Craft beers

We initially only had two or three different beers in our shops during the summer months and at the end of the year, but last year we stepped it up and 13 different kinds of beer graced our shelves. By the spring, all the beer was gone, and since then, the question keeps popping up on a daily basis: “When will you have beer again?” It was obvious to us that we should offer at least as many as that for the summer, but during the year and at our tastings we found so many exciting beers that eventually the sum doubled to 26. It’s an almost industrial amount but only includes craft beers.

Since our knowledge about brewing and different beer styles is still in its infancy, apart from the knowledge held by certain enthusiastic colleagues, we decided to examine the subject thoroughly. In May, with a bus load of colleagues in tow, we visited the Hedon brewery in Balatonvilágos, then checked out Monyó Brewing in Budapest. During these visits, we chatted to Anti Németh, the master brewer of both.

 

Anti, based on the examples of some winemakers, you could be called a “flying beer maker”, you certainly have a lot on your plate...
Yes, I brew my own beer at Balaton and in Budapest, and this means travelling several times a week. In addition, I also supervise the beer making of guerrilla brewers and teach at a university as a guest lecturer. I often go to smaller events to make presentations and to competitions to judge.

 

How did you get to beer from being an HR-advisor?

I gave up my original profession six years ago. I started brewing at home and made beer from morning to night: I brewed at least 500 different beers during the first two years. I also documented everything, because besides wishing to brew good beer for my mates, I was also interested in brewing on a scientific level. I read all the related literature, such as the microbiology university books. I didn’t just want to know that during mashing the enzymes break down the starch into sugar but also how you can influence this process. For one thing, brewing is an exciting and creative activity as you try to find out what kind of beer and style you would like to make and what kind of hops to use. It’s also a process that requires very accurate planning. One needs a set plan regarding what you do and when, how much you add of something, because you cannot change it as you go along. Wine can age in the barrel or in the bottle, beer can’t. If you make a mistake at the beginning, if you don’t have a strict plan broken down into days or hours, then that’s it.

 

How does a new beer come to life? How do you come up with it? Do you brew it in small amount first to try it out?

It varies and it also depends on the type. In the case of lager or pils, I don’t have to ‘practice’. I know what I would like to have regarding base materials. I brew these in large quantities. You don’t have to play that much with the aromas here. With a more aromatic ale, I get it brewed by my colleagues at home. When I came up with the idea of the Belgian Trip beer, I first thought I’d make it with two kinds of yeast, so I selected three types, and I had it brewed in all sorts of combinations by our brewery staff. None of them were the real thing, so we eventually poured it all in together, and that’s how the current beer came into being, so we needed all the three yeasts. Ideas come from the most unexpected sources. I was given a Guinea pepper, or Alligator pepper as a present, and when I tried it, the idea that I should brew it into beer popped up immediately, but into which one and with what? The outcome of this is our Black Alligator beer with pepper and juniper berry.

 

Which is your favourite beer and what kind would you still like to brew?

I don’t have an obvious favourite, it varies all the time. I prefer the pilsner, porter and ESB (Extra Special Bitter) types the most and I would definitely like to brew more of these, as well as some exciting imperial stouts, which are also in my head. If I was to say one or two for the summer, for the European Football Championship or the Olympics, then it would be the Monyó Summer Syndrome and the Hedon Credo.  

 


 

Key brewing terms:

 

Malt

Malt is germinated cereal grains. The best grain for the malt used for brewing is barley. The cleaned barley is immersed in water, then dried out once it has absorbed a sufficient amount of water. They even toast it for the darker coloured beers, as beer primarily gets its colour from malt. The grain is cracked, then water is poured over the powder – this is the process of mashing, and the solution that comes out of it is called the wort. The colour of the beer is indicated by the SRM (0-40) or EBC (0-80) numbers, meaning the higher the number is, the darker the beer is.

 

Mashing

Mashing is one of the most important processes in brewing, during which the different enzymes dissolve the protein content of the malt and convert the starch into sugar. The various enzymes work at different temperatures and that’s why the mash is heated to and left at different temperatures. At the end of mashing, the non-solvent parts of the malt are filtered out, in order to get a clean, clear mash. 

 

Boiling

The hop is a perennial conifer plant and one of the spices of beer. Its malolactic acid content adds the bitterness to the beer, while the oils in its wax provide the aromas and fragrance. The aromas can easily evaporate during brewing, therefore hops are added to the beer in several steps. The bitter hopping happens at the beginning of boiling while the aroma hopping is done during the final few minutes of boiling, and with dry hopping the hops are soaked (swirled) in the already fermented beer in order to achieve more aromatic results. The bitterness of the beer is indicated by the IBU number ranging between 1 and 100.

 

Bottom-fermenting (lager), top-fermenting (ale)

Fermentation is the other important phase as it provides the basis of the different types of beer. Apart from a few spontaneously fermented beers, we differentiate two main types of beer. In the case of top-fermenting beers, fermenting takes place over a shorter time and at a higher temperature (10-21 °C), while bottom-fermenting beers are fermented at a lower temperature (6-8 °C). With bottom-fermenting beers the process lasts longer, as the yeasts work more slowly under cooler conditions.

 

Small production brewing

According to current regulations, home brewing is permitted at 1,000 litres annually, while the upper limit of small production is 8,000 hectolitres.

 


 

Lager:

 

Wheat:

 

 

Ale:

 

APA:

 

IPA: