When Did They Take The “Lager” Out Of Lager Beer?
Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 2, 2007
As you read throughout the pages of Beer & Food: An American History, you’ll note the numerous instances of American beer being tweaked for one reason or another. Going back the Colonial Era, for instance, the availability of malted barley was a continuous problem in the brew house. Why grow barley in the colonies when there were few malt houses to convert the barely to malt? On the other hand, why build malt houses if farmers found no reason to grow barley?
The temporary answer to this brewing problem was the importation of malted barley from England. Because of the transportation expense involved and a demand that rolled right over supply, brewers supplemented their grain bill with anything that could be used as a fermentable; corn, cornstalks and husks, persimmons, spruce, molasses, and so much more.
But as the book details, the very act of brewing continued to evolve—from the Colonial Era, the importation of lager beer yeast, the techniques of brewing a golden-colored pilsner beer, the end of the decoction technique, food control bills, wars, and on and on. Those who argue that Prohibition was the single event that caused the irrevocable change in American beer don’t understand that U.S. beer’s change in quality and character has been subtle, but continuous. And as we see below, it looks like more change is coming from ingredients group, DMS.
“With the margins of a beer manufacturers recently falling on the back of declining beer sales and inflated commodity costs, brewers are looking for means to increase productivity. By removing the need for cold stabilisation in brewing (re: lagering), DSM claims to have made a massive breakthrough in beer production. The company added that using the enzyme along with accelerated maturation processes could soon make beer production within less then one week a reality.”
“According to DSM’s testing, the use of Brewers Clarex also prevents the grouping of haze proteins and polyphenols that create cloudy less stable beer, without need for cold stabilisation.”
For you amateur beer historians out there, let me say one word that might make you recall another brewery that once thought that they too had the enzymatic answer to protein haze and the answer to a short maturation period—“Schlitz.” I might be giving my age away, but when I was a kid, there used to be an old tagline from DuPont (I believe); “Better living through chemistry.” But there are some things that simply shouldn’t be tampered with…starting with beer.