Kulmbacher: Strong, Dark, and Hoppy

Discussion in 'Article Comments' started by BeerAdvocate, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. BeerAdvocate

    BeerAdvocate Founders (17,668) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

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  2. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,291) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    "Munich Lager was hopped at a rate of 4 pounds per 100 pounds of beer. Bamberg beer contained 8 pounds, while Kulmbach beer had 12 pounds of hops per 100 pounds of beer. Feeding the details into brewing software, Munich Export comes out at 30 IBU."

    Just curious, how do you measure pounds of beer, just using water weight, or slightly higher? It seems an odd reference point.

    "Hopfenrösten" sounds interesting though. I wonder if that was a kind of "first wort" thing, although boiling it wouldn't be the same as steeping it at all.
  3. IKR

    IKR Zealot (579) May 25, 2010 California

    Kulmbacher Monkshof is probably the reason I got into craft beer (microbeer at that time, 1980's). My college roommate knew about it from his dad and got me to buy some in the swing top bottles. Once I realized that beer didn't have to be pale yellow and fairly flavorless it was on. Article brings back memories.
  4. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
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    I thought that interesting as well. It will definitely provide some isomerization, but would depend on the other details of the technique as to how much character it would impart, but those seem to be lost to time.
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  5. Lucular

    Lucular Poo-Bah (1,819) Jun 20, 2014 Maryland

    That sounds like an insane hop/water ratio, even by NEIPA standards. I think "pounds of beer" must be a typo.
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  6. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,479) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Supposedly Schells recently released a Kolmbacher Export- I wonder how closely it correlates with what Ron has written.
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  7. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,291) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    That's what I thought, but I doubt it's a typo on Ron's part, maybe something in the original material he looked at. I don't know, I trust Ron Pattison. Hopefully he's got an answer.
  8. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
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    Yeah . . . for the Munich lager that translates into 64 oz. of hops per approximately 12.5 gallons of beer (a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs). Even if you sub in gallons for pounds, that's still 64 oz. of hops in 100 gallons for the Munich, 128 oz. for the Bamberg, and 192 oz. for the Kulmbach.

    Depending on how you add them, that's probably going to end up with higher than 30 IBUs, with more than 0.5 oz. of hops per gallon of beer for the Munich.
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  9. Keene

    Keene Editorial Director (827) Sep 11, 2009 Washington

    Hey @patto1ro, care to elaborate for the inquisitive posters above?
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  10. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,291) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Good point. We should keep in mind however that hops used to be much less potent than they are today.

    I wasn't wondering about the bitterness though, simply how they measured in pounds, which I'm assuming was actually a translation from volume - although I don't know. I've never seen beer measured in pounds but I'm not a beer historian, so maybe Ron, or even Jesskidden, or someone else might have some kind of answer.
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    Below is information I found on this beer from Untapped:

    “6.2% ABV 37 IBU

    Added 03/22/18

    Based on a recipe dated back to 1879 from upper Franconia, this dark, hoppy lager was a favorite that was often imitated by many breweries. Bock-like in strength, it asserts its dark color and pronounced hop bitterness.”


    The metric of “37 IBU” would seem to indicate this beer is a bit ‘light’ on the hops to be a Kulmbacher as detailed by Ron.

    Maybe the Schell’s brewer (@bergbrew) can provide more insight here?


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  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I thought some BAs might be interested in knowing that American breweries ‘back in the day’ (i.e., before Prohibition) produced Kulmbacher beers. For example Schlitz made a beer brand that they labeled Culmbacher (see in picture below).

    I am sure that @jesskidden can provide more examples of American made Kulmbacher beers. And maybe he even has some brewing details like what sort of malt was used to brew these beers. I doubt that he would know what IBU’s they had since the IBU is a later 20th Century construct.


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  13. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (5,076) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    The lbs hops/lbs beer looks off. Craft brewers average 2.3 lbs/barrel. In 1898 Munich lowenbrau used around 1 lb/barrel and Sam Adams Lager uses about the same. A barrel is 30 gallons and a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. A barrel of beer would contain roughly 240 lbs which works out to about 1 lbs hops per 100 gallons. Using the numbers in the article, Munich lager would have 9.6 lbs/bbl; Bamberg would have 19.2 lbs/bbl and Kulmbach would have 28.8 lbs/bbl. That is a humongous amount of hops. I suspect the author may have confused units of measure.
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  14. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,659) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Any idea why Budweiser is listed among their brands there? The rest all seem like Schlitz made beers but maybe I am off on that. I know Erlanger was.
  15. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,291) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    I find it interesting that they've spelled every town right, even Wiener, but not Kulmbach. I can find no reference to Kulmbach ever having been spelled Culmbach, nor does that seem very German to begin with. Of course these were German-Americans, so there must be a reason for it.
  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, and a few were brewed after Repeal, as well. Probably the most well-known/distributed and longest-lived being Blatz Culmbacher, which Heileman actually "revived" in the late 1980s when they built their Milwaukee "microbrewery" (now operated by MillerCoors' Leinenkugel). In California, Grace Bros. - a brewery that also grew its own hops and operated its own malt house - also offered one briefly in the '30s.

    Of course, given the era, who knows how "authentic" the recipes were. Rahr Malting suggested this grain bill for a Kulmbacher right after Repeal (per barrel):

    15 lbs. Munich
    1½ lbs. Dark Caramel
    1½ lbs. Black Malt
    ½ lbs. Dextrine
    Balance Pale Malt for all malt beers.

    Until Anheuser-Busch got done suing everyone*, the rest of the US brewing industry considered "Budweiser" a type of beer, not a brand name, just like Pilsner or Kulmbacher, etc. (Same for "Erlanger", for that matter- other brewers also used the term for their beers). And Schlitz wasn't alone in Milwaukee with one:
    * Well, in the US, anyway, which was around the late 1960s when Dubois (PA) Budweiser disappeared after years in court (Pittsburgh Brewing Co. eventually bought the Dubois brand and settled with AB). Still not done with the lawsuits in the rest of the world.
    #16 jesskidden, Jun 5, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    The units that would typically be used in kilograms for the hops and hectoliter for volume (see below extract from the book American Handy-Book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades by Robert Hall & Max Henius, 1902 pg. 783).


    Permit me to translate to English units from metric for the case of “Bavarian beer”:

    0.3 kg/hl x 2.2 lb/kg x 1 hl/0.8 barrel = 0.825 lb/barrel.

    This value of 0.825 lb/barrel is in the ballpark with Munich Lowenbrau at 1 lb/barrel.


  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Jim, as you can read in JK's post above it was not just Schlitz that spelled Kulmbacher with a "C". So did Blatz:

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  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    JK, should that recipe you posted be for a 5 gallon batch? Those malt amounts are too low for a barrel (31 gallon batch).

    As a FYI below is a recipe that Ron Pattinson posted on his blog a beer he labeled as “1879 Kulmbacher Export”. I assume this is for a 5 gallon batch.

    1879 Kulmbacher Export

    Munich malt 20L 15.25 lb

    Carafa III 0.50 lb

    Hallertau 60 mins 3.50 oz

    Hallertau 30 mins 3.50 oz

    OG 1065

    FG 1018

    ABV 6.22

    Apparent attenuation 72.31%

    IBU 80

    SRM 30

    Mash Kulmbach method

    Boil time 90 minutes

    pitching temp 48º F

    Yeast WLP830 German Lager


    The malt bill is fairly similar to the Rahr Malting recipe you posted – the bulk of the grain bill is Munich Malt (e.g., 15/15.25 lbs.). The Rahr Malting recipe has two types of specialty malts (Dark Caramel, Black Malt) while in Ron’s recipe he chooses to use just one specialty malt (Carafa III).

    A person commented in his blog that using 15.25 lbs. of Munich 20L would be problematic in this recipe since it lacks diastatic power (DP) to fully self-convert. It would need to be a lesser percentage with another base malt which has high DP to ensure that the starches would properly convert during the mash.

  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    “Pounds Per Barrel of Rahr Special Matls to Be Used for Popular Types of Beer” according to the maltster, leaving the amount (balance) of pale malt - or, obviously, adjunct if they so chose - up to the brewery.
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  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Crap! You would need something like 60 lbs. of Pale Malt in addition to the listed grain bill to obtain an OG of around 1.065 for a 1 barrel batch. The resulting beer would not be very dark (e.g., closer to black) but more of a deep amber/brown.

    Ron's recipe is closer to the mark for creating a dark beer (ignoring the DP/conversion issue for the moment).

  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    The name of the Schell’s beer: “Schell's Stag Series No. 12 1879 Kulmbacher Export”

    The name of the beer recipe on Ron’s Blog: “1879 Kulmbacher Export”

    The same exact year of “1879” mentioned. Coincidence!?!:thinking_face:

    I think not. My guess is that Dave (@bergbrew) brewed the Schell’s beer based upon details he learned from Ron but made a decision to produce a beer with 37 IBUs vs. the 80 IBUs called for in Ron’s recipe.


    @patto1ro @TongoRad
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  23. felsenpils

    felsenpils Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2012 Wisconsin

    Hopfenrösten sounds interesting, but actually, it is not what you might think it is. The technique was used to free older and sometimes moldy hops of their musty and unpleasant odors. Unfortunately, this also eliminated a lot of the hop oils. Let us not forget that back in the day, brewers used fresh hop cones which deteriorated quickly after harvest, so this technique was employed to make them usable long after harvest.
  24. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (68) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota

    The beer was brewed for the historic lager festival at Urban Chestnut, and was indeed based on Ron's recipe.

    The problem with historical recipes, of course, mainly concerns hops (and sometimes malts, but almost every recipe has hop data that is missing). So you don't know the alpha acid, the age of the hops, etc. Combine this with the hop roasting in which the hops were boiled in a very small quantity of wort and considering the solubility of alpha acids, it seemed to me unlikely that the beer was indeed 80 IBUs. Ron was busy traveling and I needed to make the beer, so I decided based on my gut feeling and experience to shoot for something in the 40-45 range. Perhaps the originals were really 80 IBUs, but in my opinion, the resulting beer would have been wildly out of balance.

    To be honest, I didn't even know ours measured 37, and the IBU assay being what it is, I don't have a lot of faith in the measured value. It would be interesting to run it on an HPLC, but alas, I don't have one and don't feel the need to pay someone that has one to give me an accurate number. It was in the ballpark of what I consider 40 for a beer out of our brewery. Is it the exact IBU? I actually don't know, and it doesn't really matter. What actually matters is how the beer tastes.
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  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    And creating a balanced beer is important IMO.

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  26. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (68) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota

    For those that like that kind of thing, Stan posted our brew log here
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  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Dave, which malting company's Munich II did you use? What was the DP value in Litner of that malt?

  28. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (517) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I assumed beer is slightly heavier than water.
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  29. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (517) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    It was brewed for the Urban Chestnut Historic Lager Festival, I assume based on the recipe I provided.
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  30. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (517) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    From all the analyses I've seen, the alpha acid content of traditional hop varieties hasn't increased.
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  31. BallantineBurton

    BallantineBurton Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 Massachusetts

    Heileman did attempt to revive Blatz Kulmbacher in the 1980's and even went as far as to build the Val Blatz brewery in Milwaukee for their specialty beers. But AB is not the only brewer to sue over names. The Kulmbach brewing industry sued Heileman over the use of the Kulmbacher name in US court. They won making the Kulmbacher name unavailable for use in domestically-produced beers. That the names Kulmbacher (and Munich) remain in the Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR 7.24(f)) as available for use with a qualifier - "type" or "American" - is simply a matter of TTB never amending malt beverage regulations. At about the same time, Munich brewers sued Heileman over the proposed use of Munich as a class and type of beer to be produced at the Val Blatz brewery. Munich won that as well thus prohibiting domestic brewers from using the names "Munich" or "Munchner" on domestic beers. It's no wonder that Heileman quickly sold their specialty brewery to Miller, now a Leinenkugel brewery.
    Wonder why the Munich brewers failed to notice Ballantine's Munich brand for so many years in the 1960's and 1970's but suddenly took action when Heileman began producing Munich beer?
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  32. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
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    The measurements in this article would make much more sense if the hops used were wet/not dried.
  33. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Oh, yeah - have a vague recollection of reading about those lawsuits but don't recall how they came out - and can't find much info on them.

    Wasn't that quick - Opened in 1986, Heileman shut the brewery down in 1989 (perplexingly for the era, it was a keg-only brewery and, as expected, never got anywhere near capacity which was only in the 50-70k bbl/yr range), briefly re-opened it "for contract brewing" in 1994 and then sold to Leinenkugel (by then a Miller subsidiary) in 1995. IIRC, there had been rumors that Redhook, among others, had looked at it while it was on the market...

    Ballantine only marketed their discount Munich "Leisurely Aged in Wood" Beer brand for a few years starting in 1968 before the sale of their brands to Falstaff in 1972. Four years later:

    On May 28, 1976, Falstaff was sued by Verein Muenchener Brauerein, e.V., a German trade association, for certification mark infringement and unfair trade practices with respect to Falstaff's sale of Munich Beer. ... On March 17, 1978, pursuant to a settlement agreement between the parties, the District Court for the District of Columbia entered a permanent injunction against Falstaff which prohibits the company from marketing beer hereafter under the name "Munich."
  34. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, "back in the day" is pretty vague and hop terminology has changed (today "fresh hops" means undried hops, which would have been called "raw" or "green" in previous decades) but, in the US at least, there's no record of brewers using "fresh hop cones" - hop farmers traditionally dried the picked hops on a daily basis, either air drying in the sun for small quantities or in kilns/oast houses, using heat from a furnace (wood, coal, and later gas or oil) located on the farm itself or nearby.

    In the US, breweries tended to be in urban areas, far from the hop fields and transportation was slow. In addition, brewing was eventually a year-round industry and hops were harvested only once in late summer-early fall.

    Drying all sorts of herbs, fruit, vegetables and grains was a standard method of preservation of agricultural products and, for hops, it was also a safety factor since undried hops in large quantities would not just spoil but spontaneously combust. Sometimes sulfur was burned in the kiln to further preserve the dried hops.
  35. davehughes

    davehughes Initiate (26) Apr 20, 2016 Oklahoma

    " Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a single beer brewed today in the Kulmbacher Export style "

    Sprecher brewery in Wisconsin makes a fine Bavarian Black lager that is described as a "Kulmbacher Schwarzbier". It won the 2016 World Beer Cup gold for schwarzbeers. IBUs are 32.
    #35 davehughes, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
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  36. zid

    zid Champion (899) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    There's inspiration for an IPA name in there for an enterprising brewer.
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  37. Dan_K

    Dan_K Devotee (482) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado

    Also of note, but the table of OG/FG in the article appears to have a type-o. OG should be something like 1.0752 not 1075.2. Unless there's a different unit of OG that they used to use.
  38. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,099) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    So I got my hands on some of the Schell Kulmbacher export and would like to review it for my growing BA list. My question is, is this beer a separate "style" from the likes of a Schwarzbier? I know what to expect by the details in your article, but I'd like some sort of benchmark as a guide to know this beer.

    I see it's been added as a Munich Dunkel here at BA, but I'll bet it's far from that style in character.
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  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    @Chaz entered the Schell’s beer on BA. He stated:

    “Note: Although I entered this as a Munich Style Dunkel rather than a more prosaic Euro Dark Lager, I did so because it is simply a bit more complex than most Euro Dark Lagers, and more in line with the malt profile exhibited by Bavarian dark lagers. In fact, it is actually an older and by contemporary standards “obscure” style originating in Franconia, rather than in Bavaria. As Beer Advocate lacks the style designation for the Kulmbacher style, this will have to do for now.”

    But based upon his descriptions in his review (re: “heavy on the roast malt character”) it seems to me that perhaps the Schwarzbier style would be closer to the mark?


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  40. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,099) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Um, Added by garymuchow on 04-12-2018. Just sayin'.