Kloster Machern

A tip if you ever find yourself on the Mosel River between Traben-Trarbach and Bernkastel-Kues:  Stop in the Kloster Machern.  When I lived on the Mosel about fifteen years ago, the Cloister was abandoned.  Someone had the great idea of converting it into a brewery.  It’s not a working cloister or monastery, monks neither make nor oversee the beer production.  But it is a damned good place to stop and have a pint, or 500 ml, as they sell the beer here.


The beers are more Bavarian than western German, if you take the highly bitter pilsners of the region as examples.  There are three, a Helles, a Dunkeles and a Hefewezen.  The Helles is served “Keller-style”, that means cloudy.  It has a distinctly sweet flavor with a yeasty, bready note and some fruit – I picked out peaches, my German friend told me just to drink the beer.  It comes in two sizes, 0.33 liters (12 ounces, approx) and 0.5 liters (a bit over a pint).  The Hefeweizen is also cloudy, a very good beer.  While I’ve had better Hefeweizens, I don’t know if I’ve ever had one with quite the atmosphere of the Kloster.  Their crown jewel is their dunkeles.  It’s a dark lager, sweet but not cloying, lots of caramel and dried fruit flavors.  It’s the beer I’ll go back for.

The Kloster offers beer in bottles.  Since my German friends drank the beer I intended to give a Polish friend, I bought him a complete flight.  They’re in flip-top half liter bottles and are clearly marked with a “best-by” date about a month to three months from now.  And they are marked clearly that they are brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot.

By the way, I found and bought a stein with the complete text of the Reinheitsgebot written on it.  That should be a conversation starter at Oktoberfest.


Twelve Apostles and More

Made it to the Twelve Apostles (Zwoelf Apostolen) this afternoon!  It’s a craft brewery in Ginnheim, a suburb of Frankfurt and one of the forsaken few in the Main Metropolis.  In typical German style, there are two beers available, a Pils and a Dunkel.  I had both.  It was worth the drive.

The Pils was served cloudy, Keller-style, pale and hoppy.  Hops dominated the flavor, I’m guessing Saaz but maybe Tettnanger.  The malt was pilsner, the suspended yeast gave the beer a nice bready-yeasty flavor offsetting the bitterness and spice of the hops.  The Dunkel was essentially the Pils with some roasted malts in the grist, cloudy but not as much so as the pils, great flavor, so much so that I may try to formulate a “Franken-dunkel” similar to this beer.  I did have food there, the German summer food craze, pfifferlinge.  I believe in English they’re called Chifferelles, a mushroom gathered in the hills above Frankfurt this time of year.  In a cream sauce over noodles, delicious!

The pub is buried deep in the heart of old Ginnheim and is hard to find.  But Google Maps will take you there.  You’ll find a charming old fachwerk (half-timbered) house with a modern German concrete construction built around it and painted to resemble half-timbering.  The biergarten is attractive and large with wooden tables and chairs, shaded by chestnut trees and grape vines over an arbor.  I didn’t get a chance to talk with the brewer and given German customs, I doubt I’d have been given a tour had I met him or her.  Bottom line, I wouldn’t cross the Atlantic for this brewery but if you’re already here, hey, stop in and have a Dunkel.

Yes, I’m eating and drinking my way around Frankfurt.  I would be much more successful if I didn’t have to work!

I’m currently redefining my definition of a Koelsch over one.  This one is fruiter than I’d like but hey, I can always put a bit more Vienna or more likely, Munich in mine, should I desire this effect.  The flavor of the Lion Koelch reminds me of peaches.  There’s bread or biscuit in the finish, low hops, both bttering and flavor.  It’s a good beer, one worth drinking again, if I could find it in Denver.

Craft Beer in Frankfurt

Who’d have thought it.  Frankfurt is a craft brew wasteland.  I’ve googled every term I can think of meaning brewpub, craft beer, house brewery, family brewery….  I’ve come up with one, a place translated as “The Twelve Apostles” in Frankfurt and another in Darmstadt, a short drive from here.  Of course on the way to The Twelve Apostles I drive by the massive Henninger brewery and I do like me some fresh German pils.  May have to visit the Twelve soon.  Dona eis cerevisium….

Last night in fermentationally challenged drinking it was apple wine, Appelwoi in the local dialect.  It’s a hard dry cider, no “sussreserve” for this stuff!  I do love it though, it’s tart and refreshing and historically the local alcoholic beverage of choice.  Served with local fare, Frankfurt Green Sauce (Gruener Sosse), boiled eggs and potatoes, it’s a fine meal.  Of course, if you’re feeling carnivorous, try the green sauce with braised beef tips…  I’m still looking forward to that meal!  If you’re here in Hessen, look for smaller family-owned houses.  Both the food and the drink are better.

German Wine Label

Today, in my hotel restaurant, I saw a bottle of wine labeled “Nymphomanie”.  It pretty much means what it sounds like, nymphomania.  The subtitle is “The desired one,” an interesting juxtaposition.  And for that, I may, at some time during my stay here in Frankfurt, try a glass.

Saison Follow Up

Beer is down to 93 degrees and still fermenting ever so slowly.  I have a taste of it in front of me.  It’s still sweet with unfermented sugars.  I have a business trip coming up, if the beer hasn’t dried out by the time I get back, I’ll add some WLP 090 and let it complete.  The flavor, you’d think I’d have an undrinkable soup of off–flavors but the Wyeast 3724 seems to love the heat.  It has an amazing nose, almost orange-like flavors and a bit of peppery bite.  I like the result I’m getting.  3724 is finicky but worth it.

Fining, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve been having fining trouble lately with a Blonde Ale.  I finally got the beer as clear as I’d like but it appears it was at the expense of flavor.  Here’s its sordid history.  I first fined with gelatin, thinking I’d bottle in a day or so.  Fate conspired against me and I didn’t get it bottled after taking it out of the refrigerator.  A few days later all the gunk the gelatin took out was floating in ropes in the beer.  No, it wasn’t Pediococcus, no off flavors, just ropy gunk from the gelatin.  So I moved it back into the fridge and in so doing, stirred all the stuff back up.  The beer was just as cloudy as when I started.  Scheisse!  So I tried gelatin again.  No effect.  In desperation I turned to Super-Kleer KC.

The Super-Kleer stripped the haze out of it.  It’s particularly good because it has both a negative and positive charged component.  The beer is crystal-clear but most of its flavor seems to have gone with the gelatin.  The LHBS told me the Super-Kleer is actually gentler than gelatin and I may use it for the two lagers I have in the fridge right now.  But two doses of gelatin don’t seem like the way to get a good beer.  Lesson learned:  Don’t fine if you can’t bottle the beer.  If you do fine and can’t bottle, leave the beer in the fridge.  And if you get ropy crap, try to rack around it to keep from stripping the “good” from your beer.

I bottled the Blonde tonight anyway.  We’ll see how it comes out.

Gelatin Fining Follow Up

Gelatin fining is a great way to clear beers but it has a downside.  If you can’t bottle in three or four days after fining, don’t fine.  All the haze the gelatin has attracted gets released, your beer is just as cloudy as before.  I’m waiting to see if a seond try can clear it up again so I can bottle….