Fleet Street Gives Beer the Grand Tour

A cosmopolitan, beer-bibbing London journalist in 1902 surveyed the waters (spas), beers, and wines of the Germans and other Continental nations. He managed to throw in a (useful) word on Bass Ale, as well.

The article, “Drinks of Germans”, was published in the London Express. American newspapers reprinted the story including on October 16, 1902 in the Evening Star in Washington, D.C., see here.

The remarks are of good interest as they use a modern, metaphorical approach to beer description. “Lambric” tastes like sour cider made with decrepit apples – well a lot of lambic still does, except now the connoisseurs like it. 🙂

Some of his terms are delphic: why is Bohemian beer “wetter”? But in other cases he uses terms that can easily be parsed. Biting means hoppy, for example.

I left out the parts dealing with waters and wines but included some other non-beer discussion because of their colour.

The star treatment is accorded to Munich Dunkel beer, the “prince” of beer he calls it.

Another takeaway: exported beer never quite tastes like it does at home.

DRINKS OF GERMANS

A STUDY IN THE FATHERLAND WATERS, BEERS AND WINES.

Beverages That Are Popular in Homburg, Baden-Baden and
Wiesbaden.

From the London Express.

He laughs at gout who never felt a twinge,
and that is probably the reason why my
attitude toward the German waters is
lacking in reverence.
….

The Real Cure

Probably it is the taking of the medicine
rather than the medicine itself which works
the larger part of the cure. No whisky, no
sparkling wines, no late hours, and not too
much tobacco; plain, light foods and
regular habits, a gentle walk before break
fast, a leisurely game of golf on a toy course
before lunch; a drive through the odorous
pinewoods in the afternoon; dinner with
mild German wines and then early to bed,
in the bosom of the serene and fragrant
mountains.

Being one of the lean kind, I found other
German drinks which suited me better than
the waters – Muenchener for choice. It can
be bought in London, as the Gambrinus and
the Cafe de l’Europe demonstrate. But as
English Bass is never quite the real article
on the continent, so Muenchener is never
quite the real thing in England. Whether
beers have to be fortified or not for a voyage,
outside their own country they have a ten-
dency to be both doubtful and dear. Bass is
too “gassy” on the continent; Munich too
biting in England.

In its native beer gardens Muenchener is
the prince of beers-brown and bland and
soft, with a cream of froth like a beaten
egg, a delicate flavor, cold, yet not icy,
refreshing to the body, and comforting to
the stomach- “and,” said the baron, “there
is not an inconvenience, a malady, a-yes,
that is it – headache in a ton of it, not even in the Heidelburg tun!”

The German at His Best

The German sits down to his beer-drink
ing as to a holy rite. He selects a com-
fortable chair, ungirds his loins, empties
the tankard at a gulp, and gazes with pride
upon the growing tower of metal plates
which indicate the number he has con-
sumed.

You fancy you see him growing fatter as
he drinks. On a very hot day I accom-
plished six pots at a sitting. The waiter
said he was sorry I did not like the beer.
Pilsener is a thinner beer, more biting
to the tongue, less comforting to the body.
Frankfort is a cross between the two.
Dutch beer has the ripe color and the soft
froth of Munich, but it has a hard tang,
less pleasing to the alien palate. Bohemian
beer strikes one as being in some way
“wetter” than the others. And of all beers
the worst, to the palate of the inquiring
stranger, are the native beers of BeIgium.
Lambric, about which the Flemish waiter
became enthusiastic, was like sour cider
made from decrepit apples.

Grows Fat and Old

In his youth the German is shapely, occ-
asionally even slim. His military training
gives him a straight back. As the years
go by he grows big and fat, and has a taste
for the restful forms of recreation. The
reasons seem to be beer, beef and bands,
Set a band playing, and the German will
listen to it, drinking beer the while, until
further orders. He listens with a medita-
tive complacency, except when he happens
to be engaged in conversation, when he
talks with fluency and vigor. The English
man’s voice is an apologetic murmur by
comparison, unless he happens to come
from Yorkshire.

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