[This is the eleventh 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.]
Last full week in Munich and except for food words, I haven’t learned any more German. I find that 90 percent of Germans know some English and especially around Hauptbaunhof (main train station). Munich is actually more safe than I expected. I found out that our hostel is in the roughest part of town, but it doesn’t scare me like sections of Chicago did.
This week we had a lot of hands-on modules. The class was split into thirds and my group started with an awesome lecture and demonstrations about draft systems. Great beer + bad draft = bad draft. (And this is a case where two negatives don’t add up to a positive either.) Tuesday we brewed another batch of wheat bier and did the calculations ourselves this time. The batch went without a hitch until it came time to cool it. Somebody had turned off the chiller for the cold water and we couldn’t chill the beer, so they pumped it into the conical instead and used the jackets to cool it. Wednesday we spent the day learning to use the kieselgur <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kieselgur> and depth filter. We filtered the wheat beer that we made last time, then we added speise (more wort/food) and fresh yeast. (yes, some German breweries actually use this method to get consistent products…the yeast is typically a lager yeast for bottle conditioning.) On Thursday, all 38 of us spread out throughout the bottling line and helped bottle four batches of beer. This bottling line is capable of 4000 bottles/hour, but we slowed it down to 2000. We finished in about three and a half hours! After lunch we just cleaned up and grabbed a few fresh bottles of beer and headed to the train. Each night I spent time preparing for our exam that was on Friday. They didn’t do a good job to let us know what was going to be on the exam. All we knew was it had mostly to do with brewing beer, so a lot of the students were anxious and worried about the exam.
On Thursday, we decided to go back to Ayinger <http://en.ayinger-bier.de/?pid=263> for an evening tour. This tour rocked. There were two people from Holland who spoke little English and preferred the tour to be in German (because they spoke that, at least), but our guide did a good job to field questions from both them and our group in our respective languages. This tour lasted two hours and ended with three beers and a free bottle opener. Highly recommended. Afterwards we hit the Liebards Restaurant which is an Ayinger beerhall (owned by the family of Ayinger) and we ate and drank. I decided to have the Mega veinershnitzel along with my buddy Ziggy. This was by far the biggest thing I ever ate (pictured left). It was the size of my large plate and was seated on a bed of fries and came with a side salad. I finished it except a few fries left on my plate got the best of me.
This week was wet and cold and so we didn’t do much stuff outside, except for Monday afternoon. Since our professor had other commitments in the afternoon we actually got out of school on Monday at 1p.m. So I went down to the Viktualienmarkt in downtown Munich for shopping. I found mead, cheese, Oktoberfest shoes and vest. I also had bought some stuff for my daughters.
One night (that was cold and drippy) my Colombian roommate, Adrian, dragged me out to get a beer. Since he was buying, I gave in. We went to the Augustiner Keller <http://www.augustinerkeller.de/en.htm> which was highly recommended by our classmates. When we got inside, the guy pointed to a really small set of spiral stairs that took us about three stories down and into the old cellaring caves. These have been redone and look very new as seen by the picture, but was very cool, nonetheless. When we were done we headed back towards the stairs and found the elevator instead. Sweet.
Friday morning was our final exam. It was five essays that we got to pick out of seven and we had three hours to complete it. I was more anxious for this exam than I would have expected (UWP was a long time ago), but I feel I did well. Michael, who is taking us on our study tour the next two weeks will be grading our exams during this time, so we’ll find out how we did at the end of our study tour…we are all relieved that it is over.
Friday afternoon five of us got on an international train for Prague, Czech Republic. We got there around 11 p.m. and the taxi guys were trying to get five times the recommended price that we studied about, so we walked to our hostel instead (two km) and got there around midnight. The Czech Inn (get it? check inn?) was really well run and had lots of showers, bathrooms, towels, Internet, free maps and everybody spoke English…again, highly recommended. Praha (as the Czech call it) is a beautiful hilly city, and also cheap, as long as you aren’t in a touristy part of town. Pictured right, our bill shows us paying over $1000 crown for a meal…that was like $10 Euro a piece for three rounds of beer and food. Most 1/2 liters were about $1 US (awesome compared to the $4-5 US for each beer in Munich). The pictures cannot capture it like some of the postcards I snagged did (yes, Erin, I got you more postcards). We found the faux Eifel tower, Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle and the John Lennon wall. We also accidentally stumbled upon two brewpubs as well on Saturday. The beer was cheap it was only $30 for each 1/2 liter (well, czech crowns actually and that’s about $1.45 in US$). On Sunday we hit Old Town (which had lots of food vendors, musicians, artists, etc). Then we found two more brewpubs and a beer garten (with awesome Zlatopramen 11° <http://www.zlatopramen.cz/soutez.aspx> Plato beer) before heading on the train back to Munich.
This week we begin our study tour in Germany via group bus and led by Doemens instructor Michael Eder…the big German, will have way too many pics and stories to tell, but will do my best to summarize.