There has been some discussion about beer innovation lately – today I’ll focus on the opposite, the celebration of beer heritage.
The border region including the Austrian Mühlviertel, the Czech South Bohemia and the German Lower Bavaria wants to be a lighthouse for beer tourism, according to Genuss Bier. (You are about as far away from the sea as you are likely to get in Europe, so I assume lighthouses are few and far between there..)
The capital of South Bohemia is České Budějovice, better known as Budweis, which shows that their brewing credentials go way back.
The project has a budget of almost a million Euro, most of which come from EU funding (And Norway is most likely a proud sponsor).
There are four elements to be established by mid-2014:
• the establishment of a Beer Academy
• a quality offensive for hotels and restaurants
• the establishment of a beer fair covering the whole region
• a common marketing of the BeerWorldRegion.
I applaud this for various reasons. There is, obviously, the beer part of it all. The promotion of beer tourism rooted in local traditions and linked with local culture is an end in itself.
On the other hand, have a look at the map. This is a region that today will look idyllic with its fields and forests, towns and castles. But it is also a region that has seen more than its share of war and conflict . The Iron Curtain ran right through this part of the continent, but that is just the culmination of a thousand years of strife.
There are many ways of stimulating the bonds between neighbours that have been separated by political forces. I can hardly think of a more pleasant way of doing this than by beer.
The reason that this struck a chord is probably that I am currently reading the book Microcosm, a history of the Central European city today known as Wroclaw, recommended by Boak and Bailey in an earlier discussion.
Freshening up my German is rising towards the top of my to do list.