beer festivals beer reviews Franconia london pubs Snacks to beer

German beer festival at Zeitgeist

What better use of a day’s holiday than to pretend you’re in Germany? And how much easier when someone has gone and laid on a German beer festival for you, complete with many beers dispensed Franconian-style out of little wooden barrels.

This excellent little festival was brought to us by Zeitgeist, a great German pub in Vauxhall, Stonch’s beer blog, and Bier-Mania, who organise beer trips to Belgium, Germany and beyond.

This won’t be a detailed review, as we drank too much to remember many details — as did everyone else, by the sound of it … there are now no more festival beers left.

We remember a large range of beer from the Bolten-Brauerei from outside Duesseldorf, with their Alt being particularly nice. Hofmann Export Dunkel Lagerbier was a great example of the complexity that Franconian Dunkels can deliver. Our stand-out favourite was a Dunkel-Rauch by SternBrau-Scheubel which had a gorgeous Maerzen-like malt flavour and amber colour, with a hefty hoppiness and a subtle but complex smoke taste.

We thought the mix of people and the atmosphere was great – some tickers, some trendies, some locals, but everyone getting into it. It was the kind of place you could bring non-beer geeks to (we did) without worrying about whether they’d have a good time.

Also, the excellent range of Brotzeit really helped line the stomach – Obatzda is an acquired taste, but I love the stuff, and they make it well here.

This was easily one of my favourite festivals of all time. Do it again, chaps!


For another perspective, see Allyson’s write-up on her Impy Malting blog.

Ron Pattinson blogged about Hofmann here.

The Session

The Session #15: seeing the light

Versión castellana

It’s January, not many winters ago. We’re in the Altstadthof, a brewpub in Nuremberg, and we’ve just decided that the “Rothes” beer we’ve just drunk three pints of is the best beer we’ve ever tasted. We look at each other and decide we’ve fallen in love with beer.

We decide we want to learn more about it — how can the “lager” we’ve been told is the root of all evil be so wonderfully varied? How do they make this amazing stuff? And so an obsession is born from a brief winter holiday.

We picked Nuremberg for a destination as (a) the flights were incredibly cheap (b) it seemed like an interesting place, especially if you like history and central European winters. I also booked a few days “surprise” holiday in the lovely Hotel Nepomuk in Bamberg, as a birthday treat for Bailey. I chose Bamberg because I’d heard it was pretty, and had a recommendation for the hotel in question. (It’s a classy joint — fellow beer-blogger Evan Rail celebrated his honeymoon there recently.)

So we planned a trip to the beer mecca that is Franconia, without beer being a motivation, and without really knowing much about beer at all. I’m not saying we’re experts now, but at the time we didn’t know our Dunkel from our Dunkel-Weiss, and nor did we care. In those days we drank real ale, but also “normal” lager. We weren’t sufficiently interested in beer to pick a pub on the basis of it, let alone a holiday destination.

That changed with this holiday.

We noted from the guidebook that Bamberg was famous for its breweries, and that people visited from all over the world to try the products from the nine (or is it ten? or eight?) breweries. That’ll be fun, we thought, gives us something to do. The rest is a bit of a blurry haze — I couldn’t tell you which ones we visited without seeing them again (at least two were shut) or what beers we liked. I remember Rauchbier, but I don’t think I liked it particularly at the time. I remember being surprised and bewildered by the different names and types of beer, and trying to work out what the difference was between a pils and a helles.

By the time we got back to Nuremberg, we were eager to try everything we could get our hands on. Then came the afternoon in the Alstadthof, and we were hooked.

We’re going back to Nuremberg and Bamberg in a couple of months, armed with a bit more knowledge. We’ve already been back to the Alstadthof, and the Rothes is still our favourite beer in the world.

For more on drinking in Nuremberg, see our post from June last year.

For the session announcement, see here. Let us know about your entry by leaving us a comment here or sending us an email – boakandbailey “at” gmail “dot” com



More Bottled Beer in Pubs, Please

goose_island_again.jpg We’re lucky in that we can get to the Pembury Tavern from our house in 20 minutes, and two of our nearest pubs serve real ales in good condition (including a regular mild). But last night, that just wasn’t enough for me — I wanted to go to the pub, but I also had a powerful craving for a strong, hoppy IPA1. That’s one of the few styles the Pembury doesn’t stock. Nor does any pub in our area.

Which made me wish that all pubs had as a minimum:

1. A small selection of cask ale in good condition — as much as they can turn over at a reasonable rate, but no more — ideally including a stout other than bloody Guinness.

2. A German or Czech lager on tap.

3. A German or Belgian wheat beer on tap2.

4. A rotating selection of bottled beer in every style not represented on the pumps.

It’s not reasonable to expect every pub to have ten different ales on tap, but bottles are surely the best way for landlords to offer choice without bankrupting themselves. Bottles last a long time; they don’t cost much to store; and they allow pubs to offer oddities which might only appeal to a small section of the market.

It would be nice if I could drink rauchbier, strong IPA, imperial stout, lambic and other ‘acquired-taste’ beers without getting on a train or bus, when one of these uncontrollable cravings overtakes me.

Yes, I guess I’m spoiled. I should just get off my arse, or drink what’s on offer. But I can dream, can’t I?



1 We’d been brewing a strong, hoppy IPA all day — I always want to drink what we’ve been brewing.

2 We were in a pub on New Year’s Eve that had Franziskaner, Paulaner, Schneider and Erdinger wheat beers on tap. Seriously, one brand is enough!