Monday, October 26, 2015

Schussler Craps on Corn

Joseph Schussler
Last Monday's post about Oshkosh brewers using corn in their beer deserves a rebuttal. Not everyone was so sanguine about the American brewer's embrace of the adjunct. Those who were around prior to corn becoming a staple ingredient in American beer were often the most critical. Take for example, Joseph Schussler.

When Schussler began brewing in Oshkosh in 1850, he made all-malt. But by the time Schussler ended his brewing career in Fond du Lac in 1892, chances are he was doing like everyone else: brewing an adjunct beer using corn. Whatever the case, Schussler looked down upon the practice.

In 1898, Schussler gave a long, rambling interview to a Milwaukee reporter where he made his feelings clear. Here's what he had to say about how beer had been made before the introduction of corn to American brewing.

Fifty-two years ago beer was made ... in a far different manner than beer is made today. No machinery was used and the output never exceeded forty barrels a week, but the grade was pronounced far superior to any that is now on the market. “It was pure barley and hops and not corn and other adulterations as are used today,” said the old brewery man. (1)

Of course, Schussler was out of the game at this point. He had nothing to loose by bad mouthing adjunct beer. But even brewers still plying the trade, were less than enthusiastic about brewing with corn. Ads from the period rarely mention that corn was part of their recipes. While brewers would go to great lengths to explain how exquisite their malt and expensive the hops they used were, the use of corn was something that remained better left unsaid.

Here's an example of just that. This is an ad for The Rahr Brewing Company that showed up in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern on July 31, 1913. It's a clumsy thing all the way though. First, they make an unfortunate comparison between making sausage and beer. Then comes this line about ingredients: "... high priced selected barley malt, hops, etc."

You can guess what they mean by "etc." That would be corn. At this point it was a mainstay in the Rahr recipe. But like other brewers, they'd just rather not mention it.

(1) This excerpt is from a Milwaukee newspaper clipping that does not include the masthead or publication date. Other articles in the clipping make it possible to date the piece as being published in either January or February 1898.

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