German Beer Culture Dying; Will the United States Save It?

The saviors of Oktoberfest?
The saviors of Oktoberfest?

The big food story going around the Internet right now is Slate's piece on the decline in Germany's beer culture. It's a relatively well-written piece, with a lot of history and anecdotes thrown in, but something nagged throughout--hadn't I read this before?

Indeed, I had--kind of.

Back in 2005, the German magazine Der Spiegel ran a piece on the same phenomenon, starting off with the exact intro that Slate used: an explanation of the term brauereisterben, the German phrase used to describe the death of the beer industry. It was coined during the mid-1990s, a fact both Slate and Der Spiegel pointed out.

But that's where the articles take different roads: Der Spiegel (which knows a little bit about Germany, given it covers the country) put the blame on a declining population and the younger set's gravitational pull toward other alcoholic drinks (the two articles even mentioned the same alcoholic drink, Bacardi Rigo, as a beverage on the rise), while Slate author Christian DeBenedetti claims its the German beer itself that has suffered a decline in quality, and that American brew-meisters and their microbrewery styles will save German beer culture from itself.

Or maybe I'm just biased on the issue, being I'm a bourbon man-child and all..

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