Christmas markets in Germany

Kitsch is a German word and the wonderful, warm, colourful Christmas markets of Germany demonstrate exactly what it means.

There were mock pine forests (trees nailed to the floor, Goslar); mock wooden houses (everywhere); mock stone ovens (plaster and fibreglass, Leipzig); and mock snow (fibreglass and glitter, Dortmund). The stalls sell traditional wooden toys, traditional sausages, traditional stollen, traditional cough sweets — you name it, if it’s ‘time honoured’ they’re selling it.

And yet, it doesn’t feel nasty, or tacky or cheap.

On our first night in Germany, we found ourselves in the Christmas market in Dortmund, surrounded by people slightly tipsy on gluehwein. Everyone was cold, but had hot booze to keep their hands warm. There was a genuine and general sense of well-being and togetherness, despite the fakery with which we were surrounded. And we didn’t give the absence of beer a second thought.

We’re no subscribers to the idea that we live in ‘binge Britain’, but the thought did cross our mind: could this ever work in the UK? Are we too cynical, too prone to drunken idiocy? It would be nice to think not…

beer reviews Germany

Gose in Goslar

Crystal clear gose hell in Goslar
Crystal clear gose hell in Goslar

We’d barely been in Goslar an hour before we had our first glasses of Gose in front of us. It’s one of those legendary regional styles that fascinates beer geeks — salt, coriander and sourness? About as far from the boring “premium pilsners” that are the norm in Germany as it is possible to get.

We tried the big brand first, Brauhaus Goslar Gose. Lars Marius had suggested the Goslar gose was dumbed down and, sure enough, its only distinguishing feature was a distinct saltiness. It wasn’t cloudy, either. Odd and pleasant enough, but not Earth-shattering.

That night, we tried our second gose, about which we can find very little information. It’s apparently micro-brewed and served, as far as we can tell, only at the Worthmuehle restaurant. It was much more interesting — a dead ringer for a Belgian wit, and very unlike anything we’d had in Germany before. There was a little more sourness, less salt and a lot more coriander than in Brauhaus Goslar Gose.

We liked it so much, we came back for more the next night.

Little did we realise how much more interesting things were going to get when we tried the two goses available in Leipzig. More on that in our next post. Incidentally, there were dark versions available of both the Goslar intepretations, but they were not particularly noteworthy.  They were similar to the pale versions but tasted a lot more like homebrew.

Restaurant Worthmuehle also does excellent food, making a real point about sourcing its meat locally and ethically. Which got us wondering… why do you never ever see a pig? Pigs must outnumber humans in order to deliver that much Schnitzel and Schweinhaxe…

Also, Goslar is a really interesting and pretty place, and definitely worth a visit even if you’re not intrigued by the Gose thing.