The Huebner-Toledo Brewing Archives: The REST…of the Story

​Remember Paul Harvey?
Along with many other Americans, we heard his familiar “The REST...of the Story” for what seemed like forever. As the Heritage Committee chair, I have the distinct pleasure of standing relatively close to Mr. Harvey. I have the opportunity to offer MBAA’s very own heritage follow-up. Quite literally, in the spirit of a tip-of-the-hat to Mr. Harvey, from time to time, we can offer our very own version of “The REST...of the Story.”
In the December 2012 issue of The MBAA Communicator, I shared my journey to Toledo, Ohio, to research that city’s Huebner-Toledo Brewery. You might recall that the Huebner-Toledo Brewery was a post-Civil War era brewery that was forced to close its doors with the onset of Prohibition. It never reopened. While researching aspects of the brewery in the archives of the Alice Huebner manuscript collection at the University of Toledo, we discovered a pre-Prohibition pilsner-style recipe. Although quite tattered, and barely legible, fellow Heritage Committee member Bill Weisenburger and I spent considerable time deciphering the various components of the recipe; its grist bill, various rests, fermenter profiles, etc.
The result of our endeavor was that we were able to enjoy one of the ultimate aspects of hands-on heritage. WE ACTUALLY BREWED THE RECIPE!
The recipe had to be retrofitted from the “ingredients per bbl” to “ingredients per gallon” to accommodate my 5-gallon (semiretirement) home brewing system. We had a target of 13°Plato (P), having to back calculate our grist mix of malt and grits, which are true “legacy” ingredients and were very common with Midwest brewers in 1919.
We filled in what few aspects we did not know with those that were considered traditional in that period, as well. I know this might be construed as hand-on heritage for the brewing geek, but for those interested, our final recipe included the following procedural highlights:
  • One decoction with grits and malt at 100°P for 30 min, 154°P for 30 min, and boiling for 10 min.
  • Mashing in with malt, adding back our decoction to hit 148°P for 15 min, then raising to 162°P for 20 min, and mashing off at 170°P.
  • Fly sparging to kettle full, then a 2-hour total kettle boil time.
  • Targeting 26–30 finished IBUs after fermenter losses.
  • A hops @ start of boil: 0.25-oz. Select 8% alpha acid (AA)
  • B hops @ 60 min: Tettnanger 4% AA.
  • C hops @ 100 min: Tettnanger 4% AA.
  • D hops @ kettle finish before cooling: Tettnanger 4% AA.
  • Aerating, pitching, and primary fermentation @ 53° for 7 days.
  • Secondary fermentation @ 40° for 14 days.
  • Lowering the temperature approximately 4° per day until 32° was achieved, then holding for at least 4 additional weeks.
  • Finally, drinking...sharing...REPEATING, as needed.

A GREAT TIME was had by all. And, as shown by the accompanying photos, I think that Johann would be proud. But... One Big Mystery Remains: the recipe refers to the act of running boiling water through the “pfaff” before a grist addition. We have no idea what this is. The “pfaff” is actually referred to twice in the recipe, but as of this writing, we are unable to find any explanation of it. We have found references to Pfaff sewing machines, but we have found no other explanation relating to the brewing process. We do have alerts out to our friends in Germany, and we are still awaiting a possible reply. Maybe one of you are able to shed some light on what this “pfaff” is.

This particular story really does get just a little bit better. This past January, I had an old friend call me out of the blue, an old teaching colleague who I have not seen in decades. He wanted to meet for lunch. We met. We reconnected. We exchanged the obligatory “how has life been...what have you been up to..,” etc. After lunch and some discussion, I shared with him my Huebner-Toledo Brewery experience. “Heeb-ner,” he said. “Johann’s last name is actually pronounced Heeb-ner, with a long e.” I had been pronouncing it Huub-ner, with a long u. I was a bit surprised, but my old friend sounded so certain. “Heeb-ner? Really? How do you know that?” I asked. “It’s my family,” he explained proudly. “I come from the Toledo Brewing Huebners. I have been studying our genealogy for years. I can tell you anything you want to know.”
POW! Here we go again. History and Heritage finding its way right back to me. I spent a lot more time than I originally anticipated with my old teaching colleague. And more importantly, I came away from this particular experience with the fun of yet again experiencing hands-on heritage.
So, there it is. In the familiar Paul Harvey version of “The REST...of the Story.”