St. Pauli Girl is an export only lager style beer brewed at the Beck’s Brewery in Bremen, Germany. The primary export market for St. Pauli Girl is the US, and today, it is reportedly one of the leading-selling German beers on the American market.
The beer’s original brewery, which was founded in the 17th century, was supposedly built on the site of a monastery named in honor of St. Paul, which gives the beer the first part of its name. The St. Pauli “Girl” was invented in the 19th century with the advent of bottling beer. The brewery needed a symbol to emblazon its bottles and the image of a barmaid was selected.
There has been some controversy concerning the St. Pauli Girl “girl.” The original girl in St. Pauli Girl was more of an homage to the hard-working girls who worked in pubs and beer gardens throughout Germany, whereas today, the Girl is essentially nothing more than a pin-up model. Six recent Girls have been featured in Playboy magazine as Playmate of the Month. Some believe that this crass form of promotion belittles the beer.
Which brings us to the beer. Due to the less than sophisticated manner in which St. Pauli Girl is advertised and the fact that the beer is basically brewed exclusively for the American market, the actual quality of the beer has been belittled. And, in my opinion, unfairly so.
First of all, it should be understood that St. Pauli Girl is brewed in accordance with the “Reinheitsgebot.” Which is the German Purity Law that was set down in 1516 and has been the guiding force behind German brewing ever since. So there are none of the questionable ingredients, such as rice or corn, added to St. Pauli Girl. It is a pure German beer that uses two-row spring barley, and the highly regarded Hallertau hops from Bavaria.
In regards to my personal empirical experience, I see a nicely golden beer without a trace of yellow that is common in many pilsner style lagers. I can get a healthy white head when pouring from a bottle, and it contains a good amount of carbonation. The head is able to sustain itself, providing a nice lacing around the glass. It’s a smooth tasting beer with a fair amount of hoppy bitterness. It’s an easy to drink beer where the bitter qualities do not overwhelm the taste of the actual beer.