German Craft Beer
A true beer nation. Hardly any other country is so closely associated with beer as Germany. No wonder, then, that Germany is considered the birthplace of lager, wheat beer and also the purity law.
The origin of good beer
Beer was probably brewed and drunk in Germany long before the Roman legions arrived in the south and west. But it was a woman's business and with the structures of the Romans, beer production was commercialised - in the smallest sense.
The first really professionally run breweries, however, were the monastery breweries, which were built especially in the south of the country with the arrival of clergymen. The purpose was to feed the monks even during Lent. Beer was ideally suited for this purpose. Later it was recognised that the quality of the bierre from monasteries was always higher than that of the home brewers and so beer was also sold from the monasteries, which meant that the citizens could get better beer than in their town. In the north, where there were not so many monasteries, guilds, i.e. associations, were founded in the towns to control the quality of beer. A big difference that also characterises the history of beer in Germany.
Distribution and export
Within a few decades, the well-connected cities in the north were able to use the Hanseatic League to sell their high-quality beer and export it to other countries. German beer became an export hit. In the south, the purity law and other resolutions controlled the quality.
Regional specialities were created at this time and beer recipes, ideas and craft skills were exchanged and developed further.
The 30-year war - a disaster
The 30-year war was not only a disaster for the entire population and infrastructure of the former Germany. Beer culture and history were also almost completely wiped out. Innumerable breweries were looted or destroyed, knowledge wiped out. As breweries in the north were mainly located in towns, some of which suffered enormous damage, and breweries in the south were often run in monasteries, which were also destroyed, nothing was the same after the war. The advantage of the south: even in the smallest villages there were breweries, which fortunately were spared.
Lager beer - a German invention
It is particularly the geographical conditions and the spared breweries in the south that have shaped the image of German beer, which is still relevant today. The hilly and partly mountainous landscape enabled brewers to store their beer in cellars deep in the hills. The temperatures there were constantly cool. Over many years and decades, these allowed the yeast, which at that time had not yet been researched, to mutate. Thus a top-fermented yeast slowly turned into a bottom-fermented one. Ales became Lager. The quality of the beer increased, as did the drinkability. And especially the popularity among beer drinkers. The beginning of a success story.
When the English invention of the "English kiln" came to Germany in the 18th century, the malts used for brewing became lighter and so did the beers. Their taste became even more pleasing and palatable. The per capita consumption increased immeasurably. Beer styles such as Pilsner, Helles, Kölsch and Alt, but also the Berliner Weiße, became increasingly established and more breweries were established.
Two wars and the end of diversity
The two world wars also ended the diversity of beer and the wealth of breweries in Germany. Only a few survived the destruction and economic consequences of the wars. In the 1950s, they seized the opportunity and expanded. By the 1990s, more and more small family breweries had disappeared and the beer that was drunk generally tasted increasingly interchangeable.
Craft Beer comes to Germany
Of course, many small breweries survived, especially in southern Germany, and still brew today. Especially in Franconia the density of breweries is unique in the world. With the Craft Beer Wave, which also spilled over from the USA and England to Germany in the 2010s, small breweries also came back into focus. But also new, small breweries were founded and opened. One of the first was the Buddelship Brewery, but also Landgang Brauerei or Kehrwieder Brauerei - all from Hamburg.
In the meantime, there is again quite a considerable variety and specialisation of breweries in Germany. Sudden Death Brewing from Timmendorf concentrate on IPA and NEIPA, Kemker Kultuur from Münsterland brews old beer styles and Farmhouse Ales. The Flügge Brewery brews Sour Ales and Fruited Sours.