Monday 28 December 2020

Floats like a butterfly, Stings like a beer

You know those old stories about mulling beer with a red-hot poker? It turns out there’s a very similar tradition in Germany, too – and my Yule gift from my brother-in-law was a genuine beer-mulling tool, or Bierstachel. (This translates as beer-stinger, so I assume it’s a wordplay on Bienenstachel or bee-stinger.) 

It begins
So it begins...
The first time I came across one of these was about eight years ago at one of the very first craft beer festivals in Germany. A rep from Schneider Weisse was using a long red-hot poker thingy on glasses of Aventinus, and the delectable brew was becoming even more gorgeous as it acquired a tight foam, a caramelised note and a slight warmth. 

His Bierstachel had a hollow cylinder on the end, while mine (and others I’ve seen since then in photos) has a spherical end. 

Anyway, tonight I gave mine its first use. The instructions say 100 seconds on a gas burner, then plunge it in. The visible result was the same as eight years ago – a tight foam erupts from the liquid, with a renewed foaming if you move the poker around. 

end result
The end result
And the taste? Hard to say really – it’s knocked out the excessive gas, obviously, and lifted the temperature a bit, though less than one might expect. There’s a little more caramelisation perhaps, but with a dark beer (this was Dark Season from Bitburger's crafty arm Craftwerk, allegedly a 5.6% stout but more like a dark ale really) it’s hard to be sure. 

But definitely intriguing! My immediate thought though was they’re way too cautious (or optimistic) with the heating instructions. 

When I’ve seen others doing it, they’re using a blowtorch or equivalent and getting the thing to a dull red, which I’m not even sure I can do on a gas cooker. So, a hotter source of heat needed – and more experimentation. Oh dear, what hardship. 😂