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Maisel Brothers' Brewery Museum

December 29

Written January 21

Dear Friends and Families,


Germany is famous for beer, of course, with over 1200 breweries. Half of them are in Bavaria and a third of those are in Upper Franconia -- our part of Bavaria. While in Bayreuth, we could not pass up on what the guide book said was a museum the Guinness' Book of World Records called "the most comprehensive beer museum in the world". So, we worked in a tour of the Maisel Brewery Museum.

The Maisel brothers founded their brewery in 1887 and it has remained a family business, now in the fourth generation. The brewery succeeded over the years and by 1974 warranted a larger place and the family decided to turn the entire old brewery into a museum. The almost-two-hour guided tour covered everything about brewing beer - the German way.



We started at the old malt cleaner, where the grain was cleaned. Since almost 500 years, German law requires that beer contain only four ingredients: malt, hops, water , and, a recent concession, yeast. Variations in these ingredients, and in their treatment, yields a wide variety of tastes. I haven't sampled them all, but I'm trying.



Hops for Maisel beer comes only from Germany, primarily from the south. I was surprised at how small an amount it takes: 200 to 400 grams in 100 liters, roughly a handful in almost 30 gallons.


Some of the old machinery was impressive to us power plant engineers. The wheels of this steam engine were huge, but the engine produced just 200 horsepower. The two automatic coal feeders were the latest in labor saving devices in the early 20th century.


These big copper kettles were the key to brewing beer. The "mash" of water and malt was taken through an eight-hour process of heating, cooling, mixing and hops addition. If you look closely, you can see a "worker" (mannequin) cleaning out the kettle, something that had to be done after every batch.

The next worker-mannequinn was shown in a small laboratory where beer quality was checked. This was yet another room that looked as if it was indeed still ready for use, 30 years after its last analysis.


Farther along, we saw a range of bottling machines. Again, the engineer in me was impressed. The company had migrated from small, manual machines to larger and larger automatic machines and the displays in this room illustrated every step. Marianne may not have been as impressed with the machinery, but she had to value the educational role of good show-and-tell gear.


The museum also illustrated the manufacturing process for old wooden barrels. These were massive pieces of fine wood joinery and were strong enough to use over and over again, after passing through this "automated" washing machine.


The museum also had a large collection of traditional beer signs, many of them from before World War II, when there were twice as many breweries in Germany. I wonder if anyone ever sampled every brewer's products. If they did, they could have used some ofthe 5,000+ glasses in this collection.

  The last stop of the tour was the old bottling room. Again, I liked the old machines, but the best part of the stop was the "free beer". The mirror sign on the right says "free beer is served tomorrow." Our bad luck since we were thirsty today and had to pay 4 euros per person for the tour and ...  

... finally, a real, live beer. We chose "wheat beer" since that is the Maisel specialty and it passed our quality test.


All in all, a good way to spend a couple of hours. We learned a bit, we walked for exercise, and we enjoyed a beer.


John and Marianne.

ps: for more: http://www.maisel.com/museum (German)


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