Friday, 28 May 2021

Heineken (Rotterdam) output in 1939

Having access to every single page of Heineken's wartime brewing records means I can do all sorts of fun stuff. Like trawling through them recording every gyle: beer, batch size and OG.

This give me access to all sorts of interesting and useful data. Like exactly how much of each beer they brewed in a year. Getting hold of that information was my main motivation. But I also get to see how much beer they brewed month-by-month and its average OG.

I'm dead glad that I did. It's revealed some unexpected insights. The first being how much the quantity they brewed varied from month to month. In November they brewed over 35,000 hl, but in August fewer than 11,000 hl. That's a huge difference. Far larger variation than I've ever seen at a UK brewery. And a very different pattern

At Whitbread, the summer was the peak brewing season, with the greatest amount brewed in July, followed by August. It was the exact opposite at Heineken, with those two months being the slackest. I know why Whitbread brewed more in the summer - people drank more beer during warmer weather. But why would Heineken brew less then? Could it be because, if they were lagering for any length of time, beer had to be brewed months in advance?

Second surprise was the average OG. 11.2º Plato is 1044.86 in SG.Not a huge amount greater than the UK average of 1041.02 (1937). I would have expected a continental brewery's average to be quite a bit higher than the UK's.

Heineken (Rotterdam) output and average OG by month
month year hl grav. Points average OG
Jan 1939 33,594 383,843.9 11.4
Feb 1939 30,712 350,098.1 11.4
Mar 1939 21,793 237,043.0 10.9
Apr 1939 21,178 232,720.9 11.0
May 1939 21,015 230,321.8 11.0
Jun 1939 29,354 329,148.0 11.2
Jul 1939 12,968 138,059.7 10.6
Aug 1939 10,887 129,107.3 11.9
Sep 1939 26,980 301,120.3 11.2
Oct 1939 34,986 395,410.6 11.3
Nov 1939 35,207 393,956.5 11.2
Dec 1939 20,379 232,225.5 11.4
Total   299,053 3,353,056 11.2
Heineken brewing records held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, documents number 834 - 1758 and 834 - 1759.

Whitbread Ale output by month
month year barrels
Jan 1939 29,574
Feb 1939 30,114
Mar 1939 35,865
Apr 1939 39,817
May 1939 36,053
Jun 1939 42,091
Jul 1939 44,130
Aug 1939 40,878
Sep 1939 37,476
Oct 1939 33,246
Nov 1939 35,365
Dec 1939 39,100
Total 1939 443,709
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/103.

Heineken (Rotterdam) output by beer in 1939
Beer OG hl %
Bok 17.2 1,713 0.57%
Mei 15.2 2,163 0.72%
Bei 12.5 4,435 1.48%
Do 8.9 26,429 8.84%
Li 8.9 41,036 13.72%
P Exp 11.8 43,004 14.38%
P 11.8 180,273 60.28%
total   299,053  
Heineken brewing records held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, documents number 834 - 1758 and 834 - 1759.

1 comment:

Michael Foster said...

This post led me down a rabbit hole--since I haven't been in the UK for years, I had a look at the menu for Whitbread's Brewers Fayre restaurants, and it's pretty damn appalling. Coors is a tap beer, their "craft" selection is limited to BrewDog, and they only have two traditional English beers available, with just one on tap (versus 4 lagers, a Guinness, and a cider).

Now if you compare this to Germany, the Germans have been extremely successful in maintaining their brewing tradition and keeping German drinkers happy with traditional and local brews. Since I left England over a decade ago, it seems tastes have gone even further towards lagers and the few "real ale" drinkers are pivoting more towards American-style craft beer (I can't imagine seeing a West Coast IPA on tap in England in the early 2000s, let alone seeing a NEIPA on tap)!

Why did the English brewing tradition lose out so much at home, or am I just being uncharitable and cynical in my interpretation?