Tuesday 7 September 2021

Watering the workers' beer

Another post in my endless beer in Holland in WW II series. The CBK (brewers' organisation) was discussing cutting beer strengths again. My only surprise is that it had taken them so long to get around to the job. By the time this discussion took place, Holland had been occupied for six months.

First the bad news: the German authorities were getting involved:

"Mr Stikker says that the Central Commission for the Food and Drug Industry had a meeting with Mr Louwes, who pointed out, among other things, that the poor food position in Belgium will affect the food supply in the Netherlands; this may also mean that the breweries will have to make their stocks and the promised quantity of barley last longer than December 31, 1941, namely until March 1, 1942. Furthermore, Mr. Louwes stated that the German authorities demand that no beer is sold of a higher gravity than 10.3%; after it was pointed out what economic consequences this would have, it has been left to the N.A.C. how the relationship between the types of beer will be."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 14th November 1940, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 304.

No matter what, it looks like 10.3º Plato was going to be the maximum gravity. And that brewers were going to have to make there stocks of malt and barley last longer than originally expected.

At least they weren't going to have to worry about beer being imported that was stronger than 10.3º Plato:

"On 8 November, a further discussion was held with a representative of the German authorities (Mr. Biel), during which it appeared that if the gravity of the Dutch beer was reduced, the imported beer would not have a higher gravity than 10.3%.

The regulation for the gravity reduction is therefore based on the N.A.C., with the C.B.K. acting as advisor and executor. The C.B.K. must therefore now examine what consequences are attached to a reduction in gravity; it should be kept in mind that the turnover is increasing, that the breweries with the raw materials in stock and expected will probably have to last longer than until December 31, 1941 (possibly until March 1, 1942) and that any malt import from the German side is on the condition of a gravity reduction."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 14th November 1940, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 304.

Dutch beer mostly fell into three categories. 

"The first with the N.A.C. The point to be discussed is which contents should be determined for the different beer types. Preliminary with the N.A.C. talking about a content for heavy beer of 10.0 -10.3%, for lagerbier from 7.3 to 7.8% and for intermediate beer brewed by some breweries from 9.2 to 9.3% .

Mr. Swinkels fears that the public will develop a certain preference for heavy beer instead of lager, as a result of which the breweries will get a greater demand for heavy beer.

Mr Stikker notes that this would not lead to resource savings and that this is one of the reasons why the N.A.C. suggests a production limitation, so that each brewery can brew only a certain number of H.L.° each month; In addition, each brewery would have to maintain in its turnover the existing ratio between heavy and lighter beer. The question now is on which period this ratio should be based. It will not be possible to take the year 1938 as a basis, as it was for the distribution, because all kinds of factors (including the preference of the German soldiers for heavy beer) play a role that did not exist before. For example, see could take the period June/November 1940 or July/December 1940 as a basis."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 14th November 1940, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 305.

I've never some across any beers of the intermediate type. If it was halfway between Pilsner and Lagerbier, that would mean it had a gravity of around 10.5º Plato.

They had every right to fear that Lagerbier drinkers would switch to Pilsner. It's exactly what I would have done. What a surprise that German soldiers preferred the stronger types of beer.

Next time we'll see what the final agreement was and how Heineken reacted in their brewing.

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