Showing posts with label bavaria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bavaria. Show all posts

Friday, July 6, 2018

#TheSession 137: Mitteleurop?isches Bilé Pivo


This month's Session is being hosted by Roger at "Roger's Beers...and Other Drinks", and the theme as stated is:
German Wheat Beers. I would like to clarify for myself the similarities and dissimilarities of weissbeers, kristall weizen, weizen, hefeweizen, etc. I’d love to read about the distinctions all you brewers and beer researchers know about regarding the various “styles” of weissbeer, experiences in brewing and drinking the beer, it’s history. Yeah, whatever you’d like to say about German wheat beers will be great.

I wish I could remember what my first weissbier actually was, though I well remember the occasion. I was at college in Birmingham, West Midlands not Alabama, and it was the British equivalent of spring break. There was a small coterie of folks at the college I went to who didn't go home for the week of spring break due to distance. The Outer Hebrides being a 24 journey home meant I stayed in Brum, my best mate Cristi is from Timisoara in Romania, so he didn't go home either. Being at theological college and training for ministry, we were officially discouraged from partaking in the devil's brew, but most of us would have the occasional pint at weekends, oh and I could tell you about a reasonably well known evangelist who was on the idiot box post college absolutely pissed as a fart one afternoon. Anyway Cristi and I had decided we would go to a concert during the break. The Mutton Birds were playing at the Flapper and Firkin and before the gig we wandered into a different pub on the canal, got a couple of pints and sat at a table outside, next to said canal. As I said, I had a pint of weissbier, it being 1998 it was probably Sch?fferhofer or something, all I really remember was thinking it was rank to my untrained mind. I had half a mind to pour it into the canal, but it looked polluted enough as it was. I wouldn't touch wheat again until I was living in Prague.


Fast forward about 8 years to 2006, a group of my mates and I were in Pivovarsky klub before heading to our regular haunt to watch the footie and one of them is raving about this German wheat beer that they had available, lo and behold the very same Sch?fferhofer comes to the table. On a spur of the moment I decided to get one as well, just to see if my tastes had changed, fully expecting to hate it. My tastes had indeed changed in the intervening 8 years and so I had a couple more. The next time Mrs V and I went to Pivovarsky klub I tried the Primátor Weizen and I liked it a lot, maybe more than the Sch?fferhofer, I was getting a taste for wheat beers. On a trip up to Berlin in 2008 I had a pint or two of Memminger for breakfast, weizen was now a confirmed part of my drinking life.


Something that I was not aware of though as weizens took an increasing share of my drinking habits was the existence in the Czech Republic of "bilé pivo", which translates into English, in common with "weissbier" and "witbier", as "white beer". Apparently "bilé pivo" in Bohemia predates weizen in Bavaria and most historians of beer believe that "bilé pivo" migrated from the former to the latter before falling out of favour in its homeland, so much so that great Czech brewer Franti?ek Ond?ej Poupě is famously quoted as saying "wheat is for cakes, oats for horses, and barley for beer". Today weizen is making a comeback in the Czech lands, both under the modern Germanic name and the older Czech term.


All this thinking about Central European Wheat Beers got me thinking about my need to get back on the homebrew trail, twins inevitably take up the majority of free time that used to be used for brewing, and as soon as time allows I think I will brew another batch of my own "bilé pivo", which I call B?hmerwald, the German name for ?umava on the Czech/German border, which in a nod to the Bohemian origins of the weissbier style is hopped 100% with Saaz and is a lovely later summer thirst quencher.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lazy Marketing

Mrs Velkyal and I spent the weekend in South Carolina, again visiting friends, going white water rafting and just generally having a blast before the end of the summer holidays - Mrs V is back at work today.

On Saturday afternoon we went off to the shops to get in supplies for a little soiree we had planned for that evening - basically drinking and playing board games with friends. I have to admit that while I take a great interest in food, both the preparation and eating thereof, I really do not enjoy bimbling around the shops. My approach to shopping is simple, get in, get done, get out. What I tend to do is wander off to the booze section and see what is available.

The shop we went to was Greenville's branch of Trader Joe's, and I had heard good things about their Bohemian Lager. Although I knew I wouldn't be buying anything that day, I had bought a case of homebrew and a growler of Devils Backbone Barclay's London Dark Lager, I went to have a look at the selection purely out of curiosity, and general interest. Trader Joe's has a range of own label, Central European style beers, namely:
  • Bohemian Lager
  • Vienna Lager
  • Dunkelweizen
  • Bavarian Hefeweizen
  • Hofbrau Bock
At only $5.99 for a six pack, I know that when the planned Charlottesville branch opens, I will spend some money and try the beers. However, it was the packaging that I found particularly interesting, some of which you can see here.

Each of the labels features a picture of what most people would expect a Central European urban scene to look like, and to the untrained eye the interest level would no doubt stop there. But look a little closer at the label for the Vienna Lager, the building is the Old Town Hall in Prague. The ragged edge of the red building is where the Nazis set it on fire and parts collapsed as a result.

Now take a quick look at the Bavarian Hefeweizen label, and unless I am mistaken, that is a picture again of the Old Town Square in Prague. Look at the Hofbrau Bock label and that skyscape is from the Old Town side of the Vltava, looking across the Charles Bridge toward St Nicholas' Church in Mala Strana.

While I am entirely biased and would say that there is no more beautiful city in Europe than Prague, though Budapest and Lublijana both come close, it feels like lazy marketing to rely on the consumer's lack of knowledge or interest in your labeling. It also feels something of a slight on Vienna and the cities of Bavaria that beers historically and intrinsically bound to those locales should have pictures of Prague on the labels.

Just a simple search of one of the many online stock photography services pulls up plenty of pictures for iconic places and scenes, such as Vienna's Hofburg, Munich's Frauenkirche, Schloss Neuschwanstein or the Wieskirchen.

This kind of lazy marketing really does my head in. I know it is just a picture and that the important thing is the beer in the bottle, but the cynic within wonders if they can't be bothered to get the artwork right, did they bother enough with the beer itself. I guess I will find out when Trader Joe's opens its doors in Charlottesville.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

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