Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beer Fondue in Davos, Switzerland

Went to Restaurant Kulm in Davos where they usually have the Monsteiner Huusbier on draft.  I was (pleasantly) surprise to fine the Wätterguoge ("Salamander") instead. I've only had the Wätterguoge in the bottle and the draft was much better. It has a very slight smokey note and is about the closest thing to Spezial Lager that I have tasted. At least one of the brewers in Franconian trained so that may be no accident.

Monsteiner Wätterguoge

The beer fondue was also made with the Wätterguoge and was very good but it is hard to compare it to the Huusbier version I had last year, as the fondue recipe itself has changed (more herbs and other stuff in it this time).

Beer Fondue

Friday, March 18, 2011

Best Beer I Have Ever Had...

... in Lichtenstein.

It is from Brauhaus Lichtenstein. It is a perfectly decent Helles. Some malt, clean finish and pretty refreshing. They also do a darkish wheat beer which I've yet to try.

And yes, the tag says "Switzerland" but the beer was paid for in Swiss Franks so I'll take it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bamberg the Final Day

Note: I have to run to catch my train -- I'll finish the text as I can.

We decided to have our traditional bowl of soup and a beer (or two) for lunch at Spezial. I know I've posted pictures of this beer, but it's my favorite in town so you get some more...

Spezial Lager

There is a wonderful tradition in these parts that after having a beer or two you can order a "half beer" -- called "schnitt" (literally "cut"). This is usually half the price of a full beer (so it's a good deal) and if you are a good customer you may get a "good schnitt."

A Schnitt

On the way back we did some shopping and other errands. We passed by Schlenkerla for maybe the third or fourth time in the pass two days without going in. That could be taken as a sign of dis-respect, so we went in. They don't serve beer in anything smaller than a half liter but that was too much my Father so for a small fee I offered to drink half his beer for him. He accepted.

My father's Schlenkerla before I got to work on it.
When half was gone I bought a Fastenbier for myself. I'd make that deal any day of the week.

My Schlenkerla Fastenbier
The evening's plan was to head out to Strassgiech, where in the old Drei Kronen pub Andy and Manuela  Gänstaller are opening a new place. Andy will brew the beer in the old Friedel brewery in Schnaid. Gerhard Schoolmann of Cafe Abseits offered to drive my father and I out for the "soft opening."

On the way, we passed near Merkendorf were Brauerei Hummel has recently added a Zwickelbier to their extensive lineup. So we had to try it.

Brauerei Hummel, Merkendorf
They have a quiet extensive list of beers. The five in the picture below doesn't include the Zwickel so they actually had six different beers on draft. Quite a lineup for a small rural brewery. And a word of advice -- avoid, at all costs, the "Cowboy Schwarzbier." You have been warned.

Draft choices
The bottle selection is also quite large. The Räucherator was hard to pass up but this was just a quick stop.

Bottle List
We all thought the Zwickel was a little clear for such a beer. It was good, though. Pretty close to the Kellerbier in flavor (which is in the small krug below)

Hummel Zwickelbier
I love these sayings you see all over Germany. This one, loosely translated is "If you seem someone eating, eat with him. If you see someone drinking, drink with him. If you see someone working, let him work."

A short car ride later we were in Strassgiech.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day Five in Bamberg

Tuesday was one of those days that was so nice I wish I had my brought my bike. We decided to head up the Kaulberg to Brauerei Greifenklau

They have a very nice terrace out back with a great view...

Altenburg Castle from Greifenklau

 A few years ago the beer was very inconsistent but is regularly pretty good these days and today was no exception.

Greifenklau Lager (take my word for it)

I had gotten a message from Hans-Ludwig Straub, the owner/brewer of Drei Kronen Memmelsdorf that he had a new Fastenbier, so we took the city bus (Line 7) out to Memmelsdorf.

Drei Kronen Memmelsdorf

The Fastenbier was tasty but very filling (which I guess is the purpose if you are fasting). I'd like a bit more bitterness but I say that for just about every beer around here.

Drei Kronen Fastenbier
For a second beer I had the standard (as opposed to seasonal) Keller Pils. Herr Straub came over while we were finishing the Fastenbier and told us that his daughter was now doing all the brewing except for the seasonals. I hope Herr Straub doesn't take this the wrong way, but I liked the Keller Pils more than in the past -- it was a bit crisper in the finish. I'd say the brewery is in good hands.

Drei Kronen Keller Pils
 After catching the bus back to town, we rested a bit, caught up on email and scoured the web for news on the impending rail strike, then decided to walk up the hill to Spezial Keller for dinner and some beers.

Spezial Lagerbier at Spezi-Keller

The mugs and glasses all had new Spezial Keller logos (at least I don't remember them from last year but the memory is the first to go, somebody said)

New Spezial Keller logo

After a few beers we walked down the hill and paused part way at Stöhrenkeller to see what they had going. It was 9:30pm on a Tuesday night and the place was packed. So I guess business was good. We had a Keesmann Josefi Bock (their spring book) and the Eichhorn Kellerbier from Dörfleins (the glass says "Pils" -- ignore that). The Josefi bock was too drinkable, the half liter was gone in no time.

Eichhorn Kellerbier and Keesmann Josefi Bock

We had to pass by Schlenkerla on the way home but managed to resist a nightecap after our nightcap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day Four in Bamberg

Just in case you think we were slacking Monday, not all the beers got their picture taken. Morning was laundry time and I didn't think anybody was interested in pictures of my laundry -- dirty or clean -- so I left the camera in the room. We ended up having lunch and couple of beers at Fässla so no pictures. Also, dinner was at Spezial and there were multiple Lagerbiers consumed but I figured pictures of one was enough.

After laundry and lunch -- where I did try the Fässla Lager -- it was slightly darker and maltier than the Pils and when it warmed up a bit there was a bit of diacetyl (buttery flavor) in the finish, which why I like the Pils more, we wandered over to Klosterbräu. It was fairly nice outside so we sat at the tables out front. 


We had the Braunbier and the Schwärzla -- the two beers they still brew. Normally I find the Braunbier the better of the two but not today. There was a little something in the finish of the Braubier that made it not that enjoyable. The Schwärzla was very drinkable.

Braunbier and Schwärzla from Klosterbräu

We walked along the river and canal, just taking in the sights. Somehow we ended up at Spezial so we went in for a beer...

Spezial U and Lager

I had the U and my Dad the Lagerbier. The U is not as yeasty as the Mahrs U and I waffle back in forth as to which I prefer. I've decided it's which ever one I've had last.

Spezial Märzen

They also have a Märzen on draft, so in the interests of science we had one. It is much darker and maltier  that the Lager I just not as enjoyable. So I had a couple more Lagers.

In this time we had dinner and it was getting late so we headed towards home. On the way we passed Schlenkerla and decided a nightcap was in order.

Schlenkerla Märzen
When we were finishing up Matthias Trum came by and he sat with us while I had a Fastenbier. Some news (don't know if it is a scoup) but they did a bottling of unfiltered Eiche, vintage dated, with the idea they will do each year and arrange multi-year vertical tastings. Sign me up!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day Three in Bamberg -- The Day of the Bockbier

It wasn't planned that way, but I ended up drinking four bock beers, all over (or very close) to 8%.

First stop, Cafe Abseits where I was happy to see the Schlenklerla Eiche was still on draft..

Schlenkerla Eiche and Witzgal Landbier
It was lunch time and that means a Schnitzel Sandwich.

Schnitzel Sandwich
Gerhard Schoolman joined us and brought out some beers he has been saving for beer tourists like us. First up was the Greiss Bock from nearby Geisfeld. Wonderfully hoppy.

Griess Bock
Next up was Mönchsamber Weihnachtsbock (Christmas bock). Much more on the malty side and very good. I am sorry I am going to miss the tapping of their new Weizenbock in a couple weeks.

By the way, check out this commercial they made as a test project (don't think it has ever been shown on TV)

After three bocks it was time for a walk, so we headed down to Mahrs Bräu, where another bock waited. On the way you pass Gaststätte Wunderburg which has a few interesting beers on draft, my favorite being the Wagner (Kemmern) Pils. They also have Stegauracher Hausbräu Lagerbier (though it is probably contract brewed at Brauerei Göller in Zeil am Main) and St. Georgen Kellerbier from Buttenheim. We didn't stop in for a beer though -- but you should next time you walk by.

Gaststätte Wunderburg

Soon we came to Mahrs Bräu

Mahrs Bräu

It was early for the U so my father had a Helles from the barrel and I had Der Weisse Bock (which is a bottled wheat bock).  I found the helles a bit bland but the weizenbock was wonderful. Dark and malty with just a bit of spiciness from the wheat yeast. If I hadn't already had three bocks I would have had another.

Mahrs Helles and Der Weisse Bock

While we were waiting the U was tapped so I had to have one.

Mahrs "U"
It was time to think about dinner, so we stopped at Schlenkerla on the way home. We started in the with Märzen (instead of the Fastenbier). When you "ease" into the Märzen by starting with the Fastenbier the smoke isn't as intense, and I wanted the full "hit you over the head" experience.

Schlenkerla Märzen

I decided to go with the tradition Franconian Sunday Dinner: Schweinebraten with Wirsing and Kloss.

By that time I was ready for a nap so we headed back to the apartment where the plan was to open one of the special beers our landlord left for us. But the nap turned into the best nights sleep I've had this trip. Lots of bock bier and walking will do that to you, I guess.