Sunday, August 29, 2010

Max's 3rd Annual German Beer Fest (& those gravity kegs)

It may be the little sister to the Belgian Beer Fest, but the September 10-12 German Beer Festival at Maxs Taphouse in Baltimore, Maryland, is still full of good beer. Maybe it's the lagers, or maybe it's the less than astronomical rates of IBUs and ABVs (with exceptions!), but this informal festival seems to bring out less geeky rambunctiousness and more Gemütlichkeit.

From the website and email:

Sept 10-12, 2010
11am to close each day
Over 50 German beers on draft:

1809 Berliner Weisse
Ahornberger Dark Märzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock
Aecht Schlenkerla Märzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Bitburger Pils
Erdinger Hefeweizen
Erdinger Dunkel Weiss
Erdinger Oktoberfest
Franziskaner Hefeweizen
Franziskaner Dunkel Weiss
Gunter Brau Amber Märzen
Hartman Amaber Märzen
Hofstetten Aurora
Hofstetten Bio Honigsbock
Hofstetten Granit Bock
Hofstetten Kueblebier
Koning Ludwig Hefeweizen
Langbrau Amber Märzen
Mahrs Weisse
Mahrs Unfiltered Pils
Mahrs Ungespundet Lager
Rothenbach Dark Märzen
Schneider Aventinus
Schneider Aventinus Eisbock
Schneider Edel Weisse
Schneider Hopfen Weisse
Schneider Weisse
Spaten Dunkel
Spaten Lager
Spaten Oktoberfest
Spaten Optimator
Steigel Lager
Uerige Classic
Uerige Dopplesticke
Uerige Sticke
Warsteiner Dunkel
Warsteiner Oktoberfest
Warsteiner Pils
Wurzburger Oktoberfest
Wurzburger Pils


General Manager/Beer Manager Casey Hard says that his list is 80% completed. In addition, at current count, he has 20 bottled German beers, and more than 10 German gravity kegs. He continues to work on securing more draughts. Beers will be served in mugs, Maßkrugs (one-liter steins, pronounced "mahss"), one liter boots, and some 2-liter boots (modeled below by long-time bartender Jamie).

Das Boot

A riff on those 'gravity' kegs ...

I noticed a Washington, D.C., area beer bar recently mentioning that they would be serving German firkins at an event they would hold.

Well, not really.

The term 'firkin' explicitly refers to a 9 UK gallon cask, or, as measured in US terms, 10.8 gallons. The Germans don't measure in gallons; they use the metric system. A common size for a German keg is 50 liters, which roughly corresponds to 13.2 US gallons. More to the point, a firkin is a cask, a vessel in which a secondary or tertiary re-fermentation occurs. Though one might encounter kellerbier —lager re-fermented in a keg, or served unfiltered from a tank, such as zwickelbier— a German brewer would bemused to hear her kegs referred to with a British term.

Here's a picture of a Reisssdorf Kölsch keg, which has a spring-loaded bung, on its side near the bottom, through which a bartender can insert a tap.

Reissdorf Koelsch

Since extraneous CO2 is not used to push the beer through the lines, serving it by gravity tap will result in a less gassy mouthfeel —similar to beer from a cask. And, yes, the beer is unpasteurized —as are many kegged beers, by the way— but it is not a cask! It is filtered, kegged beer, that can also be dispensed via a 'standard' draught system through a top spear and coupler.

Take none of this as disparagement. Fresh, well-made, full-flavored lagers (and ales, such as Kölsch) can be sublime.


  1. I Recently came back from my first trip ever to Germany and since I have been back, I have been doing a lot of bragging.

    For instance: I have been bragging about the food and the bakery's and the service in the restaurants and the cleanliness of the restaurants and the spotless "operating room" clean Bathrooms (where one never has to worry if there will be toilet paper or soap) and how excellent the Highways are and the extraordinary quality of the products produced (Especially the peerless quality of German Batteries) and last but not least, the exceptional quality of German Beer!

    Well, as you might expect, people have been getting a little annoyed at this constant flow of Deauchland uber everything and so, in an attempt to pigeonhole me into shutting up, I was presented with a flat out "America love it or leave it" proposition, Give us a clear example of why Germany is superior to America!..." and so Here it is:
    An independent laboratory presented two glasses of liquid to the German Parliament committee of foods and drugs and said plainly, "In this glass is German Beer and in this Glass is German Piss, Which one do you want to drink?" And without deliberation, a unanimous "We will drink the German beer!" Was exclaimed.
    Then, the same situation was presented to the American Committee on food and drugs and the committee chair said, "Now lets take a closer look at this.....I move that we form a sub committee to analyze the various properties, benefits and liabilities of each and reconvene in a month to review the results.......and I propose a budget of 1 million dollars to fund the research necessary to properly analyze this problem." After 4 weeks and 1 million dollars, the Committee decided to choose beer over Piss.
    Then, The independent laboratory presented two new glasses of liquid to the German Parliament committee on Food and drugs and said, "In this Glass is German Beer...and in this Glass there s German beer with one drop of Piss in it, Please choose one." And the Committee immediately resounded in Unison, "Pure German Beer!"...
    When the Identical situation was Presented to the American Committee for Food and Drugs they said, "Well, this is something new! Beer with a drop of Piss in it! We need to analyze this to see if a drop of piss in the beer is harmful or beneficial or doesn't effect you enough to worry about it."
    And so, 4 weeks (and another Million Dollars) later the committee decided that Pure German Beer was not only not harmful to the public but presented certain benefits....and that Pure German Beer with a Drop of Piss in it was not necessarily harmful to the Public..... but that only Pure German Beer (Without any piss) would be allowed in the Congress chambers!
    Now, you might think this is a story of fiction, but in reality, if you replace the word "beer" with "whiskey", you will find it to be absolutely true and that Whiskey with Piss (Or anything else) in it, is not allowed in the American Congress, only Bourbon......and that Nothing, (AND I MEAN NOTHING) with piss in it (or anything else), is allowed in any consumable product in Germany, at all!
    Now, that is why I say, Germany over everything!
    Vince, OXOjamm:

  2. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. mongozo birra

  3. Just started fermenting and I love it!


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