Tabular Data For the Pre-WW I Colour Plate of Beers

I went down to University of Toronto library and found the book, Der Mensch und die Erde, by Hans Kraemer. I believe this translates as Man and the Earth, or Soil. It covered such things as geology, mining, agriculture, forestry, textiles and industries deriving from them including brewing and distilling.

It’s a multi-volume, multi-year work. The 1908 volume had the colour plate of beers I discussed yesterday and much else including the table of analyses below for the 23 beers.

So the effective period here is 1908.

The table really speaks for itself and even with limited German makes for interesting reading. The last column is a series of brief but informative taste comments. Notable in my view are the references to a smoky or sourish quality for some beers. Lichtenhainer was said to be both. The Gose and Berliner Weisse were also noted as sourish with “salty” being applied to Gose as well.

Barclay Perkins’ porter (as termed in the table) is listed as 6.72% (ABV surely)* and rated as having a peculiar, strong bitter and being full-tasting. Bass pale ale was considered also peculiarly bitter, and “vinous”.

The two Pilsen beers had a “fine hop aroma”. Makes sense, Urquell still does.

My English renderings don’t claim perfection but that’s the tenor I think.

I can’t get the numbers quite to work though, the alcohol seems slightly understated, in particular. I’m taking the Stammwurze gravity measure as equivalent to Plato. E.g., for the porter at 21.06 P and finishing at 8.68 P I get 6.97% ABV, not 6.72%, not a huge difference, but still. Similarly the final gravities shown in the table seem too “low”.

Perhaps some difference between the Plato and Stammwurze (original gravity) measure used here explains it, or something else. Happy for those more knowledgeable to comment.

The description of Weihenstephan seems indeed to suggest it’s a lager of a piece with the other Munich beers, not a wheat beer, so thanks again to the commenters who made that point.

The beer chapter is detailed, maybe 40-50 pages, with a historical discussion leading up to present day. Interesting black and white photos are included of various brewery processes, e.g., the cellar in a Vienna brewery shown below. The only colour image I saw though was of the 23 beers.

Experts were enlisted to author all sections, mostly doktors, so Hans Kraemer was an editor, in effect, or compiler.

The thoroughness of German study and methods really comes across in this work, not just for brewing but for everything in there.


*Note added July 29, 2018: The alcohol column in fact appears to render alcohol percentage by weight, not today’s commonly-used volume measure. (Alcohol by weight, or ABW, may be converted to alcohol by volume by multiplying the number by 1.25, e.g., 4% ABW = 5% ABV, so in effect for our purposes today the alcohol column may be viewed as “understated”. Converted to ABV, for example, Pilsner Urquell’s 1908 level is about the same as today’s). See brewing historian Ron Pattinson’s remarks in the comments section below. We thank Ron, a German-speaker with great experience in analyzing historical European brewery records, for his clarifications.

11 thoughts on “Tabular Data For the Pre-WW I Colour Plate of Beers”

  1. Gary,

    the 8.68% FG is the real FG, while 1022 is the apparent FG. My spreadsheet calculates the ABW the proper way, using the OG and real FG in Plato.

    • Okay thanks. I’m well-aware of the difference between apparent and real attenuation but it didn’t occur to me that the 1022 FG and 8.68 FG numbers were calculated on the different bases. Also, when checking the numbers originally, I ran different perms and combs, one of which was (as applied to the BP) using 1088 OG and 1022 FG and checking the result in ABV and ABW and even the ABW didn’t exactly match (as you’ve noted), so I didn’t look further. But it’s much closer than assuming the Alkohol column is in ABV so that must be the answer. Unless anyone has other ideas, I’ll put an asterisk to the line of the post on alcohol level to direct them to your comments here.


      • Gary,

        the Plato FG in the table has the heading “Extract”. That means real FG. Wheres specific gravity in this context means apparent FG.

        I’ve looked at lots of these tables and you eventually work out what they mean.

        My spreadsheet calculations normally come out pretty close to the ones in these tables. But virtually never 100% the same.

  2. Ron, thanks, but using 21.06 P OG (or 1088 OG) and 8.68 P FG from the table, I get 6.97% ABV, or 1035 OG (not 1022 per the table), 59% attenuation. But 6.72% viewed as ABW, is 8.4% ABV… So what am I missing, can you explain it?


  3. Gary, I ran the OG and FG through my spreadsheet and I get 6.77% ABW and 8.59 real FG for the Barclay Perkins beer. As near as dammit the same as in the table.

    • Ron, okay but using 21.06 P OG (or 1088 OG) and 8.68 P FG from the table, I get 6.97% ABV, or 1035 OG (not 1022 per the table), 59% attenuation. But 6.72% viewed as ABW, is 8.4% ABV… So what am I missing, can you explain it?


  4. Excellent find! Horace Brown worked on gravity and alcohol calculations from 1909 to 1913 so it might well be that when this book was written the equation they were using was slightly out.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: