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May 24 2012

Thanks for the beer warnings!

I have received a lot of advice in my email about the beer here in Germany — apparently, there’s a fair amount of regional variation. I know I washed down my dinner last night with something that was indistinguishable from American Budweiser, anyway.

But I don’t know how I’d react if I saw something like this Papst-Bier:

I might be contractually obligated to drink it, so I can desecrate it by passing it through my heathen kidneys.

45 comments

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  1. 1
    SuckPoppet

    something that was indistinguishable from American Budweiser

    The horror ! The horror !

    </Apocalypse Now mode>

  2. 2
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I do not want that near my mouth.

  3. 3
    Outrage Zombie

    And now I find myself wondering if anyone’s ever tried brewing beer using the host/consecrated crackers as part of the fermentable portion, and whether such a concoction would taste better than toilet wine.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Amblebury

    Ratzinger. It’s actually not a bad name for a beer.

  6. 6
    fallingwhale

    As I recall the last time the pope was on German beer bottles they burned down Spain.

  7. 7
    fullyladenswallow

    Oh, I can just see the TV ads now-

    Announcer: “It’s Friday Happy Hour…time to fill you mug with Miter-Head Gold from Ratzinger!”

    Customer: “We’ll have two ‘Ratzies’ please!”

    The collared bar keeper blesses the pour and slides two frosty mugs toward the camera.

  8. 8
    garydargan

    Be careful it is probably a trap specially for you. It will burn its way through your kidneys and transubstantiate into blood in your bladder.

  9. 9
    nix avis europae

    My favorite German beer is Paulaner Hefeweizen, great to drink it cold when the weather is hot. Hefeweizen is a type of beer, it belongs to a class of beers that is brewed differently from Lager. See http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wei%C3%9Fbier.

  10. 10
    apucalypso

    If it was indistinguishable from American Budweiser, it was probably the sad excuse for a beer called Kölsch, which is brewed only in Cologne. If you’re looking for actual taste in your beer, you are better served with something else..

  11. 11
    alikuran

    You’re in Köln, so you had Kölsch, hence the Budweiser taste…it doesn’t get weaker than this in German lands. :)

    Anyway, while Hefe is a nice idea, I’d also recommend some of the black beers, e.g. Köstritzer or Torgauer Ritter if you can get it. If you wanna try something quite a bit more bitter than most mainstream beers, Jever is an experience.

    On the other hand, while this might be treasonous to say, you might be better off skipping across the border into Belgium and sample the beers there.

  12. 12
    drxym

    I know I’ll be flamed for this but most German lager beers taste the same or at least so similar that in the absence of labels you’d be hard pressed to know one brand from another. This is simply because most abide by reinheitsgebot – beer purity law – so they are only brewed with water, barley and hops. Some might be hoppier or more alcoholic than others but that’s about the extent of it.

    The principle benefit of the law is it gives each region it’s own brewery and local character and that in itself is probably a good thing even if the drink is basically the same.

  13. 13
    Alex

    Ratzinger. It’s actually not a bad name for a beer.

    I recall someone in political cabaret arguing that it would be the perfect name for a really cheap white wine.

    As I recall the last time the pope was on German beer bottles they burned down Spain.

    did they have commemorative Pius XI ale in ’37?

    I know I’ll be flamed for this but most German lager beers taste the same or at least so similar that in the absence of labels you’d be hard pressed to know one brand from another.

    If you are referring to the Pilsner variety only you are somewhat right, but still, Jever is noticably on the hoppy, bitter end of the spectrum. If you include all kinds of Lager and Münchner Helles, the differences are quite notable, especially since the latter have very low hops. Personally, among the bottom fermenting types, I prefer the dark, malty varieties.

  14. 14
    gavinmcbride

    I live in Bavaria where the good German beers live.

    From what I know Cologne/Köln has a Belgian Quarter. If this is true then put the Kölsch down and go hunting for a good Trappist beer. I know I will be! Kölsch is just a watery Pils which no one should be subjected to despite the locals in Cologne swearing by it.

  15. 15
    Steve LaBonne

    From what I know Cologne/Köln has a Belgian Quarter. If this is true then put the Kölsch down and go hunting for a good Trappist beer.

    x100,000

  16. 16
    Alex

    Kölsch is just a watery Pils

    That is technically wrong, Kölsch is made from top-fermenting yeast and would rather belong to the Ale family than to the Pilsner/Lager family which is made from bottom-fermenting yeast.

  17. 17
    gavinmcbride

    I meant in terms of experience, not technically in terms of brewing.

  18. 18
    scottplumer

    “Ratzinger” sounds more like a date rape drug to me.

    And British beer is better.

  19. 19
    DLC

    I didn’t realize it was legal to put the face of the Pope on beer bottles. I mean, after all, inducing people to vomit must be some kind of violation of the health code. . .

  20. 20
    David Marjanović

    apparently, there’s a fair amount of regional variation.

    There’s nothing but regional variation!

    See the blue-and-white background around the pope? That’s the Bavarian flag. You’re dealing with Bavarians trying to make money off the fact that the pope is Bavarian, too.

    Jever

    Frisian. Their slogan is friesisch herb, “Frisially tart”.

  21. 21
    gussnarp

    Indistinguishable from Budweiser? Man, you must be in the wrong place. I never went wrong with the house Pilsner, assuming you like a German pilsner in general, they’re definitely nothing like Budweiser, in spite of being yellow. Of course, we were about half an hour from Warstein, so Warsteiner was often the house beer (and it’s much different there than here). Also had Veltin’s, Krombacher (bigger, I think, in Germany than Warsteiner, but very hard to find in the states), D.A.B., some others. But my personal favorite is hard to find even in Germany and not a standard pilsner. It’s called Hövel’s Bitterbier. Look for it, ask for it by name. It’s quite good. Of course, the one restaurant where I used to get it the waitresses would look at me like I was crazy when I ordered it, I always had to get the owner to get my beer. He was kind enough to give me one of the fancy Hövel’s glasses they served it in when I left. Man I miss small town Germany.

  22. 22
    Hurin

    PZ, if you happen to see a beer called Schlenkerla over there, its worth a try. Its a smoked brew from Bamburg and one of Germany’s more interesting beers IMO.

    @ gavinmcbride

    From what I know Cologne/Köln has a Belgian Quarter. If this is true then put the Kölsch down and go hunting for a good Trappist beer. I know I will be! Kölsch is just a watery Pils which no one should be subjected to despite the locals in Cologne swearing by it.

    I’ll agree, those beers are great. The sad thing about Trappist beers is that they are actually brewed by monks in most cases (with the help of secular brewers in some cases), and a portion of the proceeds go to the catholic church. Even the so-called “abbey” beers (which are actually brewed by secular breweries – see Leffe, which is brewed by inbev, for a famous example) often pay the church to feature the name of an abbey on the beer.

    Luckily there are non-guilty pleasures available as well: De Halve Maan and Brasserie Caracole come to mind.

    I just wanted to share though. No amount of guilt could ever dissuade me from the occasional Rochefort.

  23. 23
    gavinmcbride

    I do not mind giving money to anyone who sells a good product. even if it is the Church. I just do not give them money for their usual product of selling lies to Children and Adults :)

    I do not see many of the Rauchbiers outside of Bamberg but I have had a few. Amazing experience. Its like mixing pils with an ash tray but somehow coming out with a pleasant although challenging result.

  24. 24
    gussnarp

    Hmm, judging from the website, Hövel’s has re-branded and it’s now called Hövel’s Original instead of Bitterbier. I assume it’s the same brew. They didn’t have such flashy marketing in my day, but the logo’s the same.

  25. 25
    gavinmcbride

    Is it allowed to drink beer at the conference does anyone know? If it is I might stick 2 or 3 crates of SchlappelSeppel into the back of the car before I drive over tomorrow.

    So then all of you will me as the guy handing out free beer in the corner :)

  26. 26
    boblalonde

    German beer is highly variable and generally excellent. I spent some quality time many years ago in Bavaria and the Rhineland and was never disappointed, but sometimes very surprised. If you can, go to one of the small towns, go into the gasthaus and make with the “ein bier bitte”. You will get a 1/2 litre of the house bier. It will be great stuff.

  27. 27
    doktorzoom

    Dang hipsters and their Papist Blue Ribbon…

  28. 28
    theophylact

    There are good Pabsts and bad ones. PBL is bad; the guy who runs Tom’s Hardware is one of the good ones.

  29. 29
    radpumpkin

    Dear god, German beer indistinguishable from Budweiser (the real one, not pathetic excuse for beer known as Bud Light I hope)?! ’tis surely a sign of the apocalypse!

    Alright, PZ, here’s what you need to do: Go to the largest supermarket you can find, and get some Augustiner. Cologne is to beer what Death Valley is to biodiversity. Others you may enjoy are Paulaner, Franziskaner, or even Hofbräu. Also be sure to not order a beer directly, but the kind you want (eg Helles for lager, Pils for the same, Weizen for a hefeweizen, or some mixes like Radler). Don’t lose hope. There’s sure to be a Biergarten, even in the midst of the westphalian hellscape.

  30. 30
    Worldtraveller

    If you try anything grilled or bbqd, see if you can get an Erdinger Dunkel to go with it. It has a distinct smoky flavor (Rauchbier) that goes wonderfully with most anything cooked on an open flame.

  31. 31
    Aquaria

    I’m still traumatized about trying to learn German from going to a jr. college 101 class which did zero screening for army brats who had already learned the language after living in Germany because Mommy or Daddy was stationed there, and were taking the class to get an easy A. All five of us who were genuine beginner German students ended up dropping the class. What was the point of 101, if it was actually 301 or higher?

  32. 32
    johnbrockman

    If I wanted a priest in my mouth, I’d go to church. And be eight.

  33. 33
    patrickmulthaup

    You have to come to duisburg, we have a pub here that serves 200+ different kinds of beer. you can try beer from all european countries and more.

  34. 34
    Balstrome

    Someone needs to send this over to Jesus and Mo, I am sure the Barmaid can make use of it.

  35. 35
    markr1957

    Two thoughts – first, any beer with that picture on it probably tastes like it already passed through someone’s kidneys, and second try Warsteiner – it’s brewed within 50 miles of Koln, just to the south-east of the Mohnesee, so it doesn’t have to travel far.

  36. 36
    jamesevans

    I suppose you could have a smoke too while drinking one.

  37. 37
    Russell

    I’m sure PZ will enjoy meeting his Savior in Munchen, but nothing can save him from the Augustiner Maximator in deep Bavaria

  38. 38
    scifi

    PZ, it just wouldn’t look good if someone took a photo of you, an atheist, drinking papal beer. That might just ruin your whole image. :-)

  39. 39
    robster

    Having the Ratzmeister peering at me as I indulge would just be too much. Bit like having a drink with a nasty granny or child molesting uncle. Are moving on from wine to beer? Dunno whether that’ll get ‘em in the pews…

  40. 40
    affenjunge

    From what I know Cologne/Köln has a Belgian Quarter. If this is true then put the Kölsch down and go hunting for a good Trappist beer. I know I will be! Kölsch is just a watery Pils which no one should be subjected to despite the locals in Cologne swearing by it.

    IIRC then the Belgian Quater is not named so due to its Belgian residents, but because of the streets, which are all named after Belgian cities.

    Anyway, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to buy Belgian beer in Cologne. I even managed to buy Alt Bier in Cologne once ;)

  41. 41
    carbonbasedlifeform

    Ratzinger. It’s actually not a bad name for a beer.

    It means someone who comes from the Bavarian town of Ratzing.

  42. 42
    petermartin

    I’ve travelled widely in Europe and sampled many, many lovely beers in many, many very pleasant drinking holes. But I have to say, in this particular context, I’m proud to be English.

    I’m off on this sunny evening to spend an evening with a few friends in my local, the Waggon and Horses. I’ll have a pint or four of Hogs Back TEA (a really top notch bitter), mor maybe one of the guest beers, depending what’s on.

    As it’s warm (at last) we’ll be in the cosy back garden. If it were winter (i.e. about a week ago!!) we’d be in the snug (ring the bell for attention, seats about 10 at a push, roaring coal fire.

    After that, a curry across the road in the Viceroy – a gem of an Indian restuarant.

    We’re spoilt, but it would be a pleasure to spoil you too, PZ.

    Just say the word.

  43. 43
    yubal

    I washed down my dinner last night with something that was indistinguishable from American Budweiser

    …and that is your own fault. Ask the waiter/waitress or the people on the next table.

  44. 44
    lanceleuven

    That…Is…Horrifying.

  45. 45
    a3kr0n

    Fuck Papst.
    Always sucked.
    Always will.

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