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Old 11-21-2011, 06:37 PM   #1
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I just got back from Dusseldorf, home of the Dusseldorf Altbier. Man I love altbier. I think I drank every one in town including Schlussel, Shumacher, Fuchschen, Gatz, Eurige, Frankenheim, and perhaps others.

When at the Eurige brewery, I was introduced to one of their on-duty brewers. I was quite surprised to see he was an american, and formerly a homebrewer from North Carolina. I asked many techinical questions and tried to get a yeast sample but, sadly, Eurige is very closed-mouth about all of this. No tour or anything. He told me that I was the first person to ever ask for yeast (hefe) since his arrival there 2 years prior.

Im Fuchschen


Fuchschen's policy apparently is quite different. The on-duty brewer there came out to greet me and 3 of my friends. He was very friendly and chatty, and determined to answer any questions I had with as much english as he could muster. His name was something like Ollie ( but with a long Ō ). He took us through the restaurant and down into the brewery, and then described the brewing process there. This was interspersed with frequent samplings of very fresh beer straight from the brighting tanks. Absolute blast.

Unfortunately, I was not prepared for this kind of tour (I was just on a mission to get a yeast sample), so I failed to ask many relevant brewing questions. I did learn that they do multiple induction steps in which they fire the oil burner below the mash tun to raise the temp through several steps (they do NOT do decoctions). They use about 90% pilsner, 2% carafa, some accidulated malt, and some other minute grain additions that he didn't mention (in his words, he though they were unnecessary but the master brewers insisted on adding them). The mash tun was the standard large copper job, and there was some sort of SS mixing bar in the bottom. When we were there, there was water with a gypsum addition sitting in the bottom of the fermenter.

Their mash process takes about 2.5 hours, then the wort is pumped to a large lauter tun tank. Don't know much about that, or the subsequent boil. They do a single 60 minute hop addition of Tradition. They use both pellet and hop extract (which I embarrassingly stuck my fingers into). No late hop additions.

Initial fermentation is in large stone open fermenters. They were covered with hugh frothy yeast krausen; there was absolutely no protection from bugs. You'd have to see this to believe it (see video links below). Initial fermentation is only 2 days, but considering the huge amounts of fresh krausening yeast they used, I believe the fermentation is that quick. OG ~10P, transfer from initial fermenter to large SS tanks at about 4P, where the beer continued fermenting until about about 2P. These are pressurized tanks, with a relief valve set to about 1 bar (15psi). I think he said the beer sits in these tanks for 10 days.

Ollie talking with us


They do their own kegging, but I believe the bottling was done elsewhere (could be wrong on that). They have an impressive robotic filling system for the different keg sizes. All of the kegs I saw were some sort of plastic: I didn't see a single SS keg over there.

At the end of the night, we went back up and got a bunch more beer. Our server, Dirk, and Ollie sat with us and we had fun for several more hours. Real blast.

Altbiers and my Yeast Sample!


Note that bottle of yeast in the pic above. I brought that back, and it's growing right now on my stir plate. Will be brewing a big batch of altbier this Thanksgiving weekend. Woohoo.

Here's some lively videos from our visit to the brewery. Video is from my iPhone, so please excuse the quality. I think the only one I'm in is kneeling next to a SS pot of yeast (my coat went right into it, on the floor).

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:02 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing! This is awesome.

 
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Old 11-21-2011, 07:06 PM   #3
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Wow! All this information on Fuchschen is amazing, and much appreciated. When I was last in Dusseldorf I had yet to start brewing so I knew nothing to think of asking specific brewing questions. That said, my desire for altbier is actually what kick-started my homebrewing hobby! And you got a sample of their yeast too, direct from the open fermenters! Again, wow!

I am stoked for you, and it seems like you did Dusseldorf well.

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:44 PM   #4
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Very cool. I'd love to do that trip.

 
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:15 PM   #5
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just brewed my first dusseldorf altbier from AHB the other day. It wont be ready for a couple of weeks, but when I kegged it it smelled and looked awesome.

It also had chocalote malt and I had my doubts during the boil, but that part of it fermented out awesome.

Great trip by the way, what made you go there?
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Old 11-21-2011, 09:45 PM   #6
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We have close friends who live in Dusseldorf. Had the pleasure of a take home party keg for a birthday party. It was Fuchschen... but, sadly, we didn't go to the brewery.. the host did.. as I wasn't interested in beer at the time. Alt is a great beer.

Another local favorite there, I believe it's locally brewed only in "D" is a liquor that to some is medicinal.. similar to Jaegermeister. It's called Kilipich.. I think that's the spelling. We visited the place in downtown and enjoyed a few shots. Now, when they visit.. or we visit.. we bring back about a liter.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BARBQ View Post
just brewed my first dusseldorf altbier from AHB the other day. It wont be ready for a couple of weeks, but when I kegged it it smelled and looked awesome.

It also had chocalote malt and I had my doubts during the boil, but that part of it fermented out awesome.

Great trip by the way, what made you go there?
Business. Medical equipment trade show.
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:21 PM   #8
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Very cool - thanks for sharing - I love alts as well. My latest Sticke came out quite nice. Good luck with the yeast. Did you check out the Fuchschen website? It's hilarious!

 
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:23 PM   #9
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Awesome post, thank you!

 
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltrego View Post
Very cool - thanks for sharing - I love alts as well. My latest Sticke came out quite nice. Good luck with the yeast. Did you check out the Fuchschen website? It's hilarious!
Thanks, I hadn't checked out that site before. Note the red fox at the site. Fuchschen is german for fox. Back in the day, the altstadt (old town) of dusseldorf did not have numbers on the buildings. Each structure had an "animal", such as unicorn or fox. Fuchschen was the red fox. That's how they got the name.

I'm hoping the yeast does a good job. It is very active right now. I plan on making a big batch of it and pitching at high krausen. I'm sure glad it didn't get pulled at customs in Miami.
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