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Monday, August 6, 2007

Spaten Premium: The King's regular beer of choice (and how he came to find it!)

Staying on the beer theme for now, I had to follow up from my Franziskaner post to talk about the beer that I choose to consume on a regular basis - and that is Spaten Premium - also known in the USA as "Spaten Light".

For the uninitiated, Spaten is pronounced "shpahhh-ten" - the "a" is soft - similiar to the "a" sound in "car". It's often mispronounced with a long "a" as in "bacon" or the sound you hear in "apple". Spaten is a spade... just like on the logo to the right.

Like most, I believe in love at first sight. And when it comes to beer, I can honestly claim that love at first taste is even more real than love at first sight. Most people can recall when they drank their first Spaten.

It was the Summer of '89. And I had been driving around Watrous Park in Cromwell in search of my brother who was to have been playing volleyball on one of the park's fields. I parked my car, searched high and low, and couldn't find my brother on any of the fields. But I stopped and listened. And to my wonderment, I heard this incredibly beautiful "German Fest Music" being played.

I then saw three older German ladies (Frauen), and inquired about the music which I had recognized from my German language classes at UConn. I asked if I could go over and have a closer listen. And one of them smiled and replied, "It's a public park, you can go anywhere."

I wandered over. Inquired about the music and learned that I had stumbled across the Hartford Saengerbund's annual club picnic. I met a few of the members, shook hands, and before I knew it, one of them - an older gentleman, who had very thick glasses and a thick German accent poured me a beer from the keg. This man's name was Alois Hager, and the beer was a Spaten Premium.

I had a couple of glasses and engaged the members in quite a bit of dialogue about German language, history, and culture. The members were eager to share their stories, and I was an open listener to the wonders of Oktoberfests, World War II, and the land of good beer and Ompa-pa bands. I later became a member of the club - and enjoyed many a Spaten from the kegs, and heard many amazing stories about soldiering in harsh conditions in the Wehrmacht.

Well, Alois has long passed away. He was a good man and lived a great life in amazing times. I'm sure he's in Heaven drinking a Spaten now (with a Jaegermeister shot on the side), and smiling down on me as I write this entry.

So back to Spaten.

Spaten also makes a variety of other beers, including Oktoberfest, Optimator, Boch Beer, and a few other simple varieties. As a general rule, I prefer the light version for its simplicity, and the fact that its not heavy, and doesn't leave you with a hangover in the morning. I think the lack of hangover is more an expectation of drinking German Beer. German Beer follows the German Purity Law of 1516 referred to as the Reinheitsgebot.

When the kids are in bed on a Saturday night and I have a free moment after 9 pm. I put a few bottles of Spaten light into my 1 liter glass stein, and sit back, turn on and envision myself in a Munich Beer Hall. Hey, we all have our escapes.

And thanks to Alois Hager, The Hartford Saengerbund, and Spaten Brewing Company - I have mine.


Anonymous said...

How many beers can you fit into a one liter stein? Sounds like a great idea, doesn't the beer get warm?

The King said...

Hi. Thanks for writing. Generally, three bottles of 12 oz Spaten will fit into a liter stein. As for getting warm, I haven't had a problem with "beer warming". It depends on how long you let the beer sit. But you can use a stone liter stein if you are concerned with warming as stone steins keep beer at a cool tempature.

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