Friday, September 2, 2016

On Weird Drinks

It was my friend Kendall who made me aware of a weird beverage, a greenish shandy. Shandies are known in southern Germany as Radler*, in northern Germany as Alsterwasser, i.e., water from the Alster River that forms a lake in the city of Hamburg before it flows into the Elbe River.
*Appreciated by cyclists as an isotonic drink replenishing minerals lost in transpiration. These days shandies containing up to 3% alcohol are being replaced more and more by alcohol-free wheat beers containing less sugar and alcohol than shandies.

The weird shandy in question is a mixture of beer and cucumber juice. It is made in Lübbenau, a town south of Berlin in the Spreewald. The region is famous for the production of all sorts of cucumbers -- fresh, sour, or salty. Here people speak Sorbian, a Slavic language. While mixing its beer with cucumber juice the Kirchner brewery reduces the alcohol content of the shandy to a mere 2.1%. Mind you, the creators did refrain from calling their mix Spreewasser.

When I saw Kendall's photo of the green bottle showing a cucumber on a bicycle it was a must-have so I ordered a couple of bottles together with another beer mix with cucumber and rhubarb juice. To make a long story short: the Gurken Radler tastes like eingeschlafene Füße (old feet, literally feet that went to sleep). On the other hand the addition of rhubarb juice gives a refined touch to the rose-colored Gurken Radler Rhabarber and I like it. Prosit.

Next on my list of weird drinks is a non-alcoholic soft drink made from fir shoots. For generations farmers in the Black Forest have harvested the young shoots. They cooked them in water while adding sugar to the brew. The result is a syrup called Schösslihonig (fir shoot honey) usually eaten on bread.

On the basis of fir shoots a private brewery created a soft drink dubbed Tannenliebe (love for fir trees). The mix is prepared with an essence from fir shoots, water, sugar, Black Forest honey and citric acid. Red Baron went downtown and bought two bottles of  Tannenliebe,  which turns out to be more expensive than beer. The taste? Disappointing, since I had expected more flavor. On the other hand the soft drink contains only a small amount of sugar and the Abgang (finish or aftertaste) of fir shoots lasts for a couple of hours.

The last liquid I want to make you aware of is called BIRNOH and is as its name suggests based on pears (Birnen). Here they mix selected pear brandy with freshly pressed pear juice diluting the schnapps to a mere 18% alcohol. The mixture is filled into wooden barrels and matures into an aromatic and soft drinking experience. You should enjoy BIRNOH on the rocks. That makes it tasty.

Prosit again.

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