How Much Beer Did Bach Drink?

Bach drank a lot of beer. And thanks to music historians, we know exactly how much.

Christoph Wolff is a Harvard professor and musician who is most famous for his research on J.S. Bach. His 2001 book, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. In the book, Wolff traces Bach’s life, analyzes Bach’s music, and even examines Bach’s drinking.

Wolff describes Bach’s 1713 trip to Halle to consult on an organ construction project at Our Lady’s Church. During the two-week trip, the church paid all of Bach’s expenses, which included 18 groschen for beer. Wolff explains that “Bach’s 18 groschen would buy thirty-two quarts of beer at retail price.”

BachBeer wanted to put that amount into more modern figures, so it did some math and found:

Bach’s two-week beer consumption

That’s how much Bach drank in two weeks. So each day Bach averaged:

  • 4.5 pints, or
  • 1.1 growlers, or
  • 1 six pack.

Whatever the measurement, that’s an impressive amount of beer.

For centuries, Bach has inspired composers and performers with his massive output of intricate, beautiful music. At BachBeer, we believe the Learned Musician’s great affection for beer is also an inspiration.

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One thought on “How Much Beer Did Bach Drink?

  1. Tom Wegener says:

    Quantities of beer = much musical creativity
    = great reproductive fervor (20 offspring)
    = improvisational ability (diminishes inhibitions)
    = inspires verbal abilities
    = improves longevity (65 not bad for 17th century)

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