Now as a regular visitor to Germany, I knew this of course, but this visit to Osnabrück was a reminder that the interesting beers scenes so familiar to me in Bavaria, Franconia, Cologne and Düsseldorf, are not repeated throughout Germany. This was "ordinary" Germany, where beer is just an amber liquid to most people.
We arrived on time with the superb Air Berlin. My top and favourite airline. It had obviously been throwing it down beforehand, but we arrived in glorious sunshine and it stayed that way until dark. A neat little bus took us off to the city through flat but attractive countryside. The North German plain, fought over fiercely in the Second World War, is still a garrison area for what is left of the British Army in Germany.
Now it has to be said that Osnabrück is not any kind of beer Mecca. The dominating brew seems to be Warsteiner, with Osnabrücker Pils and Alt providing some variety. Osnabrücker Pils will not set any heather on fire. It is pale, soft, under hopped and that is about all. The "alt" is not a true alt to anyone who has visited Düsseldorf, but just a brown. fairly neutral liquid. But there is a brewpub. Now when someone says brewpub in Germany, I groan inwardly. This usually means a pale unfiltered pils type liquid and darker unfiltered dunkel type liquid. Hausbraüerei Rampendahl is in a handsome building, is extremely pleasant inside and has extremely boring beer. Guess what? Yes an unfiltered pale and dark as the only two offerings. Both were sweet and uninteresting with the dunkel being marginally better. The brewery itself is a very decent, modern piece of kit, capable of so much more. It is a source of constant amazement that so much good brewing kit is put to such mundane use in Germany! Missed opportunity.
The only other beer of any interest was a honey wheat beer sold at the Christmas Market. This beer, Ambrosius Brau, by renowned honey expert Herman Krischer of Oberzissen was bottle conditioned, Belgian in palate, spicy and slightly bitter with a honey edge. I am not sure how the Rheinheitsgebot is got past, but it was different and welcome for that. It seems to me, apart from a few areas, German brewing is stagnating. Maybe beer purity laws aren't always a good thing?
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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