Trinken in Franken

What would you do with a brewery in Bavaria? I suspect if you asked a thousand people this question, 999 of them would answer in the same way: “I’d brew beer!”. Dieter Liepold, though, is not one to run with the crowd, and his answer was a bit different: “I’ll brew organic fermented non-alcoholic beverages!’

Of course, Liepold wasn’t about to let a few pesky facts get in the way: first, fermentation typically produces alcohol. Second, no one had ever tried to brew non-alcoholic malt drinks using brewing principles, and following the same purity laws used to brew beer. Ignoring these minor details, he experimented in a makeshift lab in the brewery’s bathroom, spent $3M dollars of the brewery’s money, and came up with Bionade, a unique organic beverage that sold seventy-three million bottles in 2006.

While beer is brewed with yeast, which converts sugar into alcohol, Bionade is brewed with a strain of bacteria which converts sugars into gluconic acid. The gluconic acid acts as a natural sweetness-enhancer, meaning that less sugar is needed to make the drink taste sweet. It is an interesting alternative in the European markets to high-sugar soft drinks – and certainly seems to have been accepted by the public audience. Bionade is made in elderberry, litchi, orange-ginger and herb flavours.

Most importantly, it’s tasty. I had a bottle of the herb flavour in a small organic café in Munich last week and was very much impressed. I haven’t seen Bionade in Canada yet, but it has received FDA approval and is already available in the United States. I suspect that we will be seeing it soon.


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