Sunday, October 29, 2017

More German Beer Talk (Part Two of a Series)

Okay, where was I?  Oh, yes; getting to the 'hands-on' part of period German beer brewing.

Obviously, to do 'hands-on' brewing in a period style, we need to know what period-style brewing looks like.  Enter Johannes Coler, with his Oeconomia oder Haussbuch.  Published in 1599 in Berlin, this was actually Coler's father's work; the old man was on his deathbed, and Coler took it up on himself to put it out there.  Volume 2 of the work is On Beer.  And scanning down to chapter ten gives us a step-by-step process!

Fourteen steps for beer, going from raw grain to tapping the cask.  Herewith, part 1:

Das X. Capitel.
Vom Brewen.
Wiewol ich droben gesagt/dz die weise zu brewen in einem jedern Lande und ort von den Einwonern mus gelernet werden/So wil ich doch hier anzeigen/was wir allhier zu Berlin für eine art zu brewen haben. 1. Schütt man die Gerste in eine Butte/und lefft sie drey Tage und Nacht drinnen weychen/im Winter auch wol viere. 2. Schütt mans auff einen Söller oder Pühne uber einen hauffen/biß es beginnet zu keimen oder zu schiessen. 3. Rüret mans immer ein wenig und aber ein wenig von einander/biß es an den spitzen fein lödicht wird. 4. Wenns genug geschossen oder gewaschen/so bringet mans fein weit von einander/und treugets/entweder in einer Stuben/oder in der Sonnen/oder in einem Dörrofen.

The translation -
Chapter 10.
On Brewing.
As I said above/the wise must learn to brew in any one country and place from the residents/so I want to show here/what kind of brew we have here in Berlin. 1. Put the barley into a butt/and leave it for three days and nights/in Winter four is as well. 2. Put it in a pile or a heap/until it begins to germinate or shoot. 3. One always stirs it a little, but separates a little from another/until it has at the point a made a fine sprout. 4. When it is sufficiently shot or washed/so one brushes the fine parts far from it/and dries it/either in a stove-room/or in the sun/or in a drying-oven.

Commentary: So, we're looking here at a Berlin-beer. This is pretty much the basics of barley malting. The "drying in the sun" part is of interest--that would be "wind-malt," which would certainly be very lightly-colored; most reports I've seen also describe it as being a little "grassy." The Stuben/stove-room notion sounds interesting. I've got a wood stove in my living room, with space beneath it; I may have to try drying some in a tray there, this winter. A medieval German Dorrofen would be an interesting thing to see. (I've got another book that describes some of the specifics of building a malt kiln, but that's for a later post.)

Next up: Mashing!

Monday, October 2, 2017

By Popular Demand?

After far, far too long a hiatus, I've got a couple of things I can be posting about.  So, let's see if I can keep up with it, this time.

Updates:  I've got four types of hops growing, assuming the Sterling survive the winter.  They were looking a little weak, but then, so were the Magnums when they were initially planted, so I'm just sort of waiting.  The Magnums are doing pretty well--I actually got some hops from them.  Not much to write home about, but it's a harvest.  The Willamette plant is absolutely going gangbusters--I need to dig up that crown and split it, this winter/early spring.  I'll probably be able to divvy it up into six or eight healthy crowns, without trying very hard.  And the Cascades (all 3 bines) are doing quite well--I didn't get as much of a harvest as I might have liked, but that's on me, not on the plants.  Next year, hopefully, will be another story.

I've been trying my hand at beekeeping; so far, with much less success than I'd like.  I had two colonies last year; both absconded.  Started over with two this year; one has absconded, but the other appears set to at least go into the winter...  We'll see how they fare.  These have all been Italian bees, and I think part of the reason for them absconding has been mite pressure, combined (this year) with some pollen-bound comb.  I've got an order in for two nucleus hives of Russian bees for next spring; they're apparently mite-resistant.  If they work out, that'll be outstanding; if not, I may take a break for a year & come back to the hobby again later.

In SCA terms, well...  The King felt it worthwhile to induct me into the Order of the Laurel two weeks back (!!!).  Reasons cited included my baking, woodworking, and a few assorted other crafts... but primarily my brewing.  Which is what brings us here today...

(In the interest of forcing me back to keep posting here, I'll try to draw this out as much as possible--I anticipate a good five or six posts.)

So, my goal, when starting the latest bit of research, was (and still is) finding a good semblance of a recipe for the original Einbecker Bier--the ancestor of today's Bock.  I've seen references to it from numerous period sources, describing it variously as subtle, light, and "a paragon among all summer, light, hoppy beers."  The beer was one of the main drivers for Einbeck joining the Hanseatic League; through the League, the beer was shipped as far as Novgorod, England, Italy, and even Jerusalem. (Reportedly, Hansa Hofs and Kontors even built special warehouses, to hold the casks of Einbecker Bier.)

A moment's thought should bring a conclusion: the beer was likely big, in every sense.  Strong and hoppy.  The descriptions keep calling it "light;" that's probably more a color thing than flavor--but experimentation may provide other insights; despite being at this issue for several years, now, I'm still pretty early in the hands-on part of the exercise...

And that seems like a good point to pause, for next time.  I'll try (for now) to keep this to about a week or two between postings.  Please, hang around!

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