Creative diversity and a healthy mix: the Braukunst Live!

Swap you a tramcar for a wheat beer. Sounds rather difficult? For 51 weekends of the year, it’s probably not all that easy, but last weekend it actually happened. The hall of Munich’s MVG Museum, you see, has been transformed for the weekend from a Mecca for public transportation devotees into an oasis for a thirsty beer-lovers.

Yes, that’s right, on 26 February it was once again time for this year’s Braukunst Live! – which meant for me it was time for a trip to Munich. Armed with a list of the exhibitors, a supply of coins for buying the samples, a tasting glass, and a whole lot of curiosity I embark on my explorations – and am immediately overwhelmed by the sheer diversity on show.

Tiny one-man breweries and major players in the beer sector. Raw material dealers and raw material users, professional brewers and amateur beer-lovers. I find myself in the midst of this mixture, when I enter the hall. And despite these differences, there’s one subject that topic they all agreed on. Good beer, in all its multifaceted glory.

Something that’s also emphasised by Frank Böer, the organiser of the Braukunst Live!, right at the beginning of the event: he’s not into politics and marketing. It’s the mixture that makes the fair so valuable. Both visitors and exhibitors come here to meet “brewers, producers and new faces”.

And he’s right, as I notice as soon as take my first steps into the hall. Because no matter which stand I arrive at, the mood is cheerful and relaxed and pleasantly conducive to animated conversation and relishable sampling.

So I swim with the tide of the numerous visitors who have been lured by the siren call. And as I pass from one conversation to the next, the event’s sheer diversity is strikingly confirmed. I meet Kathrin Meyer von der Brau-Manufactur Allgaeu, for example, who takes me along for a brief outing through her selection of beers. She has a “Herbal Legend” with her, so our conversation quickly moves from theory to practice. And after the very first sip I’m pleasantly surprised at how fresh the beer feels – I can almost taste the summer meadows.

From this small family-owned brewery, I continue my wanderings, towards the somewhat larger breweries at the neighbouring stands. There I find a guy from Stone Brewing, who seemingly senses my indecision and recommends the Stone IPA. And I’m grateful to him, because the sheer amount of choice is really a challenge!

But things then get even more difficult. Because all at once I find myself at a stand that is a little bit different with its apothecary bottles, smaller tasting glasses and four different flavours – the Bavarian Hop Liqueurs from Hopfa. In order not to overwhelm my taste buds completely, I opt for a short detour to one of the water dispensers, and only then do I turn my attention to the choice of liqueurs. Hops and orange finally prove the most persuasive – so much so that I take one of the apothecary bottles home with me.

And so I continue making the rounds: Pilsner Urquell, the Bierverlag Brausturm publishers, the hop vendor Joh. Barth & Sohn, malt producer Castle Malting, die Brewers Association, the impressive stand of the Schneider Weisse wheat beer brewery, and the representatives of Braufactum. All of them, and plenty of others as well, are here to enjoy what is meanwhile one of the premier events for the craft beer scene.

In the 500th anniversary year of the Bavarian Purity Law, of course, there are also questions in the air: do we really want to have the big breweries on board? Is it time to put an end to the Purity Law? Frank Böer has clear-cut answers to these questions: yes, we want to have the big players involved – for more diversity and a healthy mix. And the Purity Law. Frank Böer sees this as far less problematic than lots of people try to make out. After all, the Braukunst Live! provides irrefutable proof that creative brewing is alive and well in Germany, too, despite the existence of the Purity Law.

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