The ZDF sent a reporter to take a chainsaw to the rapidly-crumbling mythology of Germany's excellent, pure beers (h/t HM). The resulting 30-minute special is here (g). Sorry, I couldn't find an embed link. The executive summary:
- German beers regularly fail on the international tasting circuit because they're bland and uniform, reflecting a lack of innovation in the German beer market. American beers routinely win highest honors because they're more diverse and high-quality.
- The German beer industry has become hugely concentrated owing to massive mergers which have shut down many smaller breweries.
- The biggest German beer brands all taste alike and have no character.
- The much-hyped German beer purity law (Reinheitsgebot) is actually full of loopholes that permit all sorts of shortcuts and chemical additives like the BASF-produced PVPP (which, to be fair, is only used in processing and doesn't stay in the beer).
- Germans' primitive beer palates are, in part, caused by the woefully limited range of beers available at mainstream commercial outlets. Most of the really interesting micro-brewed German beers are destined for export to more adventurous consumer markets -- primarily in the US.
A sobering picture, so to speak, but not one that will be unfamiliar to readers of this blog. The report saves the best for last, in which during the 2012 Beer awards, the blind taste testers award top honors in traditionally German beer categories such as Alt, Kölsch, Hefe-Weizen and Pilsner to breweries from Arizona, Texas, Australia, and Iceland, respectively.
Yet there's a happy postscript: Germans are beginning to emerge from their dogmatic Reinheits-slumber and awaken to the glorious worldwide diversity of beer, thanks to stores like Bier-Beer (g) which stocks over 300 foreign beer brands...