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Good Beer Hunting

Jun 16, 2021

Over the past couple of decades, brewers and beer historians have recreated a growing number of formerly lost beer styles, like Grodziskie, Merseburger, Horner Bier, and others. Many of those styles come from the traditional brewing regions in Europe. But almost any country with any brewing history at all has its own lost beer styles. Sometimes, those recipes are completely indigenous. Sometimes they were imported from other places and subsequently modified in the new country, becoming their own unique types of beer.

Today I’m talking to Michael Stein, the author of a recent piece from our Source Material series, “A Lager Darkly — In Search of Culmbacher, One of America’s Great, Extinct Beers,” published on March 17, 2021. In his story, Michael explores the largely forgotten Culmbacher beer, originally from what is now the German state of Bavaria, but which grew in popularity in the United States in the 19th century, apparently changing substantially in the New World. 

As we discuss, Culmbacher was once very common in America, though it disappeared almost completely during Prohibition, and never regained its previous status. But as we hear in this episode, a recipe discovered in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has been re-brewed, allowing modern beer lovers to taste something that has been extinct for most of a century.