Common Haus Draft Preview I: Meet the inner tap circle

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Common Haus Hall (134 Spring Street, Jeffersonville IN) will be open for business soon. I’m the head of the Bierabteilung (Beer Department), and my assistant is Colson Miller. Every story begins somewhere, and this one might as well start in Munich.

Trying to determine how many breweries have existed in Munich at one time or another during the past few hundred years would be like guessing the number of sand granules in an hourglass. Happily the here and now offers far firmer footing, and the so-called “Big Six” breweries in Munich are these:

  • Augustiner; independent, family-owned.
  • Hofbräuhaus; owned by the Bavarian state government.
  • Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner; sister breweries, both owned by Brau Holding with a 30% Heineken stake.
  • Löwenbräu and Spaten; both owned by AB-InBev.

These are not the only Munich breweries, just the best-known “traditional” companies. They’re also the ones who maintain a monopoly on sales at Oktoberfest, which is a topic for another time. Because of their size, the “Big Six” export beer, albeit at varying economies of scale. Of them, only Löwenbräu does not export to America.

In recent years, more than a dozen other small independent breweries based on the contemporary global “craft” beer model have come into being in Munich, and although tradition continues to dominate in Bavaria, a beery cosmopolitanism now co-exists alongside the lederhosen and dirndls.

The federal republic of Germany is comprised of Länder, meaning lands (or states). Munich is the capital of Bavaria. Considering the state of Bavaria apart from the remainder of Germany, the state’s annual beer consumption of roughly 130 liters per head places it second in the world behind the standard-bearing Czechs.

Half the breweries in Germany (circa 650 in number) are located in Bavaria, and furthermore, perhaps as many as half the Bavarian breweries lie in the historic region of Franconia (in and around the city of Bamberg).

The beer program at Common Haus will comprise 10 core draft beers available downstairs (full service) and upstairs (bar service) as well as an additional eight on tap upstairs only. These beers will be served by the half-liter, with .3 liter sizes also available.

The 10 core draft beers have been chosen primarily, although not exclusively, to emphasize the Bavarian and Greater German brewing heritage. Cans and bottles will offer a broader, more international stylistic selection; these choices will be revealed later in this series.

Munich forms the heart of the Common Haus draft list. These are the six best known Bavarian beer styles, brewed by two of the most famous Munich breweries: Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner. The breweries having merged many years ago, all six are brewed at Paulaner’s brewing facility to distinct formulas that reflect time-honored house characters.

01 Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Gold
Helles; 5.5%
Balanced malty golden lager, quintessential beer hall fare.

02 Paulaner Pils
Pilsner; 4.9%
Golden lager with a hoppier edge.

03 Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
Hefe-Weizen; 5.5%
Classic Bavarian-style wheat ale, spicy and fruity.

04 Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Dunkel
Dunkel; 5%
Dark (brown) lager, the original Munich civic specialty.

05 Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
Märzen; 5.7%
Amber festival lager, made available for export year-round.

06 Paulaner Salvator
Doppelbock; 7.9%
Strong, malty sweet amber/dark lager.

Common Haus is delighted to be working with the legendary Paulaner USA (and Monarch Distributing) to bring these beers into Indiana, some for the first time ever.

The remaining four core taps were to have included Kostritzer Schwarzbier (Black Lager), which unfortunately is currently depleted at the wholesale level. It is expected to return later this spring, and consequently, by special agreement with our friends at Upland Brewing Company, there’ll be a limited run of their Free Time Vienna-style Lager, which we’re renaming The Wiener Prole for pouring at Common Haus.

07 The Wiener Prole (by Upland)
Vienna Lager; 4.7%
Balanced, malt-oriented 19th-century lager from Vienna, Austria.

Local and regional brewing collaborations and partnerships are a vital component of common ground, hence the very name of Common Haus. By extension, prior to Prohibition the most popular style of beer in our area was known as Kentucky Common, which today is recognized as a style entirely indigenous to Louisville.

“Common” beer was a 19th-century American brewhouse adaptation, designed by German brewers to be a lower-gravity, every day, sessionable beer for the enjoyment of working people. So it remains with the Falls City Brewing Company’s tasty revival. We’re committed to supporting Kentucky Common consciousness, and will position Falls City Kentucky Common as our daily draft special at a popular price, just like olden times.

08 Falls City Kentucky Common
Kentucky Common; 5%
Brewed with barley, corn and rye; amber color, light character.

Lager brewing was pioneered in Germany and Central Europe, later exploding into a pervasive worldwide phenomenon during the mid-1800s. However, local ale traditions survived in the German lands, among them Kölsch, the blond ale of choice in the city of Cologne (Rhineland). Daredevil Brewing’s (Indianapolis) interpretation of Kölsch is fresh and authentic.

09 Vacation Kölsch
Kölsch; 5%
Golden and quaffable, with a subtle and elegant fruitiness.

For many years Daredevil has been brewing fantastic German-derived lagers and specialties, but these beers generally are not seen outside the brewery’s two on-premise locations in Indianapolis. Look for some of them to be tapped at Common Haus quite soon, whenever available.

Meanwhile, Daredevil’s biggest-selling beer of all aptly epitomizes craft-brewed Americana in the era of 9,000 U.S. breweries, because after all, hoppy ales have become popular across all across the world, from Speedway to Stuttgart.

10 Daredevil Lift Off IPA
India Pale Ale; 7.2%
For the “hopfen kopfen” in all of us, with a firm malt underpinning.

As an addendum, it goes without saying that none of us can recall a more challenging period for the global supply chain. As such, realism during the present period requires much hoping for the best, while conceding the frequent need for coin flips.

The Bierabteilung is making every effort to move forward with the Common Haus beer program according to a delineated plan, and while the bad news is that this plan almost certainly will be subject to change, the good news is there are a great many excellent detours.

Next time, I’ll chat about beer styles and the Reinheitsgebot, and discuss the rotating draft slots at Common Haus, as well as the state of our collaborations with local brewers Against the Grain and Akasha.

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