Saturday, September 29, 2012

Craft Brewing in Hamburg goes Public

Last Saturday, I had the chance to attend the First Craft Beer Day in Hamburg, Germany.

For those of you who are aware, Germany has a strong tradition of making beer. So strong in fact, they bost the first food production laws in recorded history and it was related to beer. This of course is known as the Reinheitsgobot of 1516. Whilst this has since become famous all around the world and to a great extent shaped our concept of beer, there was an earlier related law, the Statua Taberna of 1434 which preceded it. Today, the current Reinheitsgebot has loosened up to allow greater flexibility in what can actually be called beer in Germany, many modern diehards still cling to the 1516 definition.

Be that as it may, because of this loosening in the definition, Germans are starting to more openly sample and explore what the rest of the world has been toying with for some time, the wild, wonderful, and weird world of Craft Beer. As a result of this, Craft Breweries are slowly starting to make their presence known and felt in various population center around Germany.

Here in Hamburg, there are around 4 or 5 craft or micro breweries (brewpubs) that operate with regular frequency. The First Craft Beer Day was sponsored and hosted by Ratsherrn Brauerei, a new kid on the block that seems to be making a bit of a name for themselves. The day itself turned out to be quite fun with live music from the Reeperbahn Festival, a sausage & soup station, seven different craft beer suppliers, and a reasonably interested crowd.

Samual Adams (Boston Beer Co) put in an international appearance and had a noteworthy Sahti inspired beer. perhaps not a Sahti in its true sense but nice all the same. I believe there is a move to preserve real Sahti, in a similar way to that in which Anchor Steam Beer is protected. Aarhus Bryghus a Danish group had some tasty beers available, far to many on the menu to drink them all  ;-)

From the locals (Hamburgers), Ratsherrn Braueri, and old brewery being relocated and re-branded,  had several of their beers available. Of their beers on offer, the Reeperbahn Festival Beer was a clear crowd pleaser. Klindworths also made a showing and their Pale Ale was possibly the best PA/IPA styled beer on offer. Then there was, the newest kid on the block, Blockbr√§u. They've had a few consistency issues but seem to be getting a handle on things. The last Pilsner I had of theirs was tasty and very drinkable.

Others from around Germany included Ricklinger Landbrauerei, from the north of Hamburg and Maisel & Friends from the south-east of Germany. I didn't get around to sampling either of these, but I do look forward to the opportunity in the future.

All in all, this was a great day. To round out the event, it also brought out some of the 'hidden' Hobby Brewers that are secretly toiling away at making their own beers. There is no formal group as yet but the people I met with have all the bases covered : meads, American beer styles, Australian brewing styles with german refinements, cider brewers, extract and all grain proponents. I look forward to interacting with this diverse group of people and seeing if they actually group together as a force before the Second Craft Beer Festival, next year - it'd be great to see expat and local Hobby Brewers also contributing to a Craft Beer Festival and displaying their Club colours.

Until next time,

It's Your Shout, mate!