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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So, safely back home, bicycle and pride intact, what did I learn?

When I bought the Bike Friday I had visions of taking it with me whenever I traveled. That was the first casualty of the trip. While I really, really like my New World Tourist and can highly recommend it to anybody looking for a transportable bike, the fact remains that the bike in its suitcase weights 50 lbs. In addition, the suitcase is huge. After we were done biking, my father and I took the train to Brussels for a beer festival and then took the train to Düsseldorf, where we flew home. That was a lot of schlepping around -- getting the heavy suitcase on and off the train, and finding taxi's that were big enough for two large suitcases (plus another suitcase each for clothes).

So when would I travel with the bike. Well, if it's a cycling trip of course the bike comes along. If I am flying somewhere where I am staying in one location for at least a week or so, then I would consider bringing the bike. If I am traveling by car, then I would bring the bike if there was any chance of getting a ride it -- folding it to put in the car is a trivial task compared to packing the bike in the suitcase for air travel.

Oh, and that clicking noise? It turns out I did not install the right pedal properly  and it eventually damaged the threads on the right crank arm and ended up replacing the who crankset :(

So I purchased a pair of MKS MT-E EZY quick release pedals from Calhoun Cycle so I won't have to worry about that again!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Riding Day 5 (Monday)

After a rest on Sunday, were were raring to go for a ride on Monday, but the weather wasn't co-operating. It was most un-summerlike, temps about 50 deg F, dark clouds, wind and on and off rain. But we came to ride so ride we did.

We decided to head west along the Main River Bike Trail. In short order we were in Bischberg but Sonne is closed on Monday and it was a little early for a stop. We continued on to the village of Viereth and Brauerei Mainlust. We were a little chilled so first up was a cup of coffee. A big cup of coffee. After warming up, it was time to try the beer. It had been many years since I'd had a Mainlust beer. After this one I remembered why -- if there were any hops in that beer it would take a microscope to find them. It really tasted like fermented wort. It wasn't bad, just not very interesting to me.

Friday's Mainlust

Next we turned inland (and uphill) for a couple kilometers to Weiher and Brauerei Kundmüller. Total climb was about 250 ft -- not too bad but enough to work up a thirst. Kündmuller brews a variety of beers and in the fall their bock is quite nice. Today we had their Rauchbier (Smoked beer). This one was very lightly smoked compared to the ones in Bamberg. Just enough smoke to let you know it was there. We complemented it with a nice bowl of Leberknodelsuppe (Liver dumpling soup -- its better than it sounds!)

Friday asks "Weiher we here?"

Refreshed, we had a decision: continuing away from the river would would come to Trabelsdorf and Brauerei Beck -- where a good friend is the brewer. But in between was a very steep hill -- the bartender at Kundmuller said about 300 meters (1000ft). We were both willing to give it a try (no witness to see us walk the bikes) until a local told us that Monday was the rest day at Beck. I tried to get my friend Andy (short for Andreas) on the phone, but no luck. Not willing to do such a hill, in the rain with out a beer as a reward, we decided to continue west along the river. Of course we got a nice downhill run to get warmed up.

We did have a small problem -- we were on the south bank of the Main (where the bike train runs) but the next breweries were on the north Bank. Since the bikes don't float to well a bridge was in order. The first bridge was railroad bridge, so we skipped that one. The next was a highway crossing, but luckily there was a bike lane on the sidewalk.

Across the bridge was the village of Unterhaid. A bit east in the neighboring village of Oberhaid was Brauerei Wagner, but I haven't had good luck with their beers in recent times so I didn't think the backtracking was worthwhile. (There are many Wagner breweries in this area, the ones in Kemmern and Merkendorf brew quite nice beers). Turning a corner I saw a sign "Bräu-Gästette Gambrinus" -- I had heard of this place! They claim to be a brewery, but their beers are really brewed in Bamberg by Brauerei Maisel. But it was cold and wet and time for a beer. The beer was quite nice and a bit different than the standard Maisel. I learned later that they have their own recipe. Well worth a stop if you are in the area. Plus a cool logo.

Friday pays respect to the Patron Saint of Brewing

The obligatory beer picture

Back on the road we soon came to Staffelberg and Brauerei Hertlein. Monday is their rest day (which I knew) so we stopped just long enough for a picture and it was on to Stettfeld.

Friday's He(a)rt is broken at a closed brewery

After a particularly rainy and windy section of road, we came to Stettfeld and the home of Schwartzer Adler Bräu. This is one of the most delightful small breweries around. The beer is very good and the main room is just plain cozy. They have "signature" snack "Ham with Egg" that is sort of an omelette with onions and ham. Very tasty, but they only have one pan, so if there is a group of you, you will get them one at a time.

The Eagle soars over Friday

Since the rain was picking up, we rode on to the next town (Ebelsbach) which used to have two breweries (but both have their beers brewed by other breweries) and took the train back to Bamberg. Total Distance: 23 miles.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Riding Day 4

Sunday was a partial off day. My Dad decided to take it easy. I rode with some friends to nearby Bischberg, home of Brauerei zur Sonne (Brewery of the Sun). It is well know for having a good kitchen and is very popular for Sunday dinner with Grandma -- as a result the place was packed so we sat out side and drank our beers. Total distance: 7 miles

Friday basking in the glow of Sonne

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Riding Day 3

We made plans to go riding Saturday morning with a friend from Bamberg and a couple of friends just visiting who happened to bring their bikes with them. But the weather did not co-operate -- there was a steady rain. So we walked up the hill to the Cathedral where there was an exhibition celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Bamberg (founded 1007 by Emperor Heinrich II). Nothing wrong with a little culture :)

By afternoon, though the weather cleared a bit and we decided to ride to Rossdorf am Forst, home of Brauerei Sauer. This time we rode down the east bank of the Regnitz and turned eastward at the village of Strullendorf. Rossdorf is at the start of the hills known as the Frankische Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland) so it was a bit of an uphill slog on a gravel path.

After our bad luck of closed breweries we were a little worried when it looked deserted as we rode up. But it was open, just empty. After a nice couple of kellerbiers sitting the nice garden, it was time to ride back. Going downhill we took the road instead of the path -- much easier.

Friday at Brauerei Sauer

Total distance: 17 miles.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Goes International -- Riding Day 2

The first order of business on day two was to find another bicycle shop. A phone consultation with Bike Friday gave me some things to have checked. We went to one recommend by a local friend and the mechanic tightened the crank arms and took it for a test ride. He was confused as well, as it didn't make the noise every turn of the crank. Sometimes it would go three for four turns without clicking and then start up again. Sometimes it would do a double click and sometimes a single. He thought it didn't sound like a bottom bracket problem, so I've decided to ride on it this week and have it looked at more thoroughly when I get home. Possibly famous last words!

Leaving the bike shop, we headed north. The normal German thoroughness broke down though -- they are rebuilding a bridge across one of the rivers and the bike path was closed. There was no detours posted (which the usually are, even for bike paths). So we had to backtrack again. But as we have to schedule to keep to, it was just a further nice ride along the river.

We headed for the village of Kemmern, home to the Wagner brewery, one of my favorites. We got there about 11am (most of the breweries open at 9 or 10am, some earlier!) and the first thing we saw was the dreaded "Closed for Vacation" sign. This is getting boring rapidly. My dad was getting hungry (and I was getting thirsty) so we detoured to the next nearest town, that of Breitengüssbach, home to Brauerei Hümmer. They were open! The soup of the day was again Potato Soup, but a totally different texture and flavor. The soup, and a couple bratwurst, washed down with a couple beers fortified us to go on.

Friday at Brauerei Hümmer. No SUV's to be found

Next stop was the village of Höfen home of Brauerei zum goldenen Adler -- a very small brewery that was highly recommended but that I had never been to. After a nice ride thru corn fields and some woods we arrived -- and found it closed. I had forgotten that it didn't open until 3pm (and it was about 1pm).
Friday at zum Goldenen Alder, Höfen

Not to worry, up the road about 4 km in Freudeneck was another fine brewery, Brauerei Fischer. You can guess what happend -- we got there and saw the dreaded "Closed for Vacation"
sign. Curses, foiled again.

Friday at Brauerei Fischer, Fruedeneck

So we could wait an hour or so for zum Goldenen Alder to open, or head to the next stop in Ebing. We didn't come all this way just to sit, so we headed off (downhill for a change) and rode toward Ebing and Brauerei Schwanen. About 20 minutes later we arrived at the town square and sure enough -- another closed brewery. That was the last straw. We rode to the next train station and took the train back to Bamberg where we knew there were open breweries! Total distance 23 miles.

Friday Goes International -- Riding Day 1

The bikes survived the airline trip and we put them together Wednesday afternoon, but were so tired we didn't test ride them.

Thursday we decided to ride down the Regnitz bike path. First off, here are the bikes in front of our apartment house (mine is the one with the handlebar bag)

Fridays' Home away from Home

We had few false starts finding the bike path out of town, but were soon on our way, riding along the Regnitz river.

We came to the village of Pettstadt, where there are no current breweries, but a nice beer garden ("bier keller" in the local lingo -- see here for why) but it didn't open until 3pm so it had to wait for another time. We where on the west bank of the river and our first stop was on the east so we needed to cross. There were frequent (if small) signs showing which bike trail went were (this is Germany -- they all have names or numbers like highways :) ). I saw a sign that said "Hirschaid" (where we we going) so we followed it.

We took a turn the right and down a small hill and the bike path literally ran into the river! We must have looked confused because a man up on the bank above us shouted "The ferry will be here soon." We looked across the river and sure enough there was a barge connected to a cable that ran across the river (and pulled the barge back and forth). It slowly crossed the river and then he anchored one end and let the current swing it around so it docked right where the bike path ended ! We paid our € 1 (each) fare and were soon on our way...

Ferry cross the Regnitz

We leaned later that on weekends (when it is busier) he sells snacks and sodas and water as well. No riverboat gambling, though.

We soon were back on dry land and working our way southward. We soon came to Hischaid and Brauerei Kraus where a stop for beer and lunch was in order...

Friday at Brauerei Kraus, Hischaid

After a nice bowl of Kartoffelsuppe (Potato soup) and Leberkäse (literally "liver chease" but its sort of a meat loaf made that is sliced and served on a roll) we were on our way south.

Our next stop was to be the village of Buttenheim, whose claim to fame in the non beer world is it was the birthplace of Levi Strauss. For the beer world it is known as the home to two breweries that are right next to each other and owned by brothers who reportedly don't speak to each other. My favorite of the two is Löwenbräu (not related to the large Munich brewery of the same name). But when we got there, on the front door was a sign "Closed for Vacation until Sept 28." Damn! So we went next door to the larger Sankt Georgenbräu for some liquid refreshments.

Friday meets St George (but no dragons seen)

Along the way my bike had started to make an annoying click with no obvious source, so we decided to take the train back to Bamberg and have it looked at at a bike shop I knew.

Well, it turns out that breweries aren't the only business that takes time off in August. The first to bike shops where closed. I found a third that was really more of a rental place. The young man there thought the crank arm had stripped pedal threads. He tightened the pedals down and that helped a bit but the click was still there. We road back home and then proceeded to visit the local breweries on foot. Total distance: 21 miles.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friday goes International -- At LAX

The suitcase with bike came in at 49 pounds, but I think the scales at LAX Terminal 2 (Northwest) are a little heavy. But I'm not complaining. The other good thing (for now) about T2 is the baggage scanners are out front so you can watch your bag go thru (and help put the bike back in the suitcase, if needed :) )

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Real Test -- Friday goes International

Well, this week I am off with the bike to Bamberg, Germany. While most of you probably haven't heard of it, it really is the Beer Capital of the World. With all due respect to my readers in Oregon (who am I kidding -- my reader in Oregon) there isn't a higher concentration of good beer to be found anywhere. Munich, bah, that is for tourists. And all but one of the breweries are owned by multinationals (Heineken or ImBev) and are not really breweries but rather beer factories.

Bamberg has roughly 70,000 people and 10 breweries! In the surrounding Landkreis (an administrative district in the case about 20 miles in diameter) there are over 80 breweries. And in the "county" of Oberfranken (really a Regierugungsbezirck but who's counting) there are nearly 200.

So watch this space for updates and pictures...

I'll leave you with a picture of beer being served at the Mahr's Bräu brewery in Bamberg -- as it should, gravity fed from a wooden keg.

Mahr's Bräu

Friday, August 03, 2007

Accessories I

Of course when you buy a big new toy, there are a lot of little toys that you end up needing or wanting. I won't bore you with every little purchase ("Check out these cool tire levers...") but I will highlight some things I found very useful.

First up are Oyster Buckets from Cobbworks of Olympia, Washington. Oyster Buckets are one of those things where your first reaction is "Why didn't I think of that..." At their heart is Ropak square 4 gallon food grade buckets. If you need 4 gallons of mayo, macaroni salad, Thousand Island dressing or some such, it probably comes in buckets like these (When I was in the homebrewing business we sold 5 gallon round buckets from Ropak for use as fermenters. ) I use the Oyster Buckets mainly for grocery shopping, but the would work for bike touring as well.

Of course the trick is, and the value Cobbworks adds, is they are perfectly set up to be attached to a standard rear rack. Plus they have added nice cushy covers to the wire handles (made from recycled air hose from Boeing) , brightly colored stickers to improve visibility and handy handle loops on the lids for easy removal.

Cobbworks Oyster Buckets on FridayCobbworks Oyster Buckets on Friday

They hold a fair amount of stuff and even heaver items such as 2 litre bottles of soda don't seem to be a problem. The extra width took me a little getting used to, but then again I'm not used to riding with panniers.

Oyster Buckets with groceries

On nice design element is the tops of the buckets are level with your rear rack, so you can strap bulkier items across the buckets. If you were doing a self supported tour I can see how that would be useful. But even just running errands it is a nice feature. I had to ship a box and while I could have strapped it to just the rear rack, having the Oyster Buckets gave me an extra bit of support.

Oyster Buckets with a box

All in all I am very happy and can recommend them to anybody who needs to carry stuff.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Status Report -- 400 miles

Sorry for the long pause in posting (as if anybody noticed :) ) Work has been taking me to El Centro, CA -- where the Devil goes when he wants to cool off! Last time I didn't even take Friday along -- too damn hot (115 ° F) to even think about it.

That being said I've meet or exceeded my goal of 40 miles / week -- except for the week I took a spill and wracked up my foot.

I'm now over 400 miles and I still love the bike. I had my first flat (ran over a screw) about 2 minutes after I took the second picture below. Its been a while since I changed my own tube (I'm a software guy, damn it! That is hardware!) but a kindly passing mountain biker took pity on me and helped me get it done in short order. But other than that, no problems at all...

With that, I'll leave you with two pictures...

Friday at the Hermosa Beach Pier

Friday at the Redondo Beach International Boardwalk

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Status Report -- 200 miles

Sorry for the pause in posting (not that anybody is reading this :) ) . I recently passed the 200 mile mark on the new bike. And I still love it. It is by far the best bike I've every owned. I did take it in to my local bike shop (LBS in internet-speak ) to get the cables adjusted and shift in much smoother now. In keeping with the tradition, I leave you with a picture of Friday on the Manhattan Beach Pier

Friday at Manhattan Beach Pier

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Real Test -- The Results

When I got to the airport (LAX) on Thursday they weighed the suitcase and it came to 48.5 lbs. Yikes, that is really closer than I liked.

At Terminal 2 (Northwest and others) at LAX after the agent puts the tags on the luggage you take it over to the TSA scanners. That means you can watch it go thru and see if they open it (and more importantly, see that that put it back together correctly). They didn't give it a second look -- out of the scanner and on to luggage belt. Knock on wood.

When I got to my destination (Atlanta) the first thing I did when the bag came off the carousel was to open it and spot check it. It looked like everything was there and in one piece. When I got to my folks house it took less than an hour to get the bike all back together. We managed to turn a minor problem on the rear brakes into a major deal before we realized what was wrong. It turns out the little "noodle" on the v-brake wasn't fully set and the brakes were rubbing. We tried just about everything before I noticed the noodle. So add that to your assembly checklist.

On the return trip packing went very smoothly -- about 30 minutes from start to finish. Having an extra pair of hands did help. I put some duct tape on the suitcase as extra insurance in case the lid popped open.

The first surprise was at the check in counter at Atlanta -- the suitcase weighed 45.5 lbs -- fully 3 pounds lighter than the outbound journey. Did I forget something? The only thing I could think of was the front wheel (the last thing to go in). A quick check showed it was in there (I worry about ovens and irons when I travel as well :) ) So somebody's scale is off.

When I got back to LA the first thing I noticed was a couple of turns of TSA tape in place of my duct tape! So I got the extra attention on way back. I quickly opened the suitcase and it look like all was well. Whew!

Anyway, this morning I put it all back together. First thing I checked was the rear "noodle" -- all was well. But rear brakes were rubbing again! Damn it. Turns out the rear axle quick release had come undone and the wheel was not quite centered. I don't know if I did it in packing/unpacking or if it was because of the TSA inspection. But add another item to the post suitcase check list.

All in all I was very happy with the packing and unpacking. A couple of friends, knowing my lack of ability with anything resembling a tool, made cracks about how it would take me 2-3 hours to assemble and disassemble the bike. I was happy to prove them wrong, but the credit goes to the Bike Friday engineers who designed it for klutzes like me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Real Test...

Today came the real test -- can I fit everything back in the suitcase. I'm off on a short trip tomorrow and I thought I'd take the bike with me -- after all that is what it is for.

After disassembling everything, I got the main frame in OK.

That was the easy part. The next half hour was spent trying to get every little piece in where it would fit. But I made it!

I had a couple of pieces of packing left over, though. Panic City! But a quick call to Bike Friday and they calmed me down and told what went where. I think Bike Friday must staff with former Crisis Line counselors.

After all was done, I dug out my trusty Travel Scale and checked the weight. It looked like about 47.5 pounds! That is with my helmet and trunk bag but with out light, lock or handlebar bag. That is a little tighter than I'd like -- I'd hoped to stuff a few extras in there. But thats life.

We see what happens when after the airline gets thru with it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Road Trip

This week, work took me to El Centro, CA -- which from an LA viewpoint is the middle of nowhere. So I folded the Friday and put it in the back of my Honda Element.

I was kind of hoping that the rear rack would act as a stand when the bike is folded (like with folders such as the Brompton) but it didn't. Otherwise I was happy as it took less than 5 minutes to fold. It would be faster on a standard model but my "heavy duty" version has a couple of hex bolts where the standard is for quick releases.

Sadly, the easy of folding was about the only good thing on the trip bicycle-wise. I got in a couple of short rides (about 4 mi each) but I didn't end up with enough time to ride. Now if I had been really hard core I would have made the time, but give me a break -- I'm still a newbie.

Next week I take my first plane trip with the Friday. The big challenge is it see if I can fit it all back in the suitcase :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Beer Blogging: Best Beer I've had where I didn't expect it.

Sometimes you run across a great beer when you aren't looking for. Business occasionally takes me to Switzerland. Now the Swiss are famous for many things, but beer is not one of them. Their one internationally famous beer, Samichlaus ended production shortly after the brewer, Hürlimann, was acquired by the international conglomerate Carlsberg. But there is hope. A few regional brewers such as Brauerei Schützengarten in St. Gallen still make decent beers. I am told that the French speaking cantons have many thriving microbreweries and there are even a growing number of microbreweries in the German speaking region. So the next time you are at the World Economic Forum in Davos watch out for beers from the Monsteiner brewery.

This is the Monsteiner Huus ("house") beer. It is unfiltered (i.e. it is a "live" beer with yeast and hence cloudy) and has a slightly sweet finish that is nicely balanced with the hop bitterness. I first had it at Restaurant Kulm in Wolfgang-Davos where not only is the beer on tap, they us it to make a very nice beer fondue.

Brauerei Monsteiner (which, by the way claims to be the highest brewery in Europe at 1625 meters above sea level) also brews an amber colored beer called Wätterguoge ("salamander") This is brewed with a small amount of malt that was dried over a beechwood fire giving it just a hint of smokiness as well as adding to the darker color.

Smoked beers ("rauchbier" in German) are an old tradition that has pretty much died out, except in Franconia (the region around Bamberg, Germany). I mentioned that I found a very good Swiss smoked beer to Robert Pawelczak a brewmaster who teaches brewing in Franconia, he said "of course it's good, the brewer was a student of mine." The world is small.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Second Impressions...

Today I went for a leisurely 15 mile ride up the Santa Monica Bike Path past the Santa Monica Pier. It was with a neighborhood group that included a woman with a single speed beach cruiser so we went a nice 10 mph pace. The weather was good for riding -- our June Gloom has come early this year -- not too hot, not too cool. We left at 9:00am so we missed most of the tourist traffic -- the stretch along Venice Beach can get crazy on weekends with pedestrians wandering around the bike path ("Its a BIKE PATH people!") and first timers on roller blades either out of control barely moving.

Anyway, the NWT was great! The route is flat (which is good because I still have a bum ankle from a mishap a few weeks ago and hills stress it to much for comfort) and I was cruising along effortlessly. The small wheels and shorter wheelbase made avoiding the pedestrian obstacle course a breeze.

Friday at the Santa Monica Pier

You may notice I've removed the handlebar bag. I may give it a try again later, but it was just too different for me know.

Next Up: Road Trip!

Friday, May 18, 2007

First Impressions

Now this is based on just two short (5 mile) rides. I hope to do a longer one this weekend and will report back.

Let me say up front that none of this is a "complaint" -- I am just reporting on how my NWT is different from my old bike (a Raleigh Hybrid).

First off, while intellectually I knew the smaller wheels didn't make for faster peddling (thanks to the magic of gear ratios), I don't think I believed it 100%. Because they first thing I said to myself was "Hey, this is just like a real bike." Once I got going I didn't even notice until I looked down and thought "Dude! Where's my front wheel?" The other warning about small wheels was that you feel the bumps a little more and this definitely was true. I can see why people get a suspension seat if they are going be riding on rougher surfaces. It was not at all bad on our slightly bumpy streets and bike paths, but it was noticeable.

My Raleigh has big wide "Beach Cruiser" style handlebars and the NWT has much narrower "H" bars. That is understandable because even split they have to fit in the suitcase. But with the Grip Shifters in there there is not a lot choices of hand position where you can also reach the brakes. Not a problem, but will take some getting used to.

Speaking of the Grip Shifters, they are exactly backward from my Raleigh -- there to downshift I turn clockwise, but on the SRAM shifters on the NWT I downshift by turning counter-clockwise. Again, no big deal but it will take some getting used to.

I also purchased a Detours Cruiser Handlebar Bag. I've never used a handlebar bag before and this looked like a nice one. I liked the map cover that snaps to the top. However with the narrow handlebars I think it made everything too crowded. It also made it harder to get to the breaks and it also interfered with the Garmin eTrex GPS that I use as a bike computer. So I've removed the bag -- at least until I can figure out another way to mount the GPS.

The water bottle cage is a long way down :)

But all in all I am very, very happy. The bike is fun to ride.

Yesterday I was somewhat disappointed that no passers-by made any comments. After all it is an unusual bike and I am a fairly big guy to be on such a small bike. Well today I was riding with She Who Must Be Obeyed and she mentioned that people were indeed checking out the bike as we passed. I feel much better.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Rest of the Story...

OK, 9:45am and doorbell rings. Its a delivery! I expected the delivery person to have a box on a cart, but he was carrying in his hands as if it was nothing. According to the manifest it was 56 pounds! This actually is a little bit of a concern since the airlines all have 50lb limits for checked luggage. Included were some manuals, a handlebar bag and a trunk bag so I may have to do some creative packing to get the weight down :)

Inside the box was a Samsonite F'lite suitcase...

And inside that was my New World Tourist (some assembly required)

After about 45 minutes (I'm a software guy, I don't do hardware...) I had this beauty...

A quick ride around the block and nothing fell off, so it was time for a road test.

It's here!

Arrived 9:45am PDT, assembled by 10:30. Went for a short ride down to the Venice Pier...

Friday at the Venice Pier

More photos and my first impressions to come...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bike Friday Update

Still hasn't shipped, supposed to today. Curse you BikeFriday for toying with my emotions :)

Update: It will be here Thursday morning!!! Pictures to follow.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday Beer Blogging

Heaven in a glass:

One of the world's finest beers: the altbier from Brauerei zum Uerige in Düsseldorf. A reddish copper colored beer (the name "altbier" translates literally to "old beer" but in this case means more "beer in the old style") is just under 5% alcohol by volume, has a clean and malty taste with just a hint of hop flavor. It is fairly well attenuated (i.e. "dry") and a nice bitter finish that leaves you wanting another one as soon the glass is empty. Which is good because the waiter will plop another one down without asking (and mark your coaster to keep track). The glasses are on the smaller side for Germany .25 L but this insures the beer is always fresh and not too warm (if you drink from a 1 liter mug as the Bavarians do, the beer will be warm and flat by the time a typical person gets to the bottom).

This beer is also tradition in a glass: it is served from wooden barrels set on the counter, with no help from anything but Mr Newton and his laws of gravity. The brewery is a charming mix of old and new: all the pumps and valves are controlled by a state of the are computerized brewing system, but the brewer still checks the volume in the brew kettle with a big wooden dipstick. The wooden kegs have RFID chips embedded for inventory control but the bung is hammered in with a big wooden mallet.

The brewery itself is on a busy corner in the Düsseldorf Altstadt ("Old Town"). It has slowly taken over a good portion of the block, expanding into neighboring buildings as they become available. The result is room has its own personality and its own clientele.

(Düsseldorf is about an hour and a half by fast train from Frankfurt airport)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Waiting for my new toy

So today is the day. I ordered a month ago, got lucky and there was a cancellation and my production got moved up a couple weeks. So today, my New World Tourist from BikeFriday is supposed to ship. I feel like handing out cigars when it is "delivered" (by UPS, that is) but that is probably over the top.

"Gee, thats a funny looking bike" I hear you say. That may be, but it is a custom built (I shop from the King Size catalog) fully packable (into a suitcase) touring bike. So now whenever I travel, I can bring my own wheels. I can see myself peddling from village brewery to village brewery in Oberfranken (area around Bamberg, Germany with hundreds of breweries).

Update: It didn't ship, still "in cabling." Should ship Monday. Oh, the torture.

Salutations, Felicitations and Fermentations

Welcome. I doubt anybody will read this, but for me it is a form of therapy.

So before I got a visit from the nice young men in their clean white coats I thought, "Get a blog." Everybody has a blog these days. Even bakeries have blogs these days. So grab yourself a good craft beer (no pale, watery, fizzy stuff allowed here) and I'll try not to put you to sleep.