The next chapter 6 December 2019 Lexington managing director Julia Edmonds on taking the helm at the boutique caterer and her people plans for the future
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Lager then life

01 January 2000 by
Lager then life

I'm up at 6.30am and have some coffee and bread rolls. In Bavaria, the traditional brewer's breakfast is at 10am and they have white sausage, pretzels and beer, but that doesn't happen here. I only drink beer in the mornings when I know that I'm not going to be too busy.

My brewing days are Mondays to Wednesdays. On Thursdays and Fridays, I have to clean and filter all the equipment.

On brewing days, I'm at the brewing house in Earlham Street by 7.30am. I heat up the water, then carry 200kg of malt upstairs from the restaurant. I then add the malt to the water - this is called meshing. For the next two to three hours, I have to raise and lower the temperature of the fermentation vessels at specific times.

By 11am, I have to separate the liquid from the malt. That's about controlling pressure and making sure the liquid is clear. This is a busy time.

By 12.30pm, I take out the malt and put it into bags, which the council takes away. In Germany, we give it to pig farmers, but there aren't too many of them in London…

When the malt is taken out, the remaining liquid is called "wort". Next, I have to cook the wort for 90 minutes, during which time I add hops twice. We use American hops for our red ale, German ones for our wheat beer and Kent hops for our pale ale. The hops give it the special taste and there are many different sorts.

My lunch is usually just a sandwich of ham, chicken or egg. At this time I have to cool down the beer, sterilise it, put in the yeast and bring the temperature down to 20¼C.

For the rest of the day, I have to clean all the vessels and the brewing house. Then there's the paperwork to do. I'm generally there until about 5pm, but this can change. Because we're unusual for London, we get lots of people wanting a tour of our small brewery, and so I give talks to both the public and the media.

One of the big differences between home and London is that the public in Munich is much better educated about beer and the whole brewing process. People here ask very basic questions. I think it's because brewing is part of life in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, where you have a brewmaster in nearly every village. There are more than 900 breweries across Germany, but in the UK there are very few and most are giant.

I think that accounts for the difference in the quality of the beer between the two countries. German brewing is more complex and involves changing the temperature a lot more, whereas in the UK malt is kept in the water at the same temperature.

Germans drink with their eyes and we like a good-looking beer with a head on it. German beer has more flavour because of the changing temperatures during the brewing process. We also use summer barley, whereas the British use the winter variety.

The British use a lot of acids and chemicals and additives, which don't help the beer's quality. In Germany, an ancient food law states that only water, hops, malt and yeast can be added - that's all. It's tightly controlled.

German beer is no stronger than British beer, it's just more fermented and tastes better! I think that British breweries rely more on good advertising rather than worrying about quality of beer.

Interview by David Tarpey

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