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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Quotable Michael Schnitzler

By now you probably know the drill: I'm working on a chapter and listening to an audiotape of a visit I made to a brewery.  Today we have Uerige and the wry, quotable Michael Schnitzler.  (He's a bit like the German Van Havig.)  It would be nice to be able to knit these into a larger narrative, but they're a bit scattershot.  But worth reproducing for your amusement.

On the question of why his beer costs more at the store than national brands:
“Beer prices are always political. Beer price is not funny; it is a serious thing.” 

On what has happened to Düsseldorf:
“In general, the altbier is in bad condition. The smaller breweries are successful, that is not a problem, but if you remove the big breweries that were far more original Düsseldorfer breweries—now Frankenheim for example is with Warsteiner, Diebels is with Anheuser-Busch, Schlösser is somewhere, nobody knows really, then altbier is [not doing well].  The former biggest Düsseldorf breweries, they started twenty or thirty years ago to quit brewing in the town. [Real estate] prices are so high that everyone says, come on, it’s not [worth it] to sell beer. Let’s put it out to rent. The same with Munich—it’s even worse than Düsseldorf. So the breweries were sold to Warsteiner, Anheuser Busch; so where is the echte Düsseldorfer brauerei, the real Düsseldorf brewery? That’s the problem everywhere.”

On the casks they serve alt in (this applies to many places):
“It is just the traditional style of presenting the beers in a nice way. We tap it manually and then we put the barrel on the bar; this is the special way we do it. But there is no fermentation; there is nothing for the taste.” This reminded him of an amusing story. “Now every barrel has a red ring [metal band]. A couple of years ago we had a green one, a yellow one, something like that. Nobody knows why. The regular customers they saw the barrels with the green ring on it and said, 'oh no, we cannot drink this one.'  Now we only have the red band.”

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