The Swiss Cure
As a follow-up to our last post, we are looking at a sampling of bock beers available in the winter resort of Davos-Platz, Switzerland, in 1882. They were reported by “J.E.M.” Muddock, a well-known travel and fiction writer who specialized in covering parts of Europe for his English audience.
Such data might seem unusual for a Baedeker-type tome – it’s as if a page from a brewing journal ended by some digital error in a Frommer’s guide – but, as always, there was a reason.
Davos-Platz was billed then as an English wintering destination, one adapted especially to the needs of consumptives. With a resident population of British doctors and nurses in town, analytical data on drink and food was felt useful to them.
Davos of course is famous for winter sports but it was the dryness of the climate that attracted those afflicted with then-incurable tuberculosis.The source was a chemist whose name and affiliation in Manchester, long a node for science research, are set out in the introduction.
Erlanger and Ulmer bocks were, I calculate, 1062 OG, just under the modern start point for bock (German law) of 1064. The beer in the centre column had a OG of 1075, ahead of the modern gravity baseline of 1072 for the Doppel iteration, despite the fairly low abv one may note.
The modern Creemore ur-Bock in Canada is lighter: perhaps 1060 OG, 1014 FG, and (anyway) 6% abv.
Two “Ulmer” bocks are still made, by Bauhöfer, quite possibly the source of the Ulmer bock in the table. The brewery started in 1852 in Baden-Württemberg.
If you check this link for Muddock’s book, some interesting additional data is given including for a Manchester draught bitter and other beers. This helped doctors when considering what their patients might drink, it provided context, or did in the framework of Victorian medicine.
A bottled pils beer is interesting at 1007 FG and only 3% abv, sounds like a current light beer I’ve seen here but the name escapes me for a moment. Muddock’s tables certainly provided a nice Anglo-Continental sampling, focused yet diverse.
The Ulmer and Erlanger bocks might have been similar to the Creemore but more malty and heavier given their FGs, especially Erlanger. I’d think possibly too more bitter, but hard to say.
The anonymous bock, with a FG of 1031, would have been a very rich beer indeed. Like they used to say, liquid bread.
Muddock is a window on a different time, but not a completely different time. Is Ulmer Winterbock of today available in Davos? I wonder…