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Germany, land of lager and tradition

 

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Whether by a landmark such as the castle at Nuremberg or out in the country, you’re never far from a beer in Germany

By: Stephen Beaumont

 

More than any other of the traditional brewing regions, Germany is a country steeped in its past. Not that this is a terribly bad thing, since much of the country’s brewing history is glorious and many of its styles and traditions well worth preserving. But for the beer traveller, visiting Germany can be a bit like tripping into an era long since past.

 

Throughout much of Germany’s south, especially in its most populated state of Bavaria, the brewing triptych of blonde lager, dark lager and wheat beer hold sway, with the occasional pilsner – often not that different from the blonde lager – bock or seasonal specialty thrown in for variety’s sake. In Köln and Düsseldorf to the northwest, two indigenous styles of lagered ales dominate, respectively kölsch and altbier, while pilsners rule the land along the Rhine and to the far north.

 
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While renown for Oktoberfest, an annual celebration that actually begins in September, there is much more to German beer than just this one event

On the bright side, many of the above-mentioned beers are excellent, and drinking in the beer halls of Munich or the kölsch houses of Köln are remarkable experiences that should be had by every beer enthusiast. The by-product of such rigid traditionalism, however, is that youth are increasingly bored with what they see as their father’s drink, and so turn to blended drinks such as the tipple commonly known as kolabier, a mix of cola and pilsner.


Still, when you’re prowling the streets of the Altstadt in Düsseldorf hunting for a new altbier, or sipping smoked malt märzen in a moody beer hall in Bamberg, or hoisting one litre Maß steins of helles in a Munich biergarten, it’s easy to forget worries about the drawbacks of traditionalism and simply revel in the moment.

 

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