Thursday, 28 October 2021

Porter history - the same old bullshit

I thought that after more than a decade of Martyn Cornell and I putting the record straight on the history of Porter that the myths about its history had finally been laid to rest. How wrong I was.

The latest edition of CAMRA's Beer magazine contains an article on Porter by Roger Protz. Where he repeats all of the most egregious tales of the style's origin and decline. It's incredibly frustrating that I'm still having to refute this bullshit after demonstrating years ago just how wrong it was.

Here we go again.

"The brewers called porter entire butt, as it was served from just one cask or butt. It replaced a beer that was a blend of pale, brown and stale ales."

The early name for Porter was Starting Butt Beer, not Entire Butt. Entire Butt doesn't refer to it being served from a single cask. It means that it was brewed "Entire gyle", that is, all the worts were cobined to make a single beer. As op[posed to parti-gyling multiple beer from one brew. Entire later came to refer to Keeping Porter, beer which had been aged.

Porter didn't replace blend of pale, brown and stale ales. That was made up in the early 19th century by someone who totally misinterpreted Obadiah Poundage's letter to a magazine outlining the history of Porter. In any case Porter was a Beer, not an Ale. In the early 18th century Beer and Ale were two distinct drinks, brewed at different breweries and even coming in different-sized casks.

"But production came to an abrupt stop in World War I, when the government banned the use of dark roasted malts. It said the additional energy, in the shape of gas, coal and electricity, used to produce roasted malts should go into munitions and baking."

I've looked very carefully through the Food Controller's orders in WW I and I can find no ban on the roasting of malt. All through the war London brewed used large quantities of roasted malts, even including brown malt in some Mild Ales.

Production of Porter didn't stop in London during WW I. Neither of Stout. Even in the darkest days of 1918 and 1919, Whitbread brewed over 100,000 barrels of Porter and Stout. Production of Porter did fall dramatically in 1917 and 1918, but only because gravities had become so reduced that Stout, for a while, replaced it.

Here are the details:

Whitbread Porter and Stout production 1914 - 1929
Year P S CS LS ES Total Port
1914 123,085 190   198,806   382,984
1915 65,216     208,733 282 314,169
1916 80,298     244,889   369,130
1917 8,493     241,280   286,163
1918 7,136     95,882   110,695
1919 21,602 4,797   89,165   117,284
1920 24,910 47,789   137,533   234,413
1921 15,688 58,452   133,563 30,920 238,623
1922 16,562 47,530 84,703 15,340 28,582 192,717
1923 14,165 39,960 68,326 20,866 26,660 169,977
1924 15,948 37,834 74,258 23,442 26,710 178,192
1925 14,943 35,396 62,357 22,262 28,974 163,932
1926 13,511 34,567 20,721 69,724 29,990 168,513
1927 10,708 30,087   86,569 22,361 149,725
1928 10,105 30,017   85,992 16,039 142,153
1929 5,558 17,284   51,624 11,313 85,779
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/079, LMA/4453/D/01/080, LMA/4453/D/01/081, LMA/4453/D/01/082, LMA/4453/D/01/083, LMA/4453/D/01/084, LMA/4453/D/01/085, LMA/4453/D/01/086, LMA/4453/D/01/087, LMA/4453/D/01/088, LMA/4453/D/01/089, LMA/4453/D/01/090, LMA/4453/D/01/091, LMA/4453/D/01/092, LMA/4453/D/01/093 and LMA/4453/D/01/094.


WW I did have a negative impact of Porter in London. But that wasn't the result of a ban on roasted malts. More it was fault of London brewers post-war for brewing Porter as a 5d per pint beer, which meant it had a watery gravity of not much over 1030º. It seems many drinkers switched over to Stout.

It wasn't just Whitbread. Fullers were brewing 250 barrel batches of Porter in 1918 and 1919.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1891 Barclay Perkins KK

Barclay Perkins base level Burton Ale, KK, was a consistent item in Barclay Perkins draught beer offerings for around a century, surviving both world wars. Albeit with a much-reduced gravity.

In the 19th century it deserved its Keeping Ale nomenclature, being aged for months before sale. Probably at least 6 months and possibly more. Plenty of time for a Brettanomyces secondary fermentation, which would have added lots of funky goodness.

By the 1890s, the grist had changed considerably from versions earlier in the century. Those had been 100% base malt. Here crystal malt, rice and sugar have all elbowed their way in. Leaving a recipe which would be the template for the next 60 years.

As you would expect in a Stock Ale, the hopping was robust. With an intriguing mix of varieties: Hallertau from the 1891 season and Mid-Kents from 1890 and 1891. Being brewed in December, most of the hops were only a couple of months old. A sure sign that this was a relatively expensive beer.

1891 Barclay Perkins KK
pale malt 10.75 lb 68.25%
crystal malt 60 L 1.00 lb 6.35%
flaked rice 1.75 lb 11.11%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.25 lb 14.29%
Fuggles 120 mins 3.25 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 3.25 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 3.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1074
FG 1018
ABV 7.41
Apparent attenuation 75.68%
IBU 100
SRM 13.5
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale


 

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Delivering beer to the Wehrmacht (part four)

A short and number-heavy post today. Because I'm feeling a bit crap. Nothing too serious, just an annoying cold.

I told you that deliveries to the Germans were very unevenly spread amongst Dutch brewers. Here's the confirmation. But first we're going to look at the absolute quantities involved.

If you consider the security implications, it's weird that the CBK (Dutch brewers' organisation) had access to the figures for deliveries to German canteens. In later documents they state that the ration was 9 litres per head per month. Which works out to around 30 cl per day. Not a huge amount. But that wasn't the real total, as soldiers also drank in ordinary pubs.

Despite this, Wehrmacht canteens were responsible to 8% to 9% of total beer consumption. It's fair to say that the real percentage consumed by the German military was at least double that.

From the quantity of beer, it's pretty simple to calculate the number of German personnel based in Holland. I've had trouble tracking down the exact number from other sources. Though I did find one which gave it as around 125,000. Which tallies pretty well with my calculation.

As you can see in this table:

Wehrmacht beer deliveries
month hl % of total Dutch consumption implied no. of German troops
Dec. 1940 12,516 7.05 139,067
Jan. 1941 12,992 8.43 144,356
Febr. 1941 13,131 9.01 145,900
Source:
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 8th May 1941, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 158.

Four breweries - Amstel, Drie Hoefijzers, Heineken and van Vollenhoven - supplied almost two-thirds of the total. Which this next table makes very clear.

Wehrmacht beer deliveries in January 1941 by brewery
Brewery hl % of total
Amstel 2,197 16.91%
Bavaria 382 2.94%
Brand 54 0.42%
Drie Hoefijzers  1,654 12.73%
H.B.M. (Heineken)
2,314 17.81%
Klok 251 1.93%
Leeuw 11 0.08%
Oranjeboom 853 6.57%
Vollenhoven 2,138 16.46%
van Waes Boodts 17 0.13%
total of these breweries 9,871 75.98%
grand total 12,992  
Source:
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 8th May 1941, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 158.

Partially, this inequality just represents the difference in size of the breweries. Amstel, Drie Hoefijzers and Heineken were three of the biggest. Van Vollenhoven, on the other hand, despite being very old , was nothing like on the scale of the other three.


Monday, 25 October 2021

Delivering beer to the Wehrmacht (part three)

In a time of raw material shortages, the need to supply the Wehrmacht with beer put extra strain on Dutch brewers. Especially as they mostly insisted on getting Pilsner, that is beer of the highest gravity.

Dutch brewers were afraid that, if they had to deliver exclusively stronger beer to the Germans, they would have to reduce the gravity of beer for the general population.

"II. BEER DELIVERY TO THE WEHRMACHT.
Mr. van Stolk says that the strength must also be discussed with Mr. Engelhard, Chefintendant of the German étappe. One could try if necessary to have imported German beer delivered to the canteens or else to brew special beer for that purpose. This can be discussed with the German gentlemen on 9th April. It can then be argued that if only heavier beer is to be delivered to the canteens, the cafes will receive beer of even lower quality than currently envisaged, which will have to be drunk by the soldiers."
Report of a meeting between NAC, NMC, VVO and CBK, 4th April 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, pages 180 - 181.

Of course, selling low-strength beer in pubs would impact German soldiers, as they didn't exclusively drink in their own canteens. But did German canteens really need the strongest beer? Some of the brewers thought not.

"Mr. Six says that the beer in the canteens is mainly consumed with food and therefore does not have to have a high gravity. (This claim was later refuted by the German side, because beer in the canteens is consumed without food).

De Heerer Zylker points out that the intendance always asks for Pilsener beer, but that the local officers agree with Lager (7.5%).

Mr. Smits van Weasberghe announces that the requirement for Pilsener beer is maintained in Brabant. Speakers brewery received a letter from Mr. Engelhard, in which he promised extra raw materials for the Wehrmacht."
Report of a meeting between NAC, NMC, VVO and CBK, 4th April 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 181. 

Now that's confusing. In some places  the Germans were still insisting on Pilsner, in others they were happy with the eakert Lagerbier. Admittedly, a 7.5º Balling beer was just about still intoxicating, being around 3% ABV. About the same as a Mild in the UK at the time.

Where would the raw materials come from to supply strong beer to the Wehrmacht? It seems like from reallocating existing supplies.

"Mr. Abraham believes that this does not refer to an extra quantity for the brewing company, but to an allocation at the expense of other breweries.

Mr Stikker says that there has already been talk of a central distribution (with the cooperation of the Meelcentrale) of beer supplies to the Wehrmacht via the breweries. Initially those breweries which have the biggest stocks would then be eligible for these deliveries; thus, without redistribution of raw materials, a certain leveling of stocks is achieved.

Mr. Abraham informs that the central distribution via the Meelcentrale will continue, although it is not yet entirely certain. It is desirable that this takes place via the Meelcentrale, which gives the allocations and ensures confidentiality. In this respect the Meelcentrale is supported by the German authorities. For example, the Wehrmacht will not insist on certain brands. The local authorities are not entitled to demand only Pilsener beer. If the arrangement is made, the allocations of the Meelcentrale will have to be strictly adhered to and no beer will be supplied at all without such allocation.

According to the statement of the Chefintendant of the German etappe, the canteens usually have stock for 14 days to a month. This will overcome transportation difficulties."
Report of a meeting between NAC, NMC, VVO and CBK, 4th April 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 181. 

No new raw materials then. Just the breweries who had good stocks of them would have to bear the brunt of supplying the Wehrmacht. The result was that a few breweries bore the brunt of supplying the German canteens.

Next time we'll see exactly which breweries that was and how much beer they were shipping. Some breweries way more than others.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Back in the USA

You can probably guess why 2020 and 2021 were the first years in yonks when I didn't visit the USA.

Assuming the world doesn't turn to total shit again in the next few months, I'm planning my return to North America. In February 2022.

After a hellish February experience in Boston a few years back, all the cold bits of the US are definitely out. I'm happy to visit place that get a bit chilly. Definitely not the bollock-freezing parts. If you're from the US, you know which bits they are. Anywhere where the daytime temperature is above freezing works for me.

Here's my extremely vague plan. Fly into Atlanta and spend a couple of weeks in the US.After that, everything is up in the air. One of my priorities is ticking off more US states. As I'll be in the South, Tennessee and Florida are obvious candidates. But I'm up for other suggestions like Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

If you have a brewery and fancy hosting a red faced old English bloke, get in touch. I can knock up a dead interesting old recipe for you to brew and I can weave one of my magical talks around it. All for a very reasonable fee.

I'm getting on a bit. Officially an oldie person since crossing the 65-year barrier. It may be your last chance to see me spout my nonsense. None of us lives forever.

Get in touch if you're interested. Especially if you fancy brewing a strong Mild or a Burton Ale.

Missing Franconia

While pondering Dark Lager recently, I reminded myself of how long it's been since I last visited Bavaria. And how much I missed its delicious Lagers.

Looking back on all the great times I've had in Bavaria, I realised an overwhelming number of them were in just one part of the state. Franconia.

When did I first visit this magical region?  A long, long time ago. Well before the kids were born. When Dolores and I were fancy free and could pretty much wherever we wanted. And whenever we wanted. So, sometime in the early 1990s.

It wasn't a particularly long trip, just a long weekend. We flew into Nuremberg and took the train up to Bamberg. Where else would you start a a Franconian beer tour?

Bamberg was a very different place back then I can remember remarking to Dolores that  it was amazing such a beautiful city seemed to have no tourists, other than us. Beer tourism wasn't much of a thing back then. And the river cruises hadn't started dumping flocks of pensioners in the city. What a magical place it was.


We stayed in Fässla. Very handy not just for its own pub, but also Spezial opposite. I'm pretty sure that's one of the main reasons I chose to stay there.

I've always thought Fässla's beers have been a bit neglected by beer nerds. Perhaps because none are smoked. That didn't bother me. I loved them from the first sip. I helped that the draught beer was sold Bayerischer Anstich - straight from the cask. Sadly, the barrels are now fake. 

I've still had plenty of good times there. Like a morning session next to a group of firemen who, hopefully, were there after rather than before their shift. Or a visit with Jeff Bell on one of Andy Neil's beer tours. And, obviously, I dropped by a couple of times when travelling around Franconia with anti-American Mike, in 2009 and 2020.

Of course, it wasn't long before me and Dolores dropped by Schlenkertla to get a taste of their legendary smoked beer. It's often said that you need to sink a few pints before you get a taste for it. I loved it from the first sip. It helped that it had the soft carbonation of gravity dispense.


I must have visited the pub at least half a dozen times. It's one of the places I have to go to, when I'm in town. Last time was in 2013, when me and Andrew made a trip to Franconia. That was the second time I'd taken Andrew there. We'd also made a trip in 2003, when he was just seven. It was much more fun when he could drink.

Me and Dolores didn't just stay in Bamberg. We also took the short train ride to Forchheim. Where I encountered for the first time when of my favourite brewery taps: Neder.How many happy hours I've spent in the town. But more about that next time.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Let's Brew - 1879 Adnams X

I was truly shocked when I first came across this beer. The only other 19th-century UK beers I’d seen that were under 4% ABV were Table Beers. This isn’t even the weakest example of Adnams X. One a few moths earlier had an OG of just 1030.5º.

I sort of wonder where X was sold. It seems to have only been brewed occasionally. Basically, whenever they brewed a strong beer, they parti-gyled a few barrels of it. With such a low gravity, they’d have to have shifted it pretty quickly, which makes it unlikely that it was always available.

Adnams didn’t have the most exciting of grists at this point. Base malt and sugar was it for every beer other than the Stout. Nothing really to sink your teeth into.

The hopping rate is quite high. You’ll see that X is one of Adnams most bitter Milds, only being pipped by the strongest, XXXX. There’s a simple explanation for that: this beer was parti-gyled with Tally Ho, one of their most heavily-hopped beers.

1879 Adnams X
mild malt 4.50 lb 66.67%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.25 lb 33.33%
Goldings 105 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.50 oz
OG 1037
FG 1009
ABV 3.70
Apparent attenuation 75.68%
IBU 69
SRM 9
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 172º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold



 

Friday, 22 October 2021

Burton Ale after WW I

Though much reduced in gravity, Burton remained a popular style in London and was still a standard draught beer.

It was generally brewed as a 9d. draught beer, that is with a gravity of around 1055º. There were stronger versions, but these were mostly sold in bottled form or on draught or as a winter seasonal.

One exception was Fullers Old Burton Extra (OBE), which was a draught beer that wasn’t limited to a specific season. But it was brewed in tiny quantities: at most 40 barrels, often fewer than ten barrels at a time, when Fuller’s brew length was 400-500 barrels. That’s the glory of parti-gyling, being able to efficiently brew a low-volume beer on a large kit.

The fall in gravity, as with Stout was about 20 points. Like Stout, draught Burton Ale was a 9d. per pint beer. Fullers OBE, Barclay Perkins KKK and Courage KK are very similar to pre-war draught KK. Clearly there was still a demand for strong Burton Ales, despite the price.

The draught Burton Ales available in London after WW I all looked pretty similar.

Assuming an average OG for KK of around 1072º before the war and about 1054º after it, that’s a fall of 25%, which is slightly more than the average 23% drop.

London Burton Ale after WW I
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1921 Barclay Perkins KK 1055.2 1015.0 5.32 72.83% 9.60 2.12
1924 Barclay Perkins KK (bottling) 1070.3 1023.5 6.19 66.57% 14.00 4.24
1924 Barclay Perkins KKK 1082.1 1028.0 7.16 65.90% 14.00 4.75
1924 Camden SA 1055.1 1013.9 5.46 74.87% 10.42 2.31
1923 Courage XXX 1053.5 1015.2 5.06 71.50% 7.26 1.73
1923 Courage KKK 1073.4 1025.5 6.34 65.28% 11.00 3.28
1925 Fullers BO 1061.5 1018.8 5.65 69.40% 7.30818 1.83
1925 Fullers OBE 1072.2 1021.1 6.77 70.85% 7.21355 2.15
1923 Whitbread KK 1055.4 1017.0 5.08 69.31% 9.07 2.08
Sources:
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/609 and ACC/2305/01/611.
Camden brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/9/5.
Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/253.
Fullers brewing record held at the brewery.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/088.


Draught London Burton Ale after WW I
Year Brewer Beer Price OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1923 Barclay Perkins KK 9d 1051.9 1010.4 5.41 79.96%
1923 Cannon KK 9d 1054.9 1011 5.72 79.96%
1923 Charrington KK 9d 1055.9 1014.4 5.39 74.24%
1923 City of London KK 9d 1052.1 1012.6 5.14 75.82%
1923 Courage KK 9d 1052.8 1012.8 5.20 75.76%
1923 Hoare KK 9d 1054.9 1019.4 4.59 64.66%
1923 Huggins KK 9d 1054.5 1013 5.40 76.15%
1923 Lion KK 9d 1054.1 1013.6 5.27 74.86%
1923 Mann KK 9d 1058.7 1013.2 5.93 77.51%
1923 Meux KK 9d 1054.6 1009.6 5.87 82.42%
1923 Truman KK 9d 1056 1012 5.73 78.57%
1923 Watney KK 9d 1059.4 1012.9 6.06 78.28%
1923 Wenlock KK 9d 1053.7 1010.2 5.67 81.01%
Source:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.


This is an extract from Armistice!,  my wonderful book on brewing in WW I.








Thursday, 21 October 2021

Delivering beer to the Wehrmacht (part two)

The CBK (Dutch brewers' organisation) was in a very tricky position. Not only did it have to serve the interests of its members, but it also had two differrent authorities making demands on it. In addition to the Dutch government there were also the German authroities and the Wehrmacht.

When in spring 1941 the CBK realised that further gravity cuts were required to maintain the supply of beer, it wasn't possible to do so without the approval of the Wehrmacht.

"It was agreed that a gravity reduction should be introduced in the short term, with effect from 8 April next with a tenth part, with which, according to Mr. Biel, the German Wehrmacht agrees, while further gravity reduction will be discussed with the N.A.C. in the intended meeting on April 4th. The discussion with the gentlemen, who were present on March 27th, will be continued on April 9th. In this last meeting, the following topics will be discussed:

a. with what turnover is it considered possible to meet the demand and what gravity is necessary for this;
b. an arrangement for a proportional distribution for the customers if the entire demand cannot be met and all measures (including sales arrangement and Kundenschutz) that would result from this.

With regard to the beer supply to the German canteens, etc., it was decided that the N.M.C. will consult with Mr Engelhard about the distribution via a central point; this distribution will then take place in collaboration with the C.B.K. through the eligible breweries.

Mr. Zylker emphasizes the importance that any complaints about German beer imports are reported to the secretariat so that they can possibly be taken up with Mr. Louwes."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 3rd April 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 189.

Though they were still fretting about German beer imports. I'm not really sure why, given that Dutch breweries were unable to meet demand, at least with beer close to pre-war strength. You'd have thought they would have been pleased to have some of the pressure taken off them.

The CBK was hoping to get approval for "heavy" beer to bee 9º Balling and Lagerbier 7% Balling. Which would have left Pilsner at around 3.6% ABV and Lagerbier 2.8% ABV.

"Mr. Stikker says that Mr. Gentzsch will probably agree with a reduction in gravity to +- 7 and 9%, but the Chief Intendent of the Wehrmacht also has yet to comment on this. The German authorities now wish for a new discussion, in which on the part of the C.B.K. the plans in terms of gravity, output level and regulation of the sales restriction must be submitted. These plans will be discussed in advance with the N.A.C. April 4."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 3rd April 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 190.

This last comment makes clear who was really in charge: the Wehrmacht.

"Mr. Stikker puts forward that the ultimate decision regarding the reduction of the gravity does not lie with Mr. Louwes, but with the German authorities. It is uncertain whether the German armed forces will accept a low gravity."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 3rd April 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 197. 

Interested in which breweries were supplying the German army? We'll get to that soon. Let's just say this: some brewers were doing way more than a fair share.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1878 Adnams IA

This is the real oddity of Adnams beer range. Why an oddity? Because it was never brewed single-gyle, unlike most of their beers. But it wasn’t always with the same beer. It was produced in combination with XXXK, XXXX and Tally Ho.

What does IA stand for? My guess is “Intermediate Ale”. Not that it really tells us that much. Then again, what does X really stand for? At just 1044º, it’s considerably weaker than any London-brewed Mild.

The grist is much the same as all their other beers: base malt and sugar. You can’t get much simpler than that.

As IA was always parti-gyled with strong beers, the hopping rate per quarter was higher than for XX Ale. 12 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, opposed to 8.5 lbs. Which is reflected in a slightly higher bitterness level, despite being quite a bit weaker.

1878 Adnams IA
mild malt 5.50 lb 66.67%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.75 lb 33.33%
Goldings 105 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.50 oz
OG 1044
FG 1012
ABV 4.23
Apparent attenuation 72.73%
IBU 66
SRM 10
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 172º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold


 

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Light Lager ban (part two)

It seems that not every brewery had agreed to stop selling Licht Lagerbier (Light Lager) in Rotterdam. A couple of quite significant breweries were continuing to supply this type of beer to Rotterdam.

"Mr. Zylker notes that two important suppliers in Rotterdam, namely the Z.H.B. and Hengelosche, would not be among them. The speaker said that currently in Rotterdam Amstel H.B.M., van Vollenhoven and Oranjeboom are selling Dark Lager, the Drie Hoefijzers Semi-dark Lager, the Z.H.B. and some other breweries, Light Lager. The Z.H.B. has recently stopped complying with the Light Lager ban.

Mr Smits van Waesberghe says that the Drie Hoefijers can colour its Lager Beer darker when this arrangement is introduced.

Mr. Six says that the C.B.K. has always scrupulously refrained from intervening in existing interests, but the Speaker considers it justified with regard to Rotterdam to perpetuate a situation that has existed for 75 years and now threatens to go wrong.

Mr. Swinkels says that he will try to adhere to the Light Lager arrangement if the Kundenschutz discussed in this regard continues."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 26th March 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 212.

Neither ZHB nor Hengeloosche attended the meeting. Looking back, I see that it was always the same breweries who were represented on the committee:

Amstel
Bavaria
Brand
Drie Hoefijzers
H.B.M. (Heineken)
Klok (Grolsch)
De Leeuw
Oranjeboom
Vollenhoven
v. Waes-Boodts

Though I'm sure that both Z.H.B. and Hengelosche were members of the CBK (the Dutch brewers' organisation). I'm surprised that the ZHB, which was a substantial brewery located in The Hague, wasn't represented on the committee.

The obvious solution - shipping Pilsner instead of Ligh Lager - wasn't possible because of government restrictions on the percentage of a brewery's output which could be "heavy" beer. That is beer of the highest gravity that was allowed.

"Mr. van Waes suddenly hears about the Light Lager ban in Rotterdam. Speaker does not understand the difficulties. If Speaker's brewery were to supply Pilsener instead of Light Lager in Rotterdam, its heavy beer percentage would have to be increased.

Mr. Honig says that this is not possible, as the heavy beer percentage is set by the government.

After some further discussions, the board decides in principle: 

a. the decision of the pub owners in Rotterdam to only deliver dark beer on some days, will be supported by the breweries with sanctions against violation;
b. the sale of Light Lager Beer in Rotterdam will be banned from 1 April;
c. Pilsener beer will not be supplied by other breweries to customers who no longer receive Light Lager Beer from the brewery supplying them;
d. an exception to the Light Lager ban will be: deliveries to the German armed forces in bottles bottled in the brewery itself;
e. points a to d will be communicated to the breweries as soon as possible in a circular, on the understanding that the provisions under c will only apply to the breweries that are part of the board, while before sending these circulars the ZHB and the Hengeloosche will be requested to join in the agreement."

Minutes of the management of the CBK on 26th March 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, pages 212 - 213. 

Note that German forces in Rotterdam would still be able to get light Lager. I guess German soldiers weren't that keen on Dark Lager.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Light Lager ban

The second infliction on Rotterdam was the banishment of Light Lager (Licht Lagerbier) from the city. OK, by this point such a type of beer was piss-weak, around 2.4% ABV. No great loss, then. As there was a limited amount of "heavy" beer, the other pale alternative, Pilsner, might not be available.

There does seem to be a reason behind this: preventing fraud:

"Mr. Six considers it in the interest of the breweries that publicans no longer sell Light Lager for Pilsener beer, since drinkers in some areas, such as the South, cannot tell the difference.

Messrs. Honig, Zylker and Smits van Waesberghe agree in principle.

De Heer Swinkels says that he only has Light Lager customers in Rotterdam. It will be very difficult for Spreker's brewery in connection with the heavy beer percentage to supply Pilsener beer to these clients, while Speaker wonders whether he will be able to get enough colouring for Dark Lager. The speaker is afraid of losing customers in Rotterdam.

Mr. van Waes agrees.

Mr. Smits van Waesberghe understands the objections of Heeren Swinkels and van Waes. The speaker wondered whether it is not possible to introduce the Kundenschutz already now with regard to the Light Lager issue among the breweries present here.
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 26th March 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 211.

Of course. Publicans were passing off the cheaper beer as Pilsner. Now there's a surprise.

Why were Southerners singled out as having no discernment?

Can't sell Light Lager any more? Simple. Add caramel to it and hey presto: Dark Lager.

Sounds like all the brewers had agreed not sell Light Lager in Rotterdam. But they hadn't. Find out who the renegades were next time.