Bitburger: if you only have a bit of money
One of those beers that tend to come up in any conversation involving favorite beverages with a native German or any person that’s spent a fair amount of time in the Fatherland, is always Bitburger. For the life of me, I can’t see why. The argument then goes something like, “well, it’s better over there.” I’m sure that’s true. It must be. But why bother with it over here, then?
It’s cheap. Even here, sitting on the import shelf, it’ll likely be among the least expensive of the options surrounding it. It’s meant to be that. It’s produced and priced to be a session beer for everybody, everywhere. It’s what the GI’s will be swilling when they are stationed over there. It’s what the natives stock their ice caves with when they want to have several cases on hand after their shift at Volkswagen.
They’ve been making beer under the Bitgurger mantle for almost 200 years now. I guess that’s a selling point of a kind, but I imagine McDonald’s could well last 200 years as well. It doesn’t necessarily make it any better. Actually, the German pilsner style lager you’ll be forced to finish has only been brewed a little more than half that time. Pilsner, itself, hasn’t been around that long. Like many beers in America, Bitburger has become much better at selling the stuff than making it.
First poured, it starts out acceptably enough. It looks like beer. Like a typical lager. Light, clear and golden. Lots of carbonation. The head starts out nice and fluffy. Then diminishes quickly, and things begin to go downhill from there. It seems to smell more industrial than oaty. It is drier, even, than a normal pilsner, though. Crisp. It might be tolerable near frozen on a sweltering day.
If you must, at least try to avoid having it from the cans. That is going to further emphasize its inherent weakness. Namely, the taste. It tastes like a machine. A bit tinny, with chemical overtones. This unwholesome flavor isn’t overpowering, but it’s evident. You don’t really want to linger over it much to search out any of the more subtle hues. You just want to get it down your neck. But then, somehow, a nice hoppy finish kicks in at the very end and makes the whole thing bearable.
Food, and lots of it, certainly helps in the drinking of this stuff. Anything you can get your hands on will do. The stronger flavored the better. Garlic sausages. Burritos. Whole raw onions. This isn’t a beer that’s going to enhance your dining experience. This is beer that’ll wash down huge gulps of overwhelming tastes.
Bitburger has its role, I suppose. It’s not undrinkable. Actually, after you have 12 or 15 you hardly notice how much you don’t really like it anymore. If you’re looking for a nostalgic taste of the common, very common, Germany, if you’re hosting some German-themed party which will require mountains of German beer -- quantity well over quality -- or if your taste buds are completely shot and you just don‘t care anymore, Bitburger may well be the beer you choose. It wouldn’t be the wisest choice, but it won’t kill you either.