Germany The Session

The Session #19 – German beer

The cap from a bottle of Rothaus Tanen Zapfle
The cap from a bottle of Rothaus Tannen-Zaepfle beer

This month’s Session has been set by Lootcorp 3.0 and is on the subject of German beer.

…the goal is to dig a little deeper and write about how German beers and beer culture have worked their way into your life (and hearts)…

We’ve already blogged about this — our conversion to good beer took place in Germany, so it’s a pretty key part of our beer-drinking lives. We try to go there at least once a year, and I’ve even started learning German so I can have all those fascinating conversations with Franconian brewers about their mashing schedules.

It’s a bit easier to get a regular dose of German beer culture in London, now that Zeitgeist has opened up. So to celebrate this month’s session, so we popped along there.

Zeitgeist is aimed at homesick Germans, so the beer list reflects what Germans actually drink. Therefore most of what’s on offer is the usual mass-produced, nationally available lagers — Bitburger, Warsteiner, Koenig Pils etc. In a shrewd move, reflecting the tendency of Germans to boast about their local beer, they also offer a number of big “regionals” – eg Gaffel Koelsch (on tap), Schloesser Alt and Tannen-Zaepfle, by the Baden-Wuerttenberg state-owned brewery.

Last night, we had a little virtual tour round Germany. We started in the former DDR, with Wernesgruener, before moving to the far north-east west for some Jever (seriously cheesy website, BTW). I don’t think we’ve actually blogged about this before, which is surprising, given how much we drink it. There’s just something about its bitter kick that makes us come back for more. Tastes a bit like hay, in a good way.

Gaffel Koelsch went down well. While it’s not our favourite koelsch, we prefer drinking this one fresh out of the barrel than drinking a tired bottle of a better one. It’s always refreshing, and drinking it next to Wernesgruener and Jever brings out the malty, fruity flavours.

Then down to Baden-Wuerttenburg, where we sampled Eichbaum and Rothaus Tannen-Zaepfle. The Eichbaum was pretty dull (too much hopfenekstrakt and no hops?) and the TZ was OK. When we were on holiday in Heidelberg, we drank it there and noted that it’s a lot fruitier than other pils. It’s drinkable enough, but really not terribly exciting, unless you’re from the area and feeling homesick.

Finally, into Bavaria for Schlenkerla Maerzen. Mmmmm. Frazzles and fruit. Does it for me every time.


6 replies on “The Session #19 – German beer”

For some reason I turn to Gaffel a lot, as it’s available at the stores here in Richmond and at the local watering hole. I find it to be an excellent “anytime” beer, and the Jever as well.

About the Koelsch, which brands do you prefer over Gaffel? I’m on the hunt for better German beer, so this Session was perfectly timed…

Eric — we were really impressed by Gilden, although we’ve never had it from a bottle. That had a very delicate strawberry thing going on. Pfaffen is really interesting (tastes like it has honey in) but I’ve never seen that in a bottle anywhere.

Frueh, which we’ve had in bottles in the UK and thought little of, tastes fantastic on tap — again, rather delicate and almost champagne-like. More-or-less an ordinary lager out of a bottle, though.

For more specifics here’s an old report on Cologne we wrote not long after we started the blog.

I remember my first encounter with Jever, somewhere back in the eighties. Its bitterness came as quit a shock then. We preferred Astra in those days.
Ever tried Flensburger Pilsener?
Btw, I’d say Jever is from the north-WEST

Yes, at Zeitgeist. It’s quite nice.

You’re right, of course. I’m always getting west and east mixed up. Probably a good job they reunified Germany before I went to visit.

[…] over at Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog went on a virtual tour of Germany through beer at London’s Zeitgeist, a bar for German […]

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