Saturday, 21 November 2020

Yuri Gagarin’s six-pack of Schwarzbier

The Köstritzer Schwarzbier brewery likes to advertise the story that Goethe drank their beer. It appears that once upon a time, they were also keen to add pioneering cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to their list of celebrity drinkers.

Gagarin visited the DDR in October 1963 in the company of fellow kosmonavtka Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, and they toured the sort of showpiece workplaces you might expect – the Orwo film factory, and the Zeiss facility in Jena, for example (Zeiss had contributed a fair bit of technology to the Soviet space programme).

“Needs mair hops”, commented Comrade Gagarin



When Gagarin’s train stopped in tiny Bad Köstritz shortly before reaching Gera, the brewery took the opportunity to present him with a carton of bottles, with the promise that if he liked the beer, he only had to write and they’d send him some more.

Sadly, as far as I know, it is not recorded what Gagarin thought of the Schwarzbier, or whether he drank it straight or sweetened with sugar, as was sometimes recommended at the time.

Despite the fine words of the party functionaries about equality of the sexes, it’s also not recorded whether Tereshkova got any beer.

Source: Berliner Zeitung, Sa. 19. Oktober 1963

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