Tuesday, 1 April 2008

More German top-fermenters

Two more old beer types for you today. The source is "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 1902, page 65. You can see the original page to your left.
"As Erntebier [Harvest Beer] or Doppelbier a beer is often brewed which has an OG of 11-13º Balling, is fermented at relatively low tempertures (7-11º R [8,75-13.75º C]), lagered like like a Lagerbier for several months in large lagering barrels, bunged and filled under pressure into transport packages. "

This sounds intriguing. The method and strength are similar to Alt or Kölsch. Sadly, the colour isn't mentioned. A shame there aren't fewer occurrences of the word "lager" and more concrete details of the beer's composition.

"A beer similar to bottom-fermenting beer, sweet and malty tasting, can be made from a mixture of top- and bottom-fermenting beer, and this method is especially recommended in years with little ice, when it is difficult to keep the temperature of the cellar cold enough for the necessary secondary-conditioning and maturation of bottom-fermented beers. A fermentation temperature of 8-10º R [10-12.5º C] is selected and the beer is piped into lager barrels and it is left to stoßen [push, bang, strike?] , filtered, transferred and mixed in equal measure with bottom-fermenting, after which it undergoes a further secondary conditioning and is then bunged. Like bottom-fermenting beers, it is filtered and served clear, and is notable for its full body , high CO2 content and lasting head."

Artificial refrigeration had been introduced 30 years earlier, yet there still seems to have been a dependence on natural ice. The flavour was "sweet and malty" like a lager. Around 1900 very little Pils was brewed. The most popular lager style was still Münchner, a dark and malty beer.

It would have been nice if the author had mentioned what such hybrid beers were called. Obergähriges Lagerbier, perhaps.

If you bothered to look at the original text, you may have spotted that I'm not finished with this chapter yet. More tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

an interesting post Ron. This is the third variation on what an erntebier is that i have read. This one suggests it at quite a middling range of strength, whereas at this link http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/Erntebier.html you can see that they suggest - totally unreferenced and who knows, maybe completely made up - it is a weak beer of 3% or so. although maybe those two are not so incompatible if the attenuation of the wort is low which would accord with the description in your translation of the beer being sweet and malty. on the other hand, randy mosher's 'radical homebrewing' book talks about erntebier being a strong beer - again, unsourced, though i know he does have sources (just he doesn't cite them and therefore who knows what his translating skills are like and whether those sources are any good). he almost implies that it was like an english october beer (though not quite that strong) iirc. in any case, my guess is that a modern replica of a beer such as is described would taste decidedly under-attenuated to modern palates. in homebrewing circles it seems that under-attenuated munich style malt is regarded with utter horror, usually with the descriptor "cloying" as the ultimate shudder-shudder criticism.

Ron Pattinson said...

Having looked at what the German Beer Institute site says about Gose (pretty much completely wrong) I would be wary of trusting it about anything else. As you so rightly point out, he doesn't quote his sources.

Having said that, in Britain harvest beer was below normal strength.

As the description says that Erntebier is similar to Lagerbier, I would agree that it probably wasn't attenuated more than 60 to 65%.

Anonymous said...

um... unless beer advocate is wrong the germanbeerinstitute is right about gose, where did you get your information?

Ron Pattinson said...

Oh god, beeradvocate couldn't possibly be wrong, could it?

My information comes from these sources:

"Gose Häppchen:100 Jahre Gosenschenke Ohne Bedenken", 1999, pages 13 - 63
"Die Geschichte der Gose" Otto Kröber, 1912.
"Die Biere Deutschlands" Höllhuber & Kaul, 1988, pages 342 - 344.

I think you'll agree, sources that are a good deal more reliable than the German Beer Institute or BeerAdvocate.