Sunday 3 October 2021

German beer (part three)

Yes, yet more weirdness relating to German beer imports into Holland during the war. I hope you're enjoying all this as mush as I am. Which is a stack.

This discussion reveals why German brewers might have been so keen to sell their beer in Holland: it made them more money.

Mr Stikker says that the price of the German imported beer has also been discussed with Mr Schokker.

As is known, Löwenbrau now offers beer for f 49.50 per H.L.

With regard to this price in the Netherlands, the following global comparison can be made with the price of this beer in Germany:

  in Germany  in the Netherlands
  R.M. f R.M. f
price 56 42 66 49.5
levies 25 18.75 14 10.5
net 31 23.25 52 39

According to this calculation, the German breweries in the Netherlands would make much higher profits than in Germany, which may give rise to renting or buying Dutch cafes. This subject greatly interested Mr. Schokker; he asked for further details."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 26th March 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, pages 236 - 237.

That's 68% more markup that Löwenbräu was getting in Holland compared to Germany. No wonder German brewers were keen on getting into the Dutch market.

German brewers were approaching Dutch brewers and pub owners directly, offering to sell them beer.

"Mr. Chambille announces that a quantity of 25,000 H.L. has been offered to de Leeuw by a German brewery along with the representation for some Dutch provinces. Speaker asks if he can accept this offer.

The meeting is of the opinion that De Leeuw should not accept this.

Mr Zylker says that German breweries are offering beer to customers of Oranjeboom on the condition that the customer undertakes to purchase only the beer from the German brewery.

Mr Stikker says that in The Hague several customers already carry German beer in addition to Dutch beer.

Mr. Zylker says that, as far as Speaker is known, none of the Oranjeboom customers have accepted the offer to buy exclusively German beer."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 26th March 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 237. 

De Leeuw was located in Limburg, very close to the German border. So they would have been an obvious company for a German brewer to approach. Unsurprisingly, the CBK didn't want them to accept the offer.

In the case of Oranjeboom, the Germans were even bolder, going behind the Dutch brewer's back and offering beer directly to their pubs. I can understand why they would be worried by such a development. That the German beer would force out Dutch. With hindsight, it's easy to say that this was obviously never going to happen. Pretty soon they wouldn't be able to supply beer to the German domestic market. But in early 1941 no-one in Holland knew that.

Dutch customers would have been tempted by the offer of German beer, as local breweries struggled to brew enough to match demand. A simple solution to that problem was suggested:

"Mr Stikker proposes that in the forthcoming discussion with the authorities about the arrangements to be made, the Netherlands breweries can only cooperate if a definitive arrangement with regard to German beer imports has been reached. The speaker said that he was of the opinion that, if German imports continue to increase, to the extent that people are currently experiencing, it was better to do everything they can and for instance to reduce the gravity, than to limit their turnover themselves. If the government then deems measures necessary, it must prescribe them immediately.

The meeting unanimously declares that it agrees with Mr Stikker's proposal.

Mr Stikker asks the breweries present to make analyzes of German imported beer. At the laboratory of the H.B.M. some investigations have already been carried out, which showed that the gravity of the beer was approximately at the agreed level."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 26th March 1941, held at the Amsterdam City Archives, document number 31121-1, page 237. 

I happen to have the analyses HBM (Heineken) carried out in early 1941:

German beer in WW II
Date Year Brewer Town Beer OG Plato FG Plato ABV App. Atten-uation Colour
6th Mar 1941 Dortmunder Union Dortmund Dortmunder 11.54 3.18 4.35 73.35% 0.52
6th Mar 1941 Dortmunder Union Dortmund Pilsener 10.03 2.83 3.73 72.59% 0.48
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.

It seems that few publicans were tempted to buy German beer, despite everything:

"Mr Zylker remarks that in general the buyers do not buy German beer, despite the fact that Dutch breweries are often unable to serve them as required. If the breweries ensure by lowering the gravity that they can supply their customers with the largest possible quantity of beer, in the first place the buyers are given a weapon to oppose German beer, while on the other hand, the door which Mr. Louwes has opened has opened, is kept open."
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 3rd April 1941, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 197.

Still quite a bit more of this to come. Dutch brewers spent a lot of time fretting over the topic.

1 comment:

InSearchOfKnowledge said...

I was expecting this, but I wanted to read further first. In "De Groote Oorlog", by Sophie De Schaepdrijver, she describes what happened in WWI with Belgium. It is a part of the war economy, trying to make the occupied country help finance the war/home front. Although not as bad as in WWI, these look the same kind of tactics.