Pretzels and a good craft beer. What an image this statement invokes. This week on Beer Notes, we are exploring the origin of pretzels and why they go so well with our favorite local brews.
The origin of pretzels are steeped in fable. * Some attribute** the invention of the pretzel to the Catholics who had much stricter fasting rules for Lent. Pretzel dough is a simple combination of flour, water and salt and could be consumed when meat, dairy, and eggs were forbidden. Pretzels may have originally been called bracellae or “little arms” in Latin, from which the Germans derived the word bretzel. Alternatively, the name for pretzels may have come from pretiolas, meaning “little treat,” an incentive monks used to reward young children who remembered their prayers. The Swiss used pretzels in their wedding ceremonies for good luck which may have been the origin of the phrase, “tying the knot.” In Germany on New Year’s Day in the 17th Century, children wore pretzel necklaces for good luck and prosperity. Adults wearing these necklaces at beer festivals is a relatively new twist.
Regardless of the derivation of the word, pretzels have been popular for centuries and nowhere more so than in beer houses.
The reasons are probably multi-fold.*** Salt makes you thirstier and patrons drink more beer if they eat salty pretzels. Salt enhances flavors, an obvious advantage to the craft beer connoisseur. For those interested in trying many beers, pretzels can serve as a palate cleanser between samples. Cleansing your palate between beers allows you to taste many different styles without having the flavors combine unpleasantly. Finally, a great Bavarian Style pretzel is as enjoyable as the beer, fills the stomach and allows you to carry on that conversation you are having.
I think it’s a perfect night for a local craft beer, a warm Bavarian pretzel, and a good conversation.