Sunday, 20 April 2008

Josef Schneider, Essing

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
10% Caramunich
5% Carafa
5% acidic malt

That explains why it tastes quite like a Münchner.

This is the Märzen grist:

60% Vienna
30% Munich
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.

Josef Schneider
Altmühlgasse 10
93343 Essing.


Stonch said...

After you went to bed, Andy texted me to say you'd done so.

Lightweight. You don't have hollow legs after all.

Kristen England said...

Did Josef give you any reason why he uses the acid malt in his beers? I do my best to stay away from that stuff so Im quite interested in his approach.

Ron Pattinson said...

Stonch, it doesn't surprise me in the least that Andy grassed me up. My legs are just like everyone else's.

Kristen, to balance out the ph in the mash, if I understood him properly. All of his beers have 5% acid malt. I assume he knows what he's doing, as all his beers are pretty good.

Anonymous said...

He first wort hops his beers, how cool is that. Assuming buffer salts are not compliant with the provisional German beer law, acid malt would be one of the only ways to get that ph right.

Kristen England said...

Very cool. Didn't the Reinheitsgebot get banned by the EU though? B/c the nutter Belgians and fair trade and such? Or is this more tradition as it its the way we've always done it.

Also, does he have a house yeast strain or does he get his yeast from Weihenstephan?

Anonymous said...

i wondered about the acid malt as well, especially in the dunkles, what with munich, caramunich and carafa all already in there. must be very carbonate water to begin with. if i tried a grist like that in our water here in wellington, nz, the pH would end up waaay too low for mashing. it's very soft where i live; i'd even ADD some carbonate (i don't care about sticking to the niceties of the r'h'bot), which is what i do for a schwarzbier.

Ron Pattinson said...

Kristen, the Reinheitsgebot, contrary to many reports, is still in operation as the Biersteuergesetz. It's only beer brewed outside Germany that doesn't need to conform to it. I forgot to ask about the yeast. I doubt he has his own strain because I saw no evidence of a lab.

Brendan, that's right. Acid malt is the only legal method.

Anonymous, I assume he must have carbonate water. I should have looked more closely at the cliffs behind the brewery to see what sort of rock they were made out of.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's an insane amount of acid malt - especially in the Dunkles.

Ron, would you care to take a guess at a mash schedule? Do they decoct, for instance?

Franconian dunkles are amazing beers - I'd love to be able to brew something similar.

Ron Pattinson said...

Lachlan, of couse they decoct. Though I forgot to ask about the precise schedule. I think next time I'm going to ask what questions you homebrewers want asked before I leave.