Vulkan Brauerei


Useful Information

Location: Laacher-See-Straße 2, Mendig.
(50.377363, 7.281989)
Open: Brewhouse: All year Tue-Sun 11-22.
Hot food: All year Tue-Sun 11:30-21.
Volcano Shop: All year daily 12-20.
Cellar tour: All year Sat, Sun, Fri 16.
[2021]
Fee: Cellar tour: Adults EUR 9.
[2021]
Classification: SubterraneaRock Mine ExplainRoom and Pillar Mining SubterraneaCellar basalt mines
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=8-9 °C, VR=30 m.
Guided tours: D=1 h, St=153.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: nein
Bibliography: J.J. Nöggerath (1841): Zirkon in der porösen Mühlstein-Lava von Niedermendig Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Geologie und Petrefaktenkunde, 696.
T. Wolf (1868): Die Auswürflinge des Laacher-Sees Zeitschrift der Deutschen geologischen Gesellschaft, Vol. XX, 1-78.
Address: Vulkan Brauerei, Laacher-See-Straße 2, D-56743 Mendig, Tel: +49-2652-520330, Fax: +49-2652-520391. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

.
~1800 abandoned basalt pits are used by breweries to store beer
1875 Vulkan Brauerei founded as Wölker Brauerei.
2011 The two brothers Malte and Hannes Tack buy the Vulkan Brauerei.

Description

photography
Engraving by Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, 1802, Niedermendiger Lavakeller, Eifel, Deutschland. Public Domain.
photography
Postcard ca. 1900, Niedermendiger Lavasteingrube, Eifel, Deutschland. Public Domain.

The Vulkan Brauerei (Volcano Brewery) in Mendig has declared the volcano to be its central marketing concept. Of course, it has good reason to do so; the beers are stored (again) in the basalt cellar. And then also in the deepest beer cellar in the world with a depth of 30 m. That's why a lift was also installed to transport the beer in and out of the cellar. Today, Germany's best craft beer of 2017 and the Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock are stored here, in original bourbon wood barrels from the USA.

But the really special feature is that you can visit the cellars quite easily. In the meantime, various museums and also cellars have been opened to visitors through GeoPark and Vulkan Park, but just 10 years ago, the cellars of the brewery were by far the most accessible because the brewery restaurant is open all year round. And the Vulkan Brewery is still unbeatable, as it also offers excellent food and various types of beer. However, you should wait until after the cellar tour to drink the beer; drunks are not allowed to take part in the tour.

200,000 years ago during the eruption of the Laacher See volcano, the area around Mendig was covered by lava flows. The lava flow covered the surface of Devonian clay and shale between 10 and 30 m high. If the lava had been a little less viscous, it would probably have degassed completely, but gas bubbles remained in the lava and solidified with it. The result is a very porous basalt with up to 25% bubble volume. In later volcanic eruptions, the basalt was covered by a layer of Dielsteiner Gebirge up to 10 metres thick. This is a breccia-like volcanic loose rock consisting of coarse trass with intercalated pieces of pumice, slag, and other stones. This layer has protected the basalt from weathering.

Basalt has been used since the Neolithic period, mostly for grinding grain. The Romans also quarried basalt as millstones. The beer cellars of Mendig were built in their present form in the Middle Ages, from the 15th century onwards. At that time, people started mining millstones underground. As the best basalt was buried under a 10m-thick cover layer, a shaft with a diameter of 7-8 m was sunk first. A staircase was hewn into the wall for descent and ascent. The shaft was used to lift out the finished millstones with a wooden crane driven by a Göpel (treadwheel). The basalt was mined to its lower border, resulting in large chambers with the floor at a depth of 30 m. The originally separate pits grew larger and eventually grew together. Thus, today there is one large labyrinth of cellars in Mendig.

Around 1800, food and especially beer began to be stored in the abandoned basalt pits, because before the invention of the refrigerator, these were the only way to keep food cool. For private use, this was somewhat inconvenient because it was a long way to the cellars, so people were more likely to use the cellars in their own houses, even if they were less cool. But for breweries it was different, the beer was stored for longer periods and lower temperatures were helpful. The colder cellars act like a cold trap, the cold winter air flows in through openings from the surface and the temperature is then maintained all year round. Parts of the cellars were also used as ice cellars, where ice from the surface was stored in winter to cool the beer in summer. Around 1900, there were 28 breweries in Mendig that stored their beer supplies in the lava cellars. The beer was exported far and wide, including to Cologne. The development of the railway at the end of the 19th century was helpful.

The cellars lost their importance with the invention of the refrigerator by Carl von Linde in 1876. The refrigerating machine was first used by breweries because the machine, which was quite expensive in the beginning, was worthwhile for them. The breweries in Mendig had their cellars which cooled for free and required neither electricity nor additional investment. Therefore, the cellars continued to be used for the time being, and a few were still used until the middle of the 20th century. But Mendig's locational advantage was unfortunately no longer there. Breweries that were closer to customers in the big cities did not have to transport their beer that far. Over the decades, one brewery after another had to close in Mendig or relocated to a city.

In the end, only the Vulkan Brewery was left. Founded in 1875 as Wölker Brauerei, it was soon renamed Vulkan Brauerei. As the last regional brewery, it had made its living, but was well on the way to being closed as well. Then in 2011 it was bought by the brothers Malte and Hannes Tack. They recognised the potential of craft beers, brewed India Pale Ale and Bock beers, deliberately limiting themselves to naturally cloudy beers, also to set themselves apart from the Bitburger beer industry. The volcano, or rather the lava cellars, were included in the marketing concept. So some beers are stored in the cellars again. Especially the Doppelbock, which matures in original bourbon barrels from the Woodford Distillery in Kentucky in the cellar. Because of the high humidity, the barrels are brushed off weekly, otherwise they would go mouldy. Barrel sampling is also a problem; this requires opening the bunghole, which temporarily exposes the barrel and fungi and foreign yeasts could penetrate. To avoid this, the barrels are sprayed with high-proof alcohol and set on fire. The sample is then drawn under fire.