I’m not going to dive into the etymology of the modern German word Gurt (pictured here), which means “belt,” and should be reminding you of other words in English like gird, girth and girdle.
Rather, we’re here to consider the tiny bottles in the belt.
Full disclosure compels me to admit that prior to yesterday, I had no idea what the hell Underberg really is, apart from it being European, and something that used to confuse and annoy me when all the fashionable young pup brewers in Indy kept talking about Underberg, administering Underberg, and baffling the aging curmudgeon with tales of Underberg.
Gammel Dansk, on the other hand … well, of this Danish competitor I have certain and distinct memories.
I’m pleased to announce my compensatory education in this matter of bitters (thank you, Calvin), and as a person who enjoys explaining things, be aware that Underberg is a German-crafted digestif bitter containing 43 different herbs, aged in oak barrels from Slovenia, and is “classified under ‘food and drinks: oils, herbs and spices’ in the United States,” meaning it can be sold without a liquor license even though there’s a dose of alcohol in it.
According to Underberg:
The Rheinberg herbal digestive is a very special after-dinner drink, and is served in more than 100 countries as a crowning finale to gourmet meals or hearty snacks.
On the bottle it says:
Underberg: After a good meal.
“Underberg is an herb bitters taken for digestion, it is not a beverage. Not to be supped, but taken all at once and quickly because of its aromatic and strong taste. It is also used as a flavoring.”
.67 fluid oz, 20 ml, 44% alc
Ingredients: Water, alcohol (44% by volume) and natural flavors from the genus gentiana.
Natural Herb Bitters — To feel bright and alert — Made in Germany
Why an herbal bitter after a meal? At Medium, Andrew Bohrer irreverently surveys the foodscape:
I’m sure the answer is simple but hasn’t really been pursued because the fix for a full tummy being a nip of tasty booze isn’t something worth questioning. I will say that I cannot imagine sitting down to a plate of Panang Curry without an Underberg to follow.
By the way, we’ll be stocking Underberg at Pints&union as of the middle of next week. Thanks again to Calvin for doing his homework.