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German History in a Bottle

hofbrauFor my latest Vue Weekly column (which is now last week’s but you can still read it here), I tippled a bottle of a beer that I have had only once before, and that was two decades ago during a multi-month backpacking trip through Europe. So you can imagine my delight at finding a bottle of it (and some of its sisters) sitting on an Edmonton liquor store shelf.

You see, Munich’s Hofbräuhaus is a local mainstay in that city. It is a must-go-to place where tankards of Hofbräu Munchen beer flow freely.So I went, and I enjoyed. Plus it may have more connection to a country’s history than almost any other beer on the planet. Kings, Dukes, Fuhrers, and Presidents have all sipped on Hofbräu Munchen – which, I am tickled to report, has always been and continues to be state-owned – making it as much a cornerstone of German history as the Reichstag and the protestant reformation. The article discusses some of that history, so I won’t repeat it here.

What I will relay here is the satisfying subtlety of the beer. I fully realize it is not at its peak after thousands of kilometres and many weeks getting here. As a pale, crisp lager, it doesn’t have many resistive powers. Yet, I found all the components of the beer – a grainy, crisp malt with a quiet, earthy hop bite – to have a confident, under-stated quality. Present, but not feeling any need to strut around the room.

That seems to me to be a classic German character. No need to be brash or forward. Let the quiet notes of the beer speak for itself. And despite knowing I would prefer the beer in its Munich Brauhaus (who wouldn’t?), I still really appreciated the balance and overall impression of this beer. We don’t do beer this way in North America, and so I appreciate it all the more.

North America’s hopheads likely will find it boring. But I suspect most beer aficionados will appreciate its quiet, balanced quality. I know I did.



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