Brew faster, keep longer, a 19th century brewer's motto.


In the 19th century, the European industrial brewery is torn between two apparently contradictory constraints:


  1. Brew a beer that must be sold and drunk as quickly as possible so as not to tie up stocks and capital. Beer does not have to keep for long.
  2. Sell the beer as far as possible to win customers and beat the competition. The beer then travels, passes from hand to hand, stored by intermediaries. It must be preserved for as long as possible.


Initially, urban outlets to sell the beer in an area close to the brewery are based on the brewing techniques inherited from the 18th century: using brown malts, increasing the alcohol content, strongly hopped wort, varieties of hops rich in aseptic resins, drastically clarifying the beer before shipping and selling it.

In a second step, brewers need to adopt new methods. Hygiene rules, temperature control, the use of efficient chemicals, new layout and construction plans for breweries, notably the vertical plan that divides activities while improving the circulation of the brewing raw materials and fluids inside a brewing plant. This silent revolution in industrial methods was initiated by the brewers and duplicated by other food industries.

The spectacular aspect of the new scientific processes should not hide this deep and far-reaching evolution of the profession, which owes more to the workers and engineers than to the scientists. When the laboratory, the microscope and chemical tests were installed in breweries at the end of the 19th century, these analytical methods were effective because the technical equipments which controlled the entire brewing process was improved over time by engineers, brewers and practical people, rather than by scientists in their laboratories.

Without underestimating the impact of the theoretical works and their technical applications, it should be remembered that economic forces have played a major role in the evolution of the brewery. We have mentioned the patents filed by Louis Pasteur. They described new technical installations to improve the fermentation of beer. It was a failure. The technical devices imagined by the great scientist were never adopted by the brewers, for practical reasons. The bridges thrown between the scientific laboratory and the industrial brewery could not exclude the know-how of the engineers and the brewers.




30/11/2020  Christian Berger