Fight Fire With Beer

Extinguishing the Fire in the Opera House With Beer

 News        01/24/2023

Exactly two hundred years have passed since the catastrophic fire in which the state opera house in Munich burned down, which the firefighters were ready to put out with beer.

It was January 14, 1823, and it was freezing cold. The comic opera Two Foxes by Étienne-Nicolas Méhul was being performed in the Bavarian National Theater and in the middle of the performance, a fire broke out caused by an overturned oil lamp. The decoration caught fire, and the fire quickly spread through the entire building. In addition to the catastrophic fire that razed the opera house to the ground, this event also resulted in the first increase in the price of beer at Oktoberfest in its history. King Max I imposed a special two-year tax of 25% to help rebuild the burnt opera house.

By the way, beer was destined to extinguish that terrible fire. Namely, when the firefighters rushed to the scene of the fire, it turned out that due to the extreme cold, all the places for taking water in the city were frozen and there was no water available for the firefighters. King Max I, who watched the disaster from the window of the residence with Crown Prince Ludwig and builder Leo von Klenze, came up with the grandiose idea of requisitioning beer barrels from the nearby brewery and beer hall of the Hofbräuhaus and using them to extinguish the fire! In addition to beer, there was also a lot of water in the brewery, which was prepared there for the production and cooling of beer.

In the end, it was not necessary, because by the time the firemen arrived on the scene with barrels of beer, the building was already completely burnt. The damage was enormous, especially since the opera building was practically new, it was built from 1810 to 1817. "While the ground floor was not yet completely empty, large tongues of fire already flared up to the sky from the highest windows of the building. The fire quickly engulfed the entire building, and the space was so glowing that it could be seen from afar," the chroniclers wrote in the city yearbook.


Munich   firefighters   opera   Bavaria   history   beer tax  
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