Thursday, December 18, 2008

Memmelsdorf Brewpub and Inn

The hotel, restaurant, and brewery Drei Kronen (Three Crowns) in Memmelsdorf, about 8 miles NE of Bamberg, was the last and in some ways one of the most interesting locations we visited.

The brewhouse was relatively modern but the brewer-owner, Hans-Ludwig Straub, opted to incorporate some traditional yet unusual gear and practices in his operation.

Here you can see a copper cool ship, a large rectangular tub (~ 5'x5'x1' deep) used to cool the wort after boiling. Cool ships predate modern heat exchangers but are more characteristic of Belgian Lambic breweries.

In the wall to the left of the tub is a 12" fan that blows air across the sweet liquid to help speed th cooling. Most brewers do everything possible to minimize exposure of their product to the atmosphere and all its potential beer contaminants, but not Hans-Ludwig.

Above the coolship is a large circular copper hood that also draws air across the tub and out of the room. Definitely a very unique set up.

Another piece of equipment I'd never seen in a brewery was the pitch pump. Oak kegs, lacking a barrier to separate the beer from the wood, are treated with a tar-like substance imported from Trinidad, where natural reservoirs of this material form Pitch Lake. (pic)

The pitch is heated in the dark canister at left then pumped, using the long handle on top, to raise the goop up into the keg, where it coats the interior of the keg. Hans-Ludwig told me they re-treat all their oak kegs ("Fass") once each year.

In spite of the shock I experienced at seeing
many of my assumptions about brewing sanitation practices turned upside down, the beer served at the restaurant was pretty clean.

The great thing about traveling the world as a brewer is that there's always more to learn!

See more images related to treating barrels with pitch.

One last treat that awaited us before leaving Memmelsdorf was the grand finale of the meal, a glass of beer schnapps.

I never got the full story of whether the schnapps was distilled on site or if it was from beer made at Drei Kronen. But the bottle, the glass, and the dispensing apparatus was so cool, that I just had to include it in this entry.

Throughout this trip we ate too much and drank quite a bit too, but I never once had a hangover. Each evening we finished the night off with one or another distilled liqueur or schnapps.

Have I found the holy grail of hangover avoidance or just deluding myself about the virtues of a beverage weighing in at 15-40% ABV? I don't know for sure, but the matter definitely merits further research!

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