March 1, 2012
Today was a fantastic day. I slept in. I had a delicious cup of Julius Meinl coffee. (a Viennese based manufacturer and retailer of coffee) I met up with a friend from Madison, Jojo. Ironically, she will be taking the place of my current roommate Lena, who is moving out tomorrow. The day’s high was touring the Ottakringer Brewery! The tour guide was a total hottie who made an excellent brewery guide. Married. One of the reasons today was so great was because Ottakringer is my favorite beer.
The tour began with the tour guide ranting off facts and figures about production/consumption/blah, blah, blah. Then he gets a chuckle from the group as he STRESSES, “We’re not the richest (referring to the brewery’s profit), we’re the partiest!” Translation: We’re not #1, but we sure do party hard.
The Ottakringer Brewery was started in 1837, owned and operated by a Jewish family. The annexation of Vienna forced the Jewish owners to sell the brewery in 1937. Fortunately, the family who bought the brewery from the Jewish family continued brewing Ottakringer following the original recipe. The 4 ingredients used in 1837 are the same ingredients used today: water, hops, malta and yeast. After a brief discussion of various hops used in the beer, we were taken to the tanks where beer is stored prior to leaving the brewery. One tank can hold 200,000 liters of beer. Is a person capable of drinking this amount of beer in their lifetime? Sure. This would require a person to drink 1 case (20 liters) every day (Monday-Saturday) and 2 cases on Sunday [“because it’s Holy Day”-comical tour guide]. Repeat every week for 40 years. Potential idea for my bucket list? Eh, maybe when I turn 60.
Each one of these tanks holds 757082.4 gallons of beer!
Some other shtuff I learned:
- (In Austrian terms) Sugar is like the wiener schnitzel for yeast.
- Hops are like the spice of the beer.
- Ottakringer is exported to Spain, Germany and Malta.
- The brewery employs 200 people.
- 3rd largest brewery in Vienna behind Stiegel and Heineken.
- The only waste from the beer is the yeast, but it doesn’t go to waste. It is re-used in future batches of beer. The future: combine the yeast with biofuel to create energy used to power the plant.
- Beer from the tap is better than the bottle/can because it’s not pasteurized.
- Quality sample (taste testing)
varieties of malta used in the beer
They bottle/can 50,000 beers per hour.
After an hour of touring, it was time for taste testing, or as the tour guide called it, “quality testing.” Call it what you want, the best part of the tour had finally arrived. We were given a time limit to drink beer (30 minutes, maybe?) They served pretzels (warm, squishy and delicious). I tried 4 different beers. 1st: Ziegel Red, 2nd: Radler, 3rd: dark nasty beer, 4th: PUR (semi-dark beer, the bartender’s favorite. He’s got bad taste). The samples were huge. I left with an Ottakringer glass for a souvenir 😀
Not a bad start to a Thursday. I even met a fellow Badger on the tour. Wild, right?