So, what exactly is Glühbier?

What is more heart-warming than a tipple of Glühwein at a traditional Christmas Market?

We all overindulge in delicious red wine, heated and mixed with fruits, sugars and spices.  There is nothing better on a cold winter’s day.  Or so it seems.

We’re familiar with the pattern.  A post-breakfast Glühwein to warm us for a hard day’s Christmas shopping ahead.  Maybe even two if it’s a particularly chilly day.  Then it’s lunchtime.  So, maybe a pre-lunch Glühwein to warm us up.  And a post-lunch Glühwein to set the scene for the afternoon.

And maybe another early-afternoon Glühwein.  Because we feel like it.  Because by now the side-effects are taking effect.

However, there is another option for the beer-lover chilled to the bone.  Or for anybody else who fancies something a little different.

Glühbier.  It’s a close relative of Glühwein.

Finding Glühbier in a Christmas market is rare.  Discovering artisanal Glühbier is even rarer.  But they do exist.  And the skill of the artisan makes it a very appealing alternative.

So, what exactly is Glühbier?

The most visible variant is ‘Glühkriek’.  With Brouwerij Liefmans producing a commercial version (it’s the green bottle) that is used commercially in many Christmas markets.  Imagine a warm version of a Brouwerij Liefmans Kriek with some added spice.  That’s essentially it.  Certainly, acceptable as a different experience from drinking Glühwein.

Then there are the smaller breweries making their own version.  Craft Glühbier, for want of a better term.

What’s more, they produce not just one Glühbier, but a separate variant for most styles of beer they brew.  This is firstly achieved by brewing a Glüh-punch, if you will, that is then combined with the style of beer chosen by the drinker.

The results are remarkable.  Each variant is vastly different from another.

And just think.  Instead of a single post-breakfast Glühwein to warm us for the day ahead, we now have a choice of five, six or more.  Or maybe have them all!

Let’s look at an example.  Bio-Braumanufaktur Schmilka is an organic brewery based in Bad Schandau, Saxony, that focuses on sustainability and the environment.

What is notable is that Bio-Braumanufaktur Schmilka produces five capable beers.  A Hell, a Bernstein, a Dunkel, a Pils and a Bock.  But what is most interesting is how four of these are put to great effect in producing some wonderfully unique styles of Glühbier.  Or Bier-Punsch, as it is called in this case.

And be assured there is no Bier-Punsch with Pils!

But first a word of warning.  Christmas is almost over for another year.  Seeing these delicious types of Glühbier seems a far-off proposition in the mid-winter, post-Christmas blues.

But let’s consider what we have to look forward to next Winter.

It sounds simple.  But is it?  Which ingredients form the unique base punch is a closely guarded secret.  Wine, spices, something stronger?  Tea was even mentioned, but we suspect that was a ploy to literally throw us off the scent.

Guess the ingredients and calculate the quantities and you’ve cracked it.  You then only need to estimate a correct beer-to-punch ratio.   Whether the secret key to the formula is embedded in Bio-Braumanufaktur Schmilka’s beers is undetermined.

Glühbier or Bier-Punsch, it’s certain to catch-on.  Once more beer connoisseurs discover it, it may prove to be less of a niche drink.  And we can’t wait.

To discover the joys of Glühbier, simply visit a good quality Christmas market in weeks preceding Christmas.  Or hound your local brewery to prepare something similar for next Winter.

Glühbier is a refreshing, warming alternative to Glühwein.  But unfortunately, it is a rare find.  Especially when served as an artisan-produced delight rather than a commercially purchased bottle sloshed into a pan

Good luck finding it or making it before next Winter.

But if all else fails, we’ll see you in Saxony in December.