much, have you got much data on Poland (or lands making it up) in the late 19th / early 20th?

It seems to me that given the German / Czech / Austrian "influences" and the natural resources, they're missing a brewery or hundred.

It would be interesting to know why - did all the breweries get destroyed in the wars and if so why were they not rebuilt? Were they all run by Germans who left?

Ron Pattinson said...

Funny you should ask that. I do haapen to have some figures:


I also know from "Zeitschrift für das gesdammte Brauwesen" that Posen region (the area around Poznan) was one of the least developed in the German Empire when it came to brewing in the late 19th century. Most of the breweries were still very small and top-fermenting. When lager breweries started to open sround this time they were much larger enterprises and never very numerous.

Though many breweries never re-opened after the destruction of WW II, you'll see from the figures that the big decline in numbers - 500 to 144 - happened before the war.

To some extent the regions of Poland are still influenced by which foreign power ruled them before 1918 - the Russians, Germans or Austrians. Beer consumption is noticeably higher in the areas formerly under German or Austrian control.

I excellent statistics for the 1890s for the German-controled areas of Poland (courtesy of "Zeitschrift für das gesdammte Brauwesen") which I may use at some point in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Is the pre-war decline you note common to other breweries in Central Europe?

Thanks for the link - I remember coming across it before but forgot just how comprehensive it is.