Gluhbier in Dresden

Liefmann's gluhbier at the Christmas market in Dresden
Liefman's Gluhbier in the Striezelmarkt, Dresden

We had a few hours to kill in Dresden and couldn’t resist a turn around the Christmas market. We ate junk food and were all geared up for a mulled wine when we spotted a stand offering Liefman’s Gluhbier.

The Germans — a rather conservative bunch, if we can be permitted to generalise — seemed bemused, but we and a handful of American tourists were up for it.

It tasted fantastic. A spiced version of their kriek cherry beer, it really didn’t taste much different to the cheap, fruity red wine they normally dish out. The spices are barely there, which we liked (too many cloves and too much cinnamon have ruined many a Christmas beer).

A couple of locals asked us what we thought and, with our recommendation, decided to give it a try. They seemed to enjoy it. Will Germans one day put fruit and spices in more of their own beers, rather than importing it from Belgium…?

Wot no gose?

Statue of JS Bach outside the Thomaskirche, Leipzig
Statue of JS Bach outside the Thomaskirche, Leipzig

Leipzig is blessed with yet another excellent brewpub, the Brauhaus an der Thomaskirche, right in the middle of town. When we went, they were offering a pils, a Rauchbier and a “Spezial” schwarz.

The Spezial reminded us of Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout — goopy and warming and definitely not one of those thin German schwarzbiers. The Rauchbier was outstanding — straight out of Franconia, with its balanced malt and smoke mix. So nice that we had another, instead of trying the pils.

The Brauhaus was doing a roaring trade both on premises and in their takeaway service, and it was good to see how popular the Rauchbier was. Perhaps there’s hope for diversity in German brewing after all. Now if only they would try their hand at a Gose as well…

Brauhaus an der Thomaskirche is next to the Thomaskirche (surprisingly), where JS Bach composed hundreds of works. The pub is also an Italian restaurant.

Gose in Leipzig

We really liked Leipzig. It’s a fascinating and lively city with an interesting history and several great pubs. We weren’t there for very long this time round, so we only got to try a few places. Naturally, being beer geeks, we focussed on the Gose.

We almost didn’t make it to the Bayerischer Bahnhof. Ron Pattinson’s not joking when he says it’s hard to find. Or rather, the problem is that it appears to be a massive building site, with no way in. Boak’s stubbornness prevailed, and after walking through a couple of estates, we made it.

Inside, we found an extremely popular and busy brewpub. It hasn’t changed much from Ron’s description, and is definitely worth the trip for all of the beers, not just the Gose. This Gose was orangey and a bit sour — like a wheatbeer with a drop of Tango in it. That makes it sound bad, doesn’t it? We liked it.

There were four other beers on offer. The “Heizer” schwarzbier was a little smokey and had good coffee notes; the “Kuppler” weizen really tasted like Schneider; the pils was decent enough; and there was a Bock which tasted a little Belgian (burnt sugar and pear drops). All were very well made, i.e. not like some German micro-brewed efforts. The food was also very good, and they do an interesting cumin liquour.

We tried the other Leipziger Gose in Sinfonie, a trendy cafe near the city centre. Doellnitzer Ritterguts Gose is reckoned by those who can be arsed to research these things to be the “most authentic” and it certainly is an extremely interesting drink. We were immediately reminded of a Belgian gueuze (shurely shome relation?). There is an immediate sour kick that gives way to a fruity, spritzy finish. Strangely drinkable.

We also tried “Kigo” – a trendy “kirschgose”. It’s more interesting in the fact that it’s being done at all than for its flavour — unsurprisingly, it was like one of the more boring, sweet krieks. But if it gets the Leipziger kids interested in their local beer, then that can only be a plus…

For more on Leipzig pubs and the history of Gose, see Ron’s guide. This has lot more detail on the pubs visited, including how to get to them.

Gose in Goslar

Crystal clear gose hell in Goslar
Crystal clear gose hell in Goslar

We’d barely been in Goslar an hour before we had our first glasses of Gose in front of us. It’s one of those legendary regional styles that fascinates beer geeks — salt, coriander and sourness? About as far from the boring “premium pilsners” that are the norm in Germany as it is possible to get.

We tried the big brand first, Brauhaus Goslar Gose. Lars Marius had suggested the Goslar gose was dumbed down and, sure enough, its only distinguishing feature was a distinct saltiness. It wasn’t cloudy, either. Odd and pleasant enough, but not Earth-shattering.

That night, we tried our second gose, about which we can find very little information. It’s apparently micro-brewed and served, as far as we can tell, only at the Worthmuehle restaurant. It was much more interesting — a dead ringer for a Belgian wit, and very unlike anything we’d had in Germany before. There was a little more sourness, less salt and a lot more coriander than in Brauhaus Goslar Gose.

We liked it so much, we came back for more the next night.

Little did we realise how much more interesting things were going to get when we tried the two goses available in Leipzig. More on that in our next post. Incidentally, there were dark versions available of both the Goslar intepretations, but they were not particularly noteworthy.  They were similar to the pale versions but tasted a lot more like homebrew.

Restaurant Worthmuehle also does excellent food, making a real point about sourcing its meat locally and ethically. Which got us wondering… why do you never ever see a pig? Pigs must outnumber humans in order to deliver that much Schnitzel and Schweinhaxe…

Also, Goslar is a really interesting and pretty place, and definitely worth a visit even if you’re not intrigued by the Gose thing.

Boozing with the Prague-based bloggers

Meeting up with Velky Al (he’s very tall), Evan Rail (his surname is Cornish), and Pivni Filosof (he’s very philosophical) was a real treat for us. For one thing, after six days on the road, we were getting bloody sick of each other, so the civilised company was very welcome. And, for another, they took us on a VIP tour of a couple of bars we’d never have found and never have set foot in otherwise.

All of the beers were excellent, but we were most impressed with the Kout na Sumave beers in U Slovanske Lipy. Boak loved the desitka, with its powerful hop flavour, while Bailey’s favourite was the dark lager.

We had a bit much to drink and weren’t taking notes, so that’s about it as far as an account of the night goes. You can read all about it here and here, though.

Thanks, chaps!