One thing I forgot to highlight in my discussion of our visit to the Erdinger brewery was their product line, which is a lot more diverse than I had previously realized. In addition to the fact that they are currently the leading producer of wheat beer in the world, they also have a number of other products, including a slightly lower alcohol, low-CO2 version of their wheat beer designed for consumption in nightclubs, and an alkoholfrei version (see picture to right).
When I was a snotnosed punk, new to good beer and full of sneers for all things bad beer, I didn’t understand the point of alcohol-free beer. Why not just drink a Coke? I thought. Now I think I get it better, thanks to the experiences of some friends and family members who can no longer drink the full-alcohol variety. If one of the big points of beer is the taste, why should NA beer drinkers be limited to just a few different flavors? In fact it seems that a number of German breweries produce at least one NA flavor, including Erdinger, Paulaner, Clausthaler, and others. I didn’t get a chance to taste Paulaner’s version so no detailed tasting notes this time. But the picture is fun at least.