Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Köln, GEA, and Weyermann

After a long weekend in Amsterdam and Köln, it was hard to find energy to blog yesterday. The night before yesterday, I slept on a train and then a few hours in a train station in Munich, so when I got to a hotel last night, I had sleep in mind. So now I have a few days to make up for...

The weekend was a lot of fun. On the way back from Amsterdam I stopped in Cologne and tried several examples of Kölsch. The city was beautiful, the food was good, and the beer was pretty good as well. Kölsch is a very misunderstood style in the USA and as a result, a lot of brewers to a poor job imitating the style. The beer is light, slightly fruity, and moderately bitter. Each Kölsch brewery has differing techniques, but the beers are very similar. Some brewers still serve their beers from traditional casks, while other opt for modern draft systems. Fresh Kölsch from a cask was the way that I preferred it the most, but that was mostly because if it was a regular draft beer, it was typically a boring beer, not too different from Budweiser if we are being honest. However, a few of the breweries did have varying levels of fruity esters that made the beers a bit more interesting.

Yesterday, our class visited GEA and observed each stage of brewhouse manufacturing. It was really neat to see the brew houses being built, especially since the main project is New Belgium's new brewery. We actually got to see the brewery being built before New Belgium did. GEA was very impressive with the speed that they get their brewhouses assembled and their desire to do as much of the work in house as possible. Their equipment was very well built and is designed to last forever. Unfortunately, I can't talk about a lot of the things we talked about there because they are secretive and the innovative projects they are working on can't be discussed in public.

Today, our most interesting tour for me, was at Weyermann Malting. Weyermann has very strict quality control measures in place and they are working on producing a lot of new malts. They showed us around their malting facilities and they were much more open about their techniques than Briess was... Ironically, they also appeared to know a lot more about malting than Briess. They were very friendly, they shared tried and true recipes with us, let us sample freshly malted barley, fed us a great Franconian dinner, and the owners actually came out and talked with us individually throughout the day. By far, the highlight of my brewing tour was at Weyermann today.

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