The brew has been described as the ‘brownest [i.e. most fascist] beer in Bavaria’ or simply ‘Nazi beer’ by its critics.
The Studentenwerk [student services organization] in Regensburg announced it was boycotting the Röhrlbräu Brewery in Bavaria, where the beer was made.
All outstanding orders from the brewery would be cancelled, the group said.
The evidence seems to add up that this was an ale with a very bitter after-taste.
The name Grenzzaun (border fence) refers to the current debate over the refugee influx.
Parties on the right, such as the Alternative for Germany, want to erect border fences along Germany’s borders to prevent asylum seekers entering the country unchecked.
The backside of the label, meanwhile, read: “Beer needs a homeland: protect, defend, preserve.”
Then there was the price – €0.88. 88 is a well-known neo-Nazi symbol, which stands for the eighth letter in the alphabet, H, repeated twice – short for the Nazi “Heil Hitler” greeting.
The sell-by date of November 9th has also been seen as a reference to the Nazi era. The night of November 9th, 1938, saw Nazi thugs and ordinary German civilians attack Jewish businesses, houses and synagogues across the country.
The brewery’s CEO, Frank Sillner, insisted that the outcry was the result of “a huge misunderstanding.” But the company has nonetheless recalled all the bottles so far produced – 2,000 boxes – from retailers.
The sell-by date was automatically printed onto the labels on the day the beer was produced to show a sell-by date exactly eight months later, he insisted, saying it was coincidence the bottles were filled on March 9th.
As for the number 88, he said he had no idea that 88 stood for Heil Hitler.
“We have nothing, absolutely nothing – to do with the far right,” Sillner insisted.
The beer's name was meant to provoke, for sure, he said. They came up with it at a time when thousands of refugees were entering Bavaria every day and they wanted to start a debate on what it meant for Bavarian values.
The beer was also supposed to be sold with a bottle opener with the label 'border opener', but this wasn't finished in time to go on sale with the bottles, the CEO insisted.
The label was a statement about defending Bavarian culture, “which is just as worthy of being defended as people fleeing from war,” the brewer explained.