Brewing is a matter of his heart for our master brewer Gerhard S. As I already reported in part 1, all infos as regards “beer in Germany” gush out of him. Nevertheless, he always keeps an eye on the cooking process, the so-called mashing, as well as the further manufacturing process together with us – the participants.
Around noon (after 2,5 hours) it’s also time for some traditional sausage and cheese snacks, because after all we can of course taste many individual varieties of Klosterbräu/ Monastery beers; their specifics and marginal secrets in taste are simply the “signature” of every master brewer. Not for nothing we learn about names like “Red Fox”, “Imperial” or “HeidALEberg” with a decent lemon “flavor”, etc.
There is a general distinction between varieties such as: Altbier/ Old, Maibock/ Bock beer, Dunkel, Export, Rauch/ Smoke, Kölsch, Schwarzbier/ Darkbeer, Zwickel, Märzen, Wheat/Hefeweizen, Pilsner, Weiße/ Whitebeer, Lager, Porter, Stout … just to name a few. Without going into detail, the following rule applies: the lighter a beer, the less original wort or alcohol percentage (apart from the Maybock). The range is between 5% and 17%. According to our host, many strong beers can already be recognized by its “name endings”, such as Salvator, Imperator or Triumphator.
Almost alcohol-free beer (approx. 0.5%) is created when the enzymes are literally left to boil over 70 degrees. Then there will be no further fermentation or alcohol formation later (details on the manufacturing process – see Part 1).
In the meantime it is always a matter of stirring, stirring so that the mash (similar to an oatmeal soup) does not start to burn, … observe the thermometer (hold the 40 or 60 degrees in the second stage), determine the sugar content with a “spindle” and keep stirring, let the brew rest and, and, and. All pure manual work, which is – for larger quantities – otherwise done strictly according to the recipe and controlled by a computer.
By the way: Anyone who claims to additionally filtered beer knows why and it is not a quality feature. If so, the brewer has either shortened the work processes like the purification (rest) or has to filter out additional “aids / impurities” to clarify it according to the “German purity requirement”.
Although the beer consumption in Germany is declining, beer is still the most frequently drunk drink (around 8 billion liters). Around 5,000 different types of beer are produced in around 1,350 breweries, around 1.5 billion liters of which are exported.
The struggle for existence is merciless, because more and more smaller brands are swallowed by large companies such as Heineken, Warsteiner or Anheuser-Busch. So mass is on progress but there are also more and more local mini-brewers who like to call themselves “craft beer producers” (innovative beers) – among them gluten-free and vegan beers.
Beer was already brewed by the Romans around 100 AD and was often the only safe drink in unsanitary times. Especially when the so-called “Purity Law” was introduced in 1516. From then on, only hops, malt, yeast and water were allowed to be contained in German beer (previously, many “herbs” were added). The triumphant advance of the healthy and nutritious food was finally established as “Fastenspeise/ fasting-meal” for the monks, who were also the leaders in the production for a long time.
At this point, a little digression on hops (humulus lupulus): Even a “special brewery” like the “Klosterhof” no longer deals with the processing and extraction of hop buds. Rather, hops are used in the form of concentrate pellets. The prices of the individual varieties vary greatly and can be EURO 15.- for a 5-kilo bag, but also EURO 350.- in the case of aroma hops. We were able to taste “Bavarian Mandarin”, “Citra”, Tettnang-Tettnagng “, “Hallertauer Perle” and“ Cascade” (the latter one from the USA). Everything smells like a mixture of fresh meadow grass and green tea, only “Cascade” to me has a natural orchid or jasmine note as an extra – fantastic.
Accordings to the receipe and the “brewing protocol” much to my surprise only very little of hops is needed. Namely only about 25 grams for our 40 liters of a light bottom-fermented dark beer.
Hops should always be stored airtight and cool, otherwise they smell like rotten cheese. The main growing areas in Germany are Hallertau/ Franconia and Lake Constance.
I personally prefer dark, naturally “turbid” beers because they taste softer and malty. We will of course only find out about the taste of “our joint venture” after about eight weeks of aging, storage and bottling.
Two things I know for sure: if you taste the beer brew/ liquid before filling it into a special beer keg/ barrel (the contruction of a beer keg including the pressure conditions, is a discipline of its own), you expose a lot of “stress” on your taste buds. Till then the beer-liquid tastes more like brown, lukewarm vegetable broth for stomach sufferers. The reason: the carbonic acid is still missing, which only gradually develops through the fermentation process in the barrel – what a difference.
And above all, I intend and continue to have my beer brewed by a specialist in the future. Anyone knowing me understands that I like to do a lot myself. But – if you do not close the pressurized beer keg properly (how to enjoy the foam on the beer lateron), you can put yourself real quick into a dangerous situation due to the pressure. And also I would rather not brew beer in my “four walls”. Basically, it already fails on the premises and buying a complete party set is definitely not enough. It may serve as a test gag, but not the beer quality. “Hops and malt would be rather lost”.
In consequence/ my opinion the valuable gifts of nature and centuries of craftsmanship should rather remain in professional hands.