Farrenbacher Weissbier

A blast from the past – Baltimore 1995 – AHA annual bash.

I was the principle speaker on the history of brewing. The handwritten copy of my talk is languishing in a filing box somewhere and I am not going to seek it out, so if you were there, Baltimore – June 14th 1995, and have a different memory to me, then apologies.

My souvenir gift from the AHA National Conference. Planet Beer

One of the beers I praised on that occasion, was the Farrrenbacher White Beer. It was a favourite that I only rolled out for beer talks and as it had an almost zero hopping rate, was excellent for adding other herbs and spices such as the woodruff, (mentioned in my last beer blog).

I put comfrey in the 1995 gyle, which caused consternation when I tried to enter the USA. The immigration official looked at my carrier bag with the comfrey tops poking out.

‘Please remove the bag, sir,’ he said.

I did.

‘What is it?’

‘Comfrey. It’s for my talk to the AHA. I’m going to put it in beer.’

I think he was a homebrewer and hoped to turn up for some of the talks. I expected him to confiscate my comfrey plant. I would have understood, but instead he told to go wash the roots and go on my way. What a star!

Gerard (1597) wrote of the comfrey root. ‘

The slimie substance of the root made in a posset of ale, and given to drink against the paine in the backe, gotten by any violent motion, as wrestling or over much use of women, doth in fower or five daies perfectly cure the same, although the involuntarie flowing of the seed in men be gotten thereby.

La Pensée, Clive. The Historical Companion To House-Brewing (p. 185). Kindle Edition.

Comfrey – No one photographs the root, which is the business end.

The talk was a huge success and the Farrenbacher Weissbier went down OK, although Bob Huber, the local brewer who made it for me, was puzzled, as were my audience, when I crushed the root with a wooden mallet and squeezed out the slimy substance, adding it to the Weissbier, while telling them it would cure screwer’s backache, but might produce a wet dream. What an adjunct to any brew, providing the dream is good.

No one would travel with a wooden mallet in their luggage, nowadays!

Here is a screen shot of the brewing method from my book, The Historical Companion to House-Brewing. Weissbier is a description of the colour and doesn’t imply wheat was used.

I hope you have fun trying it and be sure to try some herbs in it.

UK purchases

I remember going to a restaurant the night before my talk and blue crabs were the must have meal. They were well peppered and so the gallons of beautiful homebrew some Baltimore brewer had ready for us, was welcome. I was on at 8 am and crawled to the conference hall with some hangover, expecting to see 6 stalwarts. I think there were 600 expectant, knowledgeable brewers in there and I had the biggest adrenaline rush of my life.

Published by Clive La Pensée

Clive La Pensée, ex-science teacher, recognised writer on history of beer, novelist, expressionist, dreamer, believer in never giving up, empathiser, hopeful for a future without class, gender or racial prejudice. It's tough and at the moment, one has to remember distance travelled, rather than where we are at.

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