Articles – P


“Pabst Brewing Company” entry at page 637 states by “the 1950’s Pabst, although selling nearly 11 million barrels of beer per year…” Pabst began the decade of the 1950’s as the #4 brewery with 4.3 million barrels in sales. They would slide down to #11 with 2.3m bbl. by 1958, the year they bought their Milwaukee crosstown rival, Blatz. By the end of the decade (1960) they were back to #5 with a 4.8 million barrelage helped by the continued sales of Blatz, which was a 1.5m bbl company when purchased by Pabst. No US brewing company came close to 11 million barrels in the 1950’s. A-B, at #1, sold only 8.5m bbl in 1960 and wouldn’t get to double digit million barrels until around 1964. [Sources: various issues of The Brewers Digest.] The entry also states “Kalmanovitz… helped Pabst Blue Ribbon become popular…” In 1981, several years before the company was purchased by Kalmanovitz, the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand alone sold 9.9 million barrels. In 2010, Pabst sold 2.2 million barrels of PBR. [Sources: Sanford Bernstein and Beer Marketers Insights]

“pale ale”entry at pages 638-9 is seriously flawed because it persistently uses “ale” as a synonym for “beer” and fails to recognise that “ale” and “beer” were very separate drinks to brewers and consumers until at least the 1840s, and “pale ale” was thus different from “pale beer” right up to around 1839, at least. It is therefore completely wrong to say that “Pale ale originated as a catch-all term for any top-fermented beer that was not dark.” The word “ale” would only have been used for lightly hopped (at best) malt liquors, and would not have been used for a (more heavily hopped) beer. (There is also the anachronistic and unnecessary use of the term “top fermented” here: there was ONLY “top-fermented” malt liquor brewed in Britain until the 1870s at the earliest). It is not possible to assert that “Up to the 18th century, at least, the bulk of beers produced in England were of a dark brown colour, brewed largely from amber and brown malts.” There is, in fact, very little evidence as to the proportions of pale versus amber versus dark ale and beer brewed in the 17th century. However, the fact that eg Daniel Defoe, writing in his Tour through the Eastern Counties of England, published in 1722, said: “As to the north of England, they formerly used but few hops there, their drink being chiefly pale smooth ale …” suggests that it would be wrong to suggest “the bulk” of malt liquors were dark. Similarly “Obadiah Poundage”, writing again about the very early 18th century, said of “the Queen’s time” (ie from 1702) that “The gentry now residing in London more than they had done in former times introduced the pale ale and the pale small beer they were habituated to in the country.” This is more evidence that pale ales and beers were not uncommon by at least the late 17th century.” Nor is it reasonable to assert that “malt drying technology was somewhat crude in those days and the so-called pale malts would have been quite dark compared to modern standards.” Michael Combrune’s Theory and Practice of Brewing of 1762 shows brewers knew perfectly well how to make “white” and very pale dried malts. The entry states correctly that “[p]ale ales certainly existed before 1700” but goes on to say that “even in the 18th century it was not a defined style, as its competitor, porter had become.” However, this begs consideration of the utility of “style” to describe beers before the term was coined by Jackson in the 1970s. Further, there is reasonably clear evidence for the expanded use of pale malt with the adaptation of coke for early industrial malting “not above half a century of years” before 1693, that is, in or after 1643 (John Houghton, A Collection for Improvement of Agriculture and Trade, 1693) and vernacular use based on wheat-straw kilning for decades – perhaps centuries – before that. It is also clear from, eg William Ellis’s London and Country Brewer of 1736, which talks about pale ale, brown ale, pale beer and brown beer, that brewers differentiated perfectly well between several types of ale and beer based on colour and hop rates. The entry states that “An important milestone came in 1790 when George Hodgson began to ship pale ale to India.” Hodgson himself did not ship the beer to India: he sold it to the commanders of the East Indiamen. We have no evidence for when Hodgson’s pale ale began arriving in India: pale ale itself was being exported to India from at least 1716 and being advertised in the Calcutta Gazette by 1784. The earliest known mention of Hodgson’s beers being sold in India currently is 1793. Any milestone did not come from Hodgson, but when the Burton brewers were persuaded to take up brewing heavily hopped bitter pale ales, rather than the strong sweet ales they had sold before. It is incorrect to state that “By the first quarter of the 19th century the Burton brewers had lost their export trade to the Baltic countries as a result of embargoes put in place during the Napoleonic Wars.” The major loss of trade happened because of a ban brought in by the Russian government in March 1822 on a long list of British goods, including ale (but not porter). It is misleading to say “a director of the [East India] Company approached Samuel Allsopp in Burton” – Allsopp was invited to the director’s house in London, which was where the proposal was put to him that he might think about the pale ale trade in India. It is wrong to say “Soon IPA became popular in England” – it took almost 20 years from the Burton brewers starting to brew for the Indian market before bitter pale ales found a proper market in the UK, and even then they were always a minority. It is wrong to say “IPA was a strong beer, at around 7% alcohol by volume” – IPA was generally 6.5% or less, at a time when mild ale was around 7.2% abv and porter 5 to 6%. It is wrong to say “lower-strength versions began to be produced, and these were often referred to simply as ‘pale ale’, whereas some brewers started to use the term ‘bitter ale’.” In the 1840s and 1850s, when the style was first spreading, brewers used the terms “pale ale” and “bitter beer”, but indiscriminately and as synonyms, marking no difference between the two. “Bitter ale” as a term of art does not seem to start appearing in brewers’ advertisements until the 1860s. It is wrong to call 19th century mild ales “darker” than pale bitter ales: 19th century milds were made from pale malt. It is wrong to say “bitter, the weaker version of pale ale” – pale ale and bitter were, and are, exact synonyms. There was no strength difference between the two, because they were the same thing. It is also wrong to link the decline in beer strengths to the rise in the popularity of bitter: it was more to do with rising affluence at the end of the 1950s. The change to bitter was also influenced by an important factor the article completely ignores: that pale ale/bitter was always a middle class drink, sold more in the saloon bar than the public bar, and changing social aspirations also drove its increasing popularity.

“Pilsner Urquell” entry at page 653 states: “A legend in Pilsen says the wrong type of malt was delivered to the brewery by mistake but this seems fanciful…” It most certainly is fanciful, as the original Burghers’ Brewery was constructed with its own malthouse on the premises, a crucial element from its initial concept. The title of the 1839 document which founded the brewery reads “Request of the Burghers with Brewing Rights for the Construction of Their Own Malt- and Brewhouse.” In it, the founding burghers’ fifth point highlights the importance of being able to produce their own malt, declaring that a brewer who would trust his barley and malt to someone else “threatens his capital with fire.” This essential part of the brewery was even given priority in construction: “At the end of September, 1842, the whole brewery, interior and exterior, was completed, and because the malting had begun even earlier, brewing could begin without any further delay in early October.” Some background: in Czech, the main word for “brewer” is “sládek,” meaning “the man who prepares the malt,” or “maltster,” as for centuries here, the task of many brewers, like Mr. Groll, was in large part to make malt. This is still done today by the brewer Jaroslav Nosek at Pivovar Broumov, a small brewery which spends the bulk of its late spring and early summer malting its own barley for use in the coming brewing season. And in point of fact, the historical record clearly notes that the brewery’s very first load of “hard barley” — definitely not malt, and definitely not the wrong kind — “was purchased at the then-weekly market at an average price of 3 florins and 12 crowns.” (Source: Měšťanský Pivovar v Plzni 1842–1892.) See here. This entry also states at page 653 that Martin Stelzer “toured Europe and Britain to study modern breweries…” Strangely, The Oxford Companion to Beer’s previous entry does not even agree with this statement, noting on page 652 only that “Martin Stelzer was commissioned to design and build the new brewery. He traveled extensively around Bavaria,” period, with no mention of any trips elsewhere. According to Měšťanský Pivovar v Plzni 1842–1892, the two architects who were hired to create the new Burghers’ Brewery both took trips to see bottom-fermenting breweries though not to Britain. The builder František Filaus “made a trip around the biggest breweries in Bohemia which were then already equipped for brewing bottom-fermented beer,” while in December of 1839, Martin Stelzer “traveled to Bavaria, so that he could tour bigger breweries in Munich and elsewhere and use the experience thus gained for the construction and furnishing of the Burghers’ Brewery.” More obviously, the goal of the new brewery clearly stated in the founding document in 1839 was to produce bottom-fermenting beer, also called “Bavarian beer.” Obviously, Mr. Stelzer would have been unlikely to find many producers of Bavarian lager in Britain in 1839. This entry seems to be confused with the story of Gabriel Sedlmayr and Anton Dreher, who did travel around Britain visiting breweries a few years earlier. See here. This entry also states at page 653: “It’s more likely that Martin Stelzer brought back from England a malt kiln indirectly fired by coke rather than directly fired by wood. This type of kiln was used to make pale malt, the basis of a new style of beer brewed in England called pale ale. A model of a kiln in the Pilsen museum supports this theory…” This is simply wild speculation. As noted above, the brewery’s own chronicle has no record of Martin Stelzer — one of the most prolific architects of his age, the author of hundreds of buildings in Pilsen — taking time off to travel all the way to Britain. Given his task — to construct a Bavarian-style, bottom-fermenting brewery — there would have been no reason to do so. However, it is apparent that the Burghers’ Brewery was originally outfitted with a noteworthy kiln, whose description in Czech (“dle anglického spůsobu zařízený hvozd”) seems to make it clear that this was not, in fact, a kiln which had come from England, but rather “a kiln equipped in the English manner,” according to Kniha pamětní král. krajského města Plzně od roku 775 až 1870, an extensive chronicle of Pilsen published in 1883. (According to this book, this kiln was “vytápěný odcházejícím teplem z místnosti ku vaření,” or “heated by heat leaving the boiling room.”) See here. This entry also uses the misspelling “Plzensky Prazdroj” at page 654. A small mistake to outsiders, but technically a misspelling in local terms, as N and Ň (and Y and Ý) are considered different letters in Czech. This misspelling is also found on page 277. Strangely, The Oxford Companion to Beer itself spells the name correctly as “Plzeňský Prazdroj” on pages 74, 103, 140, 386, 651 and 652. See here. Also in this entry “nitrates” should be “nitrogen”, a common way protein levels in barley are expressed.

“pine, fir and spruce tips” entry at p655 is almost entirely US-centric: it ignores, eg, references to “Spruce-beer” being on sale in London in 1664 (see here) and the mention of spruce beer in Jane Austen’s Emma, as well as the spruce beer made today by Williams Brothers of Alloa, Alba.

“Plato gravity scale” though throught the OCBeer commas replace decimal points when specific gravity is written in this entry both are used.

“Porter” at pp660-663 begins with the myths surrounding porters origins but introduces a few errors into the myths. “… the Blue Last, a working-class watering hole on Shoreditch’s Great Eastern Street” – Great Eastern Street wasn’t built until 1872-6. The original Blue Last was in Curtain Road. The one on Great Eastern Street is a rebuild.

“‘porters’ – strongmen for hire, who would carry loads of produce, fish and dry goods … to the city’s many public markets.” Porters had little or nothing to do with markets: they were either general purveyors of all sorts of goods for anyone who wanted to hire them (the ticket porters) or loaders and unloaders of “measurable” goods (eg coal, salt, grain) on and off ships (the Fellowship porters) – see Stern, Walter M, The Porters of London, London, Longmans, 1960. “One of the oft-mentioned popular blends of the day was called ‘three-threads'” – three-threads is particularly obscure, and is mentioned in very few places in the 18th century. Porter seems to have begun its reign as an aged or ‘stale’ version of brown beer” – Obadiah Poundage, the first person to describe the origins of porter, writing in 1761, was specific that porter began as a version of brown beer that was “neither new nor stale”. The final tally of the destruction included eight people dead from drowning, injuries or alcohol poisoning of those who took their fill of the unexpected free beer running in the gutters.” All the deaths in the great 1814 London beer flood were of women and children, either drowned or crushed by falling debris or dead from injuries as they were swept away. There is almost no evidence that anyone drank the beer released into the streets, and none at all that anyone died from over-indulgence. For the Baltic trade, a stronger version of porter, the Baltic porter, emerged.” There is no evidence that the generality of porter sent to the Baltic was any different to the porter sold in Britain. There WAS a stronger version, which became known as Russian stout, and in its strongest iteration, Imperial stout. In Victorian England the porter also underwent a class differentiation, and some porter variations even climbed the social ladder to become favourites of the upper classes. One such was the ‘robust porter’, considered a beer for connoisseurs, not guzzlers.” This is completely wrong. “Robust porter” is a late 20th century invention of the BJCP in the United States, and means nothing in a 19th century context. In addition, porter in the 19th century had no “variations” to “climb the social ladder”: all classes drank exactly the same porter. In this entry it the nomenclature used for “Brettanomyces” yeasts is outdated, see for example the OCB entry BRETTANOMYCES.

“Porterhouse Brewing Company” entry at page 664, states “their brewpub location in Temple Bar…” While there originally was a Porterhouse brewpub in Temple Bar in 1996, the kit was removed a few years later and brewing has been carried out ever since at a purpose-built microbrewery in an industrial estate in Dublin. The Temple Bar Porterhouse pub remains, with seating where the brewkit once was. The entry also mentions “an Irish whiskey distillery in Dingle, County Derry.” Dingle is in Co. Kerry.

“Prohibition” entry, page 71, states: “Of the 1,392 brewers in operation before Prohibition, only 164 remained afterward.” Numerous reference books all seem to have slightly different brewery total for the years leading up to Prohibition but most do list the number before WWI’s grain rationing, 2.75% beer regulation, state prohibition and then National Prohibition at around 1400. While this OCB statement in itself is rather vague (“before” “afterward”) as far as specific years, after Repeal the final number of US breweries would peak at over 700 in 1935-6 (until the craft era, of course). The vast majority of them had some connection – either ownership, physical brewery or both – to pre-Prohibition brewing companies. Authors Bull and Friedrich in The Registry of United States Breweries 1876-1976 say “…about 600 (pre-Prohibition breweries) resumed production of legalized beer after Prohibition” in their Introduction, and the names of those breweries are noted in the book’s list of the pre-Pro breweries, along with numerical links to the related post-Repeal companies. The OCB’s “164” figure generally agrees with the estimates of how many breweries had remained in business brewing near beer and so were ready to sell beer when the Cullen Act legalized 3.2 abw on April 7, 1933. For example, “…no less than 211 breweries ready to brew beer” [Syracuse Herald 11/24/1932], Brewery Age magazine’s “…146 licensed near beer breweries…” [editor quoted in NY Times 3-15-33] and after the signing of the Cullen Act in March, 1933 “…the government issued regulation to permit 158 breweries and bottlers to bottle 3.2 per cent beer so that it can be put on the market on April 7” [NY Times, 3/23/1933]. Sales of the legal “less than 0.5% alcohol” cereal beverages (near beer) had continually decreased during Prohibition, so many of the working breweries were only making soft drinks, malt syrup, ice, etc. rather than near beer, and would not ready to put beer on the market in April, 1933 after such short notice. In addition, less than half the states (14-20 depending on source) had or would change their own state Prohibition laws in time for the legal 3.2 beer on April 7th, so the still-opened breweries in those states also did not sell beer on that day. The breweries that had stopped brewing all together and were closed took even longer to raise capital, retool, rehire employees, buy modern equipment and ingredients, etc. Thus the year or two it took to reach the peak number in the mid-1930’s- which. of course, did include more than 100 new start-up firms, as well. The entry states at page 670 “[p]rohibition was repealed at midnight on April 7, 1933” but this is strictly speaking not correct. The entry properly identifies that the legislative action in the spring of 1933 was the amendment to the Volstead Act. The actual repeal of Prohibition occurred later in the year when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was repealed on December 5, 1933 after final ratification by the states. See commentary by Bob Skilnik, author of Beer and Food: An American History at the webpage “When Did Prohibition End? Not Today!” as well as the commentary that followed. The entry “Prohibition” also focuses on the experience from the perspective of the United States. Prohibition movements existed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere.

“proteolysis” this entry covers much the same ground as the previous entry protein rest.

“public houses (pubs)” entry at pp674-679 – picture caption p674 “The Dove, on the River Thames in London, dates back to the 17th century.” It does not: there is no evidence suggesting it was in existence any earlier than the 1730s (see here) “Legend has it that the Roman drinking houses that had been established in Britain were destroyed by the Anglo-Saxon invaders …” there is no evidence at all that the Romans established “drinking houses” in Britain, let alone that the Anglo-Saxons destroyed them. “The Beer Act (1WmIV c64) reversed the licensing policy … became known as the Duke of Wellington’s Beer House Act.” The Act of 1830 was originally called “an Act to permit the general Sale of Beer and Cyder by retail in England” and was later called the Beerhouse (sic) Act. Wellington’s name was never attached to it. ” … the wondrous Barton Arms in Aston, Birmingham …” That would be the Bartons Arms. “The most common pub name in Britain is the Red Lion, followed by Royal Oak, White Hart, Rose and Crown, Kings Head and Kings Arms …” The most common pub names in Britain are a matter of some dispute, but a list for England from 2011 here says the six commonest, in descending order, are the Red Lion, Crown, Royal Oak, White Hart, White Horse and Swan. “All of these have special significance as far as British history is concerned.” Arguably, only three of that top six do. The Red Lion, despite regular claims to the contrary, has no special connections with British history (see here)

“pumpkin ale” entry at page 680 begins by stating it “… is an American original invented in the 18th century by English colonists in the New World…” Pumpkin beer was made by colonists in 17th century New Sweden, now Delaware, and likely elsewhere. As with corn, squashes and pumpkins were aboriginal crops that early colonists depended upon for survival in the first years after contact and were the available sources of fermentables.