Monday, 24 September 2012

Brewpubs in Southern Germany

Article by Mikko Pludra
I grew up in Freiburg, a small city in the south-west of Germany. It is wedged between the Upper Rhine valley and the Black Forest, in an area chiefly known as wine country. Baden, as the region is also known, is known for cool-climate wines, not unlike the Yarra valley. A couple of hours’ drive to the east is Lake Constance with the hops growing region of Tettnang.
Due to the proximity to France (the French region of Alsace is just across the Rhine), the food and drink culture has a long tradition for the people of Baden. Thus it is not surprising that brewpubs and microbreweries have found their niche and are popular with locals and tourists alike.

As of 2010, there were 1325 breweries in Germany, of which 901 were considered small or micro-breweries with an annual output of 5000 hectolitres or less (Statistisches Bundesamt, Germany). As in other countries, microbreweries are on the rise, whereas medium and large breweries are in de-cline. The German Reinheitsgebot still provides strict regulations for the brewing industry, albeit in a more modernised version: the Bierverordnung, or Beer Act, of 2005. Today, breweries are allowed to brew top-fermenting beers with ingredients and processes previously banned, provided that they produce beer for export or obtain special permission. Bottom-fermenting beers (lagers) are still sa-cred and the only allowed ingredients are water, malted barley, hops and yeast. This regulation also excludes CO2, i.e. only CO2 collected from fermentation may be used to force-carbonate beer. He-feweizens are the only beers that are generally bottle-fermented.
On a recent trip to my hometown, we visited two brewpubs: Martin’s Bräu and Hausbrauerei Feierling.
 Martin’s Bräu brewpub from the outside; inside the polished copper brewing kettles (

Founded in 1989 on the premises of a former printing shop, Martin’s Bräu is Freiburg’s selftitled "first restaurant brewpub". It is located in a cellar underneath a covered market right in the historic centre of town, the Altstadt. In summer, there is a beer garden out front on the cobblestones. As you climb down the steps, there is an open kitchen with chefs busily preparing typical local fare such as homemade sausages or ox-tongue salad.
The restaurant area is set around the central bar area, with the large serving tanks for beer behind it. There are bar stools and tables as well as more stereotypical long benches with long solid timber ta-bles. As you sit down and order your first beer, you can see the large copper kettles on the rear wall, polished to a shiny perfection. The waitress marks your coaster with a tick so that at the end of the night you can remember how many you had (and have to pay).

Unfortunately, the brew master was not there on the day of our visit; the waitress told me he only brews once a fortnight in winter. There are two regular beers on tap: Martin’s Bräu Pils, a straw-coloured, unfiltered, moderately hoppy beer with a great sweet pilsner malt aroma and perfectly bal-anced bitterness; and Martin’s Bräu Dunkles Export, a slightly bitterer version of a Munich Dunkel,deep copper colour with lots of dark Munich malt character, moderate alcohol and bitterness but little hop flavour or aroma. There are seasonal beers: in spring and summer there is a classic Märzen and on a previous visit they had a bock beer on tap as well.

Sign hanging over the entrance to Feierling Brauerei; brass band playing for the traditional Bockbier-Anstich (
Now, the Feierling brewery is quite different, in a few ways. When Julius Feierling took over the restaurant and brewery "Zur Insel" in 1877, the brewery had been in operation in the same location for at least 400 years prior. After Feierling started brewing the first light-coloured beer in Freiburg, the brewery be-came so popular that only a few years later Julius had to move to a larger location, a few hundred metres down the road. The production brewery remained in operation until 1981, when urban growth and de-creased water quality from the house well made brewing unfeasible. Only 8 years later, great-granddaughter Martina Feierling, brewmaster and graduate of the famous brewing school at Weihen-stephan, revived the family tradition and opened up the brewpub in the original location as it stands to-day.
Hausbrauerei Feierling is also located in the historic town centre, on a cobblestone road next to two ca-nals. Across the road is the beer garden with its great chestnut trees, definitely one of the most popular places to be in the summer in Freiburg. Uni students and business people, families and tourists sit shoul-der to shoulder on the orange benches, sipping the liquid gold and snacking on a pretzel or sausage. As there is no kegging operation at Feierling, beer lines were installed underneath the road to transfer the beer straight from the serving tanks in the cellar to the draught taps in the beer garden.

Inside, the copper mash tun/kettle and lauter tun are prominently displayed behind the horseshoe-shaped bar. When the brewery is in operation, the wonderful smell of malt and hops permeates the three-storey restaurant. A note on the traditional two-vessel system used in German brewing: the mash is conducted in the boil kettle, as it is the only vessel that can be heated. After mash-out, the mash is pumped into the lauter tun, where the wort is separated from the grains by sparging with water heated in the boil kettle. The resulting sweet wort is then pumped back into the boil kettle.

Brewing system at Feierling; historic postcard of Feierling brewery (ca. 1920) (

The main product (and arguably Freiburg’s best beer!) at Feierling is the Inselhopf, an unfiltered Kellerbier style lager with great hop aroma and flavour. Sweet malt matches up perfectly with the fresh and floral Tettnanger hops, added late to the kettle. Even though it drinks sweet initially, it fin-ishes quite dry and leaves you longing for the next sip. Brewmaster Peter Egelseer told me that he only uses organic Pilsner malt grown in the region as well as hops from small growers in Tettnang. He was quite astonished to hear that homebrewing is popular in Australia, and was happy to talk about recipe details and his brewing philosophy.

Seasonal specialties at Feierling include a Dunkelweizen, a Doppelbock and an Oktoberfest beer. The Doppelbock, available in winter, is strong and rich, and it pours a dark copper colour with ruby highlights and a tan head. Downing a half litre of this will surely lift your spirits and warm you up. In summer, a popular drink in beer gardens all over Germany is Radler, a mix of Pilsner or Export beer with about 30% lemonade. It grows on you!

The food at Feierling is also classic southern German fare, from Weisswurst for breakfast to a hearty lunch of Schnitzel with Brägele (Badener style fried potatoes) or smoked pork shoulder with Sauer-kraut.

In the last decade or so, micro brewing has definitely become more popular in Germany, as sales fig-ures of so-called TV beers (nationally advertised beers) are in decline. This is by no means a new idea; back in the late 19th century, there were more than 10,000 breweries in Germany, the majority only producing for a small local market or even just for sale on premises. But the slow food move-ment also plays an important part in this shift, as local and organic produce becomes increasingly important to consumers.

Inselhopf recipe: 100% Pilsner malt to get to 13° Plato (SG 1.053). Peter Egelseer uses a classic German lager mash: four steps at 48°C (15 min) 52°C (15 min), 62°C (45 min) and 70°C (45 min) as well as a mash-out step at 76°C. Boil for 75 minutes. Add Tettnang for about 20 IBU after hot break; then add an equal quantity divided evenly at 15 minutes and at knockout. Note: Peter wouldn’t give me the exact amounts of hops so this is a little bit of guesswork on my part from what he would disclose. He did say that he whirlpools hot for about 20 minutes with hops added to the whirlpool so feel free to adjust your late hops ac-cordingly.
Cool to 7°C, pitch an appropriate amount of lager yeast. Let rise naturally to 9°C and fer-ment for approx. 14 days. Transfer to laagering vessel and lager at 0°C for 6 weeks.

Gluten Free Brewing

Article by Andy McDermott

The awareness for Coeliac Disease is heightening. You will notice whilst walking down the aisles of the supermarket, the growing number of products that cater for people with this disease. There are lots of people who are even making the choice to eat gluten free aside from the people who don’t have a choice. In my limited experience, the curse isn’t so much the giving up of food that possibly contains gluten; it is in dealing with people who have a narrow attitude toward the disease. An ill-informed per-son can often view people with Coeliac Disease as being fussy or being difficult.

Fairly recently, Coeliacs who previously enjoyed beer, have found alternatives. There are a few beers on the market that are labelled Gluten Free but more importantly, for home-brewers, there is even an alternative for making beer at home. Read on…

Sorghum syrup successfully mimics the brewing performance of conventional barley based liquid malt extracts because it was developed to provide the proteins and amino acids necessary for yeast nutri-tion, head retention, colour and flavour.

White Sorghum syrup may be used as a 1:1 substitute for light barley based liquid malt extract in any beer recipe and is the only gluten free syrup with the necessary colour, flavour, FAN and fermentability to produce a beer that closely mimics beer made from malted barely.

Other syrups made from tapioca or rice lack the necessary flavour, colour and FAN characteristics to make a full bodied beer and in fact may pose fermentation challenges.

Sorghum liquid malt extract ensures the beer produced from the extract contains less than 5ppm gluten.

So just what is gluten sensitivity?

Gluten can be found in many common cereal grains including barley and wheat. Even consumed in small amounts gluten can trigger serious symptoms in those who suffer from Coeliac disease. Symptoms can range from feeling bloated through to diarrhoea, lethargy, attention-deficit or hyperactivity as well as joint and muscle pain.
If diagnosed the typical response by your doctor will be to not eat or drink any food that contains cereal grains such as bread, pizza and beer. Fortunately this is one time you want your doctor to be wrong. There are a number of quality products, including beer, that are produced to gluten-free standards and are safe to consume if you are gluten intolerant.
Beers that are made using rice, sorghum, buckwheat and corn instead of barley are safe to drink and will help you avoid the symptoms listed above. Some brewers will argue the mashing and fermentation pro-cess converts the proteins in barley into non-harmful amino acids but this simply isn't true.
So avoid any beers which contain large quantities of barley and are not brewed to gluten-free standards if you're unsure. There are a large number of beers available, including home brew kits, that are gluten-free so why take the risk?
It is a fallacy. You can enjoy beer even if you are gluten intolerant!

Andrew Busana’s Gluten Free Beer:

3kg Sorghum extract
450g Molasses
1kg Dextrose
30g Cascade hops
25g Nelson Sauvin hops
1pk Safale US05 dried ale yeast
6g Dry enzyme
1pk Yeast nutrient

Add 1.5kg of sorghum extract & 1kg dextrose to 8lt of water; bring to boil.
Add 15g cascade – 60 min boil (bittering)
Add 15g cascade – 15 min boil (flavouring)
Add 25g nelson sauvin – 0 boil (aroma)
Add remaining 1.5kg sorghum extract
Cool down time - < 30min – (actual 17min used coil emersion cooler)
Fill fermenter – 22lt
Pitch yeast temp less than 30o
Add yeast nutrient & 6g dry enzyme


O.G – 1080
F.G – 1004
AV -10%
Total bitterness– 13.6 IBU’s


New Life for Old Chest Freezers

Article by John Killmister

Many of us use old chest freezers for our kegs, or for fermenting. We just change the thermostat to make it run at fridge temperatures

If an old freezer stops working, but the motor still runs, the usual cause is that the refrigerant lines have corroded and the refrigerant has leaked out. The lines are usually embedded in the insulation around the sides and are impossible to get at.

Originally the lines were made of copper but then manufacturers started to use copper coated steel which was cheaper but more likely to corrode. I think it is now compulsory for them to use all copper again because of greenhouse gas-ses.

I used to think that freezers were cactus after a leak like this, but back in the late 90’s we had a refrigeration engineer in the club, Len Mostert. He showed me a freezer that he’d got from the tip and fixed by running a new copper line around the inside of the walls, connecting up to the compressor & then re gas-sing the unit. I was very impressed.

Soon after this my own freezer packed it in, so I fixed some 6mm diameter copper tubing around the inside and took it to Len who connected up and re gassed it. It has been working fine now for about 15 years.

Recently the aluminium lining in the bottom corroded through, so I fibre glassed the bottom & up the sides for about 100mm.

Now I reckon it ought to see me out.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Here's the link to the latest flyer for our family day.
Print one off and display it at your work and cherish the time you'll have explaining your hobby to your work colleagues...

Sunday, 9 September 2012


Slightly smaller Herms pot with coil inside down to 8ltrs water to heat as opposed to the 30ltrs  in the original HLT. Its basically a cut down post mix keg that  had been battered and bruised to big to fit in my kegerator.  Inside is a G&G coil element, weld less thermometer  and coil which I got from Gryphon Brewing in W.A. Not yet tried it out as yet still undecided as to what controller  I should use for the element. Or maybe find a probe that would fit the outlet wort side that would drive the temp of the element ?

Any thoughts Guys

Saturday, 8 September 2012

John Palmer brewing at Northern Brewer

John Palmer brewing at Northern Brewer

Thursday, 6 September 2012

September 2012 meeting at Joe's

Monday, 3 September 2012

 The warmer weather is now upon us it seems and to my surprise I checked on how the hops were taking to the change and found that this one in particular is going ballistic and it's only the start of September (bloody hell).
How's everyone else going with their hops?