Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Hopping adventures – revisited

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I used to love writing for the magazine Beers of the World. It’s a great shame that today there are not more outlets for the so many journalists who want write about beer. Here’s a part of a piece I write five years ago after a trip to Bavaria. I am reminded of it because hop harvest is now going flat out in Germany – and is about to begin in England. 

 Ralf MussoterRalf Mussotter is a big bear of a man with a huge smile and a wicked sense of humour.

And his laughter is ringing around the brewing hall of the Schloss Brewery in Au in the heart of the Hallertau region in Bavaria, Germany.

His translator from the local tourist board was struggling with the conversion of brewing terms from German to English, when he suddenly burst into perfect English.

“We are not a Chinese brewery he guffawed, we do not use rice. We are not a Belgian brewery, we don’t use fruit.

“We are German, we brew to the Reinheitsgebot, we only use malted barley, hops and yeast to make our beer,” boomed Ralf.

For like many German’s Ralf is a traditionalist and firmly believes in the principles of the so-called German purity law.

As a brew master Ralf knows every centimetre of his brewery, which brews the beer drunk by most of the adult people in the town.

Many come to sit in the brewery’s beer garden and enjoy a salty, freshly made thirst inducing pretzel, a perfect accompaniment to his Auer Pils, a softly spoken beer, with a delicate hop aroma.

“The best hops are essential for our beers,” said Ralf as he stands before me in his striking bright red  dungarees, wellington boots and a beanie hat.

And certainly he has access to some of finest hops in the world. North east of Munich, this is the one of the world’s largest hop growing areas.

Everywhere you look there are hop gardens. Hallertau has more than 1,200 hop farms, with more than 60,000 hectares of land devoted to growing the 5m bines, whose cones contribute a spicy cocktail of fragrances to beers.

The region’s tourist board is trying to promote the region as a place for people to visit. It wants to raise beer and brewing to the same heights as wine making.

For if people can do a wine tour, why cannot they do a beer tour, seeing at close hand how hops are grown and then enjoy a glass of freshly made beer in a sun dappled beer garden.

A hop tour snakes it way around the pretty villages and towns in the area. In September the area almost seems to smell of sweet, citrus flavoured hop oils as itinerant Polish farm labourers harvest the crop and fill trailers towed by small tractors with the cut bines which are then driven back to a farmer’s yard, where the cones are separated from the stalks and dried.

So if you want a different type of beer adventure how about a trip to Hallertau and a long and lazy afternoon getting “Schlossed?” in an Au beer garden. Schloss is one of 38 breweries based in a German castle most of which are found in Bavaria, so should you tire of this one there are plenty of others to seek out. Hoppy days indeed.

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Written by timhampson

August 30, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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