I underwent an epiphany while in Franconia.
The beers that I liked the best were the simplest. Like Frau Hofmann's Export. Just Vienna malt anf Hallertuer hop pellets. Will's Dunkles. Beers with a recipe that you could scribble on the back of a fag packet. There was an honesty to these beers.
Earlier this week I saw a programme about Greek cooking. Most dishes only use two or three ingredients. Real peasant cooking, simple but packed with flavour. Franconian brewing is very much in that tradition. Great raw materials, passion and love. Yes, love. Every brewer spoke of their beer as of their child.
Beer runs deep in Franconia. A brewery is part of the life of most villages. The connection villagers have to their local beer, we cannot hope to comprehend. It's something far more profound than mere brand loyalty. The brewer is like a member of the family.
I've seen enthusiastic brewers before. But the emotional, almost spiriual attachment of Franconian brewers to their beer is of a different magnitude.
What are microbreweries elsewhere up to? Take a look at the list of ingredients. How many types of malt are in them? How many varieties of hop? Is it all necessary? How much impact do some of the ingredients have on the taste of the finished product? Why use a diferent variety of yeast for every beer?
A lot of microbrewed beer now seems frivolous to me. Like pretentious nouvelle cuisine. too complicated for its own good.
More than 3 types of malt in a beer and they're having a laaarf. Three's all they needed to make Courage Russian Stout, the most complex beer I've ever tasted by several streets.
Honest beer is what I want. Beer that can look me straight in the eye and not flinch. Beer with heart. Beer that's like an old friend. Beer you can sit and drink by the pint in a pub with your mates.
Take a look at the beer in your glass. What is it? Honest, or a wee bit pretentious?
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