Alexander Futter is a master brewer at Paulaner. His experience gives him first-hand knowledge of the role that hops play in the brewing process. The umbels give the beer character, a pleasant bitterness and its balance. The hops also make it less perishable and give the beer its lovely head of foam. A single hop bine is sufficient for 1,000 litres of beer. "The quality of the hops is a determining factor in the quality of the beer," says Futter. Fortunately the Hallertau – the largest hop farming region in the world – is only 60 kilometres from Munich.
800 Years of Tradition
Master brewer Futter drives into the Hallertau several times a year. In the summer, he watches the vegetation process, while in the autumn he comes after harvest time. In September he stands before the empty poles of the hop gardens. They cast stark shadows onto the ground in the morning sun. Here the plants, which have been farmed in the Hallertau for more than 800 years, stood as much as eight metres tall. The region boasts almost 1,000 hop farmers who cultivate about 20 different hop varieties.
When it comes to hops, the Paulaner brewery has a geographical advantage. Alexander Futter works closely with the hop farmers who supply their green gold to 120 countries worldwide. However, only a few of them can send their master brewers to select the hops with the best flavour. Futter is aware of this advantage and gives himself plenty of time, both to inspect the hops in the field and to speak with the farmers. Paulaner has been working with local farms for centuries. "After all these years, we're friends," says Futter.
Following His Nose
To select the best hops, you need a good nose. Alexander Futter stands on the drying floor of the barn where the bines are stored. He sniffs the umbels to get a first impression of the "Hallertauer Tradition" aroma hops and the Herkules and Taurus bittering hops. "I rely on my sense of smell and my experience," says Futter. There is nothing he likes better. As they say in the Hallertau: Once you've been scratched by the hops plant, it's in your system.
The Secret of Yeast
A few refrigerators, laboratory bottles and worktables – at first glance, the Weihenstephan yeast bank looks like a normal laboratory. "Really, it's a treasure chamber," says Christian Dahncke, Paulaner's head master brewer. Yeast is a deciding factor in the beer’s taste. The Weihenstephan yeast bank guards one of the brewery's most precious treasures: the Paulaner pure-bred yeast. "Its secrets and pure strains have been handed down over centuries," Dahncke says.
The Treasury Of Taste
"Yeast is just as important to the quality of the beer as hops and malt are," Dahncke explains. He has come to Weihenstephan to pick up fresh cells from the Paulaner strain. The live cells change in every brewing process and have to be regenerated regularly. The Paulaner pure-bred yeast is stored at -80 degrees so that its quality always remains the same. "That is the treasury of the Paulaner taste," says Dahncke as he stands in front of the freezer.
Tiny Cells, Big Impact
The yeast cells are the brewer's best friend because they transform malt sugar into alcohol, carbon dioxide and flavourings during the fermentation process. As if that weren't enough, the hardworking cells also provide a multitude of tastes and smells. "Three hundred in all," says Dahncke. The type is also decisive. As you can tell even from just its name, bottom-fermented yeast settles on the bottom after fermentation. It is ideal for light beer or pilsner. Wheat beer, on the other hand, is brewed with top-fermented yeast, which is driven to the top by the carbon dioxide.
About Baking And Brewing
"Today I'll bake, tomorrow I'll brew," sings Rumpelstiltskin in the tale by the Brothers Grimm, hinting at the history of brewer's yeast. "In the Middle Ages, bakers were the best brewers," says Dahncke knowingly. But what no one knew back then was that the yeast cells that circulated in the air of the bakehouse reacted with the malt sugar during brewing. What once happened by chance is now controlled in a painstaking yeast management system. Otherwise, says Dahncke, "You lose the hops and malt."
10,000 Years Of Freshness
"Here it is," says master brewer Rainer Kansy, pointing to a spigot that shines in the noon sun. "The source of the Paulaner brewing water." An unobtrusive little spigot on the brewery grounds that draws up water from underground sources untouched for 10,000 years. "That's better than any drinking water ever," says Kansy. That matters when it comes to the quality of Paulaner beer, 100 litres of which calls for 350 litres of water. "That is precious water in every sense of the word," adds Kansy.
From The Ice Age To Today's Beer
Nature takes the credit for the purity of the brewing water. Paulaner draws it from an aquifer 190 metres down, where layers of rock have protected it for millennia. "It is as fresh as it was the very first day," says Kansy, by which he means the last Ice Age, when glaciers still spread over the north of Munich. Only a few breweries in the world can draw on such precious water for brewing: It is extremely pure and soft.
As The Water, So, Too, The Beer
Beer is up to 90 percent water. But every kind of water tastes different, and therefore influences the taste of the beer as well. "During brewing, this flavour can get stronger," Kansy states. Another factor is the hardness of the water. Soft water from the deep well contains less salt, which affects the enzymes of the mash and the beer wort. "Too much salt can keep the yeast from working properly," says Kansy. It's a good thing that the Ice Age left the ideal brewing water for Paulaner to use.
Soft Water From Deep Underground
The impact of the water should not be underestimated. As a master brewer, Rainer Kansy knows that the history of beer is the history of the brewing water too. "Munich's breweries used to brew with the hard groundwater of Munich," explains the brewer. Accordingly, they produced primarily dark beer for a long time because the hard water did not have the same negative effects on that. Unlike the hard water of the past, the soft water from the deep well that Paulaner uses today is perfect for both light and dark beer. "In other words, it's ideal for anyone who loves Bavarian beer," says Kansy, and laughs.
From The Field To The Glass
It's a warm summer morning when master brewer Jochen Albrecht pulls over on the right and steps out of his car. He is on his way to work and is driving past a field of barley as he does every morning. Today he stops briefly in order to look more closely at the crop. After all, it is one of the raw materials that is most important in brewing beer. He approaches the stalks at the side of the road and reaches for an ear. "A top summer barley," Albrecht remarks, pleased. "That will make an excellent brewer's malt."
Raw Material From The Region
Paulaner has worked with the same malting plants for many years. The wheat and barley for Paulaner are farmed primarily in southern Germany. During the malting process, the kernels are first softened and then placed in the germination box. "Enzymes form in the process. These turn starch into malt sugar later in the brewing process," Albrecht explains. After germination, the kernels are taken for kilning, the drying process. All operations require long experience, because malting is a natural process that can only be controlled by means of temperature, moisture and ventilation.
The main factor affecting the beer's taste and colour is the temperature during kilning. Dark malt is kilned at a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius. This creates more colourings and flavourings than in the case of light malt, which dries at 80 degrees Celsius. The type of grain also plays a crucial role. Paulaner wheat beer is made primarily with wheat malt, while the other beer varieties are made from barley malt. The malt for Paulaner is stored for an especially long time after being kilned in order to better activate the enzymes. "Rome wasn't built in a day," says Albrecht.
A Sense For Malt
For master brewer Jochen Albrecht, every delivery from the malting plant means a lot of work. "All senses come into play then," Albrecht says. Once the malt is delivered to the brewery, he holds the kernels up to the light to check their size and shape. How do the husks look? What about the endosperm? Ampenberger then checks for friability and protein and water content in the laboratory. "Everything has to be just right at this point," says the master brewer, "because too much protein can lower the quality of the beer."
It's All In The Mix
A very special odour hangs over the Paulaner brewery. It smells sweet, malty, a bit like grain and – even now – a bit like beer. If you go hunting for the source of this smell, you will end up with master brewer Peter Winter, who is standing next to a mash tun. That's the vessel where water and crushed malt are blended. Winter raises the lid of the mash tun and looks at the liquid, which an agitator keeps constantly in motion. "Mmm, what a great smell!" says the master brewer.
A Natural Transformation
There is also a conspicuous amount of heat emanating from the brewing kettle. At various temperatures hovering around 60 degrees, the contents separate from the malt and liquefy. "That generates all of the substances in the malt that are important for the brewing process," Winter explains. That's a nice way of describing what is going on in the kettle: Natural enzymes in the malt transform the starch in the grain into soluble malt sugar. "And later on, it acts as food for the yeast," says the master brewer.
Wheat Beer Times Two
When making Paulaner's wheat beer with yeast, the master brewers rely on the traditional double-mash process. About a third of the mash is heated gently in a separate mash pan to 72 degrees in order to dissolve the malt sugar. The mash is then boiled, the remaining mash is added again, and the process is repeated. "That takes a rather long time and is very laborious, but the taste makes it all worth it for us," Winter says.
Tastes Twice As Good
Paulaner adheres to the double-mash process for good reason. "For us, it's always about the taste," master brewer Winter explains. The advantages of the process are obvious: Individual adjustments can be made for different malts and recipes, and the process is key to a beer rich in character. The beer has a more full-bodied taste and a better head. "I'm happy to mash for a bit longer to achieve that," says Winter.
The Wort – Seasoning Of The Beer
Master brewer Robert Schwarz stands in front of the lauter tun in the brewhouse and checks the clarified wort. When mashing finishes, what is left is a malt sugar solution with remainders of malt and the husks of the grain kernels. During lautering, the solid components have to be separated from the liquid ones. "The wort gives the beer its body," says the master brewer. It's no surprise that beer wort is harvested both slowly and carefully.
The Gentle Path To Taste
During lautering, the brew flows through the mass of spent grains at the bottom of the lauter tun. Schwarz watches the liquid that oozes slowly out of the tun. "Our lautering process is very Bavarian," jokes Schwarz, "because the Paulaner brewers take their time doing it." But suddenly the flow stops. Too many solids from the spent grains have settled on the bottom. "Time for the chipper," says the brewer. The wort starts flowing again.
Water And Wort
It's not surprising that Schwarz attaches so much importance to gentle lautering, because the process has a big impact on the quality of the beer. "This is where the spice of our Paulaner is born," explains the master brewer. After the first wort, as it is known, has drained from the tun, the so-called digest of hot water follows. This washes the remaining malt sugar from the spent grains.
The Brewer And The Beast
As Robert Schwarz is standing at the brewery exit that evening, a tractor with a big trailer passes by. But the driver is not delivering any goods – he's picking some up. Sitting at the steering wheel of the bulldog is a farmer who runs a dairy. What is the farmer doing at the brewery? He feeds spent grains – that is, the malt residue left after lautering – to his cows. They make a nutritious animal feed.
For master brewer Susanne Weber, this is not just another working day at Paulaner. While her co-workers at the brewery rinse out the lauter tun, she is on her way to the office today. Minutes later, she is holding a book of Paulaner recipes in her hand. The leather binding is worn because it has already been in the hands of so many brewers. The old typeface reveals the secrets of the Paulaner Salvator recipe. "We have been brewing Salvator for over 375 years now using recipes that have been handed down and refined from year to year," Susanne Weber says proudly.
Time For Taste
In the brewery, Susanne Weber stands next to Peter Winter at the brewing copper and watches as the master brewer adds the hops to the boiling wort. Wort boiling is an important step in producing beer because during this process, the bitter compounds separate from the hops and the water evaporates, among other things. Here too, time plays a key part. "There's no hurry," says Susanne Weber. It pays off.
Hops In A Starring Role
As a skilled brewer as well as a beverage technologist, Susanne Weber knows that the hops are added to the copper twice during wort boiling. The master brewer explains: "The first time the hops are added for bitterness, while the second pass gives the beer taste and aroma." Certain varieties even call for a third addition of hops to achieve a really special flavour. The variety of hops also matters because it determines the type of beer.
A Question Of Character
After master brewer Winter has added the hops to the wort, he fetches a beer spindle. This is used to determine the density of the wort, which acts as the basis for the original gravity and the strength of the beer. That is crucial, because steaming off the water concentrates the wort. Again and again, Susanne Weber measures the original gravity. So what's Susanne Weber's final measurement? "18.3 percent, just right for our double bock," says the master brewer.
Yeast, The Transforming Miracle
There is a deep hush in the fermenting room at the Paulaner brewery. Only the sound of chalk against metal tells you that master brewer Eberhard Tischer is at work. He is checking the fermentation process and then noting down the date of his check. The yeast that turns the malt sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide is working away in the classy brewery tanks. "We put our trust in our Paulaner yeast," says Tischer. In spite of this, he has to visit the fermenting room several times during the main fermentation phase in order to check the progress of the fermentation.
Playing For Time
During the fermentation process it looks as if master brewer Tischer has a quiet job. "During fermentation, time really crawls," he says. And that's what has to happen when you use the classic cold fermentation process, as is the case with Paulaner Münchner Hell. "True, it's very time-consuming," explains Tischer, "but it ensures a harmonious beer with a nice head." And in the case of other varieties too, Paulaner relies on time. The master brewers give the beers up to ten days for the fermentation process.
Quality From A Tank
One particular characteristic of Paulaner is the way even wheat beer ferments in tanks. "It is a question of quality, and that's something we do not cut corners on," says brewer Tischer. Abandoning the bottle fermentation guarantees that quality is uniformly high with no fluctuation in flavour. The beer is given enough time to ferment and mature, allowing the flavours to develop to an ideal degree. The temperature is particularly important, and Tischer checks it on an ongoing basis.
Another Way To Ferment
The alcohol-free wheat beer from Paulaner has a special fermentation phase. "We have to be particularly careful there," says brewer Tischer, "because in order to prevent alcohol from developing, we have to stop the fermentation process in time." Low temperatures in the fermentation tank curtail the formation of alcohol. The yeast is prevented from taking effect before the legally required 0.5% alc. vol. mark has been reached. While that calls for constant checking, it is crucial because it is the only way that the typical flavours of the beer can develop.
Time On Our Side
Your breath condenses and slowly the clouds spread out in the neon light. Even before you see master brewer Mack, you will detect his reflection in the stainless-steel tanks. It is cold down here, but Maximilian Mack can hardly imagine a nicer place than the storage cellar. He knows what green beer needs after fermentation: "Time, time and more time." And that's exactly what Paulaner beer gets in the storage cellar.
In three to six weeks, the so-called green beer in the storage cellar turns into the finished Paulaner beer. Ask master brewer Mack why the beer has to mature for so long and get ready for a long answer. "The carbon dioxide binds in the beer," he says. "That is important for the head to form and for the effervescence and freshness. The remaining sugar breaks down. The undesirable flavours disappear and the yeast and protein settle at the bottom. Afterwards, it tastes really full-bodied," says Mack.
Fermented To Perfection
"Storage is actually still part of the fermentation process," explains master brewer Mack. After the main fermentation process, the green beer is drinkable, but the unpleasant flavours and odours have not yet broken down completely at this point. "The yeast comes through too strongly too," says Mack. The balance of the beer and its typical flavour do not emerge until after storage.
A Clear Case
Master brewer Markus Hübner stands in front of the brewery's filtration system and watches as the filtration process gives the beer its necessary clarity. Unlike most other breweries, Paulaner uses a membrane filtration system that allows gentle filtration and clarification of the beer while also conserving resources. "We no longer use diatomaceous earth," states Hübner. That saves on raw materials because diatomite has to be added continuously during the filtration process.
Sometimes – as in the case of wheat beer with yeast – turbidity which are actually traces of yeast and protein in the beer is just what is wanted. "That's when technology helps us," says master brewer Hübner. Or more specifically, a separator. This machine separates the solids from the liquids and, depending on the setting chosen, leaves certain components in the beer. The special secret of wheat beer lies in how stable the cloudiness is. "This is where some of our colleagues envy us," Hübner explains with pride.
Quality Means Teamwork
"I don't know how many times I've heard people joke about the dream job," says master brewer Hübner. Naturally, tastings are part of his work – but that's not all. As the head of quality control, Hübner is just one of 16 master brewers who concern themselves with quality assurance over the entire course of the Paulaner brewing process. Day by day, a master brewer personally tests the beer for flavour and quality before it is bottled. "Tasting is more hard work than pleasure," says Hübner, winking.
Checking Makes It Taste Better
Still, when testing for quality, Markus Hübner relies on more than just his sense of taste. Before and after filtration, the finished Paulaner beer runs through a gauntlet of different analyses. Along with sensory and visual inspection, the beer is subject to microbiology and chemical-technical tests in our own lab to check composition and key parameters. "We go over every batch with a fine-tooth comb," says Hübner.
Fast, Faster, Filled
At first glance, the workstation of Gregor Nowotsch looks like a maze made up of thousands of bottles. Under his watchful eye, they travel down the conveyor belts and through the hall, rattling as they go. "At one installation, we fill up to 50,000 bottles in an hour," says the head of bottling. Anyone who has ever poured a glass of beer will wonder how it is possible to bottle it so quickly. "The secret," says Nowotsch, "is that the bottles are under pressure, so they can be filled without building up a head."
Only The Best Get Through
At the start of the filling process, beverage distributors from across Germany return the empty bottles. "They do not all make it to the filling process," says Gregor Nowotsch. Because at the end of the bottle-washing machine, which cleans the bottles at a temperature of around 80 degrees, stands the "inspector", and that person doesn't miss a thing. In the plant, the bottles are inspected for dirt and damage at an incredible speed. And if they are damaged? "Waste glass container, and off to the recycling plant," says Nowotsch.
Pressurised For Freshness
One hall down, pallets bearing kegs for beer gardens and pubs are piled up. They undergo a process that is just as thorough as the one for bottles. The kegs are first washed out with various cleaning agents and are then steamed. "Nothing should interfere with the taste," says Nowotsch. Once the 20-litre, 30-litre or 50-litre kegs are filled with beer, they are labelled and delivered. So much effort just so that fresh Paulaner can be poured into mugs at the pub.
Sunscreen Made Of Glass
Why does Paulaner only come in brown bottles? Gregor Nowotsch fires off an answer to that instantly: "Because of the flavour." Green or clear bottles are not as good at deflecting short light waves and UV radiation from the sun as brown bottles are. The result: poorer beer quality. When you open a beer in a light glass bottle, you can tell that it was exposed to sunlight for too long. Connoisseurs call the smell that emanates from the bottle "light-struck". "And I don't let things like that into the bottle," says Nowotsch.
The Perfect Beer
It's still quiet in the Paulaner beer garden at Nockherberg. The sun is warm on master brewer Martin Zuber's back. In front of him is the perfect beer. "Everything was done right with this one," says Zuber, pleased. And he is referring not just to the wheat beer but also everything about it: "There is plenty that can go wrong with it," Zuber adds. The beer glasses should always be clean and grease-free, "otherwise the foam suffers." What's more, beer should have refreshing six to eight degrees, particularly in the summertime. Well then, cheers, Mr Zuber!
The Art Of Pouring Beer
Still, not everyone has the chance to enjoy a freshly tapped Paulaner at a beer garden. Fortunately, Martin Zuber can tell you the right way to enjoy a glass at home. "Pouring wheat beer from a bottle is like drawing it off a tap," he explains. Hold a glass previously rinsed with cold water at an angle and let the beer run in slowly. Don't get impatient: Before you add some more beer, the foam should settle. And then? Briefly swirl the bottle, pour in the rest, and enjoy.
According to master brewer Zuber, the most important ingredient for enjoying beer is unfortunately not one that is for sale anywhere: time. "We give ourselves lots of time to brew it," says Zuber. "And that should be true when you drink it too. That applies to our wheat beer, blond lager beers and specialities. We have the right beer for every occasion and every dish," Zuber concludes. And with a history of more than 375 years of brewing, Paulaner also has the necessary experience. "That's something you can taste," says Zuber.
In The Brewer's Garden
Martin Zuber has only one answer to the question of where he prefers to drink his beer: "In a beer garden – where else?" After all, beer gardens and the brewing process share a long history. Originally the "gardens" served as a place above the breweries' storage cellars where beer was sold, and were only allowed to be called beer gardens if they had chestnut trees growing in them. "The trees offered shade for the storage cellars," explains Zuber. Then, taking a sip, he grins and adds, "And naturally, for the master brewers as well."