August 21, 2017

European Beer from Germany and Belgium

In Europe, beer seems to be a culture.  To understand this, all you have to do is visit a European brewery, English Pub or German beer garden!

Let’s briefly explore two countries that receive a lot of travelers seeking out their beer!


Belgium

Belgium is known to have many varieties of beer, by most sources, they have the largest selection of varieties in the world. The repertoire of beers found in Belgium include Wits, Dubbels, Tripels and Flanders and range in color from white, brown, red to golden.  The best known beers from Belgium are Lambics, Saisons and beers brewed in Monasteries.

Lambics are beers fermented with a special blend of yeast and bacteria or allowed to spontaneously ferment and then aged in oak barrels for years in some cases.  These beers tend to be sours and often contain fruit from the region in which they were made.  Lambic beers are specific to the Brussels area.

Frahan Belgium Ardennes

Frahan Belgium by Jean-Pol Grandmont

Saisons are another popular beer from Belgium and are also known as farm beers.   They have a distinct clove and banana flavor that comes from the type of yeast used.   As for the overall character, Saisons also have spices added to the mix which are known to include orange peel and coriander but the exact mix depends on what farm the beer comes from.

The Abbey of Chimay Belgium

The Abbey of Chimay by harry_nl, on Flickr

The last and most popular are the Dubbels and Trippels which are traditional beers made at Abbeys and Monasteries. Chimay is the most well known of these types of beers which is brewed with candy sugar and a good dose of malt and hops.  The result is usually a crystal clear, highly carbonated, balanced golden to amber beer with above normal alcohol (8-11%abv).  Travelers need to keep in mind many Trappist ales are not available outside of Belgium, so planning your visit is more important if you want to get a chance at tasting them.

 

Germany

Most people think Pilsner when they think of German Beer. Sure it was a German that started this style, in an area that is now the Czech Republic, but there are many more varieties from all over the country. In Germany, over 5,000 different types of beer are created by 1,250+ breweries which include well known styles such as Bock, Helles and, of course, the Pilsner.

Bock beers are usually dark, very sweet and malty beers while Helles and Pilsner are the lightest offerings differing in only their hop usage.  Helles beers are all about the malt but may have some subdued hoppyness to them.  Pils are balanced more to the middle of malty and hoppy but sometimes move over to the hoppy side.   Both are very light straw colored and brilliantly clear.

There are several other styles that are less known, but equally delicious!

Kolsch is ale from the Cologne region and comes from a time before lagers.  It is fermented warm and aged cold like a lager resulting in a malty, slightly hoppy and fruity Pilsner like beer.

Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollernbrücke at Night Germany

Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollernbrücke at Night by Nietnagel, on Flickr

Another similar style, the Altbier from Dusseldorf, is like the Kolsch in that it is fermented warm and aged cold, but it is darker and maltier than the former.  Altbier is usually copper in color, with some fruity notes that are given by the yeast used.  Did you know there are more than 200 pubs in a one square mile section of Dusseldorf’s Old Town?

The last and probably most unique beer is the Rauchbier found in Bamberg Germany.  This beer is a lager, fermented cold and aged cold, but what sets it apart is the use of malts that are dried in the traditional way over a fire.  This imparts a smoke character to the grain that is carried over into the beer.   Keeping the flavors in balance is the trick but they have it down in Bamberg a medieval town known for its 9 breweries!

Basing an itinerary around beer will take you through beautiful countrysides serving up castles, local history and great regional cuisine all while sampling some of these great local brews!

 

 

Would you enjoy a holiday based around beer?

Germany, Bavaria, Munich – Need I Say More?

If you’ve read many of the post here, you know how much I adore Germany and especially Bavaria!

I have shared with you how much I enjoy small Bavarian villages (like Mittenwald), Kind Ludwig’s Bavarian castles, beer and my joy at visiting Bamberg with all its breweries. Yes, I’ve probably bored you by going over the top in Bavaria, Bavaria How do I love Thee and if pushed to pick a favorite it would be Bavaria.

Munich Skyline Bavaria Germany

Munich Skyline by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

In looking back, I realized I’ve never told you about one of my favorite cities in Bavaria – Munich. What is it about Bavaria’s capital city that makes it so wonderful and why should you visit?

Here are 11 reasons to visit Munich!

  1. Galleries full of European art, Bavarian sculptures and can be found in the many Pinakotheken (Picture Galleries) that call Munich home. The oldest is the Alte Pinakotheke and the newest is the Moderne Pinakotheke with the Neue Pinakotheke in the middle. Together these galleries hold so much of interest they will keep any art lover busy for days!
  2. Nymphenburg Palace was built in 1664 to celebrate the birth of a son to Ferdinand and Maria. The summer palace is gorgeous and famous for its Gallery of Beauties, the carriages and sleigh that belonged to Bavarian rulers and wonderful palace gardens.

    Nymphenburg Palace Munich Bavaria Germany

    Nymphenburg Palace Munich by www.schloesser.bayern.de - Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

  3. The Olympic Stadium was built for the 1972 Olympic games that were held in Munich and include the pool where Mark Spitz won his 7 gold medals! The grounds were built on a former airfield that was transposed into a state of the art Olympic venue including a large hill made of rubble from WWII.
  4. The Residenz is the former residence of Bavarian Kings and the Wittelsbach Dynasty until 1918. Today you will be amazed at the Renaissance building with Rococo interiors. On display are the jewels and crowns of the Wittelsbach along with many silver and porcelain artifacts.
  5. The center and heart of Munich is the Marienplatz. This mostly pedestrian only area was created by Henry the Lion and is a fantastic place to sit and enjoy a beer and bratwurst! It is also home to the world famous Glockenspiel sitting on top of the Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus. Kids and adults of all ages will be charmed by the lovely chimes and dancing figurines retelling Bavarian stories.
  6. Churches have been the center of communities for eons and Munich has its fair share. The best known symbol of Munich is the Frauenkirche. Built in 1468, it is the largest Gothic basilica in Southern Germany and home to the tomb of Ludwig IV of Bavaria. For the grandest views over the city climb the tower of Munich’s oldest church, Peterskirche. The Baroque jewel, Asamkirche, houses a very ornamental grotto and wonderful ceiling frescoes while the largest Renaissance church in Munich, Michaelskirche, houses the crypt of Maximilian I and Ludwig II.

    Munich City Centre Bavaria Germany

    Munich`s city centre by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

  7. Beer Halls and Beer Gardens are a staple in Munich and probably the first thing people think of when thinking of Munich. The passion for beer is definitely alive in Munich and there are many options for enjoying your favorite brew and singing along to Bavarian songs. But if you’re in Munich during the summer or warmer weather do not miss the Beer Gardens! This is where Munichers go after a busy day at the office and a great place to feel like a local.
  8. The Viktualienmarkt has been supplying fresh foods to residence since 1807 and is one of my favorite places to wander! This wonderful food market has over 140 stalls full of fresh fruit and produce, handmade jellies, bread, pastry, meats and more. Yes, there is even a beer garden!
  9. If you’d like something a little more relaxing maybe some time in one of Munich’s many Gardens & Parks is needed. Munich is home to palace gardens of Hofgarten and Nymphenburg palace as well as a wonderful Botanical garden. The largest and most popular garden, Englischer Garten, is the place to stroll, ride bikes, rent a paddle boat or even surf!

    Englischer garten Munich Bavaria Germany

    Englischer garten by LuxTonnerre

  10. Don’t even get me started on the Food! I can’t get enough wurst, frites, schnitzel, spatzle, pork knuckles, sauerkraut . . .
  11. Munich has many Museums to enjoy but the grand daddy of them all is the Deutsches Museum, the oldest and largest science and technology museum in the world. Sitting on an island in the Isar river is a huge museum that has amongst its displays an Enigma machine built during WWII and the first automobile. There are displays dedicated to transportation, aviation, mining, energy, physics . . .
  12. If this isn’t enough then go for the people. They are open, gregarious, smiling and the real heart of this wonderful Bavarian capital! 


    What’s your favorite thing to do in Munich?

European Travelista’s 7 Super Shots!

I have been enjoying reading everyone’s entries to HostelBookers 7 Super Shots!  As I don’t consider myself a good photographer I was secretly glad that I hadn’t been asked to participate.

Then it happened. . .

Both Sabrina from Country Skipper and Courtney of Haunt Jaunts asked me to participate.  Feeling good to be included, I now had to find some photographs that were worthy of the project.

I started by thinking what photos represent.  Photos keep our memories fresh and alive. All it takes is a glimpse and we are whisked back to that very day experiencing that trip, event or the fun as if we were there now.  The photos we take are snapshots of our life.

After getting over my initial angst, I wandered through my memories and found some photographs that represent each of the categories.

Here is a photo . . .

. . . that takes my breath away

It is no secret that I love mountains, lakes and small villages.  While I find them all remarkable in their own way, Gruyeres Switzerland just took my breath away.Bucolic Gruyeres Switzerland

. . . that makes me laugh or smile

I actually had a little trouble with this one but then it dawned on me that the one that made me smile every time was this shot taken on my very first trip to Europe.  In fact, this one is a lot of “firsts”.  My first time to Europe, Germany, Bavaria, Munich.  I smile each time I see this much younger me sitting by a lake in the Englischer Garten and, yes, I’m enjoying my first beer in Munich.

Englischer Garten Munich Germany

Enjoying a beer in Englisher Garten's Munich

. . . that makes me dream

This shot of the French Basque countryside makes me dream about all of the less traveled, peaceful places I have been and will go to.

Basque vista Southwest France

Basque Hills

. . . that makes me think

Looking down on the way up the Jungfraujoch is a tremendous sight!  This lovely village nestled at the foot of the mountain makes me think about how amazing Mother Nature is. . . The beauty of Switzerland isn’t too shabby either 🙂On the way up Jungfraujoch Interlaken Switzerland

. . . that makes my mouth water

As I look at this picture my mouth is literally watering.  I can still feel the relief as I sat down at this table at Klosterbrau Brewery in Bamberg Germany.  I can also remember how ravenous I was and how wonderful this schnitzel, potato salad, green salad and beer tasted!Schnitzel at Klosterbrau Bamberg Germany

. . . that tells a story

Visiting the D-day beaches in Normandy is a must see. This photo, taken at the American cemetery, tells the story of all the Americans that died during WWII.  More than that, it tells the story of all the lives lost from all countries involved.American Cemetery Normandy France

. . . that I’m most proud of

Gothic Royaumont Abbey gets the distinction of being my National Geographic moment!  The lovely Abbey and its grounds are a serene respite to busy Paris.Gothic Royaumount Abbey near Paris France

 

Now its my turn to nominate 5 bloggers to participate:

Eurotravelogue

EasyHiker

To Europe with Kids

This is My Happiness

Downtown Traveler

 

Rules

  1. Choose a photo for each of the 7 categories above.
  2. Write a short description for each image.
  3. Write somewhere in your blog post: I am taking part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.
  4. Tell HostelBookers that you have participated and tweet the hashtag #7SuperShots

Nominate 5 other bloggers by including a link to their blog in your post.

My First Bamberg Adventure!

Upon arriving in Bamberg I dropped my luggage at my hotel, Barock Hotel am Dom, and decided to hike up one of Bamberg’s 7 hills to Michaelsberg!Walk to Michaelsberg Bamberg Bavaria Germany

The walk up hill is quite nice and takes you by some very lovely buildings complete with shuddered windows and even some with flower boxes.

The weather in Bamberg was cloudy and warm.  Of course, as I got to the top of the hill it started to rain.  I walked quickly to get into the church because my umbrella was where all good umbrellas should be, back in my hotel!  I did have a chance to notice the beautiful courtyard as I hurried along the gravel road and up the magnificent stairs leading into the church.St. Michaels Church Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Michaelsberg is home to the old monastery, which is now used as an old folks home, and the monastery church.  The complex of buildings was founded by Emperor Heinrich II in 1015.  Today the Baroque edifice looms over the city and offers amazing views down below as well as a picturesque spot looking up towards Michaelsberg from the city.View of Michaelsberg Bamberg Bavaria Germany

The Baroque face we see today dates back to the 18th century.  Despite the Baroque additions, the Romanesque beginnings are still evident once inside the church.  Inside the church you will be impressed by the vaulted ceiling, Rococo pulpit, richly ornamented organ and the frescoes featuring over 578 flowers and herbs.

Inside St. Michaels Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Inside St. Michaels By Berthold Werner

The rain had stopped so I decided to visit the Franconian Brewery Museum which is located to the right as you leave St. Michaels church and is in the old Monastery Brewery.  Inside you will enjoy an extensive collection of beer making equipment and documents dating back to 1122. There is also a beer garden but I decided to wait until I got back into town since the weather wasn’t completely suited for a beer garden!Franconian Brewery Museum Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Continuing around to the back you will find a beautiful terrace containing gardens, fountains and a café.  The views from the terrace are amazing, even on this gray cloudy day!View from terrace Michaelsberg Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Walking down the hill to town was as beautiful as the trip up!  Now it was time for my first beer in BambergAmbrasianum Brewery Bamberg Bavaria Germany

I managed to find a table at Ambrausianum under a fantastic umbrella so my first beer was outside and dry!

 

Whether religious or not, do you enjoy visiting churches while traveling?

An Afternoon at Augustiner Brauerei Salzburg

On the last afternoon I was in Salzburg I had the pleasure of visiting the largest beer tavern in Austria. The Augustiner Brauerei offers both a tavern (for enjoyment during bad weather) and a lovely beer garden (for those awesome summer days!).  I guess I should clarify, I did not visit the tavern but spent some relaxing time in the beer garden.Entrance Augustiner Brewery Salzburg Austria

Arriving by bus I just needed to walk across the street to find one of the best places to spend an afternoon in Salzburg! The beer garden at Augustiner Brauerei has 1,500 seats under wonderful chestnut trees.

The brewery is still partially owned by the Michaelbeuern Benedictine Monastery and if you’re lucky you’ll see some of the monks enjoying beer and conversation under the same trees!Beer Garden Augustiner Salzburg Austria

Producing over 250,000 gallons of beer annually, the beer is still drawn from wooden barrels.  Upon arriving, you will pay for a token, take a stein off the shelf and wash it before presenting it for filling.  It is a very fun experience!Augustiner Brewery Salzburg Austria

There are quite a few places to purchase food here but it is all self serve.  You are also encouraged to bring your own picnic!

This afternoon I was lucky enough to have musical entertainment while enjoying my beer. During the bands break a gentleman entertained the crowd.  I couldn’t understand a word he was saying but he must have been very funny because everyone else was laughing!Band at Augustiner Brewery Salzburg Austria

Beer Gardens are perfect way to relax while enjoying local company and customs.  I love spending time in beer gardens and highly recommend the Ausgustiner Brauerei in Salzburg!

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday!  For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Bamberg Beer Failure

Bamberg is a beautiful city famously known around the globe for beer.

Hopfen und Malz, Mai Gott erhalt’s! (Hops and Malt, May God preserve them!) is a common saying in this city which is home to 9 breweries.

Located in the northern Bavaria, Bamberg is home to 70,000 people and was the first stop on a recent trip to Europe.  In Bamberg plus Beer equals Dilemma I discussed the 9 breweries in Bamberg and mused about which ones I should visit.

Departing San Francisco I really had hopes of reaching all 9 breweries in Bamberg!  Lofty goal, I know, but I was still optimistic.

Alas that was not to be 🙁


By the time I arrived in Bamberg, I actually only had 1 ½ days to see the sights and drink at 9 breweries!  I hadn’t given up hope but the 95° temperature definitely played a roll in slowing me down.  Besides not really wanting to move quickly, I didn’t want food or beer.

Despite the adversity, I did make it to 3 – Ambrausianum, Schlenkerla and Klosterbrau!

Ambrausianum Beer Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Ambrausianum Beer

At Ambrausianum, I enjoyed a very nice Hell beer!  I enjoyed this wonderful nectar of the gods while sitting under an umbrella waiting for the brief rain storm to pass.  This is also the location that made me realize “I’m in Germany!”

Schlenkerla Beer Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Schlenkerla is home to a famous smoked beer called Rauchbier.  I had heard this beer tasted like bacon and wasn’t really very excited to try it but thought I had to do it!  My verdict, it didn’t taste like bacon and I actually really liked it!  I thought the smoky flavor complemented the other beer qualities.

Klosterbrau Beer Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Klosterbrau Beer

Klosterbrau is the oldest functioning brewery left in Bamberg and sits next to the Regnitz river.  After a morning of wandering the city I decided I needed to sit and have something to eat and drink.  Founded in 1533, Klosterbrau’s Pil’s was just what was needed!

I was disappointed that I didn’t make it to more breweries but this leaves the door open for my return!

There is so much beer in Bamberg and the breweries just touch the surface.

Next time I won’t neglect the Beer Kellers most of which sit high above the city and offer awesome views.  Fassla, Spezial, Mahrs and Wilde Rose are just a few of the Kellers that may make on my list the next time I visit Bamberg.

 

Have you set a travel goal that didn’t get met?

Beer Festivals. Munich. No Crowds. You can’t be serious???

By the time you read this I will have finished my Beer Extravaganza in Bamberg Germany. Since I have been enjoying so many great German beers, I thought  I would share a post revealing Beer Festivals in Munich that you may not know about!  Prost 🙂

So do you like beer, would love to attend a Beer Festival in Munich but hate crowds? Everyone knows about the grand celebration that takes place in Munich late September into early October called Oktoberfest, right? During this festival over 1.75 million gallons of beer are consumed which equates to about 30% of all Munich breweries production for the year! That is a lot of beer to drink in a short 2 week period, but is this the only time to visit Munich for a beer festival? That answer is no. In fact, unbeknownst to non-beer aficionados (myself included) there are different beers for each season and, therefore, many reasons to visit Munich for beer other than during the granddaddy of them all, Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest Bavaria Munich

It's time for Oktoberfest!

My personal opinion is, it is always a great time to visit Munich but if you are looking strictly for beer and festivals then you may want to visit in early spring for Starkbierzeit or “Strong Beer Season”. Beginning after Fat Tuesday, Munich gets ready to welcome the coming warmer weather by celebrating all that is holy, Beer. Brewers in Munich unleash their version of a Doppelbock, which actually dates back to mid-1600s. Since the monks during this time were forbidden to eat food during Lent they developed a nutritious version of “Liquid Bread” we call Dopplebock! You may have heard of these beers as they have names like Maximator, Optimator, Unimator or Triumphator. During this festival the breweries of Munich, such as Paulaner, Augustiner and Lowenbrau, showcase their version in beer tents along with Oompah bands, singing, dancing, and traditional German sausages and pretzels. All without the crowds experienced during Oktoberfest. What could be better?

Next we move on to Bavarian Beer Week which coincides with Bavarian Beer Day, April 23. This date is important because on this date in 1516 the Bavarian Purity Law was enacted. Bavarians take their beer very seriously and because of this law you will not find any rice, tree bark, corn or other flavorings in your Bavarian beer. Bavarian Beer Week is a celebration of the importance beer has in German life and includes festivals, tastings, brewing

Chinesischer Turm Munich Bavaria Germany

Enjoying beer at Munich's Chinesischer Turm

demonstrations, brewery tours, beer seminars and even free beer! Yes, free beer may be yours if you show up on Bavarian Beer Day, in front of the Bavarian Brewer’s Federation’s Brewers House in downtown Munich.

Sorry to say, but there are no Beer Festivals during the summer! During the wonderfully warm summer months all self-respecting Germans spend their free time in their beloved Beer gardens. If you have never experienced a beer garden during the summer, it is something you definitely need to put on your list of “things to do”. In Munich, visit the beer garden under the Chinesischer Turm in the Englischer Garten. Each afternoon you can spend time visiting with Munichers on their way home sitting under the trees enjoying a relaxing beer along with pretzels or even rotisserie chicken! This experience is wunderbar! Or try visiting the beer garden at the Viktualien markt. The Viktualien markt is one of my personal favorite spots in Munich. This open air market dates back to medieval times and is a place you can gather amazing food snacks and then stop for a beer . . . or two! Beers during the summer range from blond Maibock to the straw colored Helles beers.

Augustiner Brewery Munich Bavaria Germany

Beer garden Augustiner Brewery Munich

As summer rolls into fall, it is time for Oktoberfest but the fun doesn’t stop here! As the days shorten and the weather chills, it is time for Festbier Season. The holiday season is very special in Munich and there is no better way to celebrate than with a special brew. Festbiers are dark and great for sipping while gazing out the window as the snow falls or strolling amongst the stalls at the Christmas Market. There is much revelry and celebration that accompanies the magical Christmas Markets. The original is held at Marienplatz Square where you are surrounded by Medieval architecture and history while shopping for special trinkets. At the market you can purchase handmade ornaments, toys, and ceramics or enjoy homemade baked apples, sausages or potato pancakes all while enjoying festive holiday music! After you have wandered the markets shopping for the perfect gift, stop by a beer hall for a Festbier. In my opinion, that’s the perfect way to shop.

What beer festivals have you attended or which one(s) would you like to attend?


Oktoberfest picture courtesy of Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH
Chinesischer Turm picture courtesy of Andrew Cowin
Augustiner Brewery picture courtesy of Rainer Kiedrowski

Free in Salzburg means . . .

As I mentioned last week in my 30 Days and Counting post, I will be visiting Salzburg Austria late August.  In preparation for my visit I have been digging into all the things there are to do in Salzburg and found some pretty amazing things that are actually FREE!

Here are 6 things I plan on doing in Salzburg that are Free:

  1. Siemens Festival Nights
    During August Salzburg celebrates its art and musical culture with the world by hosting the Salzburg Summer Festival.  In an effort to make this accessible to more people, Siemens Austria presents the highlights from past and current festivals on big screens in the Kapitelplatz.  Concerts begin at 6 pm and the Operas begin at 8 pm.
  2. Explore the Altstadt
    This Medieval and Baroque treasure has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.  At the center of the Altstadt is the Cathedral which is surrounded by 3 beautiful squares – Domplatz, Kapitelplatz and Residensplatz.  The skyline is dotted with spires and domes from all the churches and the narrow lanes are full of fountains, arches and impressive buildings. 

    Salzburg Altstadt

    Salzburg Altstadt By Thomas Pintaric

  3. Hike up Monchsberg
    A hike up the Monchsberg is a great way to escape the crowds below.  Once at the top there are wooded paths that allow for spectacular views of Salzburg and the surroundings below.  One path leads to the Nonnberg Convent which is famous for being Maria von Trapp’s home for a bit!  Or you might need a refreshment at the Stadt Alm (not free though).  If you prefer, you could take the elevator up (for a small fee) and walk down.
  4. Schloss Mirabell & Gardens
    The gardens were designed in 1730 and have been open to the public since 1850.  Sound of Music fans will recognize the gardens as the site where Do Re Mi was sung!  Fans will enjoy the arbor and statues but the gardens offer great views of the city including the cathedral and castle.  The Schloss is only open to musical events but if you’re lucky you may run into a band playing a free concert in the park.
  5. Red Bull Hangar- 7
    Even if you are not a plane, race car, motorcycle or helicopter fan, this museum looks way to cool to pass up!  Designed in a very unique architectural style, the designers wanted to create a place where art, planes and technology could reside together and it seems they have succeeded.  There are bars, restaurants and cafes to add to your enjoyment. 

    Red Bull Hanger 7 Salzburg Austria

    From wikimedia Red Bull Hangar-7 GmbH

  6. St. Peters Cemetery & Church
    Salzburg’s oldest Christian cemetery dates back to 1627 and butts up against Monchberg’s rock wall.  Surrounded on 3 sides by wrought iron, this is the cemetery of Salzburg’s oldest families.  Buried here are Mozart’s sister, Haydn’s brother (most of him anyway) and other dignitaries.  St. Peters cemetery was also used as inspiration for the cemetery the von Trapp’s hid out in.  Don’t miss the St. Peters Church once you have finished at the cemetery.  This is the church that premiered Mozart’s Mass in C Minor.  Although originally designed in the Romanesque style, you will enjoy feasting your eyes on the beautiful Baroque and Rococo additions.

What to do with all the money I saved by visiting these free sights?


Yup you guessed it, enjoy reminiscing about my day over a nice beer!

I think Augustiner Bräustübl will do quite nicely.   The Augustiner Bräustübl is a do-it-yourself kind of establishment that has been around since 1890.  There is a process to follow if you don’t want to look like a tourist – egads!  Pay for your beer, pick up a stein, wash it and proceed to the beer line where your beer will be poured straight from the barrel.  Join other Austrians by taking any open seat in the beer garden.  That is, after asking “Ist frei?”, of course.

Can you recommend any other “Free” things to do in Salzburg?

Other beer halls, breweries or gardens I shouldn’t miss?

Bamberg plus Beer equals Dilemma

I have a dilemma and I am hoping someone will be able to help me out!

August 21 I land in Frankfurt Germany and head by train to Bamberg where I will spend the next 2 days visiting this picturesque Bavarian city on the Regnitz River.

Old Town Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Old Town from Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH

Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage City that is full of medieval churches, half-timbered houses, Baroque architecture and frescoed buildings.  The quaint, cobbled streets are bursting with outdoor cafes, bridges, shops and charming houses along the Regnitz River.

View of Bamberg Bavaria Germany

View of Bamberg from Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH

The vast cultural, architectural, religious and ancient history Bamberg has can be found within its well-preserved boundaries.

Little Venice Bamberg Bavaria Germany

Little Venice from Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH

But that is not all Bamberg is known for.

Beer aficionados will know Bamberg not for the aforementioned beauties but for the 9 breweries that call this village home.  According to the Bamberg tourist office these 9 breweries produce more than 50 types of beer!

This brewing tradition goes back 1,000 years and produces beers ranging from lagers, wheat, Gold Pils to the Rauchbier (a smoked beer).  These breweries have seriously been around a very long time.  Schlenkerla was first mentioned in 1405, Fassla was founded in 1649 and Klosterbrau has been brewing beer since 1533.  And that’s only 3 of them!

Rauchbier Spezial  Bamberg, Germany by Ethan Prater, on Flickr

Rauchbier Spezial Bamberg, Germany by Ethan Prater, on Flickr

So what’s a girl supposed to do with only 2 days, 9 breweries and 50 types of beer?

How do I choose which ones to visit?   I’m hoping you can help but first here is a listing and brief description of the breweries in Bamberg:

  • Ambrausianum is the newest and smallest brewery in Bamberg.  It is a modern brew pub complete with copper brew kettles.

    Dominikanerstraße Bamberg Germany by barockschloss, on Flickr

    Dominikanerstraße Bamberg by barockschloss, on Flickr

  • Brauerei Fassla dates back to 1649 and is a family run brewery with a lively atmosphere.  Reminiscent of an older typical brewery, the large entrance doors are still there making delivery by horse and cart possible.
  • Brauerei Greifenklau is a small brewery that was established in 1719 by Count von Greiffenclau.  Today it is a lovely old tavern with a shady beer garden that has been owned by the same family since 1914.
  • Kaiserdom is the largest brewery in Bamberg.  The Wohner family has owned it since 1718.  Each beer you drink at Kaiserdom has its own style glass or mug.
  • Keesmann has been a family owned brewery since 1867.  This brew house has a modern flair to it but is still able to cling to tradition.  You will find a herd of deer heads on the walls in this pub.
  • Klosterbrau was founded in 1533 and has been in the Braun family since 1852.  It is the oldest functioning brewery in Bamberg.  This picturesque brewery sits alongside the river Regnitz.
  • Mahrs Brau was founded in 1679 and has been in the Michel family since 1880.  This traditional brewery still includes beer served from the wooden barrel.
  • Spezial was first recorded in 1536 and is housed in a beautiful half-timbered building complete with overflowing window boxes. Spezial is a classic pub with a traditional atmosphere that also serves a smoky beer.

    Schlenkerla Sign Bamberg by barockschloss, on Flickr

    Schlenkerla Sign Bamberg by barockschloss, on Flickr

  • Schlenkerla was first mentioned in 1405 and is home to the world famous Rauchbier, a beer made from smoked malt.  This traditional brewery tavern is popular and crowded.

If you’ve been to any of these breweries, let me know your thoughts.

If not, vote for your favorite brewery or two or three by leaving a comment below.

Beer Festivals. Munich. No Crowds. You can’t be serious???

So do you like beer, would love to attend a Beer Festival in Munich but hate crowds?  Everyone knows about the grand celebration that takes place in Munich late September into early October called Oktoberfest, right?  During this festival over 1.75 million gallons of beer are consumed which equates to about 30% of all Munich breweries production for the year!  That is a lot of beer to drink in a short 2 week period, but is this the only time to visit Munich for a beer festival?  That answer is no.  In fact, unbeknownst to non-beer aficionados (myself included) there are different beers for each season and, therefore, many reasons to visit Munich for beer other than during the granddaddy of them all, Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest Bavaria Munich

It's time for Oktoberfest!

My personal opinion is, it is always a great time to visit Munich but if you are looking strictly for beer and festivals then you may want to visit in early spring for Starkbierzeit or “Strong Beer Season”.  Beginning after Fat Tuesday, Munich gets ready to welcome the coming warmer weather by celebrating all that is holy, Beer.  Brewers in Munich unleash their version of a Doppelbock, which actually dates back to mid-1600s.  Seems the monks during this time were forbidden to eat food during Lent so they developed a nutritious version of “Liquid Bread” we call Dopplebock!  You may have heard of these beers as they have names like Maximator, Optimator, Unimator or Triumphator.   During this festival the breweries of Munich, such a Paulaner, Augustiner and Lowenbrau, showcase their version along with beer tents, Oompah bands, singing, dancing, and traditional German sausages and pretzels.  All without the crowds experienced during Oktoberfest.  What could be better?

Next we move on to Bavarian Beer Week which coincides with Bavarian Beer Day, April 23.  This date is important because it was on this date in 1516 the Bavarian Purity Law was enacted.  Bavarians take their beer very seriously and because of this law you will not find any rice, tree bark, corn or other flavorings in your Bavarian beer.  Bavarian Beer Week is a celebration of the importance beer has in German life and includes festivals, tastings, brewing

Chinesischer Turm Munich Bavaria Germany

Enjoying beer at Munich's Chinesischer Turm

demonstrations, brewery tours, beer seminars and even free beer!  Yes, free beer may be yours if you show up on Bavarian Beer Day, in front of the Bavarian Brewer’s Federation’s Brewers House in downtown Munich.

Sorry to say, but there are no Beer Festivals during the summer!  During the wonderfully warm summer months all self-respecting Germans spend their free time in their beloved Beer gardens.  If you have never experienced a beergarden during the summer, it is something you definitely need to put on your list of “things to do”.  In Munich, visit the beer garden under the Chinesischer Turm in the Englischer Garten.  Each afternoon you can spend time visiting with Munichers on their way home sitting under the trees enjoying a relaxing beer along with pretzels or even rotisserie chicken!  This experience is wunderbar!  Or try visiting the beer garden at the Viktualien markt.  The Viktualien markt is one of my personal favorite spots in Munich.  This open air market dates back to medieval times and is a place you can gather amazing food snacks and then stop for a beer . . . or two!  Beers during the summer range from blond Maibock to the straw colored Helles beers.

Augustiner Brewery Munich Bavaria Germany

Beer garden Augustiner Brewery Munich

As summer rolls into fall, it is time for Oktoberfest but the fun doesn’t stop here!  As the days shorten and the weather chills, it is time for Festbier Season.   The holiday season is very special in Munich and there is no better way to celebrate than with a special brew.  Festbiers are dark and great for sipping while gazing out the window as the snow falls or strolling amongst the stalls at the Christmas Market.  There is much revelry and celebration that accompanies the magical Christmas Markets.  The original is held at Marienplatz Square where you are surrounded by Medieval architecture and history while shopping for special trinkets.  At the market you can purchase handmade ornaments, toys, and ceramics or enjoy homemade baked apples, sausages or potato pancakes all while enjoying festive holiday music!    After you have wandered the markets shopping for the perfect gift, stop by a beer hall for a Festbier.  In my opinion, that’s the perfect way to shop.

Share your experiences with German beer festivals . . .

Oktoberfest picture courtesy of Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH
 

Chinesischer Turm picture courtesy of Andrew Cowin
Augustiner Brewery picture courtesy of Rainer Kiedrowski