Friday, 11 November 2011

Horst at it again.

You have to hand it to Horst Dornbusch. He's not easily discouraged. An endless supply of historical fantasy flows from his pen.

This is an excerpt from his article on Altbier:

"Historically, the modern Altbier evolved from northern German ales that were typical for the region during the Middle Ages. These were strong, well-hopped brews with names like Broyhan and Keutebier, which often contained portions of wheat malt, perhaps as much as 40%."
"Oxford Companion to Beer", page 37.

So Broyhan and Keute were strong and heavily hopped. Let's see if actual evidence confirms that.


Let's start with a quote from one of my favourite books (and one the bloke who wrote the "Oxford Companion to Beer" article on Berliner Weisse should have read:

"In Hanover, the very weakly-hopped, sweet Broyhan Bier, using 20% wheat malt, has been brewed for centuries."
"Die Herstellung Obergähriger Biere" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 1902, page 65.
That's fairly specific. Not heavily hopped.

Her's a quote from another weighty scientific tome:
"1. Low-alcohol, light beers filled as Ausstossbier or bottled with Kräusen which are mostly free from bacteria and rich in CO2. Examples: Lübbener, Werder'sches, Cölner, Bremer, Hamburger, Grätzer, Münchener Weissbier etc.

2. Beers with similar attributes to those just named, but with a higher lactic acid content. Examples: Berliner Weissbier, Broyhan, Calenburger Weissbier, Lichtenhainer, Gose-Bier."
"Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte in der Lehre von den Gährungs-Organismen" by Professor Dr. Alfred Koch, 1896, pages 160-161.

That defines Broyhan as a low-alcohol beer wiuth a high lactic acid content.

"Broyhan is a dark, lightly hopped, poorly attenuated top-fermenting beer brewed mostly in the province Hannover. It is made from barley malt with the addition of up to 20% wheat malt. "
"Encyklopädisches Handbuch der technischen Chemie, Volume 4, Part 1", 1915, page 30. My translation.
Do you see a theme here? Lightly-hopped, not strong.

This text is a little older:

"To brew Broyhahn, after Hermstädt.

This beer is named after its creator, Cord Broyhahn, who first brewed it in 1526 in the brewhouse of Hans von Sode in Leinstrasse, Hannover. The genuine Broyhahn is very pale, similar in colour to young white wine, has a winey aroma and a pleasant sweetish yet acidic taste. Broyhahn differs from other white beers chiefly in that it is brewed from pure barley malt without the addition of wheat malt or hops.

For a brew of 2000 Berlin Quarts [1 Berlin quart = 1.14053 litres] are needed 26 Berlin scheffels (1560 pounds) of pale barley malt, air malt or Welkmalz (?) . The grist has 800 Berlin Quarts at 30º R [37.5º C] poured over it and it is worked through until all the malt is mixed well with the water and no more lumps can be seen. Then the whole is left to rest in the covered tun for half an hour. A second watering follows with 1700 Quart boiling water; it is well mashed for an hour and then the mash is left in the covered tun for a further hour.

After the wort has been drawn off, it is gently boiled in the previously cleaned copper until it evaporates down to 2000 Quarts and then allowed to cool down to 14º [17.5º C] R in the coolship.

In the fermenting vessel the wort is finally inoculated with 6 Berlin Quarts of good yeast, preferably taken from good white beer, well mixed and immediately brought into the barrels in the cellar to ferment out, which takes about 36 to 40 hours, after which the barrels must be tightly bunged. This Broyhahn keeps about 14 days in summer, and in winter 24 days in cool storage, without becoming sour.

The spent grain is once again infused with 500 Quarts of boiling water, mixed well, so that after half an hour the wort can be drawn off, which is inoculated with yeast and processed into Kovent. "
Source: "Grundsaetze der Bierbrauerei nach den neuesten technisch-chemischen Entdeckungen" by Christian Heinrich Schmidt, 1853, pages 444-445.

Look - no hops at all in that version.

Still not convinced that Broyhan wasn't strong? Here are some 19th century analyses:

Year Brewer Country Beer Style Acidity FG OG ABV atten-uation
1850 Unknown, Halberstadt Germany Halberstädter Breyhan Breyhan 1.29 1012.69 1034.67 2.84 62.59%
1884 Hannover, Städtisch Germany Einfacher Broyhan Broyhan 0.158 1022.54 1031.43 1.03 27.67%
1884 Hannover, Städtisch Germany Doppelter Broyhan Broyhan 0.06 1043.60 1053.37 1.20 17.55%
“Archive der Pharmacie”, 1855, pages 216-217
Wahl & Henius, pages 823-830

One last point about Broyhan: it dates from the 1500's. That's not the Middle Ages.


Let's move on to Keut. It's a type of beer that was brewed in parts of the west of Germany, Holland and Belgium. This one does date back to the Middle Ages. So far back, in fact, that it's origins were before the use of hops in the area. Though later small quantites were added to it.

The only current example of the style, Jopen Koyt, is a gruit beer. Heavily hopped? Don't make me laugh.

This is a description of how to brew the German version:

"WHAT IS Keut? WHAT IS Altbier?
Keut, a Münsterland beer, was brewed according to a specific method. It used to be the house drink of the citizens. An old recipe from the period around 1600 reports on the production of Keut:

"To make Koet. Pour 7 cups of malt, 4 buckets of water and a good hand-full of wheat flour the previous evening into a kettle, where it is to be boiled. The next day boil it for 4 hours so that it boils down to about 1 bucket and becomes somewhat thick, but it must be stirred well so that it does not burn. Then it is poured into a basket with straw, over which a coarse linen cloth has been secured, so that it runs off clear. Then another four buckets of water and a handful of hops are boiled briefly, and poured through the same basket; it is then left to stand until it becomes lukewarm. Then add a good dose of yeast (1/4 litre) to the Koet, stir as with beer and cover it. The next morning, remove the yeast and fill into pitchers. Leave open for two days, then seal, place in each pitcher a »beschaten nagel« and a little white sugar, seal tightly and place in sand. "

So you don't imagine that »beschaten nagel« is a rusty nail, it should be pointed out that Krumbholtz explains this expression in his volume "Trade of the city of Munster," as "probably clove or nutmeg". "Pinkus Müller. Der Singende Bierbrauer in Münster", by Walter Werland, 1966, page 53.

I should be thankful for small mercies. At least Horst seems to have realised Broyhan and Mumme (two beers which could hardly be more dissimilar) aren't the same thing. He does appear to still throw around the names of old German styles randomly, making them whatever he thinks they should be.

Funny that Adambier doesn't get a mention in his article. That really was a strong, heavily-hopped type of Altbier.


The Beer Nut said...

dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum
King of the impossible!

Bailey said...

Are we sure he's not just a contestant on Faking It?

He has failed to fool the expert judges.

EdG said...

Your sources seem to disagree about the color of Broyhahn, with it being described as both dark and very pale. Can you reconcile them?

Also, it describes Munich Weissbier as being low alcohol c. 1900. Does "low alcohol" mean "not strong" or "less than average"? Because it seems that Berliner Weisse and Munich Weissbier are both described that same way, but today one is about twice as strong as the other -- was that true then?

Thanks for helping make sense of these references.

Ron Pattinson said...

EdG, yes, there is inconsistency in the descriptions of Broyhan. Usually it's described as a Weissbier - that is a beer brewed from air-dried or only lightly-kilned malt. I think the reason is that it was brewed over a wide area of Germany for 300-odd years. There must have been regional variation.

One thing all the description agree on: it wasn't very heavily hopped and it wasn't very strong.

Low-alcohol, certainly when it comes to top-fermenting North German beers usually means below 3% ABV.

Oddly, I've only 3 analyses of 19th-century Bavarian Weissbier:

1866 Hofbräuhaus, München Weissbier 1046.7, 4.38% ABV
1888 v. Schramm, Munich Weissbier 1053.41, 4.69% ABV
1890 Münchener Weissbier 1047.16, 4.39% ABV

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Nut, you should record a full version of the song.

The Beer Nut said...

What do you mean "Horst Dornbusch approaching?"
Open fire!
All weapons!

Matt said...

I can only search the book on's Look Inside function but on p.185 someone also questions why altbier isn't categorised as a brown ale alongside Belgian dubbel and oud bruin.

Rosd said...

I've said it before - Horst is Pele

Barm said...

Bailey, but he has fooled a great many decision makers in the beer industry, from Weyermann to Garrett Oliver. That's why his bullshit needs to be called out.

Rod said...

Beer Nut -
You're responsible for the probably traumatising sight of a middle-aged man walking round a supermarket in Greenwich town centre scaring Italian tourists by humming loudly -
He's pre-posterous!
He's ridiculous!

The Beer Nut said...

Horst! Horst, I love you!
But we only have five cents to pay per word!

Joe Walts said...

This seems appropriate: