Friday, 27 August 2021

Dr. Mendlik's new lab

More Heineken, I'm afraid. Sorry about that.

You may recall Dr. Mendlik being mentioned in a previous post, when hew was sent out to Heineken's brewery in Serabaja (in present-day Indonesia) to set up a lagering department. He seems to have been quite a prominent brewing scientist.

"Seventy years after the first "lab"
New laboratory for Heinekens Beer brewery
(From one of our reporters)
ROTTERDAM, Wednesday. — The Heinekens Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij today inaugurated a completely new and modernly equipped laboratory in Rotterdam. This is about the time the company got its first "lab" seventy years ago.

The reason for the new building is the fact that the task of the laboratory has grown significantly. This is partly due to the greatly increased demands of sales, such as the transition from cask to bottled beer and the high demand for Dutch export beer; partly due to the increased number of breweries, over which Heineken has technical supervision, namely twelve large breweries, of which two in the Netherlands, one in Belgium, two in Singapore and one in Surabaya. one in Cairo, one in Lagos, three in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda Urundi, and one in Venezuela, as well as those of several smaller breweries.

The first and second floors of the new building are dedicated to pure laboratory work. In the rooms on the ground floor there is space for storage and ancilliary work also takes place. There is also a room, kept at a constant temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, for checking the biological and physical durability of beers, and for checking the shelf life of export beer samples. In the basement there is another cold room in which tests can be carried out at lower temperatures.

The laboratory of Heineken, de Maatschappij, which accounts for more than half of Dutch beer exports, is led by four academics, namely three chemists and a microbiologist. The head of the laboratory is Dr. F. Mendlik, who is also secretary of the European Brewery Convention, the main organization of scientific brewery research across Europe.

De Nacobrouw — the National Committee for Brewing Barley — will find temporary accommodation in the new building."
Het Parool 21-09-1955, page 11.

When looking at Amstel's output records, I was surprised to see how high the percentage of draught beer was. It looks like this changed after WW II. Presumably because drinking moved from pubs to homes.

You can see that Heineken had already built up quite an international presence, especially in the Far East and Africa. Not sure why they would need two breweries in Singapore. I assume they consolidated those into one at some point.

From the articles I've read about Dr. Mendlik setting up lagering in Soerabaja, it was obvious that he was an important brewing scientist. Being secretary of the EBC is pretty prestigious. And may be one of the reasons Heineken went over to EBC colours rather than that annoying Brand scale.

Remembering Heineken's Amsterdam brewery when it was still in operation, there was a rather unlovely 1970s building towards the back of the site. It was a lab and the last new construction on the site. Presumably built to replace the lab in Rotterdam when their brewery there closed.


Lars Marius Garshol said...

I guess Soerabaja is what's now written as Surabaya, a fairly big city on Java.

Ron Pattinson said...

Lars Marius Garshol,

I suspect the spelling has always been Surabaya in English.

Martyn Cornell said...

Heineken opened Malayan Breweries in Singapore in conjunction with the local drinks importer Fraser & Neave in 1932. The "other" brewery in Singapore was opened the same year by the Archipel Brouwerij Compagnie, which was a JV with Beck's and also had a brewery in Jakarta. It was acquired by Heineken/Malayan Breweries in 1940, after the seizure of German-owned assets, but continued to run as a separate operation for some 30 years at least.

Ron Pattinson said...


I've lots of analyses from after WW II of Archipelago breweries in both Singapore and Batavia, i.e. Indonesia. All fascinating stuff, I'm sure. Just not on my list of priorities, however interesting it might be. I can't afford to get distracted.

Martyn Cornell said...

The Archipel brewery in Java was seized in 1940 and renamed De Oranje Brouwerij. After the Japanese were defeated it was run for its local owners by brewers from the Drie Hoefijzers brewery in Breda. The left in 1958 and it was seized by the local municipality and renamed PT Delta Djakarta, brewing Anker-brand beers. San Miguel (the Phillipines one) acquired a 49 per cent stake ion 1993.

Anonymous said...

What Martyn Cornell stated is correct, and I will add more detail when I do Part II of my article, mentioned the other day here, on Malayan beer history.

Gary Gillman,