Thursday, 12 June 2008


The Summer of Hate, sorry, Summer of Lager continues with a look at Salvator. One of the most famous beeers of the 19th century. Today, it's a trademark of Paulaner, but back then it was used as a generic term for all Doppelbocks.

Because of its fame, I've plenty of hard evidence about Salvator. I collect numbers. I can't help it. Occasionally, like now, it does come in handy. If I weren't such a saddo, I wouldn't all the fascinating figures with which I'm about to regale you. So don't mock me.

The first data I have comes from the 1850's. The beer was brewed by Zacherl, the forerunner of Paulaner, so it's the real deal. It has a massive OG of 23.5º Balling (approx. 1095), but a relatively puny alcohol content of just over 6% ABV. Let's be honest, the attenuation is crap. Less than 50% apparent. With an FG higher than the OG of most beers today, it must have been pretty thick and sweet. No wonder they used it as a meal substitute.

The 1858 version (not sure if it's from Paulaner or another Munich brewery) has a substantially lower gravity (19.8º Balling, or around 1080) , but almost as high an ABV (5.74%). As a consequence, the apparent attenuation has increased from a pathetic 46% to a still unimpressive 53%.

By 1870, the gravity has dropped further, to 18.5º Balling (approx 1074), but the ABV has remained about the same (5.64%). Apparent attenuation has again increased and is 56%.

Unfortunately for me, I have no idea which breweries the 1930's samples come from. However, the first in the list looks rather like a Doppelbock to me. Assuming that it is, we can see a further slight reduction in the OG (17.99º Balling, approx 1072), but a similar ABV (5.8%). Consequently, apparent attenuation is up to 60%.

Finally we see the present incarnation of Salvator. This has a much higher alcohol contente - 7.5% ABV - than any of the older versions. Which has a big impact on the apparent attenuation, which is now a respectable 75%.

So how does modern Salvator compare with the 19th century versions? It has a 22% lower OG, but a 25% higher ABV. The difference in body is enormous. The FG in the 1850's was more than double what it is now. To sum up, modern Salvator is less full-bodied, less sweet and sticky, but more alcoholic.

Another difference is the colour. Though I don't have enough numbers to do a precise analysis, I know from personal observation that Salvator has become paler over the last 15 years. And generally pretty crap, but that's a subjective opinion.

I suppose I should try and dig out an old description of Salvator brewing. My guess would be that the 19th-century method was a triple decoction Dickmeisch. If you've been paying attention you should know all about that. Don't tell me you've forgotten already? Really.

(Published as part of my one-interesting-to-one-boring_post initiative.)


whatsontap said...

Fascinating report. The old Salvator appears to have been just what historians report. But I'm much more curious about modern changes to the beer. It's seems to me to be much drier (lots less residual sugar) than when I first tried it 25 years ago.

If you could dig out some modern numbers it would be interesting. Good work.
William Brand,

Anonymous said...

Dood, I fooking love this BLOG! Keep it up.
San Frandisco, CA.

Kristen England said...

Im not as 'expirenced' at life as you guys (read old) and have only been drinking Salvator for about 10 years. I do have to say that over that time, it does seem to be more 'drinkable.' Meaning not as dry.

I do have to say probably my two fav readily available dopplebocks on the market currently are Andescher and Ettal's. I think those both, especially Ettals, are different from the others on the market.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff! Doppelbock is clearly another style that's evolved dramatically over the years. Presumably the massive improvement in attenuation is much more to do with the mash technique than changes in grist or yeast strain?

I hope you manage to dig out some info on how the recipe has changed over time. Like Kristen, I probably had my first Salvator about 10 years ago, and it was certainly darker and, frankly, a lot better than the ones I've had more recently - though clearly that's nothing compared to how different it was 150 years ago.

'(Published as part of my one-interesting-to-one-boring_post initiative.)'
So where's the boring post to go with this one then? ;-)

Ron Pattinson said...

I was pleasantly surprised at the interest in this post. Yeah, Salvator has definitely got paler and crapper over the years.

I'll second Ettaler as a good Doppelbock. I've had other good ones in Germany, but can't recall their names.

Kristen England said...

Im brewing a clone of the 1850 Salvator with Ron's help. They have a really weird mash schedule at that time. 100% dark munich. Should be pretty freakin cool.

Jim Johanssen said...

Kristen, the Dark Munich that I've seen only has about 20 or so Linter its's going to be tough to get it all converted.
Weird mash schedual? Please elaborate.
Ron, the old bocks are really malty finish 37% attinuation!, is there any hopping info or percetion of its bitterness?


Ron Pattinson said...

Jim, according to Wahl & Henius Salvator was hopped at the rate of 850 gm per hectolitre.

Kristen England said...

Made the 1850 Salvator yesterday. 100% dark munich. Started at 24 plato. Converted no problem. Its fermenting as we speak. It definitely is much more bitter than nearly all dopplebocks out today (Ettal is the exception). This should be pretty sweet!