Too much information is becoming a problem for me. Flicking through yet another German technical book, I’ve come across a handy little article about beer from the late 1920’s. And it includes Brothan.
It’s just a single sentence, but has confused the hell out of me:
“Broyhan is a top-fermenting, dark, poorly attenuated, lightly hopped beer brewed from barley malt and wheat malt, which is mainly brewed in the province Hannover.” [My translation.]
Ullmann, Fritz ed. (1928), Bier in Enzyklopädie der technischen Chemie Band 2, pp 378, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Vienna.
OK, I knew Broyhan was a low-gravity, half-fermented beer that just had a few hops waved in its general direction. But dark? That makes absolutely no sense. Broyhan is a classic Weissbier, i.e. a beer brewed from air-dried malt. (Weissbier originally did not mean wheat beer, remember. I’ve seen plenty of references to all-malt Broyhans.) It makes no sense for it to be dark.
But, Broyhan was around for a long time – 400 years or so. And brewed over a wide area. So obviously it wasn’t always going to be the same. No beer style ever stays unchanged for long. It’s possible it may have changed colour in its later days. Other beer styles have done. Like, for example, Mild Ale, which turned from pale to dark. Did Broyhan pull a similar trick? I’d love to know.