’Tis the season, once again. Chances are you’ve had a chance to warm yourself with a cup of mulled wine, especially if you’ve been to Europe around this time of year. But mulled beer?
Last year I related the story about my first sip of Glühwein (mulled wine) in the western German city of Saarbrücken. Aromas of baking spice, roasted nuts, and pine boughs drifted fragrantly in the bracing winter air, leading me to the Christkindl market in the main square and setting me down the path of annual Glühwein parties and get-togethers. A few decades on, I did what might well come naturally to a catholic imbiber like myself: I heated up a bunch o’ beer and spiced it. Turns out the whole endeavour isn’t without historical precedent.
Mulled beer, Glühbier, call it what you want: It’s definitely not a tradition of contemporary vintage in any of the beer-consuming countries I’ve visited. The rather incredulous glances I encountered from my Austrian colleagues last week merely confirmed the fact when I brewed up 25 liters of the stuff for the Wien Museum’s annual holiday season party. But warm beer has a history –– and not just as a pejorative reference to twentieth-century British beer.
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