Paulaner Brewery in Munich, on March 23, 1888. A scuffle turned into a free-for-all brawl. Civilians, drunkards, and artillery are involved, in addition to all of the brewery’s beer mugs, which led to a significantly high number of wounded. The dispute went down in history as “Battle of Salvator”. The trigger: a slight increase of the beer price.
The Battle of Salvator represents the relationship Germans have to beer. Beer is a fundamental right. It has to be accessible for everybody just like the air to breathe. If this fundamental right is threatened in any way, Germans are ready to fight like lions. Thereby, it is undeniable that the Germans are the fathers of the beer. Each one of them.
Americans Steve Wagner and Greg Koch are founders of the Stone Brewing Company, a very established craft beer brewery in California. They founded it in 1996. Now, they are about to open a brewery in Berlin and introduce the American brewing arts to Germany. Many Germans (all of them fathers of beer) with whom Greg and Steve met found a plausible explanation for this paradox idea: Steve Wagner and Greg Koch must be crazy.
By taking a closer look, you see that they are actually not that crazy. One just has to take a view beyond the horizon. Let’s face the fact that the Americans are much more advanced in their craft beer movement than we are. Let’s admit that in Germany, especially north of Bavaria, drinking industrial beer like Beck’s and co. is the normal case. The Americans, in contrast, were forced to be creative in the 70s. They were in a serious beer crisis, which they got into because of the prohibition in the beginning of the century. Afterwards, only some of the bigger breweries survived and provided the whole of the United States with watery and monotonous beer. The craft beer movement developed as a counter reaction: small breweries, high quality of ingredients, taste and brewing techniques with a focus on ecological and social sustainability.
Saturday night saw a rather exclusive beer event in Berlin-Schöneberg, at the former property of the energy supplier GASAG. Greg Koch announced that the space is the same location where Stone Brewing Co. will build the first American brewery in Europe within the next two years.
Contemporary Food Lab was on the spot and very happy about the news. The beer, mainly ale, is delicious – strong, bitter and hoppy. It will greatly enrich the German beerscape. It was certainly not selected by the readers of Beer Advocate as the best beer in the world in vain. The old GASAG Property is amazing, and a restaurant next to the brewery will also be built: a new place to enjoy south of the Berlin center.
But maybe the Stone Brewers are even able to do more. Maybe we Germans slipped into a little beer crisis without noticing. Maybe we don’t only have to look beyond the horizon and try delicious ale, but also take the chance to rediscover the true quality of Pils, Helles, Lager, and Weizen. Fathers and mothers of the beer, allow yourself to be inspired by Stone Brewing Co., brew your own beer or buy your beer at local breweries.
What follows are a few impressions of the Stone Brewing Event, starting with Greg Koch clearing the old to make way for the new.
The GASAG-Tower from below
The view II
Text and Photos: Theresa Patzschke