Monday, April 25, 2011

Week 11

Monday: We started our European Study tour by driving a little north of Munch to Feising. Our destination was Steineker. They are a manufacture of brewing equipment mostly for larger breweries. They had a pretty impressive facility though. Sadly we were not aloud to take photos inside of the plant. They did treat us very well though.

 Next we headed east into the Hallertau hop growing region to Hopsteiner. They are basically producers of hop pellets and hop extracts. They also have a huge cooled warehouse to store hop products.

Hop pellet die's

Hallertau Hops

After the tour we all piled on the bus and drove to an old brewery just down the road that is closed but the Hopsteiner folks have access to the kitchen and dining hall. They treated us to beer and dinner, which was fantastic.

After dinner we piled on the bus again and drove about half an hour away to the mid-evil town of Regensburg where our hotel was. After checking in a group of us followed Michael Eder through town on his way to his favorite beer bar. Along the way he gave us some history of the town. It was a very interesting walk. The city is along the Danube river and very old. This is where the pope is from. At the bar they had a dark bock that was absolutely mind blowing. One of the best beers I have had thus far in Germany.

The cathedral in Regensberg

Tuesday: The next day we drove just north of town to the Krones headquarters. This is a massive facility. At this particular plant they produce filling equipment. Of course we were asked not to take photos inside the buildings. They did treat us to lunch which was quite nice. 

Old bottle filler

After our tour and lunch we headed back into Regensburg to the Bischofshof brewery. This is a pretty state of the art brewery in a pretty old complex. They had new Steineker brewhouse equipment, and new Krones bottling equipment. I am pretty sure they are owned by the church or something like that. Anyway we had a really nice tour and they treated us to beer and food. They also sent us off with three crates of beer for the bus.

Pegasus lauter tun

After this we drove north for awhile to the town of Bamburg. This was pretty special for me, as I am a big fan of rauchbeer, which is a beer made with malt that has been smoked, usually with beechwood malt. Bamburg is now a days the home of the style. We checked into our hotel and went directly to Brauerei Spezial which is the oldest producer of rauchbeer in Bamburg. Their beer is a little light on the smoke flavor, but still a great beer.

After dinner and a beer we went across the street to Brauerei Fassala and tried one of their beers before moving on. We walked through the streets of Bamburg to Schlenkerla. This is the place where the Brauerei Heller serves their rauchbeer. Their beer has a far greater smoke character compared to the Spezial, but wow is it good. I also tried their smoked weisse beer, which was heavenly as well. We ended the night there and headed back to the hotel.

Wednesday: We got up, had a nice breakfast and got back on the bus for a short ride to Kaspar Schulz. They are producers of brewing equipment, that is more aimed at smaller to mid-sized breweries. They are also the creators of the Schoko gentle wort boiling system. It is a pretty neat add on that can save a whole lot of energy. After the tour we were treated to a bunch of Brauerei Spezial rachbeer and some traditional bavarian fare. Again another company that was over the top with the hospitality.

After our nice outdoor lunch we drove a couple miles away to another mecca of sorts for me, Weyermann Maltz. I have and still do use a lot of their products, and have always been very pleased with them. They had us watch a small powerpoint presentation, then split us up and gave us a tour. We weren't allowed to take photo's inside, but wow what a facility they have. One really neat part of their facility is their pilot brewhouse made by none other than Kaspar Schulz. They also have another much larger brewhouse onsite solely for the production of Sinamar.

Pilot Brewery

After the tour we headed back to their Beir Stube to try some creations from the pilot brewery. They had a Bohemian Pils made with their floor malted pilsner malt, and a nice rauchbeer. In the end they were vary gracious hosts, and I will always be glad to use their malt in the future.

That night we had some dinner in the town square then a pils and a game of cribbage in the hotel bar. I turned in early that night to re-charge the batteries.
Thursday: We rose early and headed back towards Munich. Our destination was Brauerei Schneider in the town of Kelheim which is also on the Danube river. We were given a great tour that included special access to their fermentation room to see the open fermenters. 

Open fermenter
At the end of the tour we ended up in the packaging area. They have a bunch of old equipment there includeing an old hand bottling filler. They let us all fill our own bottle with Schneider Weisse Original, and label it. This beer is bottle contitioned so it has fresh wort added back to it that will ferment in the bottle and give it the desired CO2. I am going to share it with Jen when she gets here in a few weeks.

Hand bottling

 After the bottling they took us to their wonderful beer garden for a tasting and a snack. The tasting was good it included their entire line which is all what beers and is, Meine Blond Weisse, which is a lighter wheat beer, Mein Kristall, which is a filtered wheat beer, Mein Alkoholfreies, which is non-alcoholic, Mein Grunes, which is a nice slightly hoppy wheat beer, Meine Hopfenweisse, which is a wheat beer with a ton of dry-hopping giving it a very american character, Unser Aventinus, which is their dopplebock, Unser Original, which is the original wheat beer, and finally Aventinus Eisbock, which is Aventinus which has been partially frozen, then the ice which is just water is removed leaving basically a distilled high alcohol drink. Very tasty though.

We had a nice snack of cheese and bavarian ham that had been smoked with beechwood. After this we drove to the town of Abensberg to the Brauerei Kuchlbaur. This may be the strangest place I have been in a long time. I can best describe it as a wheat beer brewery mixed with an amusment park, mixed with someone who took too much acid. The history is that it is an old brewery, and in recent years the owner decided that weisse beer was made by the weisse beer dwarves, and they needed a place to live so he commisioned by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It's basically a 35 meter high tower paying homage to weisse beer...very strange.

They also had the largest collection of weisse beer glasses in the world at 4200.

Weisse beer dwarf

20 liter weisse beer glass

The collection

The tower

All in all it seemed like a lot of money to spend on weird stuff but to still have pretty worn brewing equipment, but it seems to work the beer garden was packed.
After leaving "beer world" we all got back on the bus and headed back to Munich. Because Easter fell right in the middle of our study tour in ended up that we were going to have four days off. Jay, Bryce and I decided awhile back that this would be a great opportunity to go explore Berlin and Leipzig, so later that night we boarded the night train bound for Berlin. They were sold out of sleeper cars which absolutly sucked. We ended up in reclining seats, but both Jay and I are taller and there was a wall in front of us that prohibited us from stretching our legs out while sleeping, and poor Bryce had to sit next to the loudest snoring guy I have ever heard. Needless to say it was not the most fun 10 hours I have ever had.

Friday: We woke up on the train to the sound of someone's alarm going off, then some train alarm going off, and people milling about, but the great thing is we were almost in Berlin. After arriving we decided to walk a few miles to our hostel. This was nice because my knees were still angry from the train ride. We got to the hostel and found out that we couldn't check in until 3:00pm, and it was 9:00am. We were able to drop off our bags and we headed towards the city center in search of breakfast and sights to behold. After a very american style breakfast buffet we wondered around for a couple of hours. Berlin is a really amazing city, with some crazy cool architecture.

Fernsehturm Tower (television tower)

After wandering around for a few hours we decided it was time to sample some of Berlin's beer. This is actually one of the main reasons for coming here. We had read about some newer
microbreweries here that were starting to buck the trend of German beer, plus we were on the hunt for Berliner Weisse, which is a wheat beer that has had a lactic acid producing bacteria added to give it a sour taste. We ended up at a place called Brauhaus Mitte. Low and behold they had Berliner Weisse. I tried the sampler tray, which consisted of a Pilsner, a Dunkel, a Weisse beer and their special of the month which was a Zwickle. This is a beer that has been taken from the conditioning tank and is unfiltered and usually a little green tasting. This one had a bit of diacytel in it, but was still a good beer.

Berliner Weisse
After wandering around a bit more we headed back to the hostel and got check in. We were all pretty pooped from the train ride so it was nap time. It also turned out that Bryce was coming down with something and had a fever going on. When we woke up Bryce was in no shape to go out so Jay and I left him to sleep and headed out in search of  food another brewery we had read about, Hausbrauerei Eschenbraeu. It was a little tricky to find but when we got there we sat in the beer garden and tried the unfiltered Pilsner and the Dunkel. We were hoping for a little more varity but they both were well made beers. We decided to seek out food elsewhere and headed down the street and found some Indian food that was supurb, a nice break from the heavy German food. After that it was off to bed.

Saturday: We got up and had some breakfast. Bryce decided he would sleep more to try to break his sickness so Jay and I went off in search of more adventure and more beer. We went to the hofbahnhof (main train station) and started walking. We were in search of  part of the Berlin wall that is still standing. We also wanted to check out Check Point Charlie. On the way we also saw the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial. When we found the wall there was a building with a bunch of information on WWII and the rise of the nazi party. It was a very depressing place, but still interesting to see these parts of history close up.

Brandenburg gate

Holocaust Memorial

Checkpoint Charlie

After seeing all this we decided it was time for a beer. We found the Brauhaus Lemke and had their Pilsner in their beer garden.

We then headed back to get Bryce and continue our beer hunting mission. We crossed town to a place in East Berlin called Hops & Barley. They weren't open yet so we got some mexican food at a place just down the street. After an awesome plate of nacho's we went and checked out Hops & Barley. I had the Pilsner which was very nice. We went back to the hostel and just hung out for the night.

Sunday: We got up, had some breakfast then went to the train station to catch a train at 12:45. Our destination was Leipzig which is south of Berlin. The main goal for going here was more beer hunting. We were seeking out Gose. We checked into our hostel, then set out for the Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof which is in an old train station. After a short walk we has a seat in the beer garden and got to enjoy this wonderful beer in some very wonderful weather.

We then walked through town in search of more Gose. Leipzig didn't get the bombing that other German cities did in WWII so there is still some really old and beautiful buildings standing. Johann Sebastian Bach is also buried here.

We finally arrived at Ohne Bedenken which was the first place to revive the Gose beer in the 80"s after it was nearly extinct. We had a nice meal and tried the third type of Gose available in Leipzig, Rittergut Gose. All the examples we tried were fairly sour, didn't have the strong salt character some american craft breweries give it, and didn't really have too strong a coriander taste. They were all very good beers though.

After we got back to the hostel, I talked to Jen for about an hour, tried and Alt beer that I had purchased in Berlin, then went to bed. 
What a week it's been. I have a feeling next week will be as eventful, as well as the coming weeks. I can't wait.  


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 10

Monday: Monday we studied Draft systems with Michael Eder. It was a really great lecture about not just systems, but proper pouring, proper glassware cleaning and of course draft system cleaning. We got out just after noon and went and had some lunch at an Indian restaurant close to school. It was fantastic!!. The rest of the day was spent studying for the test Friday.

Tuesday: We had another brew day with Dr. Andreas Brandl (Andy as he like to be called). This time we were making a light helles. This was a contract beer for an Austrian brewer. The group that brewed the day before made the same thing but with a slightly different recipe, then the brewer was going to check out the differences. It was nice to be brewing again. At the end of the day, when it was time to clean up, out of the 12 of us that started the day only 4 of us remained...good times.

Looking down into the conical fermenter

Wednesday: Wednesday my group did Filtration. We had Andy again, which was great. He is a great teacher, and really let's us get in and get our "hands dirty". We ended up filtering the hefeweizen that we had made two weeks ago, making it a krystal weizen. It was pretty fun steaming the whole system and adding the filter agent, kieselgur as the Germans call it, or diatomaceous earth.

Adding kieselgur into the liquid stream

Cleaning the filter pads

Thursday: We did Bottle Filling. It was a pretty crazy day. I spent a fair amount of my time at the bottle washer, which takes returnable bottles and cleans them, removes the labels with caustic soda and rinses them getting them ready for filling. I would stand and make sure the in-feed was steady and make sure all the labels were removed from the bottles coming out. Every once and awhile a bottle would break or not have the label fully removed. I did end up watching some of the other stations but I really spent the lions share of my time with the bottle washer. We bottled a few beers that day. One of them was the Weizen beer we made, and filtered. They ended up adding some fresh bottom fermenting yeast to it. Hopefully we will get to try some of it when we get back from the study tour.

The bottle washer

I had to take off a little early that day to do some work on a project I am involved in. I will get into more details on that once it has taken off. I can say it could be pretty cool if it is succesful.

Friday: Well here it is. Today was our final test for this segment of the program. For most of the class this is the end of sitting in a classroom. We will have our two week study tour, then 30 out of 36 of us will be flying home. I felt very good about the test. It was 5 essay questions and 2 math equations. We only had to answer 5 of the questions. If you don't pass you have to take an oral exam to see if you actually know what your doing. If I know as much as I think I do, I'll be good, we will see though. I did finish it pretty quickly.
After class a small group of us went to the Hacker Pshcorr Brauhaus for a tour with the brewmaster. It was a pretty cool little place. I couldn't figure out why it was so big and has so many toilets when I was in there earlier, but it all made sense when I realized that the Oktoberfest grounds are right outside the place. They have a 20 hectoliter copper clad system that they mostly do specialty beers on. The main production stuff is done at Paulaner because both company's are one and the same.

The brewhouse

The cellar

One of the highlights was getting to try the altbier they had. Most altbier's come from the northern part of Germany, specificaly Dusseldorf. Munich altbier's are a pretty rare thing these days. They are not as bitter as their northen cousins. This one had some age on it but was still a nicve beer. The brewmaster was saying that he is going to try a light smoked beer soon. I can't wait to try that!!


Saturday: Saturday was not that exciting. I booked a hostel in Prague for when my brother and a couple of friends will be here in May. I did laundry, that sort of thing. Later I went down to the Marionplatz which is the city center, and bought some shorts. I had to guess on the sizing. After that we went to one of the hostels some classmates are staying at and watched the FA cup match. Then it was back to my room for some beer and cribbage....a very nice evening indeed.

Sunday: I spent most of the day packing up my stuff and getting ready to leave for the study tour. We will be heading out for 3 days of the tour, then because of easter we have 4 days off. Jay, Bryce and I are going to go up to Berlin for a few days, then to Leipzig for a couple of days. We then come back to Munich for 1 night, then we continue on our study tour, except this segment will be in Austria.
I have a feeling wlan (wifi) will be shotty so I will try to keep this updated as best I can.
Till then,