Friday, September 5, 2008

The Session #19 – Deutsches Bier

Been meaning to do this Session thing for a while now, but dammit if I don't forget every month. And it almost happened again, but for a chance visit to Lew Bryson's blog today that jogged my memory.

This month's theme is "Deutsches Bier" – German beer – and how the world is a better place for it. (And it is, thank you.) Our September Session is being hosted (and shortly, aggregated and summarized) by lootcorp 3.0.

I'm tempted, really tempted, to use this opportunity to rail against Germany's famed Reinheitsgebot, a.k.a. "German Beer Purity Law" of 1516. I'm tempted to point out that it's an outdated (by, oh, around 500 years) piece of legislation whose original purpose was to protect the production of bread, not beer. Tempted to point out the fundamental flaw in this attempt to fix the acceptable constituencies in beer before we even knew about yeast. Perfectly tempted to go on about stifling creativity, expression and the free market for no good reason. I'm tempted to do all these things, but I won't. I'll leave that to this guy.

If we are to equate wild, rambunctious and unrestrained brewing practices with greatness (can you say "Belgium"?), then maybe we ought also to bemoan the Reinheitsgebot for keeping one of the world's great brewing traditions needlessly handcuffed and kept from achieving its true potential.

On the other hand, how about arguing that by forcing German brewmasters to limit the scope of their focus, perhaps, and by instilling a strict adherence to the doctrine of "beer purity," maybe that silly old law is to be thanked for the roster of outstanding, technically masterful beer styles Germany has to offer today.

Ooof. Such philosophical and academic exercises are downright meaningless when you're in the streets outside Zum Uerige, sipping fresh Altbier poured from a firkin. Or downing beautiful golden Helles from a giant mug in the Augustiner Biergarten. Or enjoying barbecue with a smokey, velvety, seductive Rauchbier. Or fighting back the pucker instinct gifted by a gloriously sour Berliner Weisse. (Take that, Belgium.)

Germany, I say give me your Doppelbocks, your Dortmunders, your Schwartzbiers. Your Weizenbocks, your Kölsches, your Märzens.

Let's be honest – how often do we demand that our beers have adjuncts and extraneous flavorings in them? What's in an IPA that would offend the German Beer Police? (You thought I was going to say "Beer Nazis," didn't you?)

The Olympics ended last month, so I hope you'll follow me on this: Without taking a moral stand on the Reinheitsgebot issue, we can step back and regard Germans beers like we do the Chinese athletes churned out from that country's gymnast-and-diver mills. Sure, there may be some government meddling involved here. OK, things might have turned out differently. But damn – they're still something to marvel at.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails