â€™Tis the season, once again. Chances are youâ€™ve had a chance to warm yourself with a cup of mulled wine, especially if youâ€™ve been to Europe around this time of year. But mulled beer?
Last year I related the story about my first sip of GlÃ¼hwein (mulled wine) in the western German city of SaarbrÃ¼cken. 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 GlÃ¼hwein 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 oâ€™ beer and spiced it. Turns out the whole endeavour isnâ€™t without historical precedent.
Mulled beer, GlÃ¼hbier, call it what you want: Itâ€™s definitely not a tradition of contemporary vintage in any of the beer-consuming countries Iâ€™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 Museumâ€™s annual holiday season party. But warm beer has a history â€“â€“ and not just as a pejorative reference to twentieth-century British beer.
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