Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ypres 1917 Hangoverture

by J.S. Holland

"Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
Oh, but that couldn't happen again;
We taught them a lesson in 1918
and they've hardly bothered us since then!"

- - Tom Lehrer, 1966

You never know what yer gonna get when you buy some unknown-brand Lager. A lightweight liquid like Budweiser, on one end of the spectrum, is actually classified as a Lager, while dark mucilage-gluey rich ambery treats like this here Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest have absolutely nothing in common with the King of Beers. Say guten tag to the Kaiser of Beers.

It's very coarse, very thick, very malty. Several gentlemen on Ratebeer say it's extremely sweet, but sweet isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe it. There's a bitterness to it, but a bready bitterness, not hoppy.

This sort of brew isn't often my cup of tea - if it were just a shade darker it would qualify as a Stout - but on the particular evening I imbibed it, Der Kaiser provided the perfect companion to an early evening reclining on the veranda doing some writing on another novel (tentatively titled "The Bartender") and enjoying the summer breeze. It's a sipper though, not a slugger. Approach its levee at your peril, like the Red Baron flying into Snoopy's airspace.

I think it's pretty weird to have a product glorifying Kaiser Wilhelm (I know, I know, it doesn't specify Wilhelm, and I'm not certain that's Wilhelm pictured on the bottle, but you know and I know that 99.9% of the population's frame of reference for the word "Kaiser" is with Wilhelm II and World War I). Many people think of him as a sort of generic and relatively non-descript sort of despot - especially since he was such a bumbling failure at international politics - but in fact, Wilhelm II was every bit the irrational psychopathic monster that Hitler was.

He literally believed that England was possessed by the Biblical Anti-Christ, and must be destroyed to be liberated. And in 1919 he pronounced that Jews were a "nuisance that humanity must get rid of some way or other. I believe the best would be gas." Clearly the young Adolf Hitler was listening. And years later, Wilhelm even took credit for having laid the groundwork for Hitler's empire. According to Wikipedia:

Wilhelm stayed in regular contact with Hitler through General von Dommes, who represented the family in Germany. Wilhelm greatly admired the success which Hitler was able to achieve in the opening months of the Second World War, and personally sent a congratulatory telegram on the fall of Paris stating "Congratulations, you have won using my troops."

But let us try to forget the historical abominations wrought by aberrated sociopaths like Kaiser Wilhelm and his ilk, at least long enough to enjoy this fine brew in our own private biergarten. It's only $6 a pint,and it occurs to me only this minute that I should have drunk it from my Austrian stein.

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