Beer History and Django Unchained

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by chinabeergeek, Dec 30, 2012.

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  1. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,279) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    not a discussion of the movie generally, just the appearances of beer in the film.

    at least three tidbits that i'm wondering if beer historians could clarify:

    1) were american southerners already drinking pale golden pilsner, out of clear glass mugs in 1858? pilsner had only started to take europe by storm a decade before.

    2) would the beer have been dispensed with an (at a glance) english-style hand-pump/beer engine? in the film, waltz's character operates it in a manner sort of in-between that of hand-pump and modern keg, filling the first glass (if i remember correctly) with just one pumping motion and having the beer continuously pour out as if it was force-carbonated like a keg. the second glass was filled with several pumping motions, more like english cask beer.

    3) later on, dicaprio's character gives his fighter slave a bottle of beer with a swingtop (beugel). were these the dominant small-serving containers at the time? even if so however, the bottle in the film looked contemporary 20th/21st century, with white plastic plug and an orange-colored rubber washer. or maybe that wasn't plastic...?
    tronester and AlexFields like this.
  2. Penguin3200

    Penguin3200 Initiate (0) Dec 28, 2008 Minnesota

    I saw these and was more just in awe of the cinematography employed for these shots, than worrying about the accuracy of the time period.

    What a great movie.

    Interested to see the replies as to whether this is accurate historically
    LSUPT likes this.
  3. mikeburd1128

    mikeburd1128 Zealot (514) Oct 28, 2011 New Jersey

    Bro, next time you're gonna ruin all the good beer scenes in a movie, go ahead and throw a "SPOILER ALERT" in the thread title. Not cool...
    luwak, Jnorton00, davey101 and 17 others like this.
  4. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,279) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

  5. mh007

    mh007 Initiate (0) Sep 10, 2008 Ontario (Canada)

    I was thinking the same thing.

    I'm also interested in the historical accuracy of the beer knife that he uses to cut the head.
    fredmugs likes this.
  6. BobLoblaw

    BobLoblaw Initiate (0) May 31, 2012 Arizona

    Not sure but I do know that a buddy and I split a 6 pack of Dale's Pale Ale while watching it. What a kick ass movie!
    luwak and HoptimusMax1mus like this.
  7. yamar68

    yamar68 Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2011 Minnesota

    You know you're a beer nerd if that's your greatest concern coming out of that movie.
  8. FEUO

    FEUO Disciple (327) Jul 24, 2012 Ontario (Canada)

    Shut the front door! Beer refs in a movie make it more.
    Can't wait to enjoy Django but love the beer notes. Cheers!
  9. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,279) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    just questions out of genuine curiosity. not concerns. i certainly have plenty of good and bad things to say about the film, which i enjoyed overall despite reservations. but that's not a beer conversation, and this IS a beer forum, after all...
  10. glitchedmind

    glitchedmind Initiate (0) May 8, 2012 California

    *patiently waiting for jesskiddens's knowledge bomb*
    Beejay, davey101, FosterJM and 13 others like this.
  11. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,279) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    hehe, i specifically beermailed him to see if he had any factoids to proffer :grinning:
  12. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,431) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    That guy really needs to be on the site's payroll if he's not already.
  13. CMUbrew

    CMUbrew Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 Michigan

    Don't worry, I had all the same questions as you after seeing the movie. I eagerly await factual replies to this thread. Thanks for the post!
  14. Knapp85

    Knapp85 Poo-Bah (6,520) Dec 25, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    One of the best films I've seen, I was just happy to see them enjoying beer in it. I can't say it matters if the bottles, pumps, or styles are legit. It's still a killer flick and everyone should see it. It's fun, it's comical and exciting.
  15. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,430) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Because all other parts of movies don't matter, right?
    mikeburd1128 likes this.
  16. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Only tiny quantities of Pale Lager were brewed outside Bohemia before the 1880's. In the 1850's the vast majority of Lager brewed in the world was in the dark Munich style. If a beer was golden-coloured, it was more likely to be a Pale Ale.

    Not sure when swingtops were invented. In 1858 most bottled beer would hvae been sealed with a cork.
  17. mschofield

    mschofield Meyvn (1,349) Oct 16, 2002 Massachusetts

    also, you know you're a beer nerd when now knowing there are beer scenes you're more likely to go watch the movie
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,255) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    1. Lager brewing in the US began in the 1840's but it was primarily heavier/darker German styles, what Geo. Ehret (once the largest brewer in America) described as "a brewage of a deep reddish-brown color, peculiar to heavily-malted beers" in his 1890's book, Twenty-Five Years of Brewing. "Pilsen" or "Bohemian" beers in the US don't become generally available until the 1870's and '80's, with the acceptance of adjunct brewing. US ales of the era would also have been much darker than a "golden pilsner". Glass mugs also sound like an anachronism but I'm not too up on US pre-Pro drinkware history.

    2. You can read how draught beer was served in the US before the use of "carbonic gas" to push beer out here Draught beer at the turn of the Twentieth Century in the US but basically they would have had laid sideways with just had a spout driven into a top bung and vented through the side bung. After that (and, so, well after your era) what essentially is today's "picnic tap" was used, pumping air into a keg. I've never found any evidence of an UK-style "beer engine/pump" being used in the US.

    3. That "flip-top"(aka among some as "Grolsch-style") closure for beer bottles doesn't become popular until the 1870's and eventually dies out with the invention of the crown cork (1890's IIRC). As Ron notes above, corks would have been the primary closure for bottles mid-19th century. When the "flip-tops" - called Lightning closures - were used for beer, the "white plastic plug" were either metal and, more commonly found today, white porcelain and often were branded with the brewer's name. They're still found in dumps by those who dig for bottles and cans.


    Beer bottling in the US didn't really take off until the adoption of pasteurization (popularized by some joke named "Busch" in St. Louis) - again well after the pre-Civil War era.
    luwak, Auror, Beejay and 28 others like this.
  19. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,468) Aug 23, 1996 California

    We've had to remove a bunch of off-topic posts in this thread from people who apparently can't read.

    As per the OP's request, please keep the thread focused on "appearances of beer in the film."

    Start a blog if you want to give your opinion on slavery or Quentin Tarantino. Thanks all.
    calcnerd, LSUPT, MordorMongo and 7 others like this.
  20. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Would they have lagers? Seems hard to ferment one in the desert. Unless it was was like the california common yeast but even then it's more on the lower end of ale fermentation temps. Id imagine beer would be fermented in casks then tapped on the bar, poured via gravity.
  21. jeffthecheff

    jeffthecheff Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2008 Connecticut

    That's funny, I was thinking the same thing about the beer color. But I thought that golden beer a) looked beautiful on the big screen, and b) was a really effective scene for portraying Dr. Shulz as a homesick German. Walz was great in this movie, and is an incredible actor. But what I really want to know is if that was real beer or some type of prop beer. Cause if it was fake, Walz deserves an oscar just for that familiar, genuine look of enjoyment he had when he was pouring and then sipping on that beer.
    hopsbreath likes this.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,255) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    The way I read the OP, they were simply drinking beer from a keg, not brewing it. (Also, re: "in the desert" - doesn't the film take place in Mississippi?)

    One of the earliest lager brewers (some claim the first) in the US was Lemp of St. Louis, who used a 12 barrel kettle (still preserved in a Missouri museum - pic below) in the 1840's, so it would be likely he had wooden fermentation and lagering tanks at least that large. a drawing of the early brewery shows large horizontal lagering casks as tall as doorways. Lemp's brewery used a "natural cave" for a storehouse.

    It is possible that a rich plantation owner could have had kegs of beer shipped down the Mississippi from the brewery in St. Louis.

    tronester likes this.
  23. masterofsparks

    masterofsparks Defender (659) Nov 15, 2009 Ohio

    Beer is housed in flip-top bottles in Rio Bravo, which I know is one of QT's favorite movies, so using that in this movie may've been more of a cinematic homage than an attempt at historical accuracy.
  24. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Ah, i dont know anything about this movie other than that the previews make it look like a western.
  25. Beertsipper

    Beertsipper Initiate (0) Nov 18, 2008 New York

    You sneaked the beer into the theater? Is this legal?
  26. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,430) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Obviously not, but BAs will go to the extremes to enjoy beer in every setting.
    johntangus likes this.
  27. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,279) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    i believe the scene i'm talking about takes place in a bar in a small town in texas, not in mississippi nor on a plantation, which are later on in the film.

    it is a western. (SPOILER ALERT) parts of the film take place in texas and then as far northwest as montana and even up in the rocky mountains, before heading back to mississippi
    mikeburd1128 likes this.
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,255) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    :grimacing: But the point is where ever they were, they were merely drinking the beer, not brewing it, correct? Again, in theory, beer from St. Louis (or elsewhere) could have been shipped to Texas (even by rail? - don't know TX railroad history). Also, Texas' first recorded brewery was founded in San Antonio in 1855.
    chinabeergeek likes this.
  29. glitchedmind

    glitchedmind Initiate (0) May 8, 2012 California

    This article has some pretty in depth information of early brewing in Texas.
    luwak likes this.
  30. JK4Stout

    JK4Stout Initiate (0) May 10, 2010 Virginia

    I was sitting the theater thinking the same thing about the "flip top". At which point my date told me "Chill, it doesn't really matter." At this point I decided she would no longer be my date...which would explain why I can spend so much time on BA.
    luwak likes this.
  31. mikeburd1128

    mikeburd1128 Zealot (514) Oct 28, 2011 New Jersey

    It was only a joke, brah.
  32. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,033) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Best answer ever on these forums.
    luwak likes this.
  33. HoptimusMax1mus

    HoptimusMax1mus Disciple (305) Jul 10, 2012 Arizona

    That is what I thought as I watched the film. QT is not a historical nut of real history but he is a nut for classic film. I enjoyed the movie and the beer scenes had me asking the same question and then realizing it is probably not accurate but inspired by classic films.
  34. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (2,762) Oct 14, 2009 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I think the first scene with the beer on the hand pump was indeed somewhere in Texas. I saw this post before watching the movie and smiled as King Schultz served up some tasty looking brew (regardless of its historical accuracy).
  35. lsummers

    lsummers Initiate (0) Jun 21, 2010 California

    I once had a beer while waking to the theater! Haha
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