Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do Germans really drink warm beer?

In 20 years I am living in the USA one question which I was asked many, many times is the question in the title of this  post. But the question really should sound different. It is not about what they do, because some actually might. The question needs to be asked as follows.
Do Germans really prefer to drink warm beer?
The answer is as simple as the question : No.
( I would like to add that this accounts for the large majority of German beer drinkers. I am sure there is some who actually do prefer the warm juice !)
I was born in Northrheinwestphelia which has a rich history of beer brewing and grew up in Munich, which is without a doubt the mother region of beer. Not only did I grew up in beer regions, but also in a family where beer was part of a lifestyle, in a good sense. Beer in both regions is part of their culture ( like in other regions of Germany as well).
It remains a mystery to me, why people around the World and especially it seems Americans and Australians believe, that beer is consumed warm in Germany. Just imagine the Oktoberfest or many other big fairs serving warm beer. What chaos it would be?
Fact is, that traditionally beer is served cold and the association of brewers in Germany not only helps to understand why beer needs to be brewed by the Reinheitsgebot, but also that it tastes and is best at 4 degree Celsius, which is about 39.2 degree Fahrenheit. (check Brauer Bund on the internet for reference).  So in a sense it is best in a cold refrigerator and at times you should even cool it down a little in the freezer. No need to measure the temperature, just feel the bottle.  
It is however true, that some Germans do drink their beer right out of the basement. Room temperature it is called. But that is only possible, because most basements in Germany are cool in temperature, even in summer time. A fact resulting from the way they are constructed. Into the ground, concrete walls and great insulation. There is no warm basement in a regular home build by German standards. The term room temperature definitely does not account for beer out of your living room.  All above facts are based on German beer though. If you are talking Budweiser, you better chill it too the coldest you can, because after a few minutes of being on the table, the taste of that kind of beer is unbearable.
That would be a difference to be mentioned. When you have an Augustiner Lager in a biergarten and drink it taking your time, even when getting warmer, this beer will taste great. Do the same with a Michelob or whatever and you can not drink it.
So, all together. The answer to the above question is without a doubt NO!
There might be different opinions on how cold it shall be 4 celsius, 8 celsius or around that, but for sure not warm. Room temperature only accounts for basements and then only if it is cold enough. Back in the days refrigerators were small in Germany and the cellar was used to store food items ( which accounts for beer as well) and that is where the misconception came from.
We suggest when you go and buy some good German beer in a store. Take it home. Put one bottle in the fridge and one in the darkest and coldest room you have. After cooling them for a day, try them at the same time and compare the taste of each beer. Notice the difference and make up your own mind. Myself, I like it cold, but would drink a German beer in any condition!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for clearing that up for me (and many other Americans I'm sure).

    Since this article is about beer... IPAs for all!

    Dogfish Head
    Heddy Topper