In a country that has such a long history of beer culture with thousands of years of brewing and countless generations of perfecting and repeating recipes, craft beer seemed almost unlikely in Germany. Beer styles are particular to each region and the whole bar might stop drinking and stare at you if you try to order the wrong beer! 🙂 Hamburg itself has a 1000 year old history of brewing beer and as a large port city it only makes sense that beer was a large export back in the day 😀
Craft means Handwerk in German which literally translates to “handiwork”. Upon arriving to Hamburg I was quickly informed that I had arrived just in time for the Winter Beer Day! I was beyond thrilled that I had planned my trip so well 😉
Though the craft beer scene is fairly fresh in Germany, the place was already booming when the event first started at 3 pm on Saturday, November 22 and it was not long before rubbing shoulders was inevitable to get to the next beer stand. The event took place in the Schanzenhöfen (near the Sternschanze station) where Altes Mädchen (restaurant), Ratsherrn brewery, a microbrewery (little Ratsherrn), and the Craft Beer Store are located.
Around 12 breweries from Germany (Berlin and Hamburg) and Denmark brought their festive winter beers to the 2nd Annual Winter Beer Day. There was a 3 euro entry fee, 5 euro deposit on a cool glass, and beer samples were priced between 1 euro (0.1 L) and 3 euros (0.3 L). This was nice because it allowed you to taste however much or little you wanted.
There were beers like an Eisbock Pale Ale, Maple Walnut Stout, and a Iced Porter. A Hamburg homebrew group, called the Homebrew Hobby Brau, was present with some of their beers like the festive Hammered Santa Claus which is a six point something percent IPA. The name was fitting 😀
There were live bands playing all day which was a lot of fun. We pretty much stayed in the general area of the stage, only venturing out to grab another sample 🙂 Food was provided by Altes Mädchen. We tried the burger and vegetarian option. It satisfied our hunger but it was nothing spectacular.
Prior to this event I got to visit the microbrewery that is attached to Ratsherrn. This is where small, creative or limited batches are first brewed. Ian Pyle is the brewer that heads up this operation and I was fortunate to meet him!
There were a handful of beers I got to try. I started with the Pale Ale which I actually had the pleasure of trying previously when I was in Berlin. It was one of the first craft beers I had seen in Germany and it was very tasty. Some of the more unique ones that have been created in the microbrewery are a coffee porter, pumpkin ale, and Belgian Quad. The coffee porter contained coffee from a local roaster called Black Delight. It was pretty light bodied for a porter- the acidity of the coffee really cut down on the body. In the future, Ian will try to make a bigger bodied porter so that it is heavier after the addition of coffee.
The Pumpkin beer was a special one for Germany as I think many people have not experienced some of the crazy beers found in the US. It had spice flavor of nutmeg, ginger, and all spice. My favorite one was definitely the Belgian Quad. It had a strong banana and caramel smell. Belgian candi is put into this brew but it was not overdone or too sweet. It was a very delicious, strong beer that was perfect on a cold day 🙂
While there, I also met Daniel who is the manager of the Craft Beer Store and Johnalan Norris who is one of the brewer assistants. Both of them were very helpful and I am glad I got to meet them! Even if you are not lucky enough to visit Hamburg during a craft beer event, Daniel at the Craft Beer Store is helpful in letting you know the various local beers. Also, there are English tours of Ratsherrn but check ahead of time.
Overall the event was a good time. I was there with two other German friends who did not know about it before me coming into town so they were happy to go!
Representing my CO blue again!
Music For Your Ears:
~Riptide by Vance Joy
More To Love: