One thing right in advance: beer brewing is (more) than a science. At least if you don’t want to only stir a ready-made mixtures from the bag into boiling water.

A tasty beer is also not quickly done and well-founded knowledge in chemistry and physics is not a disadvantage. It is not for nothing that you can only obtain the master brewer’s diploma after 3.5 years (at least 7 semesters) at a university of applied sciences. The leading faculty in Germany is Weihenstephan-Freising, which is part of the Technical University of Munich (subject: beverage technology). Even a degree as a “beer sommelier” can now be completed. Well, if the latter one is really necessary; finally you can/ cannot argue about taste.

After the visit of a hop farmer in Wolnzach (Hallertau) two years ago, I wanted to find out more about it and signed up for a brewing course at the Neuburg Monastery near Heidelberg. Not only the technology and input materials were discussed, but also many historical and economic aspects of the beer industry. For example – similar to the sparkling wine and brandy tax – there is a beer tax of around 10 cents per liter. Interestingly enough, the wine trade knows neither a wine tax nor a bottle deposit.

Attention: Hobby brewers can also be taxed if they produce more than 200 liters per year. But only 40 liters “slumber” in our mini kettle.

Water quality is also essential, the “softer” the better. The monastery in question has its own spring and the particulary degree of hardness is less than 1 (very soft), which is rarely found.

Throughout the day there was a bunch of information given that cannot be kept and reproduced at all. Nevertheless I hope to provide a passable and entertaining summary for those readers being interested – in part 1 and 2.  Therfore a beer log is written every time. But one after anonther :

The basic process most commonly practiced in Europe today is as follows: Brewing malt is made from cereals (mostly malting barley). Malting is mainly practiced to extract enzymes. The actual brewing process begins with the mashing or a fermentation process. The crushed brewing malt is mixed with water. The resulting mash is heated by constant stirring. The mashing is also used to convert water-insoluble substances in the malt (especially starch) into water-soluble substances through the action of the malt enzymes, in particular maltose (testing by the so-called iodine test).

The malt is crushed with a grist mill to facilitate later dissolution of the substances contained in the brewing water. It is important that the husks remain intact. They serve as a filter layer during the refining process (by the way, we use a hand mill with two counter-rotating rollers).

The mash is then cleaned in the lauter tun/ vat, where the malt grains are separated from the wort. The wort is rinsed out of the spent grains (the residue that settles out) and then, as a so-called front wort, boiled with hops in the cooking kettle by rinsing with hot water. This brew is then pumped out of the kettle through a filter to separate the clotted protein and other suspended matter. This process is called “knock-out”. Finally, the liquid (called wort) is cooled in a cooler to the optimal fermentation temperature and, depending on the type of beer, a culture of the appropriate yeast is added.

The so-called “top-yeast-beers” ferment at temperatures between 18 ° C and 24 ° C, bottom-fermented ones at 8 ° C to 14 ° C. In alcoholic fermentation, the sugars dissolved in the wort become ethanol and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide escapes partly as a gas, partly it remains bound as carbonic acid in the finished beer under pressure. After the main fermentation, which takes about a week, the young beer has to ferment and stored for about four to six weeks. The beer matured in this way is filtered again if necessary and finally bottled or filled in barrels or cans.

At this point, our beer expert deliberately makes an insert: Printing a “best-before date” on canned beer is pure business, because it cannot spoil anything at this conditional quality level for years. If possible, beer should always be drunk fresh – i.e. within 4-6 months after production – and is best stored cold (2-5 degrees) and dark in bottles. In addition, he adds that most discounters sell beer below cost to lure customers into the store.

However, the best known beer-types are: Bock, Darkbeer, Export, Pilsner and Lager …  just to name a few. Without going into detail, the following rule applies: the lighter a beer, the less alcohol percentage. The general range is between 5% and 17% alcohol.

Master brewer Gerhard S. is passionate about his craft respectively brewing the different types of beer etc. He even played a major role in the purchase, installation and design of the brewing system. The words just gush out of him and one fact follows the other. Which stories he has still in stock and what happens when simmering, you may read soon in part 2. Because even experienced makers sometimes face a surprise when a pipe is clogged etc.  THowever, the mandatory boiler and pipe cleaning with hot steam was not necessary. In the case of our mini kettle respectively the small amount of beer/ liquid – it is only carried out once or twice a week if there is a large output.

Brewing beer is truly a sustainable thing, because even the remaining grain (sediment of the mash) is collected and used for animal feeding. Pigs, for example, are really crazy about it.

In this sense: may god keep hops and malt  …


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