Re: Moravian Malt Industry #austria-czech

Celia Male <celiamale@...>

Uri Meretz [on behalf of Michael Viktorik, a young researcher >from Olomouc,
Moravia] asked for information on the malting industry in Bohemia and Moravia.

I would like to start with this quote >from Jean de Clerck's "A Textbook of
Brewing" [1958]: "The best varieties of barley are cultivated in Moravia,
especially in the valley region of Hana [near Olomouc/Olmutz]. Hana barleys
are considered the finest .... in the world." Today most malting barleys
grown in Europe are genetic descendants of Moravian seed. The most famous
parent is "Hana 2-row spring barley".

This is a huge topic; the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia were certainly at the
forefront of the industrialisation of malting. >from the Bohemian Jewish census
of 1793, we know the names and locations of the many tenant distillers. They
and their Moravian counterparts were the trailblazers. The emerging industrial
revolution and their fortuitous position as distillers were the obvious
catalysts - not forgetting the pre-eminence of Moravian barley and Bohemian
hops >from the Saaz {Zatec} region.

Here is the briefest synopsis [I am a biochemist] on the science of malting;
it is not until recently, however, that I looked at the genealogical aspects.

Malted barley is the basis of beer brewing. It is formed in a natural
fermentation process, in which the enzymes in the germinating/sprouting barley
grains convert part of the starches into sugars, which include a high percentage
of the disaccharide "maltose", with its characteristic flavour.

This evolved into high-maltose barley syrups, and light brewing syrups based
on other carbohydrate sources such as rice, wheat and corn starches. Barley
and malt syrups are the basis of Ovaltine and Ovalmaltine and are also used
in the confectionery & baking industries.

In 1834 there was a breakthrough in the understanding of the malting process
[see Footnote 1].

I am sure our SIG will be most interested to see this website about the Briess
Malt and Ingredients Co of Wisconsin. If you click on "About Briess" on the
top line, you will find: The roots of {this company} date back to 1876 when
Ignatius BRIESS, a grain exchanger by trade, began malting barley grown in
his homeland of Moravia... There is even an inset about the Olmutz company
"Prima Malz - Ignaz und Wilhelm BRIESS.

Among the leading interrelated family groups at the forefront of the emerging
malting industry were the SOBOTKA {BREITENFELD}, BRUM {BITTNER}, LUSTIG {JOKL}
and HAUSER {BRUM} families of Bohemia and Moravia. The names in brackets are
those of the spouses in the early years of the 19th century.

In 1809, Abraham SOBOTKA {1784-1867} married the daughter of Elias BREITENFELD
a tenant distiller on the castle estate of Rychemburk/Richenburg {Predhradi}
near Hermanuv Mestec in the Chrudimer Kreis, owned by the Kinsky family and
later by the prince of Thurn and Taxis. Abraham learned the trade >from his
father-in-law. [Footnote 2 gives 1793 census details]

An important textbook, which must have been available to Abraham, was published
by Prof Andreas Poupe in Prague at the time of Abraham's marriage. Another
standard work, by Prof Karl Balling, became available in 1840.

In 1869, Moritz SOBOTKA [1843-1918], the grandson of Abraham, married Sophe
BRUM [1851-1930], the daughter of Leopold BRUM [1816-1899]. The BRUMs, >from
Raasdorf near Breclav {Lundenburg, Moravia} were maltsters. After marriage,
Moritz, who had lived in Chotebor and Nova Vesi, Bohemia, moved to Vienna.
In 1884, with the financial help of Baron Springer [see Footnote 3], he formed
a company 'Erste Wiener Export und Malzfabriks-Gesellschaft, Hauser und Sobotka'
in Stadlau [see Footnote 4], with subsidiaries Moric (Hanna/Hana, near Olmutz,
the home of the famed barley!} and Allach (Munich).

The Vienna company had a malt syrup division, which, if my memory is correct,
evolved [perhaps by licensing] eventually into Diamalt companies in Austria
and Germany with divisions throughout the world. Their famous product, Hoff's
Malzextract, was used as a coffee substitute and tonic and is mentioned in
the "Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoevsky as a cough medicine. Please search for
Hoff's Malt Extract on the www and you will find many interesting references
including this wonderful old advertisement:

There is another poster: 'Great Victorian Actresses' on a commercial site.
Don't miss it!

The companies and the tradename Diamalt were taken over after WW1 as part of
the post-war agreements [cf Bayer and Aspirin]. These Diamalt companies still
exist today. For a lovely Diamalt poster of 1914, see:

It certainly is an exciting genealogical, scientific and industrial journey
from the Jewish tenant distillers of the 1700s in Bohemia and Moravia to
today's vast enterprises in the brewing, food and drinks industry, who use
the products developed by them and their sons, grandsons and gt-grandsons -
but the link (like Pilsner beer) is crystal clear!

Celia Male [UK]


1 In 1834, Anselm Payen and Jean-François Persoz isolated 'diastase' >from
barley malt and postulated the importance of enzymes in biology.

2. In the 1793 census, Valletin BREITENFELD is the tenant distiller of
Richenburg. His oldest son is Abraham Elias. The name Valentin, significantly
remained in the family at least as far as the gt-gt grandson, Valentin
Sobotka born in 1896, probably in Vienna.

There is an Abraham BREITENFELD - leather manufacturer living in Reichenfeld
as well.

I believe the father of Abraham SOBOTKA was probably Isaak SOBOTKA, a glazier
of Brozan/Brossan/Brozany, Pardubitzer Herrschaft, Chrudimer Kreis who is
listed as having an oldest son Abraham in the 1793 census.

3. Here is the link to the huge Fould-Springer alcohol and yeast enterprise
in France.

4. In 1917 the company was called Hauser und Sobotka, AG, Wien-Stadlau and
in 1938 the name was changed to Stadlauer Malzfabrik AG. It was aryanised
by the Nazis and the family emigrated to the US.

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