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The New Brewhouse at Drei Kronen

Before he dies, a man should accomplish the following: construct a house, plant a tree, witness a son being born, and drive at least an eight-cylinder automobile.

Beer brewers have one more: construct a brewhouse – so the cliché goes...

In November 2003, the “European Beer Star” took place in Nürnberg. It is a competition that distinguishes itself first and foremost in that it is not based on chemical analyses, but rather purely on taste. The manager of the tasting and evaluation teams was the Celebrity TV star Chef Alexander Herrmann. He and his jury were enraptured with the Drei Kronen’s Stöffla, and awarded it a gold metal in the category “special beer/smoke beer”. Encouraged with the results of this award ceremony and with the intension of our oldest daughter Isabella to become a professional brewer, our family was convinced of the wisdom and necessity to invest in a new brewhouse. Our first choice involved a fully automatic facility – at no time was affordability a consideration. The facility must be vintage and make efficient use of proverbial skilled-labor, and above all things must incorporate the existing lauter tun. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauter_tun] The lauter tun enables the traditional process of cooling the extracted wort, being that it is undesirable to allow precious flavor to be lost, crudely extracted through run-off tubes.

It was in October 2004, with cellars completely full and all casks filled, when the old facility was dismantled. To the master brewer’s horror, Memmelsdorf inhabitants who were evidently curious about what would happen to the Drei Kronen, drank up all existing beer supplies. The Stöffla stock was emptied by the beginning of December, and all warehouse stock drunk shortly after that, leaving only a meager supply of yeast pilsner remaining. Just in time, on the first of December, 2004, arrived the first brew, courtesy of the facility’s master brewer! It was brewed on Kaspar Schulz. In the same way that the “Drei Kronen” was named after the three wise men, the first beer brewed in the new facility would be dedicated to one of these kings. The decision rested on “Balthasar”, a spicy, light beer, with a particularly mild hop flavor, fermented to produce a fruity, easy, and relaxed taste. Punctually on Three King’s Day (also known as Epiphany), the brewhouse could officially fulfill its purpose and provide its first beer for guests on tap. Overzealous crowds filled the courtyard and tavern in spite of bitter cold, a revitalization of the old tradition “drink with intensity” – “live it up”. “Melchior” followed in 2006 – a classic dark beer, and in 2007 the third king “Caspar”, a full-bodied, amber colored specialty beer brewed in the “March beer style”.**

At Drei Kronen, since that time, discussion often focuses on the progression of the evening (i.e.: once again drinking the old routine of Balthasar, Melchior and Caspar?) at "Stammtisch", the regulars’ table. But imaginations soon run wild and speculation abounds: what brew will the brewmaster concoct next? Why, there is also the star from Bethlehem, the manger with crib, ox, and donkey… the sky is the limit…

**Traditionally, beer in Germany would be brewed in March and then laid in cold-storage before hot summer weather hit. Cold-storage locations were first caves, and later ultra-thick icehouses which would be kept cool summer-long with ice drawn from lakes over winter. Beer supplies would be drawn over the summer until exhausted, typically by October. In Germany this tradition is now associated with one distinctive style, called Märzenbier – a lighter version of which is still the primary beer served at Oktoberfest celebrations.
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