Saturday, 4 April 2009

The rise of Pilsner

I've been researching a WW I post. About the effect of emergency legislation on beer gravity. I'm ever the populist. But it's taken longer than expected to go through all the material. So in the meantime, here's a post on Pilsner. And Denmark.

It's often assumed that immediately after it was first brewed in 1842, Pilsner swept all before. The reality is somewhat different. Yes, lager began to be brewed throughout Europe in the second half of the 19th century. But the first lagers most breweries produced weren't Pilsner. They were dark Munich-style beers. It was usually a couple of decades later that the first Pilsner was brewed. Even by the outbreak of WW I in 1914, only a small percentage of lager was Pilsner.

What seems like several decades ago at the start of my blogging career, I posted about the different types of beer produced in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Sweden. The amount of Pilsner was tiny. Now I've finally got my hands on a copy of "Danish Beer & Continental Beer Gardens" by Max Henius (published in 1913), I get bore you with similar numbers for Denmark. Here goes.

You have to remember that Denmark, led by Carlsberg and Tuborg, was in the vanguard of Pilsner brewing. Even there, it only became the biggest-selling type in 1906-1907. What's called "Lager Beer" was dark lager. Like Gammel Carlsberg, if anyone remembers that, or Tuborg Rod.

Pilsner is very much a 20th-century phenomenon. I wonder what will replace it in the 21st?

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