2 Apr 2014

On the Piss in Bavaria - Part 1


The story of how I joined Líbor, the owner of Kulový Blesk and importer of Schneider-Weisse and Au-Hallertau, and Štěpán and Mírek, director and business rep. of Únětický Pivovar respectively, starts last year in September.

My wife had taken the weekend off, leaving me with our daughter. What is a responsible parent supposed to do to entertain a very energetic 4 y.o. child? Well, go to a bloody brewery, of course! So we took the bus to Únětice, my daughter jumping with joy.

There were visitors that day at Únětický Pivovar: the owner, the director and the brewers of Schlossbrauerei Au-Hallertau, who had come with a barrel of their Weissbier.

The pub was pretty full when we arrived and we were invited to seat at the table with the Bavarians, who turned out to be really cool people, and with Líbor, who, it should be said, is a top bloke. We had a great afternoon, the “Auers” invited me to visit their brewery and I told Líbor I would him in Spring in one of his regular trips there. That trip was last Friday, and it turned out to be better than I had expected. Únětický and Au have developed a very friendly relationship and the Czech were going this time to Germany with their own beer, Masopustní Speciál, in barrels they had borrowed from the Germans.

We left Únětice two pints past ten to pick up Líbor and get on our way to Germany. Our first stop would be Schneider-Weisse, where Líbor was to take care of some business matters, while the rest of us were shown around the brewery.
Schneider-Weisse is one of my favourite brewers. Not only they make excellent classics, but recently they've been trying new stuff, and quite successfully, without veering too far off their comfort zone. I was looking forward to seeing the guts of the place where those beers come from.
We started at the brewhouse, which is about 20 years old and can make 320hl batches (currently, Schneider is making 250,000 hl/year, and they have capacity for twice as much). It's one of those shiny, stainless steel things that, as expected for a brewery of this size, is highly automated (another proof that the tale of “hand crafted” as an added value is nothing but a load of bollocks). We were then taken to the barrel room, where another batch of their barrel aged beer was maturing. From where we went to see the fermenters. They were impressive, open stainless-steel steel vats, one of which was frothing with one day old fermenting wort. The most interesting part to me, however, was knowing happens afterwards. Once primary fermentation finishes after one week, if I remember correctly, I wasn't taking notes, the young beer is mixed with freshly pitched wort, then either bottled of filled in kegs and taken to a nearby distribution centre for bottle/keg conditioning, which consists of one week at 20ºC and up to three weeks at 10ºC. Basically, it takes longer to get an Aventinus ready than Staropramen Ležák.
We were invited lunch at the brewery's pretty beer garden. Nobody goes to Germany to start a diet, and we were no exception. I had a platter with sausages, steak, cabbage and potatoes that was excellent, and better still washed down with Unser Original.
After licking our plates and sucking the last drops out of our glasses, it was time to get on our way to our next stop, the other Schneider brewery, in Essing. But you'll have to see what happened there, and during the rest of the day.

Na Zdraví!

5 comments:

  1. God, I love that place. Standing in the fermentation room is one of those rare experiences I would love to have again. (Great pics, too--way better than the ones I got.) Did you get to meet Hans-Peter Drexler? He's one of the most interesting brewers I met, and also one of the kindest.

    When I visited in the fall of 2012, he had exactly four barrels in use, and a line of I think about six more that he'd just collected. It looks like he's really expanded since then.

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    1. Unfortunately, we didn't get to meet the brewer. Everybody, except the people that were expecting us, had pretty much pissed off by noon - it was Friday. We were shown around by the Sommelier, or something like that. Cool guy too.

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  2. A group of us from the US got to meet Hr. Drexler last September while touring Schneider. After the tour by one of the usual guides, we spotted him in the brewery cafe having lunch. We recognized him from the video we had just seen on the tour. Very nice guy and the beers were top notch as expected.

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  3. Well, ifyou had to see either Hans-Peter or the open fermenters, the latter was probably the more exotic.

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  4. "Nobody goes to Germany to start a diet"... you said everything in just one sentence. I love German food especially pairing with beer. Cheers

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