Lichtenstein, Lichtenhainer and Lichtsteiner. For us these names all sound the same but only one remains in memory. Lichtenhainer, because it’s beer. This was an easy guess. We’ve started to think that beer geeks come up with “historical” styles just to validate stupid ideas that someone had. They should be considered “anecdotal” styles since when we try to know more, it is all fairy tale and stories, too long it wouldn’t even fit on Netflix.
Then it gets even more boring because, you know, you keep reading and reading, learning about beer, courses of this and that. But then you go to any craft beer store or bar, and there is not even a Lichtenhainer to taste. Well, here we are, trying to pass for intellectuals, see if we can down a few pints at the end of the day without being considered an alcoholic and we can’t even find one lousy sour and smoked beer. Damn it.
And like this one, there are dozens of others styles, obscure and somewhat lost in between history and anecdotes. And if we think of other drinks that at some point characterized specific towns and cities, there will be thousands. It is with pity that we reap the fruits from a society that embraced industrialization, sacrificing tradition, customs and authenticity. We are left with the researchers, the books, the resistance who never failed to produce what they believed in and the geeks on this blog that found a smoked and sour beer and thought it was an incredible thing (And it is. It really is).
The story, real and with several chapters, begins in Budapest, during 2018. Déjà vu? On that trip, of which there would be much more to tell – including some nice pictures that we aren’t able to show due to reasons – during the two days of festival there was one beer that stood out: a Berliner Weisse with Passion Fruit. Bang! You were not expecting this.
There was an amazing Berliner Weisse with passion fruit, sure, but in the middle of world-class beers it was this other shy beer, with just 3.6% alcohol to take the trophy.
Clean, fresh, slightly fruity and smoked. Just right on point. One day we knew we were going to pay homage to it. It took some time, but the passion remained, and there were even some homemade trials, pre-Hotel, with 100% smoked malt. And along the paths of craft beer, we managed to catch one or another in festivals or travels. But they lacked the charm that, at least in memory, this one beer had.
For what it’s worth, if we try hard to believe our memories, we end up being able to mold them to our pleasure. So we knew nothing about the beer except: sour, smoked, white wine yeast.
It is not much, but it should be possible to ride it out. Let’s take out our kettles, it’s time to mash.
It’s been a few months with our digital doors open. Here, the only thing we want is to make a great deal of food and drink disappear, sometimes in a not very healthy fashion, during our brew days.
And along the paths of these lunches, snacks and dinners, with or without pots amongst us, we learned a few things.
And here is one you can take for free: do you want to impress someone on your next date? Scrape a lime on top of white grapes. You don’t need to thank us, just buy us a beer next time you see us.
There are days when you want things to be easy, there are recipes that don’t need to be complicated. Well, they could be, but starting a brew day at the end of a Friday… we already knew that our judgment is going to be low.
Simple math, 5 kg. malt, 75% beechwood smoked barley malt and 25% pilsner malt. Wort seasoned with some minerals and on our way to 66ºC.
Wort made, properly boiled, to limit any microbiological life before the lactic fermentation. Pre-acidification, to a pH of 4.5, to create a safer environment: we want to let the Lactobacillus shine, this is not a microbiological stand-up open-mic.
Lacto culture inside and we are going to take a 48-hour nap, eat something and see how the past lots are evolving. See you soon.
We live two lives: Monday through Friday and Friday through Sunday. We like both. They complement each other, where one ends, the other begins. Here we write the rules and raise the limits, take a risk and accept it. There is passion and dedication, we sacrifice another Sunday to be able to bring moments of leisure, either with these words or in the beers we drink around.
Easy day, half the work has already been done, now it’s time to boil the wort. Lactobacillus has already finished its performance, but the show must go on. pH at 3.42 promises to deliver the acidity that the style requires. We aim for 20 IBUs, density at 1,042 pre-boil. It comes out a little above but nothing that a small dilution won’t solve.
To honor the Budapest beer, we are still missing the wine yeast: we go with something generic, without knowing more. We still have a lot to learn, the world is very vast, we hope that one day, when this beer is revisited, the choice of yeast can be better informed. For now, we do what we know best: believe it will work.
Now, to shuffle things: what we write here are our adventures in the world of beer, for now focused on productions. The reports we share with you, almost without exception, are reports of the production of a wort. In short, write a few paragraphs and move along.
However, no matter how well brainstormed these sessions are, brilliant ideas do not always join us. Like beers, some ideas need to mature a little longer.
A few weeks go by and we taste the beer already fermented. It meets and aligns with our imagination, but the beer deserves more, it deserves the main stage. Now comes the challenge, if a smoked and acidic beer is challenging enough, how are we going to try to raise the bar?
Well, to our relief, the answer was on the table, on a plate of white grapes with lime zest. We already told you, it is a good trick to impress on a date. And if you are not on dates, fear nothing, be impressed yourself.
And that was how the planets lined up so that a Lichtenhainer with grapes and lime could see the daylight. It may be the next trend in the craft beer landscape.
Doubt it? So do we, but with a crazy curiosity to know what’s going to get out of here.
Lichtenhainer with Grapes and Lime
Total Cereal: 5 Kg.
Original Gravity: 1.036
Boil Time: 60 minutes
76% – 3.8 Kg. Beechwood smoked Barley Malt
24% – 1.2 Kg. Wheat Malt
20 gr. Saaz (pellet, 4.5% AA) @ 30min.
Yeast nutrient @ 5 min.
Young’s All Purpose White
Lallemand Wildbrew Helveticus Sour Pitch
CL to So4 Ratio: 0.81
Saccharification – 60 min. @ 66ºC
Mash Out – 10 min @ 76ºC
pH@ 5.4 mash
pH@ 4.5 pre-acidification
pH@ 3.42 post-acidification