It seems there’s no agreement concerning where or when beer was created. Most evidence points towards the Sumerians, in the Iraq region, some 6,000 years ago, but some historians place the beginning of this history in China, around 1,000 years later. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of agreement concerning one point, the Germans are the modern kings of beer.
Beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea (take a look at Wikipedia). Basically, beer resembles bread, as it’s a product of cereal grains starch fermentation. Any cereal? Yes, virtually any cereal can be used, like wheat, corn, rice or barley (the most common one). Other agents and herbs, like the flowers of the hop vine (Humulus lupulus), may be used as preservatives and flavouring agents (H. lupulus adds a distinctive bitterness). Want some additional and nutritional information? Take a look at “Beer is liquid bread?“.
I’m not much of a beer drinker, but while in Germany I just can’t resist the temptation. My favorite type of beer is based on wheat as the starch source (“weiss bier” or “weizen”), and I prefer it with the yeast (“hefe”). I also don’t enjoy it too bitter, thus a little extra malt makes sense for me (the beer becomes darker though – “dunkel”). In conclusion, when I order a beer in Germany I usually ask for a “dunkel Hefeweissbier”. Alles klar?
Two of the best ones I had in Heidelberg are produced by Vetter (Brauhaus Vetter, Steingasse, 9) and Sanwald, which I had in a place called Bierkrug (Hauptstrasse, 147).
A few things might go together well with these beers, among them the original German “bratwurst”, from brät meaning “finely chopped” and wurst meaning “sausage” (no, it’s not related to the German verb “braten”, meaning to roast or to grill, although even most Germans think it does – take a look at “Brät” ). Pork is a traditional meat in bratwurst, although beef and veal may also be used. It is heavily spiced with things like marjoran, cardamon, nutmeg, pepper, and other regional ingredients, what makes it perfect to be followed by a nice beer.