Thursday, 13 January 2011

Beer range in Belgian railway station buffets, 1855

I thought you’d like to know what kind of beer you could expect to find in a Belgian railway station in the nineteenth century.

Here’s the price list reproduced from an 1855 travel guide.

Bottle of Faro 30 centimes
Glass of " 10 centimes
Bottle of Lambic 40 centimes
Bottle of Louvain beer 24 centimes
Glass of " 8 centimes
Bottle of Bavarian beer 75 centimes
Glass of brown beer 8 centimes

Quite a modern-looking selection, really. Most of these were still around when Michael Jackson wrote about Belgian beer 120 years later.

Lambic and Faro are easy. I bet the marketing people at InBev would like us to believe the Louvain beer was Stella Artois from the massive factory they still have there. It would actually have been something like this.  

I guess the brown beer must have been draught as there's no bottle price. And I'm presuming they got three glasses of beer out of each bottle of the Faro and Louvain. Must have been big bottles. Or small glasses.

Look at the price of Bavarian beer (that’s lager to you and me). Nearly twice the price of lambic and costs the same as a steak. Definitely a luxury, premium product.

I haven't been in a Belgian station for a while but this might be a better range than you get nowadays. On one occasion there was just a vending machine selling cans of Jupiler. It was four in the morning, mind. You wouldn't even have a vending machine in Britain. We are ruled by barbarians.

In case you're wondering how much 8 centimes is worth, 1 franc comprising 100 centimes was equal to 8 Prussian silver Groschen and a Dutch guilder was worth 2 francs 5 centimes. Is that clear? Good.

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