RateBeer Weekly Magazine > Interviews
Ein Beera, Bitter…
AN INTERVIEW WITH YOGI_BEERA
December 19, 2002
Hello Ms Beera;
Or may I call you Yogi? (!!!Ha-Ha!!!)
You are known on Ratebeer.com as Yogi_Beera, is that correct?
YB: Hello Mr Beerded Bastard.
Well I hope that is the name people call me on Ratebeer.com, but not in real life.
BB: Where did your interest in beer begin?
YB: Mmmmh...Maybe age 16, when my first wild phases began. In Germany you are allowed to buy beer at the age of 16, so it was no problem to get beer; and of course it is cheap! But I wouldn’t call it really an interest in beer, it was more of an interest to have a fun evening with friends.
I got really interested in beer three years ago. User-Ex and I were house-mates in Hamburg.
He worked with Pivo, and that’s how I got to know him. Both of them were discussing beers and were kind of rating them. I was really snobby at first and told them as Americans they don’t have any idea about beer! Most Germans think Americans don’t know good beer.
The first time I was in the States in 1994 and drank Miller and Bud, I thought I was right. So, Pivo and User-Ex let me try Bigfoot: that was an eye-opening experience for me! I realized that there is something else in the world. Then, two years ago I went with Pivo to the London Beer festival where Michael Jackson was giving a tasting session. We sat there like in a school class and he was talking about some of the German beers - that was really new and interesting to me. So I think my interest started with realizing that beer is not only a beverage to get drunk on, but also something nice to taste.
BB: I understand that you recently returned from a trip to the United States. What region or state(s)were you in; and were you able to visit any local breweries or brewpubs while you were here?
YB: This time I just stayed in New Jersey for ten days and also spent a day in New York City. We went to Princeton and visited the Triumph Brewpub. We also visited the Long Valley and Trap Rock brewpubs. In New York we went to the Heartland Brewery. I have been to a lot of other breweries in the States before I joined Ratebeer.com, including the Anchor Brewing Co. in California. I have been to the Vermont Pub and Brewery and also Magic Hat. I think the last three are my favorite ones so far, for atmosphere and beer.
BB: What are your impressions of U.S. beers, both macrobrews and the craft beers you experienced? And how are these beers viewed in Germany?
YB: I think craft beer is really good. I’m stunned about the variety of styles and dislike the fact that there is nothing in comparison to that in Germany. The Germans I know who have tried craft brews liked them a lot. I know also Germans who said they wouldn’t taste <craft brews> as for them only Reinheitsgebot beers a real beers - I think these people have no clue about Brussels or other beer countries. We don’t get American craft beers in Germany, so most Germans don’t even know about them.
Macros are bad. But I also realize that the German Reinheitsgebot doesn’t mean that the bad beer in Germany is better than the bad beer in the States. I had really skunky macros in Germany and also a lot of below-average beers in the States. Unfortunately brews like Michelob or Miller is what we get in Germany or what German tourists drink in the States. So I think most Germans think American beer is pretty bad.
BB: Being from Germany, did you grow up in a beer-friendly environment? And what was that like?
YB: mmh... Not really. My father was a wine nerd. He had a wine cellar and taught me how to drink wine. My mom doesn’t like beer at all. Also, it is still unusual for girls to drink beer. Wine is more sophisticated.
BB: What beers are enjoyed by fun-loving beer-drinking Germans?
YB: That depends on the region you grow up. Beers are sold per region. So here in the north of Germany it is really hard to get beer from Munich. I mean I can get Andechser, but I have to go to a special store for it. It is hard to get Altbier here or Licher, a beer from Hessia. I grew up in Düsseldorf where Altbiers like Düssel Alt are very common. In Hessia we used to drink Licher and Warsteiner and here in Hamburg, far in the north of Germany we drink Jever, Einbecker and some "fun people" Becks!
BB: What is the beer climate in Germany today? Is it strong with German youth, or is there a shift towards other products, such as the "alco-pops"?
YB: Alco-pops are a big deal. Also sparkling wine. There is also a big trend to non alcoholic beverages, and n/a beers.
BB: Did you take many beers back with you that you cannot get at home? Which ones?
YB: Of course we had to bring beers back to Germany, as it is not only hard to get beers from the States here, but also beers from other European countries. Many? Oh yes, we really had a bad time with our luggage and I was mumbling the whole time "Customs don’t stop me". Guess what? One beer was Schneider Aventinus Doppelbock as this is really hard to get in the middle and north part of Germany. We also brought back beers I got from Ramsdell like St. Ambroise, Old Rasputin, Abbaye des Rocs, Victory Old Horizontal, Bigfoot, Traquair Jacobite and more. The problem with foreign beers from the world is, that it has only been possible to get them here for a couple of years now. We had a law that only allowed the selling of Reinheitsgebot Beers. So we weren’t even able to get Spanish beer here. But the EU said that this is not possible for Germany anymore. We now have open markets between the members of the EU, so we have let the other products in. And - halleluja - EU-Law stays over German Law. So maybe it will take some more years before more foreign beers are available here.
BB: Being a leading female Ratebeerian...congratulations by the way…what is your philosophy of beer? What makes a beer good to you, and in what ways?
YB: That is a hard question, mmh... I think a good beer is realizing the brewer really wanted you to like this beer. Complexity and also good balance. And of course, a good beer in a nice round of friends makes the beer even better for me.
BB: If you were stranded alone (or with Pivo!) on an island with only one brand of beer available for the rest of your life; what would that beer be? And why?
YB: Oh no, don’t do this to me! Is it a nice and warm Island? I think Westy 12! A cold and ugly Island, so I need a lot of alcohol...Dogfish Head World Wide Stout 18 % or 23 %, mmh. I can’t decide. I think there has to be a little beer ship that comes every month and brings me all my favorite beers!
BB: LOL...that’s a great thought! I’d like to be the captain of that ship!! Speaking of favorites, what are some of your other favorite beers and beer styles?
YB: I realize lately that I am kind of getting to like smoked beer. The first time Pivo gave me Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen, I thought he is kind of crazy to like this. But I got to like it too! Cinderbock (Heavyweight Brewing) was really cool. I mostly love Bigfoot. Also La Chouffe. My favorite brewery and brewpub is ’t IJ in Amsterdam. Their beer is great.
BB: What are some of your favorite beer foods, such as pretzels, pizza, cheese, etc…?
YB: No pretzels, too dangerous! Mostly for American presidents. It depends on the beer I drink. Smoked beer - a cheese platter. Stouts, barley wines and Belgian ales or krieks after the main course. With a pils a Pizza or a spicy meat dish...no sauerkraut. I think that is not good with any beer .
BB: What tips would you offer to people coming to Germany, to enhance their beer drinking experience?
YB: Although I think Bavaria is not really representative of Germany, I still would think beer lovers should go there. Also a brewtour at the end of August, or beginning of September through Franconia is most highly recommended. Also, don’t expect brewpubs to have more than 1 or 2 different types of beer. And the supermarkets won’t carry a wide range of beers from outside of the region you are in.
BB: Can you recommend any special places in particular one should see or go for good examples of local flavors and styles?
YB: I haven’t been to the Oktoberfest but Pivo says that’s a big experience, so go to Munich. But remember, the "samples" of beer at Oktoberfest come in 1 liter glasses! Mardi Gras time in Köln and Düsseldorf in February might be good for Kölsch and Altbier. But be aware, that’s the only time Germans have been known to be funny!
BB: As a German, do you feel lucky living in such a beer rich culture, or have you become "numb" so to speak, to it’s impact on the rest of the world, and take it for granted, as we so often take things that are familiar for granted?
YB: If I would be able to have access to all beers of the different regions, I would feel lucky; but you don’t get the good beers in all regions so easily. It’s not as wonderful as I sense you think it is. The regional German thing - I think that will never change. It has nothing to do with law, I think it is just a traditional thing. Like everybody in Hamburg wants to have a Jever in the pub, while everybody in Hessia wants to have a Licher. German beer drinkers often stick traditionally to one style/brewer of beer. Like a friend of mine and I were out a few weeks ago. We have been to our favorite pub and they had Jever and also a Schwarzwald-Region (Black Forest Region) Beer, named Rothaus Tannenzapfle. I had the Tannenzapfle before and it is really a very good beer, I think. But it took me about three bottles of drinking to convince him to even try it, as he says Jever is the best.
Pivo said he has often witnessed things like this with Germans. So the beer stores might know that selling an unknown beer from another region here would bring them no money. Something else is going on with the high advertised beers like: Warsteiner, Flensburger etc. They have TV-advertisments and so are not regional anymore.
BB: What do you get or gain from coming to and participating on Ratebeer.com? And any suggestions, other than free beer (!), to make it a better experience?
YB: First of all a database that shows all your rated beers. Learning by reading other ratings and also by asking people who are also Ratebeerians like for me, Ramsdell, VENOM, ecrvich and Oakes and Ol_Juntan. I kind of like to see the website even when I’m not rating a beer, reading the forum postings. A better experience? He, joet, has made it the best experience so far for me!
BB: Have you recommended the site to others that have started coming on and rating beers themselves?
YB: Well, one of my friends has joined as a female rater. She has not one rating yet, but still rates with me. That is about it, as most of my friends think it’s a crazy hobby.
BB: Well Ms.Beera, I appreciate your taking this time to share your outlooks and experiences with the folks here on Ratebeer.com. I’m sure they will find it both informative and insightful. Thanks for sharing and keep on rating those beers. Is there anything you’d like to add?
YB: Thank you for your nice questions and Prost to everybody.
BB: Danke schön und Prost!
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