Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Munich Big Boys Spreading their Wings?

I had intended to post from Germany, having got off to a flying start in Bad Bayersoien. Alas the other places I stayed in offered no terminals for internet access, although some did offer free access should you have your own means of doing so. I didn't fancy carrying a lap top on my bike - so no good to me and internet cafes seemed a little thin on the ground. In any event the mountainous terrain had me too knackered to care most of the time!

The area I was in is roughly two hours from Munich by train - say around a hundred miles, but the big Munich five have made their presence felt. In fact it was harder to acquire smaller brewer's beer than in the past, while Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, Spaten, Augustiner and Loewenbrau proliferated. In Austria local brewers seemed to have given up the ghost. When I enquired about why there was no Austrian beer available apart from basic helles (called export there,) I was usually told that German beer is better!

I suspect that price is the real issue here. The small brewers do little to distinguish themselves by producing more interesting or better beers than the big boys and the big boys will win on price. I predict an end to many of the smaller brewers - they have little going for them in some ways, with an indifferent home market where the word "bier" is synonomous with a pale golden fluid of no real character and a complacent approach that is worrying.

With some notable exceptions, German brewers are sleep walking into history!

I will post soon about some of the small brewers and their beer, but for now, I'm catching up at home! The picture is of one such demised brewery,


Laurent Mousson said...

Hear hear, but nothing new. :o(
German beer consumers are sleeping, certain that a certain purity law (which doesn't exist in legislation) guarantees them the best beer in the world...
Smaller austrian brewers unable to churn out anything ales than pedestrian lager ? Indeed. Same problem as in german-speaking Switzerland : actually they're not WILLING to try and brew anything else, because "it's what customers want"...
Indeed if customers know no better... so regionals, small local brewers and micros end up brewing pretty much the same as the big boys, trying to sell it at competitive prices, with production costs that are much higher. And then they complain that it's hard making a living. Oh dear.

Tandleman said...


ZakAvery said...

I was interested to learn a while ago that, unlike any other European country, there is no German equivalent of CAMRA. While this might be good at preserving the insularity and purity of certain regions' classic output, surely this must be a bad thing overall?

Tandleman said...

I think it is. Germany's original beer styles which were in the dozens, if not hundreds are down to around 10 now. Ron P will tell us I guess.

The German's just don't see it though by and large. When I ask which brewery brews a beer in a hotel or whatever, they seem genuinely surprised that I'd wish to know. That is a generalisation I know, but it aint so far off. I'll have more on this in coming blog entries.