In Prost! The Story of German Beer, Horst D. Dornbusch argues that just as France, Italy and China gave the world its three great cuisines, no one, not even the Belgians, have ‘produced such a variety, complexity, and quality of brews as have the Germans and the English’.
Whether you accept that proposition or not – it won’t be a best seller in Brussels – it’s probably one of the most comprehensive short beer books around.
It sprints across Germany’s beer history, from the Bronze Age to the present, in about 150 pages. At full gallop it covers the emergence of European beer, the standardisation of beer making by 500 BC, Rome’s initial rejection of the barbaric beer culture, and how the empire later embraced it, monastic brewing in the dark ages and the later emergence of brewing feudal lords, themselves usurped as brewers by city burghers.
We learn how deeply meshed beer was in the economics and politics of regional Germany – and how local politics influenced regional specialties, for example, Bavaria’s Rheinheitsgebot (beer purity law) of 1516 set the scene for a lager brewing south.
Dornbusch describes Germany’s major beer styles, providing technical detail in plain English. It’s available through www.amazon.com at about $11 plus postage.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008