Stories | Mad Scientists
Mad Scientists Series #18: Brunswick Mumme
The Brunswick Mum was a German ale brewed at a high gravity for export. In German it’s known as the Braunschweiger Mumme, with the second word pronounced moom-meh. In a cultural compromise, we’ve taken to calling our version the Brunswick Mumme.
The Braunschweiger Mumme was an outrageous brew, and, in a number of ways, our recipe could not emulate its extremity. One such recipe was as follows:
…the inner rind of fir, three pounds; tops of fir and birch, each one pound; carduus benedictus, three handfuls; flowers of rosa solis, one handful or two; burnet, betony, marjoram, avens, pennyroyal, wild thyme, of each a handful and a half; of elder-flowers, two handfuls, or more; seeds of cardamom, bruised, thirty ounces; barberries, bruised, one ounce.
This ancient brew would have been thick, strong, and a hearty dark brown. It was brewed with wheat, oatmeal and beans, topped off with a cache of herbs and even ten uncracked eggs, and then aged in an oak barrel, and tapped after two years rest. A long boil, evaporating a full third of the liquid, created a high-alcohol beer with heft.
For the Mad Scientist Series #18, we brewed a thick German ale with the same spirit. Test batches contained birch bark, prune juice and thyme, but after much experimentation, the brewers crafted a recipe with cardamom pods and juniper for spicing. Because of earlier experimentation, we know that a late addition of Simcoe hops compliments and approximates the bright aroma of fresh spruce tips, so we made that another key component of our Mumme. Between a four hour boil, beans and oats in the mash, and ancient spicing, the Sixpoint Mumme certainly resembles its Braunschweig predecessor.
Our beer does differ from the ancient recipe in a few ways. Per health regulations, there were no raw eggs added. And our beer only aged for a few months. We also more fully attenuated our brew in primary fermentation—this ancient beer would have relied on secondary fermentation in the cask from bacteria on herbs and in the wood. As head brewer Pete Dickson noted, this beer would probably have soured a bit while in the barrel for over two years—after experimentation he speculates that he could craft a slightly soured mumme that would have historical roots, and be quite tasty to boot. That’s a big part of the spirit of Mad Science… gaining knowledge through hypotheses and experimentation.
Our beer has juniper and cardamom on the nose, laid atop a strong amber ale. Beans and oats, along with the long boil, contribute a full, smooth mouthfeel. Find it on draft around New York City and beyond now.