Friday, 20 November 2020

DDR beer export strategy 1956


Berliners, you who love your "cool Molle" so much, although it was experimented upon without reducing the price, the minister for food had good news for you at the Leipzig trade fair. In a couple of months you will have the old Molle with its higher original gravity again.…

Minister Westphal’s promise was announced in Leipzig by Mr Friedrich, the deputy chairman of the technical committee on beer exports. Out of around 600 breweries in the DDR, which produce around 20 million hectolitres of beer annually, five are particularly suited to exporting beer as well as production for the domestic market. Radeberg and Grenzquell will attempt to establish themselves in export markets with Pilsner, Köstritzer with Schwarzbier, Berliner Kindl with Deutscher Porter and Schultheiss with Berliner Weisse.  Our breweries are not at capacity, so there are practically no limits on the volumes that potential export customers can have produced in the DDR.

Single orders from these breweries have already been exported to many countries. Regular beer deliveries to France and West Germany are picking up. Kegs and bottles for export therefore do not reduce domestic consumption. In fact the well-known Steinie bottle, the squat beer bottle with a crown cork, are also being used for sales of Radeberger in the DDR.

“Bekannte Berliner Molle kommt wieder”, Berliner Zeitung, 6. September 1956.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the Berlin brewers had quietly reduced the strength of their beer, and drinkers noticed, leading to what we now call a reverse ferret. A Molle is (or was) a Berlin term for a glass of beer.

600 breweries is a lot of breweries for a country the size of the DDR.

There are some familiar names in the list of breweries chosen to lead the export offensive: Radeberger, Schultheiss, Berliner Kindl, Köstritzer. The first three now all belong to the massive Dr Oetker corporation and the last to the Bitburger group. Imagine how different history would have looked if Berliner Kindl hat made a success of Deutscher Porter exports. I didn’t even know they made a Porter.


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