The day begins with the same routine. A cup of tea in bed, then downstairs to perform some fast breaking.
Once again, I’m partially health conscious, eating a bowl of melon.
“After that, I deserve an extra couple of beers.”
“You said that yesterday.”
“And it was true, wasn’t it?”
“You always drink extra beers.”
“What made you so cynical?”
“Growing up in the DDR. Have you forgotten that already?”
Dolores has read that there’s a Sunday market just over the other side of Warschauerstrasse she fancies taking a look at. No probs. Always good to have an excuse to check out a new bit of the city.
We realise that the other side of Warschauerstrasse is much more exciting. Lots of little ethnic restaurants, lots of cocktail bars. And several bakeries which are even open today, Sunday. Everyone seems to be having brunch in the sun. The tattoo and beard count is extremely high. Bloody yuppies. Sorry, hipsters. The world has moved on.
We have a quick look around the market, where all sorts of second-hand junk is being sold. A bit like Koningsdag in Amsterdam, but less mobbed. Not that we intend buying anything. Not sure we could fit a record player of a sideboard in our luggage.
Browsing done, we make for Frankfurter Tor. Where the Biermeile starts. Being Sunday and only just about noon, it’s not that crowded. But, judging by the rate punters are arriving, it won’t be long before it starts filling up. Best drink quickly, then.
Schinner Braunbier (5.4% ABV)
Definitely is brown. Malty, slightly bitter. Quite caramelly. Not bad, but a bit odd.
Talking of punters, there’s a much higher pensioner count here than most beer festivals. It’s quite sweet seeing an old bloke buzzing around in his electric wheelchair while drinking. Is that legal? The crowd is really just a complete cross-section of society. Young and old, and all the stages inbetween. Rich and poor. German and foreign. Drunk and well on the way to being drunk. Sadly I’m not yet in either of those two categories.
I see there’s a Czech brewery over the way. I’m not really into excessive walking today so something from there will do. Despite the sexist pump clips.
Pivovar Millénium Drsňák (12º Plato, 4.9% ABV)
I have fun trying to order this one by name. Czech loves starting words with multiple consonants. Zmrzlina – Czech for ice cream – is a good example. Then there are the words with no vowels. Is that even legal? An amber Lager. Or polotmavé, as the Czechs say. Slightly sweet, but a bit bland. A bit of nice hop bitterness right at the end.
Another sign this isn’t a geek fest: I’m the only one taking photos of my beer. And making tasting notes, however brief and shitty they might be. What’s wrong with everyone?
We start walking further down the festival, with me looking for something I fancy. Which turns out to be something German.
Zwönitzer Stout 5.1% ABV
Dead black. Roasty and with perhaps a touch of lactic. There’s a pleasant underlying maltiness. Not bad.
By the way, I’m drinking half litres of everything. If they sell them. I hate pissing around with small measures. They mean too much walking and queueing up at bars and not enough drinking. I’ve come to drink beer, not take exercise.
I just can’t resist a classic Czech beer when I spot the Pardubický stand.
Pardubický Porter (19º Plato, 8% ABV)
Great to be able to drink this again. Nice and dark, tan head. Caramel, malt, chocolate with just enough bitterness at the end. A great session Porter.
“This used to be the strongest beer brewed in Czechoslovakia” I tell a not particularly interested Dolores, “Not that I ever saw it, mind.”
Falkenštejn Tmavý Speciál (14º Plato, 5.4% ABV)
Served in a nonic, for some reason. Very roasty. That’s interesting.
Just time for one more beer. Another Czech one.
Kout na Šumavě 12ºIt’s still lovely.
We leave just after two, when it’s already starting to get a bit busy. I’ve an appointment, anyway. At Vagabund, over on the scary side of the city. I always feel oddly uneasy when in West Berlin. Never quite worked out why.
I’ve been invited over by Vagabund’s American brewer, Erik Mell. He asked me if I’d like to come over and try his Broyhan. Only ever going to be one answer to that question.
The Broyhan is darker than I expected. Very dry, with no sourness. Though that seems to have been optional, depending on time and location.
Andreas Krennmair arrives. I told him yesterday we’d be trying the Broyhan. He didn’t want to miss out, either. We get a quick tour of the tiny brewery. The kit is just 50 litres. I have, literally, seen bigger homebrew setups. A British guy about my age who was sitting in the bar tags along with us. He seems quite happy to get a look inside the brewery.
We have a couple more beers and then head back to the U-Bahn. But we aren’t going home just yet. It’s after 6 PM. Which means Augustiner will be serving cask. Not going to miss out on that as god knows when I’ll be in Bavaria again.
We take a seat inside. I ask what’s on cask. It’s Edelstoff.
“I’ll have one of those then.”
“Do you want a large or a small one, sir?”
“I’ll have a big one, please.”
“You do realise that means a litre, Ronald?”
“No, I didn’t. But I’ll have one, anyway.”
I order a couple of sausages, potato salad and cabbage to go with it. I start to speak as I tuck not the cabbage, but before I can get very far Dolores says “Don’t start with that being able to drink extra beer crap again.”
The Edelstoff is wonderful. I’m not a huge fan of litre glasses. They usually slow me down. Not this time. I polish off half in just three gulps.
“Thirsty today are we, Ronald?”
As I’m shovelling down my food Dolores spots something. “Look behind you.” Blow me. It’s a Buddhist monk having a meal. I suppose they have to eat like everyone else.
When we get back to our hotel Dolores says: “Look at all that beer. You’re never going to get through it all before we leave.”
“That sounds like a challenge to me.” I say as I reach for my bottle opener.
Schinner Bürgerbräu Bayreuth
Tel: +49 921 79780
400 01 Ústí nad Labem-Neštěmice,
Tel.: +420 606 645 203
Brauerei Gasthof Zwoenitz
Grünhainer Straße 15,
Tel.: 037754 59905
Palackého třída 250,
530 33 Pardubice.
Křinické nám. 7/12,
407 46 Krásná Lípa.
Tel.: +420 478 048 673
Antwerpener Str. 3
Tel.: +49 30 5266 7668
Tel.: +49 30 20454020
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