hist-brewing: Re: History of "Lager"

Donald Beistle dbeistle at arches.uga.edu
Mon Apr 12 11:39:38 PDT 1999

Did anyone ever reply to Al's query re: whether Grolsch actually may have
brewed proto-lagers some three centuries ago?

As an Illinoisian, Al surely knows all about the harvesting of ice from
rivers and lakes for lagering beer in the US in the 19th and early 20th
centuries. Such a practice is somewhat more high-tech and certainly much
more labor intensive than simply keeping the beer in very deep, very cold
caves. If one cannot find explicit documentary evidence of proto-lagering, 
it might be worthwhile to approach the matter by examining historical 
dairy/cheesemaking practices. Unfortunately, I am no historian of cheese.
In Wisconsin (my _Heimat_), there used to be tiny cheese factories
everywhere, with the "factory" itself typically dug into the side of a
hill and the cellars either bored horizontally deep into the hill or
sometimes down into the limestone bedrock. For what it's worth, Fred.
Miller's famous Plank Road brewery was built in very similar fashion, with
the "ice caves" bored into the side of the hill that the brewery itself

The point of all this is that brewing and dairying practices long have had
much in common, and one might do well to look at dairy practices when
evidence for analogous brewing procedures is lacking. 

But back to the matter at hand: A nice source of info for readers of
German is Conrad Seidl's _Noch ein Bier!_. Herr Seidl is kind of an
Austrian Michael Jackson and also has a webpage. His book is quite nice
and is worthwhile reading for amateur brewing historians as well as beer
connoiseurs. Most of my attention was devoted to his sections on
Franconian and Kolsch brewing. Regarding proto-lagering and historical
brewing in general, there is much that could be learned from the records
of the brewers' guild of Cologne. It would be great to see someone
undertake this task. 


Don Beistle
Athens, Georgia

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