Beer Battle: Germany vs. England

Beer Battle: Germany vs. England ….. The ultimate beer showdown, who will win?

I recently traveled to Germany and England for a business trip.  The trip was carefully scheduled and manipulated to provide for ample beer sampling in each of the cities that I traveled to.  Anticipating this trip for many weeks, I contemplated all of the wonderful German beers that I was going to enjoy.  After all, they adhered to the German Beer Purity Law otherwise known as- Reinheitsgebot.  The law, established in 1487, dictates that only Water, Barley and Hops can be used to make beer..  Truth is, the German brewers no longer abide by this law and have watered down the regulations to allow for additions such as cane sugar and wheat.  Still, the German brewers were based on Beer Rules from over 500 years ago!  Their product had to be good.

Here are the Beer Battle rules.
1. Every beer had to be on draft
2. Beers had to be from the local big (m)ass beer brewers

Round 1 – Germany

German Beer – Binding
I attended a business dinner and pretended to pay attention but couldn’t.  I was too excited to try my first German beer in Germany.  We were at a restaurant called Heilig Geist  in Mainz and I ordered a beer called Binding.  I eagerly brought the ginormous mug (I ordered a large after all) to my lips but before I could taste it I smelled something odd.  I smelled corn!  This German beer violated the Reinheitsgebot and SommBeer’s Rule #4 – No Corn No Rice
Taste – A light watery almost tasteless beer that seems to contain corn.  It tastes, frankly just like any other big (m)ass American Pilsner beer.
Buy Again? – Nein

German Beer – Koestritzer
I choked the Binding down and ordered a second beer.  I asked for the darkest beer they had.  I was rewarded with a beer called Koestritzer.  It was wonderful.  But why did they serve good beer in such a small glass?  I downed this like a shot.  Oops! I’m on a business trip.
Taste – Smooth, slightly malty low in hops.
Buy Again – Ja !


German Beer – Pfungstadter
The next night I was at another restaurant enjoying a plate of veal and spatzle.  I noticed that every beer brand had it’s own unique glass design.  Wow this was great advertising.  I ordered a beer based on a beer I saw served at the adjacent table.  Regrettably the glass design was better than the beer.  I smelled corn again, I didn’t even take a picture.
Taste – See Binding

Buy Again – No

 Round 1 – England 
I flew in to Birmingham England and took a cab to Wellingborough.  It had been a long trip in Germany (beer not so good) so I ordered fish and chips.  They were fantastic, the skies were starting to open up here! Actually it was characteristically grey and overcast the entire trip.
Time for a beer…
English Beer – Lancaster Bomber
 Marketed with a nod to the bombers of WWII, the Lancaster bomber was rich, malty and slightly bitter.  I really enjoyed this beer(s).  The color was dark which seemed to advertise a richness even before I took my first sip.  It is must be noted that all of the English beers were made in the classic English Ale style ie. warm, flat and medium to thin bodied.  It takes some calibrating if you are used to robust American craft beer.  Here’s a beginner’s guide  
 Don’t ask about the stuffed horsey (it’s complicated).

Taste – Rich flavor, medium malt slight bitter finish
Buy Again? – Yes, can I have my stuffed horsey back?

English Beer – Tetley’s 
I stayed at a (lovely) hotel called the Bannatyne  in Darlington and had dinner at their restaurant.  I wanted an authentic local English beer and asked the bartender for advice.  His lack of hesitation sold me on Tetlley’s. Silly yankee, this isn’t tea, this is really good beer.  Smooth but not as robust or dark as the Lancaster Bomber it made an excellent accompaniment to my venison sausage.  I feel I should explain my horsey at this point, but I am not prepared to do so.


Taste – Smooth, medium bodied slight bitter finish.  True to the English bitter style.
Buy Again? – Yes
English Beer – Boddington’s 

I took the train from Darlington to London and “landed” in a hotel near Heathrow. We found a restaurant there called the “Jury’s Inn” and it was awful.  You really take a gamble as a foreigner in an airport hotel’s restaurant.  They know you will never see them again.  One bite of that steak was all I needed, but they had Boddington’s on draft!  Woohoo!  I’ve had this beer nectar in the states and loved it.  It was wonderful.  I drank two pints as a disinfectant for what little I ate.  The waiter scoffed at my horsey, what a weirdo.

Beer Battle: German vs. English Beer

Who won? England!  The English beers while true to their form, were all high quality without any cereal grains or compromises.



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