German Home Brewing on the Rise as Beer Lovers Seek New Tastes
More and more hobby brewers in Germany are making their own beer in the kitchen, the cellar or garage.
When it comes to beer, Jan Evermann of Greifswald is uncompromising. Four times a year, the doctor starts up his hobby brewery in his garden. He shreds malt, heats the mash to differing temperature levels, filtrates the spices, adds various types of hops and later on, yeast for the fermentation process. And when Evermann talks about temperature controls and IBUs (international bitterness units) his eyes shine.
According to German news agency dpa, the association of home and hobby brewers (VHD) has around 700 members. But its chairman, Markus Metzger, believes there are several thousand hobby brewers in the country, judging from various internet sites such as hobbybrauer.de and hausgebraut.de where people trade views and recipes. Equipment and ingredients for beer brewing are now easily obtainable on the internet. A starter kit for microbrewing of 1.6 litres of pale ale goes for around 40 euros (47 dollars).
For 23 years now, VHD awards prizes for the best brews produced by its members. In the Baltic port city of Stralsund, the Stoertebeker brewery came up with the idea last year for a German championships. “Among our colleagues there are many hobby brewers,” notes Elisa Raus of the Stoertebeker, the competition organizer. “We were surprised at all that came bubbling forth.” Last year, more than 80 brewers from around Germany came to Stralsund. This year, 120 hobby brewers are expected.
Among the federal states, the leading participants are Berlin with 15 entries, followed by Schleswig-Holstein with 13 and Baden-Wuerttemberg with 10 hobby brewers. Evermann said that for him, the championships are not about winning, but about getting expert opinion about his way of brewing witbier (Flemish wheat beer) as well as to exchange information with other friends of brewing. “Each beer is individual. That’s what makes it so exciting.”