I love the easy-going attitude to morning drinking in Germany. That probably explains why so many of my best beery breakfast experiences have been in Germany. It got me thinking, what is the perfect breakfast beer?
On my first visit to Prague - way back in the early 1980's - I arrived early. Very early. Some ungodly hour like 7 am. The trains were very considerately timed to hit the German-Czech border at 2 am. Border guards then spent four hours going through the train stamping passports. What fun that was. But my early arrival did mean that, after quickly dumping my bags at the hotel, I was in U Fleku not long after opening time, about 08:30. Where I had my first emotional meeting with Czech beer. I've never looked back. (Though that could be due to a neck problem. My mum once had to wear a stiff collar for something similar.)
Forchheim has excellent breakfast drinking options. Well two at least. Hebendanz and Neder. Both are brewery taps. Both offer gravity-served Export. A pair of outstanding everyday drinking beers. (What's the opposite of "extreme" or "innovative" beer? Moderate beer? Retrogressive beer?) In terms of customers and atmosphere, they couldn't be more different. For early-morning craziness, Hebendanz is a world-beater. Ghostly figures, wrapped in smoke gaze blank-eyed over litre steins and shot glasses. It could put you off alcohol forever. Not me. I find it weirdly uplifting. A triumph of human will over physical frailty. In contrast, the early-retirement breakfast club in Neder is an exercise in frugality and restraint. I wonder if there's any crossover in clientele between the two?
Fässla in Bamberg falls somewhere between Hebendanz and Neder. There's a slight air of alcoholism that gives it an edge I love, but which makes some uneaasy. I've fond memeries of sinking a few Lagerbiers next to a tableful of firemen. They looked like they'd just finished their shift. I hope they had, given the rate at which they were getting through beer. I wouldn't like to think it was just a break.
All the above experiences filled my heart with joy. But to uplift the soul, you need a religious element. You can probably guess where this is leading. Being up on a hill helps, too. Already halfway to heaven. At Andechs, three early-morning half litres of Doppelbock lifted me into the clouds. At least until early afternoon.
My best breakfast beer is somewhere in amongst that lot. But, as with children, you should never reveal your favourite.
From the cellar: Herold Czech Black Lager / Tmavé speciální pivo - Herold Tmavé speciální pivo ABV: 5.3% Origin: Březnice, Středočeský kraj, Czech Republic Website: www.pivovar-herold.cz First published: 5 February 2001 ...
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