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Eichbaum’s core competence is quality. This is not only reflected in our beer but also in the ingredients we use. We procure them from our region, and in order to assure their quality Eichbaum has its own laboratory. We mainly use regional barley. After all, in the Palatinate beer enjoys a long tradition and is of huge importance. Its hops Eichbaum gets from the Hallertau, while the high-quality water needed for a production of beer in accordance with the 1516 Purity law comes from our own wells.
Brewing malt is mainly made from barley. For wheat beers, wheat is used, sometimes also rye or spelt. We mostly use regional malting barley. Its huge importance here can be told by the huge area under cultivation. Our malting barley owes its high quality to the good climate in the Rhine-Neckar region and the farmers’ know-how. Brewing barley cultivation is a very challenging task. Fertilisation must never be overdone, or the protein content rise too high. But the farmers here are very experienced. The grain is turned into malt in the malthouse, where it is cleaned and sorted and then exposed to air and water alternately. It then germinates for about 5 days in the germination box, where the protein and starch compounds break down. If well ventilated, this makes for green malt, which now has to be dried. In the malthouse, the brewer determines the colour and taste of the later beer by selecting the brewing malt. By choosing the right temperature, the maltman can also determine these factors. Malt for pale beer is dried at about 80°C, malt for dark beer at about 100°C. All malting processes are natural processes, with no chemicals being added. The maltman controls them only by choosing the right temperature, degree of moisture and ventilation. Radicles are now removed from the brewing malt, which is dusted and polished before being stored in silos, whence it gets to the brewery.
Hops lend beer its specific aroma and flavours. The head of a freshly tapped beer is also due to the hops. Hops make beer more durable – the natural way, without any chemicals. Hops are creepers that can grow seven metres high. They are recognised medicinal plants whose calming effect has been known for centuries, also in beer. Hops are mostly processed as pellets or extract. Bitter hops make for the bitter taste of beer. Aromatic hops provide natural aromas and flavours like that of herbs or tropical fruits and are harmonious. Germany is one of the major hop-producing regions. The largest contiguous area is the Hallertau in Bavaria, where hops have been grown for centuries. We procure the bulk of our hops from there.
Good beer is made from good water! What characterises good brewing liquor? Brewing experts agree that it has to meet the standards set forth in the German Drinking Water Ordinance. Eichbaum goes even further and gets its brewing liquor from three of its own wells, from a depth of 130 metres, where it has been for more than 5,000 years under an impermeable layer. The brewing liquor is of mineral-water quality and could even be used for baby food. In the past, soft water was usually used for pale, hoppy beers, harder water for dark and more full-bodied beers. Thanks to modern water treatment processes, today both types can be produced with either. And water is also used for cleaning and cooling. A sustainable water management over the past few year has led to huge savings, by the way. While in the past about 25 hl of water were used for the production of one hectolitre of beer, today it is only four. This is ecologically much more sound.
Yeast makes the wort made from the malt ferment. Fermentation here means that malt sugar is converted into carbon dioxide and alcohol, Yeasts are microscopically small single-cell organisms we can find almost anywhere. Yeasts are the most economical ingredient: they multiply during the brewing process. And afterwards, they can be cleaned and used again. In nature, there are various strains of yeasts. For brewing purposes, in Germany we only use selected yeasts, because this ensures a consistent quality. Brewers distinguish between top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting strains. These also make for the distinction between top-fermenting beers (like wheat beer) and bottom-fermenting beers (e.g. pilsner, export, black beer). Top fermentation is the older method. It takes place at higher temperatures (mostly between 15 and 20°C) and goes back to an era with no refrigeration. Bottom fermentation only requires lower temperatures and in the past was employed in regions where in winter enough ice could be had for cooling the beer in spring and summer. Bottom-fermenting beer conquered the world when refrigeration had been invented. But, of course, there are still top-fermenting specialities like wheat beer...
The results of the beer tests run by the DLG (Deutsche Landwirtschaftgesellschaft e.V., German Agricultural Society), one of the most important food-rating organisations, attest to our exceptional quality and corporate culture. Eichbaum also gets its high food-law-conforming standards certified by the International Food Standard (IFS) every year...