Weihenstephan and why we can thank dachshunds for good beer.
October 11, 2016
This may upset people and I have not been able to confirm the story through extensive (albeit 5 minutes of...) googling but here's another reason to love a dachshund.
While in Munich, we took my father-in-law on a tour of Weihenstephaner brewery and our charming tour guide and recent graduate of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences (In his words, the "Harvard of Brewing." Yes, they have a degree in Brewing Science. It's engineering and science and it's hard stuff. We asked. You can apply here) gave us many insights about the history of brewing in Germany. If you didn't know, Weihenstephaner is the oldest brewery still in operation in the world. Their beer is delicious and I recommend you go drink some right now.
Here's the scoop - lots of carbon dioxide is released during the brewing process as fermentation begins. With the amount of beer brewed in a large operation, you shouldn't even enter in to the fermentation room until the CO2 has burned off. However, back in the day they did not have the technology we have today to measure the levels in the air and had to get creative. CO2 is denser than air and thus, will be more prevalent closer to the ground in a confined space.
Dachshunds are notoriously short dogs and they are light, making them easy to carry...or pull. These two traits make them excellent candidates for the brewery's version of the canary in the coal mine: CO2 detector. Story is they would put the little guys on a leash and send them through a doggy door into the fermentation room. If they keep moving for a bit it's likely the CO2 levels are low enough for people to enter. If the dog passes out, the levels are still too high and they simply pull the pup back through the doggy door after which they completely recover and are well-fed from all the good beer they were able to lick up along the way. They were doggy explorers. They were heroes. Thank you weiner-pups.
I wonder if this history is why weiner-dog races often accompany Oktoberfests around the world. Are they running from their perilous occupation? Or is it just because they look like little sausages? If someone knows the real story here, please do share.