German Arrack, Dr. Kurt Brauer, 1923.

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Brauer, K. Deutscher Arrak, Chem. Ztg. 47 (1923), p. 365-367. 

[There is some fascinating stuff in here. First off there is a confession that a lot isn’t known. Secondly, a confusion and overlap is noted with the palm sugar types of Arrak best associated with Sri Lanka. The article has some science issues such as the categorizing of the yeasts. The paper references Eykman, but does not appear to reach the same yeast conclusions.

The next thing I notice, and it is definitely a part of all these fermentations with complications is that you need to be present and feed it at various points around the clock. It isn’t a cushy 9-5 and it isn’t all in the pot cooking. What this means for contemporary distilleries that may want to attempt this is that they need to have a better front door and retail business to justify having staff on hand at various hours of their production cycles. You would drive yourself mad if you had to spent your time in a closed up factory so I encourage creating operations that look more like brew pubs where you wouldn’t hate being at them at odd hours. Team work and data collection that will allow a hand off of tasks is critical.

The last thing I’ll note is that in the 1920’s these German dudes were skilled enough to attempt domestic Arrak production. True, they might have failed or they may have been successful, but their business destroyed by the war (the do appear to pop up again 1946, but I don’t have the paper). Who knows. The issue is, its the 21 century, and we’ve got modern biotech plus the internet. Why the can’t our new distilling scene produce anything ambitious? We’ve got some standouts, but only a few, and none are in categories that require much biotechnology.]

Chemiker-Zeitung
Deutscher Arrak.

From Dr. Kurt Brauer,

(1) Mitteilung aus der Öffentlich Chemischen Untersuchungsstation Dr. K. Brauer (Vereinigte chemische Laboratorien Dr. Uffelmann & Dr. – Brauer, vorm. Dr. Wack en roder), Cassel. S. 645.
(2) Chem-Zig. 1922, S. 161.
(3) Zeitschr. Ver. d. Zuckerind. 1890, Bd. 40,
(4) Vergl. von Buchka, Das Lebensmittelgewerbe, 1914, Bd. 1, S. 800.
(5) Allgemeine Nahrungsmittelkunde, 1914, S. 459.
(6) Nüheres über die Gewinnung des Arraks, vergl. Vierteljahrsschrift der Nahrungs- und Genußmittel 1888, Bd. 3, S. 187; Zeitschr. Landw. Gewerbe 1888, S. 76.
(7) Chem-Ztg. 1895, s. 1683.
(8) Vergl. Eykmann, Zentroter. und Parasitenkunde 1894, sowie Н. с. Prinsen – Geerligs-Ztg. 1898, S. 90 u. ff.

Some time ago I brought to the Ser Stelle (2) detailed writings about the “German Rum”. Meanwhile, from the same factory, the Winkelhausen-Werke A.G. in Magdeburg, efforts have been made to produce a “German Arrak”. While the attempts to prepare a “German Rum” were started many years ago, especially by Herzfeld (3), so far it is not known to me if German Arrak has been attempted. To grow interest, we may well have to learn more about the German Arrak.

Let us first briefly consider the production of the genuine Arraks (4). According to the not very extensive literature on the production of the original Arraks, Arrak implies distillates which are partly obtained from cane sugar molasses by fermentation with yeast, which comes from rice straw, partly. On Ceylon, Arrak from the juice of the sprouts of the Cocos palm (allegedly with the addition of anesthetizing substances such as hemp and the like.) are prepared. On the other hand, the material used by the Chinese for the production of the Arraks is called “peh-khak” and “Raggi” by the Japanese, which is mainly used for the saccharification of starch and is a mixture of various fungi and yeasts. The raw material is rice and cane molasses. It can already be seen from this that under Arrak nothing definite is understood, but, as Lebbin (5) rightly states, Arrak is a brandy with certain taste and odor properties, but which is obtained from various raw materials, by very different methods. In the mainland, the fabrication of the Arrak (6) is in the hands of Chinese, which is why one does not know anything really reliable about the production of the same; notably, Arrak is being prepared in Java and in Batavia. There, however, only molasses is to be used as raw material, while in Goa in the Portuguese areas on the coast of the East Indies Cashew fruit, further – as in Ceylon – Palm juice, juice of coconut blossom (Toddy called), sugarcane juice, etc. Processed in Java itself, a distinction is made between coastal and export arrak. Allegedly, the fabrication of both should be the same, but there should be a difference between the results in that the quality is very different. This has been attributed to various circumstances, for example to differences in water, but on the other hand, Prinsen-Geerligs (7) has sought to explain the difference in the composition of molasses used in Batavia or on the coast. From the other side this is again denied. Some also attribute the difference to certain secret admixtures on the part of the Chinese, whose knowledge is to be passed on from father to son. In fact, the difference is that the fermentation of Batavia arraks uses a different yeast than the coastal arrack. According to the work of Wendt and Prinsen-Geerligs (7), in the production of the coastal arraks, the yeast material, the “raggi”, is placed directly in the bucket simply by mixing raggipowder with cooked rice and filling this mixture into the cooking curd, without first mixing the yeast with the starchy nutrient medium, as is the case with the Arrak in the pots to be mentioned, whereby the yeast species, much more abundant, Monilia-Javanica [def follow that link! other citations here], squeezes the Saccharomyces Vordermanni, so that the fermentation takes place chiefly through the former Yeast fungus. In the case of the Batavia-Arrak, on the other hand, three times a sugar solution is first inoculated with the yeast mixture, whereby the Saccharomyces is more advantageous than the Monilia, and thus a fermentation by the other yeast fungus is going on.

[I think there are some mistakes in their science, but these were very early days]

As already mentioned, the main source material for the Batavia Arrak is the cane sugar molasses, to whose fermentation the Raggi is used. The raggi consists of small balls made of rice flour, sugar cane, some ingredients, etc. Make it a kind of dough, which is then dried in the sun. From this Raggi, the yeast necessary for fermentation is prepared by boiling rice, cooling it, and then intimately mixing it with the powdered Raggi balls. This mixture is placed in wooden vessels with a double bottom, of which the upper one is perforated and covered with a mat. Then you bring the rice mixture and cover it again with a mat. After the rice has been stored for two days, the yeasts from the raggi multiply in sufficient quantity; Because of this, Raggi contains many molds, yeasts and bacteria, part of which is already isolated by microbiological work (8). The mold fungi contained in the raggi first transform the starch, which as such can not be fermented, into soluble and fermentable compounds, that is, mainly sugar and dextrins. Due to the rapid propagation of the yeasts, a significant increase in temperature occurs at about 50° C, while the liquid flows through the holes in the bottom of the graduated fermenters. However, this temperature is unfavorable to most bacteria, preventing excessive proliferation thereof as opposed to yeast. This gives you a yeast that is fairly free from contamination.

The yeast now obtained is added to a mixture of cane molasses and warm water. So should be given to an indication in a fermentation tank 48 l of molasses and 160 l of water with the rice, the so-called pitching yeast. After 24 hours, the mash is filled in a second fermentation tank and again 244 L Molasses and 672 L of water are added. After another 24 hours, it is freed by sieving solid materials such as rice grains and the like and placed in a wooden basin, then added to again with 200 L of molasses and 280 liters of water. After another day, add another 200 liters of molasses, but no water, and now the main mix undergoes the three day main fermentation process. In this way, the concentration of the mash has always been increased, which has the purpose of causing a fairly slow fermentation in order to achieve the best possible quality by the resulting by-products. After the main fermentation the mash is filled into unglazed earthen pots of about 20 l, where it undergoes a 9-day secondary fermentation, so that in total 18 days are necessary for the preparation. Only then is distilled in walled-in Kessen [kettles? implying bricked in pot stills like Cognac] with direct fire. Finally, the Arrak is kept in wooden barrels, where it undergoes the actual ripening process and the fine flavors form, so that the longer it stores, the better the Arrak becomes. The barrels are made on Java from teak, which are said to be very old, as new barrels would give the arrak a red color. – According to Stohmann (9), the following preparation mode should also be used:

“Bring about 35 kg of keton, a very sticky rice, into a small tub, add 100 liters of water and 20 liters of molasses and let stand for 2 days, then place in a larger container and add 400 liters of water. At the same time, mix 40 parts of palm wine or toddy (juice from the sprouts of the coconut tree) with 900 parts of water and 150 parts of molasses, leaving it to rest for 2 days Then the fermenting liquid is allowed to stand for a further two days and finally transferred to earthen pots, each of which holds about 20. The fermentation is completed after about two days for distillation (the distillation alembics are made of copper, the serpentine tubes of banknazine).” [any ideas on banknazine?]

According to another procedure one takes 62 Tl of molasses, 2 Tl. Toddy and 35 Tl of rice, which should deliver in the distillation 23% Tl. Arrak.

Finally, she mentions the production of the Chinese Arrak kurtz, which, as the name implies, is made from cooked rice, which, after cooling with raggipulver, is left to ferment in a pot. The latter is lined with banana leaves and covered. The diastase contained in the mushrooms of the Raggipulver saccharifies the starches of the rice so that the yeasts can ferment the freshly formed sugar. In this way, the contents of the pot liquefies after a few days. Everything is thrown on a sieve, the rice residues pressed by hand, filtered and then subjected to distillation. From this it is evident that in Raggi there are not only substances which can induce fermentation, but also those which dissolve most of the starch and convert it into dextrin and sugar.

As far as the meaning of the word Arrak is concerned, according to Murray (10), it should be of Arabic origin and mean sweet juice. From this it is clear that under “Arrak” one can understand the most diverse sweet fermentation products of the tropics.

The production of the German Arraks is naturally modeled on that of the real Arraks in broad strokes. Again, the most varied materials, including foreign ones, had to be used for the production. But also the domestic raw materials, namely waste from the sugar production, gave very good results, in particular after refining the molasses which, according to the Winkelhausen plants, caused very great difficulties, but on the other hand had to be absolutely carried out if good tasting results should be achieved. In particular, the molasses after refining was completely odorless and had a pronounced caramel taste. In essence, as indicated above, naturally German raw materials were used, namely, instead of rice, waste of barley production, instead of West Indian molasses, German molasses, etc. The “German Arrak” is also made on pure fermentation paths. A use of artificial essential oils or the like was here as well as in the German Rum, not made, of which I was able to convince myself by a detailed inspection of the fabrication. For the fermentation processes, an amylomyces process was used in the Winkelhausen plants to continue the fermentation with a special yeast, after which complete liquefaction had taken place, whereby large air streams were also used. After distillation, the individual distillates were carefully assembled, as is done in each case during the production of the original Arraks. (Conclusion follows)

[I think this implies another serialized Brauer paper. We have this citations which has a later issue number but no pages: Brauer K. Deutscher Arrak (Chemiker-Zeitung no 51/52, 1923)]

[I have not yet looked for this citation, but Winkelhausen pops up again in 1946:

6. Winkelhausen W. Verfahren zur Vorbereitung von Zuckerlösungen beliebiger Herkunft zur Herstellung einer Maische für Rum- oder Arrakdestillate, DRP no 106 654; Deutsche Zuckerindustrie 67 (1942), p. 47.
Process for preparing sugar solutions of any origin for making a mash for rum or arrak-distillates]

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