Bavaria crowns beer queen for key year
The Bavarian Brewers Association have just elected the Bierkönigin (Beer Queen) for 2015/2016, a much coveted title in Germany's home of beer.
The winner of the honour this year is 25 year-old Marlene Speck from Starnberg, a pretty lakeside town near Munich.
"I'm incredibly pleased, and it's unbelievable that I'm going to represent the drink that has such a special place in my heart and is so closely linked to my home," said Speck just after her coronation in Munich on Monday.
This specific honour may only date back to 2009, but beer and tradition are pretty much synonymous in Bavaria.
Speck brews her own beer at home, and dazzled the special jury with a presentation on smoked bier, a peculiar specialty from Bamberg, in northern Bavaria.
Extensive knowledge is the main requirement to become Bavarian Beer Queen. A total of 66 young women from across the state thought they had what it takes, but only seven made it through to the final.
After all seven had been grilled by a jury of beer experts and done a taste test, Speck emerged as the best candidate and was crowned as this year's winner.
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"Miss Speck's time in office will be marked by the incredibly important event – the 500 year anniversary of the Bavarian Purity Law," said president of the Brewers Association Friedrich Düll. No pressure then.
The German Beer Purity Law of 1516 dictates that only water, barley and hops can be used in the production of beer. It has become a founding moment in the German beer tradition, and is celebrated every year on German Beer Day in April.
From now until May next year, Speck will work alongside the Bavarian Beer Association in giving presentations to fellow beer lovers at home and abroad, and promoting the delights of Bavarian beer.
Funnily enough her Bavarian origins didn’t really influence the love for beer Speck has today. It was actually a trip to Canada after leaving school that sparked her interest in brewing.
The culture of microbreweries and craft beer in Canada got her hooked, and she has been brewing for six years now, ever since her return home.
"Obviously I only do small batches of around 30 litres," she told Süddeutsche Zeitung. Normally she produces Märzen (the drink of choice at Oktoberfest), Helles and Weißbier, but she even tried out India pale ale recently, which is the preferred tipple of craft beer enthusiasts.
"When you think about the amount of variety you can get with just a few ingredients, it's really fascinating," she said.
Berlin is also experiencing a craft beer craze at the moment that is challenging the more traditional beer varieties, and bringing greater variety to the market.