To me, beermaking is a chain of processes that end only when the beer goes into my glass. Although some links of this chain will have a bigger impact than others, everything the people involved in it do will have an effect on the final product. But if ends in the glass, where does it start? In the maltings.
Last Monday, I went with fellow beer writer Jeff Alworth to Benešov to visit the local brewery and its facilities that produce traditional Bohemian Floor Malts. We were shown around by Sladmistr David Mareš, who guided us through every nook and cranny of the maltings and answered all of our questions. Like everyone who practices a traditional trade, Mr. Mareš loves the job he’s been doing for almost two decades, is understandably proud of it, but also a bit worried about the future of his craft.
Floor malting is a truly fascinating process where nature is gently, but firmly, pushed into doing man’s will. It is also remarkable how closely linked Bohemian Floor malts are to traditional Czech lager. Both demand attention to detail, dedication, skill and, above all, time. The whole process, from the moment the grains of spring barley are sent to be soaked until the resulting malt is ready to go into a mash tun, takes up to five weeks. Pretty much as long as it takes a good desítka or jedenáctka to be ready.We also visited the brewery proper. A beautiful place. Ferdinand is a brewery that stubbornly sticks to tradition, that refuses to mess with those things that have long worked for them, even if that means higher costs. It was a great day, with very good people and very good beer, a day when I learnt a thing or two and understood even more.If you can make it, go to Benešov and visit Pivovar Ferdinand, you will not regret it.