Monday, May 16, 2011

European Brewing Tour - Week 2 Tuesday

Back on the bus on Tuesday. First stop was Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg, Austria. Stiegl is the largest brewery that we visited on our trip. It is still tiny in comparison to AB or MillerCoors. They have the most advanced brewing system that we saw with a pretty large pegasis in the middle of the picture below.

The brewhouse was a 5 vessel brewhouse which allows them to brew upward of 11 brews per day. If I remember correctly they use a traditional decoction method (part of the mash is removed and boiled then added back to the mash to increase the temperature and activate a different set of enzymes) which is pretty impressive that it is being done on such a large scale still.

Above is an automatic dosing machine for hop extracts. Hop extracts are allowed in Austria under their version of the purity law and they come in these massive barrels. First time we have seen one of these before.

They also use hop pellets with an automatic dosing system. This thing cuts open the boxes of hops and empties them into the hopper in which they can be dosed.

This whole room is one big refrigerator. The moveable yellow claw is used to pick up the hops and put them onto the conveyor pictured above. This allows for the whole dosing procedure to be automized.

They do have a pretty awesome little test batch brewery that gives the master brewer a lot of opportunity to make some cool weird beers.

Some open fermenters for potential product development purposes. It is good to see that this kind of elaborate R&D facilities available.

Next stop was to the Augustiner Brewery in Austria. There is no relationship between the Augustiner in Munich and the one in Austria. This was an interesting brewery to visit because it was the first time we were getting to see some of the old practices actually being used. There are some very interesting things going on at this brewery with methods that are dubbed by some as archaic and crazy. Knock it if you want, but they still make amazing beer.

The inside of a traditional copper vessel. Notice, it is all copper.

Above is a coolship. Basically coolships are used to settle out hot trub. If you notice, it is open to plain air.

They also use a traditional method of heat exchange to drop the temperature of the wort from 95 C to 8 C. Many modern brewers would scoff at the oxygen pickup with this process.

An open fermenter is being filled. Again, lots of oxygen pickup. Again, their beer tastes great.

Classic old school lagering tanks.

This amazing machine is used to coat the inside of barrels with a tar of sorts to make them water tight. This is the only one which we saw on the trip. Tradition to the max! Awesome.

Classic cask filler. After we were finished with the tour we went to the greatest beer garden I've been to. We sat around and chatted with the brewmaster for awhile, who we learned was an avid homebrewer and would actually host homebrewing parties. He was a really nice guy and loved to talk beer. We had one last stop on the day but he would have talked to us for hours and hours.

Our last stop was a small brewpub in Salzburg called Gusswerk.

Above is a picture from the balcony. I think that we rented the whole place out. We had some appetizers and a delicious meal with pork, wings, and you got it, potatoes. After some delicious beer, we got a tour from the brewmaster and listened to his story. I think his tune was in sync with many dreams of my classmates and myself. One day opening your own place and through your hard work, succeeding.

There is a lot of cool stuff going on and I really like the way they have their bar setup. I am sure I am going to be borrowing some of these ideas someday.

That is about the size of the whole brewery. It is in the same building as the brewpub and the only visible part is the copper clad brewing setup.

After dinner, many of us exhausted and extremely full, called it a night and crashed hard.


Easter Weekend, Nice and Mon Frere

The six amigos made the 875km drive from Munich, Germany to Nice, France on Thursday night around 9:00 PM. It took roughly eight and a half hours to get there which put us into Nice around 5:30 AM with a 1/4 tank of gas left. Thats 543 miles on 3/4 of a tank of gas. Why we don't have ecodiesel vans in the US is beyond me. To fill the car up it cost us maybe 60 euro? Comparable to any gas guzzler in the US. Makes me want to trade the Volvo in, kinda.

For those of you who don't know, my brother, Patrick, has been living in Nice, France for the past 6 - 7 months teaching English and working at an Irish pub called Snug.

Because our hotel wouldn't let us check in till 12:00, Patrick met us around 7:30 AM showed us around his neighborhood, got us some coffee and breakfast and let us crash at his apartment. After the night we had, it was exactly what we needed. After we checked into the hotel, we met Patrick in "old town" and enjoyed a great lunch. The food at the bar is quite good.

After hanging out there for a bit, we took a hike up to an overlook to get some shots of Nice.

When we arrived, the weather was not the best, it was very windy and overcast, but the scenery is still breathtaking.

Nolan Ryan spent a fair amount of time at this overlook explaining his master plan to get into a party on one of those yachts down there. Guess how that turned out.

That night Patrick took us to a local restaurant which served traditional Nicoise dishes. After eating starch and pork for the past month and a half, we were introduced to truly amazing food. We were very lucky to get a reservation there because the restaurant is not open on the weekends and we were leaving on Monday so this was our only chance to go. The dinner was the highlight of the trip.

Friday night ended up being a late night for some of us and Saturday was rainy so we just hung out at Snug and watched Man Utd! They won which always leads to a good day. Saturday night we attended a birthday party at Patrick's place. It was a fantastic party in which everyone at some point in the evening put lipstick on and kissed a big sheet of paper. A message accompanied each set of lips and had to be signed. Then the ridicule began, of course.

Sunday we met up and took a hike in the mountains that overlook Nice. It was a 2000 foot climb in about 2 miles. The best way to describe the trip is in pictures.

Above the building is the peak which we climbed to.

Greg and Shaun close to a cliff, again.

The view from the top.

The village from which we started.

Heading back down.

French mountainside.

Amazing little garden.

Typical southern France.

That night we had a nice Thai dinner and got to bed early. We had to leave and drive eight and a half hours back to Munich the next day. What a weekend.

The drive back felt longer, probably because it was, but we did stop by Milan for an hour for lunch.

We sat in the square and ate in front of the massive cathedral, the Duomo de Milano.

The drive back was long but the scenery was pretty nice. It was like this for more than half of it.

Location:Nice, France