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Beer-based culinary delights directly from Munich

Living in Munich: most people presumably associate this primarily with unaffordable, cramped accommodation. This is often correct, but is not necessarily an impediment: because even in the small kitchen of a shared flat quite a few specialities can be created. What am I talking about? Yes, you’ve probably guessed: beer. What home brewer actually operates in the kitchen of a shared flat? I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, and introduce you to my friend Clarissa. Ever since her childhood, the 25-year-old has been experimenting with culinary delights. Since 2012, she has been recording her successful vegan cookery experiments with recipes on her blog ‘Paradiesfutter’ (Paradise Food), is meanwhile offering cookery courses and workshops, and organising barter markets as the co-founder of ‘Tauschmarkt’ (an exchange plot club) – always focusing on sustainability and regionality. Oh yes, at the same time, by the way, she also works as a TV producer and author. And one of her many (and according to her one of the most costly) hobbies has since 2017 been: brewing. And that’s precisely what I talked about recently with the qualified Beer Sommelière (virtually, of course 😉).

How and when did you begin brewing?

In Munich I grew up with beer, of course. In my younger days, there were the usual types, which everyone argued about. Back then I didn’t really care much. In fact, it wasn’t until 2013 that I started to get really interested in beer. While I was visiting a friend in Birmingham, she took me along to a Brewdog Taphouse where I was served a Punk IPA. At the first sip, I thought to myself: that tastes just as if I were biting into a pinewood. And I was totally fascinated to realise that it was simply just the hops that contribute such an intensive flavour there. So when I noticed that there was much more flavour diversity in beer, and learned how the flavour can also be influenced – that was the moment when I began to get interested in beer. Ever since I was a tiny kid, I always tried to make everything myself – as a child noodles, for example. Since then making things myself has become a lifestyle choice, and so in 2017 I enrolled in a one-day brewing course in Munich to get started as a home brewer.

What fascinates you about brewing?

The whole process involved: how much of it you yourself can influence, and the magic that’s unleashed when you have the brew bubbling at home, and you then see how it’s transformed into a ready-to-drink beer. This I find truly magical. What’s more it’s pretty cool when you can drink your own beer. Another important point for me is developing and brewing my own recipes. In our region, particularly, restricted as it is by the German Purity Law, I think that’s rather cool, because otherwise we wouldn’t continually have a large choice of creative beers.

What brewing ingredients do you like using best?

I like wheat beer very much, in fact I prefer it a bit stronger, more a sort of wheat beer bock. I’ve got a good 20 – 25 hop varieties frozen at home and I try out what good aromas can be added with them. I’m also a big fan of smoked malt. And otherwise, as far as ingredients not permitted under the German Purity Law are concerned: I brewed three beers that I really thought were rather good. One of them was a dark wheat bock with ginger, where I added some raw ginger to the fermenting tub. That was then a bit of a Christmas beer. Then I brewed a spring or summer beer, namely a light IPA, for which I added jasmine tea and ginger to the fermenting tub. What I’d like to do again this year as an elderflower wheat beer, with a bit of aroma added to the fermenting tub in the shape of fresh elderflowers, which I pick in Giesing. Everyone’s liked this so far – myself and also those who’ve already tried it. (That includes me, by the way 😉)

What brewing experiments are still tempting you?

Difficult to say. What definitely interests me above all are admixtures or additions of highly disparate herbs or spices. There are infinite possibilities, of course, that you can still try out. I really like the idea of incorporating a small memory through the different combinations, in the case of elderflower beer, a little bit of spring and summer, for example.

How did you become a Beer Sommelière?

I’d been interested in the training course for a long time, before I then decided to finally go ahead and do it despite the cost. The primary attraction here was to immerse myself more deeply in the sensory refinements involved. Meaning to learn how you taste beer and assess the influences on the flavour and the overall experience. My expectations from the course were definitely exceeded. I learned a whole lot more than just tasting, quite apart from the fact that I drank more different beers than ever before in my life. What in retrospect was the best thing about the course was the people that I met there. There was a colourful assortment of brewers from small or large breweries, people who work for breweries but are not themselves brewers, and of course hobby brewers like me. It was really fascinating to see the subject illuminated from so many different perspectives and against such disparate backgrounds.

Photo: Lena Graef

When you now drink beer – do you drink it differently? To put it another way: can you occasionally switch off the Beer Sommelière inside you?

In actual fact, I’m now keeping a beer card index, in which I record details of beers that I find particularly interesting. And now I’m a lot more attentive when it comes to unwanted aromas. One part of the Beer Sommelier training is the subject of tapping systems. I really had no idea beforehand what a complex matter it is to get the beer flowing correctly from the dispenser – and that the beer can deteriorate quite significantly if it’s not tapped correctly. So now I’m also more attentive when it comes to draught beer. But I would nevertheless say that I don’t drink most of my after-work beers any differently from beforehand. And as the evening passes, the Beer Sommelière inside me is no longer so active.

Anyone, by the way, who would like to learn more about Clarissa’s (beery) experiments can visit her Instagram profile or take a look at her blog. In her shared-flat kitchen, moreover, even more specialities are created, some of them featuring beer, beer raw materials or brewing residues. Sounds exciting? Then we’ll be seeing each other again next week!

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