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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Beer in London

There is a Wetherspoon's pub (The Windsor Castle) in Terminal 4 of Heathrow airport.

This is their "House Ale" -- Windsor Castle Ale at 3.9% abv. Not great but way better than the one I had at LAX. I could have had cask London Pride so Heathrow wins by a mile.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beer Trip Underway

No bicycle on this trip, so head on over to and follow along on my trip to London for the Great British Beer Festival.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day Three -- Rain shortened -- to Kemmern and back

Wednesday started off slow -- I am sure all the Schlenkerla drunk the night before was not to blame.

I headed over to Spezial for lunch but got there just as the kitchen closed. They have a half hour break or so before they start serving cold dishes (Brotzeit) so I just had a beer and decided to ride up to Kemmern for some beers at Brauerei Wagner.

Spezial Lagerbier in the courtyard

I was getting hungry and not sure I wanted to wait to get to Kemmern only to find out their kitchen was not yet open. When pass thru the northern industrial section of Bamberg and passed a stand with a "Super Schnitzel Sandwich"

Traudl's Imbiss

Cafe Abseits makes a great schnitzel sandwich so I thought I try Traudl's. The counterman grabbed a cutlet that was practically paper thin and dropped in the fryer. A few minutes later I had my sandwich.

Traudl's Super Schnitzelsandwich

It hit the spot but Cafe Abseits is still king of the Schnitzel Sandwich in my book.

When I got to Kemmer it was still about 15 minutes before official opening time. The were starting to setup so I grabbed a seat at a table in the biergarten.

Brauerei Wagner, Kemmern
They have a Pils and Schwarzbier on draft. The Schwarzbier in past visits was OK but nothing special, but the Pils is very nice, so I ordered one.
Wagner Kemmern Pils
I was on my second beer when it was if somebody had turned off the lights.  In a minute or so it went from bright and sunny to very windy and very dark clouds. Oh boy, am I going to get wet. So I finished my beer and headed back to Bamberg at what was (for me) record speed. I kept track of every overpass, bus shelter, grove of trees or anything that might provide shelter. The wind was picking up and there was the smell of rain in the air. And of course the wind was coming at me.

As I turned into the street where my apartment is, the rain started coming in huge drops. About two minutes after I was safely indoors, the heavens opened up. I was glad I didn't try for a third beer.

An hour or so later the rain had let up somewhat so I wandered down to the corner where there is a fairly new restaurant the Blaue Glocke. I gather more correctly it is a newer version of a restaurant that was there many years ago. Every time I've been there they have had a beer from a different (but good) small brewery. In March is was Brauerei Först from Drügendorf. This time it was the Kellerbier from Brauerei Griess in Geisfeld -- an excellent beer.

Blau Glocke on Sandstrasse

I wasn't too hunger (the Schnitzelsandwich was filling) but they had a Spargel (asparagus) soup and a herring plate and that sounded good.
Griess Kellerbier at the Blaue Glocke

Spargelsuppe at Blaue Glocke

Herring at Blaue Glocke
By then I was ready for a Schlenkerla or four and headed down that way. The rain had ended and it was a quite nice evening so I spent it in the Schlernkerla biergarten.

Posting will be light the next few days.  She Who Must Be Obeyed is flying in to join me for bike rides but she is not a beer drinker so there won't be a lot to write about.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day Two -- to Strassgiech and Back

Andreas ("Andy") Gänstaller -- formerly at Beck-Trabelsdorf and Mahrs before that -- has opened his new pub in Strassgiech (Drei Kronen Strassgeiech). The beers are brewed at the form Friedel brewery in Schnaid (Friedel having moved the brewery to the Kreuzberg). The pub is only open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and doesn't open until 4pm so I needed to kill some time on the way. What to do?

Well, not far out of the way is Cafe Abseits.  I stopped in for a beer or two and a light lunch. I started off with one of my favorites, Mönchambacher Lager

Mönchsambacher Lager
The lunch special was goulash over noodles -- that sounded good.

Goulash at Cafe Abseits
The "beer of the month" was the new Mönchsambacher Weizenbock. I had to try it.

Mönchambacher Weizenbock
I was a little sweeter than I like -- I was told that the wheat malt supplier had substituted some French Wheat Malt in place the for usual Franconian and that led to some fermentation problems. I look forward to trying it next year with Franconian Wheat Malt.

I could easily spend the afternoon the Cafe Abseits garden but there were breweries to visit.

The first village you pass thru is Memmelsdorf, home to two breweries, Höhn and Drei Kronen.  I stopped in at Drei Kronen first (leaving Höhn for the way home, if time)

Drei Kronen, Memmelsdorf
First off, I tried their seasonal beer -- this time a Dinkelweisse (Dinkel is an archaic form a wheat)

Drei Kronen Dinkelweisse
It tasted like a typical German wheat beer with just a bit more spiciness. That could be from the yeast but also from the Dinkel. Very refreshing. 

Next up was one of their standard beers, the Keller-Pils

Drei Kronen Keller Pils
 I think it was a little less hoppy than in the past. Herr Straub told me his daughter (who recently finished her brewing education) was now mostly brewing the regular beers. I hope she didn't cut down on the hops!

On the way to Strassgiech you pass thru Drosendorf (home of Brauerei Göller) but I took a slight detour -- a couple miles up the road (up -- as in uphill) is Merkendorf, also home to two breweries.

First stop was Brauerei Wagnerm which is one of my favorites.

Brauerei Wagner, Merkendorf
They have a number of beers on draft, but I had a kellerbier. Actually, it was so good I had two.

The recently won a silver medal at the European Beer Star competition and were proudly displaying this banner.

I have to leave you with a picture of the mosaic in the entry way. My initials are FW so I have a particular fondness for this...

Down the street from Wagner is the other brewery Hummel.

Brauerei Hummel, Merkendorf
Since I had a bit of a trend going, I started with their kellerbier

Hoppy and refreshing. Just what I needed for the long (200 meter) ride from Brauerei Wagner.

Then things started to go downhill -- I noticed they had a Maibock on draft. I could pass that up, so I had one.

You could spend a while at Hummel -- they had nine beers on draft that day (with probably another nine in the bottles.)

Just stay away from the "Cowboy Schwarzbier" -- it is the only one I've had that I didn't like at all.

The Maibock took me a little longer to drink that I though, so now I was a little late for the 4pm opening. But I soon was there.

As the brewery is just getting started, Andy only had his kellerbier on draft.

But soon after Andy brought out of sample of his Zwickelbier which will be ready soon (Very tasty but a bit young still)

They have a nice garden there, which started to fill up after I took this picture.

Dinner was one of my favorites they brought along from Trabelsdorf, Schnitzel breaded in spent grains with a beer gravy and fried potatoes. Yum

I had lights on my bike but I don't like riding in the dark, so I passed on another beer and headed back to Bamberg.  As I was passing Brauerei Göller in Drosendorf, I realized I had forgotten something very import -- a bit stop.

Since I used their facilities, I felt in only fair to have a beer. So I did.

It was a perfectly nice beer, but not quite up to the standards of Merkendorf or Strassgiech.

I continued on to Bamberg and when passed Schlenkerla the open door beckoned. I could not resist.

It was a much short ride than Tuesday -- only 20 miles round trip -- but the beer consumption was far higher. Eleven beers, including two bocks and not counting the nightcaps (plural) at Schlenkerla. A hard day but lots of fun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bamberg Day 1 -- to Herrnsdorf and Back

There has been some recent discussion on the Franconia Beer Guide message board about Brauerei Barnikel in Herrnsdorf. I realized I hadn't been there for a while so I thought that would be a good first day ride.

I took off down the Regnitz bike path do Hirschaid, home of Brauerei Kraus. But they are closed on Tuesdays so no beer for me there. I then headed west up Ebrach valley to the village of Röbersdorf, home of Brauerei Weber.

Brauerei Weber, Röbersdorf
 They had three beers on draft, a Hell, Dunkel and Rauchbier. I started with the Helles Lagerbier

Weber Lagerbier
 I had ridden about 10 miles at this point so it tasted pretty good. After the first few sips (ok, gulps) I did notice a slight grainy astringency but it wasn't objectionable at all. I needed some food as well, but since it was 2pm they only had cold food. I ordered the Hausteller ("House platter") which usually is a selection of sliced meats and cheese with bread. This one was all meat.

Lunch -- the "House Platter"
 The brewery tap has been recently (i.e. within the past 30 years) remodeled but they kept the flavor of a tradional gasthaus with lots of wood.

The bar at Weber
 Before I was done with the Hausteller I had run out of beer so I ordered the Rauchbier. There was just a touch of smoke in it -- enough to notice it but not so much to scare you away if one didn't like smoke beer. It was cleaner that the Hell and more drinkable.

Weber Rauchbier
Since I had a ways to go yet, I didn't try the Dunkel -- maybe next trip.

A few miles down the road is Herrnsdorf, home of Brauerei Barnikel. They claim the brewery has been run by the same family since the early 1300's. I think have been a few liberties with the idea of "family" over the years, but it still is quite an impressive run.

Brauerei Barnikel, Herrnsdorf

 They only had their Lagerbier on draft, so I had one.

Barnikel Lagerbier
There was a butterscotch note to the beer (caused by diacetyl, a fermentation byproduct). This is often caused by not lagering (cold conditioning) the beer long enough. It wasn't strong enough to make the beer undrinkable, but I couldn't drink too many of them.  

Since that was the only draft beer and I still had to ride home, I got a bottle of the Rauchbier to go.

Bottle of Barnikel Rauchbier for later
Over the door they have this great sign

I love this sign "Last brewery before the Autobahn"
 So I started back towards Bamberg. When I reached the Regnitz I decide to ride back up the other (west) bank. This took me thru Pettstadt where there is a lovely little bierkeller, Schauder's Keller.

Schrauders Keller, Pettstadt

 They serve Löwenbräu Buttheim kellerbier. Since somebody invariable asks, no they do not have any connection with the more famous Löwenbräu of Munich. There are four or five breweries in Franconia  alone that use the name "Löwenbräu."

 Löwenbräu Buttenheim kellerbier from the barrel
 This is a very rustic and traditional bierkeller.  It sort of gives you a "summer camp" vibe -- only with great beer.

The beer stand
 I had two beers and could have had a couple of more, but it still was a ways back to Bamberg -- and I had felt some sprinkles so I wanted to get back before it started raining.

With this route you ride thru the "Hain" district of Bamberg, which basically is a forest park. Along the  way is the Bootshaus, the "Boat House" for the local rowing club. There also is a nice beer garden that is open during the warmer months. I needed to make a pit stop so I stopped for a beer. There is a lovely view of the Regnitz river.

View from the Bootshaus, Bamberg
 They have beers from Brauerei Kundmüller in Weiher which is just to the west of Bamberg. They had the kellerbier on draft (Kundmüller also does a nice Rauchbier)

They serve Kundmüller Lagerview from Weiher
 While I was drinking my beer, an 8 person scull came buy. It was some sort of training or class because a few of the people were clearly out of sync, but it was fun to watch anyway.
The kind of boats you find at the "Boat House"

As I got back into Bamberg proper I passed very close to Klosterbräu when I realized it was May and their Maibock would be served. In the past this has been one of my favorite beers. Sometime it is so good and drinkable you have three or four and only when you get up do you realize it is nearly 8%

They did have the Maibock. While it was good, it wasn't up to the high expectations I had from previous years. It may also have been that it was the end of a long day.

Klosterbräu Maibock

It is Spargel season (white asparagus) and they had a special Spargel menu. I started with the soup, which was very good.

Spargel Soup

I followed this up with a Schnitzel and Spargel combo -- Schnitzel, Spargel and Beer -- three of the most important food groups.

Schnitzel and Spargel
I was soon back at the apartment. It was a little over 30 miles, mostly flat but a few hills along the way. A good first day riding.