Year of the Beer Day 5: Braugold Spezial Pilsner

braugold pils

Mergers and Acquisitions- a terminology that has become a household name in the areas of business, economics, sociology and political science. It is a process where either two businesses merge to become one or one business buys another to become a conglomerate. Mergers and acquisitions have their advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include better access to markets, resources and target groups previously untouched. Disadvantages include micromanagement, layoffs, and redistribution of company assets to other locations, all at the expense of communities where companies previously established as a family business had once been the anchor keeping the network in tact. At times the conglomerate is too big to handle and fail that some assets are either spun-off (run by investors) or are liquidated.  A classic example of an acquisition and spin-off going bad was the highly publicized redistribution of Farley-Sather’s in Round Lake, Minnesota in 2010, where much of the company’s assets were relocated to larger cities, like Chicago and Chatanooga, while the Round Lake plant, which had been running since its establishment in the 1930s, was shut down completely. I visited the plant in 2011 and saw how it impacted the small town of 450 people, even though its proximity to Worthington (with 12,000 people) may have saved the town from dying off completely. A detailed article of my experiences can be found here.

Braugold Brewery is one of the breweries that have changed hands over the past two decades. And unfortunately, it has come at the cost of the quality of the beer. A summary on the history of the beer company can be found here. Once known as one of the finest and largest in the German state of Thiringia, the brewery has relocated to Brunswick in Lower Saxony, but it has kept ties with the retailers in Erfurt, where the brewery was first established- again through a process of mergers and acquisitions.

One of the beers from the Braugold family I tried is the Braugold Spezial Pilsner beer. As will be discussed later, the pilsner beer in Germany has a color range of between a light straw and a gold color, has a bitter or earthy taste because of its hops and until most recently, were fermented in open barrels in cellars underneath the brewery. The flavors vary but are for the most part, bitter.

These are the descriptions of the Braugold Spezial, when I tried it. The beer had a clear and light gold color, but like the last beer, Sachsengold, there was not much foam and little carbonation when pouring it into the glass. While the aroma was really weak the intensity of the flavor was strong and bitter, containing grain and earth hops. However, the taste was somewhat off because it was too astringent, containing too much barley, alcohol and water, but not much for hops and other flavors that are characteristic of a pils beer.  Bacause of that, the craftmanship was rather boring, the beer was rather stale and it was rather too bitter. There was really nothing special about the Braugold Spezial Pils when I tried it.

Grade: C-/ 3,3  The years of changed ownership, combined with the relocation of the brewery away from Erfurt has had a huge impact on the quality of the Braugold beer. Apparently, as the beer is competing with other beer brands, like Wernesgrüner, it has apparently been micromanaged too much, with little attention being paid to the beer’s quality features. While it was my first time tasting the Braugold, it is a foregone conclusion that the craftmanship of the beer had seen its better days. It can see them again if more attention is paid to the beer to improve its quality. Otherwise, the danger is that the quality of the beer will deteriorate to a point where it will eventually vanish from the scene, never to be seen again. This is the danger of mergers and acquisitions and one which we have seen too many of our childhood products have disappeared. It makes me wonder, as I grew up eating jelley beans, peanut marshmallows, cinnamon imperials and lemon drops produced by Sather’s, if these products are still being produced since the company’s relocation in 2010. Or if they became nothing more but a memory…..

Who knows?

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