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Historic Beer Birthday: Gabriel Sedlmayr II

Today is the birthday of Gabriel Sedlmayr II, sometimes referred to as Gabriel Sedlmayr the Younger (February 26, 1811-October 1, 1891). He was, of course, the son of Gabriel Sedlmayr the Elder, who acquired the Spaten brewery in 1807, when “at the time was the smallest brewery in Munich.” When his father died in 1839, the brewery passed to Gabriel and his brother Joseph, and the two ran the brewery for three years, until Joseph bowed out to start his own brewery, and Gabriel became the sole owner of the Spaten brewery. By 1867, it became the largest brewery in Munich, a position it held until the 1890s. In 1874, Sedlmayr retired, and three of his four sons, Johann, Carl and Anton, began running the company. During his tenure at Spaten, he played a major role in the development of lager fermentation.

Here’s a short biography from the Entrepreneur Wiki:

Gabriel Sedlmayr II was born in Munich on February 26, 1811. He is often called Gabriel Sedlmayr the Younger. While in high school, he was given private lessons by Professor Johann Baptist Hermann in chemistry and physics. He graduated from high school and then began training in a brewery.

He also traveled to European to visit and learn from different breweries, as well as local scientists. In Vienna he attended lectures at the Polytechnic of Vienna and in Berlin he attended chemistry lectures at the University of Berlin. He then took over his father’s brewery with help from his brother.

In 1842, when Joseph, his brother, left the business, he became the sole owner of the brewery. In 1866 he then opened up the Bavaroise Brasserie in Paris. Then he helped at and then eventually took over the Spanenbrau Brewery. He is responsible for developing a dark lager called Dunkel at his Spaten Brewery. He was known for using science, microbiology, and cultivation to develop new beers. In 1874, he passed his business to his sons Johann, Carl, and Anton because of his poor health. In 1881 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the City if Munich and then on October 1, 1891 he died.

This is his entry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Beer, written by Ian Horsey:

Sedlmayr, Gabriel the Younger

was a brewer who took over the reins of the Spaten Brewery of Munich, with his brother Josef, upon the death of his father, Gabriel Sedlmayr the Elder, in 1839. The two brothers inherited their father’s innovative zeal and, over the next few years, modernized the brewery at the same pace as their father had done before them. In 1844, Spaten became the first brewery outside England to adopt steam power. A year later, Gabriel bought out his brother and became the sole proprietor of Spaten, which would continue to be a center of brewing innovation. Already during his student days, Gabriel had been an innovator. As part of the requirement for his Master Diploma, young Gabriel embarked upon an extensive grand tour of noted European brewing centers in the early 1830s. On one of his trips, he met fellow brewer Anton Dreher, whose mother owned a small brewery in Klein-Schwechat, just outside Vienna. The meeting, in 1832, marked the beginning of a life-long friendship and business association. The two travelers visited Great Britain in 1833 to learn more about fermentation—and engaged in what can only be described as a classic case of industrial espionage. By using a specially modified hollow walking cane, they furtively gathered wort and beer samples during their brewery visits und subsequently analyzed them in their hotel. They put the data thus collected to good use after they had returned home by developing two new malts and two new beer styles: Dreher came up with Vienna malt and Vienna lager; Sedlmayr invented Munich malt and märzen beer.

In those days it was difficult to brew lagers in the summer; the hot central European climate was inhospitable to brewing in general and lager brewing in particular. Brewers used ice blocks cut from frozen lakes and ponds in the winter and stored them underground for use as coolant in the summer. This was costly and inefficient. So Sedlmayr looked around for a technological solution, which he found in the work of a young Munich engineering professor, Carl Linde. Linde had been tinkering with refrigeration machines, and in 1873, Sedlmayr persuaded Linde to install one of his experimental devices in the Spaten fermentation and lagering cellars. This was, as best as anybody knows, the first time that mechanical refrigeration had been used in a brewery, and Spaten was from then on uniquely equipped to brew bottom-fermented beer reliably year-round. With this new technology in place, Spaten had become the largest of the Munich breweries. Spaten’s superb lager-making ability allowed it to experiment with ever more delicate brews, especially one that could compete with the rising popularity of the Bohemian pilsner from just east of the Bavarian border. The result was the introduction, in 1894, of a straw blond beer, the delicate lager that was to become the signature brew for Bavarian beer garden and beer hall lagers for the next century, Helles.

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