500 years is a really, really long time. That’s how long it’s been since the very first version of what is now known as the Reinheitsgebot was written in Bavaria. I’m not going to get into some of the specifics of this German purity law, you’ll have to wait until the weekend to read about that, but I want to talk about this Christian Moerlein Reinheitsgebot Celebration… what is is… why they’re doing it… and why you should consider going.
To really understand what’s going on with this celebration you have to understand a couple different things. First off… you don’t really need to know the German Purity law, or why it was written. The law itself isn’t what we’re celebrating. To really get into this, we have to travel far far back, to a land of beer-desolation… dark times.
We have to get back to the 80s.
In 1981 Christian Moerlein released their Cincinnati Select Lager. I wrote a bit about this a while back if you want to read that, but what I think you need to know now is what this meant for the company at that time. This was a second wave of what the company was at it’s very core…they were changing from the brands that drinkers had come to be familiar with in the 70s – a locally produced, mass market adjunct lager. Nothing to be proud of as far as this city’s German Brewing Heritage.
Cincinnati Select Lager was the first beer produced in a long time that stood for something else…it’s an idea that we as craft drinkers in today’s world have become so accustomed to, that it doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal… in fact it almost seems silly to produce a beer that fits into such strict standards, almost un-American even… but then – it was different…it was craft before there was “craft”.
The Third Wave
It just so happens that right as the Reinheitsgebot is turning 500, the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company is undergoing another change in it’s history. This third wave of it’s culture is seeing not only branding changes, but a new re-focusing on what defines them as a company. This celebration is as much to me a celebration about this change, and the company’s desire to maintain a tie with who they are in their history as they move into the future of craft beer here in Cincinnati.
Look… there aren’t a lot of breweries in the country that put as big of an emphasis on Heritage Brands, or history of beer in a city as Christian Moerlein does. This is a really tough line to tow when you are simultaneously trying to be innovative, and remain at the forefront of a quickly changing and evolving craft beer scene like we have in Cincinnati. That’s what the party is about – who they were… who they are… and who they want to be.
All this third wave, dedication to evolution doesn’t change the fact that this party is still about the Reinheitsgebot, though. a 500 year old Tradition isn’t something to ignore, after all. One of the new brands that is being made by this “new face” of Moerlein is called Purity Pilsner. The beer is made only with the 4 ingredients that are specified by the German Purity Law:
It only makes sense that this beer, designed to harken back to the first and second waves of who the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company was becomes a big part of who they are as they enter into this third wave as well.
The event kicks off at 11:30 on Saturday in the Christian Moerlein Malt House, found on Moore Street in OTR, and the day has all kinds of stuff going on to make beer drinkers of this city pretty happy.
- At noon, they are tapping a special celebratory keg of Purity Pilsner to mark the start of the celebration. There will be a special celebratory toast from Don Heinrich Holzmann, President of the German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati, and Greg Hardman, Owner of Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. along with other dignitaries to help kick things off.
- If you’ve been curious about all this expanding that the brewery has been doing in recent months, this is a great chance to see for yourself. They are going to be offering free tours of the brewery between 1-7pm so you can catch a glimpse of what $5 Million dollars can buy you.
- All this celebrating might get you a bit hungry, though… no worries there. There is free food. That’s right, the brewery will be offering free brats and mets between 11:30 and 1:30
- If you show up in your German Folk outfits, such as dirndls, lederhosen and more you’ll also be treated to special pricing on the one liter Das Boot drinking vessels…and if you get a Das Boot, you’ll get to sign the big seven foot tall boot statue in the taproom to commemorate the occasion.
- Anyone who knows this city, knows how much we love music at our parties, and Christian Moerlein isn’t letting us down in that category either. The first band kicks off at 1pm with guitarist Ricky Leighton taking the stage for some classic rock hits. Blue Caboose bluegrass comes on at 4:30 and folk-pop acoustic duo ‘The Heffron Brothers” are on at 7:30 pm.
- Between sets, you’ll even get a chance to hear the inaugural “Brewers Blue Grass All-Star Band” led by Vice President of Brewing, Eric Baumann and made up exclusively of Christian Moerlein Brewers and their significant others. It’s a family band of sorts… details of the exact line up are always changing…and may only be known right at show time!
- There’s a whole slew of raffles and give aways throughout the day, including a grand craft beer experience, dinner and the chance to brew a batch of your own beer with the Christian Moerlein brewing team.
All in all…it sounds like a great event, so if you find yourself looking for something to do on April 23rd… you’ve found something! Get down to Moerlein and celebrate the Reinheitsgebot by celebrating the future of Christian Moerlein as well.