To lemon or not to lemon?

June 2nd, 2006 | Posted by Real Beer

Should you serve German wheat beer with lemon?

Joe Sixpack makes no bones: “Don’t do it!”

But today’s column also notes that consumers get mixed messages form all measure of beer authorities.

At his Beer Hunter web site, Michael Jackson writes:

When I first encountered South German wheat beers, in the early to mid 1960s, they were regarded as an old-fashioned, rustic style, favoured by old ladies with large hats. The beer was at that time customarily garnished with a slice of lemon.

People have told me the lemon was to mask the taste of the uneven products made at that time by unscientific country brewers; I do not believe that. Some of the wilder wheat beers might taste odd to the uninitiated, but not to people who grew up with them.

I have also heard it said that the lemon reduced the foam to manageable proportions, but why would anyone want to flatten a naturally sparkling drink?

I believe the lemon accentuated the tart, refreshing character of the beer, and I am sorry that it is so rarely seen in Germany today.

Apparently the green movement is worried that the rind may carry pesticides; a new generation of beer purists dislike the lemon; and it does not go so well with the heavily sedimented style currently favoured.

In the Realbeer.com offices we prefer not to partake of lemon before noon, and since German wheat beers are the perfect breakfast drink long ago became accustomed to enjoying them sans lemon.

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