Germany's beer culture is in decline.
Gasthaus-BrauereiBraustelle in Cologne, a nano-brewery that opened in 2002, is also defying national and local traditions with increasing chutzpah: braumeister Peter Esser's latest beers include a dunkel (dark) seasoned with rosemary, an American-style IPA (called Fritz IPA), a 5.8 percent ale infused with hibiscus flowers (Pink Panther) and what's thought to be the first American-style imperial stout ever brewed in Germany (Freigeist Caulfield).
Innovation is happening, if slowly, but German brewers and the drinking public will need to truly embrace change to get the country out of its rut. Blind adherence to a centuries-old edict isn't working anymore. The crucibles of great brewing traditions should be preserved, by all means, and the classic beer recipes and brands along with them—but there can be no doubt: It's time for new blood in the kettles.
Christian DeBenedetti (@AleTrail) is editor-in-chief of Weekly Pint, a biweekly e-newsletter on craft beer, and author of The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover's Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation, which won the gold medal for guidebooks in the 2012 Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Awards.
Photograph of girls in dirndls by Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images.