July 2006


Halo! Milan Pivo here, back from Germany. Probably everyone has memorized my past three articles by now. I know you’re itching for a new one, well here it is. Sorry about the delay, as I said I was in Germany, Koln (Cologne) to be exact, enjoying the World Cup of soccer. Thanks to this beer I am writing about today, I was able to enjoy a premium pils at the stadium. The beer I am eluding to is Bitburger Premium Pils. Nothing washes down a goal in sixty seconds against your team at the Koln Arena, on June 17th better then Bitburger. Thanks to them I didn’t have to drown my sorrows in Anheuser Busch Budweiser.

There was a big debate during the lead up to the World Cup in Germany that only American Budweiser beer would be served at the stadiums, as Budweiser was a main sponsor. This sent the German public and politicians into an uproar. Quality of beer is of utmost importance in this country as seen in the Rheinbeitsgebot, which I will touch upon later. Beer is submerged in tradition, culture and local identity in Germany. In Koln you have the top fermented Kolsh style of beer, in Dortmund you have the malty beers and in Munich you have the wheat beers. The German people were finally saved as Bitburger had won the decision to be served alongside Budweiser at all the stadium venues during the World Cup.

Local brewer and landlord Johann Peter Wallenborn established the original brewery in 1817. The thirty-three year old Johann built a brewery “in front of the Schaken Gate” in Bitburg, where at the time he brewed top-fermenting beer. His father was also a brewer in Kyllburg. All brewers at this time were brewing top-fermenting beer; Johann was no exception.

J.P. passed away in 1839, wife Katharina took over. In 1842 Ludwig Bertrand Simon married the daughter of JP (original) and assumed management of the company. From that day on, the Simon family name is synonymous with Bitburger. In 1871 Theobald Simon succeeded his father. It was his construction of an artificial cellar that created conditions needed to produce bottom-fermenting beer. This “lagering” cellar allowed the beer to keep during the warm summer months. Bitburger brewed its first pilsner style beer in 1883, a relatively new invention at the time.

The importance of its pilsner style brand continued to grow. In 1913 Bitburger won a case against the breweries of Plzen (birthplace of Pilsner Urquel, first known Pilsner), which hoped to prevent Bitburger from using the term “pilsner”. The appeals court in Leipzig ruled that the brewery could launch its beer on the market as “Simonbrau Deutsch Pilsner.” As a result this decision created the precedence of pilsner becoming a term to denote a style of beer and not its origin. This was a huge victory for the Simon family and for bottom-fermenting breweries all over the world. Beers from all over the world could now include the word pilsner to describe their bottom-fermenting golden beer.

No country takes more pride in the quality of its beers then Germany. They actually have a beer purity law that has been on the books since 1516 when it was introduced by Duke William IV as the Rheinheitsgebot. The purity law insisted that beer should only be made from malt, hops and water (yeast and wheat were later added as their importance became evident). This law ensured that cheap additives or ingredients and sugars were not used. It insured that no beer in the world was as wholesome as a German beer. Today the Rheinheitsgebot is seen as giving German beer a vital marketing edge in a competitive world beer market. The statement “brewed under strict accordance with the Rheinheitsgebot of 1516” can still be found on many German beer labels today, have a look.

Bitburger has a great history of using innovative technology to produce their beer. As well as creating “lagering” cellars, Theobald created an ice cooled artificial cellar that was filled with 600m of natural ice from local ponds. Also the first beer filtration plant was installed 3 years later. Today the Bitburger brewery is one of the most modern breweries in the world. Computers control the precision of the brewing process and constantly guarantee high quality.

Theobald Simon also recognized the importance in marketing and created Bitburger’s first newspaper ad in 1883. Later in 1927 Bitburger pilsner was served at the opening of the Nurburgring Formula One racetrack. It continues to be a great sponsor of motor sport, as witnessed by its partnership with the Benetton-Renault Formula 1 team, World Champion in 1994 and 1995 as driven by Michael Schumacher.

From 1929 the “connoisseur” trademark can be found on all of the company’s advertising. The saying “Bitte ein Bit” was officially introduced in 1951 and bears the handwriting pattern of Bertrand Simon (son of Theobald). Its origin is debated, Bertrand Simon is said to have overheard the saying by a waiter. Others assume that it resulted by chance during the meeting of bar regulars.

The emphasis on quality has been one of the main driving forces of Bitburger. They use the best kinds of barley, hops of the highest grade, purest deep well water from the Eifel and yeast from their own pure culture sources. Bitburger Premium Pils is a golden, hoppy, aromatic beer with an exceptionally dry and clean finish. The brewing process they employ allows the beer to mature for 3 months, making it a classic example of its pilsner style. The alcohol percent is 4.8% and the location of the brewery is in Bitburg, Rhineland-Palatinate.


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