Beer I am - About Hamburg & Beer
Hamburg used to be the centre of beer production between the 13th and 17th centuries. Even before the industrialization of beer production, there were over 500 breweries producing high quality beer on a large scale. Also, being part of the Hanseatic league meant successful exports to near and far stretches of the land and sea. The beer trade determined the development and vast fortunes of the city.
Hamburg made a significant contribution to the success of the brewing industry in Northern Germany from the Middle Ages up to and including the 16th century, not only by producing large quantities of beer, but even more by selling significant quantities of this beer in other markets. The brewing industry developed into one of the city’s most lucrative export industries. The Alster characterises Hamburg’s inner city today. The damming of the Alster between 1200-1235 (Trostbrücke & Jungfernstieg) made it possible to operate mills that crushed the malt for the growing number of brewers in the city.
The Hamburg brewers held the lead in the market with top beers for almost 500 years Competitive pressure and falling prices led to a decline in beer production in Hamburg in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the periods that followed, there was an enormous change in function and structure leaving less than 15 operational breweries by the end of the 20th century. Today, other beverages have ousted beer from its top position in terms of average
consumption, but it continues to be an important economic factor in Hamburg also due to the growing production of craft beer.
The basic principle of brewing beer is simple to understand: the starch contained in the grain is converted into sugar through an artificially initiated germination process, which is then interrupted by applying heat to dry the grain. This process is called malting. What is now malt, is then milled and a brew is created by boiling the milled malt in water and adding hops. After it has been filtered and cooled, yeast is added to it. The yeast now converts the sugar into alcohol. After fermentation in a tank or a barrel, the beer can be drunk.
To highlight the aspects of the brewing history that characterises Hamburg, we, the ‘Beer I am.’ team also thought to produce our very own beer. In order to produce good beer, however, a great deal of knowledge and vast experience is required. We decided to consult two experienced brewers; Andries de Groen and Willem van Herreweghe, who have held various positions in the brewing industry with a combined knowledge of over 60 years. They came up with the 4 recipes that we are currently producing: Imperial Stout, Porter, Hanse Bock and Gose. These will be aged in wooden barrels, just like it was done in the past, and then bottled. We are excited to present to you, the 4 limited edition beers which will be out very soon. We certainly hope to awaken the interest to try something new and inspire you to take a sip of history with us.
To learn more about Hamburg and its beers, check out the book
‘Kein Bier ohne Alster. Hamburg – Brauhaus der Hanse’.