Narrowing the diversity of beers on our planet.


At the end of the 19th century, the brewing traditions of the whole of Europe are still as rich as we can hardly imagine today.

The brewing ingredients offer a great diversity. The brewers use all available starch sources without prejudice or coercive regulations. The flavouring of the beer is as free as its sweetening. The technical processes are also very open. Finally, the brewery still displays the entire historical range of production methods, from the home-brewed beers to the beer produced by large scale beer factories, from the farm-breweries and inn-breweries to the regional or local craft breweries.

The result is a great diversity of beers. From the north to the south of Europe (with the exception of the Mediterranean countries at that time), every region, almost every town or village has its own speciality. This exuberance is not without a few problems: the sometimes defective quality of the beers, the excessive consumption of alcohol, the economic fragility of the brewers.

Several factors will contribute to the impoverishment of this wealth throughout the 20th century.

The governments are increasing the tax burden on both beer production (taxes on volumes brewed) and sales (taxes on the alcoholic beverages).

This taxation promotes a professional regulation that will considerably reduce the freedom of brewers and exclude most brewing specialities from the retail market. Some of them are ipso facto "illegal" when they no longer fall within the closed and very reducing tax definitions decreed by mutual agreement between the States administration and the major brewery industrial groups.

The temperance movements dictate a drinking evaluation grid based solely on the percentage of alcohol. The intrinsic nutritional or organoleptic qualities of the local and regional beers are forgotten in favour of the industrial table (small) beers, easy to be standardised, brewed in large volumes and checked by the state tax collector. The special beers are disappearing from the landscape.



08/10/2015  Christian Berger