In 1850 the philosopher German Hermann Bruno Otto von Blumenau received from the Imperial Government an area near the Itajaí-Açu River, southern Brazil, to establish an agricultural colony with European immigrants. A few years later Johann Friedrich Theodor Müller (Fritz Müller), one of the earliest advocates of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory based on his work on crustaceans, which happen to be my main zoological group of interest as a biologist (he wrote Für Darwin in 1864), migrated to the colony.
In the beginning the colony was a private property of Dr. Blumenau, but in 1860 it was taken over by the government and elevated to he category of village. That village became the center of the most important German colonized area in Brazil, and the city of Blumenau one of the most prominent cities in the country, recognized by its vibrant economy and the above avarage social indexes.
Respecting its German origins Blumenau is also known by its Oktoberfest, the second largest beer festival in the world. Blumenau is the home of several small and artisanal breweries, among them Eisenbahn (Rua Bahia, 5181 – Salto Weissbach, 89032-001 Blumenau/ SC/Brazil), wich I visited a few weeks ago. I’m not going to write about beer history or its general characteristics, as I’ve done so earlier (see Das Bier).
Inside the brewery, right beside the fermentation tanks, they maintain a small bar, were you can taste a variety of beer types along with typical German dishes. We ordered a sampling menu, with the 4 main types of beer, along with mettwurst canapés.
The four beer types were:
Pilsen – A clear, low fermentation (lager) beer. Not too bitter and with an aroma that reminds bread and cereals. Prepared with 100% barley malt.
Weizenbier – Prepared with 50% wheat and 50% barley malt. It’s not filtered, and thus has a rather murky appearance. Not bitter, with an aroma reminding clove and bananas.
Pale Ale – A high fermentation beer inspired in the most traditional Belgian style. A full-bodied variety with a rather fruity aroma.
Dunkel – Produced with 5 different types of malt, it has a great equilibrium between sweetness and bitterness. The color is caused by the use of roasted malt, and not by addition of caramel or any artificial colorants. The aroma and taste reminded me of coffee.
To be completely honest, although it’s usually my favorite type I didn’t really appreciate the Weizenbier (too much water maybe), while my favorite was the Dunkel (probably because it reminded me of coffee). But, the real deal was a Porter type beer, a bottle of which I received as a gift from Murilo, who is married to my niece Mariana and lives in Blumenau (my father was born there too) and was the one responsible for my visit to this brewery.
Roasted malt gives this high fermentation beer it’s dark brown color. It’s a medium-bodied beer often confused with stouts. It usually requires several months, sometimes over one year, of maturation. The one we drinked was produced in 2008. The famous Guinness, considered by many one of the best beers in the world, was until 1840 called “Extra Superior Porter”. If you want to know more about porters take a look at “What the hell is a porter?“.