The third and final installment of this series is bit different than the first two in that it discusses how a famous French scientist brought the two worlds of science and beer brewing together to exact revenge on Germany for invading his country during the Franco-Prussian War.
Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) and his revenge beer.
Pasteur was a French biologist and chemist in the 1800s who is best known for developing pasteurization—the process of heating liquids to a temperature between 60 and 100 °C, which kills bacteria and moulds that could otherwise lead to spoilage. Most people associate his name with milk, but he also played an important role in modernizing the beer brewing process.
In July 1870, Germany invaded France as part of the Franco–Prussian War. According to an article in Nature.com, “The Germans had captured the emperor, and Paris was besieged. Furthermore, Pasteur’s only son Jean-Baptiste had enlisted, and was now gravely ill with typhoid.” Pasteur also lost the use of his laboratory during the war due to the German siege. A treaty signed by both countries in 1871 gave Germany rights to part of France–the hop-growing region of Alsace-Lorraine.
All of this left Pasteur with an “obsessive hatred of Germans and Germany and, by the end of the war, Pasteur had formulated a plan to avenge his nation of honor.” His plan—to give French brewers an advantage they could use to outcompete German brewers and interrupt their booming beer business.
“He began isolating yeast strains that behaved like the German bottom-fermenting varieties but which acted faster and were more temperature tolerant so, in an age before refrigeration, could be used in climates warmer than Germany’s. Arranging a tour of European breweries, which notably excluded any in German territories, he began to share his secrets with others, including the Carlsberg Brewery in Denmark. These new, easy to produce and long-lived lagers would go on to take over the brewing world and are still popular today.”
In 1876, Louis Pasteur published this research in his most famous work in his book “Études sur la Bière” (Studies On Fermentation). “The book changed the course of brewing during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, representing a huge leap forward in the scientific understanding of the processes involved in beermaking. Brewers around the globe put Pasteur’s findings to work in their breweries, and thus plunged the industry headlong into the modern era.”