[This is the tenth 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.]
Good weather=open bier gartensAs you can see by the collage of mugshots (get it, “mug” shots?, I crack myself up) I frequented a lot of bier gartens this week. The two warmest days we made it to the English Garten which is HUGE and also hosts a lake, lots of trails and bier gartens. I didn’t bring any shorts with me because I had researched the weather conditions for this month and, get this, the web was wrong! So I went looking for a pair of shorts. Germans must never wear shorts or something, I could find a pair of lederhosen for $99, but shorts, I had to pay 25 Euro, which was the cheapest pair I could find. At least I got good use of them this week as most days got to the 70’s F or at least upper 60’s F.
I found a brewpub in Munich. I visited Unions Brau Keller. The copper kettle and system was old and wicked cool looking. The beer wasn’t as pure as the big breweries’ Helles, Dunkel, Bock, etc, but it was cool to drink it in the ambiance of a brewpub/keller (basement). I bumped into a flight attendant from Sully, Iowa (merely 16 miles from Pella, Iowa) when I was dining here.
This week at school we covered a lot of topics like chemical analysis, yeast flavors, brewing operations, acidifying mashes and studied the German Reinheitsgebot (which is a lot more complicated than saying just malt, water, hops and yeast, btw) To give you an idea: hops cannot be used after boiling, so no dry hopping. But minerals and bacteria can be used to treat the water ahead of time. Rye and Wheat can be used with top-fermenting yeast, but not with bottom-fermenting yeast. Apparently there are dozens of loopholes but functionally, it is very restrictive and the brewers at Doemens wish it was opened up for more innovation. Before 1987, only beer that was made according to the Reinheitsgebot could be sold in Germany. That means that Belgian beers weren’t allowed to be sold here, nor most American beer. The European states complained, and they passed a law that allowed beer to be brought into the country, but if it is made in Germany it still needs to follow the purity law. The country wasn’t (and still isn’t) ready for it; you have to look extra hard to find any beer that isn’t German, Austrian or Czech here. The distributors do not want to chance that they’ll sell these other beers, and most Germans would be too set in tradition to try them so there isn’t much available. I saw a Guinness the other day, that’s like finding a four-leaf clover!
Styles tastings this week covered the history, brew techniques and flavor profiles for ales: Kolsch, Alt, Weiss, Dunkelweiss, Berliner Weiss and Kristallweiss.
We had a group project that split the class into four groups. Our group needed to describe our fictional brewery and our flagship lager and how it was microbiologically stable. Then we needed to describe our “functional beverage” which is like an alcoholic drink that provides something else (eg. caffeine) as a benefit to consumers. We chose a milk lager that would be rich in vitamins and chemicals so it provided retardants for hangovers and tryptophan causing sleepiness so you can “sleep it off.” Totally ridiculus, but our group had fun putting together our presentation. I think we called it Drunken Cow Sleepytime Milk Lager. We then had to make changes to the product such that it would be microbiologically more stable. After two days, we presented and the instructor told us that it wouldn’t be graded, but if it were, all four groups would have gotten A’s. Oh, and in case you were wondering, our product was made according to the Bovineheitsgebot.
On Thursday we had an in depth tour of all the equipment in the filling room. We will be bottling our wheat beer that we made last week this coming Thursday (16 days later) and so this was a way to introduce us to the equipment that we’ll be using and subsequently cleaning.
This weekend was pretty awesome for checking out new places. A bunch of us took the train to Aying after school on Friday and walked into the Ayinger Brewery (pictured above in my new shorts). They were closed but the receptionist let us walk around a bit. It was a very new facility, modernized and very clean. Afterwards we walked into the center of town and found a bier garten that sold only Ayinger and relaxed in the sun.
On Saturday, Cade (from Birmingham, Ala.) and I rode the train up to Freising to visit the historic Weihenstephan monestary, brewing school and brewery. It was on the top of this ridge that overlooked the town of Freising and was really gorgeous. There were flower and tree gartens all around and a bier garten, of course. I tried a barley schnapps (distilled barley liquor. It was sweet, not dry like a whiskey).
We then visited the original Paulaner brewery which is still brewing on a pub level. Afterwards we headed to another Paulaner biergarten where they held Starkbierfest, which was a large biergarten and fest hall. Starkbier is another word for “strong beer”, which is what they call their doppelbocks. A liter of Salvator is all I needed. Wow, this was like a mini-Oktoberfest, but in contrast, 90 percent of everybody was dressed up…I regret not bringing my lederhosen now. There was a 14-piece band that really got the crowd going inside the hall, and outside the temp was perfect and there was plenty of Gemutlichkeit going around.
On Sunday, Cade and I took an another train up to Dachau which is the site of the very first concentration camp in 1933. This was preserved and turned into a free museum for anybody to walk the grounds. All the placards were in at least German and English, but sometimes in six different languages. We hit everything pretty fast but still spent nearly three hours walking the grounds and reading the literature. Very interesting and I appreciated the fact that this was put together by Germans…they respectfully tried to give the history of everything that happened even though it was pretty much self-damning. I suppose a parallelism would be the Americans and slave-trading though.
Will have to put more effort into studying this week as our written essay final will be this coming Friday. If we pass this, we’ll receive our brewing diplomas!