Germany – Vier bier um vier

Beer, EU, Germany

Name of beers: Veldensteiner Mandarina Bavaria Sommerweisse; Karlsberg Urpils; Scheyern Kloster-Weisse Dunkel; Augustiner-Bräu Lagerbier Hell

Beer descriptions: 5.4% Weissbier; 4.8% German Pilsener; 5.2% Dunkelweizen; 5.2% Munich Helles Lager

German word for beer: Bier

Date joined the EU: Founding member

Have I visited? Yes, many times and places

The country

Beer is synonymous with Germany. Perhaps even more so than Belgium, although I am not going to provoke a debate over the disputed home of beer here if I can help it! Thanks to the excellent train links from Belgium, I have managed to see a lot of Germany, enjoying many beers along the way.

Instead of listing everywhere in Germany I have visited, I thought I would mention just a couple of highlights from over the years. Namely, two beer-related highlights, which would definitely be my trips to Cologne and Munich. Sipping Kolschbier on many a Platz in the former and polishing off Hofbräu by the litre in a beer garden in the latter; both of these represent German (beer) culture at its best, in my view. They epitomise the relaxed, open and convivial approach to life that keeps me going back to Germany whenever I get the chance.

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The Parliament

Germany has two parliamentary bodies at federal level: the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. According to the all-important Constitution, it is not strictly a bicameral parliamentary system. The Bundestag is recognised as the country’s ‘federal parliament’, whereas the Bundesrat is a representative legislative body of the 16 German states. Lexical semantics aside, I have visited neither, but have seen the Bundestag from the outside. And two common characteristics that they do share are excellent merchandise and exemplary EU affairs staff.

The beer

I was really spoilt for choice here. One of my German colleagues was instrumental in coordinating my leaving gift and got so enthusiastic about the whole thing that he provided a range of extra beers, principally from his home state of Bavaria. Lucky me. For the purposes of this blog, however, I decided to narrow it down to a smaller selection of four beers for our late afternoon tasting session.

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The full German collection

The first to taste was a special edition Sommerweisse beer from Veldensteiner brewery, based on the outskirts of Nuremberg. It uses a new variety of hops called Mandarina Bavaria which, as the name suggests, give a strong tangerine aroma. This beer really does smell amazing and fittingly, it is a rather bright orange colour. It has a very delicate and refreshing flavour. I wrongly expected it to be similar to sickly sweet fruit beers, which it isn’t at all. Overall, it is a very drinkable summer beer.

A classic Pilsener beer came next – Karlsberg Urpils. Karlsberg (called Karlsbräu outside of Germany to avoid confusion with its Danish namesake) is one of the biggest breweries in Germany, based in Saarland. I would describe this as a good park/biergarten beer. A very drinkable pils, but not an overly distinct flavour. It is a light, straw yellow colour with high carbonation. Tasting assistant Gareth described it as “fresh and fizzy, but not particularly memorable”. Harsh words, indeed.

Back to Bavaria next with Kloster Scheyern’s Dunkelweisse. The first thing you notice about this beer is its strong banana aroma, but the taste which follows, although sweet, is much lighter. I normally find dunkel beers too heavy-going, but not this one. Instead, it had subtle dark flavours with a distinct but very delicate toasty taste. Gareth summed this up: “You think it will be strong and heavy, but it is exactly the opposite. The surprise becomes a fun part of its flavour”. Well said.

We finished our deutschen delights with a Lagerbier Hell from Augustiner-Bräu. Munich’s oldest independent brewery has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, and I can see why. Described by Gareth as “refreshing and moreish”, this beer was a real pièce de résistance to finish on. It has a lovely, sweet lager smell and is bright yellow in colour. In terms of taste, it has a sweet almost sherbet start than a malty bitter finish. It is very drinkable without being too light on flavour and has exactly the amount of fizz that I want in a beer. A Munich classic and a great end to our German beer-tasting session. France, you’re next and the pressure is on.

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In drinking order: Veldensteiner Mandarina Bavaria Sommerweisse; Karlsberg Urpils; Scheyern Kloster-Weisse Dunkel; Augustiner-Bräu Lagerbier Hell. 

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