Readers of this blog may know of my interest in Germany and the German beer scene. I therefore read in the on line version of the influentialSüddeutsche Zeitungnewspaper, that German beer is in trouble. They say so in no uncertain terms, with the headline above, which needs no translation. Outsiders and keen observers of the German brewing scene, including me, have said so for some time and now it seems, a major German newspaper has noticed the issue.
They start by saying "When all was well with the world, in Bavaria, in each village there was a small brewery and a tavern. On Saturday evening people would head over for a few drinks and again on Sunday after a good roast pork lunch". The article goes on to demolish this bucolic scene in a withering and hard hitting way. They remark that it is all very well that Germany boasts so many breweries, but their beer is all too similar nowadays.SZ laments that at one time German brewers brewed to suit local tastes and now technology allows them to produce such bland beers, that when they are taken over by the big boys, no-one really notices. Mockingly they say that most German brewers can't even identify their own beer in a blind tasting with others!
Clearly written from a Bavarian perspective, SZ scathingly says people nowadays are happy to "drink green bottles from Prussia". They blast some of the popular German mixes such as radler and cola mix, as well as the generation of alcopops, which they call "funny lemonades". Even the beer purity laws, which state only malt, water, yeast and hops can be used in brewing, can be seen as restrictive and preventing brewpubs diversifying beer styles as much as elsewhere. The article quotes the USA, the UK and Belgium, where brewers can produce more interesting beer to compete with wine. Somewhat surprisingly the article doesn't refer to Franconia where the tradition of village breweries still abounds, but I don't suppose that was the point they were making.
The article goes on in much the same vein and is worth reading if you are remotely interested in how German beer is very much under threat. From our own UK experience it all sounds depressingly familiar and will hopefully be a wake up call to German drinkers.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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