Tuesday 13 August 2019

A visit to Spital brewery

The next stop on the study tour was Regensburg, where we had a brief talk from a historian before we got on to the brewery tour. I wasn't taking notes at this point, which is a bit of a shame as she go on to religious sects at one point which is one of my interests. I can remember her saying that in the middle ages the town was threatened by the Hussites (Bohemian proto-prods). I suspect she is a Catholic as she compared them to ISIS which seemed a little harsh. Mainstream Hussites are fairly boring, but I've got a soft spot for some of their spin offs, which you can read about in Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium.

The proto-prod menace might explain why near the brewery there was what looks like a statue of a heavily armed Mary. I'm sure she doesn't normally carry a sword.

We were going to Spital brewery, which dates back nearly 800 years, originally being linked a hospital a bishop founded. The hospital is now an old people's home, but they still seemed linked and it still looks religious.

We were interested in more temporal matters though. The group I was in started with the bottling line, and it was a feat of engineering that they'd managed to cram it in to the space it filled. It was smaller than most of the lines we saw on the tour but still pretty flash.

The bottle washer
 Two people work on the bottling line, filling at the rate of 7,000 bottles per hour.

The filler

There were two vessels in the brewhouse, a mash/wort kettle and a lauter tun. 

They produce 15,000 hl of beer per year.

The whirlpool was in the next room.

As an old brewery they had various bits of crap lying around, which is always good to see.

And some sacks of malt from Weyermann, which we would be visiting soon.

They made their own malt up until 1970 and we got to have a look around the old maltings.

Some of the malt goes into three tonne silos.

The brewery moved back to open fermentation in 2013 and has open cylindro-conical Fermenting Vessels (FV), which was a new one to me. They have a CIP (Clean In Place) ring around the top so can be cleaned automatically, and a slight vacuum can be applied to the CIP ring during fermentation to remove most of the CO2.

They generally allow 20-25% free board on the 4.8 m deep vessels giving a working volume of 130 hl.

The brewlength is 60 hl so two brews can go in one FV.

The FVs have two cooling jackets and a cooled cone, the angle of which is 70°. Fermentation is carried out a 10°C.

The largest conditioning tank holds 185 hl and lagering is carried out for four to six weeks, depending on the beer.

This beers were not just in traditional German styles, with some modern innovations in evidence.

I don't suppose they've made IPA for much of the brewery's history.

Bavaria might have a conservative reputation, but this is not universal. Indeed, when we got to our hotel we saw a Bavaia that Erich Mühsam might have approved of.

And I even had Léo Ferré on my bedroom wall! How cool is that?

They are not one in one hundred, and yet they exist.

Sunday 11 August 2019

CPD and networking at the GBBF 2019

This year's Great British Beer Festival seems to have been universally praised as a vintage year by my fellow beer nerds. I've been a bit under the weather myself, so though I can't deny I had a great time I should probably have been taking it easy rather than having another big day out. Still, I was there for the networking and CPD, not enjoying myself, and these things have to be done.

This years IBD lecture had been billed as a debate on whether cask beer should be served colder, though that's not quite what we got.

First up was someone from Brewfit touting their under bar cooler.

The cask connection was that it could be used to cool cask as well as keg beers. Most people would prefer their cask beer cooler, and most is served too warm.

It was a neat bit of kit, 18 m of cooling coil holding only 40 ml of product apparently.

They're made of laser welded 316 stainless steel and a single unit goes for £140.

I couldn't help but think though that with cask beer the cellar is too warm the beer will be lacking condition and cooling it down on the way to the bar won't help.

The second speaker was from Cask Marque, the cask beer quality accreditation service.

He talked of how they score beer for temperature:

And how a lot of cask beer is served too warm:

Most people would actually happy with the temperature if it was actually in spec. though (11-13°C)!

Cask Marque are also expanding their areas of operation under the name of Beer Marque, to include all beers and quality from cellar to glass.

It all sounds good stuff, but I've yet to find a beer geek have anything good to say about Cask Marque so if their efforts are having any effect they're not appreciated.

It was back to the networking after that, and it was another well deserved winner for the Champion Beer of Britain with Surrey Hill's Shere Drop winning.

Here's Ross with some other guy
I didn't have a pint as it's permanently on at my local. It is CAMRA Surrey Pub of the Year after all.

I did when I was there on Friday though, which must make it the easiest CBoB to track down for a long while.