Last night the cook and I went out to Zierholz brewery with a bunch of the Slow Food group. While I'm not really a member of the Slow Food group I really couldn't pass up an opportunity to visit Zierholz.
For those who don't know Zierholz is a small brewery that . . . .
. . . started up in Canberra a couple of years ago by Christoph Zierholz . He got into brewing by starting as a home brewer and then took the brave leap into a commercial setup. He's pretty adventurous. While most of us start home-brew with kits, then move into extract and experiment with grains. It sounds like he started with extract and leapt to all-grain mashes and boiling. Brave man!
The idea of the visit was that Christoph would give us a small talk describing the brewing process while showing us the brewery. We would then taste some of his beers.
I've been doing a little research into brewing lately. There is a lot of information out there on brewing and it can be a bit difficult to separate theory from myth from experimental fact. My latest, greatest read is "Designing Great Beers" . It's a brilliant book that contains vast amounts of information if you want to approach brewing from a more scientific point of view. It goes into great detail on methods and beer styles and beer history. Someone should start a one semester Uni course using it as a text book. . . .
. . anyway where was I before I got carried away. Ah yes. Reading the book provides lots of information but it was better to have Christoph show us through the brewery and explain each step in the brewing process. He told us what was done and why and some of the history. It really made the theory bloom in front of my eyes. Christoph knows all the theory and has a very pragmatic approach. Just brilliant. I had some of my pet theories confirmed (e.g. don't ferment over 18C) and unfortunately my fears confirmed (e.g. brewing from extract is OK but it's like making instant coffee).
So even before the beer the trip was well worth it. But then, of course, there was beer :)
The beers we tasted were: Schank, German Ale, Hopmeister, Pils, Weizen, Brown Ale and Porter.
They are all good beer although my tastes really run toward the hoppy and darker beers. I would like to be able to do the beers justice but I don't think my beer palate and vocabulary are up to beer tasting standards however I'll give it a go.
Schank: A very light beer. Somewhat hoppy. Very little malt taste
German Ale: This is the one I have tasted before. This in many ways is a reasonably generic beer. Something that most people (who like beer) would drink happily. As such it is not a stand-out from the rest but it's still very drinkable.
Hopmeister: Sort of like the German Ale with more hops. That means I liked it more.
Pils: Noticeable hops and somewhat sweet. This is a very tasty drop. This is the sort of beer that I would drink through the warmer weather.
Weizen: Don't ask me I'm just not a fan of wheat beer.
Brown Ale: Somewhat reminiscent of Newcastle Brown Ale but superior. This has a slightly nutty flavour and is full bodied. Not really hoppy.
Porter: One of the best porters I've tasted. Porter is a very wide church of a beer. It even used to include Stout. A lot of porters have a very rich malt taste. So rich it seems to overpower the other tastes in the beer. This doesn't do that. This is a very even beer that spreads all the tastes out. It's slightly biscuity, a bit caramelly and of course you can taste the malt. If anyone likes stout or porter and gets a chance to drink some of this don't let the opportunity pass you by.
So after tasting a beer or two we wandered home. Or, more accurately, the designated driving Cook drove me home. It's a hard life.
If anyone is interesting in trying these beers and is in Canberra Zierholz is opening a cafe. So it's worth dropping in. I'm planning on it and I suspect Canberra taxi's know how to find Fyshwick.
At this point I should add that I have no interest in Zierholz past the point that I love good beer :)