Beer history Germany Poland

The Beer War of 1380

wroclaw.gifWrocław, Poland, is a fascinating place. It’s been part of Bohemia, Poland, Germany, and probably a few other countries I’ve forgotten. It also has a decent brew pub, Spiż, in the town square – probably on the same site as a German bierkeller from its days as the German city of Breslau.

What I didn’t realise until today is that it was also the home of something called “The beer war of 1380”. The city’s website says:

The duality of municipal governance – ecclesiastical and secular – gave rise to the famous ‘beer war’ of 1380. The City Council defended the city’s monopoly on the sale of beer against the Cathedral canons, who lived in Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island). As a result, an interdict (a church disciplinary measure) was imposed on the city’s churches, which were subsequently pillaged. It took a papal bull to end the conflict.

Now, having a war about beer really is taking it too seriously.

I read about the beer war in Norman Davies’ Microcosm, a history of the city of Wrocław/Breslau. In the same book, he also talks intriguingly about the two dominant beers in Wrocław in the middle ages. One was called “Schöps” — Davies says it was a brand name and was first mentioned in 1392. It came to be the most popular brand in the area in the late 15th century, superceding something called “Schweidnitzer”. I’m adding both to the list of weird historical beers, along with Pimlico Ale.

Also see a much older post, “Why isn’t Polish beer good?”


3 replies on “The Beer War of 1380”

That’s a great site — barely a day goes by when Boak doesn’t mention it. Particularly fond of your bit on why the Reinheitsgebot (sp?) is rubbish. Funny reading those descriptions — and, in fact, any accounts of brewing in the past — how little mention there is of sanitising or cleaning equipment.

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