Thursday, August 29, 2019

One Last Update

After seeing Bob on his train, I went back to the apartment, put some Beethoven on the iPad, sat on the couch and read book. Very relaxing. There may have even been a nap involved.

When dinner time rolled around I hopped on my bike and road over to Fässla Keller. In previous times it was Maisel Keller and was the taproom for the attached Maisel Bamberg brewery. When the brewery closed Fässla acquired it. The Fässla brewery has a nice, partially covered garden in the back but it is now pretty much occupied by smokers so if you want to drink outside the Fässla Keller is your best bet.

I started off with the Gold Pils, my usual Fässla beer. This was softer, less bitter, more Helles like than I remember their Pils. But it was good.

Dinner was a couple of pieces of fried Pollock (Seelachs) and Kartoffelsalat. The potato salad was cool (not chilled, think “cellar temperature”) and didn’t have any bits of bacon or other foreign matter, just some parsley sprinkled on top, Maybe some region of Germany makes their potato salad with lots of vinegar and bacon and serves it hot, but I don’t remember ever having it. Not sure why in the US we insist that the hot stuff is “True German Potato Salad.”

They actually have four beers on draft, instead of the two at the brewery. I thought about having one of the others, but I was happy with the Pils so a few more were consumed.

Somebody obviously used a white board marker on a real blackboard, requiring the use of duct tape for the price increases.

Wednesday decided to make one last ride down to Pettstadt. It is a very nice ride down the Canal/Regnitz.

The Löwenbräu Buttenheim served at Schrauder Keller is gravity dispense (“Bayerische Anstich”). It was early, so he had a small barrel on but by the time I left he was pouring from a larger one.

I know this beer isn’t on many peoples top 10 lists but drinking it on a nice day at this keller is up there on my list.

The holzdeckel on the top is one that was made for the 555th Anniversary of the Pettstadt Ferry

While there a lady rode up on a horse, dropped the reins and went up and bought an ice cream. I think there was another woman on a bicycle with her who watched the horse for the minute the rider was away. Do horses drink beer?

Not sure why I took this picture — blues skies, leafy trees and good beer.

I was getting too comfortable so I decided to ride back to Bamberg. I had been meaning to visit Sternla to see if there was any info available on their new brewery, which I understand is installed but they are not yet serving their own beer. They were promoting the brewery on their menu and the current estimate is they will release a Bockbier in late October.

Right now Sternla is one of the few places around that has both Spezial and Schlenkerla on draft.  I had the Spezial.

Not a bad beer choice.

It was getting on to dinner time and they had 1/2 Gögerla (chicken) on the menu so I had one. It’s that thing on the wooden platter that sort of looks like a sesame roll. It was very good and they also sell it to go for €4.50 which I’d definitely do it I stayed nearby. By the way, the “Starry Night” thing is my new Kobo Aura One eReader that replaced my Kindle. This is my first trip with it and I am absolutely loving it.

Just under 17km so a short day. Thursday I will be packing the bike as I leave Friday morning for Frankfurt, so this was my last ride except maybe for lunch on Thursday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Day 15: The last day

Well, Bob’s last day, anyway.  I left it to him to choose and he said he’d heard about the food at Brauerei zur Sonne in Bischberg but we hadn’t eaten when we stopped. He had to pack up his bike that afternoon and he didn’t want to do a long ride.

So we made the short ride to Bischberg and started with their always excellent Helles.

Lots of choices on the menu, so we started with Pfifferlinge soup. Delicious!

We both had Käsespätzle and another Helles. Again, delicious.

They had a Dunkles and a Pils and tap as well so we thought we ought to try them as well. There were good but I still like the Helles more.

Then the short ride back to Bamberg where Bob began to disassemble his bike to fit in the suitcase.

We had a 6pm meeting scheduled with my Bamberg friend Frank so soon we headed out (on foot).  It makes me sad every time I pass this...

Sandkerwa was still going full swing but we found some seats in the garden at Schlenkerla.

Pretty soon all tables were pretty much full. No food service either, so we checked inside and it was practically empty. And the beer was cheaper.

 So we went inside,  ordered another beer and of course a Bamberg Onion.

I had tried to order a Kräusen but I guess that ends with Sandkerwa, so another Märzen and then off back to the apartment.

Managed to catch a nice sunset crossing the Ketternbrücke.

I almost don’t want to post the track, the measly 14.5km but in the interests of transparency...

Day 14: Urlaub, Urlaub, Urlaub

Bob wanted to try some of the Binkert beers. On Sunday they don’t open until 3pm so we decided to ride to Rattelsdorf to check out a place called Obere Mühle that I had ride by many times but never been to as it only open Fri thru Sun in the warmer months and is only open early on Sunday. Many people had recommended it so why not — it was only a little bit farther than Binkert in Breitengüßbach. It was also going to be a hot and humid day and I didn’t want to overdo things.

Having learned my lessons in the past I called first. The phone rang for a long time and then was just answered with a “Hallo” — not a good sign. When I asked if they were open today I got a string of rapid dialect that sounded a bit sad then they hung up. It reminded me a bit of a story I heard about somebody calling Fässla to inquire about rooms and first asked “Does anybody there speak English.” The reply was “No” and they hung up. To the point.

Anyway from that sad tone I was guessing they were not open but we rode to Rattlelsdorf anyway. Obere Mühle is at the bottom of a steep-ish hill so I exercised  my prerogative as elder brother to send Bob and his younger knees down to check. He came back saying nothing looked open. 

Plan B was ride to Ebing about 2km away to visit Brauerei Schwanen.

I live hanging lights with the brewery logos over the bar. Problem is they make hard pictures.

The kitchen had already closed for lunch and they didn’t have any cold snacks, so we went straight to the beer. It is not my favorite Franconian Dunkel but it hit the spot.

Google maps suggested a route that took us past the train station for Ebing (which is a couple km out of town). The last time I was at the station it was basically a 100 year old shack on a lonely platform. Deutsche Bahn has been upgrading this line to take the high speed ICE trains (300+ kph) and I guess they redid the station as well as it was very modern. At first we thought we’d have to carry our bikes done some stairs but they had built a bike ramp so we rode underneath the tracks and back on the bike path. Google Maps said “mostly flat” and they were wrong but this time it was only one long hill that wasn’t too bad.

On the ride up we had passed by a couple who were doing loaded touring. We passed each other a couple of times as one of us stopped for something. Anyway, just about thru Breitengüßbach we saw them by the side of the bike path, his bike upside down and he was pumping madly with a tiny hand pump. We stopped and I brought over my Lezyne Micro Drive pump (highly recommend) and said try this. His first words “Nice pump!” In a few minutes he had the tire inflated, we said our good-byes (and I made sure I had my pump!) and rode off.

Around the corner we came to Binkert almost exactly at 3pm and I saw that wonderful sign. They lied. The place was locked up tighter than a drum. There were about a half dozen people there all as frustrated as we were. Oh well.

A short ride away is Kemmern and Brauerei Wagner. Normally, they are only open early on Sunday (9am-noon) but I new this weekend was their Kirchweih (parish festival) so we figured we could get some beer and food. We could. Started of with the Pils, which is my favorite of their beers.

Since we hadn’t had any lunch, we decide to eat. I ordered the Jägerschnitzel, which usually comes with a mushroom cream sauce but this one was mushrooms and peppers in a spicy gravy. Even paprika on the fries. More of a Zigeunerschnitzel but really good.

I decide to try their Lager and it was much darker than I remembered and I still like the Pils better.

 Another Pils and then the band started to play and it was time to leave.

There is a bunch of construction in Hallstadt and we missed the detour on the way out but had no problems on the way back.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Day 13: Mühlendorf

It was going to be a hot day, nearly 90ºF (30º+ C) so we decided not to be too adventurous. Actually, I decided. The hot humid weather reminds Bob of Florida so he was happy with it. Me, the humidity was killing me.

We decided to ride up the Aurach valley. The first stop was Brauerei Müller in Debring.

They had three beers on tap, a Pils, and unfiltered Lager and a Dunkel. We went with the Pils and Lager (hard to tell with the Krug). Both were good but nothing outstanding.

They had a lot of fish on their menu and it was tempting but seemed too big a meal for lunch with a lot of riding ahead. So we went with the standard Bratwurst and Kartoffelsalat.  Hit the spot.

We headed west-ish, along the valley. Some very pretty scenery, including a nice shot of the Altenburg tower in the distance.

We had a choice of two routes from Google Maps. One (which I had ridden before) takes you thru Stegaurach and has stretches along the main road. The other alternative presented was about 1km longer but looked to be bike paths and back roads. Both were labeled “mostly flat” so we took what we thought was quieter route and found out Google lied. It was not “mostly flat” — it was on average flat — meaning you went up a big hill then down a big hill — a couple of times — but your starting and ending elevations were the same. So it was flat, right?

Soon we were at Mühlendorf and Brauerei “Alte Mühle”, a/k/a Mühlenbräu. 

It seemed a bit quiet and the I noticed the evil word “Urlaub”

It was about 2pm and the keller wouldn’t open for another two hours. And we didn’t want to wait around. We continued into the courtyard, hoping for a shade place to sit and drink some water and it turned out they were brewing. The brewer came out, said “hi” and asked it we wanted to buy a couple of beers. Um, yes. He came back with two ice cold bottles that cost €1 each. The best deal of the day.

We had some options if we continued on but the heat and humidity was getting to me so we decided to head back towards Bamberg. On the way back we passed close to Pettstadt so you know what that means.

Yep, Schrauder Keller and Löwenbräu Buttenheim. We had some Zwiebeleskäs to go with our beers and all was right with the world.

There were additional Krug’s of beer, but they all looked like the one above.

Back in Bamberg we ended up trying out the Kleehof restaurant in the nearby Hotel Europa. The draft beer was St. Georgen of Buttenheim, Löwenbräu’s larger (and less interesting) neighbor.

Not only is the beer a bit boring, it is served in a .4L krug. I guess they are doing you a favor but it is still irritating to pay more for less.  Anyway the food was very good but the service was very, very slow. They mostly are a wine restaurant and I guess the slow service gives them time to sell more wine while you gaze into each other’s eyes — but that doesn’t work with my brother and I.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Day 12: Sandkerwa

Today was going to be a rest day — for the bikes not for our livers. Bamberg’s version of Oktoberfest (in that it is a Volfestival) is called Sandkerwa. It is held in late August (i.e. now) and this is the 69th edition. All along Sandstrasse and many side streets of the Altstadt there are booths selling food, wine, snacks, and of course beer. Most of the Bamberg breweries have booths as do many of the breweries in surrounding villages.

The Schlenkerla tavern is in the heart of it and they turn the Dominikaner courtyard into a beer garden. We stopped there first.

Of course, the beer is dispensed via gravity from a wooden barrel.

It was really comfortable siting there and I could probably have spent the whole afternoon there but then this would be a very short blog post. So we started exploring. I thought I had read that things kicked off at noon but many of the stands were not yet open. We finally stopped it at tent restaurant that was serving beer from Hausbräu Stegaurach, a relatively new brewery (last 10 years or so) but there is some question about the beers now being contract brewed. We tried the Lager and the Rauchbier. The Rauchbier was the more interesting of the two but both were in the “glad we had it, no need for another” category.

Walking around some more we came to a both selling Drei Kronen Schesslitz and also had a sign for the Hopfengarten Hopefen Gin. I had the Drie Kronen Lager and Bob though he ordered a shot of the Hopfen Gin but he ended up with like a quad shop with some sparking water and some sort of simple syrup. Just the thing you need at the start of a day drinking beer.

The gin was interesting — there we notes of juniper as you’d expect but lots of hop flavor and even some bitterness but that probably was from other “botanicals” in the gin. It was way more than we wanted but it was expensive enough we didn’t want to throw it away, so we bought a bottle of water, drank it, and then put then gin drink in it. We sipped at thru the afternoon.

In our strolls we passed Metzgerei Liebold and picked up a couple of their famous Leberkäs Brötchen. A good price of Leberkäs and really good crusty roll just hit the spot.

We next passed a stand selling Huppendorfer (Brauerei Grasser) and Lohndorfer (Brauerei Hölzlein). The Hölzlein beers have a reputation for some diacetyl and just about every twitter commenter mentioned that but it must have been the Leberkäs because I didn’t really detect any until the very end when the beer had warmed up a bit and even then it wasn’t objectionable. I am usually fairly sensitive to it. Oh well.

We passed a good old American style food truck that had and idea I thought brilliant and I hope they open a version in Los Angeles.

Take.good bread roll, add some meat from a Schäuferla, a slice of kloss, some gravy and sauerkraut on top and you have a traditional Franconian meal you can take with you. The Sauerbraten version was similar, except blaukraut instead of sauerkraut. This was the half size version. It was yummy.

We wandered back around to the Spezial booth and they were now open so we sat and had a couple. Spezial, how I missed you.

Across from the Spezial booth was one from Kapüziner one of the brands of the Kulmbach brewery, majority owned (if not more) by Heineken. There always was a rivalry between Bamberg and Kulmbach so this guy didn’t get a lot of business. It was a smart move pushing the wheat beer because the Kapüziner is a decent enough wheat beer.l I think he sold more bottles of what than beer while we watched.

Down from the Spezial booth was one from Brauerei Will in Schederndorf and I remember liking their Landbier last time I was at Sandkerwa so bought a couple and brought them back to our table (everybody was doing that, so I assumed it was ok).

I like the beer, a bit malty/sweet but tasty.

We decide to head back and as we cross back over the Obere Brücke we passed the stand of Brauerei Eichhorn of Dörfleins. The day we rode by there was the first day of their vacation so we didn’t get to try to the beer. 

It was a fitting end to a fun day. We people watched while drinking our beers and the Altstadt was getting quite full of people. That is the one thing I hate about Sandkerwa — narrow streets crammed to the max with people (many who have had one — or six — too many beers)

Back to riding tomorrow.