Written by Oakes
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Oakes Weekly - June 25, 2009
The Braunschweiger Mumme ExperienceJune 25, 2009
Vancouver, CANADA -
The Mumme Experience
Braunschweiger Mumme was, according to the few Internet sources available, one of the worldís biggest beer styles a few centuries ago. It was a viscous, highly hopped and highly alcoholic beer. This helped it in export markets since it kept very well, even in summer. For a number of reasons, including trade disputes with important port cities, Mumme lost its export markets and went into decline. Eventually there were just two breweries left producing the style.
One of those breweries closed in the 1950s and the other still operates, and still produces Mumme. It is not a beer style, per se, any more, having lost its hops, alcohol and fermentation. Instead, it is marketed as an energy drink, albeit of vastly different type than the caffeine bombs that normally carry that label. Unlike many of those beverages, Mumme has sufficient calories to actually deliver energy, rather than a caffeine buzz that even labeling regulators confuse for energy.
I did not even know that Mumme still existed until I decided to check out a local coffee shop that looked promising. In conspicuous display, however, were cans of Braunschweiger Mumme, produced by Nettelbeck, the sole remaining producer of the style. At Ä5.95 per can, it is hardly a bargain, but how can a serious beer geek say no to the prospect to testing out the remnant of this ancient style.
With oh6gdx coming to Bamberg to do some beerhunting, I decided to wait a couple of days to open my can. First a word about the can. It is 250ml in size with a sharp, compelling design in white, blue and red. There is no carbonation in Mumme so the liquid sort of sloshes around. It is remarkably heavy for being such a small can.
We poured the Mumme into snifters and wine glasses (having a limited supply of glassware here). Never in my life have I seen a thicker beverage. It is not quite as thick as malt extract, but itís close. It pours smoothly but the thickness is, quite frankly, intimidating.
It smells like fresh malt with a caramel accent. We rode our bikes past Weyermanns the other days, pretty much the maltiest place on Earth, and the Mumme smelled like that. Beershine identified Grape Nuts (a breakfast cereal made with barley), which was a very accurate descriptor as well. To drink Mumme is interesting. It is soft and syrupy but it is also so thick you would be challenged to identify it as a beverage. Being made of malt and water, it tastes almost entirely of malt, maybe hinting towards the molassesy side of things.
Of course, you are not supposed to drink Mumme straight up. The intent is that you blend it, either with beer or with milk. So first, some beer. Unfortunately, the only light beer we had on hand was Jever, which to my taste was too hoppy for this mix to work. The concoction ends up being a malted-up pilsner, which is to say a poor manís dunkel. It might be a good way to consume Mumme, but it is by no means a good way to consume beer.
The next combination was with milk. The Mumme glorped into the glass of milk and settled on the bottom, not mixing at all. HmmmÖI think to make this work probably requires heating. I swirled and swished until the two liquids came together a bit, but I did not find this combination particularly compelling either. Despite being, literally, malted milk it didnít really taste it. Nothing came together. Next time, I have to heat this combination.
So while Mumme is more of an interesting experience than a great beverage, I am happy to see this ancient beer style still exists, even if in non-beer format. I donít really know what its availability is, but Bamberg is nowhere near Braunschweig so I suppose any visitor to Germany should key his or her eyes out for this little cans of Mumme.
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