Beer deserves respect

To beer or not to beer!
I admit, I don’t know much about drinks. In fact, it is only recently that I’ve educated myself on the different kinds of wines and beers and other spirits that are available. A lager, a cider or an ale – for me, they were all the same, except for the colour. Blasphemous, you say!!
But, now that I know, I appreciate and enjoy the taste, smell and the quality that each has, and this interview is for those, who are passionate about their beer. In conversation with George F Reisch, a 5th generation brewmaster, who wants to bring back the respect that beer deserves world over. Read on...  
Brewmaster George F Reisch
You are a 5th generation brewmaster. How was it growing up in that culture and carrying forward such a legacy?

It was very interesting. I grew up in a German brewing factory, which was owned by my dad. So, from the moment I was born, I was basically around beer. Our house was on the brewery property. As a young boy, I played in the brewery. And all those smells and aromas that are a part of a brewery go very deep into your brain stems and they become a part of your personality. And you get a love of beer that is more than just intellectual. It is sensory, and intellectual, and everything else. And that stayed with me my entire life. So, for me, it was just such a natural choice of a vocation to want to spend my career in brewing.

You are known to combine beer with food and creating interesting culinary experiences. How did you get into this 'food for beer' experience?

Combining food with beer is a very old tradition. It is as old as humanity. Beer has always been around. Our ancestors discovered that drinking water when contaminated was dangerous, causing death. But when fermented, the danger no longer existed. So, they started to have beer with every meal, in fact they started cooking in beer. The oldest meal ever discovered had beer in it - it was a beer recipe - written in the form of a song; and that is how it was passed from one generation to another. People say this culture of combining food with beer is new, but I say no, it's always been there. It's just that it is being rediscovered now.

How do you see this culture of beer growing in India?

If I can predict correctly, I think beer will grow so much more if the aspect of beer complementing food is brought in India. Food and beer is like two wonderful people marrying each other and I find that very interesting. Especially in India, where you use a lot of spices. Beer works very well with spices.

And what makes beer pairings different than wine pairings?

If you pair a food with a beer, and it overshadows the food, it's a bad pairing. The food is the bride, and the beer is the bridesmaid. Now, a wine person will never say that about wine. They want to taste the wine, foremost. I'd explain it like this - we all have friends who are kind and never ask for anything. That's beer. Then you have other friends who walk in the room and someone will be crying and they'll say, do you guys like the way my hair looks?

... That's wine?

Yes. Wine is kind of like that. Wine is snobbish, beer is humble
Happy beer days!
You were in India recently on a celebrity Brewmaster Tour. What were you looking for in a zythologist?

People call me a beer connoisseur, a zythologist, but for me, those who love beer and are passionate about it, are true zythologists. Knowing the aroma, the colour and knowing which food works best with it, are all factors that make a good zythologist. Also, I want to bring back the respect that beer deserves. It is a very complicated and sophisticated drink, and it deserves all the respect. If I could speak on behalf of the beer, it will say, 'pour me in a glass and see what I look like. Taste me. Experience all my flavour notes. I hope you're enjoying your food. I'm just a humble beer, but I want you to like me'.