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Drinking HistoryFifteen Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages$
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Andrew Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151177

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151177.001.0001

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The Most Popular Drink of the Day

The Most Popular Drink of the Day

(p.91) 6 The Most Popular Drink of the Day
Drinking History

Andrew F. Smith

Columbia University Press

This chapter traces the historical development of lager brewing in America. In 1840, German immigrant Johann Wagner set sail on a clipper ship bound for America. He carried with him something that would change the way Americans refreshed themselves: Saccharomyces pastorianus, a yeast commonly used to brew beer in Bavaria. Unlike the yeast used by American, English, Dutch, and most other German brewers, Bavarian yeast settled to the bottom of the vat during fermentation, thereby slowing the brewing process. Because the beer took weeks to ferment, it had to be stored, which was why the Germans called it lagerbier (stored beer)—a term that morphed into the English name of “lager beer.” In less than a decade, lager beer would become America’s most popular beverage. Light brews dominated American beer production for the next 150 years, and they continue to do so.

Keywords:   lager beer, Johann Wagner, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Bavarian yeast, beer brewing, beer production

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