Thursday, 3 June 2021

Dutch brewing during WW II

For the first months of the German occupation, brewing went on much as before at Heineken. No beers were dropped and their gravities remained unchanged.

Despite not brewing between 10th May (the day of the German invasion) and 6th June, Heineken’s output was slightly higher in 1940 than in 1939. They were lucky that their brewery was to the north of Rotterdam city centre and just outside devastated by the German air raid of 14th May.

Production of all three of their best-sellers – Pils, Licht Lagerbier and Donker Lagerbier – all increased. With Pils leading the way at more than 26,000 hl up.

Amazingly, they even brewed a couple of batches of Bok in July. I’m not sure Dutch drinkers got to sample any of it. A note in the brewing record by one brew reads “for Münch.”, presumably meaning that it was destined for Munich.

Everything started to change in October 1940.  Export Pils was dropped early in the month and at the end the gravity of Pils was reduced from 11.8º Plato to 11.5º Plato. At the beginning of November rice was dropped from the grists, presumably because supplies had run out.

More changes were to come. On 18th November Heineken started adding water to all their beers. As a note in the margin of the brewing record says “diluted with boiling water in the cooler”. This reduced the gravity of Pils to 9.9º Plato and the two Lagerbiers to 7.4º Plato.  Leaving them at 3.5% ABV and 2.9% ABV, respectively.

Heineken (Rotterdam) output by beer in 1940
beer OG Plato hl %
Bei 12.5/12/7.4 3,488 1.14%
Bok 17.2 421 0.14%
Do 8.9/7.4 33,566 10.94%
Li 8.8/7.4 48,991 15.96%
P 11.8/11.5/9.9 206,871 67.40%
P Exp 11.8 12,600 4.11%
Other   982 0.32%
Total   306,919  
Heineken brewing record held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 834 - 1759.


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