Friday, 3 January 2014

Interview with H.R.H. Prince Luitpold of Bavaria

Beer Goggles Interviews H.R.H. Prince Luitpold Of Bavaria
The Prince's family have brewed quality beer since 1260, and have been responsible for so much influence on the beers we drink today both inside and outside of Bavaria.
The Reinheitsgebot that the royal family introduced in 1516, not only saw to it that Bavarian beer was a pure product, but it set a bench mark for outside competitors, and thus brewers around the globe had to take heed.
The fantastic Oktoberfest began in 1810 as the Bavarian royal family wedding celebration and is now the biggest fair or festival in the world with an incredible 6 million plus revellers. Rather perversely now though, Prince Luitpold's own, Kaltenberg König Ludwig beers have no tent at the festival because the brewery falls outside of the required area.
Thwaites brewery has a unique on-going partnership with Prince Luitpold, so look out for more Kaltenberg König Ludwig beers in their pubs soon. They may seem strange bedfellows, but it's a marriage made in beer heaven.
My thoughts on interviewing royalty.
As a young boy, I was truly the original Oliver Twist. The holes in my school shoes were not patched inside with the cardboard from Cornflakes boxes like the poor waifs in the movies. Instead, in my ragged shoes, the wet pavement was held back by the cardboard from cheap supermarket home-brand boxes.
OK, I now have a little more spending money, but I like many of you, have never been able to afford to munch Michelin meals, I’ve never had the required readys to relax at The Ritz and I’ve never shelled out saved shillings to stay in St. Moritz.
I tell you this, dear reader, to show the stark contrast between myself and royalty, and thus prove a maxim that I’ve always shouted loud and proud about the beer world. Unlike any other form of enjoyment, with a quality beer in your hand, you can actually live like royalty for mere pocket money.
In juxtaposition, the Prince may well live in a fairy-tale castle, above a fairy-tale brewery. He may watch jousting tournaments in his capacious grounds, but HRH Prince Luitpold Von Bayern feels just as enthusiastic about great beer and quality brewing as we do. He shares our passion.
Beer crosses the boundaries of class, creed, country, and culture. It is the universal language.
Words from the wise.
His Highness, Prinz Luitpold Von Bayern said: “I’m delighted to be in Manchester to celebrate Christmas with König Ludwig International’s British friends and brewing partners. The long bar has such a distinctively Bavarian feel, that I could almost be at home in my native Germany, Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas).
His Magnificentness, Steve Magnall, managing director of Thwaites, said: “On behalf of Thwaites, we are delighted to welcome His Royal Highness Prinz Luitpold to Manchester at Christmas time. Bavarian beer has never been more popular in the UK, and we are honoured to be a licenced partner of König Ludwig International. The Long Bar is the perfect place to welcome our German friends and to toast the festive season with a glass of Kaltenberg.”
His Dishiness, Phil Dawson, The Long Bar’s manager, added: “The Prince’s visit has added a real touch of authenticity to the Bier Haus. The extent of his beer and brewing knowledge are astonishing, and it’s been tremendous to learn more about the heritage of Bavarian brewing.”
Beer Goggles-   Hello and welcome once again to Beer Goggles Reviews. I’m in the presence of royalty. I do pray forgiveness (for sound and picture problems). This is Prince Luitpold of Bavaria (Von Bayern). He is not just royalty, but he is royalty in brewing terms as well. I’ll leave the Prince himself to tell you. What influences have your family had on the history and traditions of brewing beer?
Prince Luitpold- Well, we have a very, very long tradition with beer. Our family was ruling the country of Bavaria since 1118, more than 800 years, but we have also had breweries in the family for 750 years. Beer in the early days was the most safe and best food product you could have. Water was always polluted and dangerous. Beer was always safe. Because of that, beer had a significant influence on Bavarian history and Bavarian economics. Over the centuries, our family have had breweries. Our first brewery in 1260 in Munich, and over the centuries we’ve had about 70 different breweries. Brewed beer was always one of the most important products to forward the country of Bavaria. We were interested in beer. To tell you what our interest in the beers was like, the family drank beer themselves. It is stated in the 16th century, the daily consumption at that time was 2 litres per head per day. Understandably, people were moving a lot and needed more liquid if they were running around a bit more. In order to protect the quality of beer, we put some legislation through, and the German purity law today (Reinheitsgebot) is the oldest existing food regulation law in the world. It was done by my ancestors in 1516 saying that beer could be made out of malts, hops and water, and no other ingredients. No cheaper ingredients, no sugar, no corn, no potato, and particularly, no other spices. At that time, many people were poisoned and killed by the addition of dangerous ingredients, by dangerous spices, poisonous plants and all. So limiting to hops, water and malt, was restricting the quality and so protecting folk. Later for many years, we had the only production of weissbier in Germany. We had about 40 weissbier breweries in the centuries. We started the Munich Oktoberfest with the wedding parties for my Great-Grandfather. We also started the brewing university in Munich, so that many, many, many connections with the brewing fraternity. But in particular, it was always a personal interest and also a pleasure in running breweries for the family, because it’s one of those industries where you are very close to people. If you are in a position of running a country, it’s important that you have a basis of speaking to your people. Beer does that. If you run a brewery besides, you hold a platform where an exchange of opinions goes out to the people, and I think we have got something which is rather unique in Bavaria which kept us together.
Beer Goggles-   Now you mentioned the Reinheitsgebot, the purity laws (1516) governing the ingredients included in beer. Do you still think that has relevance in today’s brewing?
Prince Luitpold- ABSOLUTELY! WHO WANTS AN UNCLEAN PRODUCT? Nobody. So, if you can produce a beer with zero chemicals, with good ingredients, you don’t need to necessarily experiment with other ingredients. This doesn’t mean that a licensee shouldn’t be able to make a beer cocktail. There are thousands of cocktails for beer, but for a brewer, it should be required that he doesn’t reinvent a product. If he wants to make an alcoholic beverage which is malt based, maybe adding completely different things, chocolate, whatever, coffee, why not? But, it is not beer. It is maybe an alcoholic beverage of its own kind, but it’s certainly not really correct to call them beers. And on this theme, what many people don’t realise is that this omission of products is very important on the beers gaining control. If the product beer is not defined in a precise way, people don’t know if they’re getting beer or not, and success is really the key if you want the achievement of Reinheitsgebot. In Germany, with all the beer, you know you get an absolutely pure drink with malt, hops and water, and a what they do in flavour can be dramatic. You can have strong beers, less strong beers, beers which have a fruity aroma, a winey aroma, a very light aroma, a hoppy aroma. All those things depending on the style of fermenting, the style of hops, there are something like two to three hundred styles of hops, hundreds of different yeast strains that produce completely different aromas. And so if you have the knowhow, you can make very interesting, very different things comprised out of those very pure ingredients going in. Hops, malt, water, it’s amazing what we can do with them. There’s no need to use any other ingredients. There’s no need to use any chemicals whatsoever. We’ve proved that it can be done. You can make a beer with no pasteurisation, no chemicals, with a one year shelf life, as a natural product, using standards in the German industry. Why do you need chemicals if it’s not absolutely necessary? And the basic idea is, if you cannot possibly produce it without chemicals, then OK, but if it is possible, why not BAN IT and only allow what is naturally pure? An that’s the way that we still do beer. I feel sympathy that people may be OK with pouring in different flavours and if they need that, I’ll give them a book, ‘1000 Cocktails Based On Beer’, and they can make any mix they want
Beer Goggles-   (Laughing) I almost feel like crying when you speak like that, because that is so passionate about putting proper ingredients in beer.
Prince Luitpold- Yes, and I think in England, you have a great history with beer. You have a slightly different way with finings, but this is English tradition. But listen, at the end of the day, people still want beer made from hops, malt, and water, and not from any others. I don’t know, lumps of sugar, spiced with chocolate, and I don’t know what.
Beer Goggles-   There’s nothing wrong with those beers, but as you say they are a different..
Prince Luitpold- There’s nothing wrong with those drinks. As a Bavarian I would say, nothing wrong with the drinks. It’s a question of what you’re getting. You’re getting an alcoholic malt based beverage, or say, a chocolate based malt beverage, or whatever, but it’s not a beer, and that’s a different thing. Now if you have a beer, and you say, OK, I want to add something into it, leave this to the inn keeper. They can say, OK I’ve bought this clean beer from the brewery and I make my special recipe for the consumer by adding things in the cellar in the pump, or adding something in the cask. This, I have no problem with. I have a problem with the way that a brewer should think about making the most perfect, clean, natural product.
Beer Goggles-    It’s been proved in tonight’s tasting. In tonight’s tasting, you have shown with just a few beers, just how wide a variety you can get. And that’s with just a few beers.
Another question for you if you don’t mind. I was called to beer later on in life. Before that, I was into what I call the indoctrination corporation chemical McLagers. You yourself have been born into history. You’ve been born into a brewing family. How has that felt as a child growing up in the beer world?
Prince Luitpold- Always fun. The beer world is full of enjoyment. We had parties, festivals, interesting people, and it’s not uniform to Germany. It is an international brew, it’s a family. And you can go wherever you want in the world, if you come as a brewer, or come as a consumer, you can speak to a brewer, you have a base platform to start off with, and this I think is a very friendly platform the world over. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed.
Beer Goggles-   A universal language, yes. Thank you very much for chatting with us here. Finally, for any brewers out there,have you got any pearls of wisdom, any bits of advice for people either starting breweries up, commercial brewing, or hoping to venture a bit further forward in the brewing world?
Prince Luitpold- I think one of the key things in beer is, we should make products which are not necessarily reinventing the wheel. We should try to make beers which are pleasant to drink, which people enjoy drinking, we should make things which are long lasting. I think the key thing is that if you make a beer, you say look here, I’ll work enough to make, in that style, something which is continuous,the best of it’s kind, in each style. Not try to go for this, or go for this, or the next beer, and the next stage, or something else. This is testing, but it’s not something maybe industrial for the one brewing. But at the end of the day, the consumer always wants to have something with a certain amount of reliability. I think brewers should try to really work hard to get the best out of their own facilities that they could possibly do in a consistent way. Now this could be a very different style of beer, but they should say, OK, that’s my favourite one, we should really try to go long term with it. Not just jump into the beer and say, add a bit of this, maybe a bit of that. They may stand for an immense amount of variety, but we loose the feeling of quality. Quality only can be achieved with dedication over the long term, in trying to tweak the little screws which make it perfect. Perfection is something you always need to work towards.
Beer Goggles-   Your Royal Highness, thank you very much for spending time with me.
Prince Luitpold- Keep enjoying good beer.
Beer Goggles-   Oh I do, thank you. Cheers!