From the world-famous Oktoberfest to notorious beer gardens, Germany is undoubtedly the No.1 country that comes into one’s mind, when one thinks of this favourite brew. In fact, Germans come third in the world, when it comes to average beer consumption, with an individual drinking a whopping 28 gallons per year.
Some of the world’s most famous beers come from Germany and with a thriving craft beer scene that spreads across the entire country let’s take a look at the relationship between the Fatherland and Beer over the years.
A STEP BACK IN TIME, TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED
While it may be surprising, we have to thank German wives of yesteryears for the birth of the Traditional German Ales. Just like baking bread, thousands of years ago, brewing beer was considered as part of the regular household chore list. And, German wives have been brewing beer since thousand years ago. This historic brew was thick and heavy and was served to the entire household.
Historical finds show that beer was brewed in German households as early as 800 BC. However, with the increasing popularity of Christianity, the German brewing scene changed big time.
CHRISTIAN MONKS AND BEER
The monks of long back went on long periods of fasting. Since they couldn’t eat anything; they resorted to sipping on beer to keep their bodies nourished during these fasting periods. Drinking beer was allowed during fasting as it wasn’t technically eating.
The monks then started brewing their own beers and slowly perfected the art of making “Fine Brews.” They then sold these brews to the general public and beer saw a massive spike in popularity. From being a household drink, it started getting a commercial status.
ENTER THE ERA OF TAXES ON BREWS
As beer became widely popular, the government started imposing taxes on exports and imports of this drink. With German beer winning hearts across far-flung destinations like England, Netherlands, Scandinavian regions and even India, more and more brew-makers came into the industry to meet the rising demands.
It was during this era, that hops was started to be added to German beers. The hops not only added flavour to the brew but also increased its shelf life. Now, German beers could be exported far and wide, without worrying about getting spoilt.
THE INFAMOUS GERMAN BEER PURITY LAW
In 1516, the Reinheitsgebot (or the German Beer Purity Law) was introduced in Bavaria. According to this law, only three key ingredients could be used for making German brews. The ingredients were barley, hops and of course water.
The reason behind this law was that the government wanted to reduce the competition for ingredients like rye, wheat, and barley between brewers and bakers. By not allowing brewers to use wheat and rye, the government tried to keep food costs low.
THE NEW PROVISIONAL BEER LAW
This Law was in existence till 1993. Yes, only 24 years ago, this centuries-old law was replaced by the New Provisional Beer Law. According to the new law, brewers now can use hop extracts, powdered hop, yeast, stabilization and other lining ingredients while making beer.
This new law led to the growth of the craft beer revolution in Germany, as brew-makers could experiment with newer flavours for the first time in modern history.
10 INTERESTING BEER FACTS FROM GERMANY
1. GERMANY IS A BEER COUNTRY
Germany is the leading producer of beer in Europe, and more than 5500 varieties of beer are sold here. The average beer production in a year is around 95 million hectolitres.
2. PUBLIC DRINKING IS NOT FROWNED UPON
In Germany, it’s common to see people drinking beer everywhere – whether it’s an office party, a public park or at the theatre, people always drink beer.
3. TRADITIONAL FESTIVALS ARE INCOMPLETE WITHOUT BEER
Whether you’re attending a traditional music festival or any other celebration, you’re sure to come across several brew stalls. In fact, several breweries produce special beers to be consumed at the festivals exclusively. The most famous of these is the Oktoberfest beer made especially for the festival in Munich. It’s served in one-litre Bavarian beer mugs. (That’s a lot of beer, but we ain’t complaining).
4. FOOTBALL AND BEER
Football is the most popular sport in Germany, and it’s only right that beer goes hand in hand with it. In fact, most of the top players sport beer advertisements on their t-shirts. Very often, the official sponsor of the team is a brewery, and it serves its beer at football events.
5. YOU CAN BUY BEER 24 X 7
There are neighbourhood kiosks around the country that sell tobacco, newspapers, candy, and beer. What started around 150 years back as a stall to sell water, now serves as a pit-stop for beer lovers.
6. THE CORNER PUBS WITH CULT FOLLOWING
These are no-nonsense pubs with simple, comfort food and hearty ales. These bars draw locals who are regulars and come here to sip their after-work beer.
7. FUN IN THE SUN AT BEER GARDENS
Beer gardens are intrinsically linked to German culture. They dated back to the 19th century and originated in Bavaria. The brewers sold their brews directly from the cooling cellars to the people as they rested along the banks of the Isar River. Today, you can find beer gardens all over the country and are hugely popular in summer.
8. THE RISE OF CRAFT BREWERIES AND MODERN BREWING TECHNIQUES
With the scrapping of the old beer law, the craft brewing scene has picked up steadily and is quite active in Berlin and Hamburg. In fact, several traditional breweries have jumped into the craft brewing scene with smaller, niche beers.
9. TAKE A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BEER MAKING SEMINARS
Beer aficionados can take part in beer hikes, seminars or check out the 30+ beer museums all over Germany. Additionally, you can brew your own beer at the popular “Grillakademie” (a craft beer seminar) in Bochum.
10. EACH BEER IN ITS GLASS
Different types of German beers are served in various kinds of glassware. For instance, wheat beers are served in a tall glass, while lagers are served in beer mugs.
GERMANY & BEER: A HISTORIC LOVE AFFAIR
You cannot separate Germany from beer and Beer from Germany. Hope this article gives you an insight into the beer culture in the Fatherland.
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