Sometimes I have posts planned weeks in advance. Other times, I just write something on the spur of the moment. Very occasionally, I've no idea what the hell I can write about. Inspiration always arrives at some point.
I'll admit it. I wasn't sure what to tell you today. My midterm plan is for a series of posts on old German styles. With a particular emphasis on Berliner Weisse. I've plenty of material. All I need to do is translate it . . .
On the tram this morning I was reading the section in "Die Bierbrauerei" (by M. Krandauer, published 1914) on top-fermentation. It answered one of the unresolved questions in my head: "What's the difference between Bottichgärung and Fassgärung?" How about that for a topic? It would be useful for you to know before we dive into the intricacies of German top-fermenting beers.
Then I changed my mind. The theme is still German, but relates to bottom-fermentation. I hope you don't mind my tangential approach.
Kulmabacher is a lost style. In the early days of lager-brewing, it was a popular and well-known style, imitated across Europe. One of Heineken's very first bottom-fermenting beers in the 1870's was a Kulmbacher. But when Pilsner popularised paler beers, it was quickly forgotten.
"Kulmbacher Bier.So, the malting process is very important. Sounds a bit like making brown malt to me, but I'm no expert in these matters. The actually brewing process comes across as a real pain in the arse, though I guess it's a fairly standard decoction mash. Five hours does seem an awfully long time to boil.
Amongst Bavarian beers Kulmbacher is characterised by its extremely dark colour, full body, aroma and taste. This type has gained beer many admireers outside Bavaria and consequently is exported in relatively large quantities.
The foundation of the character of Kulmbacher Bier is already laid during malting. Germination is carried out slowly, the sprout does not develop much. The glutin contained in the grains gets thus little opportunity to leave and the Glutin (according to its original levels) remains more or less in the grains. During drying, the aim is to give the malt a nice brown in colour, which with poor ventilation is not difficult to achieve. The transformation of glutin and part of the elastin in browned proteins occurs already in the kiln.
The mashing scheme has no peculiatities which will influence the above mentioned characteristics of the beer. The malt is mixed into dough with water at 50º, - then as much simmering water is added as is necessary to leave the temperature at around 54º after mashing; then a wort is run off and brought to the boil in the kettle and immediately added back to the little remainder than is left in the mashtun, whereby the temperature after continued mashing is raised to as much as 70º and the mash is left to form sugar.
After about 1.5 hours the remains of the lauter mash is brought to the boil with the hops (hop roasting), this is maintained for about 10 minutes and then interrupted through the addition of the drawn off wort. The wort is boiled for 5 hours or more. One brew takes - especially as mashing also time-consuming - up to 13 hours, and this long timeframe also has an effect on the elastin in the Träbern [can't find this word in the dictionary] and increases the body of the beer.
Also worthy of note, is that in Kulmabacher breweries that all the cooling equipment is put into the fermentation vessel. What inflence this has on the taste of the beer, I dare not say."
"Schule der Bierbrauerei" by G.E. Habich, published in 1865, pages 400 and 401.
One word of note - the temperaures quoted I beleive are in Reamur. In this scale frezzing is 0º and boiling 80º. So 50º Reamur is 62.5º C, 54º = 67.5º C and 70º = 87.5º C.
If you're wondering about hopping rates, page 348 of the same book suggests these:
Munich Winterbier 2.3 kg hops per 1000 litres of beer
Munich Sommerbier 3.2 to 4.9 kg hops
Bamberg Winterbier 4.4 kg hops
Bamberg Sommerbier 8 kg hops
Kulmbach Sommerbier 4 kg hops
Kulmbach Winterbier 12 kg hops
Karlsruhe Sommerbier 2.9 kg hops
Karlsruhe Winterbier 6 to 7.5 kg hops
Bohemia Sommerbier 2.2 kg hops
Bohemia Winterbier 3.3 kg hops
Prague Winterbier 4.4 kg hops
London Porter about 12 kg hops
London Indian Pale Ale 32 kg hops
Edinburgh Ale 12 kg hops
For a German beer, Kulmbacher, especially the Winterbier, was pretty heavily hopped. Though obviously way less than IPA. In the above table ,I found the low rate of hopping in Bohemia a bit odd. Though, given the early date of the book, these could still be top-fermenting beers. They are certainly not Pilsners.