Max Wallerstein, American Brewing Scientist

The Wallersteins, And Notes on English Brewing

I have mentioned the careers of influential early American brewing scientists Anton Schwarz, John Siebel, Max Henius, and Robert Wahl. To this group must be added Dr. Max Wallerstein who with his brother Leo ran Wallerstein Laboratories in New York from about 1900. The business continued until the 1960s as far as we can determine.

Max died at 62 in 1937, Leo in his 70s in 1957. Many scientific studies were published by their company, dealing with brewing principally and also other areas of food and beverage technology.

As it happens, the Wallersteins were yet further examples of Jews from Europe who distinguished themselves in this field in America. They were born in Fuerth, Bavaria, see this link and this one for more detail and images of Max and Leo, respectively.

Of the six important scientists mentioned, four were Jewish, Schwarz and Henius were the others. We find this of interest simply as a social datum, and because Jews were relatively rare in brewing in the 1800s – 1900s.

They did, however, make a mark in America in brewing science.

As an example of his activities, Max filed a patent before WW I for perfecting the use of calcium sulphate in brewing (Burtonization), see details here.

He also assisted the brewing industry on the problem of ensuring clarity for bottled beer, a preoccupation of U.S. brewers in the first part of the 1900s.

Max delivered a lengthy presentation, published in the 1904-1907 Transactions of the American Brewing Institute, Vol. 3, on English brewing methods. This followed a trip to Britain to study the topic. His careful citation and summaries of technical data on brewing materials, malting, mashing, the kettle, and fermentation are well worth pondering. Gaps are filled in or confirmations provided on numerous questions of interest to brewing historians.

Just a few points here:

– porter was still using some “oak-smoked” malt, the context makes it clear this was brown malt

– anthracite, and some coke, were used to dry pale malt

–  sparging was in general use

–  hops were generally added twice during the boil, at the beginning and then within an hour before the end

–  the Burton Union system was retained partly because beer flavour was considered superior, and this was due to reduced atmospheric impact on the beer

–  sugar was in general use, it did not exceed 25% and often was held to 10% of the total extract. Stout and porter production used little of this material.

His paper in general is of interest, as apart the articles in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, there aren’t many English brewing studies available between the 1890s and the 1930s, to our knowledge.

Note re image: The above image was sourced from the Internet. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner or authorized user, as applicable. Image is used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.


4 thoughts on “Max Wallerstein, American Brewing Scientist”

  1. Wallerstein Laboratory Nutrient agar and Differential agar are still widely used in brewing laboratories.

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