Sunday, 13 January 2008

Porter in the DDR

See, I promised you the tale of DDR Porter and here it is. A coupling of two of my favourite obsessions.

How was it brewed
Let's start with "Leitfaden Für den Brauer und Mälzer" by Rudolf Dickscheit (Leipzig, 1953, pages 163-164).

What in Germany is designated Porter, would be called Stout in England. For export, Stout is brewed with a graity of up to 21% [21º Plato]. Porter is a beer of similar character, but has amn original gravity of just 12%. To avoid confusion, in the following I will stick with the term Porter which is normally used in Germany.

The basis for a good Porter is a very well-modified malt. To obtain this, the usual method is a 14 day cold process.

The malt is heated in piles on the upper level and dried in the same way as Munich malt.

Porter is made by the infusion mash method which is standard in England. It can, for example, be brewed as follows:

Mash 69º C for 3 hours
Pump the whole mash into the heated Läufer tun
Rest 69º C for 30 minute
First sparge let stand for 30 minutes
Draw off first sparge
Second sparge let stand for 30 minutes
Draw off second sparge, add the hops and boli for 3 hours

Add caramel [Kulör] to obtain the desired colour, and add sugar in the kettle to obtain a gravity of 18 to 20% [Plato].

The grist generally contains caramel malt and Farbmalz. Farbmalz makes up 7 to 10% of the grist. The hopping rate is 600 to 700 grams per hectolitre. After the wort has been boiled for three hours it's transferred to the cool ship and with cooling apparutus brought down to 18º to 24º C. To the cooled wort a top-fermenting yeast is added. Since the fermentation temperature lies between 18º and 24º C, a violent fermentation soon begins. During the primary fermentation, the wort is only carefully cooled so that a temperature of 18º to 24º C is maintained.

The room temperature should be about the same as the wort temperature.

The aim is an unbroken fermentation of all the fermentable extract.

When the primary fermentation is over, the young beer is transferred to small lagering barrels. There it is infected with Brettanomyces and a sugar solution added. After a relatively short time a lively secondary fermentation starts. The lagering barrels are not bunged but allowed to froth over.

Brettanomyces produces substances which lend the beer particular vinous flavour. As soon as this appears to a sufficient extent, the Porter is filtered: afterwards, more sugar is added at a rate of 50 grams per hectolitre. It's inoculated with Brettanomyces a second time and filled into bottles.

Bottle-conditioning takes place at 15º C in a warm cellar, so that the Brattanomyces can produce a strong fermentation and the bottles gain a sediment. As soon as there is sufficient conditioning, the cellar is cooled to 0º C.

The Porter is now ready for consumption. However it can be matured for longer to develop and round off its flavour.

In general, pasteurisation is not necessary; if it does occur, the pasteurised taste is not so unpleasantly discernible as in pale beers.

A Porter brewed by the aforementioned method would not be identical to the beer produced in the DDR with the name 'Porter', but would be more similar to the English beer than is currently the case."

I like the bit about pasteurisation. Reading between the lines in brewing manuals, it's clear many professional brewers thought pasteurisation was detrimental to a beer's flavour. Dickscheit's differentiation between Porter and Stout is pretty spot on. As is his description of how Stout was brewed in England circa 1914 (by the time he wrote the book, probably only Barclay Perkins Russian Stout was made that way). I wonder how the hell he knew all of this?

But most important is the last paragraph. The method laid out wasn't how DDR breweries actually brewed, but something to which they should aspire in order to make an authentic English-style Porter. You can find this in a Michael Jackson article about Porter:

"Even after or War II, at least one German brewer continued to make a "British-style" Porter with a Brettanomyces yeast culture."

It's my fault. I sent him a translation of part of Dickscheit's instructions which omitted the final paragraph.

Where was it brewed
These are the breweries in the East that I know for certain (I've seen a label) brewed Porter:

Brauerei Eibau, Eibau
Schultheiss, Berlin
Brauerei Th. Krepper, Burg bei Magdeburg
Brauerei Sternburg, Leipzig
Brauerei Schmiedefeld, Schmiedefeld
Brauerei Meiningen, Meiningen
Brauerei Krampf, Eibau
Brauerei Braugold, Erfurt
Riebeck Brauerei, Erfurt
Rose-Brauerei, Grabow
Brauhaus Halle, Halle
Freyberg's Brauerei, Halle
Brauerei Lübz, Lübz
Brauerei Erich Weltz, Sülze (Extra Stout XXX)

Some of these probably date to before WW II, but I'm sure there are many others missing.

What it was like
I'm in a generous mood again. Here are the technical details of beers brewed in the DDR during the 1970's:

"Technologie Brauer und Mälzer" by Wolfgang Kunze (Leipzig, 1975) is a wonderful book. It tells you everything you need to know about running a brewery in the DDR. Right down to the how the labels should look:

- name and location of the producer
- bottling date
- size: 90 mm X 60 mm for 33 cl bottles, 100 mm X 70 mm for 50 cl bottles
- retail price in at least 12 point letters
- colour: for Porter, carmine red

When I open my brewery, I intend sticking to the rules. Except for the retail price, of course.


Lars Marius Garshol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lars Marius Garshol said...

Hmmmm. From what Dickscheit (poor guy) writes, it seems like DDR porter changed quite a bit over time, starting with something close to English porter, and then gradually diverging into a kind of "DDR porter".

It seems like DDR porter is still being brewed:

My notes on this one were "Medium beige head. Dark red translucent body with carbonation. Strange, rubbery, earhty aroma, slightly dry. Sweet, watery taste of wild berries, metal, and earth with a dry slightly empty aftertaste. Quite good, but nothing too special. Nothing like normal porter, or even schwarzbier."

Sounds to me like it is a real DDR porter.

Anonymous said...

I'm just going to be a Sergeant Lewis figure here, asking stupid questions to give you the opportunity to explain in more detail: so, the distinction between stout and porter is that the former is stronger? And that's more-or-less it?

Ron Pattinson said...

Lars, I'm not sure they ever brewed Porter as he describes in the DDR.

I can't remember how the one I tried tasted.

Bailey, that's about it. Porter was used to refer to both specifically the weakest beer of the type and as a general term for all Porters and Stouts.

London brewers regularly made Porter and Stout from the same mash. I have examples of this that span pretty much the whole period I've looked at (1805 - 1955). At some periods Whitbread almost never brewed just one beer from a brew. At one time in the 1800's all their beers - two Porters and half a dozen Stouts - all have exactly the same recipe, except for the quantity of water.

Guinness Porter and Guinness Extra Stout in 1883 had pretty similar recipes.

All the crap about them being two distinct styles has just been made up in the last 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ron. The clearest explanation of that question I've come across so far.

Bier-Mania!™ Cultural Beer Tours said...

Thanks Ron