Archive for January 28th, 2011

Catch them when you can

I went to the Vinmonopolet store in Vika, Oslo, yesterday. I did not expect much – the beer range has been rather bad since Christmas, but I was hoping to pick up a few bottles of Nøgne Ø #100.

I walked out with quite a catch. Some of them were rather expensive, but…..

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Berlin X – epilogue

A whirlwind tour of Berlin micro breweries does, perhaps, not give them justice. But there are some observations to be made,  and a blogger does not necessarily have to have empirical data at the core of his arguments.

First some words on quality.

Places like Marcus Bräu, Brauhaus Mitte and Georgenbräu do not have much of a reputation when it comes to flavour and quality. And they do not seem to bother. Both are smack in the middle of large crowds of tourists for much of the year. There are no incentives to improve. But someone, perhaps colleagues in the brewing industry, should tell them that they should implement quality systems to make sure their beers are all right. German industrial beers are most often boring, but the technical aspects of the production are impeccable, turning out a consistent product.

Then on the beer range and number of beers available. It should not be difficult to have a fair range of beers. Sure, most of the will want a Dunkel, a Helles and a Weizen. It they are done all right, the market would probably ask for these core products. But even these three offer options. If you have a dark beer that has more malt, grain and sweetness, your pils could be more liberally hopped, both for depth of aroma and for crisp dryness in the finish.

Beyond the three core beers, there are dozens of beer types to choose from. Adding a Zwickl  is not particularly interesting – to be honest is is usually just an unfiltered Helles. No, there should be something beyond the 4.7% lagers – a Porter, an IPA, a Bock or a smoked beer.  Time to think outside the straitjacket of the Reinheitsgebot. Maybe the time is ripe to invite som guest brewers from abroad?

Some micros would like to have a fairly stable range of beers, others would prefer to rotate. I actually prefer those who keep a rotating schedule. It may mean that not all beers are outstanding – but on the other hand the brewers do not settle into a routine where all innovation dwindles away.

There are a few brewpubs in Berlin I have visited on previous occasions which were not covered this time. Südstern in the Krauzberg area has a policy of supplementing their own brews with guest beers, which makes sense.

Then there is the sad story of Brewbaker, which was located under the railway arches on the Western edge of the Tiergarten. The owners of the railway, Deutche Bahn, told them to pack up and go, so they closed just days before our visit to Berlin. Let’s hope they start up in a new location.

But consider going to Berlin. It is still cheap, Air Berlin has discount tickets from most corners of Europe. While the locals on occasion are a bit on the Prussian side, that also means that everything is well organised and easy to sort out. It’s not like part of Italy where you spend a long time cracking the code.

And it is your choice – either go during the winter when the days are short, the rain is drizzling and you have the sights and the pubs more or less to yourself. Or enjoy the beers on sunny terraces and sidewalks during the summer – but be prepared to face the crowds.

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