Capacious Bavarian Beer Bellies, 1873

“In South Germany Bavaria takes the lead. Perhaps it is the greatest beer-consuming nation that exists. They drink at all times and in great quantities and always the pretty strong drink known as Bavarian beer. Glass after glass disappears down their large throats into a most capacious stomach, and they always get the ‘drier wi’ the drinking o’t’…  [We] have never met a Bavarian yet who was content with less than three glasses of his own stronger quality, and women and children are alike good and brave drinkers.”

‘The Consumption of Beer in Germany’, Brewers’ Guardian, 14 January 1873, p7.

Bavarian Beer on Scilly

Augustiner Edelstoff beer at the Kaffeehaus, St Mary's.

We were surprised to read that in the middle of St Mary’s, the largest of the Isles of Scilly, there is a Bavarian cafe, The Kaffeehaus. Of course, as fully-signed-up Germanophiles, we had to see this for ourselves. It was easy enough to find, despite its remote location, thanks to the blue and white chequered flag flying high above the premises, visible from half a mile away.

The homemade pretzels were expensive, small (not as small as those in the picture…) and no better than the ones we bake ourselves, but that was more than made up for by the excellent and authentic-tasting strudel.

And there was beer — Carlsberg, yes, but also Augustiner Edelstoff. We’ve had it before but it was interesting to taste it again after several days of drinking only very traditional British ales and the occasional local lager. It seemed rather bold, pleasingly light-bodied for its strength (5.6%), with a fresh hop flavour and aroma that brought to mind chewing on a stalk of new green grass. There was certainly no syrupy corniness and it could hardly have been paler in colour. A German equivalent of the British ‘pale and hoppy’?

For a brief moment, we did manage to kid ourselves that we were in a village somewhere near Munich, especially when a Swiss couple sat down next to us and began to chat in German. They, on the other hand, were bewildered: where were the pasties? The cream teas? The crab sandwiches? The Ales of Scilly? Had they travelled by train and boat and plane, and then yomped for an hour, for this?

We think we visited every pub on Scilly during our stay. We’ll let you know our favourites tomorrow.

Some interesting Oktoberfests in London

A ferris wheel at a beer festival in Bavaria
A ferris wheel at a beer festival in Bavaria

While the main event is underway in Munich, there are a couple of interesting options for Londoners.

And this is without mentioning the Oktoberfest Pub in Fulham. I’ve never been, so perhaps I’m being judgemental, but from their website it looks awful. Is it connected to the Bavarian Beer House, who are also putting on Oktoberfest fun?

London Drinker has details of other beer festivals coming up.

Bamberg revisited

You don’t need us to tell you about the pubs in Bamberg. I’m sure you’ve all “been there, done that”, and if not, you’re planning to.

That said, I don’t think you could ever “do” Bamberg. If you stuck to just “doing” the brewery taps, you’d miss out on lovely cosy pubs and idyllic beer gardens in and around the town. Then there are all the pubs with brews from nearby villages, then day trips to places like Buttenheim, Forchheim, Eggolsheim… then the hundreds of pubs in surrounding villages.

We don’t want to bore you with all the beers we had in Bamberg this time round, but here are our top five drinking experiences, in no particular order.

1. Lunch at Griefenklau Greifenklau

You don’t hear much about Griefenklau Greifenklau – I don’t think I’ve seen their livery outside of their outlet on Laurentziplatz. We suspect the locals want to keep this one to themselves. It’s a fair hike up a hill, but definitely worth it, as the beer garden is beautiful, with great views across the wood to the Altenburg. It’s a very mixed crowd, from grandparents with children to business people. The beer is very fresh and satisfying. Possibly not the most complex in town, but with a garden like this, who cares?

A similarly beautiful spot is the Spezial Bier-Garten on Steinwartstrasse (listed in the Bavaria Lonely Planet guide). You can’t beat this place for the view across town, especially at twilight. The beer itself is very subtle –- you only notice the smoke flavour when it warms up a bit. And they don’t do the full range of Spezial beers — you need to go to the outlet on Obere Koenigstrasse for that.

2. Mahrs Brau Ungespundete

This was the first beer of the holiday that made our eyes pop out and caused us to make ‘mmmmm’ noises (perhaps we’re getting jaded?). It’s copper coloured and extremely fruity, with peaches, cherries, cloves and liquorice. There’s a good hop flavour as it goes down, which balances the roastiness and oakiness. They also do a lovely weizen, which is (without being advertised as such) a bit smoky.

3. Reacquainting ourselves with Schlenkerla

We’ve been drinking Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Maerzen from bottles in London during the last year or two and, although we always enjoy it, it sometimes seems a bit one-dimensional. Not as fresh as it is from the tap, where the crazy smokiness is just one flavour beautifully balanced with a lot of others. We sat outside under a tree, listening to a university orchestra rehearsing in a nearby building, and sighed with contentment.

4. Discovering Keesmann Stern-la

Keesmann are another brewery we’d not heard much about. Their beers are on the commercial side — a bit ‘cleaner’, maybe — but we were very impressed by Stern-la. It’s an unfiltered lager but was very clear in the glass and a dark golden colour, with a lot of sweet malt flavour. We’d expected something as rubbish as, say, Ingolstadt’s Ingobrau and it’s always a treat to be pleasantly surprised.

5. Afternoon session at Klosterbrau

You know how much difference a pleasant waiter can make? Our waitress on the sunny afternoon we spent here was great. “Nice beer?” she asked with a smile as we swooned over the seasonal bock. “Yes!” we said. She smiled and looked delighted. “All is well with the world,” we said to each other several times. Although the bock might have had something to do with that, too.
Notes

As is usually the case, Ron‘s guide to Bamberg pubs is a great place to start researching your own crawls. Links have been included where appropriate, but neither Keesmann nor Griefenklau Greifenklau seem to have a homepage. UPDATED. Griefenklau don’t have a homepage but Greifenklau do.