Saturday, 30 June 2012

Falcons and coolers

I stayed in a holiday flat in Falkenberg. The basement of a lovely couple's house. We chatted while I paid the pittance the night had cost.

I mentioned the castle. The magnificent castle on the rock. "Would you like to see inside it?", the husband, a tanned and nimble 50-something, asks.

"I thought it wasn't open to the public?"

"It isn't. But my brother's the mayor. He has the key. We can pick it up on the way there."

This sounded good. I cautiously said about being in town for Zoigl.

"I know who's got the key to the brewery, too. Would you like to look in there as well?"

See the advantages of a small town? Everyone literally knows everyone else.

My host is remarkably well-informed about Zoigl. 20 years ago the tradition had almost died out in Falkenberg. Only three families still brewed and there was talk of giving up the communal brewery. Luckily, they didn't. Interest revived and now there are around 30 brewers, though only 3 sell their beer. The others brew for their own consumption.

As we enter the brewery, he tells me that they don't brew in the summer. The wort won't cool quickly enough when the night-time temperature is over 15º C. Autumn and spring are the most favourable seasons, brewing-wise.

The equipment is charmingly rustic, with the exception of the stainless steel cooler (coolship). That was installed pretty recently. The copper is fired directly by a wood-burning furnace. All the machinery is powered by belts and wheels driven by an electric motor. I guess in the old days a steam engine was at the heart of the system. (As is still the case at Brauerei Schmitt at Singen in Thüringen.)

Some brewers ferment their beer in cellars cut into the rock under the castle. Unfortunately, my host doesn't have the keys for these doors. I'm sort of surprised. He seems to have the keys to everywhere else.

The key for the castle's front door is suitably massive and rusty iron affair. This is exciting. Unlocking a castle.

Having already heard somerthing of the castle's history, I know it won't be stuffed with armour, swords and four-poster beds. It lay derelict for centuries after being burned by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War. In the 1930's a German diplomat bought the ruin with the intention of restoring it and turning it into his retirement home. The jammy bastard. Getting a castle of his own.

Most of the rooms are bare. Just the few used for occasional functions are furnished. When the family living in the castle left, they took most of the contents with them. God knows where they'd find room for so much stuff. The castle has dozens of rooms.

Since 2008 the castle had been owned by the town of Falkenberg. They plan opening it to the public, but need to install an emergency exit first. Bloody health and safety.

A lot of effort was put into renovating the building in an historically accurate way. You can see that up in the attics, where the solid craftsmanship of the rafters is plain to see. But what's that funny screeching noise outside? I notice when we get back down to the bottom of the rock. Falcons circle the castle. I suppose it is called Falkenberg, after all.


Back to the lucky owner of the castle, diplomat Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg. He was German ambassador in Moscow when operation Barbarossa kicked off. Being more connected to reality than Hitler, he'd tried to prevent the invasion. He wasn't quite so lucky after all. Implicated in the 1944 plot to kill Hitler, he was executed. He never got to retire to his dream castle.

"Would you like me to drive you to Windischeschenbach?"

"Yes, please." I said, remembering the hill up to my hotel there.

Lovely people, these Bavarians.



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Friday, 29 June 2012

Look away

Look away . . . . look away . . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .





look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . .look away . . . . ..

Straight to Zoigl

That's the way to start. Straight into the heart of darkness of Germany's beer Urwald. Only pausing to pick up a couple of bottles of beer and some impulse schnapps on the way. Just to make the train journey go that bit quicker. Medicinal, really.



Falkenberg isn't just exceptional because it's one of the handful of towns in the Oberpfalz that retains its communal brewhouse. Nor only because of the three Zoigl Stube that sell beer brewed in that brewhouse. There's an amazing castle. One of the most impressive I've seen. And I've seen a lot of castles. It's stuck on a  huge rock, right in the middle of town. (It is technically a town, depite only being home to 750 souls.) At its foot is that brewhouse.


I was surprised to learn that all the Zogl Stube had opened in the last few years. Where I headed that first evening, hasn't been open two years yet. I'd never have guessed.

People go on about family businesses. In many, a family may own, but not actively participate in, the business. Zoigl Stube aren't like that. They're proper family businesses. Two or three generations divide the work. Family members, proud of their beer and their traditions, are happy to pause at your table and chat. Friendly, relaxed, domestic almost. It's hard to think of a better place to while away a few hours than a Zoigl Stube. They're dirt cheap, too. Pay more than 1.70 euros for a half litre and you're being robbed.

There's only one beer. But that doesn't worry me a bit. One good one will do me. Which is what Schwoazhansl has. A hazy golden delight of a beer, that slips down as effortlessly as the sun behind the garden's trees. This is exactly what I've dreamt about the last few months. Me, a defenceless beer or two, a few lumps of pork and a mountain of rest.

No music, no TV, no drooling drunks nor obnoxous nerds. Just calm and simple pleasure. No, something even greater than pleasure: delight.

It would be hard to beat day one. Nought to delight in 8 hours.
































Zoiglstube Schwoazhansl

Tirschenreutherstrasse 7
95685 Falkenberg
Handy: 0172 / 9106756
http://www.schwoazhansl-zoigl.de/

Opening Times:
17:00 Friday, 14:00 Saturday. (Obviously only the 50-odd days a year they open .)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Boring technical post again

Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . . Not a proper post . . .







Fullers Pale Ales 1914 - 1920

Time for part two of my series on Fuller's beers during WW I. And yes, it is their Pale Ales. All three of them.

Funnily enough, Fullers started the war with only two, PA and one of my favourite obsessions, AK. As you can see, there was quite a gap in gravity between the two, with PA at 1054º and AK at 1044º. In the late 19th century they had made four Pale Ales. In descending order of strength IPA, XK, AK and KA. Sometime between 1902 and 1910 IPA was renamed PA and XK and KA were phased out.

At the outbreak of war, AK was the lowest-gravity beer Fullers brewed, 5 points lower than X Ale and 1 lower than Porter. As with X Ale a few points were knocked off the gravity in the early war years, but the biggest changes were in April 1917 and April 1918. First reducing the gravity to around 1036º and then to 1026º. After April 1917, its gravity was pretty much identical to X Ale, even though before the war it had been lower. By 1920 both X Ale and AK were around 1030.

In a similar way to the introduction of XX Ale, in 1919 a slightly stronger Pale Ale called XK was introduced. And while AK remained around 1030º, XK had risen to the dizzying height of 1037º by 1920. AK limped along through the 1920's and 1930's, being brewed in quantities so small that you wonder why they bothered. Sometimes it was as little as two barrels. Too small for any of the normal fermenters as it was fermented in puncheons. It disappeared for good early in WW II (unless I can persuade Fullers to brew it as a Past Masters beer).

PA came through the war almost unscathed. It was over 1050º right up until April 1918. No mean feat, that. What it looks as if they did was to drive down the gravity of AK as far as possible so that they could keep up the strength of PA. In 1918 the average gravity of all beer produced in a brewery had to average no more than 1030º. To be able to brew PA in the high 1030's there had to be a considerable amount of beer with a gravity well below 1030º. Even in early 1919, it was still around 1039º - a very respectable strength for that time. And by the end of the year it was back up to its pre-war strength.

Now let's look at the recipe. I won't say recipes, because all of the Pale Ales were parti-gyled together. The flaked maize disappeared, too. The pre-war recipe was pretty typical: pale malt, sugar and flaked maize. If you've been paying attention you'll remember that crystal malt was rarely found in a Pale Ale before WW I. Fullers first used it in theirs some time between 1962 and 1968.

As with X Ale, there was a big change in the recipe in 1917, presumably as a result of difficulties in obtaining ingredients. For a while they were all malt, except for the primings. In 1920, the same main ingredients were being used as pre-war, but in different proportions. Pale malt remained at 78% to 80%, but the amount of flaked maize had more than doubled at the expense of No. 2 invert sugar and glucose.

Fullers were big fans of glucose. Between the wars all their beers except Porter and Stout contained it. Of course, that includes OBE. Which is how come I got to taste glucose. They'd bought some in for the Past Masters brew of OBE. It's a very different beast to invert sugar. While No. 2 and No. 3 invert have lots of dark fruit flavours glucose is just, well, sugary. Straight sweetness without much anything else.



Fuller's AK 1914 - 1920
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt no. 2 sugar glucose intense sugar flaked maize primings
20th Nov 1914 AK Pale Ale 1044.3 1009.1 4.65 79.38% 7.33 1.34 1.5 1.75 60.5º 78.89% 5.84% 5.84% 0.17% 5.84% 3.40%
8th Dec 1914 AK Pale Ale 1044.1 1009.4 4.58 78.63% 7.35 1.36 1.5 1.75 58.5º 81.38%
5.56% 5.56% 6.26% 1.23%
2nd Jul 1915 AK Pale Ale 1044.5 1009.7 4.61 78.22% 7.84 1.42 1.5 1.75 59.5º 78.96% 6.68% 6.68%
6.27% 1.40%
1st Jun 1916 AK Pale Ale 1043.9 1009.7 4.53 77.93% 8.20 1.54 1.5 1.75 60º 79.27% 6.61% 6.61%
4.95% 2.56%
3rd Aug 1916 AK Pale Ale 1042.7 1008.9 4.47 79.23% 8.13 1.46 1.5 1.75 60º 82.40% 4.85% 4.85%
4.85% 3.06%
26th Oct 1916 AK Pale Ale 1041.0 1006.6 4.54 83.78% 8.44 1.43 1.5 1.75 59.5º 80.05% 6.47% 8.09%
4.85% 0.55%
3rd Nov 1916 AK Pale Ale 1041.7 1005.8 4.74 86.04% 8.18 1.46 1.5 1.75 60º 80.16% 5.73% 5.73%
5.73% 2.67%
12th Jan 1917 AK Pale Ale 1041.8 1007.8 4.50 81.44% 8.17 1.40 1.5 1.75 59º 80.82% 5.26% 5.26%
5.91% 2.76%
19th Jan 1917 AK Pale Ale 1040.7 1007.5 4.40 81.63% 8.48 1.44 1.5 1.75 59º 82.98% 5.40% 5.40%
6.07% 0.16%
13th Apr 1917 AK Pale Ale 1041.5 1008.3 4.39 79.99% 8.49 1.41 1.5 1.75 59.5º 83.03% 5.40% 5.40%
6.08% 0.10%
20th Jun 1917 AK Pale Ale 1038.6 1006.4 4.27 83.51% 8.53 1.45 1.5 1.75 60º 86.64% 3.85% 5.78%

3.74%
8th Aug 1917 AK Pale Ale 1035.4 1006.4 3.84 82.00% 9.67 1.43 1.5 1.75 60º 97.77%



2.23%
1st Nov 1917 AK Pale Ale 1035.9 1007.8 3.73 78.41% 9.64 1.47 2
60º 92.36%

0.17% 5.23% 2.25%
14th Nov 1917 AK Pale Ale 1036.1 1008.3 3.68 76.98% 9.66 1.43 1.5 1.75 60º 92.38%

0.23% 5.31% 2.09%
2nd Jan 1918 AK Pale Ale 1035.5 1007.5 3.70 78.92% 9.72 2.24 1.5 1.75 60º 92.13% 5.94%
0.13%
1.80%
16th Jan 1918 AK Pale Ale 1036.1 1011.1 3.32 69.35% 8.70 1.28 1.5 1.75 60º 91.58% 3.05% 3.05% 0.16%
2.15%
11th Apr 1918 AK Pale Ale 1026.1 1005.5 2.73 78.81% 9.99 1.10 1.5 1.75 60.5º 74.94% 12.49% 12.49% 0.08%

20th Jun 1918 AK Pale Ale 1026.2 1005.5 2.73 78.84% 9.68 1.11 1.5 1.75 60º 74.65% 19.14% 3.83% 0.09%
2.29%
7th Nov 1918 AK Pale Ale 1025.7 1005.0 2.74 80.60% 9.45 1.09 1.75
60º 77.55% 18.35%
0.18%
3.92%
16th Jan 1919 AK Pale Ale 1026.1 1006.1 2.64 76.62% 9.25 1.10 1.75
60.5º 78.14% 8.14% 8.14% 0.17%
5.41%
15th Apr 1919 AK Pale Ale 1026.0 1004.4 2.86 82.98% 9.04 1.08 1.75
61.5º 74.21% 6.06% 8.08% 0.26% 4.54% 6.85%
19th Jun 1919 AK Pale Ale 1028.2 1004.7 3.10 83.28% 9.72 1.14 1.5 1.5 62º 77.72% 6.76% 6.76% 0.14% 6.76% 1.86%
25th Jun 1919 AK Pale Ale 1028.0 1005.3 3.01 81.21% 9.72 1.16 1.75
61.5º 78.01% 8.00% 6.00% 0.27% 6.00% 1.72%
27th Aug 1919 AK Pale Ale 1030.5 1006.9 3.12 77.31% 9.96 1.28 1.5 1.5 60º 74.03% 8.80% 8.80% 0.16% 8.06% 0.16%
11th Feb 1920 AK Pale Ale 1030.6 1007.5 3.06 75.59% 9.80 1.21 1.5 1.5 62º 78.81% 3.23% 3.23% 0.17% 13.34% 1.22%
Source:
Fuller's brewing records.

 
Fuller's PA 1914 - 1920
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt no. 2 sugar caramel glucose intense sugar flaked maize primings
17th Nov 1914 PA Pale Ale 1054.2 1012.2 5.56 77.52% 8.14 1.98 1.75 1.75 59.5º 77.19% 6.64% 0.11% 6.64%
2.49% 6.93%
1st Jan 1915 PA Pale Ale 1053.7 1012.2 5.49 77.28% 8.89 1.97 1.5 1.75 60º 85.82%

4.09% 6.13% 3.07% 0.89%
6th Jul 1915 PA Pale Ale 1053.6 1010.5 5.69 80.35% 8.59 1.96 1.5 1.75 60º 80.08% 7.21%
7.21%
2.16% 3.33%
30th May 1916 PA Pale Ale 1053.5 1011.4 5.57 78.77% 8.71 2.00 1.5 1.75 59.5º 78.75% 7.29%
7.29%
4.38% 2.29%
13th Jun 1916 PA Pale Ale 1052.9 1011.9 5.42 77.48% 8.95 2.00 1.5 1.75 60º 80.29% 7.43%
7.43%
4.46% 0.38%
30th Jul 1916 PA Pale Ale 1052.3 1011.1 5.45 78.80% 8.88 1.95 1.5 1.75 60º 82.74% 4.50%
6.75%
5.07% 0.93%
7th Aug 1916 PA Pale Ale 1051.9 1010.8 5.44 79.19% 8.56 1.95

59.5º 77.52% 6.89%
6.89%
5.17% 3.53%
31st Oct 1916 PA Pale Ale 1051.8 1009.7 5.57 81.29% 8.61 1.99 1.5 1.75 60º 80.91% 4.40%
6.61%
4.95% 3.13%
16th Jan 1917 PA Pale Ale 1052.9 1010.5 5.61 80.12% 8.64 1.96 1.5 1.75 60º 81.13% 6.62%
4.42%
4.97% 2.87%
20th Jun 1917 PA Pale Ale 1050.6 1011.1 5.23 78.09% 8.53 1.90 1.5 1.75 60º 86.64% 3.85%
5.78%

3.74%
8th Aug 1917 PA Pale Ale 1050.5 1008.3 5.58 83.53% 9.67 2.03 1.5 1.75 60º 97.77%




2.23%
14th Nov 1917 PA Pale Ale 1051.2 1014.1 4.91 72.43% 9.66 2.04 1.5 1.75 60.5º 92.38%


0.23% 5.31% 2.09%
2nd Jan 1918 PA Pale Ale 1051.1 1013.3 4.99 73.96% 9.72 6.54 1.5 1.75 60º 92.13% 5.94%

0.13%
1.80%
16th Jan 1918 PA Pale Ale 1051.2 1013.9 4.95 72.97% 8.70 1.82 1.5 1.75 60º 91.58% 3.05%
3.05% 0.16%
2.15%
11th Apr 1918 PA Pale Ale 1039.5 1012.2 3.61 69.12% 9.99 1.66 1.5 1.75 61.5º 74.94% 12.49%
12.49% 0.08%

20th Jun 1918 PA Pale Ale 1039.3 1009.4 3.96 76.06% 9.68 1.67 1.5 1.75 64º 74.65% 19.14%
3.83% 0.09%
2.29%
7th Nov 1918 PA Pale Ale 1038.8 1009.4 3.89 75.73% 9.45 1.64 1.75
61º 77.55% 18.35%
0.00% 0.18%
3.92%
16th Jan 1919 PA Pale Ale 1038.5 1008.9 3.92 76.98% 9.25 1.62 1.75
61.5º 78.14% 8.14%
8.14% 0.17%
5.41%
16th Apr 1919 PA Pale Ale 1041.6 1009.7 4.21 76.67% 9.99 2.50 1.75
61.5º 81.48% 6.24%
7.49% 0.10% 4.68%
19th Jun 1919 PA Pale Ale 1050.6 1012.2 5.09 75.93% 9.72 2.05 1.5 1.5 62º 77.72% 6.76%
6.76% 0.14% 6.76% 1.86%
26th Jun 1919 PA Pale Ale 1050.5 1008.9 5.51 82.45% 9.68 2.05 1.5 1.5 62º 77.51% 6.74%
6.74% 0.08% 6.74% 2.19%
20th Aug 1919 PA Pale Ale 1054.8 1013.9 5.42 74.73% 10.13 2.42 1.5 1.5 60.5º 72.07% 8.96%
9.77% 0.08% 8.55% 0.56%
27th Aug 1919 PA Pale Ale 1054.2 1013.3 5.41 75.47% 9.96 2.28 1.5 1.5 61º 74.03% 8.80%
8.80% 0.16% 8.06% 0.16%
11th Feb 1920 PA Pale Ale 1055.0 1015.2 5.26 72.31% 9.80 2.17 1.5 1.5 58.5º 78.81% 3.23%
3.23% 0.17% 13.34% 1.22%
12th Feb 1920 PA Pale Ale 1054.8 1015.8 5.17 71.21% 9.80 2.28 1.5 1.5 59º 78.00% 3.06%

3.90% 13.76% 1.28%
16th Jun 1920 PA Pale Ale 1054.8 1011.6 5.72 78.79% 8.82 1.93 1.5 1.75 60º 81.40% 1.52%
1.52% 0.11% 14.23% 1.22%
Source:
Fuller's brewing records.


Fuller's XK 1919 - 1920
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt no. 2 sugar glucose other sugar flaked maize primings
15th Apr 1919 XK Pale Ale 1028.3 1005.5 3.00 80.39% 9.04 1.17 1.75
60º 74.21% 6.06% 8.08% 0.26% 4.54% 6.85%
19th Jun 1919 XK Pale Ale 1030.2 1005.5 3.27 81.67% 9.72 1.22 1.5 1.5 62º 77.72% 6.76% 6.76% 0.14% 6.76% 1.86%
25th Jun 1919 XK Pale Ale 1030.2 1006.1 3.19 79.84% 9.72 1.25 1.75
61.5º 78.01% 8.00% 6.00% 0.27% 6.00% 1.72%
27th Aug 1919 XK Pale Ale 1033.8 1010.2 3.11 69.67% 9.96 1.42 1.5 1.5 61º 74.03% 8.80% 8.80% 0.16% 8.06% 0.16%
11th Feb 1920 XK Pale Ale 1034.0 1008.6 3.36 74.74% 9.80 1.34 1.5 1.5 64º 78.81% 3.23% 3.23% 0.17% 13.34% 1.22%
16th Jun 1920 XK Pale Ale 1036.8 1006.6 3.98 81.91% 8.82 1.29 1.5 1.75 62.5º 81.40% 1.52% 1.52% 0.11% 14.23% 1.22%
Source:
Fuller's brewing records.


That's it for this time. Next it definitely is Porter and Stout.