Why Is Craft Beer So Trendy In Europe? Part 1

Dating back to 1960s

In the war, beer had still fulfilled its role as a staple food – the supply of troops and population in almost all warring countries had the highest priority. But then, in Europe as well, it became more and more the ever-available consumer product, where less the taste, but ultimately only the price and the return counted. The triumphant advance of the big “television brands”, which became TV advertising partners of Bundesliga and Formula 1, seemed unstoppable in the 1960s to the 1980s.

But at the latest after the reunification, the German consumers remembered their regional brands, and pub breweries sprang up like mushrooms. The culmination of this development is undoubtedly the craft brewers, who have whirled the world of beer and brought about an internationalization of beer styles: was it still possible in the 1990s that an IPA from England or the USA, a wheat from Germany or a Dubbel came from Belgium, so the today’s brewery world resembles the often-cited global village.

US and Europe

While craft brewers in the US began to cause a stir from the 1970s, most other nations in the world experienced an ever-increasing concentration of their beer market, which was marked by the dominance of bottom-fermented, mostly light beers. In the end, two large corporations were by far the leading national breweries. Only in Germany there were four “big ones” who fought with millions of hectolitres for the favour of the consumers, while over half of the companies had a very small annual production of less than 5,000 hectolitres.

craft beer

In the end, there was a gap between large-scale breweries brewing more than 100,000 hectolitres a year and small-scale farms with less than 20,000 hectolitres on the other. The classic Mittelbau was broken off. This trend was reinforced by a wave of foundations of traditional pub breweries with the assortment light / dark / wheat from the 1980s. The aggressive advertising strategy of the big brewers coined the term of the “television beers” and the no less harsh price policy let previous premium beers become junk articles, which went almost exclusively over action sales in the beverage markets over the shop counter. In all European countries, the number of breweries was declining and forecasts for the future looked grim.

World guide to Beer

Beer author Michael Jackson had published the first edition of his book “The World Guide to Beer” in 1977, his books also reached across the Atlantic, and were well received among CAMRA members in Britain and later across Europe. Thus, the idea of ​​seeing more in beer than just a cheap alcoholic thirst-quencher, and an increasing number of brewers and homebrewers in the Old World reached it. Nevertheless, in the US there were jokes such as “German Beer is like a dead Rabbit – no hops!” Probably the first European “craft brewery”, which is still important today, was founded by the Italian Agostino Arioli in the 3000-strong village Lurago Marinone in Lombardy. The Italian beer world had – in the tradition of the ancient Romans – in the 20th Century little to offer, the per capita consumption of beer was one liter per year! Only Austrian entrepreneurs had founded at the time of the k.u.k. monarchy some local breweries, which went over to the end of the First World War in Italian possession or start-ups as a model. In the 1990s, two large companies finally dominated the market, producing a bottom-fermented, light, slightly bitter beer – Peroni and Moretti.

Brewing at home

brewing beer at home

It was not until 1995 that the Italian Parliament legalized the brewing of the home and thus made it possible to create new microbreweries. Already as a student, Agostino Arioli had dreamed of brewing beer and during his master brewing studies the first creative, at that time still illegal, sude developed in his own four walls. After several internships in German breweries and a study trip to the Canadian Microbrewery Granville Iceland Brewing in Vancouver “Ago” took advantage of the new legislation and opened in early April 1996, the first Brewpub of Italy with the name “Nuovo Birrificio Italiano”. In the 200-liter brewhouse was, among other things, the “Tipopils”, a Pils with German raw materials, but intense aroma hop notes – to this day the flagship of Birrificio Italiano. Other creations such as the “VuDù”, a dark wheat beer with English hops, and the “Cinnamon Bitter” in the tradition of British Real Ales followed and laid the foundation for the emerging beer philosophy of the entire country. In contrast to the US craft beer, the Italian beers are characterized by high harmony, complexity and elegance.