Category Archives: Germany

GALLERY: European Beer, 1890s

We have culled these advertisements from two editions of the Hamburg American Line (aka Hapag Lloyd) guide to Europe from 1896 and 1900. The former is available through Archive.org while the latter (stinky and falling apart) is in our own collection.

(When did you last see a hotel using its beer offer as selling point?)

QUOTE: Dear and Doubtful, 1902

“But as English Bass is never quite the real article on the Continent, so Münchener is never quite the real thing in England. Whether beers have to be fortified or not for a voyage outside their own country they have a tendency to be both doubtful and dear. Bass is too ‘gassy’ on the Continent; Munich too biting in England… In its native beer-gardens Münchener is the prince of beers — brown and bland and soft, with a cream of froth like a beaten egg, a delicate flavour, cold, yet not icy, refreshing to the body, and comforting to the stomach…”

W.R. Holt, ‘Germans and their Drinks’, Daily Express, 04/09/1902

(Brown and bland — count us in!)

Capacious Bavarian Beer Bellies, 1873

“In South Germany Bavaria takes the lead. Perhaps it is the greatest beer-consuming nation that exists. They drink at all times and in great quantities and always the pretty strong drink known as Bavarian beer. Glass after glass disappears down their large throats into a most capacious stomach, and they always get the ‘drier wi’ the drinking o’t’…  [We] have never met a Bavarian yet who was content with less than three glasses of his own stronger quality, and women and children are alike good and brave drinkers.”

‘The Consumption of Beer in Germany’, Brewers’ Guardian, 14 January 1873, p7.

Neu Alt?

Modern Alt Bier.

We broadly agree with the sentiment expressed here: it would be a shame if ‘craft beer’ in Germany amounted to nothing more than mediocre imitations of American styles.

At the same time, we don’t demand that other beer cultures remain unchanged as a theme park for visiting beer geeks — we enjoy the fruits of fifty years of increasing diversity in UK brewing, so why would German beer geeks be any different?

What we would like to see, alongside properly traditional styles, is German brewers riffing upon their own brewing heritage, just as US and UK brewers have upon the idea of India Pale Ale and porter.

What, for example, would a modern take on Alt look like?

Perhaps it might have some or most of of its bittering hops reallocated to the late aroma stage, showcasing Perle and other traditional varieties: a change in process, not a change in ingredients.

It might use American hops while retaining the traditional colour, ABV and yeast character. (That would not make it an India Alt, by the way.)

Or maybe it could just be stronger, paler and more bitter? (Yes, we know about Sticke.)

An example of where something like this is already happening is the ‘Hopfen Weisse’ from venerable wheat beer brewer Schneider.

Schneider Hopfen Weisse in its original packaging.

We haven’t conducted a thorough survey of German craft beer and we’re quite out of touch, so there may be many other examples of distinctly German beers which are also ‘modern’. Let us know below, especially if we can get our hands on them here in the UK.

All of the posts in Barm’s recent serial German travelogue are worth a read 1 | 2 | 3  ).