Tuesday 1 June 2021

Categorising the Germans

Regular readers will be aware that I have a fondness for authentic German lagers. So I was pleased last September to see Paulaner Münchner Hell appear on the shelves of my local Tesco, priced at £2 for a 500ml bottle. Initially it was not included in any multibuy offers, which some customers might have found a deterrent, but it was later brought within the scope for their regular 3 for £5 offer on premium bottled lagers and ciders. £1.67 a bottle is a very good price, and it seems to sell pretty well.

I was interested to see last weekend that Morrisons had started stocking the similar Hofbräu Original, albeit at the steeper price of £2.50 and not included in any multibuys. I suspect many Morrisons customers will find that price distinctly steep, so it remains to be seen how much they will actually sell, although I and many others would not jib at paying it for German imports in independent off licences such as the Bottle Stop in Bramhall.

Personally, although both are good, I prefer the Hofbräu to the Paulaner, but a Twitter poll I ran last year found Paulaner to be the favourite amongst the six well-known Munich breweries. This was perhaps a slightly surprising result, as most of the smart money had been riding on Augustiner.

This raises the interesting question as to where supermarkets should place these beers on their shelves. I’ve discussed before how the beer aisle is divided into distinct sections such as premium bottled ales, mainstream canned lagers and craft beer, and many customers will only look at one or two areas and disregard the rest. Tesco have chosen to place the Paulaner alongside the 660ml bottles of Stella and San Miguel, and include it in the same offer, which makes logical sense according to its style.

Morrisons, on the other hand, have placed the Hofbräu together with the “world beers” such as Duvel and Sierra Nevada, where its relatively high price might not stand out so much. Possibly those browsing that section might appreciate its quality more, but on the other hand it could end up being overlooked if it is the only beer there in that general style.

It’s puzzling that German beers, despite their undoubted quality and their central role in the development of lager, never seem to have got the recognition in this country that they deserve. Our four biggest-selling lagers purport to have Canadian, Australian, Danish and Belgian origins, and the most fashionable one is Italian.

And it would be nice to see Jever Pilsener, which is very different from the Munich beers, appear in the mainstream supermarkets!


  1. Beer shouldn't be on shelves, it should all be in fridges.

    Its all about the cold chain.

    I think if I was to plot my spend in Bottle Stop, German lager would always be increasing as locals decrease, in fact its usually the only thing I buy multiple bottles of with the exception of Red Willow.

    1. Not a lot of point putting pasteurised beer in fridges after its been in an uncooked supply chain since it left the brewery. Cold chain makes a big difficult to unpasteurised beers filled on smaller lines where the risk of more dissolved oxygen is higher.

    2. Agreed it's a pretty pointless exercise for mainstream pasteurised beers, not to mention very energy-intensive. The Bottle Stop actually has a substantial beer fridge which does include a number of crafty options, although I think it's mainly intended for ready-to-drink beers.

      As it happens, I've just been there this morning and picked up various beery delights including a bottle of Ayinger Lager Hell :-)

    3. Ayinger Lager Hell - nice - sold by Wine Chambers up the road from me in Tynemouth.

    4. Should I put smilies for sarcasm next time?

  2. The Stafford Mudgie1 June 2021 at 21:00

    Our neighbour worked in Germany for many years and Paulaner regularly featured in the bottles and cans she brought back.
    I thought Paulander drank rather well whenever she invited us round.

  3. Someone keeps buying all the Paulaner Hells at my local Tescos, whenever I see any bottles there I buy the lot, this other lad seems to be doing the same. If I do the shopping on Friday there's nowt left, on Thursdays there's a better chance getting some.

    Paulaner is a welcome addition and is now on my top 2 easily available lagers/pilsners, the other one being pilsner urquel. I still prefer PU because of the crisper hopbite and would like to see some other hoppier ones like Bitburger.

    Morrisons also has Fruh Kolsch now next to HB.

    1. The Stafford Mudgie2 June 2021 at 07:39

      "Someone keeps buying all the Paulaner Hells at my local Tescos, whenever I see any bottles there I buy the lot, this other lad seems to be doing the same".
      That's the problem with 'supermarkets' - which are neither 'super' nor a 'market' -, they sell beer too cheap.

  4. I have it on good authority that the favourite “big six” beer brand amongst the people of Munich (Müncheners), is Augustiner. It is the only major brewery in the city that is still family owned, and whilst Hofbrau is owned by the Bavarian state, the other four brands now belong to major, international conglomerates.

    Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr are owned by Heineken, whilst Löwenbräu and Spaten are owned by Interbrew.

    All six breweries produce good quality and highly quaffable lagers, but my money is with Pilsner Urqell, on account of its hoppiness, as highlighted by 1 June 2021.

  5. Booths supermarkets stock all the above named, and also a brand called Ayinger, whose beers are very good. Ayinger Dunkel, a brown beer, is my favourite.

    1. The Stafford Mudgie2 June 2021 at 19:54

      I remember when Ayinger was brewed over here by Sam Smiths.

    2. Yes, the font was a perspex box containing a little model of a cheery Bavarian gent. But that was a cooking lager version, not the 5%-ish original sold in Germany. The distant ancestor of the current 2.8% Alpine Lager. And gave its name to the unique Alpine Ayingerbrau Gasthof in Rochdale.

    3. Sams also did Ayingerbrau D Pils which was around 6% and far from cooking.

  6. ‘So Dorothy said I could be a highbrow and get full of kunst, but she is satisfide to be a Half Brow and get full of beer’

  7. Ireland update.
    It's a bank holiday weekend here so what better time to welcome the news that pubs are re-opening for outdoor service only.
    Naturally in a bid to help hard-pressed landlords who've been closed for over a year the re-opening isn't until Monday.
    And the weekend news is dominated by reports of young people cavorting in the sun and generally gathering in large groups outdoors to enjoy themselves.
    And police drawing batons and doing their best to break them up.
    What a marvellous way to reward a population that has been under the longest and strictest lockdown in Europe.
    Fuck 'em - the landlord of my local has just Whatsapped to say there's a secret session on this evening.
    A lockdown lock-in if you will.
    I'm going to get mullahed.


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