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Friday, February 10, 2017

Vignette #12: Michael Schnitzler (Uerige)

Brewer vignettes feature quotes from brewers I picked up in my travels around the world.

Two unrelated quotes today from Michael Schnitzler, the Weihenstephan-trained owner of Hausbrauerei Uerige. To go with them, I'll show you two photos, one of Michael, and one of the brewery. It contains, as you will see, one of the more unusual anachronisms still in use in Germany.

On Altbier's Health
“In general, the altbier is in bad condition. The smaller breweries are successful, that is not a problem, but if you remove the big breweries that were far more original Düsseldorfer breweries—now Frankenheim for example is with Warsteiner, Diebels is with Anheuser-Busch, Schlösser is somewhere, nobody knows really, then altbier is [not doing well].”

“The former biggest Düsseldorf breweries, they started twenty or thirty years ago to quit brewing in the town. [Real estate] prices are so high that everyone says, come on, it’s not [worth it] to sell beer. Let’s put it out to rent. The same with Munich—it’s even worse than Düsseldorf.  So the breweries were sold to Warsteiner—Frankenheim—to Anheuser Busch; so where is the echte Düsseldorfer brauerei, the real Düsseldorf brewery? That’s the problem everywhere.“

Wooden Casks
(It is typical to find altbier served from wooden casks perched on the bar; I asked about this.)

“It is just the traditional style of presenting the beers in a nice way. We tap it manually and then we put the barrel on the bar; this is the special way we do it, but there is no fermentation; there is nothing for the taste.”  (They're lined.) He went on to tell the story of why all the casks only have red-painted metal bands when once they came in all different colors. “Now every barrel has a red ring [metal band]. A couple of years ago we had a green one, a yellow one, something like that.  Nobody knows why. The regular customers they saw the barrels with the green ring on it and said, “oh no, we cannot drink this one; the red [ones] have the best beer.”

The coolship at Uerige. They also use a baudelot chiller.


  1. We loved visiting Uerige when we were in Dusseldorf from Ireland. What a wonderful temple of beer! I tried to make some at home using pilsner malt as the base and chocolate wheat to colour it. Any tips for an altbier?

  2. I have to use this opportunity to plug my forthcoming book, The Secrets of Master Brewers. I went back to many of the breweries I visited and had brewers render their beers into five-gallon (or 19L) batches. Christoph Tenge, the brewmaster at Uerige, detailed their recipe and formulation. (But: Cara-Munich and Carafa, as a teaser.) It's out next month.

  3. Wow! Just went and pre-ordered it (and then ordered Stan H.'s Brew Like a Monk, as I have no idea where mine went). You could maybe push it on the upper right corner of your blog? Or is it too early to promote and have links to Powell's or local stores (that is, are you restricted to Amazon for pre-ordering)?

    1. Man, my grammar is all over the map -- sorry!

    2. It's a good idea. We're still in the pre-order phase, so it's probably not so important, but the release date is getting close!