Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard
What’s in a Date? 23 April, Lagers, and Beer Gardens
In brewers’ lore of yore, April meant more than showers bringing May flowers. In fact, the Feast of St. George on 23 April has influenced both the emergence of lager beers and the shaded beer gardens in which they have long been consumed.
Despite the best efforts of those who promulgated the Reinheitsgebot (Purity Law) of 1516, the quality of Bavarian beer remained uneven. In 1553, Albrecht V took steps to remedy the situation, declaring that Bavarians could brew beer only between St. Michael’s Day (September 29) and St. George’s Day (April 23). One reason prompting the decree of 1553 was a fear of summer fires caused by hot brew kettles. More importantly, though, brewers and the authorities who knew a good beer had, by the mid-1550s, learned a thing or two about the beneficial effects of cold fermentation on beer quality.
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