After the last few weeks of big, complex and rare beer, it’s time to press the reset button. Back to basics. Dig down and find my roots, so to speak. Time to go back to where it all began.
Frankfurt, Germany, 1991. I got to go over there on a high school exchange program. Before we left we all had to sign waivers stating that even though we were of legal drinking age in their country we still had to respect the laws as they pertained to us as American citizens. Our parents were there as we scribbled our signatures.
Once we got there our chaperone offered to buy everyone the first round down in Sachsenhausen, just across the Main River on the south side of Frankfurt. I stupidly asked about those waivers we signed. “Oh, those. Zat vas for ze parents. Who vants a bier?”
Fifteen years old, no parents around and visiting a country that respects everyone’s privilege to responsibly enjoy a beer. Of course I abused that privilege.
That first night in Germany was a whirlwind of weizenbier, pilsner, pizza from Imbiss stands (I found out the hard way that if you don’t specify pepperoni “wurst” when ordering, you’ll get a mound of shredded jalapeno and not the sausage we’re all used to) and riding bikes from Niederhöchstadt to Bad Homburg. We eventually ended up at a pub in Eschborn known for being frequented by some tough Turks. Known to the locals, but not us.
I accidentally bumped into one particular gent and slurred a perfectly polite apology in German. “Entschuldigen Sie, bitte.” He somehow grew in dimension as he reached for my neck with both hands. Someone who knew him whispered in his ear that this probably wasn’t a very good idea and he backed away. I blinked in the half realization of almost dying at the hands of a drunk Turk and wandered off to find the loo. The severe hang over was lesson enough to not abuse the beer for the rest of the trip.
Oh, the beautiful beers that we enjoyed that entire month! Our favorites were Licher, Jever and Römer Pils. We also found two beers practically everywhere we went; Warsteiner and Bitburger.
Some consider those two as the “Budweiser” of Germany, but almost any beer from Deutschland beats the “king of beers” any day of the week in my book. I liked Bitburger so much that I brought back a 5 liter party keg in my luggage.
Bitburger is straight-forward German classic. Pale gold in color with a good finger’s worth of rocky head, it easily hits all the right marks for a pilsner. Scents are grassy with touches of hay, honey and fresh grain. Bitburger drinks incredibly clean and crisp with spicy Hallertau hops driving the biscuit malt. Light, refreshing, no heavy flavors… Bitburger is a great any-occasion beer.
Sometimes simplicity is a great thing. Just stay out of the Turkish bars.