Monday, 31 March 2008

Weissbier and other German top-fermenters

Back to "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" (by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 1902). How can I stay away from a book so full of laughs?

Pages 65 and 66 describe various special types of Süssbier ("Sweet Beer"). There's very little left of these styles today. Apart from that one Lichtenhainer. Let's see how much of the translation I can be bothered to type in tonight. I may do a part two tomorrow. Right, here goes . . . .

"Special Beers
In North Germany, especially in port cities, a 9-11º, dark, sweet beer is brewed which, after tun fermentation at 12 - 14º R [15 - 17.5ºC] is lagered in medium-large lagering barrels at 5 - 7º R [6.25 - 8.75ºC] for 14 days, also wood chips are often added to speed clarification, and after being drawn off is enriched with Kräusen.

In Hanover, the very weakly-hopped, sweet Broyhan Bier, using 20% wheat malt, has been brewed for centuries. In contrast to Berliner Weissbier, breweries in the provinces make Weissbier without the use of lactic acid bacteria, is fermented with yeast alone, through lagering at 4 - 6º R [5 - 7.5ºC] and the addition of wood chips it undergoes a long secondary conditioning and clarification, is drawn off clear through a filter and is filled into bottled with a little Kräusen. The beer, which after a while becomes clear, should have a fiery brilliance and foam in the glass. The use of some wheat malt or lightly-smoked barley malt makes this beer taste particularly piquant and refreshing. In Bavaria, especially Munich, a Weissbier is brewed from wheat malt and barley malt, which is similar to provincial Weissbier. The use of lightly-smoked barley malt is also found in other beers, for example in Lichtenhainer Bier, a very weakly-hopped beer of about 8º made from light barley malt."

There's some interesting stuff (what an extensive vocabulary I have) in there. It seems to be saying that Bavarian Weissbier was generally similar to Weissbier from other regions.

It always makes my day when I find a new mention of Broyhan or Lichtenhainer. Unfortunately, it only talks about Broyhan in the vaguest terms. Bit of wheat, not much hops. I already knew that much. Irritatingly, though the description of Lichtenhainer is more specific, it contradicts other sources. Earlier texts say that it was hoppy and very smoked. They do agree on an FG of about 8º Balling (about 1032).

I'm pretty sure that "Spähnung" means adding wood chips. It wouldn't be the first time I'd been mistaken, so I thought I'd mention it. Let me know if I'm wrong. In fact, feel free to check the whole translation. That's one of the reasons I've included an image of the original. And to let you see how much fun it is reading effing gothic typefaces.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

New poll

I'm pleased to see how well 1914 Barclay Perkins X Ale is doing in my new poll. It's beer I've always wanted to try.

There's just one snag. About the recipe. I had a hard enough time persuading Menno to use sugar in the Whitbread beers. I'm not so sure I'll be as lucky with raw maize. So, would you find it really terrible if I dropped the maize from the recipe? Not 100% authentic. But I'm sure the finished beer would be better for the change.

Is this acceptable, or should I stick to the letter of the original recipe?

. . . . . .

What was I thinking when I wrote that? I was missing the whole point. Apologies for bothering you with such stupid thoughts. It's been a long week.

Barclay Perkins 1914 X Ale wasn't a great beer. I'm sure of that. It was typical. A mainstream, mass-produced beer, brewed slightly on the cheap. It's what most people drank. In a way, isn't that more fascinating than Russian Stout?

Not sure if that will be enough to convince Menno.


Last week, I took bottles of 1914 Whitbread SSS to Cracked Kettle and Bierkoning for them to try. I was surpised to find that both had already had a few bottles of the Porter. Neither beer has been released in the Netherlands. Escaped, is a better description. A few bottles of Porter have escaped.

Count yourself very lucky if you caught one.

Oh, I'd be grateful of your opinion on the beer, if that's not too much trouble. Not had that much feedback yet.

Mike just told me that Porter is on the shelf at Bierkoning. If you hurry, you might just catch it.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Berliner Weisse (again)

The section on Berliner Weisse in "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" (by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 1902) is far too long (26 pages) for me to translate it all. I'd be busy until Christmas. You'll have to make do with edited highlights.

  • Weissbier had been brewed in Berlin for centuries.
  • Between 1892 and 1897 the number of top-fermenting breweries in Berlin increased from 47 to 71. In the same period, production of top-fermenting beer increased from 1,000,000 hl to 1,300,000 hl.
  • In Berlin, 33% of beer brewed was top-fermenting.
  • The two largest top-fermenting breweries each produced about 150,000 hl a year.
  • In the early decades of the 19th century Berlin Weissbier brewers regulalrly refreshed their yeast with fresh Bitterbier yeast brought in from Cottbus. If they kept repitching harvested yeast, their beer was too sour.
  • Only in the 1830's or 1840's did the mixed yeast/lactobacillus strain develop which could be safely repitched without needing to be periodically refreshed.
  • Before 1850 most Berliner Weisse was sold young, just a day or two after being brewed. The beer was finished by publicans, who also bottled it.
  • In the 19th century, Weisse was often watered down a bottling time, but not as universally as in 1900. It used to only happen in working-class pubs, while posher establishments sold it uncut.
  • Until the 1860's smoked wheat malt was used to brew Berliner Weisse. Then one brewer experimented with an unsmoked version that was so well received by drinkers that all the other brewers quickly followed suit.
  • Two things remained constant between 1800 and 1900: the use of wheat malt and barley malt; not boiling the wort.
(Taken from pages 67 and 68 of "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere")

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Authentic, IPA,

I'm not an idiot. (Don't disagree, this is just for purposes of argument.) You notice which words get people all riled up. Authentic and IPA are two of the best. Just look at the discussion here.

"Isn't this just another way of dodging writing a real post?" There are two answers to that. One is truthful. Which do you fancy?

Yes. I've been down the pub. We've all done it. There's a pub with an open door. Suddenly your feet take control. Next thing you know, a pint of Festival Mild and a rogge jenever are staring back from the table. Could you resist? I'm not that strong.

In the tram on the way back I got my mind working. About beer styles, the transitory nature of everything and what I was going to eat for tea. Pasta with some sort of meat sauce. One out of three isn't bad. I'll leave the others for your consideration.

I would love to freeze the world as it is now. Or possibly move it back in time a decade or twelve. But that's not the way things work. Change is inevitable. Not intrinsically good, bad or indifferent. Just inevitable. Celebrate, accept, ignore or deny. It's your choice.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

What I was going to do

Translate a chapter of "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Bier" entitled Special Beers. That's what I was going to do today. I just about did. But I like to do things properly.

As way of compensation, here's a tidbit I picked up from the same book about Berliner Weisse. Until the 1860's, they used smoked wheat malt. One brewer experimented with an unsmoked version and drinkers liked it so much, within a couple of years all the other brewers followed suit.

And the yeast. The mixed yeast/lactobacillus strain only developed in the 1830's or 1840's. Before that, if they kept repitching, the beer became too sour. Brewers regularly brought in fresh top-fermenting Bitterbier yeast from Cottbus.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Barclay Perkins IBSt

Yesterday wasn't just a beer delivery. It was also a chance to discuss future brewing projects with Menno. Handily, I had a bottle of Barclay Perkins IBSt for him to try (thanks again Lachlan).

There's good news and bad news. Good news is that Menno wants to brew Barclay Perkins IBSt. Bad news is that the brown malt hasn't been delivered yet. Until it is, the IBSt will have to wait. That's not such a problem for me. I have, quite literally, a pile of Whitbread 1914 beers to drink (see the photo in my previous post).

Whever I visit De Molen, Menno plies me with one wonderful beer after another. My attempt at returning the favour was less than a 100% success. After his reaction to Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, I was pleased that the Guinness beers didn't top my poll. Even worse, the Harvey's Imperial Stout was corked and the Jamaican Guinness FES oxidised to undrinkability (maybe you might have enjoyed it, Mike). At least the 1992 Courage Russian Stout, although oxidised, was still showing its class.

Between sampling my below-par beer offerings, we kicked about a few ideas. The GBBF was mentioned and the possibility of a cask-conditioned recreation. I'm quite keen on the idea. Many post-1918 recipes are too weak for bottle-conditioning, but perfect for cask. Time for another poll.

These are the probable choices:

  1. 1901 Whitbread IPA
  2. 1910 Whitbread X Ale
  3. 1923 Whitbread KK
  4. 1933 Whitbread XXX
  5. 1933 Whitbread Double Brown
  6. 1952 Whitbread Extra Stout
  7. 1914 Barclay Perkins X Ale
  8. 1936 Barclay Perkins XX Ale
  9. 1936 Barclay Perkins KK

There's no guarantee that the winner will be at the GBBF. Or even be brewed, for that matter. I'll do my best, that's all I can promise.

Monday, 24 March 2008

A picture of happiness

Menno came around with the rest of my beer yesterday. Here's a picture of my happiness:

I'm afraid that is pretty much all the bottles that are left in Europe. I think Menno only has three left.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Art project

I noticed my pages have become almost text only. Time for some more pictures.

Lexie is always drawing and painting. He asked me to join in yesterday. Obsessive that I am, I was only ever going to pick one theme. As you can probably tell, it took me several minutes to complete. But I think it was worth the effort.

I would suggest that Menno use it for advertising, except for one thing. (No, not because it's crap, you cynical git.) SSS won't need any promotion. There's so little of it, many will be disappointed.

Not me, though. I'll be acquiring another 54 bottles tomorrow. Should last me until the end of April. Unless I decide to share. That might sound mean, but I did primarily have the beers brewed for my own personal drinking pleasure. There's nothing stopping you from asking your friendly local brewer to knock up a couple of hundred litres for you. I've plenty of recipes if you lack inspiration.

Should you make a T-shirt from this design, I expect a cut. I need to earn 20,000 euros for the next 10 years to break even on this beer thing. And that's assuming I buy no more books. I would tell you how much I've spent on books, but I worry Dolores might occasionally read this blog. The flat in the Algarve - maybe it had been possible. Or that loft conversion. A kitchen we dare let visitors see. All those things we couldn't afford. At 2 euros royalty per T-shirt, sell 10,000 and I'll be done for 2008.

Breihan (Broyhan) part II

Do you remember that yesterday I had only found one description of brewing Breihan? It turns out that's not true. "Broyhanbier und Brauergilde Hannover 1526 - 1976" by Erich Borkenhagen, 1976 includes a complete reprint of "Broyhans Brau-Ordnung" of 1719. sixty-odd pages of detailed rules about all aspects of brewing Broyhan from malting to retailing. I'll translate the most useful sections when I have time.

However, today it's the turn of Oekonomische Encyklopädie of 1773 (pages 160 - 163).

"Wiessbier or Breihan
Beer is also brewed from wheat malt, either from that alone or with the addition of barley malt, sometimes without hops, sometimes with a very small amount of hops. The general name of this beer is Breihan or Broihahn; in many pplaces it is also called Weissbier, although this is mostly made from air-dried barley malt [Luft-Malz]. I want to only say this and that, because anyhow you can refer for everything else to the general instructions. When just wheat malt is to be used, which must ro air-dried or only very lightly kilned, so that there is no brown to be seen, to give the beer a yellowish-brown colour; so it can be reckoned, for example, for 3 Tonne [1 Braunschweig Tonne = 101.18 litres] beer 12 at most 15 bushels of malt, partly because wheat is more than double the price of barley; partly also because it contains more than twice as much strength, which is extracted during brewing . Brewing itself is carried out exactly as shown on page 153, except that usually when the wort is drawn off it is allowed to run through some hops, although it wouldn't be incorrect, for a brew of 30 Tonne, to soak a few pounds of hops in warm water for 1 or 2 hours and to later mix this extract thoroughly with the wort. To give just one example, I will detail the method of brewing Breihan which Hr. Verf. des Chemischen Lehrbegriffs from the Wallerius gives, and which presumably must be used in Sweden. It consists of the following:

'Take 2.5 parts of barley malt, a half part of wheat malt and as much oat malt and air-dried malt as you want. After they have all been mixed, they are milled, and wort made in the way beer is made, except that a handful of hops is laid in front of the hole in the Gestelkübel [a tub in a frame]. About 3 to 4 Kanne of this [the wort] are specially drawn off; of the remainder, a fifth is boiled and afterwards, while it is still warm, mixed with finely ground spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, coriander seeds, Galgant [ don't know what that one is] and violet root; when it has cooled, start it ferementing with a good fermentation medium, including two parts of French brandy. Afterwards, watch to see when the peaks and towers raised during fermentation begin to collapse. As soon as this happens, the liquid has to be put into barrels and the barrels filled with the wort which was held back.'"
I'm struck most by the minimal amount of hops used and the spices. That, and the use of oats, barley and wheat, make it resemble a late-medieval beer. Breihan seems to fit somewhere between Belgian Witbier and Berliner Weisse.

I would love to know when the last true Breihan was brewed. My guess would be between 1880 and 1900. Any of you home brewers fancy reviving it?

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Breihan (or Broyhan)

I've finished with Berliner Weisse for the time being. Now it's the turn of Breihan. A beer with more different spellings than even Koyt.

I have plenty of obsessions. If you need one, I'm sure I could spare a few. They're clogging up the spare bedroom something rotten. I do use my Breihan obsession every now and again, so that has to stay. I take it down from the the shelf, dust it off and look at it. Time to finally use it.

Never heard of Breihan? Not surprising. No-one has. Yet it was the most popular style in Northern Germany for around 300 years. Sometime towards the end of the 19th century it disappeared without trace. Or almost did. Because there is a style still around today that was developped from it: Berliner Weisse.

It couldn't have disappeared at a worse time. Just before German brewing literature took off. So there's barely a mention of Breihan in any of my old manuals. It's very frustrating. I do have the odd chemical analysis, which is, I suppose, better than nothing.

In typical North German style, Breihan wasn't a particularly intoxicating drink. Just 1 to 3% ABV.

Breihan, Broyhan, Broyhahn, Broihan, Breyhan, Breihahn, Breuhahn, Broihahn. These are just some of the spellings.

I think that's about enough for today. Tomorrow, I'll share with you the only description of how to brew Breihan I've found. Exciting, eh?

Friday, 21 March 2008

Berliner Weisse (finished at last)

I've finally finished the translation of the Berliner Weisse section in the Oekonomische Encyklopädie of1773 (pages 163 - 165). Sorry for the delay. I do have a life outside beer, you know, difficult as that may be to imagine.

Today's section deals with cooling, fermentation and bottling. First cooling the wort:

"The wort is now thoroughly developped and it is time to cool it. With Weissbier it is more necessary than with Braunbier that it cools quickly, because it will spoil without chance of rescue if the brewer isn't careful. Accordingly Weissbier brewers have their own equipment in which they cool the beer, called a cool ship. Such a beer cool ship is an open but solid box of planks and stands next to the tun raised on a platform. It is eight feet wide and one foot high. Its length depends on the room and it should run parallel to one long and one short wall of the brewery. The brewer sets a portable wooden pump in th Zapfbottich [tapping tun] and with it pumps the wort from the tun into the cool ship. When the wort has cooled sufficiently, it is poured, using a wooden gutter, from the cool ship back into the cleaned mash tun and in this vessel is pitched with yeast. "

There's no mention of lactic acid bacteria in the text. Just yeast. Could this cool ship be where the lactic acid bacteria got into the beer? It was wooden and open to the air. Doesn't seem unreasonable.

Now pitching the yeast:

"Weissbier brewers usually preliminarily tap some unboiled wort from the Zapfbottich before the cooled wort is added to it. They cool this boiled wort [I think they mean unboiled wort] , pitch it with yeast in order to test if the beer will ferment. The greatest portion is, as already stated, cooled in the cool ship, run into the mash tun and pitched with yeast. To this the earlier tapped and pitched wort is added when it starts to ferment and encourages through this the fermentation of the entire brew. To 4 Tonne [1 Tonne = 114.503 litres] of wort the Weissbier adds at most 1 Quart [1 Prussian Quart = 1.14503 litres] of yeast."

Why make a yeast starter with unboiled wort? Is this the source of the lactic acid bacteria? WHy else would you do this?

Finally, fermentation:

"After 5 or 6 hours, when the fermentation goes well, a white spot appears in the middle of the beer, and the Weissbier brewer then usually puts his beer immediately into Tonne [barrels] , without waiting for a full fermentation in the mash tun. The beer is taken into the cellar and here it must ferment or, as they say, belch. First sticky and pitch-like yeast appears, which consequently in Berlin is called pitch or pitch barm. Cobblers use this yeast as glue. The Weissbier brewer has to carefully remove this yeast and isolate it from the yeast used for pitching. This he uses again to pitch in a new brew; however, in order to improve his beer, so he alternates between pitching with his own recovered yeast yeast from Kottwitzerbier, which he has brought from Kottbus. Weissbier is seldom sold on draught in Berlin, but generally delivered to publicans and by these filled into bottles."

Putting the wort back into the mash tun for pitching, then moving it into barrels at the first sign of fermentation is a bit odd, too. Any ideas why they might have done this? Why not just fill it directly into the fermentation barrels?

Bottling by publicans is very similar to Gose, where this practice continued well into the 20th century. Could this be the origin of adding water at bottling time? Possibly. I think I have evidence to support this. In "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere". You know what I'm going to say now. A translation of the relevant text will follow. Sometime soon.

You can find the original German text from Oekonomische Encyklopädie here:

Any improvements on my translation are welcome. I struggled.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The results are in

The poll for what I should get brewed next is now closed. The results were:

1856 and 1937 Barclay Perkins IBSt 28%
1880's Guinness Porter and Extra Stout 20%
1901 Whitbread PA and IPA 17%
1800's Burton Ale and Scotch Ale 13%
18th century Stitch and Brown Stout 8%
1869 Barclay Perkins KK and KKKK 7%
1805 and 1862 Barclay Perkins BSt 5%
1839 Griffin Brewery XX and KK 3%
1839 Griffin X and XXX 1%
1881 Whitbread KK and 1923 Whitbread KK 0%
1881 Whitbread X and 1923 Whitbread X 0%

Just as well Menno ordered that ton of brown malt. He'll be needing some for my next two beers: 1856 and 1937 Barclay Perkins IBSt (Russian Stout). I was heartbroken when S & N discontinued Russian Stout after being continuously produced for over 200 years. I'm fortunate enough to have a lifetime's supply. For the rest of you, what an opportunity to try this beer. In my opinion, the best ever brewed.

Now the voting's over I can give you my opinion. The two IBSt's are the beers I would most like to drink, but aren't what I would have chosen to be brewed . I would have preferred either the Barclay Perkins KK and KKKK or 1805 and 1865 BSt (Brown Stout).

If I were a fair man, numbers two and three in the poll would be my next projects. But I'm not a fair man. And brewing three Stouts in a row would be dull. I want to try some other styles.

Berliner Weisse (at last)

I've finally got my arse into gear and finished translating the next bit about Berliner Weisse.

"Berliner Weissbier is brewed from soft Spree [the river that runs through the centre of Berlin] water and mostly wheat, in contrast to Berlin Braunbier , which is brewed from spring water and barley. When using fresh wheat malt, the Weissbier brewer normally mixes in some oat malt. As fresh wheat malt collapses, oat malt is added to lighten it. But, when the Weissbier brewer uses old malt, he uses pure wheat with just a little barley malt. Before malting, wheat, like barley, is wetted in a Begiesbottich [not sure if there's an English equivalent for this; it's some sort of tub where the grains were sprinkled with water] and remains in the tub in warm weather for at most 36 hours, and in cold weather for at most 64 hours. During malting on the malting floor, the wheat germinates or sprouts after 12 hours and after this time the malt is turned every 12 hours. During drying, only a very small fire is maintained. Since the way the Weissbier brewer brews, both the barley and wheat should only be very lightly dried. Finally the malt must lie for a certain time, before use be sprinkled with a little water and then roughly crushed in a mill."
Oekonomische Encyklopädie (1773) von J. G. Krünitz, p 5, 163-165.

This is a fairly detailed description of malting for the period. They were presumably aiming for a very pale malt.

"We will assume a brew from 1 Winspel [an old unit of dry measure also called a Wispel; it's the equivalent of 24 bushels]. The Weissbier brewer always brews from 2/3 wheat and 1/3 barley malt. He pours into his mash tun (which has a specific size and, for a so-called half-brew of 32 bushels [1 Prussian bushel = 54.961 litres or approx. 55 kilos; in total 1,760 kilos], must hold at least 32 Tonne each of 100 Berlin quarts [1 Prussian Quart = 1.14503 litres; 1 Tonne = 114.503 litres; 32 Tonne = 3,664.096 litres]) 8 Tonne of lukewarm water, adds most of the water and has one person stir it with a mashing stick for half an hour. After this the rest of the malt is added to the mash, which must cover the mash and keep it warm until the water is boiling in the kettle. This is filled into the mash tun with a large filling bucket (called the Schuppen) of copper or iron plate which holds 4 Quarts and is attached to a long pole, and the brewer stirs the mash well with the mashing stick for another half hour . The mash must then rest fort another half hour, so that the thick or solid mash falls to the bottom and the thin or liquid mash floats on top. Then the thin mash tun is tapped using a piece of equipment, called Schoßfässer [something barrel] by Braunbier brewers and Füllfässer [filling barrels] by Weissbier brewers, and a kettle. filled and the mash is boiled for about an hour. Hops are now added to the boiling wort. For one Winspel, the Weissbier brewer reckons on in winter half a bushel of hops, in summer a whole bushel. These he infuses in warm water and then pours into the kettle and lets them boil with the mash. While the thin mash is boiling, the brewer empties the thick mash with the Schupen into the Zapfbottich [tapping tub], after first fitting a crown of straw around the tap and laying Meeschhölzer [mashing sticks], boards with holes, and a layer of straw at the bottom of the Zapfbottich. When the thin mash has been properly boiled in the kettle, it is added to the thick mash. The boiled mash is poured through a hop basket of giant braids, fixed to two poles, which lies resting on its poles on the Zapfbottich and is lined with straw which retains all the hops in the basket. The thick and thin mashes now stand mixed together for three hours in the Zapfbottich and during this time all the strength is extracted from the malt."

There you go. There's the description of the mashing process, too. Ok, there are loads of strangely-named bits of equipment and some rambling sentences, but I think it's pretty clear. The liquid part of the wort was boiled with hops in the kettle for an hour then added back to the rest. Contrast this with the method in the later text, where the hops are boiled with the water that will be used in the mash. A different solution to the same problem - how to add the hops without boiling the whole wort.

I haven't quite finished yet. There's another half page to translate. But it's time to eat.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Do you recognise this man?

You may recall me mentioning Lew Bryson being under the impression that we had met at the ZBF. At the time of our supposed meeting I was already sitting on a number 2 tram speeding homewards from Amsterdam Central Station.

Who the hell was claiming to be me? Luckily, Lew has sent me a photo of the putative Pattinson. Does anyone recognise him? (He's the one on the left - the other chap is Stephen Beaumont.)

Just for the record, I'm clean-shaven, don't wear glasses and have a full head of hair. And a tendency to rattle off facts from old brewing manuals at the slightest excuse. Without any ant excuse, too. The last few weeks I've been incapable of speaking two sentences without mentioning Danziger Joppenbier.

Obsessing about extinct beer styles is how you're going to have to recognise me. I'm not about to add any images of myself to either this blog or my website. I respect the memory of Stalin too much to do that.

Monday, 17 March 2008

The difference between Braunbier and Weissbier

More on Braunbier and Weissbier. This is takeb from "Archive def Pharmacie", 1855 page 215.

The difference between Braunbier and Weissbier

  1. Braunbier has more hops, Weissbier has little or no hops.
  2. Braunbier is clear, Weissbier rarely gets totally clear.
  3. Braunbier, being hopped, can be kept much longer than Weissbier.
  4. Weissbier turns sour much more easily than Braunbier and is often sour when just ready to drink.
  5. Braunbier has more extract than Weissbier.
  6. However there is no general difference in the amount of alcohol in Braunbier and Weissbier.

Weissbier and Braunbier

We all know what Weissbier is, don't we? Wheat beer.

Er, no. Weissbier wasn't necessarily brewed from wheat, though many Weissbiers did contain some. The name derives from pre-industrial malting techniques. There were two methods of preparing malt:

  1. air-dried "Luft-Malz" which was pale in colour
  2. kiln-dried "Darr-Malz", which was dark in colour

Beer brewed from Luft-Malz malt was called Weissbier("White Bier") because of its pale colour. That brewed from Darr-Malz was called Braunbier ("Brown Bier") for pretty obvious reasons. Lichtenhainer is a good example of a Weissbier that didn't necessarily contain any wheat.

You may have heard another explanation: that the "Weiss" in "Weissbier" somehow comes from "Weizen", the German word for wheat. I don't believe it for a minute.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Grätzer again

Talking of weird wheat beers, here's some more about Grätzer. It's taken from "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" by Franz Schönfeld, published in 1902, pages 61 and 62. A great book. I'm so pleased I found a copy.

I'll give you a full translation later. (Really. I promise.) This is a summary of the most interesting bits:

  1. 100% wheat malt
  2. the malt was exposed to smoke throughout the whole malting process -
    pretty smoky then, I guess
  3. the malt was highly dried, so I suppose reasonably dark
  4. 3 pounds of hops per 100 kg malt
  5. infusion mash
  6. yeast pitched at 15 - 18º C
  7. OG 7º Plato, FG 3º Plato
  8. bottle conditioned
  9. high CO2 content
  10. intense hop and smoked flavour

The flavour is described as both smoky and bitter. No mention of sourness. It specifically says that it keeps well and can still be bacteria free after a couple of years in the bottle.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Weird wheats

I'm heartened by the response to my posts about old German styles, especially the weird wheat styles. I've had a few enquiries from brewers wanting to make a Grätzer or a Lichtenheiner. Glad to be of help. Maybe I'll even get to try one or two.

Spurred on by brewers' questions, I dug around in the crap that fills my house and exhumed a few numbers. No Lichtenheiner, but Berliner Weisse, Gose and Broyhan.

They are the beers "generally available in Berlin". Most are very weak, as was usual in North Germany. You'd struggle to get very pissed on all except the Gose. Even that's only as strong as Mild.

You've probably guessed by now that I still haven't finished the Berliner Weisse translation. It's Saturday tomorrow. I should have some time.

Thursday, 13 March 2008


Forgive me for not posting much this week. Monday I dropped by Bodegraven to pick up some beer. My beer. Six bottles each of Porter and SSS. They've given my evenings purpose.

Words, words, words. I have literally several of them. Not all different, but you can't make proper sentences for long without repeating some. Try it yourself.

"Where can I buy these exciting new beers?" There's a long answer and a short answer to that question. Let's go with the short option. My tea's getting cold (colder, it was already cold when I started eating it). The USA. As you read this, it should be in transit. The Shelton Brothers have bought both batches in their entirety.

Apart from my bottles. One of the main reasons for the whole project was that I wanted to try the beers. Not just a couple of times, but often. So I have my own stash. I'm hoping that I can keep my hands off some of the SSS and let it age a year or ten. I'm an optimist.

And a few bottles will be on sale in De Molen's shop. You'd best be quick. It really is just a few bottles.

To summarise: in Europe, your best chance of getting hold of any is to be nice to me. I'm a weak man. I can be bribed in so many different ways. I'm cheap, too. So it won't even cost you very much. Just listening to me talk about extinct German top-fermenting styles for fifteen minutes would probably be enough. Few last more than 11 seconds voluntarily.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Berliner Weisse (just about )

Been out with the lads. Some beer called 1914 Porter is within reach.

Here's the start of the Berliner Weisse text.

"Berliner Weissbier is brewed from soft Spree [the river that runs through the centre of Berlin] water and mostly wheat, in contrast to Berlin Braunbier , which is brewed from spring water and barley. When using fresh wheat malt, the Weissbier brewer normally mixes in some oat malt. As fresh wheat malt sticks together, oat malt is added to loosen it up. But, when the Weissbier brewer uses old malt, he uses pure wheat with just a little barley malt."

That's where I hit the first word I can't easily translate: "Begiesbottich". Something to do with malting. Anyone know the right English word? Laulichtes. That's another. word I don't know. And Gestelkübel. Though that's from a different text.

Any help gratefully received. Dolores is surprisingly crap at German brewing vocabulary.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Berliner Weisse (almost)

I've got another text describing how to make Berliner Weisse. Long and detailed. And a good bit older.

The translation is almost complete. But almost isn't much use for posting purposes. I could tell you soime of the best bits, I suppose, and spoil it for you. There's no mention of bacteria. But plenty of scope - given the equipment they used - for it to get into the beer unintentionally. The mashing - that's weird too. Some bizarre decoction, where they boil part of the wort with the hops then tip it back into the mash tun.

I won't tell you any more now. I'd have nothing to write tomorrow. Märzen-Weisse. I've found more about that, too. In another book. So much to translate, so little time. Be patient.

Monday, 10 March 2008

ZBF imposter, please step forward

Lew Bryson swears he spoke to someone claiming to be me at the ZBF. If that person were charming, witty and intelligent then I could be persuaded it really was me. But I promised myself to leave sober this year and I thought I had succeeded.

Would the "me" who shared a 1914 Porter with Lew please like to step forward?

Saturday, 8 March 2008

time machine

All my best fantasies involve a time machine.

A simple question: if you had a time machine which year would you travel to and why?

I know this isn't beer related but - hell - let's chuck the theme like a frisbee.

Oh god, there's blood on my hands. Is that my blood? Oh no . . . oh god, no . . .

Berliner Weisse

Finally, as promised, something about Berliner Weisse. Today's guest publication is "Bierbrauerei" by M. Krandauer, published in Leipzig in 1914. (Pages 299 to 301).
"Berliner Weissbier, that is now made from a mixture of wheat and barley malt in the proportion of 2 or 3 to 1. Mashing method: either decoction or infusion. Characteristic is not boiling the wort, to retain the typical Weissbier taste and to allow the use of a high-attenuating yeast mixed with long lactic acid bacteria. Since the wort is not boiled with the hops, these must be added to the wort in a different way. It mostly happens that, before mashing, the hops, per Zentner [100 kg] of grist 0,75 to 1 pound [500 gm] of hops, are added to the simmering water in the mash tun and so are boiled. The hops are present during the whole mashing process and end up with the spent grains in the lauter tun and so act as a goof filter for the wort. To better extract sugars from the spent grains, almost boiling water is used, which is possible in this case, since the final mash pumping temperature is not higher than 80 to 82º C and the filtered wort still contains a large amount of diastase, so there is no danger of starch haze. The hot wort is quickly cooled after lautering (cool ship, cooler) and pitched with yeast in large steel tanks at 13 to 20º C. The amount5 of yeast is 1 litre per 5 hl wort. After 8 to 12 hoursthe wort is transferred into smaller vats. The increasingly vigorous fermentation creates a covering of a mixture of hop resin, protein, wheat fat, that is black in colour: "pitch barm"; it is crafully skimmed off. Later the spent hops appear. The complete yeast layer remains until the end of the primary fermentation and is only removed when the wort is pumped out. The fermentation lasts five days.

After the end of the tun fermentation the beer is pumped into a collecting vat, from which together with fresh beer from the pitching vessel it is drawn off into smaller packages, bottles or stone jugs. It is worth mentioning that this mixture of finished and fresh beer contains between 10 and 35% water, depending on the wishes of the consumer. Hence the designation "half beer" as opposed to "full Weisse" or "whole Weisse", beer without added water.

An exception, approximately like Bock or Salvator in bottom-fermenting beers, amongst Weissbiers is formed by "Märzen-Bier", which because of its wine-like flavour is very highly regarded.

Original gravity 12 to 14 to 16% [Balling]. This beer conditions in the bottle without the addition of water. It takes months before the beer is ready to be consumed. Often the custom still prevails of burying the bottles in sand or earth to keep them at a constant cool temperature."

I find most interesting the fact that the beer was usually watered down just before packaging. I've not heard of that practice before. It's confirmed by "Die Bierbrauerei in der Neuzeit" by E. Zimmermann, published in 1913 (page297): "Before filling, kräusen (up to 30%) and often some water, too, are added to Berliner Weissbier." Also Schönfeld mentions the addition of 10 to 35% water in "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere", 1902, page 84: "

I had heard that stronger versions of Berliner Weisse had once existed, but this is the first real evidence. The gravities quoted are Lagerbier (12º), Märzen (14º) and Bock (16º) strength.

Mashing with the hops is a bit weird, too. But I suppose without a boil, you have few options.

"Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" has a whole chapter on Berliner Weisse. When I have time I'll try to translate at least some of that.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Brown Ale - the details

If you've been following the discussion on yesterdays post, you'll have heard of my spreadsheet. The one with details of 129 Brown Ales (and two Burtons, which I left in by mistake).

Tell me what you make of it. Does it show a clear North-South split? You may need a copy of "100 Years of British Brewers" to work it out.

I know, bit short today. It's been a long week. And I want to watch Gordon Ramsay swear with my son Andrew. Berliner Weisse. I'll get up nice and early tomorrow and write something about Berliner Weisse. From "Bierbrauerei", published in 1914. A Gothic-script job. I need my full attention for that. Has to be early morning for full attention.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

The bjcp rules

I like to occasionally bury my boot into the bjcp's bollocks. It makes me feel good. Rather that than take my frustration out on the family.

I bring this up because you probably haven't noticed the recent comments on one of my old Porter and Stout posts. Take a look now. Yes, now. Don't think "Oh, I'll look at that later." Do it now.

Someone's stepped up do defend the bjcp. Fair enough. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. I'm prepared to argue my corner. Healthy debate is, er, healthy.

As the new comments were directed at all the participants in the discussion, I though it best to tell you. If you're one of the people who was in the discussion, that is. Feel free to respond (I do mean all of you now) , whatever your point of view.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


I'm going on holiday in April. I thought you'd like to know. It's very exciting. A week in Franconia, the Czech Republic and Zoigl country. I can't wait.

Like my trip to Franconia last summer, it's a tour put together by Andy of BierMania. You may have read some of my many posts about Franconia. It was one of the best holidays I've ever had. My scepticism of organised tours (I was thinking pensioners' coach trip) proved totally unfounded.

Time is a valuable commodity for those of us with a full-time job, children and obsessions to feed and a minimum daily sleep requirement of six hours. Being driven directly from brewery to brewery to pub to hotel saves lots of it. Time, that is. I could have got everywhere under my own steam. If I had been able to persuade Dolores to drive and got the kids tied up and packed away in the boot. But that, too, would require time.

I think Andy still has a couple of places left on the tour. So if you fancy a week in the company of an opinionated drunk with belly issues, get in touch with him. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Vote now!

I was going to get all didactic today and tell you exactly why I'd picked those pairs. No, I don't mean pears. Pairs. Of beers. There's an idea behind each.

Then my journey home took three times as long as it should have. Hail and snow, greeted me when I stepped off the sneltram. Even in a tram shelter under a railway viaduct I was still getting wet. So you'll have to work it out for yourself. It's not that complicated.

The poll is serious. The winners will be made. Honestly. Circumstances permitting. Tell me what you'd like to drink.

Only 20 votes so far. And ten of those were mine. Vote now!

Monday, 3 March 2008

What's next?

Restless (rudderless, some might say) as ever, I'm already thinking of my next brewing project. Before my first beers have even been released. That's me all over.

I have a couple of ideas. Alright, I've got lots of ideas. Too many. That's why I need your help. What should I get brewed next? These are the choices:

  1. 1839 Griffin Brewery X and XXX
  2. 1869 Barclay Perkins KK and KKKK
  3. 1839 Griffin Brewery XX and KK
  4. 1881 Whitbread KK and 1923 Whitbread KK
  5. 1881 Whitbread X and 1923 Whitbread X
  6. 1901 Whitbread PA and IPA
  7. 1880's Guinness Porter and Extra Stout
  8. 1800's Burton Ale and Scotch Ale
  9. 18th century Stitch and Brown Stout
  10. 1856 Barclay Perkins IBSt (Russian Stout) 1937 Barclay Perkins IBSt Exp
  11. 1805 and 1862 Barclay Perkins BSt (Brown Stout)

If I can be bothered I'll convert this into a proper poll. Though in the above format it wouldn't fit into the left had column of this page very well.

You can find most of the grists on my ponderously-titled Beer, Ale and Malt Liquor page. That and far too many other details.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

ZBF Report

Report is perhaps a slight exaggeration. A transcription of random scribbles I jotted down yesterday at the ZBF is more accurate description.

The variety at the festival can be baffling. That's why I pick a theme or two. The same ones this year as last: Stout, Lambic, whatever's close when I get tired of walking. Not that adventurous. I've learned to let others buy experimental beers and just take a sip myself.

It is a bit of a geek convention. That doesn't particularly bother me. Rather geeks than a gang of yobs. They're a harmless enough bunch. We're a harmless enough bunch I suppose I should say. Be honest with yourself Ronald. You're about as geeky as they get. My endless stories about extinct German styles and 19th century Porter grists have a hypnotic effect. At least my audience's faces glaze over three sentences in. I think that's a hypnotic effect.

I'm rambling again. ZBF, wasn't it? I'm not sure there's much I cant relate that's of general interest. I sat with a clump of friends who drank beer, exchanged bottles, chatted. All the usual social things. Some (including me) scribbled in notebooks. Good fun for me, but not so exciting for you to listen to.

Except the Lichtenhainer. Sebastian's mate had a bottle of Wöllnitzer Wessbier. The world's only Lichtenhainer. I was so excited I took a photo of it. Sadly, it wasn't destined for me. Fighting back the tears, I did mange to spout on the topic of German sour beers for an hour or three. I really should stop reading German brewing manuals while I still have a few friends.

Almost forgot the bloke with distilled Westmalle Dubbel in his rucksack. I speak here as a bier schnapps expert. Well, someone who's knocked back the occasional one. (Don't believe Stonch's lies. I only ever drank one a day, for purely medicinal purposes.) Very nice it was. The Westmalle Dubbel schnapps. A shame it isn't commercially available.