Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 20

Monday: We started the week with a brew day at school. We made an IPA. It was supposed to be a hybrid between an English and American style IPA. For the majority of the base malt we used a pilsner malt that was malted at the school. It was pretty under modified so we added some acidulated malt to it help balance the pH. We also used a bit of Vienna and Cara-red to round out the malt bill. For hops we did one kettle addition of Herkules hops for bittering and added some Hallertau Mittelfruh and Citra hops to the whirlpool. This beer was originally brewed at the school as a test batch for a brewery. It's now on the market so I guess what we brewed was a clone. The day went pretty smoothly. I was able to spend some time sitting at the controls learning the automated system. It's a whole different experience when you are not the one opening valves and such. The beer was put in to an open fermeneter and we pitched an Irish ale yeast in to it. I think it will be a very good beer. The open fermenter will really let the esters be up front coupled with the use of Citra hops this beer will be pretty fruity.

Nice color for the pH sample

Perfect oxygenation.

Tuesday: My group piled into a sprinter van and headed south and east of Munich. We were headed to Braukon. They make brewing systems and fermenters for smaller to mid-size facilities. We were supposed to be going there to brew on their 10 hl. show system but there was some sort of mix up in communication so we spent the majority of our time there watching the brewer make beer. The show system is fully automated. The brewer even explained how he can start the first batch from his Iphone at home and by the time he gets there in the morning that batch is in the fermeneter and the next batch is already boiling. They are making some pretty exciting beers at the facility. Since we weren't brewing and just kind of standing around they started handing us samples. I was especially excited about trying their Saison. It was the first Bavarian Saison I have ever has. Sadly it wasn't what I was hoping for . It was good it was just a little under attenuated and pretty boozy. They had an Imperial Stout that was a real treat. The other exciting beer was a zwickle sample of their IPA. We had a nice time there and they were very gracious hosts, even if we didn't get to brew.

The brewhouse


Bavarian Saison

Wednesday: We started out our day by transferring the IPA from the fermenter to a horizontal maturation tank. Normally you would want to let the beer ferment all the way before moving it but we had Thursday and Friday off from school because of a holiday so it needed to be done sooner rather than later. This was also the time we did our dry hopping with more Hallertau Mittelfruh and Citra hops. It went pretty smoothly and the smell coming out of the airlock was reminiscent of  mango or passion fruit coming mostly from the Citra.

Inside the maturation tank
After class one my classmates and I decided to have a tasting of some stuff we had in our fridges. We started with the Saison De Pipaix from Brasserie a' Vapeur . This is a very good Saison. It was full of Brett character and was dry with a bit of pepper and fruit. This is my kind of beer. I had wanted to try this one for a long time. Next we had the Wayan from Birrificio Le Baladin. This is their farmhouse ale. It was a good beer with a lot of CO2 and nice dry finish, it was just lacking in the fruity ester quality I like in this style of beer. Last we had the Boon Mariage Parfait. I like this one better then the regular Gueze from them. This one has a heavy Brett character but isn't as sour probably due to the blending.

Thursday: We had Thursday off because of a holiday. There was a brewery I had heard about that I wanted to check out. The weather was awful so it seemed like a good day to go beer hunting. I met up with Robbie and Kyle and we took a train south to Isar Braeu. The attraction was that this an independent brewery which is very rare in Munich. The building is in an old train station and kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately they only brew weisse beer on site. Not that that is a bad thing, I was just hoping for some variety. We had some food and enjoyed a half liter of weisse beer. It was a good beer though with a nice tart finish. 

Kyle approves

 Friday: Friday was another day off. I really didn't do too much except re-stock my Orval supply. I had been noticing that the one's I was buying earlier were pretty young bottles. They have a stronger dry hop aroma and taste and not that much Brett. At the one place that sells it in Munich I was able to find some older bottles in the back row. I can't wait to try them

Saturday: I was felling like I was getting sick so I just quarantined myself in my apartment and studied.

Sunday: A very similar day to Saturday, except in the evening I met up with some out of town friends who are here to do some filming, More on that later.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 19

Monday: Monday was a holiday so no school. I spent the day studying and transcribing some brewing calculations from my notes. One thing that I found interesting was when I boiled some water for tea in the morning, I forgot about it and left it on the burner for a few minutes. When I finally emptied the water, there was a white coating on the bottom of the pan. This come from the fact that Munich has hard water and gets it from the alps. The alps are full of limestone, so there is a high chalk (CaCO3) level in the water. This is one of the reasons that the breweries here have to treat their water quit extensively. It makes me happy to go back to brew in a city with velvet soft water.

Bottom of the pot

Later that evening I decided to have an Andechs Dopplebock that I had had in the fridge for awhile. I have had this beer before, but it was nice to sit and enjoy it after a long day of studying. When the beer warmed it had a nice dark fruit presence reminiscent of dates or raisins. One thing I really like about this beer is that you don't get the boozy fusel alcohol character that is present in a lot of German dopplebocks.It is well made.

Tuesday: Well it was back to school on Tuesday.The German students have the entire week off so we have the place to ourselves. This was the beginning of a very "hands on" week. We started the day with a Chemical Technical Analysis lecture, then the class was split into two groups and our half did Practical Microbiology.
We set up the microscopes and ended up doing a bunch of tests to look for all sorts things. First we just looked at culture yeast in dark field to see if there was anything like bacteria that we didn't want in the yeast. Next we did a methylene blue staining of the yeast to look at the yeast viability as well as looking at the yeast through phase contrast.

Lager yeast in dark field

Methylene Blue stained yeast
 Next we took culture yeast and put that onto different nutrient media. The first is called Doemens Select. That is used to check for beer spoiling bacteria. Next was Standard 1-Agar to check for latent microorganisms. After that we took culture yeast that had been washed (long process) and spread that onto Lysine to check for wild yeasts, and last the same was spread on to Crystal Violet Agar to check for wild yeasts as well. All these samples were incubated and the growth checked at a later date.

Nutrient Media

Next we took samples of wort, samples of beer from the storage tank, and unfiltered beer. The beer was given nutrient broth media and all of them were incubated for a few days. The idea here is to see if anything unwanted grows in any of these samples.
After lunch my group headed down to the other lab to do Practical Chemical Analysis. Our main goal was to perform what's called a congress mash. This is basically a mash schedule done by maltsters to determine a number of things dealing with malt. We also checked the malt for the total nitrogen content and ran it through a Friabilimeter to check for beta glucan levels as well as checking the moisture content with a special machine. After the congress mash we looked at extract, pH, and color. Below is a video of a titration which is part of the process for check the nitrogen content of malt.

Checking the moisture content

Iodine test to check for saccharification.

Wednesday: We had a Chemical Technical Analysis lecture in the morning about water analysis. It was an incredibly informative lecture. My group then went to the C.T.A. lab and did different titration's to determine the make up of Munich tap water. One of the interesting steps was checking calcium hardness by adding caustic (NaOH). This transfers the magnesium out of solution (see picture below) so that you can measure just the calcium hardness. The end results showed that Munich does in fact have hard water.

Checking calcium hardness
After lunch the group went to the microbiology lab to do a membrane filtration of filtered beer and of tap water. We also did pour plate samples of a soft drink and of tap water as well. In the water we are looking for E.coli and coli-form bacteria...yum...

Membrane filtration of filtered beer

Thursday: What I have now dubbed the "intense week" continued with with an hour and a half Chemical Technical Analysis lecture, followed by another Practical Microbiology session. This time we plated a bunch of the the microorganisms that had grown on the media prepared earlier in the week. Of course we found many different things including a lactobacillius strain. Next our group went to the C.T.A. lab and did a titration of cleaning caustic to get the concentration and see if it was within spec. This was a really simple process that I know I will use many times in the future.

Culture yeast and lactobacillus

We also did a sieving of some malt. This is done with milled malt to see what your grist looks like. Six different sized screens are used and the malt is sieved through the screens. A certain percentage of larger matter stays on the bigger screens and so on until the bottom where you find flour. Based off of this you can adjust your mill, or adjust the mash to better utilize the grist you have. The rest of the day was 3 hours of Chemical Technical Analysis lectures. Towards the end I was getting pretty worn out. The shear amount of information that has entered my brain this week is insane, but that is exactly what I signed up for.

Results of the sieving

Friday: It was more lab work on Friday. We started the day in the Microbiology lab plating more microorganisms. I had studied this subject matter a bit the night before so it felt a little better. My lab partner Viet and I were able to identify everything we plated which made me feel good. What didn't make me feel good was when were informed of what we should study for the test. Let's just say I have my work cut out for me.
We then went down to the C.T.A lab to do some analysis. First we took a beer and de-gassed, meaning we shook it to remove the CO2, next we filtered it to remove foam. We then poured it to a special beaker and distilled it. From this we were able to find the exact alcohol content, and exact original gravity. One of the best parts was we got to use a density meter, which is a super nerdy machine that tells you the density of a liquid. We then looked at our density with a really accurate laboratory refractometer. This is quite the apparatus. It involves a water bath and different oculars to look at samples and it is all based on light refraction and liquid density. Last we took an extract reading with a really accurate hydrometer.

Distilling off the Alcohol

Alcohol and water



 Saturday: Study, study study. The weather was pretty terrible, and I really wanted to use my time this weekend to wrap my brain around the insane amount of info that has entered it during the week. In chatting with my friends who are also in the course we all agree that this week was the toughest one yet, in a good way. The great thing is I don't feel lost at all. I really feel like I am getting what I am being taught, and that I know more than I think I do. So in an effort to reverse the learning of the day, I decided to celebrate with a beer tasting. When Jen and I were in Italy last month there were many breweries I wanted to explore but alas time was limited and I figured Jen didn't always want to got to breweries during her vacation. One of the places I wanted to try to get to was Birrificio Le Baladin. They are one of the many Italian breweries really pushing the boundaries for European craft beer. It's hard to say what they specialize in but I guess it would be Belgian inspired beer. I was able to find a place in Munich that carries their beer, which is not an easy thing to do. I bought a few different varieties so more reviews will come in the future.
I went with the Nora first. This is an interpretation of an Egyptian spice beer. It is spiced with ginger, myrrh, and orange peel. The spices come through well but with a nice balance. Not overdone at all. It has an estery nose with a spicy quality to it. The myrrh comes through nicely as well as the ginger. The taste is very similar to the smell, but a little stone fruit comes through. At first it had a slight metallic taste, but that faded as the beer warmed. All in this is a very complex beer, I'm glad I finally got to try it.

Sunday: Study study study. I spent the better part of the morning finishing up a study guide for the microbiology material we need to know for our final test. I then spent some time in the afternoon looking over the numbers for the beer that we will be making on Monday. We are making a hybrid IPA with both English and American influences. I have to say it has been great to stay in for the weekend and hit the books. My brain is starting to get pretty full though. Along with all the academic information, I am really starting to plan what exactly it is I am going to do when I get back to Portland. I am excited to put all this knowledge to work and start following my passion. I am at a really fun fork in the road and I am very excited about it, but first I need to finish the program.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 18

Monday: Well Monday arrived and it was back to school. I was pretty excited to get back into a schedule and start the Masters part of the program. I did have a bit of a debacle to start my week. I ended up being 20 minutes late to the first day of class because the trains were running weird, and I tried taking a bus that drove by me right as I was getting to the stop. The day ended up being very short. We went over our syllabus for the next 2 months, then waited around for a free lunch (there is such a thing...kinda) . After lunch I headed back my apartment and met up with Ben who was just returning from Berlin and was flying home the next day. We did get to try one of the beers my group made previously at Doemens. It was the weizen beer, that we filtered, and bottled. We also bottle conditioned it as well. The beer was pretty good. It had quite a bit of CO2 in it and was pretty thin because it had been filtered.

Later that evening we went out to eat and grab some beers from Unionsbraeu. I really like their unfiltered helles. They serve it on cask, and it has a nice cantaloupe/estery note to it. There is also a small amount of  diacetyl in it that rounds out the mounthfeel a bit.

Tuesday: One thing about this part of our program is that our schedule has now changed. We start class at 7:30, have a half hour lunch, and are usually done by about 4:15. Lectures run about and hour and a half with a 15 minutes break in between. This will be different on brew days and such but for the classroom time that's what we are dealing with. Our class is now 20 people. 19 guys and 1 woman.
We started our studies with Yeast Management and beer quality with Dr. Zepf. Next it was on to a Microbiology lecture, and a talk about sugars relating soft drink production. Part of this program has us studying and making soft drinks. I can't say I'm too excited about it, but it never hurts to learn more things. We had our short lunch break, then the rest of the day we talked about the beers that we would be making at Doemens over the next 2 months. The class is going to be split in two for the brew days and the lab days. The first beer my group is going to make is an IPA. It is going to be a hybrid between an English style, and an American style IPA. We worked through the malt and water calculations for that beer, then went home. I spent the rest of the night studying the calculations thoroughly and trying to commit the equations to memory.

Wednesday: We did more Yeast Management this time talking about propagation. Then it was on to more Microbiology, followed by a discussion of the soft drink calculations and ingredients we will be using when we make soda.

Lemon essence for soft drinks

After lunch we had 3 hours of Chemical Technical Analysis with Klaus Ritter. We did some review on malt analysis, then spent the rest of the time talking about congress mash's and the results and analysis' that pertain to them and what that means to a brewer. It was one of the best lectures I have had while in this whole program. A lot of things "clicked", and that is a good feeling.

EBC color wheel.

Thursday:  We had a Planning a Brewery lecture, followed by some group work. We were split into groups of 4 and asked to come up with a business plan for a brewery. My group did a plan for a production brewery in San Fransisco. I felt we did pretty well for having 2 hours to come up with a business plan. After lunch we had three hours of Microbiology with Thomas Huber. Most of the lecture centered around microorganism detection. When I got home that night I decided to do a pilsner sampling. There is a new beverage center that opened right by my apartment so I went and grabbed a few pilsner's. I think that the Spaten Pils was my favorite. It has a nice dry finish with a slight floral hop note to it. The Paulaner was pretty oxidized so I might have to try that one again.

Friday: Friday we started by giving our presentations about our business plans. Then it was on to a Styles Tasting. Most of it was a review. We talked about wheat beers, specifically Berliner Weisse, Bavarian hefeweizen, Gratzer, and Gueze. We had some samples too. In our previous diploma program we had the Berliner Kindl and the Huber Weisse, but this time we had some Lindemins gueze. The Berliner Weisse has a strong lactic acid smell reminding me of the smell of someone getting a perm, along with a strong yeast note to it. The hefewiezen really isn't that exciting. This one has a strong bubblegum note to the smell and taste, but is kind of lacking in body. The Gueze was garbage. I really don't like most things that Lindemans put out because they back sweeten it with an unfermentable sugar, saccharin I believe. I prefer my gueze to be very dry. The last part of the day was a lecture about Maintenance Planing. I really appreciate these kind of lectures because I think it's something a lot of people don't think about, that and I have spent the majority of my working life as a maintenance man, so it's material I am very familiar with.We got out at noon as we usually do on Friday's and went and had some Indian food. Afterwards I spent the most of the rest of the night studying. I did try to go meet up with some folks at a biergarden but the trains were really messed up, so I ended up heading back to my apartmnet and watching a bad movie.

Saturday: I went to the new grocery store by my apartment and actually did some grocery shopping. The place is fantastic. Afterwards I met up with one of my classmates for a little beer hunting adventure. The trains were still royally messed up but we managed to find our way to where we needed to be. Our goal was the Forschungs Brauerei. I had read that this was one of the only independent breweries in the area and they were supposed to have a really nice pils, and a really nice bock. When we finally did find the place it was closed. According to website, they have a new landlord and have delayed opening because of it. I just hope the place is not shut down for good. I would really like to try to visit it before I leave Munich.

Sunday: I finally slept in a bit and it was great. With the new school schedule I have had to adjust a bit. I spent the majority of the morning studying, then it was off to the Englisher Garden for a couple hours of football (soccer). The nice thing is Monday is a public holiday, so we get a three day weekend. I am pretty excited about school next week. It is going to be mostly practical hands on work in microbiology and lab work work for the Chemical Technical Analysis.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 17

Well, it really hasn't been too exciting this week. I have mostly been resting and doing some housekeeping type stuff preparing for the next two months. One thing that I wanted to try to do was find some beer that wasn't German. I have said this a few times already, but I love German beer, it's just that I need variety. I am a big fan of Belgian beers, so I did a bunch of research on where I can buy different beers while in Munch.

 In the end I didn't do too badly. Some aren't my favorites by any means, and some (Orval) are pretty high up on my list. I had to go to four different places all throughout the city, but it was fun to be on the hunt and go explore new parts of Munich that I have not seen yet.

I spent a bit of time watching different football (soccer) matches and hanging out with some of my classmates this week. Sunday we went to the English Gardens, and played two hours of football (soccer). It was a lot of fun, even for those of us who are really out of shape. It sounds like it is going to become a weekly thing, which will be fun.
Next week should start to get pretty busy as school begins again. I am really looking forward to whatever is next for me.