Saturday, 13 October 2012

Josty Beer

Some time ago both Ron and I came across references to “Josty’sches Bier” in analyses of old German beers. As I didn’t know what it referred to, I spent a spare evening compiling everything that Google has to say about Josty’sches Bier. The first thing that can be said with some certainty is that Josty beer was the product of a particular brewery, and not a type of beer for itself – at least, not a type made by several competing producers.

The Josty brewery was founded sometime between 1812 and 1819 on Prenzlauer Strasse in Berlin. The owners were the same as the rather more successful enterprise Café Josty, founded by immigrants from Switzerland. By 1851 both were noteworthy – Alexander Cosmar, “Neuester und vollständigster Wegweiser durch Berlin und Potsdam für Fremde und Einheimische”, 1851 says:
Josty. Berliners associate both a sweet and a bitter taste with this name. A tourist seldom leaves the city without having tried at least one of the two. The Konditorei of Josty & Co., Unter der Stechbahn Nr 1, is equally as famous as the stomach-strengthening bitter beer that Herr Daniel Josty (Firm: Josty Bros., Prenzlauerstrasse Nr. 59) brews and serves in his taproom and restaurant at Markgrafenstrasse Nr. 43.
As well as running a brewery, Daniel Josty apparently also found time to write poetry and prose in the Rheto-Romansch language of his native Switzerland. At the time there was very little printed literature in the language at all, so this was enough to catapult him into the position of the leading Romansch writer, at least in the opinion of one contemporary commentator:
“One of the most significant authors and poets of the Romanic language must be the brewer Daniel Josty, who died in 1846 in Berlin and is known for the still existant beer. He had two works printed which contain examples of Romanic poetry.” 
(Berliner Gesellschaft für das Studium der neueren Sprachen, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, Volumes 31–32) 
 What was the beer like? It’s an interesting one. Ron has an analysis showing it containing just 2.68% alcohol in 1850. Another shows 3.10% in 1864 (The 2.68% figure may be alcohol by weight, which would (I think) result in an alcohol by volume figure close to 3.10%).

The contemporary tasting notes I posted some time ago describe it thus: “The beer was light brown, clear, very foamy, with a clean bitter taste, and with the exception of carbonic acid, almost free of any other acid. The Josty’sches beer is a weak-bodied beer. It is top-fermented, contains more hops and less sugar than the Werder beer, in addition to which the colour is lighter, and does not have a burnt taste. Adulteration was not evident.” Baedeker’s guidebook of 1862 calls Josty a “bitter, aromatic beer”. 

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer recommended Josty’s beer in an 1853 letter to a friend:
Take all due care, and do not drink the white beer, but the quassia-containing Josty beer, if that is still about. Here [in Frankfurt] I am withdrawn from any beer; Kant hated beer and never drank any.
(Ernst Otto Lindner, Arthur Schopenhauer, Julius Frauenstädt, Arthur Schopenhauer: von ihm, ueber ihn, Hayn, 1863) 
Schopenhauer had left Berlin for Frankfurt in 1831, so we can presume that Josty was producing a quassia beer during the 1820s. Or can we?

There may have been quassia beers – no Reinheitsgebot in Berlin at that time – or did Schopenhauer just assume that it contained quassia because it was so bitter? We do know three things: the fad for “medicinal” beverages was as strong in 19th century Berlin as it was in Victorian England; the public health inspectors of the time were concerned with the use of non-hop bittering agents; and as late as 1900 Josty Bros. themselves were advertising “Medicinal and Sanitary Beer”. So it doesn’t seem impossible.

One modern article credits Josty with having invented the custom of adding woodruff to Berliner Weisse. I am strongly inclined to treat this as folklore, as I have not encountered any evidence indicating that Josty ever even brewed Berliner Weisse. Then again, it’s given me the idea of trying to find out when people did start putting syrup into it.

At this time the brewery was at Prenzlauer Strasse 59. Curiously, the street perpendicular to Prenzlauer Strasse was later named Jostystrasse, but not until the brewery had already moved out in 1890, occupying swish new premises at Bergstrasse 23–24. Both Prenzlauer Str. and Jostystr. were flattened in the 1960s or 1970s when the city extended and straightened Karl-Liebknecht-Str. northwards to join up with today’s Prenzlauer Allee. But the building in Bergstrasse is still there. It must have cost a pretty penny at the time. Here it is:

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An advertisement in a trade fair catalogue shows that at Bergstrasse Josty had at least five products: Goldperle table beer, Trinkwürze (an only slightly fermented wort, possibly similar to today’s Malzbier, a similar product allegedly containing iron, Porter, and — “Smoked Beer, brewed according to the Graetz process.”
Josty’s Goldperle. This beer is a light, bright excellent Lagerbeer of pleasant pure taste, and as it contains but little alcohol, it is very wholesome for the stomach.
Josty’s Trinkwürze. The so-called Trinkwürze is a lightly fermented Maltbeer, highly nourishing, brewed from wort, free from surrogates, at 18–19 degrees, distinguished by a relatively large proportion of unfermented malt and dextrins.
Josty’s Eisenmalz-Extract (Iron malt extract). According to the analysis this is a strong pure Maltbeer, but slightly fermented, containing but little iron. This beer is equal to an original wort of about 17 degrees, and containing much maltose, dextrine and nitrogen, it is of a relatively high nutritive value.
Josty’s Porter (pasteurised according to Gronwald’s process) has a very strong taste, contains a plentiful supply of hops and, according to the analysis, is brewed without surrogates and is an excellent substitute for the genuine English Porter.
I wonder how the chemist’s observation that the “iron malt extract” didn't actually contain much iron made it into an advert. Possibly the management didn’t check foreign-language copy as carefully as they might have done.

On the Grätzer, sadly, we have no report from a disarmingly honest chemist, but only the platitudes we have grown to love from brewers:
Josty’s Rauchbier nach Grätzer Art (brewed according to the Graetz process) is prepared from the best raw materials and is in all respects superior to all similar kinds of beer.
The move to Bergstr. does not seem to have been a success, with the brewery continuing only until 1903–1910 before being sold and was already closed by the time the First World War broke out. It was renamed “Bergbrauerei Nacher” after the managing director of the purchaser, the Engelhardt brewery, and produced Caramelmalzbier for the group. Engelhardt was supposedly the largest producer of Caramelmalzbier at the time and is also credited with introducing the returnable deposit bottle. Herr Nacher was Jewish and when Hitler came to power Nacher’s brewery was expropriated and handed over to the Dresdner Bank.

The Café Josty continued after the sale of the brewery, its most notable address being on Potsdamer Platz, with Erich Kästner setting part of his Emil and the Detectives there, and Expressionist poet Paul Blodt immortalised it in his “Auf der Terasse des Café Josty”. But the café business was hit hard by the economic crisis and declined in the 1930s. I’ll leave the detailed story of what happened to the café enterprise to cake historians.

Lots of questions unanswered still. Why did the Josty family sell up? When did they start brewing Porter and Grätzer, and what did they taste like? As all their other brews were top-fermented, was their Lagerbeer, too? What happened to the original light brown Josty’sches Bier that may or may not have contained quassia and was good for the stomach?

Friday, 12 October 2012

German export beers in 1900

The Official Catalogue of the Collective Exhibition of the German Industry in Articles of Food at the Paris Exhibition 1900 is a great document. Twenty pages of adverts from German breweries, in English. Despite the slightly odd English in places, you can get an idea of the kinds of beers they had to sell.

Brewers like boasting about the output of their brewhouses. Many of the adverts name a figure, which is great. Sadly they are not all comparable; some of the breweries only state how much of their beer they export, not their total production. Others are still touting for business and only mention their capacity; how much beer they could be making if anyone wanted to buy it.

Two breweries have something in their portfolio called “F.F.”. I’d love to know what that stood for.

I’m fairly sure the brewers who describe their beers as mild and stout weren’t really brewing mild and stout, just using the closest English expressions they could find. Probably they mean pale and dark. Or maybe weak and strong. It’s anybody’s guess. Saloon beer is possibly a translation of the German Schankbier, so maybe a low-gravity product.

Although tomorrow we will have a brewery which did make Deutscher Porter. Watch this space.

Output of a few not necessarily representative German breweries in 1900
BreweryOutput (*capacity **export)EmployeesTypes produced/exhibited
Source: Official Catalogue of the Collective Exhibition of the German Industry in Articles of Food at the Paris Exhibition 1900 (Frankfurt, 1900), pp. 100–123.
Actienbrauerei Erlangen100000*40Erlanger Gold (Exquisite light Tablebeer)
Bergschlösschen, DortmundExport lagerbeers, mild (Pilsen) and stout (Munich), F.F. Kaiserbeer
Berliner Weissbier-Brauerei113000Berlin White Beer
Brauhaus Nürnberg165613
Bürgerliches Brauhaus München250000300Export-Beer
C. Breithaupt, BerlinBerlin White-Beer
Dortmunder Aktien-Brauerei150000**190light Dortmund Beer, gold coloured Dortmund Beer, dark Dortmund Beer, light bitter (Dortmunder Actien Bitterbier) a surrogate for Bohemian Pilsen.
Erste Culmbacher206000**290“vigorous dark beer”, “Light Saloon Table Beer”
Franziskaner375000450Lager, Märzen, Pale Lager, Bock
Kaiser-Brauerei, Bremen (Beck’s)Light coloured Export Beer, the so called “Pilsener”
Ketterer, Pforzheim28700Light Exportbeer, Dark Lagerbeer
Kochelbräu8000**Mild and stout Exportbeer, Bockbeer, Märzenbeer
Kulmbacher Rizzibräu100000
Löwenbräu, München594202770Dark and light Export-beer, Bock, Märzen
Mönchshof200000*Stout and mild Kulmbach Beer
Exportbierbrauerei Reichelbräu135000Strongest Export Beer dark prime quality, F.F. Goldlight Saloon-Beer choicest quality, F.F. Light brown Export-Beer
Spaten500000Brown and pale Lagerbeer
Tucher, NürnbergPale and light Beers
Wilhelmshavener Aktien-BrauereiPasteurized Export Beer
Zum Storchen154700Choicest Bavarian and pale Export Beers

I do like Rizzibräu’s trademark. It seems to say “Drink Rizzi, and you can be as completely pissed as me! Wahey!”

Like Löwenbräu, Reichelbräu from Kulmbach has figures showing its rapid growth over the previous twenty years:

Growth in output of Kulmbacher Reichelbräu, 1880–1900
Source: Official Catalogue of the Collective Exhibition of the German Industry in Articles of Food at the Paris Exhibition 1900 (Frankfurt, 1900), pp. 116.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Löwenbräu output 1873–1899

Löwenbräu presents here a list of the growth in the output of the brewery over the previous few years. Very useful. It was claiming to be the largest brewery in Germany at the time.

The Brewery “Zum Löwenbräu” existed already in 1765 on the Löwengrube in Munich; it was acquired by the previous possessor Mr. LUDWIG BREY in 1818, and by him removed to the Nymphenburger Str. at the place where it is still now.
In 1872 the Brewery passed over to the possession of the Joint Stock Company.
The Brewery employs to-day 770 workmen and functionaries. The motory power of the Brewery consists of 6 Steam Engines of together 1200 effective horse power, and the required steam is procured by 11 steam-boilers of 830qm heating surface.
There are 16 Double Malt-Kilns of 1170 qm basis in the clear to dry the produced malt.
With the five Brewing Works existing, 1220 Hectolitres of Malt can be brought to Brewing pr. day.
To provide the required quantities of cold, the powerful refrigerators with 10 Compressors No. VI Linde’s system provide for.
There are produced:—
Dark and light Export-Beer, Bockbier which is very vigorous, and Märzenbier highly distinguished by the delicacy of its taste.

YearSales in hectolitres

I wonder what happened between 1894 and 1899 to more than double sales?