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Germany Went to Italy on vacation, had epiphany on German beer

Discussion in 'Europe' started by boddhitree, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. Domingo

    Domingo Poobah (1,135) Colorado Apr 23, 2005 Verified

    Garrett Oliver said as much in the Brewmaster's Table, too. He mentions that you might get a fair number of "me too" pilsners, but finding a full-on bad beer is pretty unusual. My only experiences with bad German beers were related to questionably clean/cleared draft lines. We got the first beers of the day (a Ludwig Dunkel and Tegernsee Spezial) at the Hirschgarten a few years ago and both tasted pretty rough, yet I know both to be pretty good in every other instance. I can't imagine those Beck's Gold bottles in the train station vending machines are aging very well either.
    I think to find something full-on bad, you either have to hate a certain style or maybe you happened upon a bottle of Desperados, which I think is Dutch anyway.
  2. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    I have only had one infected beer in Germany, but was well aware of what I was getting myself into when I bought a case (about 1/3 of the case went bad within a couple of weeks. The beer: Barnikel Rauchbier from Herrnsdorf (those of you who have been will perhaps understand what I'm talking about ;) )
  3. Where is Stahlsturm? We seriously need a German’s opinion on whether German breweries can make “bad” beer. Perhaps he could even top the post he made before (copied below):

    “According to the German Wikipedia article (that particular part is missing from the English version oddly enough...) the Löwenbräu Brewery in München produces Spaten, Franziskaner, Löwenbräu and Beck's. According to the German article on Spaten there is no more active Spaten brewery.

    They brew all the beers in the same kettle at Löwenbräu and fill the swill at the Spaten facility. It's all the same crap and I don't understand why there's so much attention being paid to this interchangable piss.

    And yes, I'm increasingly getting irritated about this. Associating this piss with Bayern is as insulting and ignorant to me as associating all of the US with Budwiser would be to you....”

  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    I, too, would welcome his input since I know that, as an American, people seriously value my opinion on whether American (craft) breweries can make "bad" beer. ;)

    Either way, I seriously doubt he'd rank any beer lower than Oettinger. And the (admittedly strange) fact is that, when I've had it fresh, I cannot make a claim that it is "bad" (i.e. poorly crafted or made from inferior ingredients). I suspect Stahl's main gripe with Munich mass-produced beers is that people mistakenly think this is what all BAVARIAN beer is like -- when in reality these are the exceptions and not at all the rules.
  5. Domingo

    Domingo Poobah (1,135) Colorado Apr 23, 2005 Verified

    Bad beer probably comes down to the eye of the beholder in this case. I don't know if I have a good example that everyone will understand. The closest thing I can think of would be someone thinking Chi-Chi's is good Mexican food based upon what's typically available in Germany. I'm sure it kicks ass compared with Sausalito's and the like, but comparatively...not so much.
  6. Scott, you know that I always value your opinion. You are the man with the “exceptional tastes”!:)

  7. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    If you'd ever had Oettinger, you might take back that claim! :)
  8. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Matthias Trum not German enough for ya? ;)
    steveh likes this.
  9. I think you made it clear in your prior posts that Oettinger is not among you list of favorites (i.e., exceptional beers). Since I don’t have exceptional tastes I actually admire that you are willing to get out of your ‘comfort zone’. It is clear to me that you think that Oettinger is a beer that isn’t bad.

    So, permit me to tell a story. I was recently in Lake Placid, NY with my wife and a bunch of friends cross country skiing. My wife and I stopped at a Rite Aid to pick up some stuff. In the Rite Aid there is a beer in multiple refrigerators. While my wife pick up the needed items I briskly went to see what beer was available (the supply of homebrewed beers I brought was getting low). I spied a twelve pack of Genny Bock beer (in cans). My wife sees me take it out and immediately asked: “Why are you buying that?’ What she was really asking was: Why are you buying that crap?” I replied: “I want to try it”. She asked me several more times over the course of 2-3 minutes: “Why are you buying that (crap)?” I was actually getting a little bit irritated. I paid $6.99 for twelve beers; what a deal!! So, we went back to the house we rented. I changed into my swim trunks and took my twelve pack to the hot tub. Now, I will readily admit that Genny Bock is not a craft beer but it sure was an enjoyable beer to drink while soaking in the hot tub after an exhausting day of cross country skiing (in 7°F conditions). I would guess that Genny Bock is ‘similar’ to Oettinger in that there is nothing exceptional about the beer but it is my now means “bad”. I would go so far as to say that if somebody is exhausted from cross country skiing and soaking in a hot tub that Genny Bock is the perfect beer for that exact situation.


    P.S. Several other of the people in the hot tub tried the Genny Bock and they enjoyed drinking it. My wife did not drink a single Genny Bock (she only drank my homebrewed beers). My wife is such a beer snob!;)
  10. Did you have the first beer for YOU for that day, or the first beer draught on that day?
    The first beer of the day is usually called the "Nachtwächter" in germany :D(The beer that stays in the lines over night) (Nachtwächter = night watchman/guard)... Depeding on the beer they can be interesting to taste, sometimes it's really interesting to see how a beer tastes filtered if it is tapped unfiltered (the overnight stay in the tap lines can turn an unfiltered one really clear!). But on most beers the Nachtwächter is quite disgusting :rolleyes:

    And yeah, germans don't know how to handle beer bottles, a vending machine is probably one of the worst ways to store (and sell) beer...

  11. While not personally knowing Matthias Trum I am sure that he is plenty German. What Matthias lacks (I presume) is the singular wit that Stahlsturm possesses. I wanna hear from Stahlsturm!

  12. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Genny Bock is actually a great example/correlate, IMO. By no means a particularly good representative of what the bock style can be (on either side of the pond), but for what it is (a bit of a relic...kind of like McSorley's), it is not at all "bad."

    p.s. I also love to cross country ski, and, for what it's worth, Genny Bock makes a good post-croquet beer as well.
  13. “Genny Bock makes a good post-croquet beer as well.”

    I have a response in mind for that but it is not politically correct.;)

  14. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Thought you'd like that. Trying to live up to the "exceptional" reputation I (you?) have created.

  15. And you are there in spades!

    My advice would have been:

    1. A man should never play croquet (even the guys on Downton Abbey don’t play croquet)
    2. If a man does play croquet, he should never make mention of it

  16. Domingo

    Domingo Poobah (1,135) Colorado Apr 23, 2005 Verified

    It was their first draft pours period, so I suppose we got the "Nachtwächter." We showed up pretty early and it was overcast, so they were debating on whether to open. They did briefly and then shut things down not long afterward. I don't think the food vendors ever even opened at all.
    Anyway, the Ludwig Dunkel tasted like someone had mixed it with cider and the Tegernsee Spezial was a diacetyl butter bomb. I'd had both of those at least 2-3 times and while neither are necessarily my absolute favorites, they're much better than that.
    They ended up shutting down shop and we weren't planning on ordering more after that, so that was that.
    Luckily the Augustiner Keller was open in spite of rainfall and Edelstoff made it all better.
  17. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Spade in German = Spaten.

    steveh and JackHorzempa like this.
  18. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (430) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    I'm not a German, I'm a Bavarian. There's a rather significant difference here.

    As for the question on topic, I think it is a matter of perspective. There are German beers I would consider rather poor but when you apply a low standard they become reasonable. I guess reasonable is as bad as most German breweries can go considering that you have had to learn your trade under the eyes of a master brewer for at least 8 YEARS. Compare that to a 9 weeks online course that people do in certain other countries after which they have the audacity to call themselves a "brewer" and you will realize that during those 8 years all examples of gross incompetence will be wed out at some point. All German craftsmen go through this and while it may be a hindrance for creativity at least it spares us to be subjected to the more horrific aspects of amateur brewing.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  19. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    Well now I feel compelled to go buy an Oettinger and form an opinion.
  20. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    That's a big investment. Might want to think long and hard on it.
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  21. Have just read in the Spiegel that "Billig Bier Koenig" Guenther Kollmar has died. According to the article he was responsible for turning a normal Bavarian brewery into what Oettinger is today.
  22. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    I'm having a case of Spezial Rauchbier delivered sometime this week. Perhaps I will do a double-blind side-by-side taste test Oettinger vs. Spezial Rauchbier using 4 oz. samples to determine which beer I like more. In the case of Oettinger, I will allow less than 4 ounces.
    herrburgess likes this.
  23. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    OK, so in honor of the good Herr Kollmar, I spent a pretty penny at the local Kaufland and brought back one each of Oettinger's Schwarzbier (€0.36), Urtyp Helles (€0.37) and Kellerbier (€0.40). All prices for 500 ml glass bottles ohne Pfand (and hopefully ohne Pferd). Their Vollbier Helles and Pils were significantly cheaper at €0.29 and €0.22, respectively, although I didn't look closely and the €0.22 may have been for the 330 ml bottles. I will be trying these out over the course of the next few days.
  24. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (640) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    Please use caution during exposure to such harsh elements. Make sure you have a ready antidote handy to this possible palate threatening material, like a Schenkerla or another high taste value beer! It might save your sanity and prevent long term damage to your psyche. Please, I beg you, be very careful. Only Asi's (anti-socials) can drink this stuff due to their long term vaccination and tolerance from exposure from crap beer.
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  25. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (640) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    This doesn't make sense. Oettinger is based and brewed in Braunschweig (Brunswick), which is near Hannover in the north of Germany. You can see the brewery from the train station of Braunschweig.
  26. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Huh? My wife is from Braunschweig and I was just back there for Xmas. I know of no brewery visible from the train station and only 2 breweries in operation in the city (Feldschloesschen and Wolters). You sure you have that right?

    EDIT: just checked. It's a Zweigniederlassung in the Feldschloesschen complex. Not visible from the station, but maybe from the train on the way into town from the east.
  27. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (640) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    I took the train last weekend from FFM to Berlin. Actually, it's just after the Braunschweig station. It seems they have more than one "address," as you can see here. Braunschweig is only a branch brewery, it says, and the management is in Bayern. Still, crap beer.
  28. “Still, crap beer.”

    So, in your opinion is it “bad” beer?

  29. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    Oh man, I wish I had read this before drinking. First up, Oettinger Kellerbier. In baseball terms, 0-for-1. Perhaps a longer review coming later.
  30. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    Yea, not good. Is there anything on the bottle indicating in which Zweigstelle it was brewed? I am wondering if that is having any influence on my surprisingly non-terrible experience. Maybe since I had it in Braunschweig it was simply fresh enough as to not be too bad?
  31. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    The address on the bottle was Oettingen. It's not clear if that is the corporate HQ or where it was brewed.
  32. steveh

    steveh Champion (895) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    On the train from Munich to Würzburg I took a stroll to see if I could find the dining car. A very tall conductor with an epic Schnürbart was checking 2 Japanese passengers' tickets and I made a sideways move to get past them in the (very) narrow passage way, "Entschuldigung, bitte."

    Without looking up from the ticket the conductor lightly places his hand on my shoulder, "Moment, bitte." (cue the suspenseful music)

    I wait as the conductor finishes with the other passengers and turns to me in very quick "language" from which I can extract that he's looking for my ticket; "Langsam, bitte, langsam -- Ich spreche nur wenig Deutche."

    "Ich auch spreche nur wenig Deutsche, Ich spreche Bayerisch." :D

    If I hadn't been so caught up in this classic encounter I should have asked him to teach me Bayerisch!

    Oh, needless to say -- my papers were in order! ;)
  33. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    OK, a quick and dirty review of the Oettinger Kellerbier:

    500 ml bottle, best by of 14.08.2013, poured into a 400 ml Willi-Becher
    Appearance - actually pretty good. Slightly hazy as this is a Kellerbier, after all. Nice head with a strong pour. 3/5
    Aroma - also not bad. So far so good. 3/5
    Taste - at first sip, this actually wasn't bad. It had a lot of the flavors I associate with a typical Kellerbier, if maybe not as good. I was ready to be pleasantly surprised by my first Oettinger. However, with each progressive sip, the true nature of this beer began to reveal itself. I think I may have tasted what Herr Burgess has referred to in other threads as a harsh graininess. It became more evident with each passing sip, and eventually was all I could taste. Blech. I was watching my son while my wife cooked herself some dinner, and the beer ended up warming a bit before I could finish it. That did not do this beer any favors. 2/5
    Mouthfeel - I don't know. 3/5?
    Overall - a beer that only gets worse as you drink it. At €0.40, this was the most expensive of the three bottles I purchased. That does not bode well for my weekend, as I still have the Schwarzbier and the Urtyp Hell to get through. Not a drain pour, but also not a beer I particularly wanted to finish. Whoever said above that Oettinger beers aren't that bad owes me €1.13. ;) 2/5.

    Side note: I went back to Kaufland and looked - the €0.22 Oettinger was indeed for the 330 ml bottles. Both the Pils and the Export were €0.29 for a 500 ml bottle.
    Side note 2: This beer does not appear to be in the BA database. Is this a new one from Oettinger?
    Edit to include Side note 3: After drinking this, I went to a Quiz Nite with some friends. I ordered their special, which was Astra Urtyp. It was not a good night of beer drinking for me.
    boddhitree, einhorn and herrburgess like this.
  34. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    I never tried the Kellerbier (so maybe I don't need to do an Auslandsueberweisung for the €1.13!), but that harsh graininess is IMO Oettinger's biggest flaw. It's also what bugs me most about U.S. "craft" lagers. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up some new "traditional lager with a twist" only to discover that same harsh graininess that I avoided for years in beers like Oettinger...but the price here for a half liter at the bottle shop isn't $0.25, rather $2.00 or more. "Luckily" most U.S. craft lagers hide these flaws under a heavy dose of hops. I mean, imagine picking up a 4-pack of Oettinger -- which is being marketed as "craft" beer -- for 6-7 Euro and getting that flavor...and perhaps you can better understand my frustration with U.S. "craft" lagers.
  35. The beer in Germany is almost always of good quality. I do have 2 examples where they were not.

    The Helles at Haufbrau Tegernsee was oxidized, this was in the afternoon and there was a full crowd.

    At the little brewpub in Mainz, all of the beers had a house flavor. It was an off vegetal taste in the finish, and was similar to that defect in homebrews that I have judged.
  36. Have just checked the article again and it definitely says Bavarian Brewery. I have actually been to BS a few times to teach English, the first time I went I got on the wrong tram and went past the brewery. Have to say the smell it gave off was pretty disgusting.
    boddhitree likes this.
  37. mjtierney2 stated: “ …but also not a beer I particularly wanted to finish.” Well, as individuals we all have our differing standards. From my perspective if I drank a beer where I didn’t particularly want to finish it I would consider it as being a “bad” beer.

    So, permit me to ask a follow-up question:

    · Stahlsturm mentioned: “most German breweries can go considering that you have had to learn your trade under the eyes of a master brewer for at least 8 YEARS.”
    · mjtierney2 stated: “I think I may have tasted what Herr Burgess has referred to in other threads as a harsh graininess. It became more evident with each passing sip, and eventually was all I could taste. Blech.”

    So, finally the question: how does a brewer who has been ‘trained’ for 8 years produce a product that results in a beer with “harsh graininess” which solicits a response of “Blech”?

    boddhitree likes this.
  38. herrburgess

    herrburgess Champion (935) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Verified

    2nd-rate ingredients.

    EDIT: ...and an absence of massive amounts of hops to cover up the 2nd-rate ingredients.
    steveh and Gutes_Bier like this.
  39. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Advocate (525) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    That would be my guess. For my two-cents, I would agree that, speaking broadly, macro swill in Germany is not nearly as bad as macro swill in America but that doesn't mean there isn't bad beer here. I've had three drain pours in my time here, two were porters and the third because I apparently just cannot do woodruff. The woodruff Berliner Kindl doesn't count, but those two porters were genuinely bad beers (IMHO).