Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Visiting the local brewery

Strange to say, but I've been too busy to drink beer this past couple of weeks. Well, apart from visiting my local brewery, Brauerei Egolf*, for the first time last Saturday, taking a well-earned break from the house restoration. I can't really say much about it, other than the fact it was an enjoyable day from the social perspective, with 21 people signed up for a "course". I expected more brewing to be happening, but the mash was on when we arrived at 10am and the lautering seemed to be still going on when we left at around 5pm.
It's an interesting setup, apparently an own design and built in 1997, that involves what looks like a conical fermenter in cross-section, wrapped around with an insulating layer that fills with water during the mash. Oddly, this outer layer is drained and then doubles as the lautering tun, with the mash pumped into it. The inner section is then also used as the kettle and whirlpool. I've no idea how they clean it, but it might explain when they only do Naturtrübes Bier. We didn't see the fermenting vessels or any bottling plant, so the impression was of a very compact brewery! 20hl standing on a 4 square meter space as, essentially, all the brewing vessels from mash tun through kettle to whirlpool are in one. It's a fascinating idea, and we weren't sure why he hadn't patented it. Actually, one of their claims to fame is that they used to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records for being the smallest commercial brewery (I think it was 1988), but they've grown a little since then. 

Mr. Egolf gave a talk about the brewing process, with a heavy slant toward the Reinheitsgebot, even going further by more or less saying coloured malts are not pure, and implying, well, stating, that foreign beer was full of chemicals and colouring, using Guinness as an example. Now, I'm not exactly a friend of the company that brews Guinness, but I'm pretty sure that colour is from roasted barley! Certaily not gebot, as that part is unmalted, but no artificial colouring.

I've enjoyed Schefflenzer Haustrunk Pilsner in the past, before I knew where Schefflenz was, or even dreamed I'd end up living here, but it's certainly a variable beer. Egolf usually have a mobile bar at local events, and I'll always grab a bottle or two, but have noticed myself it's not always matching that first bottle I tried two years ago. Some people have told me it is sometimes contract brewed elsewhere, but I don't know the truth of that. We'll have an opportunity to return in four weeks to sample the beer brewed on the day we visited, so let's see.

On the day, I found the Pilsner (at least I think it was the Pilsner!) to be quite sweet, incredibly fruity, with little classic Pils bitterness. In fact, in the blind tasting they ran, I got 4 out of 6 right, mixing up the Pils and Export, as they were quite similar. The Weizen was spot on, ticking all the classic Weizen boxes of banana, cloves and bubblegum. Put it this way, we could pour our own beers at will, and I had more Weizen than the others.

But whatever grumbles I may have had about the content of the talk, we were incredibly well fed, with a Weisswurst breakfast at 11, Hochzeitssuppe at around 1pm followed swiftly by salad, roast pork, dumplings and noodles, then a set of slides on serving and looking after beer. Most of all, I enjoyed the craic, the chats, mangling the German language (though lubrication helps) and meeting some  like-minded people.

Well, seems I had something to say about the day after all!

* I just noticed their website has been totally revamped since I last saw it, and it looks good, though I am now confused as the Pilsner is described as a Helles. I thought they were two different things.

No comments: