An All-Malt Anheuser-Busch Beer Is Analyzed in 1908

This is a follow-up to my post earlier today, I was querying if data might exist to show final gravity and other characteristics of Anheuser-Busch beers before WW I. There may be various sources of information in old published analyses, and certainly the following came up without too much trouble.

Consider the table below from a 1908 American Brewers Review (Jan-June, Vol. 22), the technical journal edited by Robert Wahl & Max Henius, names now familiar to us.

Look at the column for Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis. They don’t state the brand unfortunately. It had to be IMO either Michelob, introduced 1896 as a draft-only beer, or the Muenchener (dark) introduced for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The other domestic all-malts – good to know they existed in the adjunct brewing era –  mostly seem Munich-style dunkels or similar. There is a Dortmund beer that may be blondish, but even that is not certain. Another export type, from Berghoff in Indiana – beer of that name still exists but not the brewery – is expressly said to be “dark”.

The AB all-malt beer had an original gravity of 1050.2 and a final gravity of 1020. Apparent attenuation only 54%. At a stated 3.31 abv, that is about 4% abv. That is a very malty beer even with the comparatively high hopping then. I’d guess it is the Muenchener. If you look at the second table, where European imports are compared and including numerous (blonde) pilseners in this case, the average FG is rather lower: the pils beers as expected were not as sweet as the dark beers.

Wahl & Henius were looking at albumen (protein) content, so a different point than I am concerned with, but the tables are very helpful for other purposes.

As we have seen, Wahl & Henius in the American Handy Book of Brewing give for their American sample fermentation a FG of 1016, this for a 5% abv beer. In the 1930s, that was still (approximately – close enough) a gravity norm for a beer of 5% abv as A.L. Nugey’s book shows. Average FG could go even higher before 1900, also as previously discussed, e.g. to 1018, but if 1016 is taken as a year 1900 benchmark, and as we know Bud was 5% abv then (see evidence here), 1016 is a reasonable FG.*

The Mich might have been the same or maybe a bit lower. One must remember that Wahl & Henius’s average 1016 FG lager was one-third adjunct, so the fact that the average FGs of the blonde imports in the table below are lower may not matter much as their relative mouth-fullness may have been the same, to compensate that is for all-malt. This is why Michelob was unlikely to be higher than 1016 and possibly was lower.

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*See my next post where the abv and FG of Budweiser in 1884 has now been documented. It is 5.3% and 1015, respectively.

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