Beers Made Following ‘German Purity Law’ of 1516
When most patrons take a sip of any of the excellent beers produced on-site and served up at Royal Bavaria German Restaurant, Brewery and Beergarten, it’s unlikely they are thinking of the craftsmanship–or the science–that went into producing what is arguably the best German lager in Oklahoma. More than likely, all he or she is thinking is, “yum”!
On a recent tour of the brewery in Moore, I discovered that Royal Bavaria owner Andreas “Andy” Gmeiner, a native of Munich, Germany, holds his brewery to a high standard.
“Our beers are brewed exclusively with whole grain malt, German yeast, Hallertauer hops and untreated water from our own well according to the famous Reinheitsgebot ‘German Beer Purity Law’ of 1516,” explains Gmeiner, adding that to his knowledge, Royal Bavaria is the only brewery in the state to adhere to this standard.
Gmeiner believes to produce a great beer, one must use only high-quality, natural ingredients, and maintain strict controls over the production process. Most of the products, from the hops and other grains to the yeast (one of the most important ingredients in brewing), used in manufacturing Royal Bavaria beers are shipped from Germany.
Also importantly, the brewery itself is authentic. The ensemble was purchased by the original owner of Royal Bavaria, Jörg Kühne, from a brewery equipment enterprise headed by His Royal Highness Prince Luitpold of Bavaria. Royal Bavaria’s brewery, which consists of a copper mash and a copper lauter tun, two stainless steel fermenters, and seven temperature-controlled stainless steel lager/aging tanks, along with the associated stainless piping and gauges, was built on-site by a team of highly skilled craftsmen from the company from which they purchased the equipment. The brewery’s operations may be viewed through windows in the restaurant’s dining room, and are a popular attraction.
There are no short cuts to brewing quality beer. A typical brew day, Gmeiner says, is eight to nine hours long.
Brewing begins in the mash tun with water and malt; after heating, the mash is transferred to the lauter tun, which works like a giant strainer to separate the grain from the liquid (called wort at this point). The wort is pumped back into the mash tun and boiled for one and a half hours. During this process, hops—used as a preservative and for flavor and head retention—is added. The boiling wort is then pumped through a heat exchanger and cooled to about 45 degrees F. before going into the fermenter. Yeast, required for fermentation (when sugar is transformed into alcohol), is added at this juncture. Fermentation takes an additional seven days. Last, the beer is transferred into the lager/aging tanks for three to five weeks, depending on the beer style.
Each step requires careful monitoring and an in-depth understanding of chemistry.
Royal Bavaria crafts five standard beers:
· KINGS GOLD, a traditional Munich Lager described as a medium bodied, unfiltered, malt-emphasized beer with low bitterness reminiscent of freshly and very lightly toasted malt barley, with the typical light golden color
· KINGS WEIZEN, a wheat beer with a characteristic flavor that is produced by the interplay between the Weissbier ale yeasts and the trace elements from the large portion of wheat in the brew’s grain bill, with a flavor variably described as clove-like, banana-like, phenolic, sour, spicy, or even bubblegum-like
· DUNKELWEIZEN, the dark version of the regular golden-yellow Weissbier or Weizenbier (more commonly called Hefeweizen in North America), which is described as a spritzy, creamy Bavarian wheat beer with pronounced clove, vanilla, banana, apple, bubblegum, and sometimes nutmeg flavors
· OKTOBERFEST (Märzen), a full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color seasonal brew characterized as having a malty, toasty character with a mild hop bitterness in the finish
· MUNICH DUNKEL, describe as smooth, rich and complex, but without being heady or heavy; this beer boasts brilliant ruby hues from the large amounts of Munich malts used
Of all their beers, Gmeiner said the most popular by far is Octoberfest.
Additionally, the brewery also features several seasonal beers, the most unusual of which is Holiday Dunkel, a Gmeiner original. For this brew, Gmeiner—a Certified Master Chef and highly trained pastry artist—grinds gingerbread and a number of other spices traditionally used in holiday pastry recipes, including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger in small batches and mixes them with dark-roasted malts to produce a highly anticipated holiday favorite at the restaurant.
Royal Bavaria patrons may enjoy their favorite brew in a variety of ways, including pints or 1-, 2- and 3-liter boots. Samples of all their beer selections also are available. Additionally, the restaurant and brewery offers beer to go, as half-gallon growlers or by the sixth, quarter or half barrel. Their beers also are sold (though not by the barrel) at Gmeiner’s second restaurant in Norman, Das Boot, on East Main Street.
Royal Bavaria German Restaurant, Brewery and Beergarten is located at 3401 S. Sooner Road in Moore. For more information about the restaurant, including an interesting history of the establishment, a schedule of bands lined up for the fall in the beergarten, and a full food and beer menu, visit Royal-Bavaria.com. Reservations are suggested, and may be made by calling 799.7666.