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In the North of the South

I am from Venezuela – a country located in the North of South America. It is right next to Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and the Caribbean Sea.

Different to Germany, there are only two seasons in Venezuela – raining season and summer. During summer time temperatures can reach almost 40°C in some areas. No wonder, that a cool beer is always a good companion.

The first time I traveled to Europe, I went to Germany. I lived there for eight months. And the thing that stuck most with me was the German beer culture. Luckily I had the opportunity to live in Bayern, the state most famous for brewing great beer. I visited the Octoberfest, went to lots of beer gardens and beer festivals. Even going to the BrauBeviale was on my list. Which meant, I was able to try many different types of beer. I was even able to make beer myself while visiting breweries all over the country. All of these experiences made me fall madly in love with the German beer culture. It is astonishing how almost everything revolves around beer. I had the feeling that every German family brewed beer at least once in their life.

The Venezuelan and German beer culture is very different. The only thing both countries have in common is that they both love to drink beer. Unfortunately, Venezuela is in throes of a difficult crisis. Of course the beer market suffers as well. Venezuela has only two large industrial breweries and just a couple craft breweries.

When I took a trip through Venezuela, I visited craft breweries such as Pisse Des Gottes, Cacri, Coronarias, Venortedelsur and Tovar brewery. The people there showed me that you still could be able to produce high quality beer despite the crisis. Venezuela has one of the highest inflation rates in the world. The national currency has been devalued. The imports are limited, there is an economy control and the level of scarcity is really high. Hence producing beer here is really difficult under these conditions. The raw ingredients that you need for making beer have to be imported for example. Which makes brewing even more expensive.

Despite the difficult situation I encountered several initiatives that really push the beer culture. One of them was the Beervana in Caracas. It is pretty similar to the one in the U.S. In March Polar brewery – one of Venezuela’s largest breweries – organizes their event “El jardín cervecero” (“the beer garden”). Most people in Venezuela have no idea what a beer garden actually is. I like that the event is named after a great German tradition. Through that people will get more familiar with beer culture and maybe one day, brewing beer will be as popular in Venezuela as it is in Germany.

One of the few craft breweries here is “Venortedelsur”. They have a van called “rolling hops“. And they drive to beer events or to public places, where they sell their craft beer while they explain the brewing process. Which is quite helpful because in Venezuela the beer culture is just about to start. Only a few people know that a beer can be more than just a refreshing beverage. There are not a lot of breweries that focus on teaching their employees or the consumers about the brewing process.

During the time I worked at Polar brewery I noticed that they took over a lot from the German beer culture. At Polar all the master brewers graduated in Germany and they had an intensive training at the best breweries around Germany. Within the company there are several master brewers from Germany and most of the machines and even the raw ingredients are German. The beer made by Polar is a lager type and the alcoholic content is not really high compared to craft beer. Due to the craft beer movement Venezuelans have now also the opportunity to try beer that differs from the standard lager beer. Such as: IPA, Hefeweizen, Stout and Sauer Bier. And despite of the crisis the craft brewers really do produce high quality beer.

Still craft beer is expensive and unfortunately not everyone is able to participate in this movement. I think Venezuela has a lot of work to do and I really hope someday our beer culture will be as popular as it is in Germany. Nevertheless I feel happy and confident nowadays when I look at the growing Venezuelan beer market.

 

 

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