I frequently get asked by Germans why I chose to move to Germany, knowing full well that Germans won’t be satisfied with any answer I give them. I often answer “because of the beer”, and they often respond incredulously with light chuckling not knowing that that’s probably the best answer I can give them.
Were it not for German beer, I would probably have never had any interest in visiting Germany.
However, my first contact with German beer wasn’t so positive. When I was a teenager, during that phase where one experiments with different alcoholic beverages, I had my first experience with Beck’s, which is more or less indistinguishable from any other shitty European lager, like Heineken, Grolsch, Stella Artois, Carlsberg or Peroni. These brews were and, to some extent, still are considered “posh” beers and almost every restaurant in Australia no matter how cheap or fancy will have these staples. I would later discover that drinking these beers in their respective countries would be evidence of poverty, poor taste or, much much worse, being a dumb tourist.
The second German beer I ever tried was Bitburger and it was such a bad experience that I can see remember it quite vividly even if it happened over 12 years ago. The boyfriend of one of my old high school friends had brought a six-pack of the stuff to a party and hated it so much that he let us try it to prove how bad it was. I can still remember the pungent and metallic aftertaste of this German pils and to date I have never touched another drop of the stuff.
However, the life-changing moment came in 2008 when I was 19. In autumn of that year, a high school friend and I visited Sydney to see one of our favourite bands. During our time in Sydney we discovered the, now closed, Löwenbräu Keller, a ridiculously expensive Bavarian-style restaurant with served Bavarian beers. What shocked me was how good and fresh the beer tasted; there was none of this weird metallic aftertaste or skunkiness. We drank litres of Helles (pale) Lager from traditional Munich breweries (Hofbräu, Spaten & Löwenbräu) and what was particularly mind-blowing was the wheat beer (Hefeweizen or Weißbier). I had never thought that beer could taste so good and could be such a rewarding gastronomical experience when paired with the right food. It was after this experience that my obsession with beer begun.
In the preceding couple of years I spent some time researching the different beer styles and sampling various beers from Germany, Belgium, the UK, the USA and Australia. I have chosen many a travel destination solely to try the local beer.