Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Andechs In New York

Interview with Alexander, the brewer of Andechs podcast

In late June we met with Alexander Reiss, the Brewmaster of Andechs Klosterbrauerei (Monastery Brewery) and Lars Dahlhaus of St. Killian, the importer of the beer. Alexander was in town to participate in two Andechs launch parties, one at Zum Schneider in the East Village, and the other at Z.S. Montauk. Sylvester, the proprietor of Zum Schneider, who grew up near Andechs in southern Bavaria south of Munich, has been trying to get the beer imported to New York for over ten years -- and it's finally happening! For now it's being offered on draught exclusively at both Zum Schneiders. In a few months time it'll begin to appear in New York shops and bars in bottles.
Alexander, Lars and Bob.
Andechs is the German equivalent of Chimay, Orval, et al -- a functioning commercial brewery owned and managed by a monastic order of Benedictine monks. Alexander, the Betriebsleiter/brewer, is a layman, but the monks control the brewery and make all the decisions, as they have since its founding in 1455. That's the earliest record of the brewery, though it's well established that brewing there took place as early as the 12th century.

Weißbier Hell, Doppelbock Dunkel, Vollbier Hell, Weißbier Dunkel.
The current modern brewery has a brewhouse of approximately 200 bbl, with annual capacity of 150,000hl (127,000 bbl). Alexander explained that they could probably increase capacity to more than double that, but only at the expense of their traditional, time consuming, quality producing brewing techniques. And it's quite clear -- that's not going to happen!

Andechs uses Hallertau hops for all their beers, for both aroma and bittering. Hallertau is a nobel hop used primarily as a flavor and aroma hop. It has less alpha acids than most commonly used bittering hops, and thus is more expensive to use for bittering (less alpha acids means more hops needed to achieve bitterness). But the Brewmaster explained that it's one of the things that sets Andechs apart from other breweries -- that and their use of the time-, heat- and labor-intensive traditional technique of decoction mashing. While they are distributed throughout the whole of Deutschland, 20% of their sales are from exporting. Brewer Alexander, a 23-year brewing veteran, has been with Andechs for 8 years, and he learned the trade at the famed Weihenstephan Staatsbrauerei, one of the oldest, most established, most respected brewing institutes in the world.
The monastery on the "holy hill".
We sampled four of the Andechs beers which are soon to be imported to the U.S. for the first time ever, while sitting beneath the shady trees in the backyard of Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg.
Pouring Doppelbock Dunkel.
The Doppelbock Dunkel is a strong, dark, sweet, rich malty lager, historically brewed to help the fasting monks get through lent. It's mashed utilizing triple-decoction, while the other clean, traditional, rustic beers of Andechs are single-decoction mashed. 
Doppelbock Dunkel.
Weißbier Hell.
Their unfiltered Weißbier Hell is a classic Bavarian wheatbeer, with almost no banana esters, but a healthy dose of pleasant clove aroma, and a yeasty tang.
Pouring the Weißbier Hell.
The Weißbier Dunkel uses 30% dark malts in addition to wheat malt and some cara (crystal) malt. The dark malts really dominate the aroma and flavor of this very sturdy yet complex beer.
Pouring Weißbier Dunkel.
And lastly, the Vollbier Hell -- one of the most thirst quenching, elegant, beautiful beers on earth. It's got that classic Bavarian lager bready malt aroma, clean malt flavor, and a perfect medium body which satisfies without leaving a heavy feeling.

Vollbier Hell.
For now they're only bringing in Andechs draft exclusively for the Zum Schneider restaurants, but later this summer they'll be importing bottles of the four above described Andechs beers, in the same 500ml bottles that they use for the German market. Finally, you won't have to travel abroad to enjoy this extremely sought after, highly regarded, traditional yet unique German classic!
The Braumeister.

  [link to podcast page]

Andechs Vollbier Hell vom Faß at Zum Schneider.

Full line of bottles.

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