Monday 3 July 2017


I’m continuing my look inside the world of 1920’s German brewing. This time looking at a style which hasn’t survived, Caramelbier.

Though it does sort of still exist in the form of Doppel-Caramel, a DDR style which is still produced in a few breweries in the East. However this type of beer, although also a Vollbier (11º Plato) is only partially fermented and has a very low alcohol content. Whereas, as far as I can tell, the older form of Caramelbier was fermented in the normal way.

I wasn’t totally convinced of that last statement. So I went and had a look in the later Schönfeld book. Because I could remember seeing a table of top-fermenting styles, including ABW, in the back. Sure enough, Karamelbier is in there. And its listed as 1.1 - 2.2% ABW (1.4 - 2.75% ABV).*  So it looks like this style wasn’t fully fermented, either.

Time to start paraphrasing.

In brewing these so-called health beers, which are preferably made dark, Munich malt is used with 5% caramel malt and 2 pounds of Farbmalz per 50 kg. of malt.

Mashing in is at 35º C with a thick mash, after which the temperature is slowly raised to 70º C and held there for 35 minutes for saccharification. A third of the mash is transferred to the Lauter tun while the remaining thick mash is brought to the boil and boiled for 35 minutes. As highly dried malt is being used which takes longer to convert, don’t forget to make an iodine test. This thick mash raises the temperature of the whole mash to the mash out temperature of 75º C. Before running of the wort leave the mash to rest for 40 minutes to let it settle and for conversion to complete.

Enough water is used to give a wort of 12 to 14º Plato. As soon as the copper is full, the hops, which have been steeped in another vessel with water at 80º C, are added.

The hopping rate is 0.6 pounds of mild hops per 50 kg. of malt. The boil lasts 2 hours.

The wort is pitched with 1.25 litres of top-fermenting yeast at a temperature of 15-20º C, depending on the outdoor temperature (stronger worts require more yeast than lighter ones).

At the end of primary fermentation the beer is filled into smaller casks and from there into bottles. If the beer is already old, Kräusen is added to the barrels, the amount depending on the time of year and the type of customer.
Source: Olberg, Johannes (1927) Braunbier in Moderne Braumethoden, pp 63-64, A. Hartleben, Wien & Leipzig.

Looking in Schönfeld again, I notice that he describes something quite different. The OG is the same, but lots of sugar was added at the end of primary fermentation. The beer was bottled and after it had conditioned enough it was pasteurised to stop further fermentation.** 

I’m all confused now. Are they talking about the same type of beer? Because Olberg makes no mention of sugar or pasteurisation. Then again, he doesn’t say much about the fermentation at all, just referring to the chapter called Top fermentation. Which seems to describe a normal fermentation, not an interrupted one.

* Schönfeld, Franz (1938) Die Zusammensetzung obergäriger Biere im Vergleich zu untergärigen in Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung, pp 185-186, Paul Parey, Berlin.

** Schönfeld, Franz (1938) Die obergärigen Biere in Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung, pp 135-137, Paul Parey, Berlin.

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