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For a long time, the fronts were quite clear: beer was something for the regulars' table, the building site, the football evening, the barbecue afternoon, beer was the profane thirst quencher that always had something proletarian about it. Good wine, on the other hand, was and is for many the epitome of high culture; even the most debauched bacchanal acquires the air of distinction if the wines are only noble enough. Above all, wine has been the only accepted beverage for upscale cuisine - along with water and perhaps a fine distillate. If a few ambitious brewers have their way, that will soon change.

Especially in some European countries and in North America, more and more small breweries are standing up against the progressive concentration of the beer market on a few large companies and the accompanying banalisation of this millennia-old beverage. Traditional styles and brewing methods are cultivated and perfected by them, and many a brewmaster is not afraid to try out new things and to vary and add to the ingredients. As with wine, the taste of top-quality beer depends to a large extent on its origin, the quality, but also the character of its ingredients. Water, barley malt and hops are the basic ingredients for all beers. But even the choice of hops has a decisive influence on a beer, not to mention the malt, but the list of possible other ingredients and production processes is long - and by no means everything that is not listed in the German Purity Law is also detrimental to the result.

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