Holy shmoly! This article on Slate about the Brauereisterben came as a surprise!
A more likely culprit for the brauereisterben is the country’s very definition of beer. Germany’s brewing industry has, for nearly 500 years now, marched under the banner of the Reinheitsgebot (literally, “purity commandment”). A law enacted in 1516 to control prices and shield the baking industry from supply shortages by excluding rye and wheat from brewing, the Reinheitsgebot stipulated that beer must contain only malted barley, hops, and water (wheat and yeast were written in later). The decree—often described as a the world’s first consumer protection legislation—dried up the ancient pre-hops tradition of Gruitbier, which likely included yarrow, bog myrtle, juniper, rosemary, mugwort, and woodruff—all perfectly useful bittering and flavoring plants. It also pulled the plug on Köttbusser, an ancient brew made with oats, honey, and molasses. While the Reinheitsgebot was actually overturned in 1987 as an impediment to European free trade, many German companies adhere to it for marketing purposes, especially in Bavaria. When it comes to beer for local consumers (exports are mostly brewed without the strictures), it’s still the de facto law of the land.
I think I wrote something about this topic at some point, when I mentioned that, when I first came the the United States, I thought all beer here sucked. And it took me a while, but now I can’t get enough of micro-brew IPAs and more experimental beers. Don’t get me wrong, some days I do miss German beers and the closest I get here is buying a six-pack of Pilsner Urquell or this one Czech beer whose name I never remember. For some reason you people are really into Hefeweizen, which I think is one of the least interesting and tasty German beers.
But hey, that’s just me.
And say what you want, a Radler on a hot summer evening is one of the best things there is. I’ve got to say though that I’ve never understood people who were into the fruit juice mixing. I have a couple of friend that love drinking something called Bananenweizen, Hefeweizen mixed with Banana juice, which tastes like puke.
Come on, Kameraden, get over your beer snobbery about the Reinheitsgebot (which was a tax scheme anyway) and try some India Pale Ale with your Maultaschen! (I tried Infinium a couple of weeks ago…not really my thing, but then, I’m not into ‘the bubbly’.)