GER­MANS GET CRAFTY

BEER GOG­GLES

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & DRINK - PETER LALOR

The craft brew­ing rev­o­lu­tion has gained such ir­re­sistible mo­men­tum that even the no­to­ri­ously in­flex­i­ble Ger­mans have thrown up their hands and ad­mit­ted the long-beards are on to some­thing.

“Bier Pro­fes­sor” Do­minic Dighton likes to think the Bavar­i­ans were the first craft brew­ers and he is prob­a­bly right. Dighton has been a player in Aus­tralia’s Ger­man beer scene for many years. Syd­ney res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to The Rocks will be fa­mil­iar with the iconic Lowen­brau Keller, where he has worked with founder John Szan­golies for more than two decades. The keller has been serv­ing pork knuck­les and Ger­man beers since 1976. Back in the dark ages — be­fore there was any­thing de­cent to drink in this coun­try (aside from Coop­ers) — it was one of the few es­tab­lish­ments where you could find in­ter­est­ing brews.

The Bavar­ian lagers were a tasty al­ter­na­tive to the slop served ev­ery­where else, but the weiss­biers (wheat beers), rauch­bier (smoked beer) and dunkels were of­ten peo­ple’s first rad­i­cal break from the sti­fling mono­cul­ture of lo­cal brew­ing.

“I be­lieve the suc­cess we have had with pre­mium im­ported beer has helped clear the way to en­cour­age the craft beer busi­nesses to take the plunges we have,” Dighton says. “We helped peo­ple re­alise there was beer with more flavour and in­tegrity than some of the hum­drum stuff, but ob­vi­ously the US mar­ket has led the way with con­tem­po­rary craft beers.”

In re­cent times the lo­cal Ger­man beer busi­ness has ex­panded at a great rate. The first Bavar­ian Bier Cafe opened on Manly wharf in the mid-2000s and now has out­lets across town, up in Bris­bane and on the Gold Coast. Mel­bourne hasn’t been ig­nored ei­ther. The Mu­nich Brauhaus opened down at South Wharf a few years back (a stylish, low-key ex­ten­sion of South Bank) and the 1000-seat bier hall has be­come some­thing of a desti­na­tion.

There are plans to dou­ble the num­ber of cafes and put a Mu­nich Brauhaus in Bris­bane, and Lowen­brau Keller in The Rocks has re­branded un­der that name.

Bavar­i­ans are con­sid­ered some of the world’s great brew­ers. Ger­mans, with their rein­heits­ge­bot (beer pu­rity laws), set the stan­dards for those craft brew­ers who wanted to get away from thin fac­tory lagers and back to full malt, healthily hopped drink­ing. It is then some­thing of a land­mark mo­ment in the evo­lu­tion of drink­ing to find the Bavar­i­ans ad­mit­ting they have been left be­hind and need to catch up with the new world.

It was the Ger­mans who in­tro­duced brew­ing to Amer­ica, but now we have come full cir­cle, with the Bavar­i­ans plan­ning to serve an Amer­i­can pale ale as part of a craft beer range in all es­tab­lish­ments.

The Aus­tralian busi­ness has in­tro­duced four lo­cally made craft beers into its es­tab­lish­ments. Fu­ture plans in­clude the pos­si­ble pur­chase of a brew­ery and the in­stal­la­tion of small brew­eries into the cafes.

“We are try­ing to ap­peal to a broader mar­ket,” Dighton says. “We are still con­cen­trat­ing on our Bavar­ian beers, but we are in­tro­duc­ing some lo­cally pro­duced craft beer, some of it with Ger­man her­itage, some not.

“In some ways the Bavar­ian beer scene is slightly re­stricted. It is beau­ti­ful weisse beers, great helles styles, malt ac­cen­tu­ated beers and re­gional beers like Kolsch. Our cus­tomers are ask­ing for more and with an injection of cash [un­der the new own­ers] it seemed like a log­i­cal step to brew our own. We have come up with four beers and so far the re­sponse has been good.”

While their Butcher’s Bride Pale Ale is an ad­mis­sion Amer­i­can pale ales now rule the world, the Ger­mans have shown some pa­tri­o­tism with a wheat beer that uses a tra­di­tional yeast, and a Mu­nich lager that is un­fil­tered and un­pas­teurised.

There is also a low-carb beer for the Ly­cra set.

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