your german culture lesson for the day.

Much of German cooking is based on the need to make crap ingredients palatable.  There’s your Sauerbraten, for example, which originated as a way to make a big, stringy, tough chunk of meat edible by marinating it for a week in a vinegar & spice bath before cooking it.  Since the Middle Ages, Germans have been eating French Toast, too…only in Germany it’s called “Arme Ritter” (Poor Knights), presumably because it was a way for poor folk to turn stale bread into a dinner.

Now, as a beer-drinking people, Germans had to come up with a way to turn substandard beverages into something drinkable as well.  You may invade a country and find that the local brew is not fit for a German to drink in its pure form, so you have to find a way to make do with it until the natives can be taught to brew a proper beer.

Here’s one way to turn crappy beer into an acceptable summer beverage:

The Drecksack.

drecksack

Literally “dirt bag” because of the dirty appearance of the beer foam after the mixing process, the Drecksack is prepared as follows:

–Take a pint glass.

–Fill it halfway to two-thirds of the way with beer, according to taste.

–Top it off with the cola of your choice.  (I use Pepsi One, or Diet Pepsi.)

The Drecksack looks barbaric to a beer lover at first glance, but it’s actually a pretty good, refreshing summer drink.  It’s mixed with all kinds of good beer, too, and it’s readily available in German pubs under various names.  Drecksack is used in Westphalia, around Cologne, and in the Ruhr area.  Around Hannover, it’s called a Diesel.  Mixed with Altbier, it becomes a Krefelder.  In Bavaria, cola mixed with Weissbier is called a Neger (negro), Mohr (moor), or Colaweizen (cola wheat).  The generic term for a beer-cola mix in most other parts of Germany is “ein Dreckiges” (a dirty one).

So there—now you know something about Germany you probably didn’t know before, and you can order a beer mix in a German Gasthaus with confidence and cultural awareness.  You won’t even get strange looks for drinking the excellent German beer diluted with cola.  The Drecksack is a common and perfectly acceptable drink choice, although some people consider them what we’d call “cheerleader beer” here in the U.S.—suitable for lightweights, designated drivers, and womenfolk.  To the less traditionalist, the Drecksack is a good drink for a slow summer day, because it won’t knock you upside the noggin like a Pilsener will when it’s ninety and sunny outside.

21 thoughts on “your german culture lesson for the day.

  1. George Smith says:

    The practice of cutting a beer with another soda is also known in those parts of the world with a British background. Adding ginger ale/beer to a glass of ale was called a “shandy” by my father. By using a diet version, as you suggested for your beer, the caloric content is halved … making it appropriate for we diabetics.

    It’s also known for its restorative abilities in the hot and humid summers of southern Ontario.

    Regards,
    George.

    I’m going to sit under an ice block. Humidex readings of 40C are nasty.

  2. ATLien says:

    Also known as “Diesel” in the Frankfurt area. After my several travels there, my friends would gawk at me when i would drink this at parties back home.

  3. At around 18 years old when I was getting indoctrinated on my beer snobbery and I learned about all sorts of things like bottom fermenting yeast, hops, floating a layer of porter or stout above a lager in the same glass, and the German beer purity law, they never mentioned this.

    Does this pre-date Zima?

  4. perlhaqr says:

    *hurl!*

    Wow, that’s just… terrible. A crime against beer. 😀

  5. crankylitprof says:

    Yep. My Da’s version of the shandy is beer mixed with lemonade.

    I think it’s gross, but to each his own, as the milkmaid said when she kissed the cow.

  6. MarkHB says:

    Mmm. A german lass I met randomly introduced me to the practise about a decade back.

    Seemed sensible – you get to throw back cold pints for longer without hitting the FallOverLimit(1) exception.

  7. Doug says:

    cranky,

    That is called Radler in the Stuttgart area. Seems to be popular, I haven’t tried it yet. Still working my way through the various Weizens.

  8. T.Stahl says:

    I only knew it as Diesel (Pils+cola) and Krefelder (Altbier+cola).

    Beer + lemonade = Radler (bicyclist), Russ (Russian), Alsterwasser (water from the Alster river, near Hamburg), Ententeich (duck pond), Wurstwasser (sausage water), depending on the region.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radler

  9. scotaku says:

    Information like this *could* have been applied to this past weekend’s GermanFest ’09, which was a rousing success regardless.

    Ahem.

    I guess there’ll have to be another celebration, twist my arm. The celebrants are clamoring for more Leberkäse.

  10. Lissa says:

    “Now, as a beer-drinking people, Germans had to come up with a way to turn substandard beverages into something drinkable as well. You may invade a country and find that the local brew is not fit for a German to drink in its pure form, so you have to find a way to make do with it until the natives can be taught to brew a proper beer.”

    I read that out loud to Mike while we drank our morning coffee.

    Mike: “That is AWFUL.”
    Lissa: “That is AWESOME!”

  11. aczarnowski says:

    My in laws, my father in law immigrated from Germany in the 60s, mix Radlers using lager and Sprite/7-Up. Not my first choice, but I won’t pass one up either if there is a spare after mixing.

  12. Tam says:

    Oh. My. God. That is the most barbaric thing I have ever seen in my life. Caesar never should have stopped at the Rhine, you monsters.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      I guess I shouldn’t tell you that the Drecksack in the picture was made with Bass Ale…

      • Tam says:

        Ironically, the world epicenter for IPA production has migrated from England to America (and specifically San Diego.) Go figure.

        Compared to a Stone Ruination, a Dogfish Head 120 Minute, an Oaken Barrel Gnaw Bone, or a Three Floyd’s Dreadnought, Bass tastes like… like… well, making love in a canoe, actually.😉

  13. John Gall says:

    Hat’s off to you. Comments/opinions on food and drink new to me are always welcome. Like my continued hat’s off to the guy who first ate a raw oyster, I’d have never tried it otherwise and so would have missed a boat load of enjoyment. I plan on trying some examples of your dirtbag and will let you know the results.

  14. Windy Wilson says:

    Hmm. In the Salzburg area, beer and Coca Cola is called a Schwarzenegger, beer and lemon soda is called a Radler (even into Bavaria, btw), and iirc lemon soda and Coca Cola is called a Mischmasch.
    In the wine-growing regions of Austria, white wine mixed with soda water (plain, not flavored) is a G’spritz. Much better than the wine coolers here in America which have enough sugar in them to kill.

    In So Cal the nearest thing to a Radler, the Shandy, is made with Seven-up or Sprite.
    No word on what iced tea and beer is called.
    Coca Cola and iced tea is still an Arnold Palmer.

    • Gregg says:

      Thought and Arnold Palmer was Iced Tea and Lemonade. At least that’s what it is here in sunny AZ.

  15. Kirk says:

    I tried a version of that concoction when I was in frankfurt.

    The Beer Cola mixture, not so good.

    The Trappist Cheese Schnitzel on the other hand was out of this world.

  16. SemperGumby says:

    Awesome. More tasty tidbits please…

  17. John says:

    Conducting my own taste test right now with Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark and Coca-Cola. I enjoy each beverage by itself…the combination seems to be quite drinkable.

    People used to make fun of folks who mixed wine with soda water or 7-Up, but Bartles and Jaymes sure seemed to make a go of it.

    “Thank you for your support.”

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