Making beer the cold way, with the help of the Getreidestein, also known as Zeilithoid – heavens how could I forget?!
I am wading through 19th century natural science literature – those golden days when everything all of a sudden seemed to be possible, when the idea of eternal progress was not only founded, but strengthened by actual inventions, embetterments, ideas … LIEBIG* (Ger., Eng., museum) saw a cow, fulguration set in – and here’s the Brühwürfel (Ger., Eng.): Concentrated cow, just add water, boil and have a soup. So killing and boiling cows gets you honoured with a German university (Ger., Eng.) named after you – ta!
While I worked myself through the bookmines today I came upon the small work of Karl BALLING (1805-1868) (Ger.) about Zeilithoid: Der Getreidestein (Zeilithoid) und seine Anwendung zur Biererzeugung auf kaltem Wege nach den dabei gemachten Erfahrungen erläutert, 2. vermehrte Auflage, Prag 1852. The first edition Prag 1852 is available as google scan. I could find no actual information about this product, but around 1900 it was still known and had found its way into a well established Conversationslexikon, as lemma “Bierstein”.
So, what is it actually?
It is Bierwürze (Ger., Eng.), condensed and concentrated; throw it into water, add a little yeast (Ger., Eng.), and voilà – have a beer! It will take a bit of time and preparation **, and Herr CARL, the chief of the Apotheke *** in the Juliusspital who tested Zeilithoid in 1853, mentioned that the water used can even be a little bit unclean ****, but after 24 hours latest one should be able to down a cold beer. And because Zeilithoid comes in different variations it can be a Bavarian, a Belgian or an English kind of “brew” you produce in your very own bathtub.
I really wonder whether it still exists as a product.
* There’s a hall of fame for nearly anything on this planet I guess.
** See the (German only) article in the Polytechnisches Journal 27 (1853), 3. Heft, 236 seq.: Ueber Zeilithoid (Getreidestein), um in der kürzesten Zeit Bier zu bereiten. Gutachten, erstattet an den Verwaltungsausschuß des polytechnischen Vereins zu Würzburg, von Hrn. F. CARL, Vorstand der Apotheke des k[öniglichen] Julius-Hospitals.
*** The Apotheke is still there, open one hour in the afternoon, 14:00-15:00, Monday to Friday.
**** Würzburg always was a wine-city, not a beer-dump. It’s built on Silvaner.