Monday, February 25, 2008

Bavaria Part 1

The usual suspects finally got out of Berlin for a weekend, and it was a big one. We rented a car and zoomed down the Autobahn, making stops in Bamberg, Nuremburg, Mainburg, and Munich. In less than 3 days, I was able to cross 5 items off my list of things to do before I die: tour a maltery, tour a hop farm and processing plant, crash a Bavarian village festival, cruise past the Polizei at 200kmph, and attend a European soccer match! Far too much for one entry, so I'm serving it up in 3 parts.

Bamberg, home of Rauchbier and Weyermann Specialty Malting Company, was our first destination. (Except for Felipe, who just wanted to go to McDonald's). Bamberg was beautiful, had some fantastic food, unique beer (not as intensely smoky as I was expecting), and some very friendly people. At the maltery, Ulrich Ferstl gave us an incredible tour of all things Weyermann, including the entire malting process, the roast malt brewery, the pilot brewery, the logistics center, company history, and more. We are grateful to Ulrich for spending so much time with us on a Friday afternoon/evening, when I'm sure he had better things to do. What a fantastic company!

Afterwards, we all agreed that touring a maltery immediately following the completion of our malting technology course was exactly the thing needed to tie it all together. This is an area where I think VLB could improve a lot. Yes, we have an excursion at the end of the course to some breweries (TBA) and possibly a maltery, but I feel like we are really missing out on a lot of opportunities that an institute of VLB's caliber could surely arrange. For example, our plant equipment professor has mentioned a nearby maltery, our water professor has told us about the ion exchanger at the Schultheiss brewery in Berlin...well, let's go see them! It's one thing to look at pictures and talk about a germination box, but you don't know one until you've smelled one and pulled a sample of green malt out of it. We hung out with hop farmers and maltsters this weekend, and I sure am glad we did.

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