One of the highlights of my trip last year was the stay at the delightful little pub/brewery/hotel of Josef Schneider in the equally delightful village of Essing. At least it would have been, if I hadn't overdone it in the evening session. I woke with a stonking hangover and almost missed the tour of the brewery. I wasn't going to make that mistake again.
I'm starting to like Bavarian folksy interiors. Who would have thunk it? The bar is pretty quiet at the moment (17:30). Actually, empty is more accurate. There isn't even anyone to serve me. That's fine. Gives me time to snap a few piccies in peace. There really is something rather sweet about the style of decor, if you leave your preconceptions at the door. I always check in mine at the cloakroom.
A skinny barmaid turns up and pours me a Dunkles. Character and diversity. I'll be banging on about that a lot in the next days/weeks. Especially with regard to Dunkles. Josef Schneider's is along the lines of a classic Münchner, but hoppier. Nuts, dates, toffee and molasses. Finished off with a dash of peppery Hallertauer. I give it 69 out of 100. A very respectable score.
Jim arrives and, wondering which draught beer to start with asks the waitress "Was ist gut?" "Alles" is her simple (and accurate) reply. She reminds me of my wife's mate Kerstin. I have a soft spot for Kerstin, which may be connected with the fact that she has a large house on the outskirts of Leipzig. With room enough for the whole family to stay. We should really go and visit her again.
Andy and Keith have arrived now, too. Time for another beer. This time I go for Märzen. Josef's is an amber one. It arrives a bit too fizzy for my taste, but after an hour or two of swirling I deem it ready to drink. Malt-accented, as you would expect. Vanilla, caramel and wort. But again nicely balanced by the earthy spiciness of Hallertauer. (That's the only hop used around these parts. They are pretty local, after all.) 72 out of 100 I mark it. Another good one.
Josef (the brewer) comes up and has a chat. He proudly tells us how his son is busy setting up breweries in a chain of hotels in China. Last time we were here he'd been having a party to celebrate his son graduating from brewing school. Hopefully the brewery is safe for another generation.
As he's got time, he takes us around the brewery there and then. The maltsters Weyermann sell a little case with samples of each of the malts they make. They're a bit expensive, which is why I never bought one. I never realised how handy they could be. When I started quizzing Josef about which malts were in the Dunkles, he grabbed hold of the case and showed me. This is the grist of his Dunkles:
80% Munich malt
5% acidic malt
That explains why it tastes quite like a Münchner.
This is the Märzen grist:
5% Caramell malt
5% acidic malt
I didn't quite catch all the malts for the Helles, but it does have 30% Vienna malt.
The boil is slightly unusual. He adds 25% of the hops before the wort has boiled. The beers are lagered at 2º C for six to eight weeks, the Bock for 3 months.
What else did he say that was interesting? Oh yes - 60% of his output in Weizen. I hope I'm not letting the cat out of the bag, but this includes the Weizen for Spezial of Bamberg. Spezial supplies them with their own smoked malt. Essing is quite a stretch from Bamberg, so I wonder why they would be having their Weizen brewed here. Simple explanation: he and the brewer at Spezial shared a room while at brewing school.
Back to the pub. No dark Bock this time, but the spring seasonal Heller Bock. It has plenty of concentrated malt and hop flavours, but lacks the depth of the other beers. Just 61 for this.
Andy is deeply shocked by what happens next. It's just after 9 PM. I finish my Bock and say I'm going to bed. "What? You are joking, aren't you?" No, I'm deadly serious. I don't want to start such a long and arduous tour feeling crap.
Training day over. Now for the real business.
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