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Probably the best company history website in the world?

September 9, 2011

Brewer Carlsberg is currently celebrating 200 years since the birth of its founder JC Jacobsen.

But the group website doesn’t really need an excuse. It is already a remarkable digital history treasure trove which is regularly mined by broadcast researchers for snippets like:

  • Special Brew, favoured by winos and down and outs for its 9% strength, actually had a nobler genesis. It was originally created to honour for Winston Churchill on a visit in 1950
  • Giving away what others might see as invaluable trade secrets – the yeast formula which now ensures most commercially-produced lagers in the world have a bit of Carlsberg in them.  The video clip (above)  tells this well – plus the Carlsberg Laboratory’s invention in 1909 of the pH scale to test acidity which has been in universal use by scientists ever since.

There is much so much more to discover thanks to the work of Carlsberg archivist Ulla Nymand and her team. The appeal of the site is that if offers a quick dip as well as a deeper dive into authentic history. It doesn’t duck the father and son rammy between JC and his son Carl (add the Danish for hill and you get where the name came from).

J.C. Jacobsen standing in his winter garden kn...

JC Jacobsen – Image via Wikipedia

JC was the first brewer to put into practical application Louis Pasteur’s discoveries on yeast and they became good friends. This paid dividends for Carlsberg which in turn up funded so many of Denmark’s cultural institutions down to the statue of the Little Mermaid in Cophenhagen

Brewers elsewhere left their architectural mark which is why Edinburgh has  the McEwan and Usher halls  but the sheer scale of Carlsberg’s philanthropy and altruism has no equal.

Carl  travelled widely to learn about brewing in Europe and spent a year in Scotland.

And where do you think the first Carlsberg Export went to? Edinburgh, again, which might seem a bit like coals to Newcastle but at that time a dark beer, it was apparently popular with whisky drinkers.  The first importers were grocers Russell, Leith and Theilmann.  It is discussed in more detail by lager afficianados here

Carlsberg Archives and the Danish National Archive have now made JC’s original correspondence available online.

Time to toast him with a celebratory beer? Yep.  And for historians and chemists at least, we’re duty bound to call for a Carlsberg.

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