Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hops & Barley

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When riding the train in Germany I like to browse through a monthly magazine issued by the Deutsche Bahn. The topics usually deal with traveling and places to visit. Issue 3/2014 featured an article about craft brewing in Germany. My loyal readers surely remember my lamentations about the dullness of German beer: Reinheitsgebot (purity law) means Einheitsplörre (unified muck). Many, in particular young beer drinkers, in Germany are bored or even disgusted so that the per capita consumption of our national beverage has decreased from 140 liters in the 90ies to 100 liters nowadays.

This sad situation brought micro brewery start-ups on to the scene. It was astonishing to read that the persons now brewing craft beer in Germany not only acquire their knowledge in Belgium - with its long and diversified brewing tradition - but rather travel to the States. These beer pilgrims modified the old socialist slogan: Von der UdSSR lernen, heißt siegen lernen (Learning from the USSR means learning how to win) to Von Amerika lernen, heißt brauen lernen (Learning from the States means learning how to brew beer). No wonder that some of the start-ups in Germany chose English names like: Hops & Barley, BrewBaker, Ale-Project. The usually young craft brewers even import aromatic hops from California as German hops tastes as unified as beer of our globally playing big breweries. Since the bitterness of German Pilsner was castrated to please ladies' palates the big seller among craft beers became IPA (Indian Pale Ale) containing more than four times the amount of hops than Pils. These beers taste like Hopalicious, a Madison ale, that once saturated my taste buds. The center of craft beers in Germany is Berlin but even in Erding, in our "beerland" Bavaria, you will find a start-up: the Ale-Project.

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For the time being these micro breweries contribute less than one percent to the German beer market. However, craft brewers are looking forward and proudly announce: Hopfen, Malz und Muskelschmalz (Hops, malt and muscular strength) modifying and somewhat defying the traditional Bavarian saying: Hopfen und Malz, Gott erhalt's.

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