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Homebrewing in Germany - how to get someone started?

Hi all,

I have some family in Germany who want to try homebrewing. There is a paradox going on here, and I’ll explain why. They are Germans (in Leipzig in eastern Germany) who love local German Pilsners (Radeberger, Hasseroder, Wernesgruner, etc)…and so do I…I’m trying to brew German beers in the U.S. (yes, you can argue hop extract, questionable quality…the mass market “Buds” of Germany, etc). But that’s all they know. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to crack that nut the first time around and brew one of those…so far they’ve made poor quality dandilion wine. Besides, why brew a German Pilsner when that makes up 99% of what you can buy?

But they’ve never had an American, British or probably even Belgian ale…all of which are a great place to start with homebrewing. I bought a sampling of bottles at the local beer store there including Czechvar, Augustiner, Pilsner Urquell, Ayinger, etc, and they didn’t like any of those…too light and no flavor, not hoppy enough, too malty, etc. They totally didn’t get Munich Dunkel, but were familiar with Kostrizer. They want what they want and know.

I’d love to expose them to American or British ale styles, but I can only imagine that’s so far out of their realm of experience that even if they brewed it flawlessly they wouldn’t understand it.

I think the discussion started while sitting around the table one night and an epiphany hit to try brewing. So I’m not sure the actual goals logistics are fully baked in their minds. But I want to help them out and give them a good shot at something both educational and, to their palates, enjoyable.

Maybe a Cream ale? Kolsch? Fall is coming, so if I can get them set up as temps cool down, we can probably get through an uncontrolled cool fermentation fairly well.

And, can anyone recommend a good resource for getting started with homebrewing in Germany? Last night I stumbled on http://hobbybrauer.de, which is like deja vu reading an American homebrew forum. Still reading to find the German Ken Lenard or Denny equivalent who’s totally nailed a Pliny clone and is proud of it.

Thanks!

Homebrewing is a rare thing in Germany. After all, if you can get such a great selection of really high quality beers so cheaply, it takes away a lot of the incentive that many have to start.

In Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain, there is a lot more available and I know there are many brew clubs where you are likely to find the European homebrew experts. There are also a bunch of homebrew shops that have web shops which can deliver to Germany. Have them check out Brouwland.com, which is the largest such shop in Europe that I am aware of.

Also, they can check out the web site for Weyermann, which has a home brew section, and for Speidel which makes winery equipment, but also has a small line devoted to homebrew equipment, including electric kettles. Few people who do brew in Europe use propane, and kettles in general are difficult to fine. So the very expensive electric kettles might be the best option. Those web sites might have listings of distributors or stores that carry their products, and if there are any near where your friends live, it would be worth a trip to see and maybe talk to someone there about how to start.

Don’t think that you will be able to get them a set up like you have. A lot of things that are common for American homebrewers are hard to find, expensive or just plain not available over here. For example, coolers make great mash tuns, but good luck finding a big enough cooler here.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]Homebrewing is a rare thing in Germany. After all, if you can get such a great selection of really high quality beers so cheaply, it takes away a lot of the incentive that many have to start.

In Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain, there is a lot more available and I know there are many brew clubs where you are likely to find the European homebrew experts. There are also a bunch of homebrew shops that have web shops which can deliver to Germany. Have them check out Brouwland.com, which is the largest such shop in Europe that I am aware of.

Also, they can check out the web site for Weyermann, which has a home brew section, and for Speidel which makes winery equipment, but also has a small line devoted to homebrew equipment, including electric kettles. Few people who do brew in Europe use propane, and kettles in general are difficult to fine. So the very expensive electric kettles might be the best option. Those web sites might have listings of distributors or stores that carry their products, and if there are any near where your friends live, it would be worth a trip to see and maybe talk to someone there about how to start.

Don’t think that you will be able to get them a set up like you have. A lot of things that are common for American homebrewers are hard to find, expensive or just plain not available over here. For example, coolers make great mash tuns, but good luck finding a big enough cooler here.[/quote]

Thanks for the tips. Brouwland looks really good. I’ve been through the Weyermann site many times myself. I think that’s over their heads to start with. They really need a German equivalent of a Mr. Beer kit. Good point about propane.

It’s some drive away, but last time I was in Germany, the largest store I saw was in Dortmund. Hobbybrauer.de

Though not very popular for already stated reasons, craft beer is picking up. Especially with the 30%+ fall in beer drinking there.

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