Tag Archives: beer history

How Paulaner’s Salvator Doppelbock Got Its Name

Paulaner may well have become one of the world’s leading brewers of Weissbier in recent decades, but its Salvator Doppelbock remains inseparable from the history of the brewery’s famous Salvatorkeller beer garden atop Munich’s Nockherberg.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Astrid Becker begins a recent article on Paulaner with an anecdote about a church bell. Markus Gottswinter, pastor of the Mariahilf church east of the Isar River, saves the bell for only the most special of occasions. And with good reason. When rung, the seven-tonne behemoth resounds with a force so thunderous that tiles fall from the roof of the church. The name of the bell: Salvator.

Cast in Erding in 1952, the bell was never intended for this church in the shadow of the Paulaner brewery. But the truck hauling it to its destination broke down in Nockherberg. The parishioners wasted little time in interpreting this fortuitous turn of events as a sign that the bell was meant for their church.

It’s also no surprise that the parishioners who inherited the bell called it Salvator. For here, in the vicinity of their church, the history of another behemoth named Salvator began: with the Paulaner order of Franciscan monks, who originally settled in 1629 in the Neudeck ob der Au monastery to the south of Mariahilfplatz.

The Paulaners inherited the right to brew in 1634 when the parents of one of their monks passed away. It just so happened that the parents came from a well-established brewing family. With their passing, the order acquired the Lerchl family’s brewing right (Braurecht), albeit with tight restrictions imposed by the city council. The Paulaners could brew beer in the Lerchlbräu brewery, but only for their own consumption.

Yet what the authorities decreed was a matter of indifference to the monks. They drank the beer they brewed, served it to the poor –– and sold it to the locals. Starting in 1651, the monks brewed a particularly strong beer each spring to honour the founder of their order, Franz von Paola (Francesco di Paola). Back then, the beer was euphemistically called “Sankt-Vaters-Öl” (oil of the sacred father) because the monks were allowed to consume plant oil during the Lenten fast. This salutary beverage found quite a following on account of its reputation for quality, and soon became the chief source of income for the order. So beloved was this beer that it engendered no small amount of consternation among the other brewers in the area. Their complaints kept the local magistrates busy, but to no avail. No amount of persistence could bring about a prohibition of the monks’ special form of hospitality –– perhaps because the magistrates, too, were convinced of the merits of the Paulaners’ strong beer.

It’s not entirely clear when the Paulaner monks began to brew Bock beer, a style that was all the rage in Munich well before the Paulaners came along. One detail is certain, though: the Paulaner interpretation was more formidable than the Bock that flowed forth from taps controlled by the secular authorities at the Hofbräuhaus. Not only that; the beer was also more substantial in a nutritional sense –– brewed strong enough, in fact, to carry the monks through the Lenten fast. This sweet, dark drink tapped every year on the occasion of Franz von Paola’s feast day went by several names: “Sankt-Vaters-Bier” (beer of the sacred father), “des heiligen Franz Öl,” (oil of the Holy Franz), or, simply, liquid bread.

Despite the prohibition of public sales, the good souls of Munich flocked to Nockherberg in droves every year on 2 April for a sip of that potent elixir. The beer-drinking public had spoken, and in 1660 the order’s brewing right was finally confirmed. In 1751, the Prince-Elector Max III Joseph legalized the sale of the beer for eight days in April. After all, he, too, was an enthusiast of this famed beer.The Paulaner Brewery experienced a dramatic shift when Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806. As a result of the secularization accompanying the Napoleonic Wars, the brewery was expropriated from the monks. Eventually, one Franz Xaver Zacherl acquired the brewery and all rights associated with it.

As we have seen, Paulaner’s strong beer had been known by many names over the centuries. Zacherl, however, recognized the need to sharpen the beer’s identity and worked tirelessly to turn it into a brand that beer connoisseurs recognize to this day. Inspired by the expression “Salve Pater Patriae,” he coined the term “Salvator” (saviour).

Given the popularity of the style, other breweries began calling their strong beers “Salvator.” Zacherl, one of the early combatants in the nascent field of trademark disputes, was not impressed with the flattery. He filed suit against his imitators, but passed away in 1849 before he could savour his success. In the end, the judges ruled in his favour: In a nod to tradition, the name Salvator was to remain a possession of the Paulaner Brauerei, but other brewers could use the suffix “-ator” in the branding of their Doppelbocks.

And with that begun over a century-and-a-half’s worth of Celebrators, Triumphators, Maximators, Liberators, even Alligators. The latter are particularly dangerous.

Related Tempest articles:

A Season for Strong Beer

From Horse Races to Beer Steins: Oktoberfest Since 1810

Where Did All the Märzen Go? Provisioning Oktoberfest Imbibers over the Centuries

Sources:

Astrid Becker, “Vater aller Starkbiere,” in Süddeutsche Zeitung (ed.), Mir san Bier: Braukunst und Biergärten in und um München, 2013.

Ursula Eymold (ed.), Bier.Macht.München: 500 Jahre Münchner Reinheitsgebot in Bayern, exhibition catalogue, Münchener Stadtmuseum, 2016.

Images:

Salvator-Ausschank auf dem Nockherberg, lithographed placard, 1951

Paulaner logo by Paulaner

Remaining images by F.D. Hofer

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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A Pivo Pilgrimage to Pilsen

Grab your favourite beer steins, folks! We’re heading to the source for a pilsener.

To many a beer drinker, the city of Plzeň (Pilsen) is virtually synonymous with its storied brewery and famous beer style. But beer in this western Bohemian town wasn’t always the kind of liquid sustenance that inspired pilgrimages.

About That Beer We Call Pilsener

Rewind to the early nineteenth century, a time when the good citizens of Pilsen were brewing anything but good beer. The brew had gotten so foul, in fact, that city councilors publicly dumped out thirty-six barrels of it in the town square in 1838. Quelle horreur! So intense was the humiliation that some of the burghers who owned brewing rights banded together to found the Měšťanský Pivovar (Civic Brewery), precursor to what is now Pilsener Urquell. They would soon turn their reputation around.

To the south and to the west of Pilsen, the Viennese brewer Anton Dreher and his Bavarian companion Gabriel Sedlmayr (of Spaten fame) had made significant strides in developing a bottom-fermented and lagered beer that held up admirably over time. Other Bavarian brewers embraced these technological advances, and it wasn’t long before word about these beers spread well beyond Bavaria and the capital of the Habsburg Empire. Enter Martin Stelzer, head of Pilsen’s Civic Brewery, who journeyed to Bavaria in 1842 to interview the son of one of these successful brewers. Invited to Pilsen on a three-year contract, the 29-year-old Josef Groll fired up the brewhouse on 5 October 1842, beginning work on a beer that would revolutionize the entire concept of the beverage –– but not, according to rumour, before he convinced a Bavarian monk to smuggle the all-important Bavarian yeast into Bohemia (Weyermann, 2009, 12; Ensminger, 1997).

It wasn’t just the yeast and the local Saaz hops that were to shine in this new beer. Groll’s central innovation was on the malting floor, where he embraced a relatively new technology from England patented by Daniel Wheeler in 1817. Previously, malt had been kilned directly over smoky fires, but Groll astutely recognized the potential of this novel kilning method to yield a cleaner and lighter-hued malt.

A month after mashing and boiling his first batch, Groll unveiled the first-ever golden-coloured sparkling beer. The suds that flowed forth on 11 November 1842 looked and tasted mighty fine, immediately captivating the beer-drinking public in Pilsen and garnering further European attention during the Paris World Exposition in 1867.

Alas, Groll passed away unaware of his contribution to brewing history. He didn’t stay long in Pilsen, returning in 1845 to his native village of Vilshofen, where he inherited his father’s brewery. He expired in relative obscurity at the ripe old age of 74 in his favourite tavern, the Wolferstetter Keller, tankard in hand (Weyermann, 2009, 13).

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Pilsen today is a vibrant industrial city where the kolaches are fine and the city square magnificent. Set amidst the Baroque and Renaissance facades, the Gothic spires of St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral rise 102 meters above the city. Those who venture up the tower are rewarded with vistas in the direction of the Great Synagogue (the world’s third-largest Jewish temple) and the Skoda works to the west, and the sprawling Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsener Urquell) brewery to the east.

Pilsener Urquell is, indeed, one large concern, owned until 2016 by SABMiller before being spun off to Asahi as part of the shake-out from the AB-InBev merger with SABMiller. Pilsen’s Brewery Museum is affiliated with Pilsener Urquell, as are a number of restaurants and taverns in the center of town. Not that Pilsener Urquell is in any way bad –– far from it –– but the company’s long reach means that you’ll have to look a bit harder for liquid sustenance that isn’t part of the Pilsener Urquell portfolio of brands.

Beyond Pilsener Urquell

A growing number of brewers and taproom proprietors supportive of artisanal/craft beer have responded to Pilsener Urquell’s dominant presence, with one taproom owner, Jaroslav Jakeś, going so far as to open up shop in the shadow of the Brewery Museum. During an enjoyable evening at his Na Čepu taproom, Jakeś explained that he aimed to convince his fellow Pilseners that there’s more to beer than Pilsener Urquell. It’s an uphill battle, but he seems to have struck a chord with his lively taproom. Along with characterful takes on Czech classics, we tried a white IPA and a stout from Pivovar Raven, a Pilsen brewery that is creating quite a stir in Bohemia and beyond. (For more on the bottle of stout I brought back to Vienna with me, see A World of Stouts for Your Weekend.) We also had a polotmarý from Pivovar U Lenocha, another local David taking on Goliath. Polotmarý is a fine example of what happens when intrepid homebrewers and craft brewers pick up on a tavern favourite: a half-and-half mix of a light-coloured and a dark-coloured lager. The result is a rich, caramel-toasty amber beer that includes a mix of some or all of the following ingredients: pilsener malt, Vienna malt, Munich malt, a caramel malt like CaraAmber, and (usually) Saaz hops.

U Pašáka is another place to sample the non-Pilsener Urquell wares of the city. Their beers hew fairly close to tradition (unfiltered lagers and amber lagers), but they’re well-crafted and the food is a nice change of pace from the heavy (but tasty!) fare you’re likely to encounter at many other taverns in Pilsen. Their farmers’ board came with crackling spread spiked with onion, paté with cranberry confit, and head cheese marinated with peppercorns – the perfect accompaniment to their beers.Last but not least, there’s Pivovar Groll, a brewery named in honour of the hero of Pilsen’s beer narrative. Though the name pays homage to a beer legend, the beer that we sampled on that cold December night was far from legendary. Try it, though. Maybe they’ll have sorted out some of their issues by the time you visit.

… And Back to the Source

It’s an interesting state of affairs that’s brewing in Pilsen. People like Jakeś are getting an impressive artisanal/craft beer scene off the ground, and it’ll likely be all the more vibrant by the time you visit. For many non-European beer travelers, though, Pilsen is a destination precisely because of its historically significant brewery. To be sure, Pilsener Urquell was already a highly industrialized operation by the latter half of the nineteenth century, with an annual output of 221,720 hectoliters by 1878. But it has maintained a reputation for brewing flavourful lagers without recourse to cost-cutting ingredients, even as other brewers of Pilsen-influenced beers drove their recipes into Blandsville. Pilsener Urquell remains tasty enough, its open-fermented and cask-aged version even more so.

So down that IPA and let’s head over to this fabled brewery for a visit. (After all, we’re here on a beer pilgrimage.) As for the brewery tour, it presents a fairly standard origin story of beer, offers up plenty of cool copper kettles, and shows off the always-fascinating bottling lines. But beyond the slick multi-media presentation lies something deeper. Literally.

As the lights dim on the last of the surround-sound shows detailing the ingredients that go into your beer, the tour guide swings open a door that leads down to a different century. Film noir meets Stieglitz-inspired black-and-white photos of glistening cobblestones in this byzantine network of lagering cellars sunk in 1839. Here among the row upon row of barrels you’ll see the tools of the trade employed by the hewers of ice who kept the cellars cold. You’ll also get to taste a Pilsener Urquell brewed the old-fashioned way: open-fermented in oak vats and lagered in casks. When Pilsener Urquell switched over to stainless steel fermentation in 1992, they claimed that they had managed to preserve the traditional character of the beer (Ensminger, 1997). Maybe it was the magic of the surroundings, or maybe it was the über-freshness of the beer I was drinking straight from the cask, but I enjoyed that glass of Pilsener Urquell more than any other pint I had while in Bohemia.

You can take my word for it that the beer tastes better straight from the cask, or you can find out for yourself. I recommend the latter.

Addresses:

Brewery Museum, Veleslavínova 6, 30114 Plzeň. See their website for opening hours and rates. Tucked into a 15th century brewing house, the museum traces the history of beer in the city and region with ample displays and informative wall texts. All roads lead to Pilsener Urquell, but to the brewery’s credit, the connection is understated. I’m slowly working on a piece on beer and brewing museums in Europe, so I’ll say more there.

Na Čepu, Veleslavínova 57/8, 30100 Plzeň

U Pašáka, Poděbradova 12, 30100 Plzeň 3

Sources:

Brewery Museum (visited 29 December 2015). General brewing history of the region and information/stats specific to Pilsener Urquell.

Sabine Weyermann, “On the Trail of Josef Groll: Rediscovering Authentic Bohemian Malt and Beer,” Scandinavian Brewers’ Review, Vol.66, No. 6 (2009). Given her name, it’s hardly surprising that Weyermann delves into the maltier aspects of Groll’s contribution to brewing history.

Peter A. Ensminger, “The History and Methods of Pilsner Urquell: Divining the Source of the World’s Most Imitated Beer,” Brewing Techniques (May/August 1997), provides a comprehensive account of the history of Pilsen’s famous beer.

Related Tempest articles:

Pictures at a Czech Beer Exhibition: Pilsen, Budweis, Český Krumlov

Beer Travel off the Beaten Track: Austria’s Innviertel

O’ zapft is! Oktoberfest 2016

Vienna, City of Beer Gardens

Images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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Where Did All the Märzen Go? Provisioning Oktoberfest Imbibers over the Centuries

Nearly 40,000 people headed out to the horse race just beyond the Munich gates on that first Oktoberfest day in 1810. Families and groups of friends staked out places to sit on the meadowland heights surrounding the track and began tucking into their bread, sausage, and beer as the races began. The mood was festive at this Olympic-style race, and the event was a resounding success. After all, Munich at the time numbered 40,638 souls, and most of them came out to enjoy the race (Eymold, 327). It wasn’t long before plans were laid to repeat the event annually on what soon became known as the Theresienwiese (Therese’s meadow), named in honour of Crown Prince Ludwig’s bride, Therese Charlotte Louise von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Try saying that even once after you’ve had a few Maß of beer on today’s Theresienwiese.

From Modest Beer Stall to Opulent Beer Castle to Massive Beer Tent –– Or, How to Keep Tens of Thousands from Going Thirsty

If the horse race was the main attraction during the early years of the festival, the merriment soon spread out along the margins of the track. Bowling was popular, as were wheelbarrow races, swings, shooting galleries, and the first carousel that graced the Wiesn in 1818. Looking back briefly to 1814, the German poet, Achim von Arnim, noted that thirsty travelers could find ample Bretterbuden (simply appointed wooden stalls) in which Munich’s tavern keepers slung beer in half-liter tin-lidded tankards (Dornbusch, 49). At first, the guests sat on benches at tables under the open air. Soon, though, the Bretterbuden expanded to offer indoor seating.oktoberfest-postcard-munchenkindlstein As the festival began to extend over several days, provisioning all the attendees became a necessity, in particular since Oktoberfest had begun attracting festival-goers from all over Bavaria. The Bretterbuden proliferated.

With the enormous rise in prestige of the Munich breweries from the 1880s, their presence at the festival began to grow as well. In 1895, the now-defunct Thomasbrauerei built the first Bierburg (“beer castle”), a hall large enough to accommodate 800 thirsty patrons. A 1907 decision to do away with the Wirtsbudenring (a ring of 18 tavern stalls) fundamentally altered the complexion of the Wiesn, opening the door for other breweries to compete with the splendour of Thomasbrauerei’s beer castle. By 1910, all of Munich’s largest breweries had commissioned leading architects to design impressive festival halls that cited decorative elements from the Baroque and Biedermeier eras.

But even those structures weren’t large enough to accommodate the droves of imbibers who descended upon Munich each year. Breweries soon turned to massive tents to simplify the challenge of seating increasingly large numbers of patrons. In 1913, the last year before the First World War broke out, the Pschorr Brewery erected a tent so large that it could hold 12,000 stein-hoisters –– the largest beer structure that has ever stood on the Oktoberfest grounds. It wasn’t long before the beer tent replaced the beer castle, transforming the physical appearance of the Theresienwiese and shaping our contemporary imagination of Oktoberfest in the process. As of 2005, the entire festival grounds offered seating for 100,000 festival-goers; the largest fest hall is the Hofbräu tent and garden, with 10,000 seats.oktoberfest-hofbrautent-fdh

Roll Out the Barrels! The Changing Fortunes of Oktoberfest Beer Styles

Ever headed to Munich during Oktoberfest and been surprised to see that they serve one beer only –– a burnished golden beer at that? Isn’t Oktoberfest beer supposed to be an amber-coloured and richly malt Märzen beer, you might be thinking? If you’re Central European, you’ve probably never been caught up in this confusion. To many Canadian and American beer enthusiasts, though, Oktoberfest remains synonymous with Märzen.

In case you’re wondering where all the Märzen went, here’s a short explanation.

During the first several decades of the Oktoberfest, breweries brought whatever they had on hand to the festival –– usually some sort of forerunner of today’s Munich Dunkel. It wasn’t until 1872 that Spaten’s Gabriel Sedlmayr began brewing a beer specially for Oktoberfest –– a Märzen beer based loosely on the Vienna Lager first brewed by Sedlmayr’s colleague, Anton Dreher, in 1841. This amber beer was a shade or two lighter than the dark beer typically available in the Bretterbuden, and that much easier to knock back. Märzenbier soon conquered the festival.

Fun facts:

Dial “M” for Märzen: After Sedlmayr introduced the drinking world to his particular brand of Märzen in 1872, the barrels that arrived at Oktoberfest bore an “M” insignia. Each cask –– known as a “Hirsch,” or stag –– contained 200 liters and weighed around 300 kilos (Eymold, 328).

Horses and wagons: Breweries used horse-drawn carts to deliver their casks of beer not only to Oktoberfest, but to the inns and taverns of Munich right down into the 1950s (Eymold, 328).

Parades! The first parade was held in 1835 on the occasion of the silver anniversary of King Ludwig I’s marriage to Queen Therese. The parade was a spectacle of decorated wagons and inhabitants from across Bavaria decked out in the Tracht (lederhosen and dirndl) of their respective regions –– the origins of today’s Trachten- und Schützenzug procession that takes place on the second day of Oktoberfest. Back in the day, the festival parade was meant as an impressive demonstration of Bavaria’s “national” character. Festive parades were also held on the occasion of the 100th and 125th anniversary of Oktoberfest. Since 1949, the festival parade starting in Munich’s center and winding its way through the city to the Theresienwiese has been an annual opening-day tradition.

But even the reign of Märzen would prove to be temporary. In 1953, an even lighter Festbier –– Augustiner’s Wiesnedelstoff –– entered the festival ring. Soon all the major breweries had followed Augustiner’s lead, and began serving this eminently quaffable Wiesn beer alongside their Märzen. Wiesnbier displaced Märzen entirely by the late 1980s, becoming simply Oktoberfestbier.

Nowadays, Oktoberfest is about one beer, and one beer only. And only by the Maß. Which is just fine –– it eliminates the need for ordering so you can concentrate on the festivities.oktoberfest-postcard-augustiner-wiesnedelstoff The servers bring armfulls of 1-liter tankards right to your table. Take one, pay up, and Bob’s your uncle.

Here’s what you can expect:

Brewed to 13.5-14 degrees Plato and lagered for eight weeks at minus one degree Celsius, Oktoberfestbier is now a protected trademark of the Munich breweries. The result is a beer somewhere between a helles Bock and a helles Lager that clocks in somewhere between 6% and 6.3% ABV. Burnished gold in colour, the beer exudes aromas of fresh bread, honeyed malt with a touch of light toast, and a mild herbal or spicy hop fragrance depending on the brewer. Medium- to full-bodied on the palate, Oktoberfestbier has a mild residual (honey nougat) sweetness, flavours of lightly toasted bread, and just a hint of hop bitterness. The beer is reminiscent of Alpine meadows, with a refreshing mineral character. Round, supple, and clean. And the epitome of what German speakers call süffig (quaffable).

Darauf ein Oktoberfestbier!

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Related Tempest Articles:

O’ zapft is! Oktoberfest 2016

From Horse Races to Beer Steins: Oktoberfest Since 1810

The MaltHead Manifesto

In the Cool Shade of the Beer Garden

Sources:

Ursula Eymold (ed.), Bier.Macht.München: 500 Jahre Münchner Reinheitsgebot in Bayern, exhibition catalogue, Münchener Stadtmuseum, 2016.

Bier- und Oktoberfest Museum, Munich (visited 17 September 2016).

Astrid Assél and Christian Huber, München und das Bier: Auf großer Biertour durch 850 Jahre Braugeschichte (München: Volk Verlag, 2009).

Horst Dornbusch, Prost! The Story of German Beer (Boulder: Brewers Publications, 1997).

Image Credits:

“Münchner Kindl mit Bierkrug,” Paul Otto Engelhard/München, 1913 (postcard image).

“Augustiner Edelstoff,” Holzfurtner, Plakat, Offsetdruck, 1976 (postcard image).

Hofbräuhaus tent, Theresienwiese, Munich (F.D. Hofer).

© 2016 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

In the Cool Shade of the Beer Garden

It was one of those August days when the sun-baked cobblestones seem to transcend themselves in mirage-like fashion. Since arriving in Salzburg earlier that day, we had been exploring a baroque palace here, a castle overlooking the city there, and churches everywhere. Definitely time for a beer, one of my friends declared. Another suggested a visit to the Augustiner, where we could relax in its chestnut grove with a cold stein.Augustiner Stein (FB pg) With one last burst of energy we crossed the foot bridge over the Salzach and climbed the hill in the direction of the Augustiner. As soon as we descended the stairs into the cellar precincts, the summer heat faded away. We threaded our way through stalls selling bratwurst and pretzels, and came upon the counter where a gruff barkeep in lederhosen was tapping beer straight from the barrel. Steins in hand, we headed out into the beer garden to partake of a venerable tradition: an al fresco Maß (liter mug) of beer among lively groups of friends and families who had gathered at tables and benches in the afternoon shade of the chestnut trees.

* * *

This particularly enjoyable rite of spring and summer traces its history to early nineteenth-century Bavaria. Back in 1812, King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria (1806-1825) set the development of beer garden culture on its present course with a Solomon-like decree that diffused the tensions that had been (ahem) brewing between Munich’s innkeepers and brewers. The dispute had its roots in the set of reforms that King Max had enacted, first as duke, and then as king. Some of these reforms proved more favourable to private Bavarian brewers than had previously been the case during the era of aristocratic brewing prerogatives, and breweries began to proliferate along the Isar River. During the warm summer months in particular, the citizens of Munich took to spending more of their time (and money) at the beer cellars on the banks of the Isar, preferring these shaded chestnut groves to the rather stuffy inns where the beer was decidedly less fresh.

Unsurprisingly, the innkeepers of Munich became increasingly incensed that they were losing revenue to the beer brewers who were also selling food to accompany their refreshing beers. They petitioned Maximilian –– connoisseur of the good life who was more likely to be seen at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt than at the barracks –– to do something.BeerGarden - Rescript_Max_I_Joseph_1812-01-04 A friend and supporter of brewers and innkeepers alike, their good King Maxl paid heed. The resulting decree of January 4, 1812 benefitted both parties and put its stamp on the history of the Bavarian beer garden down to the present day. Brewers could, indeed, keep right on selling their beer fresh from the beer cellars beneath their leafy gardens. But in a nod to the concerns of the innkeepers, the beer garden precincts were limited to the sale of beer and bread.

* * *

Now, as for these beer cellars (Bierkeller) that gave rise to beer gardens? Beer gardens as we’ve come to know them in Bavaria and beyond are difficult to imagine without the history of a beer style many of us have come to know and love: lager. In the centuries before the invention of refrigeration, brewers sunk cellars on the grounds of their breweries. There, they covered their beer with ice blocks hewed in March from the still-frozen lakes and rivers of the region.

Even though monasteries and abbeys had been storing their beer in cellars and in caves at the foot of the Alps since the Middle Ages, the sinking of cellars in Munich accelerated in response to a decree promulgated by Duke Albrecht V in 1553. Despite the vaunted Reinheitsgebot of 1516, not all Bavarian beer was gold, so the duke declared that Bavarians were allowed to brew beer between St. Michael’s Day (September 29) and St. George’s Day (April 23) only. One of the reasons cited for the decree of 1553 was a fear of summer conflagrations caused by hot brew kettles. More importantly, though, brewers and the authorities who knew a good beer when they tasted it had, by the mid-1550s, learned a fair amount about the effects of cold fermentation on beer quality. Slower fermentation between 7 and 12 Celsius (44-55F) in conjunction with extended lagering (lagern = to store) at temperatures near freezing yielded a cleaner beer that kept longer than the top-fermented ales brewed in warmer conditions.

Beer cellars also enabled brewers to store their beer during the months they weren’t brewing, thereby ensuring a steady supply of fresh and stable beer during the summer months. As a further means of keeping the temperature of their cellars cool, brewers planted broad-leafed and shallow-rooted horse chestnut trees. From there, it wasn’t an enormous leap from the cellar to the shade. Enterprising brewers began to set out tables and chairs under the leafy canopy shading their cellars, and voilà: the beer garden. BierGarten - AugustinerMunich (FB page)If you’re lucky enough to live in a North American town that boasts a beer garden, or are even luckier and live in or will be visiting a Germanic country this spring or summer, raise a stein to the wise Bavarians who inaugurated these traditions. What better place is there to enjoy a crisp and spicy wheat beer or an effervescent Pilsner on a spring or summer day than in a beer garden?

Related Tempest Articles

The MaltHead Manifesto

Gose: A Beer Worth Its Salt

A Coal Town and a Cold One: My Hefeweizen Craft Beer Conversion

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

Pinning Down Place

Further Reading

German Beer Institute.

Horst D. Dornbusch, Prost! The Story of German Beer (Boulder: Brewers Publications, 1997).

Michael Jackson, The New World Guide to Beer (Philadelphia: Running Press, 1988).

Sabine Herre, “Geschichte der bayrischen Biergärten: Im Schatten der Kastanie,” taz (26 May 2012).

Images

Stein (Augustiner Bräustübl Salzburg Mülln Facebook page)

Decree by King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria allowing Munich brewers to serve beer from their cellars, but prohibiting the sale of food other than bread (January 4, 1812). Bayrishes Hauptstaatsarchiv, München. Image available on WikiCommons.

Beer Garden, Augustinerbäu München

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Madison County Hop Fest 2014

Got plans for the coming weekend?

Maybe you’re in need of a quick getaway from any of the countless metropolitan areas within three hours of the I-90 corridor that runs between Syracuse and Albany. IMG_0463Perhaps you’re a student at one of the many colleges and universities in central and upstate New York and are already yearning for a break from the shock of the new semester. Or maybe you’re a craft beer enthusiast who hasn’t yet had a chance to taste the excellent beer flowing forth from New York State these days. Whatever the case may be, if you’re interested in the heritage of hop production in New York State and in drinking the fruit of the bine, head out to Madison County’s Hop Fest in Oneida, NY, this weekend (September 12-13, 2014) and celebrate the bounty of the year’s hop harvest.

While you’re partaking of the Paired Beer Dinner on September 12, or sampling the elixirs brewed by local and regional breweries using not West Coast but New York State hops on September 13, raise a glass to the history of hop bags, burlap, kiln cloth, brimstone, and hop kilns in central New York.

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Madison, Otsego, and Oneida Counties once serviced over eighty percent of North America’s hop needs. That was before the combined impact of crop disease and Prohibition dealt a near-fatal blow to the industry. Hop farming had all but disappeared from the New York landscape by the 1950s,Madison County Hist Society - Logo but a few intrepid farmers and craft beer brewers have since breathed new life into the hops of New York State.

Organized by the good people at the Madison County Historical Society, the Hop Fest is now in its nineteenth year. Given the rich history of hop cultivation in New York, though, it should come as no surprise if we hear the echoes of harvest festivals of times past at the Madison County Hop Fest.

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Carl M. recalls that the annual “big day” inaugurated in 1878 at Oneida’s Sylvan Beach was “an institution.” So renowned was the Hop Growers’ Picnic that tourists arrived on special excursions from as far away as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York City on the Ontario & Western Railway. At its zenith, the Hop Growers’ Picnic attracted several thousand people: “the greatest crowds in the horse-and-buggy, toot, and toot-toot ages of transportation [that] ever attended picnics, carnivals, or call ’em what you will.” Some of the best bands and drum corps of the day kept the visitors dancing, and Cottman’s Carousel, reputedly one of the best merry-go-rounds in central New York, ran from early morning till the daylight hours dwindled.

Of course, our nineteenth-century prototypes of the contemporary craft beer festival denizen arriving from far-flung places were not the only people in attendance. In the days before mechanized farming, hop production was nothing if not labour-intensive. Recounts Carl M.: “Hired men who worked the summer-long at tasks more or less pleasurable and arduous, with seldom a ‘day off’ from steady work, often engaged upon a summer’s work––usually from April to the last of October––with the ‘understanding’ that for ‘The Hop Growers’ they wantd [sic] a ‘vacation’ for the whole day––with no loss of wages.”

The hop yard owners, too, brought their entire family to the picnic site resplendent with tables bedecked with cookies, jams, and jellies. “Mothers provided the dainties not usually on the family table, including fried chicken as only [m]others of the era knew how to fry ’em.”

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The latter-day versions of this annual tradition might not feature a merry-go-round, and mothers likely won’t be called upon to provide the dainties, but the contemporary Madison County Hop Fest will be well-provisioned with delicious local beer and food. So point your wagons and buggies in the direction of Oneida, NY, and do what people have been doing there intermittently since the 1800s:Madison County Hist Society - Bldg (www-mchs1900-org) celebrating the hop harvest and participating in cultural history in the making.

With the exception of Friday’s Paired Dinner, all events will take place on the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society.

Address: 435 Main St., Oneida, NY, 13421

Friday:

Paired Dinner at Kenwood and Vine. 6:00pm. Tickets: $55. Reservation deadline has passed, but worth checking to see if they still have tickets.

Saturday:

Taste of Hops: A Food and Beer Pairing. 12:00-2:00pm. Tickets: $20 in advance/$25 at the door. Participating eateries from the region include: Hamilton Inn; Colgate Inn; Cakes and Other Goodies; Kenwood and Vine; The Ridge; No.10 Tavern; Madison Bistro; and Ye Olde Landmark Tavern.

Beer Sampling. 2:30-5:30pm. $25 advance/$30 door. Around twenty-five breweries will be on hand to pour beer. Local/NYS breweries include: Good Nature; Empire; Cortland Brewing Company; Erie Canal Brewing Company; Henneberg; Ommegang; Sackets Harbor; Southern Tier; Middle Ages; Binghamton Brewing; Saranac; and Brooklyn Brewery.

Presentations/Exhibitors. 11:30am-5:30pm. Free Entry. Speakers include Steve Miller (Cornell Cooperative Extension, Madison County), Dan Cazentre (Syracuse Post Standard), and Al Bullard (collector, consultant, and 2005 Madison County “Hop King”). Representatives from the North East Hop Alliance, Foothill Hops, and Clark Hollow Hops will also be on hand.IMG_0204

Sources

Carl M., “The ‘Hop Growers’’,” Business and Industry File––Hops––Growing and Curing Hops, Madison County Historical Society, undated.

Images

Hop cone: F.D. Hofer

MCHS logo and building: mchs1900.org

Hop kiln near Hamilton, NY: F.D. Hofer

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For more information, see the Madison County Hop Fest website.

To learn more about the important work done by local historical associations like the Madison County Historical Society, see the MCHS website. You might also consider donating to them while you’re at Hop Fest so they can continue to staff their institution and stock their archive.

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© 2014 Franz D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

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