A trip through lager land
For about two weeks, I've been travelling through the eastern and central European lager lands - Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. No, not Germany, because I'm going there in three weeks time.
The best new beer I found was a Czech dark beer called Litovel. I found the town where it is made (also called Litovel) and hope to stop there sometime. The beer was quite lovely at 3.8 percent alcohol by volume and cost only €2.15 for a half liter (I had it in a very nice cafe in Krakow, so that is translating to Euros). According to the brewery, beer has been made in the town since 1291.
In Salzburg, I returned to what is, I think, one of the nicest places to drink beer I have ever been. It is in a monastery called Augustine (the brewery with the same name in Munich is not related, from what I know). The pub part begins with some religious paintings and sculptures. Customers are allowed to bring their own food or to buy it from various small food vendors in a hallway outside the drinking areas. There are three indoor beer halls and an outside beer garden.
There are, over the year, three beers served: at Christmas there is a Bockbier, in the springtime there is a Fastenbier and all year there is a Märzenbier. I had both the Fastenbier and Märzenbier. All beers are served by gravity from wooden barrels that, I assume, were used during the lagering period. The Märzenbier was 4.6 percent alcohol and the Fastenbier 5.2 percent. As I recall, the beers were about €3 for a half liter.
An unusual feature of the beer halls is the Bierwärmer (I don't think I need to translate that). Since the barrels come directly from the lagering cellars they can be a bit cool. If you are thinking that this sounds a lot like Real Ale in the UK, you are correct.
I like lager beers. Most of them have rather low alcohol, yet the best ones have very interesting and rather complex tastes. Almost always, they are well-balanced. Generally, you can drink lager beers all day long (you must, of course, drink somewhat moderately). A couple of years ago, in Bavaria, I had, for the first time, such a delicious beer that I drank two liters of it. I did this over four hours, I think, and was able to walk out rather stable. Well, at least I'm sure that I didn't get injured or injure anyone else.
I've tried posting some photos I took on the trip. I hope it works.
Nice report please continue after Germany.
Czech Republic (Prague) was for me the highlight of my beer drinking life. Light or dark, pivo beautifully presented, super fresh like fresh baked bread, and $1.40 a half liter. Heaven. And the character of the places where you can drink like you say are marvelous. Gorgeous part of the world.
Thanks for your kind reply. Yes, many parts of lager land serve delicious beers and in a place that brings a unique and timeless atmosphere.
If Catholics must go to the Vatican, as a beer-lover you really must get to the Augustiner Bräustübl Mülln (the full name) at least once. I've been there several times and I still become excited and happy whenever I'm there. Here's a photo of the entrance. When you go down these stairs you are still only halfway to the tavern. They have three indoor beer halls that each can hold about 300 people. The beer garden has seats for 1,500. Most of the seats will be full. The brewery started in 1621, but I don't think the tavern is so old.
The Czech Republic deserves more attention for their interesting beers and great beer history. Thanks for the story and the photos.