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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Stress Brewing (Part 1)

Most people need a stress reliever. Some relieve stress through exercise, some through baking, and yet others through drinking. I discourage everyone from simultaneously employing all three of these techniques. (Although I would pay money to see this)Not surprisingly I relieve stress by both drinking and brewing beer. (Hence the name of the blog). Since the inception of my world class blog I have focused on drinking beer. I believe it is now finally time for a post about my brewing exploits.

In late September it finally arrived. I opened the boxes with baited breath, my heart racing as I tore away the packing paper franticly searching for that irreplaceable meaning of life……my brew pot. Moving halfway around the world is uber stressful, and I desperately needed some stress relief.

My Kitchen Stove
The kitchen stove is the key to my homebrewing as I am a partial mash brewer. Partial mash brewers, unlike most craft beer breweries, use approximately 20 percent malted and milled grain. The remainder of the malt comes in the form of liquid or dry malt extract. As many of you probably know traditional German appliances differ from standard U.S. appliances. The stove in my new home is no exception. An older German glass-top electric stove roughly half the size of a standard American stove. I definitely need to test this new tool.

I anxiously fill my brew pot with a gallon of water and place it on the largest of the four burners as I go about unpacking less essential items, clothes, shoes etc. Suddenly, I hear it, subtle at first, then increasing in intensity. Is it a train, or possibly a helicopter? I race down the stairs and in to the kitchen, a pair of underwear in hand, to find something right out of the Exorcist. My brew pot was shaking violently, threatening to leap off of the stove. I quickly remove it from the stove, using the underwear as a pot holder. (Safety first) I am overcome with a feeling of sadness and dismay. As a tear trickles down my cheek I know the worst has happened. My brew pot is too wide for the burners, the uneven heating causing the pot to vibrate uncontrollably. Is this the end of my brewing career?  

Every cloud has a silver lining. In my case it’s a stainless steel silver. It’s obvious the kitchen stove is no longer of use to me and it’s time to upgrade my aging equipment (Brewing Equipment).  Over the next several weeks I search online for an economical solution.  Halloween passes and Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. My stress level is off the charts. My best friend in the UK is visiting brew shops left and right and sends me a package of fresh UK hops. I start twitching as the urge reaches unbearable levels. I feel like I may explode. I NEED to BREW! Then it happens. While wandering through a local store my wife finds a cheap alternative. A turkey fryer, including a seven gallon pot and a GAS burner! Let the brewing begin!!!!!!!

My New Turkey Fryer

Tune in next time for the continuing saga that is my first homebrewing experience in Germany.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

It’s Been Such a Long Time

It has been too long since last I posted to my blog. So many things have happened since my arrival. Beer fests, brewery visits…the list goes on. Since my last post I have acquired traditional lederhosen, and worn said hosen in PUBLIC. I have visited a local craft beer brewery and discovered there is in fact a budding local craft beer scene.
Last October I donned my shiny new lederhosen, striking off to the second largest October fest in Germany.
The atmosphere at a German beer fest is electric. Thousands of people come together for one purpose, to drink beer. Visitors fill a multitude of beer tents where bands play everything from traditional polka to Supertramp. Singing is not optional, it’s mandatory while picnic tables are not for sitting, they are for standing!

The later it gets, the more table dancing there is.German fest beer may not be at the top of the quality chart but what it lacks in quality is certainly made up for in QUANTITY! A typical craft beer drinker would scoff at the  at the roughly 5.5% ABV of German fest beer Four beers (liters) of beer and several hours later I came to the conclusion that I’m no longer a young man, and lederhosen are not conducive to emergency   bathroom visits. (#LOTSOFBUTTONS).

My fest experience was followed by a visit to Kraftpaule, a German spin on a tap room combined with an interesting selection of bottled craft beer in their cellar. After sampling all six beers on tap (Full Pours) I ventured into the beer cellar where I discovered an eclectic selection of bottled beer. From a marketing perspective Kraftpaule nailed it. Six pints of beer and hundreds of Euro later I staggered away with an extensive array of bottled beer ranging from Californian brewed West Coast IPA’s to traditional Trappist Belgian beers.

CAST Braurei
In November I attended a hop fest at the local CAST Braurei. Located in what can only be described as an alley CAST brewery is what most in the U.S. would consider a nano brewery. Operating on a modest homebrew-like brewing system CAST members franticly poured flights of craft beer amid a fest-like atmosphere of a hundred or so people lining picnic tables. Despite the size limitation CAST is worth a visit. While their IPA is not what the average U.S Craft beer drinker would expect, by German craft beer standards it scratched my itch for hops.

Over the last few months I have gained a new appreciation for the craft beer scene in Germany. Much like the craft beer scene in the U.S. 10 years ago German Craft brewers strive for market share against the entrenched traditional German Beer culture.  It is nothing short of inspiring to witness first-hand the evolving German craft beer scene in the shadows of the big “Fest Tent” that has always been the international trademark of beer in Germany.

Until next time,