Day 21 of the beer tasting marathon looks at a family tradition responsible for creating a good example of a pilsner. The Wicküler family, which featured members who were either barley farmers, bakers or distillers of hard liquour, were well-known in the region between Cologne and Dortmund in the village of Münstereifel. Using their knowledge, the family established the family brewery in 1845, with Franz Ferdinand Josef Wicküler as the founder and director of the business. When founded, it was a combination brewery and restaurant but he relocated three times until settling down for good in 1853, two years after his son Franz Josef was born. His son’s interest in the brewery came early as a child and followed his father’s footsteps until he took over the business in 1876, the same year he married Laura Küpper, the daughter of another brewer. Unfortunately the marriage ended early because of many religious and business differences and subsequentially, Franz concentrated solely on the brewing business, relocating to Dortmund to establish a new business at the expense of the restaurant. Eventually, the two breweries merged in 1887, the same year as the introduction of the pilsner, and it expanded to include subsidiaries in Saxony, Schlesia and Thuringia. However, despite its ambitions and successful business, the brewery sustained substantial losses as a result of World Wars I and II because of a lack of resources and manpower. Despite its expansion of production to Wuppertal and Cologne, Wicküler had to reduce its assets by selling and closing down many breweries that the Wiküler family and ther succesors bought and relocate the entire company to Dortmund, where it is based today.
And this takes us to the pilsner that is still produced by Wicküler today, despite being part of the Radeberger consortium. Given its proximate location in North Rhine Westphalia, one of the first prejudices I had was if it is in the north, the water is hard, and the pilsner is bitter. And this is independent of its typical appearance: a brilliant clear gold color with a persistent head and full body.
However, the beer has a herbal hops flavor and grain malt that is locally grown but leaves a really impressive aroma and flavor, resulting in a warming, mouthcoating taste when drinking it. It has a real freshness to it while drinking it, leaving an impression that it is a really excellent pilsner, one that bucks the trend I’ve noticed so far since trying the Urquelle on Sunday. Therefore, the quality of the pilsner is not just dependent on the quality of the water, but also the quality of the hops and barley which the more organic and natural, the better the taste. I think you will agree, especially after the grade it received.