Thursday, March 19, 2009

Swimming in Beer History

Of all the beer blogs I read, there is one that I find endlessly fascinating - Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. I must admit that I never thought I would become so intriqued by brewing ingredients, gravities and practices, but so it would seem, and once I am safely ensconced on the other side of the Atlantic I intend to get a "proper" home brew kit and start making some the recipes which Ron has been posting of late.

As I said a couple of weeks back, I want to learn more about the history of Bohemian brewing - in particular the pre-Pilsner Urquell days. Thus it was that I started searching the online catalogues of the Czech National Archive for references to beer pre-1842, mostly I was looking for information about brewing history in České Budějovice - an interest no doubt piqued by the metal sign in Český Krumlov advertising Budweiser Urquell.

Then lightning struck my brain, and yes it hurt, why would documents about brewing in Budweis be in the Czech National Archive? Bohemia was for centuries part of the German speaking world, first as part of the Holy Roman Empire (full name: The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), and more latterly the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1526 until 1918 Bohemia, as well as Moravia and Silesia, was under Habsburg rule, so surely the place to look would be the Austrian National Archive?

One quick search later and a book with an almost impossibly accurate title turns up - Geschichte des Bräuwesens in Budweis, which basically translates as the History of Brewing Methods in Budweis. Now I am trying to get my hands on a copy of the text, although I understand the Austrian archive doesn't have an electronic copy of the text.

One of the most interesting things about the book itself is that it was published in 1895, the year that the Budvar Brewery was founded, so it should be ideal for discovering what kind of beers were being brewed in Budweis by the German dominated Bürgerliches Bräuhaus.

Here's hoping....

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