Friday, 20 August 2021

Foreign beers analysed by Heineken

around the start of WW II, to be precise.

Remember me saying the other day that someday I might be arsed to harvest the Far East beers from Heineken's Gravity Book? Against all expectations, I actually did get off my arse and do the work.  At least the stuff from 1939 and 1940. For some reason there's then a big gap until 1946. I wonder why that might be?

I now realise that Heineken were financially involved in many of the breweries whose beers they analysed. The list from 1946 is longer than in the 1939 annual report.

Sint Servatius Bierbrouwerij N.V., Maastricht;
Polar N.V., Maastricht; (soft drinks)
Distilleerderij en Likeurstokerij P. Hoppe N.V., Amsterdam;
Van Vollenhoven’s Bierbrouwerij N.V., Amsterdam;
Brasserie Leopold S.A., Brussel;
N.V. „Cobra”, Amsterdam;
Malayan Breweries Ltd., Singapore;
Archipelago Brewery Cy. (1941) Ltd., Singapore;
N.V. Heineken’s Nederlandsch-Indische Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij, Soerabaja;
Nederlandsch Indische Glasfabrieken „Niglas” N.V., Soerabaja;
Heineken’s Curacaosche Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij N.V., Willemstad;
S.A. des Bières Bomonti & Pyramides, Cairo;
Crown Brewery S.A., Alexandrië;
Société Internationale de Brasserie (Interbra), Brussel;
Brasserie de Leopoldville Sté Cong, a r. 1., Leopoldville (Belgisch Congo);
Bouteillerie de Léopoldville Sté. Cong, a r. 1., Leopoldville (Belgisch Congo);
The Nigerian Brewery Ltd., Lagos;

minor investments:
Brasseries & Glacières de l’Indochine, Saigon;
Société des Brasseries du Maroc, Casablanca;
Société des Brasseries de l'Ouest-Africain (Soboa), Dakar;
Palestine Brewery Ltd., Rishon-le-Zion;
S.A. Brasseries de la Meuse, Parijs.
Heineken annual report 1946, page 5.

Pretty much all the beers are Pilsners with one exception: those from Singapore are all Stouts. Not sure why that was.

In addition to breweries with which Heineken was financially entangled, there are a few from others involved heavily in the export trade to the Far East: Tennent, Allsopp and Carlsberg. Plus, weirdly, a Swiss-owned brewery in Accra, Ghana, the oddly-named Overseas Brewery.

Foreign beers analysed by Heineken
Date Year Brewer Town country Beer Style Colour OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
24th Jun 1939 Malayan Brewing Singapore Malaya Tiger Stout Stout 44 1088.0 1017.6 9.14 79.96%
24th Jun 1939 Archipelago Brewing Singapore Malaya Lion Stout Stout 66 1082.9 1012.0 9.25 85.54%
21st Nov 1939 Leopold Brussels Belgium White Star Export? 0.41 1056.0 1010.2 5.90 81.77%
21st Nov 1939 Leopold Brussels Belgium Bock Bok 0.37 1048.3 1008.8 5.09 81.85%
21st Nov 1939 Leopold Brussels Belgium Pilsen Pils 0.65 1028.5 1008.5 2.70 70.28%
21st Nov 1939 Leopold Brussels Belgium Stout Stout 30 1068.9 1023.3 5.95 66.16%
21st Nov 1939 Heineken Soerabaja Indonesia Pils Pils 0.42 1049.9 1009.7 5.15 80.46%
21st Nov 1939 Heineken Soerabaja Indonesia Rex Pils 0.32 1050.7 1009.6 5.29 81.10%
21st Nov 1939 Heineken Soerabaja Indonesia Java Pils 0.35 1050.4 1011.1 5.05 77.94%
27th Dec 1939 Bomonti & Pyramides Cairo Egypt Stella Pils 0.39 1051.2 1010.8 5.19 78.80%
27th Dec 1939 Bomonti & Pyramides Cairo Egypt Pilsner Pils 0.43 1048.3 1009.6 5.00 80.07%
3rd Jan 1940 Malayan Brewing Singapore Malaya Tiger Stout Stout 0.38 1049.4 1010.6 4.99 78.52%
3rd Jan 1940 Carlsberg Copenhagen Denmark Pilsner Pils 0.58 1049.7 1011.4 4.89 76.99%
3rd Jan 1940 Allsopp Burton UK Pilsner Pils 0.6 1044.1 1008.7 4.56 80.29%
3rd Jan 1940 Cascade South Hobart Australia Special Lager Lager 1.2 1049.8 1018.5 3.98 62.74%
17th Apr 1940 Allsopp Burton UK Pilsner Pils 0.62 1044.7 1008.6 4.64 80.72%
19th Apr 1940 Tennent Glasgow UK - Scotland Pilsner Pils 0.55 1049.2 1010.0 5.04 79.72%
19th Apr 1940 Overseas Brewery Accra Ghana Club Lager Lager 0.65 1050.7 1010.3 5.19 79.69%
19th Apr 1940 Carlsberg Copenhagen Denmark Pilsner Pils 0.6 1049.6 1011.8 4.93 76.26%
Rapporten van laboratoriumonderzoeken naar producten van Heinekenbrouwerijen in binnen- en buitenland en naar producten van andere brouwerijen held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 834 - 1794.




Anonymous said...

It is interesting that they have OGs for breweries they don't have an interest in. I'm curious if that is due to some kind of deduction and calculation, publicly available information, or if brewers were willing to share their records.

Ron Pattinson said...


as the title says, these were beers analysed by Heineken in a lab. Even for their own beers, the information doesn't come from brewing records.

Anonymous said...

I admit I'm unclear on how much a lab in 1939 could know vs. how much they have to assume . I would guess that it's fairly straightforward to look at FG and ABV for a beer that is likely to be almost all pale malt and calculate the OG. It's not as clear to me how sophisticated the analysis would be if a beer had a lot of odd adjuncts and they didn't know a lot about the yeast. I could be wrong about sophisticated they were in pulling out the types of sugars and other elements remaining in a finished beer, I admit.

Ron Pattinson said...


I have amalyses from over 100 years earlier. The early method was pretty simple: boil off the alcohol to work out the ABW and calculate the OG from that and the FG. It's not particularly complicated. It's irrelevant what the ingredients were. Sometimes they'd also work out the dextrose content, but mostly not.

Roel Mulder said...

Interesting that the Leopold pilsen is such a weak beer. Though not that surprising, as oddly, before WWII 'pilsen' was usually some kind of table beer in Belgium. Bock was the stronger blond lager, just after WWII it was Export, and only in the 1950s would pils(en) come to mean the average 5% ABV blond lager in Belgium.