It’s become fashionable in American beer-geek circles to talk about the dire state of beer in Germany. The story is usually based on this fact: Germans are drinking less beer, about 101 liters per capita last year, down from more than 130 liters in the mid-1990s.

The story usually then leaps to questionable assumptions about why this is happening. Chief among these: German beers have become boring because the big six Bavarian beer producers make exactly the same beers. A conclusion is arrived at: What Germany really needs to regain its former glory is some gosh-darn, rootin’ tootin’ American innovation — namely in the form of American-style craft brews.

The latest appeared a few weeks ago in a Slate piece by Christian DeBenedetti titled “Brauereisterben” — literally “brewery death,” a term used since the 1990s and named after a term for Germany’s dying forests. One of the few… More…

As in many rural German villages, the public life of contemporary Coburg plays out in the marktplatz, the main square, where locals in cafes linger over tall glasses of cloudy beer topped with two inches of head, cappuccinos, and apfel strudels. They smoke as if news hasn’t arrived yet that tobacco may not be good for you.

 

Between the town hall with its stucco façade and another building painted with the outline of red blocks resembling mason stones, fruit stall vendors weigh produce for a crowd of picky buyers while a queue forms at a food truck purveying the local specialty — Coburger Rostbratwurste, a marbled gray-black sausage with a cable of mustard hanging over both sides of a palm-sized roll.

I take a seat at a cafe whose specialty is gelato and waffles, and squint hard at the menu… More…

One hot and, for Hamburg, uncharacteristically sunny afternoon we turn left out the door of our apartment building and head toward the Innenstadt for a bit of shopping — “downtown,” that is, and not the “inner city” of a literal translation. Down the Rothenbaumchaussee and then cross to cut through Dammtor station; up and over the flying bridge that comes down by the Holocaust memorial, past the Livotto Eis gelateria and then the opera house, through the Gansemarkt and along Jungfernstieg, the city’s Fifth Avenue promenade; past the Alster Pavilion café, in whose band Brahms’ father had played the horn. We’ve been here a week and we’re looking for sheets, and perhaps predictably we end up not at Karstadt’s or the Alsterhaus — not at the German stores — but at Habitat. Half the staff seems to be 20-something Brits speaking German; the others are Germans speaking English. We find… More…