The ban on alcohol has sorta kinda been lifted. I haven’t been told not to drink, my discharge papers say drink moderately. So, to be on the safe side, I will be drinking in moderation for the next few weeks.
What’s pretty neat was the ban was lifted in time for my trip to Germany. Months ago, I decided that I was going to go and hang out with family in Germany. When asked what I wanted to do, while over there, I pretty much said my interest was in food and beer. Guess what? We drank beer someplace different multiple times a day. I figure that I will use this as my return to blogging. I will apologize now that most of these are not craft beers, but hey it’s beer in a different country. That should count for something.
There is one unfortunate part of the adventure. I failed to take notes on the beers. It was a vacation after all and it would have been a pain in the butt walking around with my notebook. However, I did take a lot of pictures and do have a pretty good memory for what I liked and what I didn’t like. Also, I found out on Day 3 that my phone was not doing such a good job of storing photos, as there are many missing pictures that I know I took.
Anyway, here is my story. To facilitate those that are interested, I will Bold and Underline the brands of beer that I was drinking.
After spending the morning visiting a famous castle, we finally arrived at Pfullendorf, Germany. This is where I have family living in Germany. We went to a relatively new restaurant Lukullum im Seepark. It’s a pretty neat place on a small lake which has a set up for pulley driven waterskiing. So, we sat out on the deck having lunch, while watching people epically failing at attempts to waterski.
While at Lukullum, I started with the Max & Moritz Special beer to go with my Schwabenschmaus (Roast Pork with Spetzle). The Special was different, not anything that I really cared for. From that beer, I switched to the Fidelis Hefe Hele, which was a lot more enjoyable. It was a pretty good start for my European adventure.
After taking a little bit of downtime, we ended up going to Felsenkeller for dinner and some more beers. This was a fairly popular bar with the town of Pfullendorf. The bar is located in a cave beneath a hotel, which adds to its allure. The bartenders were great and spoke pretty decent English.
At Felsenkeller, we had the Cordon Bleu, which was absolutely amazing. I think the use of Black Forest Ham put the dish over the top. Yum! For beer, I sampled a couple of beers from the Hirsch brewery, which were pretty good and went well with the meal. Another beer that I sampled was a locally bottled beer from Felsengold that was pretty good. I also sampled a locally made Whisky, which was actually pretty good. Unfortunately, the picture of the bottle doesn’t show the brand clearly. Apologies.
All in all, it was a good Day 1. Needless to say, I was dog tired after the 15 hours of flying and airports and a full day of activities. Yawn.
On the second day, my brother wanted to head to a festival. I think he was hoping to take me to a good example of a festival where there was lots of drinking, large crowds and good food. The festival was called Uferfest and it was in a town named Langenargen. When we got there, it was fairly tame. We think that the event was more evening oriented. It wasn’t a complete dud. Got to see an Oompa Band, drink quite a bit of beer, try some festival food, see a castle, and wander about a bit.
One of the sponsors of the event was Leibinger, so we felt obligated to drink some of their beers. The beers were pretty good overall and went well with the Currywurst. One of my buddies back in the States, who grew up in Germany, enjoys Curry Ketchup and asked what I thought about the Currywurst. It was pretty good.
After Langenargen, we went around the lake to visit Meersburg, which had a pretty cool medieval castle. At the castle we took a break by eating some sweets and not drinking beer. After touring the town and the castle, we ended up going back to Pfullendorf, where we grilled brats and other meats. Then we tapped my brother’s beer stash. I am a bad steward because I didn’t document any of the beers. Let me say that my brother has excellent tastes in beer, and I enjoyed most of what I drank.
On Day 3, we headed off to Munich. On the way there, we stopped by Klaster Andechs, which is one of the many monasteries that brew beer and serve food. We were there just in time for lunch and split a Pork Knuckle and some of the fine Andechs’ beers. Pork knuckles aren’t typical affair for Americans, so it was unique and pretty good. What’s weird about the knuckle is that there was crackling where they left the skin on and it got fried. It was almost like eating pork rinds. In all, the beer, the food, the scenery, the Oompa band were all pretty awesome. Alas this was where I found my phone wasn’t storing all the pictures that I was taking. No picture of the knuckle.
After the Monastery, we made our way to Munich. After checking into our hotel, we went out exploring for dinner and beer. We tried to do the Hofbrauhaus, but it was packed and we couldn’t get service, so we postponed that experience till the next day. We ended up in a little place called Wirsthaus Ayingers. We sat at the bar and drank Ayingers beer. Again, had a good dining and drinking experience.
We ended up in an Irish Pub of all places, and I broke my rule of eating and drinking local types. Anyway, I decided to sample a couple of choice scotches and some Guinness. Nothing too special to write about from a food and drink perspective.
One thing that I have to say, Karaoke in an Irish Pub with non-English speakers trying to sing English songs is an awesome experience. It has been a long time since I laughed that hard and had that much fun. Just imaging a French Speaker trying to do Country Roads. Wish I had taken a video.
So, Day 4 was the first full day in Munich. We started with a hotel breakfast, which was unfortunately very American. I have to say that I hadn’t had that much Apple Juice to drink in a long time. After breakfast, we toured/walked around, and timed our walk to end up at the Hofbrauhaus just as they were opening. Beer before noon anyone? I had a cold pork platter with bread, salad and fresh horseradish. YUM. Of course, we drank Hofbrau beer, which was pretty good. All in all, a great experience.
One thing that I learned was that Munich has 7 breweries. The breweries are featured on the City’s May Pole. Most of the restaurants are associated with one of the breweries. We managed to hit Hofbrau, Augustiner, and Hacker-Pschorr. I wasn’t really enticed by Paulaner and Lowenbrau, just because of name recognition from the States. I can’t believe we missed Spaten. I’m not quite sure what the last one is.
For lunch, unfortunately, I was feeling a little dehydrated, so didn’t drink any beer. We tried to get service at a restaurant with Budweiser, but couldn’t get any service. So, we wandered a little bit off the beaten path and found a restaurant with Augustiner beers. While I didn’t drink the beer, I had an apple turnover, which was amazing. Imagine a slice of apple wrapped in pastry, fried and served with vanilla bean ice cream. Yum.
Dinner was a treat. We walked way way off the beaten touristy path to a Historic Beer Garden, Augustiner Keller. This Beer Garden was over 200 years old and occupied almost a full city block. My brother and I felt that there were well over 1,000 people there. I read someplace that the place can seat almost 5,000 people. We grabbed a table and proceeded to drink several liters of different Augustiner beers. I have to admit that sitting there and people watching was pretty awesome. I could have stayed there, drink beer, and people watch for hours. The beer was pretty good too.
Day 5 started with another hotel breakfast. Nothing too exciting except for the apple juice. You may be wondering why I make a big deal out of apple juice. Well, in this region of Germany, there are lots of apple groves. It’s impressive how they grow their apples. Needless to say, it’s likely that the apple juice was pretty fresh and unprocessed. Yum.
After breakfast, we packed up and headed to Dachau, which is as solemn a place as there can be. Pretty much had goosebumps the entire time there. After a couple of hours touring the Internment Camp, we decided to do something a little more light-hearted. We left to our next destination, the Weihenstaphan Brewery.
The Weihenstephan Brewery is the oldest continuous brewery in the world, starting in 1040. I believe it started out as a monastery and was eventually taken over by the government. It’s neat because there is a college just down the hill, and the college has a program for Brewing Beer. We sat in their Beirgarten and ate lunch, stroganoff, and had a couple of really good beers. I believe we had a very excellent Doppelbock here. The beer was so good that my brother bought a couple of six packs to take home. It was also neat to smell the wort boiling and the heavy malty aroma wafting through the air. Yum.
After lunch, it was back on the road. Our new destination was Pilsen, in the Czech Republic. Can anyone guess what’s in Pilsen? Hahaha. If you guessed the Pilsner Urquell brewery, you would be correct. We did a tour of a beer history museum, which was just down the street from our hotel. It was a pretty good tour and got us a coupon for a free beer at the end.
After the tour, we found a little sidewalk café and had a bit of dinner. The café, of course, served Pilsner Urquell beer. We both had a pilsner and a darker beer called the Master. The beers were pretty good. For food, I had a beefsteak with a cream sauce and bread dumplings. Oh my, I think I found my favorite Czech dish. Yum.
After dinner, we wandered around Pilsen a little more, and ended up at a place recommended by the hotel front desk, the Beer Factory. The Beer Factory brews their own beers, stylized after American and British beers. Amazingly, they had an excellent Porter, Tropical IPA, and a Pale Ale. We played up our American heritage and got a free tour of their brewing facilities, which was consistent with American brew pubs. It was a unique little nugget of homestyle goodness in a foreign country.
Our day started out with a hotel breakfast, which was typical of an American breakfast. It really sucks to not be able to drink coffee, so it was apple juice once again. After breakfast, we wandered around Pilsen to take in the sites, while we waited for the time of our brewery tour. When it was time for our English Speaking Tour, we walked over to the Pilsner Urquell brewery.
The Pilsner Urquell brewery is huge. They use a bus to take you from one side of the brewery to another for the different parts of the tour. I was amazed at the complexity of the brewing process for the pilsner. One of the neat things about the brewery is that they use both the modernized process and the traditional process, at a smaller scale. They do both so that they can compare the flavor and verify that the modernized process doesn’t deviate from the traditional. Consider it quality control.
At the end of the tour, which ends in the caves where the pilsner lagers for 30 days, they allow you to sample a fresh, unfiltered, unpasteurized, pilsner straight out of the cask, right there in the caves. I have to say that the fresh Pilsner Urquell was simply amazing and probably ruined pilsners in general for me, moving forward. Actually, later in our travels, we had a pilsner which absolutely sucked. My brother basically called it flavorless water. Consider us spoiled.
After touring the Pilsner Urquell brewery, we had lunch at the hotel and headed out to Prague. The plan was to grab dinner in Prague. So, we parked the car, checked into our apartment, which was pretty choice, and headed out. My brother picked the Strahov monastery, which overlooks Prague, to have our meal at. We took the subway and a train to get to the monastery. If you are unfamiliar with public transportation, then I would recommend a taxi, because there are no English translation anywhere.
The view from Strahov is amazing. Actually, we ate at a restaurant just outside the monastery, Klaster Beer Garden. It was a perfect place to eat, drink and take in the view. Basically, you can see all of Prague from the outdoor restaurant. My caption for the picture was, “I saw all of Prague in five minutes.” While there, I had the beefsteak with cream sauce and bread dumpling again, and it was even better than before. YUM. We worked our way through the list of Klaster beers. The beers went pretty well with the meal. After dining and drinking, we staggered down the hill and walked around Prague.
Breakfast was another mostly American style breakfast. What was neat was the breakfast was on a balcony overlooking a garden maintained Franciscan Monks. Guess what? I had apple juice again for breakfast. Hahaha.
After doing a walking tour of most of the historic sites in Prague, we started looking for a place to do lunch. We settled on U Pinkasu and ate in their Summer Beer Garden. The beer garden is located at the base of the gothic church, Our Lady of the Snows. It was pretty cool because they wouldn’t let you in the church to take pictures, so we sorta paid them back by drinking beers right under the church. Hehehe. U Pinkasu was a Pilsner Urquell restaurant, so we drank a variety of beers and ate a pretty good meal. The place was a lot better than the reviews made it out to be.
We did a bit more touring of the city, then went up to Prague Castle, the seat of government for the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, the castle and the cathedral were closed. Like typical bureaucrats, they closed shop at 4:30. Sigh. So, we walked from Prague Castle back to Strahov Monastery, where we had dinner at the monastery itself. I had a great schnitzel and Sv. Norbert beer. It was a great meal with good beer.
After breakfast, we made a break for Pfullendorf. Nothing too exciting on this day. We stopped at a gas station and picked up some sandwiches and chips. Boring, I know. When we got back to the house, we cooked out and chilled for the evening, while drinking my brother’s fine beers.
Today was the last day for me in Europe. It was time to pack in more experiences. After a breakfast of some kind of coffee cake, we headed out. Our first destination was in Switzerland. Didn’t really eat or drink anything there. Then we headed to the Black Forest, where we dined at this little place at the end of the road and walking trails. It’s called Reinertonishof.
So, Reinertonishof is this quaint little place at the end of the road. I guess people walk, bike and ride to this place. Anyway, we get there and order lunch and beers. I order the equivalent of a charcuterie plate with all kinds of ham, salami, sausage and more. Then we had a couple of beers. The first was a Furstenberg Pilsner, which might have been ok if it had not been for the Pilsner Urquell from a few days earlier. The other one was a Keiterer which was pretty good.
After our excursion for the day, we headed back to Pfullendorf and chilled for the evening. The next day was going to be a long day of travel. Oh Joy
For a summary, I am going to list the country, city, and brand of beer that I had. I really wish that I had kept better notes about the types of beers. In all, most of the beers were good and easy to drink. It was just fascinating all the different brands of beers and how regional their beers were. I would love to do this trip again, knowing what I know now.
The beer list in the order of drinking:
|Germany||Pfullendorf||Max & Moritz|
|Czech Republic||Pilsen||Pilsner Urquell|
|Czech Republic||Pilsen||Beer Factory|
|Czech Republic||Prague||Pilsner Urquell|
|Czech Republic||Prague||Sv. Norbert|