Berlin has its Berliner Weiße, Cologne its Kölsch, Bavaria its Weißbier – and Hamburg? “We have an extremely varied beer culture and an impressive brewing tradition,” said Axel Ohm, Manager of ÜberQuell Brauwerkstätten, a microbrewery in St. Pauli. The first beers in Hamburg were brewed more than a thousand years ago, primarily for household use and a long way in taste from what today’s beer lovers are used to. The first genuine brewers, Braxatores, began their craft in the mid 13th century. By the 15th century, Hamburg was home to almost 530 breweries and had made a name for itself as the “Brewery of the Hansa”.
Guide to beer in Hamburg
Three beer devotees saw a need to link up to this tradition: Oliver Sopalla, initiator and head of the enjoyment movement Hopfen sei Dank, Sandra Heyne, beer sommelier and owner of Bier Consulting, Sales & Services, and Ohm, who have paved the way for Hamburg’s first city guide to beer.
Breweries, brew pubs, beer bars
The Hopfen.Guide takes a touristic approach in a book complete with vouchers. “This combination is new to the German book market,” said Sopalla, who launched a Hopfen.Guide for Dortmund in 2018 and has now turned to Hamburg. Beer walks or bike tours to breweries and brew pubs, beer bars and beer businesses, as well as information on Hamburg’s beer culture can be found on 111 pages. “The book is aimed at residents of Hamburg, who would like to get to know their city from its undiscovered side, and of course tourists,” said Heyne, the authors.
42 breweries in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein
The Hopfen.Guide opens up new experiences even to beer sceptics. In the chapter “Find your Beer Style”, Heyne sets out the beer varieties that may surprise dedicated drinkers of red wine, sparkling wine or coffee. The microbrewery start-up boom in 2013 led to a broad range of new tastes – from red ales with hints of caramel, fruit and sour beer varieties to barley wine, the intensity of which recalls wine. By the end of 2018, around 42 breweries in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein were catering to the growing range of tastes in beer.
Beer is for women!
Women are often more ready to experiment, experts say. And in fact, brewing was often the preserve of women in the past. During the Middle Ages, if the brewing process went wrong, it could have serious consequences: The last beer witch was burnt at the stake in the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1591. Happily, such practices are a thing of the past, and today creativity and a willingness to combine are important. Chocoversum, for instance, offers regular tastings along the lines of Beer meets Chocolate.
Craft beer sales rising
“And people are prepared to pay more for beer,” said Bennet Jarke of Tipsy Baker Bar. Shelling out as much as EUR 7.00 for a 0.3 litre glass is acceptable these days. “Appreciation is on the rise,” even though total consumption is falling by around 2 per cent per year. “But turnover at craft beer projects is bucking the trend, rising by more than 10 per cent,” said Ohm said. And the Hopfen.Guide aims to drive this trend.