Thursday 27 July 2017

A visit to Černokostelecký brewery

I organised a trip to Prague for the Brewery History Society last week. Thanks to a suggestion from Max Bahnson, philosopher and fellow pisshead, Černokostelecký pivovar was the first brewery we planned to visit.

It's a nineteenth century brewery that as left intact when it was finally closed in 1986. A wood fired copper, two large coolships, open fermenters, and traditional lagering cellars are just the sort of thing to get beer history geeks excited. And when you hear that with Pattinsonian levels of obsession the current owners have spend the last 15 years restoring the brewery to a state where they've managed to do test brews it sounds almost too good to be true. As it turned out there was even more to see!

We're getting closer

I can see the door

There's a bar and restaurant so we had lunch in before Milan from the brewery showed us round:

The lunch wasn't all liquid

An impressive looking building in the grounds of the brewery is the old horse driven mill.

The mill

The pillars and floor were added later.

The intricate roof had to be built with so many beams to hold the building up without any pillars.

Considering the size of the mill building the mill stone here looks surprisingly small.

The brewery had it's own maltings:

The wood fire under the copper:

The copper and mash kettle (well that's my guess anyway)

Which makes this the lauter tun:

The open cooling trays:

They're big.

And this one's ready to use:

There's a radiator type cooler too:

And open fermenters with new attemperators:

Wooden casks:

My feeling that the one true living beer is trinitarian not binitarian is getting stronger

In the cellar:

Max in his classic pose

Ať žije První Máj!

As the old brewery is not yet in production they have a smaller microbrewery on the premises:

Still with open fermenters though:

I've no idea how the beer will turn out when it's brewed on the big kit, though I'd love to try it. But meanwhile they're doing a good job on their 5hl plant. 

Monday 17 July 2017

Malting, thatching and religious fundamentalism

Something on the news seemed strangely familiar the other day, so I did a bit of googling and sure enough I'd spoken to one of the people mentioned. In my last job I was involved in malting as well as brewing, and I'd had a fascinating conversation with John Letts. He's a thatcher, and a baker, who has revived ancient cereal varieties and he was interested in getting them malted. When buildings are re-thatched they put the new thatch on top of the old, so old buildings have a history of grain varieties contained in their roof. There are talks he's given about this on youtube.

Commercial maltsters won't normally go below ten tonnes, so he was looking for someone who could malt on a smaller scale, and even malt mixed grains. The pilot plant where I worked would only do 100kg at a time, so was too small for anything but research. I would have been interesting research though. Grants are available, and he said he'd look into it, but I never heard back from him. Now I have at least heard of him again.

It turns out his son has put the mentalism into funamentalism by converting to islam and running off to join ISIS. He's now in prison so the restrictions he's imposed on himself with his deluded beliefs have ended up with him being extremely physically restricted too. There's probably a moral there or something. I don't have much sympathy for the son. But I can't image how awful it must be for the father. I hope he gets to see happier times.

Friday 7 July 2017

What's with the levitating cans?

There was a recent controversy about the iceman beer pour amongst some of my fellow beer nerds. Filling glasses to the brim is for some people offensive to the eye it seems. Personally it's not something that's ever bothered me, I just assumed people were doing it so they didn't get the problem of the head collapsing when they're trying to take a photo. No, the thing that disturbs me is the levitating beer cans.

What sorcery is this?

Before taking a photo of a canned beer the in thing now is to attach the empty can to the glass, as in the picture above. This freaked me out a bit when I first saw it. "What sorcery is this?" I thought. But let's face it magicians are basically liars, and nothing supernatural is involved. Nowadays cans will attach quite easily to glasses, but it still makes me do a double take when I see a can apparently floating next to a beer glass.