Fake beers plague Germany

'Beer bandits' steal barrels, fill them with low grade beer

Oct 29, 2001 - German brewers suddenly find themselves defending their reputations because Berlin is being overrun with fake beer.


The newspaper Bild estimates that one in five glasses of beer served in the Berlin area is a low grade "no name" beer. Erich Dederichs, manager of the German brewers' association, said that leading brewers such as Schultheiss and Kindl had fallen victim to the scam where "beer bandits" steal barrels and fill them with cheap beer.

The problem first came to the brewers' attention after the Schultheiss brewery caught people trying to sell 300 stolen barrels full of fake beer to restaurants. The fake beers, described as little better than dishwater, have been offered to restaurant and bar owners who thought they were getting the beer whose name is on the barrels.

"We have a problem, particularly in Brandenburg and Berlin," said Dederichs. "Those who get served up with this dishwater think it is Kindl and never touch the stuff again."

Brewers have told drinkers to be aware of any beers that taste sweeter or sourer than normal, or those that leave them with a headache the morning after drinking. German brewers, of course, take particular pride in promoting the Reinheitsgebot, the 1516 law requires that beer be made only from water, malted grain and hops. The brewers believe this fake beer includes adjuncts.

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