Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Germany and has a long tradition. Everyone thinks they know everything about it, but myths quickly arise from this. We clarify whether these are correct at all.
More than 1,500 breweries, up to 6,000 different brands, countless cultural history museums. Beer is still considered the German’s favorite drink – although the corona pandemic of the last two years has also left its mark on sales in Germany. Time for a fact check:
CLAIM: The Europeans invented beer brewing.
FACTS: Beer has been around since humans grew grains. Thousands of years ago, the brew was popular in Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris. According to historians, the Sumerians living there knew at least nine varieties, which they mainly produced from barley and emmer, a type of wheat. The art of brewing reached Egypt via the Babylonians, where the first pubs are said to have existed as early as 3000 BC. The oldest archaeological reference to the brewing art of the Germans comes from Kulmbach (Bavaria): beer mugs from around 800 BC.
CLAIM: Beer is good for health.
EVALUATION: Only partially correct.
FACTS: Biochemists at the University of Nuremberg-Erlangen have actually discovered that the substances contained in beer slow down the fatty degeneration of the liver caused by obesity and poor nutrition and can have a beneficial effect on the fat and sugar metabolism. Xanthohumol, for example, is only found in hops and is responsible for the yellow color of its flowers. Nevertheless: Because of its alcohol content, conventional beer is of course not medicine. The researchers therefore recommend: enjoy alcohol-free!
CLAIM: Alcohol-free beer contains no alcohol.
RATING: Not necessarily true.
FACTS: Like other beers, the alcohol-free beer in this country is brewed strictly according to the Purity Law: from water, barley, yeast and hops. According to the German Brewers’ Association, a small amount of alcohol can still remain in “non-alcoholic” beer: “Either the fermentation is stopped when the residual alcohol limit of 0.5 percent is reached, or the finished beer is brewed after the conventional brewing process Alcohol withdrawn.” The good news for drivers: Even after a few drinks, there is no significant increase in the alcohol concentration in the blood, according to a study by the University of Freiburg. However, some breweries also offer varieties with 0.0 percent.
CLAIM: When it comes to beer consumption, the Germans are ahead in Europe.
RATING: Only partly true.
FACTS: With almost 83 million hectoliters, more beer was served in Germany in 2019 than anywhere else in Europe. The amount produced in Germany was also top: 91.6 million hectoliters, of which almost 16 million were exported. After all, eight of the 40 largest breweries in the world are from Germany. However, when it comes to consumption per capita, the tide turns: With 142 liters, the Czechs were ahead of the Austrians with 107 liters in 2019. Every German drank 100 liters on average: third place. Far behind, however, are Italians, French and Greeks.
CLAIM: Beer is best enjoyed out of the mug.
RATING: Sommeliers advise against.
FACTS: The true connoisseur prefers a high-quality, thin and translucent crystal glass – at least that’s what beer sommeliers like Markus Raupach from Bamberg say. Because it doesn’t have the right shape, a thick-walled jug can only reproduce the special aroma of a variety to a limited extent. A Pils, for example, loses its typical character. In addition, it heats up more easily in an uncooled jug and thus becomes stale more quickly. A thin, smooth glass, on the other hand, ensures that flavors and carbon dioxide are retained. And another tip: beer from the bottle should be taboo for gourmets, because most of the aromas are perceived by the nose when drinking.