Stublang is another jaw-droppingly beautiful Franconian village. There's not a lot to it: a couple of dozen houses, a miniature church, pig farm and two breweries. It hasn't even got a shop. Just two breweries. No wonder everyone looks so happy.
Through the village runs a narrow stream. Above it swallows swoop like fighters on strafing runs, hoovering up mosquitos. A group of children playing in the street are called back for tea by their mother. How more idyllic can it get?
Andy had arranged for us to stay in Brauerei Dinkel. Good choice, Andy.
Am Dorfbrunnen 13,
Tel: 09573 - 961 00
Fax: 09573 - 961 055
After checking in we had a couple of hours free. I decided to go for a walk. To admire the lovely village with its half-timbered houses and crucifixes. (Near lifesize crucifixes are all over this part of Franconia. In front gardens, at road junctions, even on the walls of pubs.) If I just happened to walk by the other brewery that maybe I'd drop in, purely for research purposes, of course.
What a surprise - I stumbled upon the pub. Admittedly after scouring the whole village, a task that took all of 3 minutes. Inside you can experience full-on Bavarian rustic. There's more pine than IKEA. Bits of dead animals and photos of dead relatives hang on the walls. Not forgetting the religious statues, too.
I ordered their single beer and settled down for a few moments of quiet reflection (and frantic note-taking). Just as I'm wondering why they're playing a Thuringian radio station Andy turns up. After a day's driving, he has quite a thirst on him. He's soon followed by Steve, who always has a thirst - he started the tour with a litre in Spitalgarten. So much for peaceful contemplation.
Löwenbräu Vollbier isn't one of my favourites. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, I've just been spoiled by a series of outstanding beers. That's why I limited myself to just two.
Frauendorfer Str. 18,
Phone: 09573 - 6424
Chunky pine furniture always reminds me of Prague pubs that had been kitted out in the 1970's. By the time I got there, a decade of wear had comfied it up a treat. Dinkel reminds me of them very much. Much more sparse than Löwenbräu, I preferred it. Like Franconian beer, it's uncomplicated, straightforward and comforting.
The rigours of the tour were starting to take their toll. I couldn't be arsed to write anything more and handed my notebook to Stonch. Having spent the afternoon in bed rather than the other pub, he didn't mind doing the honours on Dinkel Dunkles. This is what he had to say: "Pepper, dark fruit, caramel, spice cinnamon, hop". That's how I interpret his writing. He could have written "Ron is a fat, fascist bastard and I refuse to submit to his anal beer apraisals." It didn't look like that, but I couldn't, hand on heart, claim to understand every word he wrote. His handwriting is, to be honest, more legible than mine. I often have to guess what I've written. An explanation for my erratic prose style: I misread much.
The tour really was beginning to have an impact on all of us. Everyone was in their room by 20:30. Perhaps partly in aticipation of the next day, when we had Bamberg and its 10 breweries to contend with. I'll tell you how we got on tomorrow.
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