Liebotschaner – of Genesee, of Liebotschan. Part III.

This continues from our Part II.

It turns out there is data on Genesee’s pre-Prohibition Liebotschaner beer – the brewery has performed a service to historians by tweeting it in 2018. See details here.

The data on the Genesee label was derived, as shown on the label, from a Professor Lattimore’s study. He had been engaged in 1884 by a number of Rochester breweries to analyze their beers to parry the suggestion improper additives were used.

A newspaper report of that year in Geneva, NY contained the same information, as well as data on three other breweries’ beers, as I discussed in 2016 in an earlier post.

What the Genesee label adds though is that the data applied to Liebotschaner, not another lager brewed by Genesee. The news story accounts of the assay mention only lager, no brand names.

This is an extract from the Geneva story:



Genesee (and the others) used all-malt, no surprise given the early date and claimed inspiration of a reputed beer of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Genesee’s alcohol is over 5% ABV (volume, not by weight as shown in the study). I suspect this was higher than Liebotschaner Brewery’s Lager-Bier (sold domestically) but possibly the same as the Export presumably shipped overseas.

A Libotschan brewing sent to the 1889 Paris Exposition rated at what appears, in volume terms, just over 4% abv. The table appears in other words to state alcohol by weight, although some resultant values seem anomalous.

The Pilsen beer would translate to 4.2% abv, which seems about right if it was Urquell’s or anyone’s in fact. However, if the table shows values by volume, the Libotschan sample seems unusually weak, not necessarily for local sale but for export to America.

Sending Liebotschaner beer to exhibit among reputed brands attests to international favour for the beer, albeit never enjoying the renown of Pilsen or Budweis beers.

In the 1884 Genesee analysis, look at the final gravity. 1015 FG, making for a beer with good body. 1015 or that neighborhood was typical in that time for many central European lagers, as I’ve shown earlier from assays performed on imports in America.

Many pils-type beers of craft brewing I encounter day-in, day-out could use more extract post-fermentation. The old school knew its knitting.

Not too much about hops, but other indices of the time can help there. Genesee Liebotschaner was possibly fairly well-hopped, with a question mark as Anheuser-Busch in 1889 described its version as “delicate”.

In 1892 an advertisement in New Haven, CN touted Genesee Liebotschaner as made from “German hops” and “Canada malt”.  The hops could have been Saaz, given German culture permeated Libotschan at the time. Canadian malt, from the Bay of Quinte area in Ontario, was considered a choice product of the time.

A similar 1894 ad shows a line drawing of Genesee Liebotschaner.

By the time Louis Wehle is an employed brewer at Genesee in the second decade of the 20th century, did the brewery use rice adjunct, or corn? We know it used rice in 1935, under Louis’ stewardship as owner.

Louis in 1938 then reverted to all-malt – possibly what he brewed himself at Genesee before Prohibition. The initiative did not succeed. By late 1939 Genesee goes back to adjunct, which it has retained ever since for Genesee Beer, apart special brewings at its Rochester Brew House.

Genesee, in the 2018 Twitter thread mentioned, stated it brewed an all-malt pilsener in the Brew House that probably resembled the 1884 beer, for its 140th anniversary. I wish I could have tasted that!

Was there anything else in the 1884 Rochester beer distinctive of the Libotschan original? This is hard to say at this juncture. Maybe the yeast type, maybe something else.

Mashing regime, boiling, hop schedule, fermentation, water: any one or more might have had a distinctive feature associated with Libotschan brewing at the time.




2 thoughts on “Liebotschaner – of Genesee, of Liebotschan. Part III.”

  1. The table of alcohol contents of various beers is most likely by weight. So the Liebotschaner listed would have an ABV of 4.08%. Assuming the typical FG of the time, it was probably a 11% beer, i.e. an OG of 11° Balling. It would be interesting to know more analytical data about this beer type, but I haven’t been able to find any.


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