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Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

  Following my stay in Munich this summer, I have written a fair bit about small, but encouranging signs of innovation. I´m happy to say that there is a growing debate about key concepts, not entirely unrelated to the discussion in the English (English as in language, not as an geographical entity) beer blogs recently. There are two separate issues, both centered around Craft Bier (Yes, the Germans aren´t shy about borrowing English words these days.). One is about hijacking the term, the other about trying to ridicule it. The first story comes from the newly established Brew Berlin. They tell about the Ratsherrn Brauerei, who have tried to register Craft Beer as a protected trade name in Germany. There have been strong protests that one of the big players in the beverage sector tries to monopolize the concept. Even more important is the issue raised by two Bavarian beer bloggers, following the publication of an article in Fine, a wine magazine. The article tries to ridicule the merging craft beer scene in Germany, using labels like technology fetichists. It states that the craft beers fail to do what the classical pils achieves, to produce elegance and intensity without any fuss. All those double and triple beers, IPAs and AIPAs, do not, with their double or even triple fermentation with high levels of alcohol, match the charm of an elegant pils. The reaction to this was started by Mareike in feinerhopfen.wordpress.com, and followed up by Daniel at usox.org. Mareike points out that the micro, craft and cuckoo brewers make beers that fit into a gourmet setting. Quality is about something else than punching a few buttons on a production computer and then getting beer out at the other end in a few hours. If one wants to look for technology fetichists, it is more linked to the Reinheitsgebot culture, though it does not have much to do with enjoyment. In a letter to the editor of the magazine, Daniel questions the use of the concept quality in the article. He points out that the macro breweries of Germany, who are recommended as having a consistent quality, often cheat by using ingredients like hop extract or malt extract. If there is one thing the craft breweries have in common, it is their committment to prime ingredients. Go ahead, read their blogs. Google translate is there to help you. And cheer them on !

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The direct flights to Barcelona were very expensive, so it was a matter if finding the most convenient stopover. Dusseldorf has a compact airport and a city centre just 20€ away by taxi.

This being a family outing, I did not have time to make a crawl of the traditional Altbier brewpubs I have visited before. They seemed to do a roaring trade on a sunnu Saturday afternoon. Instead I made a stop at the Kurtze brewery, tucked away on a quiet street in the Altstadt.
As the only customer, I was invited to a tour of the premises. They aim for a younger crowd than the traditional breweries. If the others have been around for centuries, you have to find your own niche.
The beer is a bit different, too, less bitter than the others. It is not aged in oak barrels, but distributed through pipelines to a clear glass tank at the bar.
Not an institution as yet, but well worth a stop if you are in town.

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An elderly man and a slightly aggressive looking younger man are sitting outside the shop on empty beer crates, blocking the entrance to the Bier-Spezialitäten-Laden, but when I get in, there is a warm welcome.

Sind sie eine Etikettensammler or ein Biergenisser, asks the man behind the counter. Are you a label collector or do you enjoy a good beer? Ein Biergenisser, I reply. When I start picking a few bottles, the other customers enthusiastically suggest others, and there is a brief discussion on whether a certain porter is sweet or not.

Half of the small store, crammed full of an amazing range of beer, is dedicated to imports, the other half has German beers. When I briefly consider picking a few lagers from, say, Ethiopia, I decide to go for more obscure German beers instead. A dozen bottles are soon distributed between my backpack and a carrier bag.

Conveniently this shop is located right by the entrance of an U-Bahn station, Strausberger Platz,  just a few stops East of central Berlin – great when I, as usual, buy a few more beers than I had planned in advance. The prices are cheap compared to just about anywhere, too.

Don’t go looking for their web site – this is not the place to have any!

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Entschuldigung, but why do you photograph your beer?

One of the local heroes has discovered a newcomer who is not even following The Netherlands trashing Romania up on the screen.

The stranger has a distinct feeling the long day is catching up with him, and he stumbles over the German words. He tries another language.

Ich verstehe keine English.

Well, then. I think I manage to get across that I write about beer from different countries on the Internet, illustrated with lavish photos. The conversation grinds to a halt. The local might be a bit drunk and worse for wear, but this foreigner must be totally verrückt.

The small pub is a few blocks from my hotel in Steglitz, Southwestern Berlin. The beer range is limited, and after sampling a Berliner Kindl, served following the 7-minute-rule, and a Pilsator, also on tap, I round off my participant obervation by asking the waitress which brewery the Pilsator comes from. She doesn’t know and neither do any of the guests. I get the point that beers are to be drunk, not photographed or discussed. Time for me to pay my bill and stroll a bit further.

My last stop for the night is, of all things, a New Zealand pub with the owner behind the bar. He claims that this area of town has gone seriously downhill, and that I should be careful on the streets here. The Kneipe I’ve just visited is a place that is particularly to be avoided. I try a small glass of a Czech Dunkel from the Breznak brewery, which is on the sweet side, but otherwise very decent. The bar owner tells me he also imports a range of beers from New Zealand, and that the place is filled up whenever there are sporting events where the Kiwis take part. I try one of his beers, Monteiths Original Ale. Rather malty, but on the whole thin and watery. I decide that I am not in the condition to appreciate any more beers and bid my farewell.

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