Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Fidelio 1941 Lager

Try telling me this isn't a real brew. It's for over 300 barrels and has an actual date on it. And it's definitely from the brewery for many years called Fidelio. (I won't bore you with it's many name changes after 1940.) Because I've also got a copy of Bill Schwarz's personnel record. He was one of their brewers.

I published the other sheet first, because, well, I was saving this one. If you're good I may post the IPA recipe, too.

This is from a very interesting period: June 1941. Just a few months before the USA joined WW II. So I would guess it gives a fair indication of what post-Prohibition brewing was like.

The mash is very similar to the smaller brew. Though the ingredients are quite different. The hopping rate of this beer is pretty low at just half a pound per US barrel. Not much at all for a beer with an OG of 1050.

Let's take a look.

I wonder if any of you will try brewing this? Not quite as a 19th century Porter. But just as much a piece of brewing history.


Gary Gillman said...

Someone better with numbers than I can work out the specifics, but if a U.S. barrel was (is still?) only 31 gallons, and a U.S. gallon is smaller than an English one by 32 ounces, then in English terms, and bearing in mind the range Jeff Renner stated as the hopping average for 1945 (.4 to .7 l), we get pretty close to 1 lb per U.K. barrel for this commercial brew - by any measure, at least twice what mainstream U.S. beers use today. Even with better alpha acid yields it is evident to me beers were much more bitter then. Also, perhaps the 1941 training recipes, if they were that, reflected an older practice (pre-Prohibition), since curricula in the 1930's would have been lifted from pre-1920 sources.

Thus I conclude: beers were twice as bitter at the end of the First War as the Second, and the 1945 beers twice as bitter as they are today.

That said, recently in a U.S. airport I had a 16 ounce tin of Michelob Ultra, which surely must be hopped and malted very lightly. The hops had a nice taste and the cereal flavours were clean and fresh. This is beer as a re-hydrating vehicle but it was pleasant to drink. Not something I'd want to try too often, but it made a nice change. U.S. mass market brewers are masters at this kind of thing.


Kristen England said...

By my calculations I get about 5EBC and 25bu. Nothing bitter about this beer. That being said, there is a good amount of hops that go in towards the end so I would expect that this was more hop flavor and aroma forward than bitter. Seems very much along the lines of current 'Premium' US lagers.

Graham Wheeler said...

And it's definitely from the Fidelio Brewery

Erm.. No. The Fidelio Brewery did not exist in 1941. It went bust in 1940 and reopened a few months later under new owners as The Greater New York Brewery. That itself went bust in 1942, remained closed until 1945, when it reopened as Metropolis Brewery. According to t'internet at least.

A very troubled brewery. It had no less than twelve name changes throughout its history. It never did recover from prohibition.

I cannot see how it is that you are making a link between Schwarz Laboratories and that brewery. The Schwarzes had a couple of successful 60-year-old businesses of their own without getting involved with ailing breweries except, perhaps, as consultants.

Did Daddy Schwarz send young Bill to work in a brewery as part of his training? That is a possibility I suppose.

Gary Gillman said...

Well, not being a brewer (but somewhat familiar with the IBU system), I was speaking loosely and would include hop aroma and flavor in the hop-character category. And I know too that pellets and whole flowers are two different things. So that when one reads that normally today a few ounces of hops are added to a U.S. barrel of mass market beer, perhaps that imparts more IBUs and flavor than leaf hops of the same weight. Still, I would think that, say, Coors Light or Bud do not have the same intensity of hop-character as this 1941 beer. In part, that is based on my own recollections of the taste of the mainstream premium beers even in 1970. But maybe I am wrong.


Alan Stiles said...

I'll brew a 10 US barrel batch of this later in the year. My calculations come out at 5.8 EBC, 22 IBUs from Cluster hops at 5.8 AA. Perhaps use Wyeast 2272 yeast sourced from Christian Schmidt? So for I've brewed the following 10 Barrel batches from this blog/the Mild! book:
1914 Ushers 54/-
1941 Whitbread IPA
1916 Courage X

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, I hadn't finished posting all the documents I had. Suspense sort of thing.

JessKidden said...

Fidelio's/Greater New York's biggest claim to fame - and somewhat tenuous link to today's beer scene- is that they brewed the McSorley's brand in the immediate post-Repeal era- both a "McSorley's Lager Beer" and "McSorley's Cream Stock Ale".

After they folded, the brand moved to Liebmann in Brooklyn, brewers of Rheingold Extra Dry Beer. Rheingold (as the company would be known after the mid-60's) continued to brew the McSorley's Ale until they folded in the late 1970's, sometimes as only a limited draught beer, other times packaged in bottles (and then cans), as well.

It was a real nice US style "golden ale" (for the pre-craft era)- hoppier and more fragrant that my then house standard beer, Ballantine XXX Ale.

The brand moved to Philadelphia after Rheingold shut down, brewed first by Ortlieb and then C. Schmidt's & Sons, both of which maintained the Rheingold recipe.

Heileman then ruined it and Stroh continued the same, brewing a bland "cream ale". The current owner, Pabst, recently reformulated it as an imitation "English style best bitter" (as described by Pabst/Southampton brewer, Phil Markowski). I miss the old version...