We began our European Brewery Study Tour today. The first brewery we went to was Stiegl in Salzburg, Austria. It was by far the biggest brewery I have been to. They brew 1.2 million hectoliters a year (a little more than Sierra Nevada in the USA). The cool thing about Spiegl though was that in addition to their 5-vessel 700 hectoliter brewhouse, they have a ten hectoliter brewhouse for special release beers and on that system, they brew about the same amount each year as we did at Blue Pants this year. A lot of their beers are put into a cellar and aged, along with hundreds of beers from other breweries. They have an area for their aged beers to be drank in the cellar, and it was a really neat environment. They were very friendly and they let us sample their beers, drink a half liter, and they fed us lunch.
After Stiegl, we went to Augustiner Brau. This was kind of the opposite end of the spectrum. They have a new brewhouse, but the rest of their equipment was very old. They use an open air cool ship for chilling wort, open faced wort chillers for the second stage, and then they only had two fermenters. However, they had around 50 conditioning tanks where they naturally carbonate the beer. After carbonating, they filter their beer using the oldest plate and frame filter I have ever seen. In fact, cellulose pads aren't even made for that type of filter anymore, so they have to clean and press their own cellulose sheets. The majority of their beer is served directly from wooden barrels (which are lined with pitch), although they do a small amount of bottling, and a little bit of kegging. Despite all of this archaic equipment, they still brew more beer than any Alabama brewery annually.
Tonight, we are all heading over to the Alchemist to enjoy some belgian style ales, but until then, I am going to enjoy some peace and quiet now that I have a room to myself for the first time in 10 weeks!