[This is the ninth installment of an ongoing series by Adam Draeger, an experienced homebrewer and engineer transitioning to the world of professional brewing through coursework at the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology.]
This week was full of a lot and I don’t have enough room to share it all here. I think I may include more pictures this time and less narration.
There are a lot of big breweries in Munchen including: Spaten, Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, Augustiner, Lowenbrau and Hofbrau. We have been to several of the Augustiner Brauhaus’s as well as Lowenbrau (pictured right) and the most famous Hofbrau Haus, of course (pictured below). The beer at these places is quite expensive around 8 Euro or $11 for a mass krug (liter). We did find a local grocery that has cheap beer in PET bottles and even sells pre-mixed Radler. (see pic, 0.25 euro deposit per bottle!) Radler is beer (lager/weiss) and lemonade mixed together and is quite popular in Germany because you can drink several without getting tipsy.
Doemens is actually in a suburb called Grafeling and which we commute by train which takes 20 minutes and another 13 minutes to walk. It is much larger than Siebel and some days there will be 25 staff and 200 students there. Doemans building has a 6 hl brewhaus, small malthouse, full bottling/kegging, fermentation (see pic of 9 mini horizonal fermentors & open fermentation), filtering, laboratories, classrooms on site. Also a cafeteria with really good food that we can purchase daily.
We had a full week of content and they like to mix it up a lot here. Nearly daily we are doing a styles tasting, but in a much more detailed format that covers: history, characteristics, how to make that particular style and other important information for understanding it, then we taste. On Tuesday we split the class and my half went to the third floor for microscopy. We looked at nearly two dozen different yeasts and bacteria that were pre-grown on agar. We got to prepare our own slides which was good practice. Pictured left, you can see yeast that was grown and deliberately stressed so that it started to sporelate (4 acrospores circled in red…can you believe this pic was taken with an iphone looking down the gullet of microscope…luck shot!). The microscopes we were using we wicked cool, but probably way too expensive, I had a lot of fun preparing, smelling and viewing the cultures. Megaspherea and E. Coli were probably my least favorite to smell (vomit/rotten feet and feces, respectfully).
On Wednesday our groups switched roles, so we got our turn at brewing a German Hefeweizen. The system was nearly fully automated, so with the exception of putting the grains and hops in, and turning one or two valves, most of the valves and all the heat and pumps was controlled via the computer console. This setup is mostly for teaching brewers how to control the BIG systems and they just have it all the same on a small scale. The only thing that went wrong was the mash mixer stopped working and the expert was on vacation that day, so I got to scoop out the lauter tun by hand. We then ran out of empty tubs, so Andy and I (our instructor) went one mile down the road to feed a dozen cows at a small farm in the city…yes, in the city, then I could re-use the empty tubs.
Thursday and Friday had more lectures on styles and tasting as well as chemical analysis and yeast flavor contributions. After class on Friday I bought a train ticket and headed up to see my uncle and family up near Meitingen, Germany.
Friday night we just ate supper and hung out at my uncles motorcycle clubhouse. On Saturday I had asked if there were any local breweries we could visit, there was one nearby in Wertingen called Schwanenbrau (Swan Brew). Braumeister Carry is a 4th generation brewer that graduated from Doemens Institute back in 1980 and he took over the brewery from his father that has existed since 1416 (their family bought the brewery in 1880). It is a 100 hl (~80 barrels) brewery but the demand has been shrinking and he only brews about 17 batches a year now. He also had a small museum setup that he created from items that he found around the brewery. This was really cool too, he explained to me the process of wooden casks (pictured below) from a first-hand experience…anytime I’ve asked questions in America about this practice, little is known, but in Germany they still use actually wooden casks each year at Oktoberfest.
On Sunday I had four meals before 4 p.m. Pancakes for first breakfast. Weisswurst, brezen and Pils for second breakfast (we went to neighboring town that had a motorcycle shop and was having a spring fling to stir up business for the cycling season). We went to my uncle’s in-laws (who live in the same town as he) for bier and braun (we had cakes). Then we had an early supper at 3:30 p.m. that was kartoffel (potato salad) and home rotissare chicken. It was all good, I didn’t eat much for supper, just snacks and more bier of course. I suppose a third of my daily calories might come from bier. I definitely need to start a diet when I get back to the states. Until then I will enjoy the food and beverage while I can.