Brighton, Beer, and Bavaria. Part III.

Bavarian Ale, finis

The Bavarian Ale story has developed its own momentum, with the spotlight dimming on Hallett & Abbey as such. Later, I will do a series on Hallett’s proper, as there are many interesting points. Not least: it had yet a second beer that was hardly typical of English (or other U.K.) sales lists of the time.

I’ve collected now some two dozen further citations for Bavarian Ale in the 19th century. This Part III continues the story. I’ve made an important finding viz. the beer made by Anglo-Bavarian Brewery, with other Bavarian Ale still up in the air.

I can now state conclusively that Anglo-Bavarian ale, for its part, was not a lager. A local agent’s trade ad in the November 29, 1886 issue of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney said so. It recited that Anglo-Bavarian ale was neither a Burton pale ale nor a lager:

… this is not a Burton Pale Ale, although brewed in England, nor a Lager Beer; but … has special and distinct characteristics of its own, viz — great softness and mellowness…

It went on to mention a restrained carbonation, so in this sense hardly lager-like. Another characteristic was a light, silky quality, and good clarity – more a lager characteristic. Read on, in the source.

That clarifies matters for that brewery as of 1886. We saw in Part I that three years later, another ad in Australia for Anglo-Bavarian described the beer as lager. Well, either that was puffery, or possibly Anglo-Bavarian later introduced a true lager.

While the finding for 1886 is suggestive of the answer for the other breweries, this is not dispositive. So let’s see what else there is for the broader picture.

An 1885 American temperance tract in the Bioletti Pamphlets stated that “lager or Bavarian ale” was preferred by German-Americans, while Irish-Americans favoured whiskey and rum. Setting off lager from Bavarian ale suggests the latter was not a true lager, but it’s not really clear.

On Twitter, members of the beer historical circle, Liam from Ireland (@beerfoodtravel) and Lost Lagers from the U.S. (@lostlagers), provided useful citations.

Beamish & Crawford in Ireland as Liam showed were producing “Bavarian” brown and pale stouts in 1844. The pale sounds quite similar to Hallett’s Bavarian Ale. Pale stout meant a pale, strongish beer, close enough functionally to Hallett’s version in my view.

Lost Lagers (Mike Stein’s) reference, a 1849 news mention of an American beerhall Bavarian ale, focused on the all-malt construction. The formulation suggests a Munich lager contour, but again clarity eludes.

It turns out Bavarian Ale was a kind of world citizen, not on the scale we see today for I.P.A., but perhaps like the New England subset, the cloudy-fruity type.

Bavarian Ale turned up in Dybeck, Sweden; Dedham, Mass.; Paris, France; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Denmark. Per a World Exposition catalogue of 1873 the Swedish article was dubbed Dybeck Bavarian Ale.

The Reykjavik beer actually hailed from Denmark. In the 1861 travel memoir The Oxonian in Iceland Frederick Metcalfe described it as “Bayersk öl (Bavarian ale)”. He contrasted it favourably to beer made in Iceland itself.

In 1857 numerous American newspapers, including in Indianapolis, reported the rise of Bavarian Ale in Paris, terming it “a sort of lager“.

Bavarian ale, a sort of lager, has become the favorite Parisian tipple.

“Sort of lager” doesn’t get us too far, this can be likened to the Anglo-Bavarian non-lager mentioned above.

I’ll leave the matter with a news item from Mass., U.S.A. in 1854, viz. a court case originating in Dedham in the state. It had to do with whether Bavarian Ale was intoxicating. There is a lager beer undertone to the case, although lager is not mentioned, as in this period Americans were unsure whether the recently introduced lager had the power to inebriate.

The reporter wrote:

… Bavarian ale … what that was no one seemed to know.

An apt epitaph for the subject, seemingly.

Still, despite the implausibility of a Hallett & Abbey brewing lager in Brighton in 1864, I can’t exclude the possibility. This is especially so given the lager-like description of Bavarian Ale by two mid-century technical writers, Loftus and Francis, as mentioned in Part II.

I may revisit this whole subject for scholarly publication.

Meanwhile, I have visions of spiny squarish gurnards gently roasting on long ranks of iron trellis at the Anglo-Bavarian Beerhall, Munich, Germany. It never existed, to be sure, but is lodged immutably in my imagination. Do forgive me.




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