Tuesday’s ad is for Michelob, one of the brands created by Anheuser-Busch as a draft-only beer in 1896. It was first packaged in 1961, and its distinctive teardrop bottle won a design award the following year. But that was replaced in 1967 “for efficiency in the production line,” but reverted to a traditional bottle in 2002. This ad is from 1968, and features a half-empty mug and a half-full of beer next to it, but it’s a pretty weird ad. The text begins “There are lots of great things we could tell you about the brewing Michelob.” But then the answer is. “But we won’t.” So that was unexpected, although there’s the usual tagline “In Beer, Going First Class Is Michelob. Period.”
Archives for August 21, 2018
Today is the birthday of Christian Diehl (August 21, 1842-1928). He was born in Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany and moved to the U.S. when he was 28, in 1870, settling in Defiance, Ohio. There, Jacob Karst and Joseph Bauer hired Diehl to be the brewmaster for their Defiance Brewery, which Karst had founded in 1867. The next year, Diehl bought out Karst and the brewery became known as the Bauer & Christian Diehl Brewery. Shortly after Bauer died, and in 1885 it became the Christian Diehl Brewery and later the Christ. Diehl Brewing Co., with Diehl as sole owner. The brewery reopened after prohibition and remained in business for another twenty years, closing for good in 1955.
Here’s a portion of an article about Diehl, by Carl Miller, entitled What A Diehl! from the Defiance Crescent News.
The Legacy Begins
On October 21, 1870, a twenty-eight-year-old Christian Diehl arrived in Defiance to take a position as brewmaster at the local brewery. He had learned the art of brewing beer in his hometown of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany before emigrating to America in 1861. European-trained brewers like Christian found employment easily in mid-nineteenth century America due to the hundreds of small breweries operating throughout the east and midwest.
The young Christian Diehl took full advantage of the demand enjoyed by his profession, traveling from state to state exploring his newly adopted country. Before coming to Ohio, he worked in breweries in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Missouri. Just prior to his arrival in Defiance, he had been employed by a Toledo brewer.
The brewery which lured Christian Diehl to Defiance was established in 1867 by German immigrant Jacob Karst. Known simply as the “Defiance Brewery,” the works was situated on North Clinton street just near the Maumee River. In 1869, local saloonkeeper Joseph Bauer purchased an interest in the brewery, and it was the firm of Karst and Bauer which hired Christian as brewmaster in 1870. By the following year, Christian had accumulated resources enough to buy Karst’s share in the brewery, and the partnership of Bauer and Diehl was established. Aside from a brief participation in the business by Bauer’s son, the brewery operated basically unchanged until the passing away of Joseph Bauer in 1883. Christian, who had apparently achieved a certain degree of financial success with the brewery by this time, purchased Bauer’s interest from his family in 1885.
The Next Generation
In 1896, three of Christian’s sons — Christian Jr., John C., and Albert F. Diehl — were initiated into the brewery’s management. The young men had virtually grown up inside the brewery and each was already well acquainted with the business. Christian Jr., in fact, had shown such an early “adaptability for business” that he was put in charge of the firm’s books at age thirteen. John C. Diehl, having graduated from the American Brewing Academy in Chicago, took over his father’s post as Diehl brewmaster.
Although the elder Christian Diehl officially continued to fill the office of brewery president, he gradually relinquished control of the family business to his sons. After the turn of the century, Christian spent much of his time tending to the family farm just outside Defiance, where he died in 1928.
The young Diehls lead the brewery into what was perhaps the most prosperous period in its history. By 1899, the Diehl brewery employed 21 men and produced annually about 12,000 barrels of beer (32 gallons per barrel), a nearly five-fold increase over the brewery’s early days. And production continued to climb well into the new century.
The great majority of Diehl beer was consumed within Defiance County in the years before Prohibition. However, a small portion of the brewery’s product was shipped to outside markets. Proximity to the Maumee River provided easy transportation to, among other locations, Ft. Wayne and Toledo. The latter city was quite possibly the brewery’s largest market outside of Defiance. By 1911, sales of Diehl beer in Toledo had justified the construction of a brewery-owned distribution depot in that city. The brewery was said to have sent beer as far north as Grand Rapids before the onset of Prohibition.
Nevertheless, the Diehl brewery’s lifeblood was its local market. In fact, the brewery’s long-time feature brand of beer was named in honor of the city itself: Centennial Beer was introduced in 1894 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fort Defiance. Early bottle labels for Centennial Beer depicted General Anthony Wayne engaged in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Other early Diehl brands included Hofbrau and Diehlgold. All were advertised as being “Diehlicious.”
The Big Drought
By about 1910, it had become apparent that prohibitionist groups such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union were rapidly gaining ground in their quest to abolish the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. The Diehl brothers, having fostered significant growth and expansion of the brewery throughout the early years of the century, were now charged with guiding the family business through what promised to be uncertain times ahead.
The Diehls felt it prudent to begin investigating alternative fields of business in the event that the brewing industry suffered a fatal blow. The milk condensing business emerged as a promising option due to the surrounding farmland, the lack of local competition, and the compatibility of the brewing equipment. Christian Jr. traveled to Wisconsin to observe state-of-the-art condensories in operation and returned with a glowing account of the condition of the industry.
The Prohibition crusade, in the meantime, had reached its peak. A 1918 statewide referendum left Ohio completely dry beginning in May of 1919. And, shortly thereafter, ratification of the 18th Amendment marked the beginning of National Prohibition. Brewers nationwide scrambled to find new areas of business in hopes of being among the lucky few who survived.
Although the Diehls’ plans to enter the milk condensing business had not fully materialized by the time Prohibition came, the proposed venture had attracted a significant amount of local interest. By 1922, several investors with experience in milk condensing had been recruited, and the Defiance Dairy Products Company was soon in full operation in a portion of the old brewery. The Crescent News called the opening of the condensory “a milestone in the commercial life of Defiance.” Indeed, the milk condensory — still owned and operated by the Diehl family — is today one of the city’s largest enterprises.
Incidentally, the brewery was kept in operation well into Prohibition, making “near beer,” a de-alcoholized version of real beer. The bottling works remained active as well, packaging a wide variety of soft drinks.
And this history of the brewery is from “100 Years of Brewing:”
Today is the birthday of David Zamborski, better known to the brewing world as simply “Zambo.” He used to brew for BJs in Southern California but then number of years ago moved to San Francisco to take over the brewpub operations at 21st Amendment, where he spent several years. and later he moved to Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, where he was the Director of Brewing. Wanting to get back to his brewpub roots, Zambo’s now the brewmaster and Santa Barbara Brewing, and since we were there on vacation a few weeks ago, stopped in for a few pints and to hang out. Zambo’s doing great things there, he’s a terrific brewer, and it shows it what he’s making there. Join me wishing Zambo a very happy birthday.
At the Anchor Christmas Party a few years ago: Zambo, Rich Rosen (Pi Bar, Chenery Park), Jen Garris (Pi Bar), my wife Sarah, Lloyd Knight (21A), Dave Suurballe (everywhere), James Renfrew (formerly with Potrero Hill Brewing) and Shaun O’Sullivan (21A).
Today is the birthday of Josef Groll (August 21, 1813-November 22, 1887). He was born in Vilshofen an der Donau, Germany. Many consider the Bavarian brewer to be the inventor of pilsener beer.
Josef Groll’s portrait.
According to the Wikipedia account:
The citizens of Pilsen were no longer satisfied with their top-fermented Oberhefenbier. They publicly emptied several casks of beer in order to draw attention to its low quality and short storage life. It was decided to build a new brewery capable of producing a bottom-fermented beer with a longer storage life. At the time, this was termed a Bavarian beer, since bottom-fermentation first became popular in Bavaria and spread from there. The climate in Bohemia is similar to that in Bavaria and made it possible to store ice in winter and cool the fermentation tanks down to 4 to 9 degrees Celsius year-round, which is necessary for bottom-fermentation.
Bavarian beer had an excellent reputation, and Bavarian brewers were considered the masters of their trade. Thus, the citizens of Pilsen not only built a new brewery, but also hired Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer. Josef Groll’s father owned a brewery in Vilshofen in Lower Bavaria and had long experimented with new recipes for bottom-fermented beer. On October 5, 1842, Groll produced the first batch of Urquell beer, which was characterized by the use of soft Bohemian water, very pale malt, and Saaz hops It was first served in the public houses Zum Goldenen Anker, Zur weißen Rose and Hanes on 11 November 1842, and was very well received by the populace.
Josef Groll’s contract with the Bürgerliches Brauhaus (citizens’ brewery) in Pilsen expired on April 30, 1845 and was not renewed. Groll returned to Vilshofen and later inherited his father’s brewery. The Pilsen brewery was directed by Bavarian brewers for nearly sixty years until 1900.
Groll around age 60.
Here’s a description of Groll and his development of pilsner from the German Beer Institute:
The modern Pils may be a northern German brew, but it was a Bavarian brewmaster, Josef Groll, who started it all a scant 160 years ago, when he accepted a new job. Groll, who was born in 1813 in the Bavarian village of Vilshofen (some 100 miles northeast of Munich), prepared a new mash on October 5, 1842, at his new place of employment, the Burgher Brewery in the Bohemian city of Pilsen. As it turned out, the brew that Josef was mixing in the mash tun that day was truly revolutionary…it was the very first blond lager. It was a brew that was to set the style for an entirely new line of beers. The beer that resulted from that first brew was first served on November 11, 1842…and it has conquered the entire world ever since.
Until Groll made his new beer, the standard drink in Pilsen was a top-fermented brew, an ale. But not all was well with the Pilsen ale, because on one occasion, the city council ordered that 36 casks of it be dumped in public. It had become all too frequent that the beers available to the good burghers of Pilsen had been unfit to drink. This caused them to stick their heads together and to hatch a drastic plan: They would invest in a new, state-of-the art brewery and contract a competent brewer to come up with a better beer. In the 1840s, that meant a brewery capable of making Bavarian-style bottom-fermented brews, that is, lagers. Because of the reputation of Bavarian beer, Bavarian brewmasters, too, were held in high regard. So the citizens of Pilsen not only built a Bavarian brewhouse for Bavarian beer, they even engaged a Bavarian brewer to rescue the Pilsner beer from oblivion.
The fellow they engaged for the job was the above-mentioned Josef Groll of Vilshofen. He was an intrepid brewer who clearly rose to the challenge. Instead of using the standard dark malts of his day, he kilned his malt to a very pale color — a technique that had only recently been perfected in Britain. Groll then made use of only the finest of local raw materials. He flavored the brew with plenty of hops from the Saaz region of Bohemia (today, Czech Saaz hops is considered one of the finest aroma hops money can buy) and, of course, brewed with the city’s extremely soft water. From these ingredients he made an extract, which he fermented with good Bavarian lager yeast — and a new beer was born. Nobody before Groll had ever made such an aromatic golden-blond, full-bodied lager.
When Joseph’s contract was up, on April 30, 1845, he went back home to his native Bavaria, but his new beer’s reputation spread quickly beyond the limits of Pilsen. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Joseph Groll sure had cause to feel flattered. Initially, the designation Pilsner beer was just an appellation of origin — a beer made in the city of Pilsen. But soon the new brew was copied everywhere. The first imitators were in adjacent towns with similarly soft water and equal access to Saaz hops. This was the beginning of the Bohemian Pilsner style. But breweries across the border, in Germany, began also to be interested in the Bohemian phenomenon … they had to, because it started to eat into their own sales. This was the time in Europe, when the emerging railway network made the transportation of beer possible to just about any major city.
By the turn of the 19th century, it had become chic from Paris to Vienna and from Hamburg to Rome to drink the beer from Pilsen. The beer’s name had become a household word, usually in its abridged form of Pils. The term Pils had evolved from an appellation of origin to a designation for a new beer style, the very model of a modern lager beer. When Groll died in the village of his birth, in little Vilshofen, on October 22, 1887, he probably had no idea how profound a revolution he had brought about in the world of beer!
Groll’s beer was taking the continent by storm and was even making inroads in Munich, where brewers were starting to make their own variation on the Groll brew. The Burgher Brewery of Pilsen, however, where it had all started, was far from flattered by the imitations its beer had spawned. This brewery was far more interested in supplying the demand for Pilsner beer itself than having other breweries usurp what it considered its proprietary brand name. In 1898, therefore, the Burgher Brewery of Pilsen went to court in Munich. It sought an injunction against the Thomass Brewery, which had come out with a blonde lager, named “Thomass-Pilsner-Bier.” The verdict that the court handed down in April 1899, however, went against the plaintiff. The court argued that “Pilsner” was no longer an appellation, but had become a universal style designation.
A diorama of Groll in his lab at the Pilsner Urquell Museum.
And this account is from Food Reference, but appears to have been written by Pilsner Urquell:
Most importantly, Martin Stelzer also discovered a brewmaster who would change the way that beer was brewed forever: a young Bavarian called Josef Groll.
The first brewmaster, a visionary, young Bavarian Josef Groll, revolutionized how beer was brewed, looked and tasted.
Beer as we know it has always been produced using the same basic ingredients, hops, barley and water, and for thousands of years was brewed in open vats with fermentation occurring at the top of the brew.
Groll was able to look beyond what was possible and combine his knowledge of an innovative new bottom fermenting process, known as ‘lagering’, with his access to the finest local ingredients at Plzen: a special type of two-row fine-husk barley, the locally grown Saaz hops and of course the uniquely soft local water.
In 1842 Josef Groll’s vision became reality. He succeeded in making a beer the best it could be.
Josef Groll was an unlikely hero, so rude and bad-tempered he was described as the ‘coarsest man in the whole of Bavaria’ by his father.
But it is the fate of every genius to challenge those around him. Throughout history those who have made a step change in their fields, those who have had an idea of true originality, have had one thing in common, the ability to see beyond the ordinary, and create something extraordinary.
Sir Issac Newton observed an apple, and it changed how we see the world. A certain Mr Columbus discovered the New World by rejecting how everyone had seen the old one. And in 1842 Josef Groll created a beer that changed the way the world would see beer.
From the dawn of civilization, beer had been a dark, murky liquid. Then a protest by the citizens of Plzen, Bohemia, inspired the change that would influence the entire beer industry and set the standard for all lagers.
After furious citizens had dumped no less than 36 barrels of undrinkable sludge into the city’s gutters in 1838, it sparked off a remarkable chain of events – a new brewery building, an innovative new brewmaster and finally the world’s first golden beer.
On 4 October 1842 in St Martin’s market, Plzen, Josef Groll unveiled his new creation to widespread sensation, after all a golden beer had never been seen before.
News of this remarkable Plzen beer spread throughout Bohemia. The arrival of the railway and the beer’s popularity amongst German and French tourists soon meant that Plzen’s famous brew gained international appeal.
But with success inevitably came competition. Josef Groll’s original golden beer soon spawned many imitators, many of which also claimed to be Plzen or Pilsner beer, whether they came from Plzen or not. In fact, today Pilsner has become a generic term around the world for any bottom-fermented golden beer sold as ‘pils’ or ‘pilsner’.
In 1898, the brewery acted to protect itself against inferior competitors and the beer’s name was changed to Pilsner Urquell- a German phrase meaning literally “from the original source, Plzen”.
Some say the name was changed to satisfy consumer demand for the original golden beer. But as those who know their beer will tell you: you can tell the original Pilsner by its slightly darker shade of gold, and of course by its taste which is a world apart.
Beer Sweden also has a nice two-part account, as does Brewing Techniques and Food Reference. Pilsner Urquell’s Czech website also has a brief history and a timeline. Brewer K. Florian Klemp wrote Presenting Pilsners for All ABout Beer, which includes Groll’s story.
Today is the 41st birthday of Julian Shrago, brewmaster at the Beachwood BBQ & Brewery in Long Beach, California. I can’t remember when I first ran into Julian, probably either one of the early Firestone Walker Invitational Festivals or possibly out at GABF, where in 2013, he won Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year and the following year, won big again as Large Brewpub of the Year. Julian is a great brewer and made his mark very quickly after turning pro in 2011. I visited the brewery a couple of years ago, and it really is one of the best. Join me in wishing Julian a very happy birthday.
[Note: Middle three photos purloined from Facebook.]