• Beer Pilsen - February 2018 - 1
  • Beer Pilsen - February 2018 - 2
Czech Republic Food & Drinks

Good men drink good beer

From trend to tradition, from tradition to trend. Good things are brewing among individualists these days – namely, individually crafted beer. Join us on a short trip around the world of beers, from hoppy hipsters to a traditional brewery in the Czech Republic: in Pilsen, to be exact.

Beer Pilsen - February 2018 - 3

© Barley & Hops, Gestalten 2014

STAY | Vienna House Easy Pilsen

 

Just looking at the list of ingredients, brewing your own beer may not seem so hard. But beware! To make a good beer, you also need lots of imagination and a fair amount of patience. And that makes brewing an art. People recognised this fact quite early on. Some would even go so far as to say that civilisation owes a debt to beer, that the early hunters and gatherers only settled down in order to cultivate the intoxicating cereals needed to make their brew. Anyone who has ever tried to go for a long walk while nursing a hangover knows what we’re talking about. Thus the way was paved for beer’s triumphal march across the planet. Today you can find some kind of beer almost nywhere in the world.

 

The problem: »some kind of beer« doesn’t necessarily mean a good kind of beer. But globalisation has changed beer for the worse by watering it down more and more: In order to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, beers increasingly lost their individual character – a phenomenon that was especially widespread in America. As early as the 1980s, individualists there rose to the challenge by brewing their own beer. This was the birth of the microbrewery movement, also known as craft brewing: daring beers from independent brewers who simply wanted to craft a distinctive and beautiful product. Craft brewers come from all walks of life. They are college students, artists, cheesemakers and television engineers. While most continental Europeans are familiar with Pilsner, wheat beer or dark lager, an India Pale Ale requires expertise.

Beer Pilsen - February 2018 - 1

© Barley & Hops, Gestalten 2014

Even more individual are beers like Dubbel, brown ale, Märzen, barley wine, porter, imperial stout and Tripel. Today’s hoppy hipster scene is advanced enough to produce some stars of its own. Like Mikkel Borg Bjergsø from Denmark, who sells as far away as Tokyo and San Francisco and generates several million euros of profit each year. Which brings us full circle from trend back to tradition. Because the story of a few determined individualists who decided to brew their own beer is also the story of some of the most traditional breweries in the world – such as Pilsener Urquell in the western Bohemian city of Pilsen.

 

In the early 19th century, a group of local citizens responded to the poor quality of the beer at the time by acquiring the brewing rights to make their own beer. They hopped their beer with Saaz hops from the traditional growing regions in northern Bohemia. The rest is history. And lives on into the present day.

 

The brewing process

Beer Pilsen - February 2018 - 2

© Benedikt Rugar, Barley & Hops, Gestalten 2014

Cracking

The first step to brewing any beer is the physical cracking of the grains. The grains are crushed in a mill to expose the starchy centre of the malt seed to bring it in contact with water.

 

Mashing

The milled grains are now mixed with water to form the mash. This mixture is then heated to activate the enzymes in the malt. Mashing occurs in stages at certain temperatures in an attempt to produce the desired composition of proteins and fermentable and unfermentable sugars.

 

Lautering

Lautering is the process of separating the husks and residual solids from the liquid wort in a lauter tun. The addition of hot water helps to extract any remaining sugar.

 

Boiling the wort

The wort is then boiled with hops in the brew kettle. By controlling the evaporation during boiling, brewers can determine the mass of sugar in the wort and so achieve the desired alcohol content.

Beer Pilsen - February 2018 - 4

© Barley & Hops, Gestalten 2014

Whirling and cooling

After boiling, the wort is whirled, a process in which the remaining solid particles are separated from the wort. This is done in a vessel called a whirlpool. Cooling should take no longer than 30 to 60 minutes to prevent infection and off-flavours.

 

Fermantation

During fermentation, yeast cells convert the sugar from the wort into equal parts alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process usually requires the beer to remain in the fermenter for about one week. Fermentation occurs in two phases. As a general rule, higher temperature ferments tend to produce more flavours.

 

Conditioning

After primary fermentation, the beer is stored and matured. Bottom-fermented beers are conditioned at 0°C, top-fermented beers initially at 15–20°C followed by ten to twelve days at 10°C. Pilsner and lager beers are stored for around four weeks, stronger beers take longer to age.

 

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