Semi-orthodox Bavarian Brotzeit

Grocery shopping inspired this Fresh Breeze. I had some space left in my bag and scanned the aisles for supplies I might need when I discovered an odd bottle of Grapefruit Wheat Beer. I frowned. I like beer. Real, simple, straightforward beer. I’m even ok with a beer and lemon soda mix, a standard low alcohol drink you can get anywhere in Germany. But now the food industry is messing with wheat beer too? Isn’t anything sacred anymore? Is this drinkable? At a closer look I discovered that beer was made in northern Germany. What do northern Germans know about wheat beer? They make fine Pilsener, but wheat beer is something totally Bavarian. Curiosity got the better of me and I took a bottle home.

I have lived in Bavaria for many years now, but I am from northern Germany. It is very audible to the people I meet when I talk and noticeable in small cultural differences. I actually never wanted to move to Bavaria, I ended up here accidentally and the culture took quite a bit of getting used to. I don’t really plan to get used to everything, but some Bavarian traditions are just great. “Brotzeit” is one of them. It is a cold meal eaten at any time of day accompanied by beer (or soda) and the savoury alternative to Germany’s ever-present favourite “Coffee and Cake” (a meal, not dessert).

Usually a Brotzeit plate comes with a selection of breads, meats, maybe cheese, pickles, mustard and maybe vegetables. I decided on radish sandwich to go with my semi-genuine beer. The bread is pure whole grain rye, my favourite. The radishes are salted, so they will start to “cry”.

But back to the beer. If you have never poured a wheat beer, you may not know that this is an art form all of its own. You cannot just pour it like a soda or barley beer, because after a moment the glass will fill up with foam that’s not going anywhere for quite some time.

You need to pour a little warm water into the glass, then you make sure the inside of the glass gets all wet. And yes, it helps to use a proper wheat beer glass, like the one above. Next, you pour the beer down the side of the tilted glass, start out holding the glass nearly horizontally and then gently turn it upwards as you pour. When the bottle is almost empty, stop, swivel the remaining liquid in the bottle to stir up and dissolve the leftover yeast at the bottom of the bottle and pour the last swig into the glass. Ideally, you should end up with about an inch of foam. As you can see, it didn’t quite work out here today. Partly because I am out of practise, partly because the mix is less foamy than pure beer.

Once I had successfully transferred the beer to the glass, I though: “Oh, looks almost normal, except for the slight orange tinge.” Then I tried. Um. Not normal. Sweet. I only drink soda when I have an upset stomach or, sometimes, in the movie theatre. My memory might not be reliable and the drink may be a lot less sweet than regular soda, but it’s too sweet for me. The bitter grapefruit flavour helps. Overall the drink is refreshing. Or was, since it is gone by now. It was worth trying, but next time I go to the market, I’ll get a pure wheat beer, because I haven’t had one since last summer.


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