I arrive in Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof at around midday. It's only a short walk to my hotel, but the maze of pedestrian tunnels between the station and the old town make it take much longer than it should. They could try putting up some signs. At the fourth attempt I find the right exit.
There were two reasons I chose to stay in the Deutscher Kaiser: it's close to the station; it's an Andechs tied house. I check in. "Do you want a smoking or no smoking room?" I definitely don't want a smoking room. It might burst into flames.
I take the lift up to the fourth floor. It makes some worrying clunking noises on the way. My room door lacks a no smoking sign. This isn't good. Inside, it smells like an ashtray. There was a time when I would have let this slide and just taken the room. But I really don't fancy sleeping in this stink.
I take the lift back down to reception. It does a good deal more clunking. The receptionist apologises and gives me another room on the first floor. This one really is no smoking. See - it's worth sticking up for yourself.
Next I return to the station to buy a ticket for my return journey to Amsterdam. I'll take a train at 14:00. Enough time for some dinner and a couple of beers. I feel much better once I've got my ticket and made my seat reservations. Look at me - taking care of myself. What a hero I am.
On the way to the station I noticed a Paulaner pub. Seems like a good spot for lunch.
Paulaner Im Pillhofer
One of the reasons I'm staying a night in Nürnberg is to gather information for my Nürnberg Pub Guide. I've never visited most of the pubs in it. This is a good opportunity to put that right. My plan for the afternoon is to crawl around everywhere I have listed in the city centre, taking photographs and drinking the odd beer. Or two.
Paulaner isn't the most exciting beer, but their tied houses are usually pretty nice places. The food is good, too. I have one particular food in mind. One of my Bavarian favourites that you don't see much in Franconia: Weisswürst. Sure enough, it's on the menu. Disappointingly, my waitress isn't wearing a dirndl. It looks like she has the figure for it, but the way she's dressed she looks more like a lesbian lumberjack. A shame.
On the wall there's a picture showing two building with a pile of rubble between them. I think this is the pile of rubble. Looks like it sustained a direct hit in WW II. They've done done a bad job of rebuilding it. The pub is cosy, in a very Bavarian way. For a Paulaner house, it's very small: only about the same size as a normal pub. The other's I've been in were all enormous.
Let's see if you can guess which beer I order. Dunkles, that's right. Goes nicely with Weisswurst. I'll have to add that to my list of beer and food pairings. Guinness FES with curry, Paulaner Dunkles with Weisswurst. It's not a very long list.
Paulaner Dunkles: mid brown colour, sweetish taste, toffee, caramel and pepper flavours. Bland compared to Franconian Dunkles, but it'll do while I'm eating my Weisswurst. Just 40 out of 100.
Stomach full and the required minimum alcohol level in my blood, it's time to explore. How exciting. I haven't really done any research on the trip, except in Prague. I'm not planning on stopping in the first couple of places. They're Tucher outlets. Not my favourite beer. I'll use up the number of beers I can drink today on something more rewarding.
As soon as I set off, I notice how the tour has knocked the stuffing out of me. I'm knackered. I feel even more knackered when I remember that I need to climb the hill at the far side of town. That'll be fun. At least it's a nice day.
Tucher-Bräu am Opernhaus
Am Kartäusertor 1,
Tel. 0911 - 204649
Just a photography stop.
Zum Gulden Stern
Tel: 0911 - 205 928
Another photo only visit. Very brothers Grimm, but for some reason it doesn't appeal.
I'm tempted by a pub with a sign from a brewery I've not heard of. There's just the barmaid and one customer who's eating his dinner. I order an Export. The beer fizzes like crazy. Then I notice why: the bottom isn't very clean. It didn't taste very nice even before I realised. Wonderful. The pub has a typically soulless 1960's or 70's interrior. I hurry to finish off as much of my pint as I can stomach. I told you that I hate wasting even horrible beer.
Steichele Hotel Restaurant Weinhaus
Tel. 0911 - 202 280
My next photo opportunity is at Steichele. It looks quite pleasant and I need something to wash the nasty taste of that last Export out of my mouth. Inside it's a jumble of small rooms with long pine-topped tables. I call this brewhouse style, because that's the type of furniture the homebrew houses in Cologne and Duesseldorf. I sit at a table. A waitress rushing past points to the reserved sign on it. I select another table. The rather bossy middle-aged waitress comes back for my order. She gives me a disdainful look when I order a small beer and repeats my order for confirmation "You want a SMALL beer?" Yes, I do want a small one. I'm not some raving alcoholic. I've another six pubs to get around this afternoon. She is wearing a dirndl but doesn't have the figure for it. Sometimes it's disturbing how sexy grannies can look in a dirndl. Is that just me? My waitress is about the least sexy thing I've ever seen in a dirndl. That's quite an achievement.
Gräfenberger Landbier: amber colour, pepper, grass and caramel flavours. I'm starting to realise how spoiled I've been the last few days this is OK, but nowt special. We passed through the town of Gräfenberg yesterday and it looked lovely. Wonder what the beer's like there? 52 out of 100.
This place is pretty nice. The windows have wonderful leaded glass designs. I like the one with the fat bloke and a beer barrel so much that I photograph it. But I'm not staying long. Loads more pubs to photograph.
I leave through a different entrance and notice that a large, ugly modern hotel part has been tacked on the side. It's a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde place: cosy and traditional; modern and bland bordering on hideous. I'm glad I didn't approach it from the new side. I probably wouldn't have bothered going in.
My destination is the Schwarzer Bauer brewpub, but, as I have to photograph some other pubs, my route is rather tortuous. The streets in Nürnberg's old town aren't very straight in any case.
I spot Landwehr. From its exterior, I doubt I would have bothered dropping in for a drink, even if it had been open. Looks pretty dismal.
I cross the river. Very scenic. Some parts of Nürnberg are very pretty. Henry, a schoolfriend, lived here while he was working at a US air base. He was here for more than a year, yet never made it to Bamberg. I've never let him forget that.
I'm now at the bottom of the hill at whose summit is the castle. Knackered as I'm feeling, I don't relish the prospect of walking up it. This seems to be the tourist end of town, as opposed to the town end of town where I'm staying. Loads of Albrecht Durer stuff. The older buildings, built from flushed pink stone and with ornamental bay windows on the upper floors, are quite charming. I snap a few of them. I'm always photographing buildings. Almost none of my photos have people in them. At least not if I can help it. Quite often some bastard walks past just as the shutter is opening.
Oh look - there's a second-hand bookshop. I wonder if they have any old brewing manuals? Let's have a look. I search the shelves but can't find a beer or brewing section. I ask the lass on the till if they anything about beer. She calls an older bloke, who I assume is the owner. He disappears for a couple of seconds and comes back with three books. Only one was on display. I decide to puchase two - "Besteuerung des Hausbrauwesens in Bayern" and "Die Behandlung und Pflege des Bieres". 20 and 18 euros respectively. What a bargain. The first is full of statistics. The perfect sort of light reading for a train journey.
I'm about half way up the hill. Not much further to go. I've been meaning to visit Alt Stadt Hof, or Schwarzer Bauer (as the pub is really called) for many, many years. I hope it isn't shut. That would be a bummer. Especially after dragging myself up this bloody hill.
Tel. 0911 - 227 217
My fears prove unfounded and Schwarzer Bauer is indeed open. It's not as big as I expected, just a single, small, square toom that a bar counter bites a big chunk out of. It's in brewhouse style. There that relieves me of any more furniture descriptions. I sit at a table by the window, after checking for a reserved sign. There isn't one. The Barmaid isn't wearing a dirndl either.
I'm not a great fan of new German brewpubs. Most brew the dullest beers imaginable: Helles, Dunkles and Weizen. The Helles and Dunkles are almost always sold way too green. Don't they understand the word lager? Altstatdhof Hof is one of the few with a good reputation. Let's see if they deserve it.
Dunkles: can't see the colour (it's in a steinkrug), sweet taste with roast, dates, cream and toffee flavours. Rather nice. I think I'll have another. 72 out of 100.
I order a second and take a look at the local paper. There's an article about "Smokers' Clubs" Apparently 200+ of 1500 pubs have taken this option. It's such an obvious fiddle that the authorities are considering tightening up the law. Bloody right! They aren't really members only clubs, as my experience earlier in the day at Hebendanz proved.
I carry on a bit further up the hill. I have another two pubs close by that I need to photograph. The first, Albrecht Dürer (Bergstr. 25), looks pretty crappy. Why exactly is that in my guide? Aaah, they have a house beer. Looking at it, I'm quite surprised. Is this really the right place? Further on, opposite a section of city wall is the next. This looks more like it - a traditional pub and beer garden.
Photos taken, I look around the little square. One building has a pretty cool statue of George and the Dragon sticking out of the first floor. Further along, there's a Franconia fan shop. They have a great slogan on many articles: "Frei Statt Bayern". I'm so proud that I actually get this German pun. Watching all those episodes of Tatort has finally borne fruit. (Freistaat Bayern - Free State of Bavaria - is the offical name of Bavaria. Frei Statt Bayern means "Free instead of Bavarian". Franconia was given by Napoleon to Bavaria, which was one of France's most loyal allies in the Napoleonic Wars. Many Franconians still don't consider themselves Bavarian.)
Tel: 0911 - 201 9881
My next stop, Hütt'n is only a few metres down the hill on my route back into town. Outside, it's a typical Nürnberg building. That's a good sign. Unlike the bloody road sign that gets in the way and prevents me from taking the photo I want to. Bad sign. I go in.
This isn't what I had expected. What the hell is all this timber framing about? Does it have a purpose, other than to make the interior look shit? The staff are eating their lunch. One still serves me. Thanks mate. There are no other customers. I really can pick them. Being a misanthrope, I have no problem with drinking alone. I prefer it that way. At home, I'm never alone. I appreciate the opportunity for some peace and quiet.
Neder Braunbier: too knackered to write tasting notes. Sorry.
I suppose it's worth coming by for the selection of Franconian beer which, though small by Belgian or Dutch standard, is broad for Germany. I don't linger. Things to do, places to sleep. That's what I feel like doing. My hotel is right the way across the other side of the old town. At least in this direction it's all downhill.
The walk takes me through the main shopping district. How exciting. Is there anything I need to buy? A complete new wardrobe might be an idea. But I'm not allowed to purchase clothes without Dolores along. There aren't any pubs worth investigating that I pass. Mostly it's just shops.
Until I'm almost done. I notice that the tower house whose photo adorns my pub guide now has a restaurant in the cellar. It sells Nürnberger Bratwurst and St Gerorgen Kellerbier. I call that a winning combination. I was wondering where I was going to eat tomorrow. Problem solved. Andrew will be gutted when I tell him. He loves Nürnberger Bratwurst.
I get back to my hotel. My room is on the first floor, so I use the stairs. Walking along the corridor I notice that the lift doors are open and a couple of workmen are fiddling with it using heavy duty tools. It's stuck between two floors. That must be what all the clunking was about earlier.
My plans for this evening are modest. I've done enough walking for today. I'll eat in the pub in the ground floor of the hotel. But first time for some hardcore dozing in front of the telly.
The workmen are still tinkering with the lift when I go to eat.
Kloster Andechs - Das Wirtshaus
Tel: 0911 - 236 9844
There used to be a chain of Andechs pubs, but most have changed name and stopped selling Andechs beer. This is the one exception.
It's a long, narrow beerhally-type place (after a week on the road my descriptive powers have been severly impaired). The effect is only spoiled by industrial-strength silver ducting hanging from the ceiling. Lovely. I take a seat close to the entrance after checking carefully for any reserved signs. I don't want another telling off.
When the waitress comes she voices no criticism of my behavious. She's dressed in rather dull all black. No more dirndls today. I order a Dunkles.
I don't understand quite why Andechs is so highly-rated by many beer-lovers. Their beers are OK, but I can think of loads that are much better. Probably the fact that they're available in the States. They have the full set on draught here.
Andechser Dunkles: even more watery than the Paulaner. The menu describes it as a "light version of our Doppelbock". I'll have to remember that, Light Doppelbock.
The menu is surprisingly short. I choose lamb shank. Should be good. And it comes with a Klose. I haven't had one of those for a couple of days. I like to get dumplinged up while in Germany. Though why is a bit of a mystery. Dolores is perferctly capable of cooking them.
The meal turns out to be about the worst I've had this trip. It wasn't horrible or anything, just a bit flat and dull.
I don't stay out late. There's a long train ride tomorrow. I don't want to be knacked before I start. I notice that the lift is still bust as I go back to my room.
Considering the Belgian Tradition - Palm Brewery, Steenhuffel We are quickly approaching the tenth edition of *Cheers to Belgian Beers*, which comes on May 13-14. The original...
2 hours ago