Historic Beer Birthday: Max Delbrück

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Today is the birthday of Max Emil Julius Delbrück (June 16, 1850-May 4, 1919). He was a German chemist who spent most of his career exploring the fermentation sciences.

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His Wikipedia entry is short:

Delbrück was born in Bergen auf Rügen. He studied chemistry in Berlin and in Greifswald. In 1872 he was made assistant at the Academy of Trades in Berlin; in 1887 he was appointed instructor at the Agricultural College, and in 1899 was given a full professorship. The researches, carried out in part by Delbrück himself, in part under his guidance, resulted in technical contributions of the highest value to the fermentation industries. He was one of the editors of the Zeitschrift für Spiritusindustrie (1867), and of the Wochenschrift für Brauerei. He died in Berlin, aged 68.

And here’s his entry from Today in Science:

Max Emil Julius Delbrück was a German chemist who spent a forty-five year career leading development in the fermentation industry. He established a school for distillation workers, a glass factory for the manufacture of reliable apparatus and instruments, and an experimental distillery. Giving attention to the raw resources, he founded teaching and experimental institutions to improve cultivation of potatoes and hops. He researched physiology of yeast and application in the process of fermentation, production of pure cultures, and the action of enzymes. He started the journals Zeitschrift fur Spiritus-Industrie (1867) and Wochenschrift für Brauerei, for the alcohol and brewery industries, which he co-edited.

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Over the years, I’ve found a few great Delbrück quotes:

Yeast is a machine.

          — Max Delbrück, from an 1884 lecture

With the sword of science and the armor of Practice, German beer will encircle the world.

          — Max Delbrück, from an address about yeast and fermentation in the
               brewery, to the German Brewing Congress as Director of the Experimental
               and Teaching Institute for Brewing in Berlin, June 1884

Delbruck-memorial

Historic Beer Birthday: Eduard Buchner

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Today is the birthday of Eduard Buchner (May 20, 1860-August 13, 1917). Buchner was a German chemist and zymologist, and was awarded with Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1907 for his work on fermentation.

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This is a short biography from The Famous People:

Born into an educationally distinguished family, Buchner lost his father when he was barely eleven years old. His elder brother, Hans Buchner, helped him to get good education. However, financial crisis forced Eduard to give up his studies for a temporary phase and he spent this period working in preserving and canning factory. Later, he resumed his education under well-known scientists and very soon received his doctorate degree. He then began working on chemical fermentation. However, his experience at the canning factory did not really go waste. Many years later while working with his brother at the Hygiene Institute at Munich he remembered how juices were preserved by adding sugar to it and so to preserve the protein extract from the yeast cells, he added a concentrated doze of sucrose to it. What followed is history. Sugar in the presence of enzymes in the yeast broke into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Later he identified the enzyme as zymase. This chance discovery not only brought him Nobel Prize in Chemistry, but also brought about a revolution in the field of biochemistry.

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Eduard Buchner is best remembered for his discovery of zymase, an enzyme mixture that promotes cell free fermentation. However, it was a chance discovery. He was then working in his brother’s laboratory in Munich trying to produce yeast cell free extracts, which the latter wanted to use in an application for immunology.

To preserve the protein in the yeast cells, Eduard Buchner added concentrated sucrose to it. Bubbles began to form soon enough. He realized that presence of enzymes in the yeast has broken down sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Later, he identified this enzyme as zymase and showed that it can be extracted from yeast cells. This single discovery laid the foundation of modern biochemistry.

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One of the most important aspects of his discovery proving that extracts from yeast cells could elicit fermentation is that it “contradicted a claim by Louis Pasteur that fermentation was an ‘expression of life’ and could occur only in living cells. Pasteur’s claim had put a decades-long brake on progress in fermentation research, according to an introductory speech at Buchner’s Nobel presentation. With Buchner’s results, “hitherto inaccessible territories have now been brought into the field of chemical research, and vast new prospects have been opened up to chemical science.”

In his studies, Buchner gathered liquid from crushed yeast cells. Then he demonstrated that components of the liquid, which he referred to as “zymases,” could independently produce alcohol in the presence of sugar. “Careful investigations have shown that the formation of carbon dioxide is accompanied by that of alcohol, and indeed in just the same proportions as in fermentation with live yeast,” Buchner noted in his Nobel speech.

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This is a fuller biography from the Nobel Prize organization:

Eduard Buchner was born in Munich on May 20, 1860, the son of Dr. Ernst Buchner, Professor Extraordinary of Forensic Medicine and physician at the University, and Friederike née Martin.

He was originally destined for a commercial career but, after the early death of his father in 1872, his older brother Hans, ten years his senior, made it possible for him to take a more general education. He matriculated at the Grammar School in his birth-place and after a short period of study at the Munich Polytechnic in the chemical laboratory of E. Erlenmeyer senior, he started work in a preserve and canning factory, with which he later moved to Mombach on Mainz.

The problems of chemistry had greatly attracted him at the Polytechnic and in 1884 he turned afresh to new studies in pure science, mainly in chemistry with Adolf von Baeyer and in botany with Professor C. von Naegeli at the Botanic Institute, Munich.

It was at the latter, where he studied under the special supervision of his brother Hans (who later became well-known as a bacteriologist), that his first publication, Der Einfluss des Sauerstoffs auf Gärungen (The influence of oxygen on fermentations) saw the light in 1885. In the course of his research in organic chemistry he received special assistance and stimulation from T. Curtius and H. von Pechmann, who were assistants in the laboratory in those days.

The Lamont Scholarship awarded by the Philosophical Faculty for three years made it possible for him to continue his studies.

After one term in Erlangen in the laboratory of Otto Fischer, where meanwhile Curtius had been appointed director of the analytical department, he took his doctor’s degree in the University of Munich in 1888. The following year saw his appointment as Assistant Lecturer in the organic laboratory of A. von Baeyer, and in 1891 Lecturer at the University.

By means of a special monetary grant from von Baeyer, it was possible for Buchner to establish a small laboratory for the chemistry of fermentation and to give lectures and perform experiments on chemical fermentations. In 1893 the first experiments were made on the rupture of yeast cells; but because the Board of the Laboratory was of the opinion that “nothing will be achieved by this” – the grinding of the yeast cells had already been described during the past 40 years, which latter statement was confirmed by accurate study of the literature – the studies on the contents of yeast cells were set aside for three years.

In the autumn of 1893 Buchner took over the supervision of the analytical department in T. Curtius’ laboratory in the University of Kiel and established himself there, being granted the title of Professor in 1895.

In 1896 he was called as Professor Extraordinary for Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the chemical laboratory of H. von Pechmann at the University of Tübingen.

During the autumn vacation in the same year his researches into the contents of the yeast cell were successfully recommenced in the Hygienic Institute in Munich, where his brother was on the Board of Directors. He was now able to work on a larger scale as the necessary facilities and funds were available.

On January 9, 1897, it was possible to send his first paper, Über alkoholische Gärung ohne Hefezellen (On alcoholic fermentation without yeast cells), to the editors of the Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft.

In October, 1898, he was appointed to the Chair of General Chemistry in the Agricultural College in Berlin and he also held lectureships on agricultural chemistry and agricultural chemical experiments as well as on the fermentation questions of the sugar industry. In order to obtain adequate assistance for scientific research, and to be able to fully train his assistants himself, he became habilitated at the University of Berlin in 1900.

In 1909 he was transferred to the University of Breslau and from there, in 1911, to Würzburg. The results of Buchner’s discoveries on the alcoholic fermentation of sugar were set forth in the book Die Zymasegärung (Zymosis), 1903, in collaboration with his brother Professor Hans Buchner and Martin Hahn. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907 for his biochemical investigations and his discovery of non-cellular fermentation.

Buchner married Lotte Stahl in 1900. When serving as a major in a field hospital at Folkschani in Roumania, he was wounded on August 3, 1917. Of these wounds received in action at the front, he died on the 13th of the same month.

Chemistry-1907-Buchner

Beer Birthday: Sabine Weyermann

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Today is the 58th birthday of Sabine Weyermann, co-owner of Weyermann Malting in Bamberg, Germany. If you’ve visited any of the Craft Brewers Conferences, you’ve no doubt seen the bright yellow and red of the specialty malting company, which is sold in the U.S. by the Brewers Supply Group. Sabine’s family began the Weyermann Malt company in 1879, although she can trace her family back at least as far as 1510. She’s an amazing person, and her malt has helped fuel many a small and large brewery. Join me in wishing Sabine a very happy birthday.

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Sabine giving a presentation at their offices in Bamberg when I visited there in 2007.

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Sabine and her husband Thomas Kraus-Weyermann at CBC in San Diego, 2012.

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You can see the Weyermann Malting Brewer’s Star that Weyermann’s starting making at the top of my home office/guest house, which we call “The Brewhouse.”

Historic Beer Birthday: John Schneider

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Today is the birthday of John Schneider (May 16, 1833-February 28, 1907). Schneider was born in Bavaria, and made his way to America in 1852. He settled initially in Cleveland, and worked all of his life as a journeyman brewer around Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Late in life he became “a stockholder in the Standard Brewing Co.” of Cleveland, and was named director and 2nd president.

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Brewery History has reprinted an autobiography Schneider wrote around 1904 and it’s an interesting read.

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The Standard Brewing Co. of Cleveland, Ohio

Peared Creation also has a nice history of the Standard Brewing Co., which was founded in 1904, when Schnedier began his association with the brewery.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Moerlein

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Today is the birthday of Christian Moerlein (May 13, 1818-May 14, 1897). Moerlein was born in Bavaria, and came to America around 1840, establishing the Christian Moerlein Brewery in 1853.

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Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Brewer. Born in Truppach, Bayreuth, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1841 settling in Cincinnati, Ohio a year later. Christian married his first wife Sophia Adam in 1843 and had three children with her. After losing Sophia and 2 of those children to the cholera epidemics of the time, he married his second wife Barbara Oeh in 1849 and had another 9 children. In 1853 Moerlein established a brewery bearing his name in Cincinnati and became the most prominent brewer in that city. The brewery became one of the largest in the country and remained in operation until Prohibition. Today a line of beer is again being marketed under his name.

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Here’s what the early 20th century book “One Hundred Years of Brewing” wrote about Christian Moerlein:

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Digging Cincinnati History has a nice post about where all the Moerlein buildings are today, along with some history of the brewery. In 2004, local resident Greg Hardman bought the Christian Moerlein brand and continues to operate it as Christian Moerlein lagers & Ales, and also opened the Moerlein Lager House, where they serve food and house beers.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Best

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Best (May 1, 1786-February 26, 1861). Best founded the brewery that eventually became Pabst Brewing Co., with his four sons in 1844. The Best family’s business was originally called “The Empire Brewery,” and then as the “Jacob Best & Sons Brewery” until 1859 when Phillip Best took over the firm and renamed it the “Phillip Best Brewing Company.” Upon Phillip’s retirement Frederick Pabst and Emil Schandein became the company’s president and vice-president in the mid-1860s and the brewery’s name was amended to Phillip Best & Company. After Schandein died, the company was renamed the Pabst Brewing Company in 1889.

jacob-best

Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Business Magnate. Jacob Best learned the brewer’s trade in his hometown of Hesse Darnstadt, Germany, and then moved on to operate a small brewery in Mattenheim. In 1840, two of Best’s four sons immigrated to America, settling in the Kilbourntown section of Milwaukee. They were joined by Jacob Best, his two younger sons and other family members in 1844. With his sons, Jacob Best opened the Empire Brewery producing lager beer, whiskey and vinegar. As demand increased of light lager beer, the firm changed its name to Best & Company. Retiring in 1853, Jacob Best transferred ownership to Lorenz and Phillip. After 1860, Phillip assumed sole control of the brewery which became the Pabst Brewing Company. While retired, Jacob Best held local political offices, first as a ward assessor and the school commissioner. He remained active until his death.

best-jacob

Immigrant Entrepreneurship has a lengthy article about the Bests, centered around Frederick Pabst, but with background that includes Jacob Best:

In 1844, Phillip Best (born September 26, 1814, in Mettenheim, Grand Duchy of Hesse; died July 17, 1869, in Altenglan, Kingdom of Bavaria), together with his father and three brothers, opened the Jacob Best & Sons Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Twenty years later, Phillip’s son-in-law Frederick Pabst (born March 28, 1836, in Nikolausrieth, Kingdom of Prussia; died January 1, 1904, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) joined the company and helped to transform it into the nation’s leading beer producer – first in 1874 and then again in 1879, a position that was maintained until the turn of the twentieth century. As the company’s president, the former ship captain led the firm through a remarkable period of growth and the Pabst Brewing Company (as it came to be called from 1889 onwards) became the epitome of a successful national shipping brewery. Pabst not only contributed to the firm’s (and Milwaukee’s) economic growth, he also left a permanent cultural and social mark both on the German-American community and on the public at large. A decade after the height of his success, Pabst died on New Year’s Eve of 1904, passing on his commercial and cultural legacy to his sons.

The Best family’s relocation from Mettenheim to Milwaukee went relatively smoothly. After spending a few weeks in the summer of 1844 looking for a suitable location, Jacob Sr. purchased two lots on Chestnut Street (today West Juneau Avenue) on September 10 and founded the Empire Brewery. Jacob Sr.’s sons, Charles and Lorenz, soon went on to establish independent brewing ventures, so Jacob Sr. formed a new partnership with his other two sons, Phillip and Jacob Jr., in 1851, which stayed in place until Jacob Sr. retired two years later. After several arguments about the expansion of the firm, Jacob Jr. sold out to Phillip on October 1, 1859, who continued the business as its sole proprietor under the name of the Phillip Best Brewing Company.

In its inaugural year, the Best brewery produced 300 barrels (one barrel equaling 31 US gallons). The firm initially produced ale and porter, but added German-style lager on February 22, 1845. In 1847, Phillip reported in a letter to his wife’s family that the business was developing well and selling 28-30 barrels of beer weekly for $4.50 per barrel ($5 if delivered). The brewery owned three horses for the malt grinding mill, as well as for deliveries in the city and county, and planned to buy another. By 1850, the company’s 2,500-barrel annual production classified it as a medium-sized producer, ranking fourth out of the twelve largest reported breweries in Wisconsin.

As production increased, the company acquired and built new facilities. In 1850, the family purchased a lot on Market Street between Biddle and Martin Streets (today East Kilbourn Avenue and East State Street). Five years later, the company built a new brick house on Market Street with a beer hall on the ground floor, and in 1857 it erected a new main brewery on the north side of Chestnut Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets with large storage cellars. The Milwaukee Sentinel reported on October 9, 1857, that the brewery had the “deepest cellars in the city” and it may be seen from almost any part of the city. The building is a fine looking one, and were it not for a life-sized figure of a sturdy Teuton which is perched on top, in the act of sipping a glass of lager, one would never suspect its being a brewery. It has much more the appearance of a public building of some sort.

The article went on to explain that demand for Best beer was not only “constantly increasing” locally but also across the whole nation: “Everybody has tasted Best’s beer, and it’s very generally acknowledged to be the best in the country.” Although the article certainly exaggerated the national impact of Best’s beer at mid-century, the company had begun to sell their brands outside Wisconsin in the early 1850s when it established a sales office in Chicago, Illinois. While Milwaukee and the surrounding region provided the main market for Best products throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, this early effort to serve the national and – beginning in the 1860s – international market was a distinctive feature of the company’s development.

Best’s production and profits increased during the nationwide economic boom of the 1850s, but the panic of 1857 and the economic disruption of the Civil War slowed the firm’s growth rate. At the height of its early prosperity in 1857, the brewery employed steam power to produce nearly 40,000 barrels a year and was valued at $50,000 (approximately $1.4 million in 2014$). It employed eight men and used ten horses for delivery. Not until after the Civil War would these production levels be reached again. But as the expansion of the family business began to stall, Phillip made his two sons-in-law, Frederick Pabst and Emil Schandein, equal partners in 1864 and 1866 – a decision which turned out to have a lasting impact on the future development of the company.

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The Best’s brewery in 1880, a few years after Jacob died and it became the Philip Best Brewing Co.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Gustav Hodel

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Today is the birthday of Gustav Hodel (April 30, 1875-July 3, 1966). Hodel was born in Emmendingen, Baden, Germany, the youngest of seven. His father, Christian Hodel, owned the local Hodel Brewery. One of his brother’s emigrated to America and became a maltser in Nebraska, then another brother came and became a brewer, and eventually so did Gustav, who everybody called “Gus.” He started in one brother’s brewery in Galena, Illinois but struck out on his own and either owned or worked for a number of different breweries over the course of a 56-year career in beer. He retired in 1946 to Santa Cruz, California to be closer to his daughters, where he remained until his death in 1966.

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Brewery Gems has a great account of Hodel’s life, apparently with considerable help from Gus Hodel’s grandson, William “Bill” Whetton. And given that it’s the only source I could find, your best bet it to just go read it there.

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Billings Brewing Co. in Montana, just one of many where Hodel worked.

500th Anniversary Of The Reinheitsgebot

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It’s hard to believe it’s been 500 years since Bavaria signed what’s considered the first food purity law, the Reinheitsgebot, also known as the Bavarian Beer Purity Law, and later the German Beer Purity Law. That’s because in 1516, when the law was decreed, Germany did not yet exist, and wouldn’t for nearly 300 years, with the formation of the German Confederation in 1815, longer if you go by the German Empire, founded in 1871. Modern Germany consists of sixteen federal states, called Bundesländers, of which Bavaria is one.
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And it was in Bavarian town of Ingolstadt on April 23, 1516, that William IV, Duke of Bavaria wrote and signed the law, along with his younger brother Louis X, Duke of Bavaria. That 1516 law was itself a variation of earlier laws, at least as early as 1447 and another in independent Munich in 1487. When Bavaria reunited, the new Reinheitsgebot applied to the entirety of the Bavarian duchy. It didn’t apply to all of Germany until 1906, and it wasn’t referred to as the Reinheitsgebot until 1918, when it was coined by a member of the Bavarian parliament. But while today most people think of it as all about food purity, that was in reality only a small part of it, and probably not even the most important.

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Here’s a translation of the Reinheitsgebot, from a 1993 issue of Zymurgy:

We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces, the following rules apply to the sale of beer:

From Michaelmas to Georgi [St. George’s Day], the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf [bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and

From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller [Heller usually one-half Pfennig].

If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered.

Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass.

Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.

Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass or the Kopf, than mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), WE, the Bavarian Duchy, shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned.

Notice that the first two decrees have to do with pricing and when beer can be sold. It isn’t until paragraph six, the second last one, that the issue of what ingredients will be allowed comes up. If it had been the most important part, is seems more likely they would have led with it. Even then, it wasn’t about purity, but again commerce. Barley was designated as the only grain so that others, notably wheat and rye, were set aside to be used for baking bread.

Also, a lot of hay has been made about it not mentioning yeast, with the idea that it was because yeast wasn’t discovered until Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. But early brewers did know something about yeast, even if they didn’t have the full scientific understanding that came later. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to make consistent batches of beer. At the end of your brew, you’ll find a layer of billowing foam and other indeterminate matter at the bottom of the fermenter, which the Germans called “Zeug,” which means “stuff.” And early German brewers had a person, called a “hefener,” whose job it was to scoop out the Zeug, which was in effect the leftover yeast, and pitch it in the next batch of beer. So it’s hard to say they didn’t have some understanding of yeast.

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A German postage stamp celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot in 1983.

The Germans, of course, have set up a website for the 500th anniversary, and so does the Bayerischer Brauerbund, which is a a Bavarian brewers trade group along with the German Brewers Group. They also created a 50-second film marking the anniversary.

And the media is covering the Reinheitsgebot’s Quincentenary. A few examples include the BBC, Food and Wine, NPR, Spiegel, and Wired. But by far the most thorough examination of the Reinheitsgebot was by Jeff Alworth in All About Beer magazine, Attempting to Understand the Reinheitsgebot.

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It’s great that it’s been 500 years, and that German brewers are justly proud of the Reinheitsgebot. It’s clearly helped create the unique German beer scene and their many native styles. But it’s also been used as a shameless marketing tool, been used as an exclusionary tactic, and has even had little-known exceptions to its rules for years, ones that most people are not even aware of, not to mention the use of other items in the brewing process that are also not mentioned by the law, but which because they’re not strictly “ingredients” more modern brewers have interpreted as not being prohibited.

Many people have voiced criticisms against it over the years. One that’s particularly thorough is The German Reinheitsgebot — Why it’s a Load of Old Bollocks. The German magazine Spiegel’s recent coverage is entitled Attacking Beer Purity: The Twilight of Germany’s Reinheitsgebot.

Back in 2001, Fred Eckhardt wrote an entertaining tale for All About Beer entitled The Spy who Saved the Reinheitsgebot, about how a brewer was able to prove Beck’s was using adjuncts and was not in adherence with the German law.

In another recent article in First We Feast, Sam Calagione, of the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, is quoted with an opinion I suspect many American brewers hold. “I hate the concept of the Reinheitsgebot, but I am essentially happy it exists.”

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Deutsche Post’s 2016 commemorative stamp.

Historic Beer Birthday: Edward W. Voigt

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Today is the birthday of Edward W. Voigt (April 5, 1844-May 14, 1920). His father was a brewer who founded a brewery, and also trained his son, and sent him to brewing school. He worke din other breweries and in completely different businesses, but eventually worked with his father and ran the family brewery, the Voigt Brewery, in Detroit, Michigan.

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Here’s a thorough biography by Burton (though I confess I don’t know who Burton might be):

EDWARD W. VOIGT was an outstanding figure in connection with the development of Detroit, where for more than fifty-five years he was identified with the city’s business interests. Mr. Voigt was born in Daebeln, Saxony, Germany, April 5, 1844, a son of Carl William and Pauline (Beck) Voigt, the latter of whom died in Germany. The father married again in that country and with his wife and only son, Edward W., sailed from Hamburg for Liverpool, England, the latter part of May, 1854. At the latter port they embarked on the ship Malabar and reached New York on the 1st of August. An epidemic of cholera was then raging in New York and, moreover, the father was not in robust health as a result of conditions which he had experienced during the ocean voyage. It seemed better that they leave New York at once, which they did, and went to College Paint, Long Island. When the father had sufficiently recovered to travel they went west, stopping in Toledo, Chicago and Milwaukee, but remained in those cities only a short time, after which they journeyed an to Madison, Wisconsin. In the latter city Carl William Voigt established a small ale brewery, which was converted into a lager beer brewery in 1857, and this business he conducted until 1863, when he removed to Milwaukee, where he soon afterward purchased the schooner Columbian that plied the lakes between Chicago and Buffalo in the grain trade. In 1864 Carl William Voigt removed to Detroit, retaining his vessel interest until December, 1865, when he disposed of same. It was really his intention at this time to return to Germany, but rumors of the possibility of war between that country and France caused him to defer the trip. In 1866 he established a brewery in Detroit and continued to conduct this until 1871, when he leased the plant to his son, Edward W., and returned to Germany, where he engaged in the milling business until his death in that country in 1889. Edward W. Voigt was about ten years of age when his parents brought him to America. His first schooling was received in his native land and after coming to this country he attended the public schools of Madison, Wisconsin, also a business college and for one term was a student at the University of Wisconsin. He had from boyhood worked in his father’s brewery at different periods and early in life had acquired a practical knowledge of the business. In those days it was impossible to brew lager beer during the summer months owing to the lack of familiarity with the theory of refrigeration, so that during those periods of inactivity Edward W. Voigt was able to attend classes. When the weather became cooler, so that the manufacture of beer could be resumed, he again took his place as a brewer in his father’s plant.

After his father disposed of the brewery at Madison in the fall of 1863, Edward W. Voigt concluded he would go to California and try his fortune in that new country. He went by the Isthmus of Panama but on reaching San Francisco found that work as a brewer was difficult to secure. He could not afford to remain idle indefinitely, so shipped before the mast on the barkentine Monitor, plying between San Francisco and north Pacific coast cities. Wages were law and the work not the most desirable. In writing home to his Vol. II-3 parents he had mentioned the character of his employment and his father replied that if Edward W. Voigt wanted to be a sailor he should come back home, as the father had bought the schooner Columbian. Edward W. Voigt returned east, again by the Isthmus route, and took the position of second mate on his father’s schooner. This was during the latter part of 1864. During the winter of 1864-65 Edward W. Voigt studied navigation in Boston, thus equipping himself to command his father’s schooner, and during the season of 1865 he was captain of the vessel, which was sold in December, 1865.

The following year Edward W. Voigt entered the employ of his father in the brewery which the latter had established in Detroit and continued in that capacity until 1871. At this time his father decided to return to Germany, so that the brewery equipment was disposed of to the son, who rented the plant for a term of four years, later renewing the lease for five more years. This was a downright business transaction and the fact that the father and only child were the principals made no difference whatever in the terms of the deal. The son had practically no capital at all and the father was secured by chattel mortgage on the stock and equipment. This was Edward W. Voigt’s beginning in business for himself and at a time when competition was keen, as there were no less than thirty plants in the ale and lager beer line in Detroit, but he was young, energetic and a hustler. Under his management the business began to grow from the very start and before long he was on the rapid road to success, so that in 1882 he purchased outright the entire interest of his father. The high class product that he turned out soon became one of the most popular in the city and the capacity of his brewery grew from three thousand barrels annually to more than forty-three thousand barrels, which was then a larger production than that of any brewery in the state. Mr. Voigt continued the business as sole owner and under his personal management until 1889, when he sold out to an English syndicate, retaining, however, a substantial interest in the new organization. In 1895 he bought back the business and organized the Voigt Brewery Company, of which he became president, and remained as such until the business was closed out on May 1, 1918, as a result of prohibition. Subsequently the plant passed into the hands of the Voigt Beverage Company, which now owns the plant.

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While Mr. Voigt was a most successful brewery operator and one of the most prominent men in that industry in Detroit, his activities in other lines were big and valuable factors in the city’s growth. As his business became profitable and his means began to accumulate, he invested in numerous projects that not only brought personal gain but great public benefit as well. He was one of the founders of the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit in 1886, in which undertaking he was associated with James Scripps, George Peck, Simon J. Murphy and several others. This company had a capital of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and for fifteen years Mr. Voigt was its vice president. It proved a profitable project from its inception and led to Mr. Voigt’s further connection with various public utilities. He helped in establishing branches of the Edison Illuminating Company at Grand Rapids, Jackson, Sault Ste. Marie and Petoskey, Michigan. Mr. Voigt was formerly the owner of a tract of about one hundred and fifty acres of land on Woodward avenue four miles from the city’s center that he operated as a farm for a number of years. Then as the city began to expand he developed the property into the Voigt Park subdivision, which was laid out in the ’90s. In connection with that project he donated the present Voigt Park to the city. He laid out Boston and Chicago boulevards, as well as Atkinson, Edison, Longfellow and Calvert avenues and Glynn Court, comprising some of the best residential property in the city. Years ago Mr. Voigt purchased what was then known as Moores Bay, a tract of land of about fourteen acres at the foot of Twenty-fourth street, which was covered by six feet of water. This was filled in to the harbor line after nearly forty years of effort and was transformed into a valuable property. In 1919 the same was condemned by the city for dockage purposes. He was an extensive owner of central property and his city realty included his residence on Second boulevard and Cass Park, which was completed in 1886 and was his home until his death. This fine old mansion was built in the days when every detail of material and construction was most carefully considered and everywhere gives evidence of the thorough manner in which such work was done. Mr. Voigt was also one of the founders of the Port Huron Sulphite & Paper Company, which was organized in 1888 and of which he was the president until his death. In 1898-1900 he built the North Western Electric Railway out Grand River road to Northville, Orchard Lake and Pontiac, which is a great feeder now to Detroit and is controlled by the Detroit United Railway. He was likewise the president of the bridge company that built the large bridge between Grosse Ile and Wyandotte in 1912. This bridge connected his large tract of valuable land with the mainland. He was also the president of the Miles Theatre Company. He readily recognized and utilized business opportunities and as the years passed by developed his interests to extensive proportions.

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In April, 1871, Mr. Voigt was married to Miss Bertha Dramburg, of Detroit, and they became the parents of four children: Augusta L. and Pauline M., both living at home; Anna Elsa, who is now Mrs. Otto Reinvaldt, of Detroit, and has three daughters; and one son, William F., who married Miss Caroline Halloran, of Detroit, by whom he has a son, Edward W. (II), and two daughters. William F. Voigt, who is the second of the family, and Otto Reinvaldt, his son in-law, were far a number of years associated with the father in business, largely looking after the Voigt interests. Mrs. Bertha (Dramburg) Voigt died in 1890 and for his second wife Mr. Voigt married in 1892 Miss Marion Randall, of Detroit, who passed away in December, 1911. There were no children by this marriage.

Years ago Henry Ford was in the employ of Mr. Voigt for a period of nine years as chief engineer of the Edison Illuminating Company. After prohibition went into effect the Voigt Brewery Company ceased to operate, but the outside interests of Mr. Voigt were extensive and important and made full claim upon his time and energy. In early manhood Mr. Voigt was a democrat, but the party’s stand upon the subject of free trade made him change his allegiance to the republican party, of which he became a warm supporter. He belonged to the Harmonie Society, to the Elks lodge and to the New Grosse Ile Golf Club. Mr. Voigt was one of the original founders of the Detroit Museum of Art. His success came from his own efforts and for many years he was included among Detroit’s strong, substantial business men. He was an unusually well preserved man for one of his years and took a keen interest in everything that pertained to the civic welfare and advancement of Detroit. His contributions to the development of the city were of a most substantial character, making him one of the foremost business men of Michigan’s metropolis. His death occurred May 14, 1920.

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Telling the Stories of Detroit Parks also tells Voigt’s story:

As a landowner, he turned his 150 acre farm off Woodward into Voigt Park Subdivision in the 1890’s. We can thank him for Boston Boulevard, Chicago Boulevard as well as several of the surrounding streets west of Woodward.

Raised in Germany, he traveled to America with his folks Carl William and Pauline in 1854 on the trans-Atlantic ship, the Malabar. The trio crisscrossed the Midwest settling in Madison, Wisconsin where his father started the Capitol Steam Brewery. Edward began his education and attended the University of Wisconsin. He achieved the status of Brew Master at age 17. In 1864, the family brewery was sold to Carl Hausmann, a local WI ale competitor. William Voigt moved to Detroit to start a new brewery; his son Edward went on an adventure to California. The Detroit Voigt Brewery was built on Grand River at High Street [today this is around Grand River and I-75 area). Eventually, its 150 ft. chimney would grace the Detroit skyline.

Edward did an apprenticeship as a sailor and became captain of his father’s schooner – the Columbian; a short-lived adventure running the Great Lakes. Father and son would reunite in Detroit in 1871. Nothing was handed to Edward. He rented the Detroit brewery from his father who moved back to Europe. His energy and work ethic resulted in the ability to purchase the entire brewery operation from Carl in 1882. In 1893, his Rheingold beer earned 4 medals in the Chicago World’s Fair.

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In 1889, British investors took great interest in purchasing or leasing American brewing facilities. Brewers such as the Stroh family and Anheuser Busch were vocally opposed to this practice. Edward Voigt negotiated the lease of his brewery for the period of 1890-1897. At the end of the contract, he received his business back but without a clean title. He enacted foreclosure proceedings to clear the title and stood in front of the old Detroit city hall to rebid on his business at auction. His creative business practices increased his fortune. He amassed extensive land holdings and was a principal founder of the Edison Illuminating Company which employed Henry Ford.

Around 1902, Voigt donated a rectangular parcel of land at 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Longfellow and Edison Avenues to the city on the condition it would be converted to a park and named for him.

Edward Voigt died at home on May 14, 1920 of a stroke. In 1922, the Voigt estate sold the brewery to a demolition firm who pulled down the chimney with a chain and a truck. The tumbling brick marked the end of Voigt reign in Detroit and the beginning of prohibition.

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He was also very involved in the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge. There’s quite a bit more at Find a Grave, not for him, but for his first wife, Bertha Dramburg Voigt, who believe it or not was the family maid.

Historic Beer Birthday: Michael Brand

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Today is the birthday of Michael Brand (March 23, 1826-October 26, 1897). Born in Gau-Odernheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, he was trained as a brewer and came to America and became a partner with Valentine Busch in 1852 and Busch and Brand Brewery continued until Busch passed away in 1872, when in became the Michael Brand Brewery in Chicago, Illinois, though many sources say that it was 1878 when the name change took place. In 1889, in became the United States Brewing Co., which it remained until in closed in 1955.

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Here’s a short biography from the “History of Chicago.”

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Here’s another short history of his brewery for “One Hundred Years of Brewing.”

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