Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Price of Reinheitsgebot

Anyone with even the most cursory interest in German beer knows about Reinheitsgebot, the famed Bavarian "Beer Purity" law enacted in 1516 that defined the ingredients allowed in Bavarian beer as "barley, hops, and water", with yeast being added later. It is, however, not the brewing aspects of this law that I have been pondering lately, rather it is this bit:

"the following rules apply to the sale of beer: From Michaelmas to Georgi, the price for one Mass or one Kopf, is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and from Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller. If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered. Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass."

and further

"Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or market-towns buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass or the Kopf, than mentioned above."

First some background, Michaelmas is celebrated on September 29th in the western Christian tradition, and "Georgi" refers to Saint George's Day, which is April 23rd. A "mass" in this context is slight more than the modern litre, while the "kopf" is a bowl type vessel that is just a bit smaller in volume than the mass. So far so easy, right? Money, there is nothing new under the sun, complicates everything. The law refers to Pfennigs and Hellers, and there were 2 Hellers to a Pfennig, and that's about all I can say for sure given the weird and wonderful world of Central European currency in the 16th century and it's thalers, florins, guldens, and schillings. 

Officially though, just a few years after Reinheitsgebot was decreed, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared that a Thaler (named for Bohemian town Joachimsthal, modern day Jachymov) consisted of 24 Groshen, 288 Pfennige, and 576 Heller. However, this being Central Europe it ain't that easy, because some areas used the Gulden as their top level currency, which consisted of 60 Kreuzer, 240 Pfennige, and 480 Heller. From what I can ascertain, Bavaria used the Gulden side of the equation, but just for fun also had coins called Thalers. Yeah, Central Europe - regardless of subject if anyone thinks understanding the lands that once made up the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation is simple and neat, they are idiots.

Anyway...1516 and the Duke of Bavaria has decreed the price of a litre of beer is a single Pfennig in the dark and dreary winter months, and two Pfennigs in the busy summer season of sowing and harvesting etc. According to Ernest Bax, writing in "German Culture: Past and Present", published in 1915, a day labourer could earn up to 18 Pfennige a day without keep or 12 with, assuming a 6 day work week, our agricultural labourer could pocket between 72 and 108 Pfennige a week. According to Bax, a Pfennig would buy you a pound of sausage, and 2 Pfennige a pound of the best beef. All this got me thinking, how would modern beer prices stack up against Reinheitsgebot?

It is difficult to do a like for like comparison with prices from 500 years ago to today, and of course the market place is wildly different, but one thing I find particularly interesting with Reinheitsgebot is not just the ingredient defining, or even the price setting, but it also defined how much profit a retailer could make from selling beer to the general public:

"he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass or the Kopf".

As such, in the summer months an innkeeper's markup would be 25%, while in the winter months it was 50% for a Mass and 33% for a Kopf. 

It's interesting to think about the role of beer in wider society, and why regulations are written the way they are. Reinheitsgebot makes beer cheaper in the dark miserable months of winter, which is also the time in a pre-industrial revolution world when there is less work to be had. The harvest has been gathered and the transient labourers have moved on to some other endeavour. When the farming world comes back to life the prices go up, after all you don't want your workforce getting merry on cheap beer when there is work to be done.

While direct comparisons are difficult, and perhaps even futile, it is interesting that the average price of beer, it would seem, in my part of Virginia is $7 for a 16oz pint. According to ZipRecruiter the average wages for a day labourer in Virginia would be $130.88 per day. In terms of purchasing power, a Bavarian day labourer without keep, if he spent a whole day's wage on beer could buy 18 litres of beer, or 38 16oz pints, while our modern labourer could purchase just shy of 19, basically half as much.

Perhaps we need a Reinheitgebot re-issue for the 21st Century?

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

A Definitive Thing

This reference will definitely give my age of my favourite films as a kid was the Jim Henson classic, "The Dark Crystal". I also loved the Netflix prequel "Age of Resistance" and was heartbroken when the philistines in Scotts Valley cancelled it after a single season. I may have mentioned this before, but the mother of a friend was involved in the costume design of the original film, but that is irrelevant here.

If you haven't seen the film, then please do so, it is as I say an absolute classic, the basic premise is that in breaking the Crystal of Truth the UrSkeks split into two distinct races, the Skeksis and the UrRu, and it is at this point that using the Dark Crystal as my analogy of the beer world completely falls to pieces, like a Garthim at the end of the film - but heck, no analogy is perfect.

This post really has nothing to do with The Dark Crystal other than the fact that the existence of two distinct species where previously there was one came to mind as I mulled over the question "what is craft beer?"

Now, I have no interest in rehashing arguments about whatever small and independent means these days or whether certain business models are more "craft" than others, or even if ownership structures of the businesses making our favourite tipple have any real impact on the taste of the brew. It is very common though to hear the refrain, or at least some variant on it, "it's what's in the bottle that counts", and I think that phrase gets to the very core of how I have been feeling about the beer world for quite some time now.

I feel as though there is something of a parting of the ways in the offing between what I have started labelling in my own head "craft" beer versus "artisanal" beer. I am perfectly ok with the fact that "craft" and "artisanal" are largely synonymous, and there is an element of trying to define how many angels can dance on the head of a pin here, but I feel there is starting to be a divergence in perception, at least in my head, between "craft beer" and "artisanal beer".

When I think about what makes a beer "craft", my perception is broadly something that is distinctly "modern" - whether that be in the style, ingredients being used, the focus on being innovative, and using lots of what I would term non-standard ingredients, such as fruit syrups, breakfast cereals, sweets, and the like. In contrast, as I consider the concept of an "artisanal" beer my perception is one of being "old-fashioned" or traditional, again in terms of style, ingredients, and process. Of course there is a wealth of overlap between the two camps, after all it is a very rare brewery that can survive in the modern world by making a single beer.

I am perfectly happy to own the possibility that this mindset is purely a VelkyAl thing, and what is happening as I come to the latter stages of my 5th decade on earth is that I am not interested in chasing after whales any more. I actually have very little interest in trying every brewery in a 30 mile radius of my house, which is just as well as I haven't and I doubt I will ever bother. Even at the breweries I frequent on a regular basis there is often a choice between beers that I would label "craft" and those I would consider "artisanal", so this isn't a binary thing of "modern" bad, "traditional" good - traditions by definition change as they handed down through the generations.

Perhaps we should just give up on the adjectival epithets altogether and just drink beer that we like, regardless of how, who, and why it was made?

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

A Little Self Evaluation

So far this year I have brewed almost as many times as I managed in the entirety of 2022. It turns out that having children that understand instructions and get quickly bored of watching daddy watch a boil kettle and disappear to play in the yard makes getting back to all-grain brewing far more feasible, and even enjoyable once again. It might also help that I have replaced the crappy little push button faucet on my mash tun for a ball valve and draining the first runnings now takes 5 minutes where it used to take 20.

In getting back to brewing more regularly this year, I also made a commitment to use malt from our local maltster, Murphy & Rude Malting Company, as much as possible. I have been developing new recipes based purely on their malts, and updating some of my existing recipes as well.

The very first brewday of 2023 was to brew a long standing favourite style of mine, dry stout. The grist was made up of pale, biscuit, roast barley, and milk chocolate malts - milk chocolate is Murphy & Rude's name for pale chocolate malt. For hops I used the locally grown Challenger hops, and of course the water came from my well. The only non-local ingredient was the yeast, which is Safale S-04, basically my go-to yeast. Coming in at 4% abv, and with 40 IBUs, it looked like this:

Basically what you expect a pint of stout to look like, and those looks are not deceiving, it smells and tastes as you would expect a low gravity dry stout to taste, especially if your reference point is Murphy's rather than Guinness. While it is true I do like a pint of Guinness, if Murphy's is also on tap in the same establishment, I'd be on the Murphy's instead. One thing that struck me though with this being my first all Murphy and Rude malt homebrew was the freshness and clarity of the malt flavours, especially the biscuit and milk chocolate which lacked the fusty character that can sometimes be present in malts that have enduring long journeys from Europe to the US.

As Virginia's rather lame, mild, and snowless winter dragged on, thoughts began to turn to spring, and in particular my wife's fiddle teacher's kind of annual St Patrick's Day concert/gathering, for which I brew a couple of kegs of beer. Mrs V's teacher is Alex Caton, who in 2015 released an album of songs and poems from the mining communities of England and Appalachia called "Never Take A Daisy Down the Mine". For the album release party I brewed a dark mild called Pit Pony, and Alex asked for a re-brew for the gathering.

Pit Pony was a beer that I re-factored to use Murphy & Ride malts, though as they don't do a honey malt the grist wasn't 100% Virginian. However, I did use a blend of their Crystal 40, 60, 80, and 150, as well as the biscuit malt, all on top of their pale malt. Sure at 4.3% it is a wee bit stronger than some of the guidelines would say a dark mild should be, so let's just call it a best mild shall we? The hops were a remnant of East Kent Goldings I had knocking about, and so that the malt could shine through, I took advantage of Safale's US-05 for it's clean character. The crystal malts really are the star here, with lots of toffee, caramel, and a touch of singed sugar in the mix. My only regret was that I didn't put it in a cubitainer to serve as an ersatz real ale.

The third of my recent brews, there is technically a fourth but that is a re-brew of the stout, was a blonde ale so there would be something paler for those who equate dark colour with heavy beers.

This one is a completely new recipe for me. Continuing my 100% Virginian malt when possible commitment, the grist is Murphy & Rude's Virginia Pils, Vienna, Crystal 15, and Soft Red Wheat malt which gave me an ABV of 4.5% and that absolutely banging colour. On the hops front, I decided to use up some Cascade I had in the freezer, with a calcuated 23 IBUs, though with a healthy addition at flameout just for aroma. I stuck with US-05 for the yeast, though this time more to let the hops do their thing. I realise I am biased, but damn this is one lovely beer, well, was as my neighbour and I kicked the keg last weekend. I will be brewing this several times this year I am sure, though likely swapping out the hops to get different characters, I definitely plan a version with Saaz, and likely one with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh,  perhaps even a 100% Fuggles one as well.

With regular brewing very much back on the table, and a kegerator in the kitchen to justify the expense of by having beer regularly on tap, I can see homebrew making up a greater portion of my drinking this year. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Tour de Pils

In the Before Times, I went to Texas, San Antonio to be precise. With a day of conferencing behind me, I found a bar in which to have dinner, and in said bar I had my first ever beer from Live Oak Brewing in Austin. I had been in Austin just a couple of months previously but hadn't seen this beer while I was there. The beer was Live Oak Pilz, and I described it at the time as "one of the most authentic iterations of the style I have had in the ten years since I left Prague".

I was back in Texas last week, for the first time since the pandemic began, last time I was there was the week before lockdowns came into place, SXSW had been cancelled, and the city was a ghost town. I knew that on this trip I would finally make it out to the brewery, and its 22 acre beer garden, though me being me, I eventually plonked my arse at a long trestle table inside the tap room itself.

Naturally I checked out the tap list first, even though I knew fine well what my first beer was going to be.

Standing at the bar, I spied the opportunity to do a little tour of Central Europe through the medium of pale lager. On tap that day was not just Pilz, but that was where I started, with a mug of foamy happy place fresh from the Lukr tap...

Now, I have to admit that I was thrown off by the bartender asking me if I wanted the beer "crispy or sweet", but she was talking about the style of pour that I wanted, hladinka  or šnyt. As you can see I agree with Karel Čapek that a šnyt is "at least something more than nothing", and so had a classic hladinka. Pilz pours a lovely light golden, is as clear as a bell, and that wet creamy foam just kind of sat there, at least until I slurped a good deal of it off. Up to this point, the only Pilz I had had was canned, but fresh at source on tap is basically as good as beer gets. The aroma was mostly the spicy Saaz hops, tinged with hints of hay and orange blossom, dancing around with crusty bread of the malt. All of which carries on into the drinking, ah the drinking of a Live Oak Pilz is such a pleasure, firmly bitter, finishing snappy and clean, I could happily have ended my ersatz Central European tour in Bohemia, but having reveled with Čech, Lech was beckoning me northwards...

The other Lukr tap that day was home to Piwko Pils, a 4.4% Polish style pale lager, hopped with Lubelski, Marynka, and Sybilla. The beer itself pours a touch paler than the Pilz, but shared that wonderful clarity, and a foamy cap that just wouldn't budge without a few gulps of it being taken. The aroma was earthy, almost reminding me of the tobacco character that I find in beers hopped with Fuggles. There was little malt aroma that was noticeable, though there was perhaps a hint of smokiness. That earthiness was dominant in the flavour department as well, backed up by a woodiness that made the bitterness of the beer feel almost rough and rustic, in the background were notes of fresh country bread. It wasn't really what I was expecting after the elegant Pilz, but it was certainly tasty, and the dry, almost puckering, finish actually reminded me of a Slovak beer I had a long time ago in a village close to the Slovak-Hungarian border, Gemer - before it got bought by Heineken that is. Having journeyed with Lech, my mind wandered west...

Gold was actually my first beer of the trip, at my favourite Austin hangout, Scholz Garten, alongside a glorious plate of wurst, kraut, and senf. This one was poured on the regular taps, and I am always happy to get a beer in a Willibecher, no other beer glass says Central Europe to me than the venerable becher. Gold, as you would expect, lives up to its name,  pouring a vibrant golden with a hefty firm head, propped up by the occasional tremulous bubble making its way up the glass. As I mentioned on Twitter, "proper lager isn't fizzy", and this is proper lager. Ah that crusty bread aroma, so indicative of pilsner malt, I love it, especially when it is joined by the floral nature of German noble hops. In an instant I am transported to mountain meadows, the jangling bells of livestock, and the urge to spend a sunny day sat outside a local braugasthof sampling the wares. Tastewise, Gold is subtly spicy with layers of lightly honeyed toast and gentle minerality in the finish. The mouthfeel was almost lascivious, satiny, and yet clean and crisp as all great lagers are, and this is a truly great lager. Say it quietly, but I think it is actually better than Pilz, and I would love to try a side by side tasting of this with Von Trapp's stellar Bavarian Pilsner.

With my tour de pils complete, I did move on to try other of Live Oak's offerings that day, but I had been joined by Ruvani of Amethyst Heels fame, along with the husband, and it would have been rude to take notes and pictures, so I didn't bother.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


I mentioned in my previous post that I had once come across the concept of "Dortmunder malt" at some point in the dim and distant past, but couldn't remember where I saw it. With that particular point of interest once again piqued, I decided to bimble around various online sources and see what I could find out about this elusive type of malt, which if you recall was as pale as Pilsner malt whilst being fully modified in the Bavarian manner, which according to the Illustriertes Brauerei Lexikon by Max Delbrück in 1925 makes it part of the "langmalz" family of malt.

"Langmalz", according to Delbrück, undergoes extensive modification over a  longer period of time on the malting floor. Apparently it is possible for "langmalz" to be "too good" if it becomes overly modified. Such over-modification can apparently causes problems with head retention and the body of the beer, especially in "the production of pale beers". The last sentence of this section also notes that "langmalz" is used in the distillery, though here is means malt where the leaf germ is at least twice the length of the grain and at least 20 days old.

With the horrors there of the dangers of over-modification, best to just under modify and decoct right?

So we have a pretty decent idea of what Dortmunder Malt was, but malt doesn't just magic itself out of thin air, it is of course the product of an industrial process, meaning it needs inputs, in this case barley. As I learnt when I spent time with Murphy & Rude malting for my article in Pellicle, not all barley is suited to the malting process. It would appear that Dortmunder malt had a very specific need when it came to the barley from which it was made.

The description above confirms again the process for making Dortmunder malt, extended low kilning resulting in a pale, fully modified malt, but the barley itself needs to be high quality, low-protein barley of the type you would find in Saxony, Silesia, Bohemia, and Moravia, basically modern Czechia and the appropriate bordering regions in Germany and Poland. Given that in the late 19th century Emanuel Proskowetz was busily improving the Old-Haná barley to give the world the "Proskowetz Haná" strain and from there came Kneifl, Valtice, and Diamant, it is no surprise that the maltsters of Dortmund sourced their grain from the other side of Europe.

Taking such malt, the brewers of Dortmund produced a beer that was "highly fermented, alcohol rich, vinous, delicate", and yet very pale when compared to the strength of the beer. Brewed to 14° Plato, the Dortmunder analysed in Der Böhmische Bierbrauer in 1896 had a colour rating, last column in the table, of 6 while Bohemian pilsners brewed at just under 12° Plato ranged from 5.5 to 6.5.

So, a 14° beer yielded the same colour as a 12°, meaning Dortmunder malt was paler than Pilsner malt, but something else was a play in Dortmund, water chemistry.

In the Bayerisches Brauer-Journal of 1908 it was noted that Dortmunder Bier had a "heartiness, fullness, and mildness" that would be unimaginable but for the high concentration of gypsum in Dortmund's brewing water, making it essentially the polar opposite of the soft water of Plzeň, and the writer even name checks Burton upon Trent in England as having a comparative gypsum concentration to the brewing water. Water that is high in gypsum extracts less colour from the malt than softer waters, while increasing extract yield and increasing the perception of bitterness in the beer. So important to Dortmunder was this water chemistry that the writer confidently declare that any "attempt to brew a Dortmund beer from Dortmund malt with Munich or Plzeň water would fail miserably".

This all makes me wonder if any of the beers produced today that lay claim to the moniker "Dortmunder" would be accepted as such by late 19th century and early 20th century authorities? Is there in production today a "Dortmunder malz" as opposed to the near ubiquitous, in lager, Pilsner malt? Weyermann in Bamberg produce an "Extra Pale Premium Pilsner" malt, is that basically a rebranded Dortmunder style malt? Do any of the "Dortmunders" on the market today use the necessary amount of gypsum in their brewing water to create the very pale beer the city became famous for? Have we confused additional strength for sweetness and darkness that would seem to be out of kilter with the original?

More questions, more archive diving...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Dortmund Question

My last post was ostensibly about how Bohemian brewers felt about North German breweries co-opting the name "pilsener" to describe their pale lagers. The article from Der Böhmischer Bierbrauer that I reference in the post includes several references to quotes by Professor Wilhelm Windisch, one time chief of the VLB in Berlin, where he praises the qualities of Dortmund beer, whilst musing why German brewers felt it necessary to co-opt a foreign brew.

We all kind of know the general outline of history when it comes to pale lager, Josef Groll creates Pilsner Urquell in 1842, which is just a hair paler than Anton Dreher's Vienna Lager, and thus kicks off a pan-continental craze for pale bottom fermented beers. By the end of the 19th century, the list of "styles" that have come about as a result of Groll's introduction of English malting technology to Central Europe included Helles, Biere d'Alsace, North German Pilsner, Polish Mocne, and of course Dortmunder. All of the styles followed the same basic template, pale malt and the local hops, from Strisselspalt in Alsace, though Hallertau and Tettnang in Germany, up to Poland's Lublin.

In our hop centric minds in the early 21st century, we make the assumption that the main driver of differentiation in all these beers was the presence of local hops, relegating malt to essentially the role of hop delivery system. However the role of malt in the development of beer styles seems to get somewhat overlooked, as if all pale central European beers can be brewed with pilsner malt and whatever hops are appropriate. Historically that seems not to have been the case.

I wish I could remember where I first came across the term "Dortmunder malt" but alas the old grey matter is, well, getting older. However, I did find, not in the newspaper archives of the Austrian National Library I am sure you are relieved to hear, a book called the "Handbuch der Enzymologie, Vol II" on Google Books. On page 1236 of the book there is a fascinating breakdown of the different base malts in use in Germany at the time, I believe the book dates from the 1940s rather than the 1545 Google claims. In this section we get a description of the "dark" Munich malt, the "pale" Bohemian and Dortmunder malts, and the "golden" Vienna malt that is a middle ground between the others.

According to the writer, the fact that Bohemian and Dortmunder malts are pale is the only thing they have in common. He goes on to explain how Pilsner malt is modified "just enough" (major shout here to Andreas Krennmair for helping me with the translation of "Auflösung" meaning "modification" in a malting context) while Dortmunder malt is fully modified just like Bavarian malts. As you probably know, modification with regards to malt refers to:

"the extent to which the endosperm breaks down...releasing nutrients for yeast growth and making the starch available for enzyme degradation during mashing"*

In addition to be more fully modified that Bohemian malt, Dortmunder is also to be treated more gently that Pilsner malt, with the kilning process not reaching temperatures of more than 75°C/167°F. The writer describes the kilning process of Pilsner malt as being "pre-drying at 35-40°, rising to 55° until the water content reaches 8%, then kilning up to 100°", kilning also only takes 3 to 4 hours.

Apparently if you subject Dortmund malt to the same process it would become far too dark. Essentially Dortmunder malt needs to be carefully tended when compared to Pilsner malt so as to stay pale whilst achieving a full modification like Munich malt.

It would appear then that, at least in the 1940s, Dortmunder beer was brewed using specifically Dortmunder malt rather than the modern approach where "Pilsner" malt is the base. However, as early as 1913 Der Böhmische Bierbrauer was referring to "so-called" Dortmunder malt as a "minor type" of base malt, whilst describing it as "lightly kilned". It would seem that it was the use of Dortmunder malt that prevented the style from becoming the dominant German beer.

In an article from 1899 in the brewing journal "Gambrinus Brauerei- und Hopfen- Zeitung", the writer discusses why people were moving away from Dortmunder towards Bohemian beers. The writer confirms again that Dortmunder malt is kilned at low temperatures and thus very pale. He goes on to state that such low kilned malt has an "empty taste", and such a paucity of flavour causes the breweries to stick to brewing a 14° beer, which the writer defines as being "ein alkoholreiches Bier" - an alcohol rich beer - inferring then that Dortmunder was strong because that was it's main redeeming feature. The writer finishes his section on Dortmunder beer by comparing the beer with the Bohemian 10° beers that were "doing so well on the market" by stating they are "good beers, that hold their foam well, and don't taste empty at all".

At the end of the day, the average consumer wanted something that was flavourful, looked good, and wasn't "alkoholreiches", and thus Dortmunder was relegated to an also ran of the pale lager world, with Dortmunder malt eventually dropping out of production altogether it would seem.

* quote from "The Brewer's Handbook" by Ted Goldammer -

Thursday, February 9, 2023

1895 - The Year of Pilsener?

It was only within about 50 years of its creation in 1842 that pale lagers from Plzeň were under attack in the learned press of the day. We all know the story of how Josef Groll's golden lager swept continental Europe, inspiring imitations in Munich, Dortmund, Strasbourg, Leuven, Glasgow. You name a major brewing city in Europe in and around 1895 and you likely have a pale lager, vaguely in the style of "pilsner", being brewed, though of course there were hold outs like London, Burton, and Dublin.

Recently though in one of my trawls through the newspaper archive of the Austrian National Library, it really is a fascinating resource that I keep coming back to, I learnt that certain beers being brewed in the recently established German Empire were considered better than the Bohemian original, in particular the "pilsener" lagers of northern Germany and the Dortmunder.

According to one Doctor Wilhelm Windisch, writing in "Wochenschrift für Brauerei", Pilsner and Dortmunder are both "light beers" but of "very different types", and Dr Windisch poses the question "which is the nobler of the two"? Windisch then goes on to sing the praises of the Dortmunder, saying (and here I am relying on the veracity of the quotation in Der Böhmisches Bierbrauer in August 1895 above) that Dortmunder is "always clean". The German here is "es stets blank", "blank" can translate into English as "bare", "shiny", or "pure", though a Czech possibility is the word "čistý", which in English can translate as "clean". Given the context of later in the quote about a yeasty flavour, I think Dr Windisch is talking about the classic clean flavour that we associate with lagers in general.

Dr Windisch goes on that Dortmunder has "a better hop taste than the Pilsener" arguing that in pale lagers from Plzeň "the taste of hop oil is sometimes very strong". His final accusation as to the inferiority of Pilsner, from Plzeň, when compared to Dortmunder is that it has "almost without exception...a peculiar yeasty taste" which he then claims "is not fresh, but a peculiarly old one, like the one imparted to beer by dying or dead yeast". From this he would seem to be claiming that in the Bohemian pilsners of the 1890s you could taste the autolysis of the yeast as it dies.

Moving on from comparing Dortmunder and Bohemian Pilsner, Windisch further extols the virtues of the "Pilsener" style being brewed in Northern Germany, noting that they are "light in colour and...they have a more pronounced hop taste". He points out that this additional hop flavour is due to in part to using more hops in the boil and a slightly different hopping schedule in Northern Germany than in Bohemia. Windisch then goes on to drop the mic, by declaring that Northern German:

"so-called "Pilsener" beers are much more similar to Dortmund beer, and we really didn't need to borrow a beer type from abroad, especially since Dortmund beer has long since acquired an excellent reputation"

leaving us with this question:

"as far as wholesomeness and digestibility are concerned, the question still needs to be decided, whether our light, clear, and not excessively hopped so-called "Pilsener" beer or the Dortmund-style beer isn't even "healthier" than the cloudy, yeasty, strongly hopped Pilsner beer"?

Despite this, Windisch notes that the "importation of Pilsener and other Bohemian beers is steadily increasing and has become very important". As a result of this growing competition from the east,  Munich breweries were forced into action, particularly Spaten and their the recently created helles lager that he notes is "similar to Pilsener beer". So conservative though were Munich drinkers that it had been market tested far from the Bavarian heartlands at the Café Ronacher in Hamburg's Savoy Hotel. As a result of the success of the trial, Spaten started full scale production of their pale lager. The coming of pale lager to Munich, whilst seemingly ignored by the Munich beer press, was declared "notable progress" in the popular press, and in the mind of Windisch himself "a beer-political event of the very first order".

Having quoted Dr Windisch at length, the author of this article in Der Böhmisches Bierbrauer gives short shrift and is quite acerbic in his response claim that:

"you have to get used to the fact that "Pilsner" is making more friends in North Germany because of its excellent properties, is spreading as a result of North German breweries borrowing this popular beer type from Bohemia! The fact that the people of Munich are now also brewing a light beer in the "Pilsner" style doesn't come as a surprise either; already in the 16th Century people set a good example there, in that a brewing method that originated in Bohemia - to produce weisses Weizenbier - was made native in Munich, as can be seen from the brewing regulations of 1616."

Boom from the Bohemian, who signs off as "Ein echter Pilsener". He is basically saying, yes Mr Windisch it is no surprise that people are jumping on the "Pilsener" bandwagon because it is popular, and points out that we have seen this in beer history before, when Bavaria copied the Bohemian "bilé pivo" (white beer/weissbier) and made it is own.

What I found particularly interesting about this little article, which feels like an editorial, was not the history as presented by Dr Windisch, though yes that was fascinating, but rather the response of the "echter Pilsener". Rather than engage with the learned professor on the merits of Bohemian brewed pilsners when compared with those of norther Germany, Dortmund, and Munich he choses the route of rather nationalistic bombast. His argument is essentially, "we're popular and that's why people use the name pilsener", a brewer's "yah boo sucks to you" response basically.

Though putting this in context a little, at this point, if I have understand the other German language stuff I have been reading lately, the definition of what constituted a "pilsner" or "pilsener" in the German Empire, as opposed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had not been settled. As late as 1909 the "Böhmische Brauhaus" in Berlin was using the term "Pilsator" for their pale Bohemian style lager. What we are seeing here is the beginning of a battle that in some ways rages on to this day, what exactly even is a "pilsner"?

The Price of Reinheitsgebot

Anyone with even the most cursory interest in German beer knows about Reinheitsgebot, the famed Bavarian "Beer Purity" law enacted...