Friday, September 05, 2008

Session #19 - Not just schwartz and weiss*

Because in the end, the transatlantic image of beer in Germany can be reduced to the image of a grinning Fraulein with a Halbe Maß of helles Lagerbier surrounded by Lederhosen-clad, tuba-wielding, fantastically-mustachioed Mensche. And to that end, lootcorp 3.0 isn't going to let us propagate that myth. More so, they'd like us, for this month's Session, to approach the topic of beer vis-à-vis Germany with the delicacy, thoughtfulness, insight, and wisdom that is the hallmark collection of attributes we ascribe to our lot, the beer blogger. Thus, no oompah jokes. No rolling out of barrels or any such sort. No Schuhplattler. Our duty is to strip away the weathered, simplistic facade of the Munich biergarten and provide a plain and simple informative reflection on the country's other, less marketed contributions to the world of brewing. Just the beer.
Awful, awful, awful beer. Make no mistake: Just because it's a country renowned for its storied association with the history of beer, a country famed for its reputed purity law, it's gargantuan drinking vessels, and a certain yearly celebration that begins with the letter O, that doesn't mean they're free from brown-bag level rotgut swill. Granted, it's swill that's been brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot, but swill all the same. And before you think this is an excuse to launch into some unflattering tirade, snarkily thumbing my nose at the country that brought us Salvator (even though it was made by Italians), allow me to explain that as a German myself (at least according to my passport), I have tremendous pride in knowing that behind all those glistening copper kettles and brewing institutes there's still a base-level, wretched pilsner for those who don't really want to taste what they're drinking, but can get a quantifiable (5.0%!) buzz all the same. And thanks to parents who found themselves waiting in the Frankfurt airport last month with little to do, we've gotten our hands on some beer that reflects the untold, seedy underground of German brewing.
And for those who dare to taste the untasteable? Well... Rather than clean up a translation of the text on the label, let's share this rough Googlization of 5,0's marketing spiel:
Only one black red yellow box! No elaborate embossed with gold! Only a simple design! No expensive TV advertising! This goes to savings you have! We have almost everything saved! Except in the quality after the German purity law! Ingredients: water, barley malt and hops! Put your money better! Pay less now for a good Pils without frills!
Charming, no? Especially the unintended rhyme at the end - definitely the way to go when they almost certainly bring this special brew stateside. As far as what's on the inside of this beguiling package, we did at least agree that it smelled German. Beneath a Budweiser acetaldehyde apple funk and within a few layers of cardboard, there it was - that classic noble hop sparkle of a Continental pilsner. But that was it. It was unsurprisingly watery, not particularly bitter or malty, with a finish that disappeared off the palate like a phantom. After combining it with a little bit of spicy food, it immediately took on the character of Corona. I needed to steady myself with a 90-Minute just to get through writing about it. Silver lining? Even the grubbiest of grubsteak German pils is actually not that bad. It would seem that there's something to be said about that much-maligned purity law in instances like this...

So there you have it. Enjoy reading others' stories of quaint kellerbiers and obscure eisbocks and the odd Ur-Bock. It's good to know that (besides a tidal wave of revolting alcopops) there's still a market for cheap, tasteless lager in the land that made lager great. Stereotype dismissed. But if there's one stereotype of Germany's beer culture that exists solely as a result of it's undeniable, awesome truth, it's this: There's an entire country of young, beautiful German girls who are totally into beer, and can't wait to hang out with you. They probably even want to talk to you about decoction mashing and hot side aeration while you loosen their dirndls! And thanks to strong genetic traits, they all look the same. It's a fact!

The Session is a blog carnival originated by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. This month's party is being hosted by lootcorp 3.0. For a summary of the Sessions thus far, check out Brookston's handy guide.

* And please pardon the horrible pun.



Blogger Mario (Brewed for Thought) said...

Very nice Rob. A few months back BBC did a story on Germans not drinking German beer anymore. Brewpubs are failing, most Germans likes their alcopops or turn to beers brewed outside of Germany. Surprisingly, they really love Heineken.

Try the second mp3 link for their story. Some of the people interviewed are rather....interesting.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have faced the horrors of being stuck in the Frankfurt airport with substandard beer. So I feel your pain. Ah, the joys of travel...

10:35 AM  
Blogger Aimee M. said...

Two words: Berliner Pilsner. But then you know that...

7:01 AM  

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