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01-08-2015, 07:26
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Here's another installment of possibly the most useless guide ever. To part of a country that no longer exists.This time it's an overview of some of the breweries and their beers.

Thank god for Peter Crombecq. I'd picked up a copy of his book "Biersmaken" when I moved to Amsterdam in 1988. My main reason for buying it was that it had a complete list of Belgian beers. But it also contained a section on objectively tasting beer. It got me intrigued in trying to describe beer flavour and prompted me to start making tasting notes. Which is why I have the brief descrptions in the text below.

The beers are all bottom-fermented, though the Schmitt brewery in the village of Singen produces a pale top-fermenting beer. Most are unpasteurised and the bottled beer will develop a sediment after 6 to 7 days. They fall into the following general categories:

pale and fairly thin

with a bit more body, often quite bitter

a bit darker and more like a true Czech Pils

a premium Pils, the bottled equivalent of Pilsator

a winter beer (available November to January) of about 16% Balling - can vary in colour from amber to black

as the name suggests, a dark lager, similar in style to Czech Tmavé Pivo

The Reinheitsgebot has never been enforced in the DDR, originally due to raw material shortages in the 1950's. Currently, the ordinary pils and hell beers are brewed using about 70% malt and the spezial and bock beers using about 80%. Both use about 10% sugar. Despite this, some of the beers, especially the pilsators, are very characterful and compare favourably with some of the rather inoffensive pils-style beers of the Federal Republic. In fact, with their bitter emphasis, the DDR beers are often more reminiscent of the pale Czech lagers. With the availability of W. German beers in the DDR it is now possible to directly compare the products of the two nations' breweries. In Muhlhausen, for example, beer from Eschwege (about 30km away over the border) is on sale. After a couple of glasses of the excellent local Turmquell Pilsator I tried Eschweger Pils which, although as it proudly proclaimed brewed to the Reinheitsgebot, seemed thin and almost tasteless in comparison.

The specific beers, by brewery, in the towns described are as follows:

Vereinsbrauerei Apolda

malty with a strong bitter finish

Eisenacher Brauerei

a bit thin and watery

Wartburg Pils
sweetish flavour with a bitterish aftertaste

amber coloured, pleasantly malty

Braugold Erfurt

a good, clean, very bitter beer

well-balanced and bitter

J. Andreas Klosterbrauerei, Eschwege, Federal Republic

Eschweger Pils
neutral flavour with a slight bitter aftertaste

Brauerei Gotha

thin and bitter

malty aroma and bitter, slightly strange, taste

bitter aroma and bitter taste

Brauerei Jena

light with a bitter aftertaste

Kostritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei, Bad Kostritz

Black, fairly sweet and malty

Muhlhausen Turmquell (bottled)

light, rounded malt aroma and bitter taste

hoppy, slightly acidic flavour, with a bitterish finish

slightly sweet, malty flavour with bitter finish

Muhlhausen Turmquell (draught)

pale and quite bitter

malty/fruity aroma with strong bitter finish

Brauerei Neunspringe, Worbis

thin with a slight bitter taste

a bit more body and a bitter finish

slight malty/fruity aroma with a hop finish

Sternquellbrauerei, Plauen

thinish but bitter

bitter beer with a malty aroma and bitter/buttery finish

bitter taste with a full spicy, hoppy finish

sweet and dark with a slight caramel finish

Konsum-Brauerei Weimar-Ehringsdorf

Ehringsdorfer Pils
thin but pleasantly bitter

Exportbier-Brauerei Wernesgrun

Wernesgruner Pils
malty aroma and bitter aftertaste

The companies listed above are all VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb) or nationalised firms (apart from the Eschwege brewery, of course), but, especially in the south, there are still several very small private breweries operating. Examples of these are the Brauerei Göpfert in Jüchsen, Brauerei Geßner in Steinach and Brauerei Schmitt in Singen (the smallest brewery in the DDR). The best bet for finding the beers from these breweries is probably to visit their home village.

Wasn't that, er, completely useless? While most of the larger breweries have closed, I was delighted to discover that the three small private breweries mentioned in the last paragraph are all still open:

Brauerei "Zur Goldenen Henne" (http://www.brauerei-juechsen.de/)
Queckgasse 17,
98631 Jüchsen.
Tel: 0170/ 6018260
Fax: 036947/ 50903
Email: webmaster@brauerei-juechsen.de

Privatbrauerei Gessner (http://www.privatbrauerei-gessner.de/)
Am Lindenbach 27,
96515 Sonneberg.
Email: info@privatbrauerei-gessner.de
Telefon: 03675/4079-0
Fax: 03675/4079-40

Brauerei Schmitt (http://www.brauerei-schmitt.de/)
Brauereiweg 1,
99326 Ilmtal OT Singen
Tel: 03629-802556
Email: info @ brauerei-schmitt.de

If you'd like to try the Schmitt beer, the fasmily runs a pub in the village:

Friedrich Schönheit Str. 4,
99326 Ilmtal.
Tel: 03629-802244
Fax: 03629-8379127
Gasthaus Zum Singer Berg

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