The bitterest Pils is (not) hard to swallow

Wernesgruener Pils Legende is, for the moment, my new favourite beer.

It’s made near Berlin and, for a long time, was an East German speciality shipped mostly to the West. It’s now owned by the same people who own Bitburger.

I’ve been ignoring it because I read a review that said it had lost most of its character (like Hoegaarden, Urquell, etc. etc.) and I had other things to try. I don’t know what convinced me to give it a go after all, but I’m glad I did.

It’s remarkable for its bitterness, its hoppiness and its balance. I’ve bought people Jever before and watched them turn their noses up — literally — as its pungent odour assaults them about the brain. Wernesgruener is less extreme, but no less tasty.

Of course, it looks gorgeous in the glass — the thick white head rose inches above the glass and refused to move even a millimetre in the breeze.

I’m not ashamed to say that, when it’s hot, I often want to drink cold lager. This one was just what I needed.

You can get Wernesgruener in bottle at Zeitgeist. It’s sometimes also available in Aldi.

Bailey

Homicide: Life on the Streets

Hot on the heels of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale’s starring role in Knocked Up, here’s Ned Beatty as Detective Stanley Bolander in Homicide: Life on the Streets demonstrating his fine taste in imported European beers by sharing a six pack of Pilsner Urquell with Luis Guzman:

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In The Wire, David Simon’s critically lauded follow-up to Homicide, Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) is a fan of Murphy’s. What was that the Beer Nut said about ‘paddwhackery’ the other week…?

Boheme 1795

boheme1795.jpgI’m always intrigued by the “own-brand” Czech and German lagers that you see in supermarkets and corner-shops in the UK. Some are rank, but others are real hidden gems. Most are sold in the UK under pseudonyms, but it’s easy enough to trace their true origins online.

So, why wouldn’t I grab six bottles of Tesco’s new Czech lager, “Boheme 1795”, for £4?

It looks, at first sight, like a cheap knock-off of Budvar — white and red label, green bottles, and so on — but turns out to be the real deal: the original Budweiser. The German-owned Mateske brewery was the first to make beer in Budweis in 1795, and made the first pilsner there in 1802.

In the Czech Republic, it’s sold as a Budweiser/Budvar (any beer from České Budějovice is entitled to the name) but in the UK, Tesco have chickened out, to avoid trouble with Anheuser-Busch.

What does it taste like? Better than I expected — drier and more bitter than Budvar, a similar appealing golden colour — but not mindblowing.

But at 66p a bottle, or 50p a bottle if you buy a case of 20 for £10, it’s great value, and definitely more than drinkable.

Nice places to drink in Regensburg, East Bavaria

Kneitinger Bock

Regensburg is one of my favourite cities. It’s beautiful (a medieval bridge and town centre spanning the Danube) with an oddly “Latin” feel. Apparently it’s known as “the northernmost city of Italy”, which could be because of the mild climate, the Italian-style architecture, or perhaps the hundreds of Italian restaurants and ice-cream cafes.

One thing that is resolutely German, however, is the availability of fantastic beer. There are three breweries in town – Spital, Bishofshof and Kneitinger – plus lots of local producers with outlets in town. There are hundreds, if not thousands of places to drink, so these suggestions are not supposed to be exhaustive – just enough for a taster. See link below for a Google map of the area.

Spitalgarten

A large beer garden on one of Regensburg’s islands, serving, unsurprisingly, Spitalbrau. Helles and Weizen very nice, but the pils is outstanding – very distinct hop flavour and aroma, which distinguishes it from other beers of this style.

There’s another beer garden, “Alte Linde”, slightly closer to the town centre, which all the guidebooks rate. They serve Kneitinger.

Kneitinger

The brewery and pub are connected; the pub itself has several sections, from a rough and ready beer hall to a more upmarket restaurant area. It’s an interesting building – presumably it was once a stable or something similar, as the floor of the “beer hall” bit is cobbles. Kneitinger do an Edelpils, a Dunkel, and a Bock.

The Bock is something special – it’s dark, rich and chocolatey, and they’re justifiably proud of it. It’s featured in Michael “The Beerhunter” Jackson’s Great Beer Guide. Amazon link

Bishofshof

You can drink Bishofshof within the Bishofshof (Bishop’s Palace) itself. We also found a lovely quiet beer garden just round the corner from Kneitinger which had the full Bischofshof range together with Weltenberger Klosterbrau (the two breweries are related, though I don’t know who owns who). Weltenberger Barock-Dunkel and Dunkle-Weiss both make it into Michael Jackson’s 500.

Fuerstliches Brauhaus

This seems to be a spin-off from Thurn und Taxis, a brewery which used to be based in Regensburg. They brew their own on the premises and also stock the full T&T range. Nice airey beer hall, with a picturesque beer garden set in the T&T castle grounds.

Zum Augustiner

A beer hall and garden stocking Thurn & Taxis.

Links

Google Map of Regensburg with these pubs marked

Spital, including cheesy picture from Spital beer garden – check out the virtual brewery tour!

Kneitinger (in German)

Bischofshof (in German)

Weltenburger Kloster (in German)

 

Wikitravel – Regensburg

Boak