Thursday, 21 March 2013

Potato Beer

Obscure central European beer styles. They used to be a bit of a speciality of mine. Until Scotland appeared and, like a hyperactive toddler, dragged away all my attention.

Dolores found me a very handy electronic book over the weekend. It's "Der Bier-Brauer" by A.F. Zimmermann, published in 1842. Part of the subtitle - "Erfindung der Kartoffel-Bier Brauerei (the Invention of the Potato-Beer Brewery) - tells you it wasn't published in Bavaria. Right down my street, it is. Because there are big sections of Berliner Weisse and one of my favourite lost styles, Broyhan.

Though the author had his own particular way of brewing Broyhan. He's dismissive of the need for wheat malt in the grist and suggests using potato starch or potato syrup instead. Don't ask me what potato syrup is. It seems to be a kind of sugar syrup made from potatoes. Very weird.

There's a pretty complete recipe for Potato Broyhan. Two recipes, in fact. One using potato syrup and one actual potatoes. Fascinating stuff, with full mashing details and everything. I'm considering translating and posting them. It will be a fair bit of work, what with reading the horrible Gothic script and translating the clunky 19th-century German. So much work, that I'd rather not bother with it unless I'm sure that someone wants to read it.

Here's the question: who's interested in a Potato Broyhan recipe (or two)?

22 comments:

Bill said...

I'd make it. Might even drink it.

Bailey said...

Hmm. Potatoes. The line in the sand when it comes to adjuncts for some people. Roger Protz's 1978 book Pulling a Fast One refers to potato flour as symbol of all that was wrong with British brewing at that time.

The Beer Nut said...

There's still a German brewery making a kartoffelbier. I reviewed it here.

Anonymous said...

Certainly worth a test batch.

dana said...

Do you have to ask? It's like you don't even know me. *sob*

Dean Browne said...

For sure - I'd brew it. I'd buy a book on weird old beer recipes too.

Atis said...

I am interested.

Ed said...

I think you should, surely the Brewers Associatoin desperately need style guidelines for Potato Broyhan?

keithkirchoff said...

Ironically, I was just saying to my wife that I was wanting to make a potato beer. So yes! Bring it on!

Ron Pattinson said...

It looks the answer is a resounding yes.

Please, please don't bring Broyhan to the attention of the Brewers' Association, potato or otherwise. I don't want them buggering up one my favourite extinct styles.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, it may assist possibly your investigations to review F.X. Byrn's extensive comments (circa-1880) on mashing and fermenting potatoes. It starts at pg. 106 and continues for some 20 pages:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=4pgrZj3dWygC&printsec=frontcover&dq=byrn+distilling&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ox1LUYKTFcH1ygHz1YGYCQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=fermentation%20of%20potato&f=false

This source, as clearly the one you alluded to, show some considerable interest in the mid-1800's on deriving potable alcohol from this form of starch. The length of the description shows that considerable care was given to the most efficient way to "rasp" and mash potato.

A little nugget at the end (IMO) is the statement that the spirit derived from potato, ergo the ferment itself even more, has a disagreeable taste which the author suggests should be "rectified". This means re-distilling the first runs of distillation until only nearly the pure ethanol remains and thus no flavours associated to the fermentable material survive.

It will be interesting to see if the German author felt that potato mash gave rise to similar issues. Possibly he used potatoes in a relatively small proportion to other ingredients, or perhaps found another way to obviate the problem, or perhaps considered there was no problem.

Gary

Stott Noble said...

I'd love a potato Broyhan recipe. A traditional one to compare/brew would be great, too!

Tim said...

I would be most curious to see some historical examples. I have made a Potato heffeweizen once. Used ~40% potatoes, 30% wheat malt and 30% pils malt. It turned out pretty good. The potatoes give a silky mouth feel which is kind of cool. A pretty good yield starch wise from them as well at 1014 ppg. They would be be pretty cool in a stout I bet.

Jeff Renner said...

I'm interested.

Back in the late 80's, the Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin, USA, an old, small, local brewery at the time, brewed "Spud Premier Beer," which was brewed with potato starch. I had it, and found it to have a rather earthy flavor, but otherwise an unremarkable light American lager.

http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1989/New-Potato-Beer-Released-Has-Little-Different-Taste-/id-d5818093abee90aa1dd5eaaf666dccf9

Anonymous said...

I'd like to read it, sounds interesting!

Anonymous said...

I would certainly give it a try, but I have a six pack of lichtenhainer in the basement. I think there is a decent number of us interested in historical and extinct beer styles.
Karl, Mundelein, USA

21 March 2013

Gunnar H said...

And I'd be interested in the actual beautiful Fraktur text...

Ron Pattinson said...

Gunnar, beautiful isn't the adjective I'd use. Annoying, more like. It's hard to read and impossible to OCR.

Barm said...

I’ll transcribe it if you like. Drop me an email

Palmer said...

O'so Brewing here in Wisconsin recently released their Kartoffel Bock. I had a couple sips of a pour. The spuds were most noticeable in the aroma, to me. I couldn't really taste the kartoffeln but this may have been due to the prominent hop flavor or because I had been drinking another beer prior to tasting this stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'll drink to that!

Really, sent the recipe to me.

Jeff Alworth said...

Ron, Georges Lacambre mentioned something very similar in a new beer being brewed in Paris. He was doing research in the 1840s. The recipe for Parisian white beer included coriander, elderflowers, and potato starch syrup. I wonder if this was coincidental.