This is our 19th monthly Session a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday and Jim at Lootcorp 3.0 has chosen Deutsches Bier (or German Beer) as the theme, and he’s even offering bonus points for “Bavarian-themed posts.” Here’s how he put his intentions in his announcement:
I’ve decided to make September’s topic Deutsches Bier – German beer. I want you all to focus on the wonderful contributions our German neighbors have made to the beer world. You can write about a particular German style you really enjoy, a facet of German beer culture which tickles your fancy, or any other way in which Germany and beer have become intertwined in your life. Bonus points for Bavarian-themed posts.
It was that last sentence that caught my attention. Bavaria, eh? Well, I have over 2,000 photos I took during the press junket I took to Bavaria with a dozen other beer journalists last November. And I’d hardly had a chance to look at them … until now. So this Session seemed the perfect opportunity to get off my duff and get those photos posted. It’s taken more than a week to go through them all, choose the best ones and re-size them for the web. But, whew, happy to say that’s done now.
Bavaria, of course, is one of the sixteen German federal states, similar to the 50 American states in terms of relative autonomy with a federal system. Bavaria is by far the largest by area, with over 70,500 square kilometers. The next closest — Lower Saxony — has less than 50,000, roughly two-thirds’ Bavaria’s size. Despite its expansiveness, it ranks second in population — to North Rhine-Westphalia. Its capital, naturally is Munich.
Germany’s famous Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, was originally a Bavarian regulation, having “originated in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria on April 23, 1516, although first put forward in 1487, concerning standards for the sale and composition of beer. Before its official repeal in 1987, it was the oldest food quality regulation in the world.” Maybe, although in 1483 London passed a rule concerning the use of hops and other ingredients by City brewers. But that’s a story for another day. Certainly the Germans were better at promoting the Reinheitsgebot.
Although I would argue that there is wonderful beer throughout Germany, the Bavarians do take a singular pride in their beer traditions. Then there’s the Hallertau region of Bavaria, where a significant amount of hops is grown. All in all, Bavaria is probably the best place in Germany if you want to immerse yourself in beer.
Seven Days in Bavaria
November 4-10, 2007
11.4 Miltenberg Sunday: German Beer Trip, Day 1
11.5 Miltenberg Monday: Faust Brewery Tour: German Beer Trip, Day 2
11.5 Wurzburger Hofbrau Brewery Tour: German Beer Trip, Day 2
11.5 Weyermann Malting: German Beer Trip, Day 2
11.5 Schlenkerla: German Beer Trip, Day 2
11.6 Bamberg Biermuseum: German Beer Trip, Day 3
11.6 A Walk Around Bamberg: German Beer Trip, Day 3
11.6 Mahr’s Brau: German Beer Trip, Day 3
11.6 A Quick Stop at Fassla and Spezial: German Beer Trip, Day 3
11.6 Schlenkerla Production Brewery: German Beer Trip, Day 3
11.7 Lammsbrau Organic Brewery: German Beer Trip, Day 4
11.7 Furst Carl: German Beer Trip, Day 4
11.7 Anheuser-Busch’s Hallertau Hop Farm: German Beer Trip, Day 4
11.8 German Hop Museum: German Beer Trip, Day 5
11.8 Kaltenberg, Part 1: German Beer Trip, Day 5
11.8 Kaltenberg, Part 2: German Beer Trip, Day 5
11.8 Dinner at the Hofbrauhaus: German Beer Trip, Day 5
11.9 Spaten: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.9 Augustiner Brau Munchen, Part 1: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.9 Augustiner Brau Munchen, Part 2: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.9 Paulaner Nockherberg: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.9 Ayinger Brewery, Part 1: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.9 Ayinger Brewery, Part 2: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.9 Dinner at Schneider Weiss Brauhaus: German Beer Trip, Day 6
11.10 Castle Mindelburg: German Beer Trip, Day 7
11.10 Meckatzer: German Beer Trip, Day 7
11.10 Zotler Brauerei: German Beer Trip, Day 7
Of the photo galleries above, only the first few have any text yet, but I’m working on it. I also have some short films to add. Those should be up soon, too. If you feel like you just got stuck asking to watch somebody’s slide show of their last vacation, feel free to click away from here as fast as your little mouse finger can carry you.
If, however, you love brewery porn, I can promise you there’s tons — literally tons — of it in these galleries. The Bavarians love their brewing equipment and polish it to a high sheen. And they also love their rich brewing heritage so there’s no end to the mini-museums lovingly displaying their old equipment and other breweriana from both their recent and distant past.
Four of the smaller breweries we visited are just now starting to be imported to the U.S. as part of a new company, Barvaria Exports, dba “The Craft Brewers of Bavaria.” Our trip was paid for the Bavarian Brewers Federation, the Munich Brewers Guild, several agricultural trade organizations and even some American companies doing business in Germany. The four brewers who are part of the Craft Brewers of Bavaria are, naturally, members of at least one of the guilds. And I just know you won’t trust me if I don’t disclose that as soon as possible.
The trip was organized by these trade groups in the hopes of bringing attention to beer from Germany. Despite not being coerced in any way to write anything specific, good or bad, there are critics among us who dogmatically insist objectivity is impossible under such circumstances. Just by accepting the trip, I’ve been corrupted already so anything I write about it suffers from that bias. This is apparently especially true if I write anything favorable, because I guess you’re not intelligent enough to decide for yourself if I’m being truthful or and am simply writing a puff piece out of gratitude.
Hopefully by now you’ve figured out that I disagree with such nonsense. I welcomed the opportunity to visit breweries I’ve never been to and, in many cases, never even heard of, and without the generosity of the being invited on the trip it might have been many years before I wondered into these small towns and their breweries. I suspect that unless you travel regularly and extensively throughout Bavaria, you may not have been familiar with many of them either. So that means we all get to share in learning about these wonderful breweries. The four Craft Brewers of Bavaria are:
A fifth brewery that we didn’t visit, St. Georgen Brau in Buttenheim, has been added to the venture. All of them are part of a relatively new appellation the EU designated in 2001, Bayerisches Bier (or Bavarian Beer), granting legal protection to Bavaria as a geographic appellation.
All of the beers we had from these breweries were exceptionally good. Even they’re far from household names in America, I hope distributors pick them up and, assuming that happens, that people buy them and give them a try. There’s one style from each brewery available in a four-pack, with a good range of different German beers. From Lammsbrau, an organic brewery, their Lammsbrau Light is a mild lager, not a a low-calorie beer but a session lager (4.1% abv) that also full-flavored. Meckatzer Gold is a tasty helles. The Miltenberger Helles Hefe-Weizen is a great German-style hefeweizen, though I confess their Schwarzviertler was absolutely one of my favorites. The Zotler Bier Korbinian Dunkel is a nice dark lager. But don’t take my word for it — after all I’ve only been there — try the beer for yourself. These are great German beers. I’d say so no matter how I managed to get to Bavaria and visit these breweries.