Friday, August 22, 2014

back to the roots of wheat beer

To understand the geographic evolution of beer syles in late medieval and modern Europe we have to go back to the basics.

Beer was a local good except for the Hanse trade over Rivers and the North- and Baltic Sea. 

Beer was brewed in the medieval with different cereals and herbs. Barley became dominant as a superior brewing grain.
But because Barley was also used for Bread in case of shortage it was Oats which was well suited for brewing and improper for baking bread. Wheat was a newcomer and in case of availability it made its way into beer more and more ruling out Oats. Rye was the great bread-grain and could never really establish for brewing. Millet was also traditionally used as cereal but i never saw it in the context of brewing. Maize was new since its introduction but it was also never used for brewig. Spelt was sometimes used in place of Wheat.

There were multiple shifts over the time:

The replacement of gruit with hops.
The spread of the new styles of Wheat beers.
The spread of pale Malt based pale Beers.

The last two are closely interwoven as the two new techniques spread as a combination in the first place.

All of them are connected with Hamburg and the Hanse!

The first evidence of larger amounts of Wheat in beer documented is for Hamburg 1374 where hopped beer was traded over the sea to cities like Amsterdam.
I assume they replaced their red beer (brown beer) with paler wheat beer because of different reasons:
1. Hops were costly traded in so they wanted to spare them for export beers. They needed a style for local consumption that was lower in hops, paler wheat beer tasted better with less hops.
2. They had already made the connection between dark malts and poor efficiency - they knew how to make paler malts and to brew them with infusion mashing.
(Gruit beer mashes had to be cooked because the gruit was mixed with the malt - hopped beer allowed them to not boil the mash so they needed better enzyme activity. Also their brown beer was only red!) 3. they had enough Wheat on hand as a trading center - there was no risk for shortage of bread-cereals.

Maybe they knew about wheat beer from trading with the nearby Hanse towns like Einbeck (we know there was an Einbecker house in Hamburg where they had Einbecker beer on draft). Einbecker beer was also made for Export and had wheat in it at least this is documented for later times.
Wheat beers might have also been made first in the other Hanse towns Bremen and Lübeck, as well as in Goslar, Königslutter and possibly Braunschweig.

There is no evidence for the hamburg wheat beer to be very pale at this early times. At the other hand there is good reason to believe the popularization of air dried or lightly kilned malts to origin in the lower countries as thy were very short in firewood (they used (unmalted) oats in large proportions, so they also needed enzyme rich malt).

some Amsterdam beer in 1533
In the netherlands they loved the hamburg beer, probably because they didn't use oats in hamburg and hops instead of gruit. But they didn't have enough wheat or barley neither hops to make it themselves. So they bought Hamburg beer and tried to copy it as well as possible. They managed to increase production dramatically and unshiped Hamburg as a dominating brewing center for the western North Sea region.
Their oat-based and hopped beer was the fist documented pale or yellow beer.
Keutebier as it is known till today in Hamm (also Münster Alt is not far away) is an offspring of the lower countries Koyte, Koit or how ever it may be spelled.
in Cologne in the early 15th century Keute was the third style after gruitbeer and "Hoppenbier" coming in from the beer-region (Cologne was more a wine region) since late 14th century.

Another path of pale wheat beer was the Broyhan which was the clone of Hamburg beer in Hannover spreading over the lower saxony region beginning with the 16th century.

This is speculation: 
Hamburg was trading hops with Bohemia (an early hop producing region) over the Elbe.Tthat way they brought their wheat-beer style to Bohemia.There they adapted the style.

This is reasonable: Bohemia sold pale wheat beer to Bavaria were it was accepted and could establish as bavarian style wheat beer.

So there are 4 archetypes of wheatbeer in the german speaking region:

1. Hamburg beer (1374)

2. Netherlands-  and Rhine-lands Keutebier (Collogne around 1400)

3. Bohemian and Bavarian style wheat beer (1480)

4. Broihan and derivative beers (I would count Gose, Berliner Weisse, and Gräzer among them) (1526)

Todays Belgian Whit and Lambic are probably connected to the Keute-style.

The rest was all more or less the old kind of brown beer. Everywhere but in Bavaria (even in Bohemia) this stuff was top-fermenting.

Later pale barely-beer styles were developed:
1. In bavaria, because wheat was more expensive or forbidden.
2. a later Broyhan with all pale barley malt, probably also because Wheat was rare.

some last thought on the Weissbier (white beer) and Weizenbier (wheat beer) confusion:

while a wheat beer can be brown like the nurnberg whet beer (1775), a brown-beer can contain wheat but it will never never be called a wheatbeer ("Braunbier" equals barley).
A Weissbier in contrast can be a wheat beer but also a pale barley beer. Weissbier derives from wheat-beers stylewise but the name doesn't say anything about the grain, it can also contain oats ("Weissbier" equals pale beer)

As there is no term for ale in german I translate all ale or beer as "beer" like the german "Bier". If you follow the old school you would have to read "Braunbier" as beer (as it is hoppy) and the old gruitbeer as well as the new wheatbeers as "ale" because it is low in hops.

Monday, August 18, 2014

1755 beer analytical data

What would you expect from this book:

Johann Christian Zimmermann (Doctor der Medizin und Practicus) 
Allgemeine Grundsätze der Theoretisch-Practischen Chemie

Right! Analytical data of beers.
Sadly 1755 their methods were not as standardized as today, but I managed to convert them to readable data:

The author was in Berlin as he sampled the beers, I assume  he got his local beers fresh so they are not as sour as the others.
Interestingly its not even the "sour styles" like Berliner Weisse which contain the most acid.

As you can see they sold unfermented wort as "Braun-Speise-Bier" (brown table beer).

And you can see that Braunbier was commonly high in og and low fermented being only lightly sour. That really was some kind of liquid bread.

I had to calculate the lactic acid from "the amount of sal alkali fixum used for saturation".
I assumed he means sodium carbonate-1-hydrate. So I simply compared the mole-weights - any other ideas from the chemists?
If you compare the acid numbers with the other tables it seems reasonable for me.

Any suggestions how to recalculate the OG and Attenuation with regard of the acid? is there any formula?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gose in Goslar 1762

I found a very interesting description of the brewing process of Gose in Goslar from 1762 written by the physician Johann Friedrich Zückert.

In Summary he says:

The brewer has 4 fired Pans ("Pfannen"), one wooden lautering ton ("Sey-Butte") and one wooden mashing ton ("Mast-Butte").

The lautering ton has a floor from wooden logs which are covered with long ryestraw.

At one brewday they will produce 6 different Worts:

one that is lower in extract (1/3 of the malt 2 pans of water) and not lautered (only drained through baskets) but boiled with Hops for 2 hours ("Hopfkrug")

the others are boiled without hops:

one that is made from the same mash as the hopped one (probably higher in extract due to over 2 hours mash) ("Allerley-Krug")

The strongest one that is mashed in the lautering ton for 4 hours + (2/3 of the malt 2 pans of water). ("der beste Krug")
This one is stored in open containers, not in the cellar as the others.
(koolship-like method for spontaneous fermentation)

one that is composed of the last portion of the first runnings from the mash- and lautering ton. ("Vierpfannenbier")

one that is made from a second mash combined with all the grains from the 2 tons and some fresh malt and only boiled for one hour. ("letzte Wert")

one that is made by sparging cold water through all the grains. ("Süppie" or Cosent)

These different Worts (except the last one) are blended in different ratios depending on the designation of the beer. 
Beer that will be consumed young will get more of the hopped wort.
By blending they produce ordinary Gose ("gemeine Gose").

The blended wort is fermented in the cellar in wooden barrels, there is no yeast pitched.
Fermentation is ready within 12 to 24 hours. (unclear if its finished to be consumed or beginning of kräusen)
The strongest wort alone makes beer that is too strong to be consumed.
The second strongest ("Vierpfannenbier") is consumed as delicacy as it is stronger than the ordinary Gose.
The others are weaker than the ordinary Gose.
They are drunk by the poor people.

Thats how Gose is described in the text:

Color is yellow like beeswax
Cloudy from yeast
It has a thick foam that sticks to the glass
taste is severe, winelike and slightly bitter
those who don't know it call it unpleasant, those who know it can tell a nice sweet taste.

very good for beersoups (because of the winelike aroma)

the beer is cloudy from the yeast because they drank it fresh in fermentation. when fermentation is completed it will be clear like every beer but it is sour like vinegar.
Therefore it cant be transported longer distances.

In the summer it can be conserved for 14 days in the winter for longer.

When it is fermented in a closed secondary fermentation it will be of very high alcohol.

They also have a brown beer ("Braunbier") in Goslar. 
Pale brown color, made of Barley without use of kiln-malt. It is called "Lager-Bier".

The text notes about Broyhan: It is pleasantly sweetish and light. Also yeasty.

My conclusions for Goslarer Gose of the time:
  • it was spontaneously fermented much like lambics are today
  • there was wheat in it (text tells nothing more than that)
  • Probably there was a good portion of acetic acid bacteria. (that would allow a secondary fermentation if kept from oxygen)
  • it was probably of relatively high extract (15°?) but drunk before end of fermentation
  • It was probably well hopped to contrast the sweetness together with the sourness.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

1904 Gose data

This kind of information is what I like the most: Analytical data on different Gosen from 1904:

This is the real attenuation - apparent attenuation is between 70 and 80%.

1907 there was an other analysis of 9 types of Gose:

Acetic acid bacteria in Döllnitzer Gose

The only way today for us all to taste a real spontaneously fermented Gose is to go to a library and search for descriptions of the time when it was brewed.

There you will find descriptions of the Bottles with their tall and narrow neck. You will also find the story that there was no other cap but a plug that was built by the yeast all by its own.

This will make you probably think of a pellicle as it is formed by oxidative yeasts and bacteria.
But they tell us it was highly carbonated this way, and there is no reason to think it was held very cold all the time.
 Maybe it was only a weak pellicle unable to hold any pressure but I am pretty sure that this plug was there in every bottle.

You may also notice that the neck of the bottle is well suited for minimizing oxygen uptake as the surface of the beer is minimal.

Wilhelm Henneberg (1871-1936) was a german bacteriologist and studied in Halle (close to Leipzig in the Gose-region) and was an expert in yeast, lactic bacteria and acetic bacteria. 
In 1897 he discovered an acetic bacteria in Döllnitzer Gose that was named by himself "Bakterium acetosum".
 That bacterium produced acetic acid in a quality that made it suitable for vinegar production.

Might this species be able to produce a polymer that is durable enough to build a plug in a bottleneck which can hold enough pressure for carbonization?

Maybe it was just a normal acetic bacteria as they were found in these days nearly in every bottle of beer.
 But then what build the pellicle?

Is it possible that an acetic acid bacteria builds a strong pellicle that limits its own oxygen uptake in order to stop the conversion to vinegar?

One would have to try and get more information on the bacterium.

Friday, August 15, 2014

breweries and homebrewers in the US, Germany, UK and Belgium

these are rough numbers from around 2012.

Germany as you can see has the most commercial breweries per capita. Many of them are small scale family owned breweries (some call them "craft breweries" lately) and brew-pubs around half of them in Bavaria.
On the other hand there is a very small number of homebrewers on the continent. In the US one of every 300 inhabitants brews, in Germany it is only one of every 8000.

In other publications you can read things like: in germany there are more than 5000 styles of beer brewed. (they mean every brewery brews averagely 3,7 styles).
A great variety of pale lagers!

sales of  bottled beer in Germany 2010

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Leipziger Gose and the brewing water in Leipzig

In order to brew an authentic Leipziger Gose I would say it is a good idea to try it with brewing water from Leipzig.

I will give you the numbers for my own water, that comes from ground water from around Leipzig, the different wells differ a bit but the main characteristics are the same:

alkalinity as CaCO3
total hardnes as CaCO3
residual alkalinity as CaCO3

all together there is a good level of minerals in there but residual alkalinity is quite low. So it is well suited for pale beers.

The water is special because it is high in sulphate thus has a high sulphate to chloride ratio.
In its ratios it is similar to the Burton on Trent water but with lower total levels of sulphate.
Such a water is said to make the beer taste sharper and more acrid, as well as more hoppy and less malty.
The addition of salt to the brewing water is a way to level up the chloride and get a more balanced taste.
Nevertheless the Sodium makes it taste more mineraly.