Showing posts with label marzen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marzen. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Munich - Flying Visit

When I flew to central Europe back in October, I landed firstly in Frankfurt before heading on to Prague. For my flight back I had a choice, either fly from Hannover back to Frankfurt or to Munich and then on to Washington DC. The difference in price was negligible and the flight from Munich would actually get me back to Mrs V and my boys earlier than the Frankfurt flight....oh and Munich has its own brewpub, Airbr?u, it seemed like a sign.

The day of my flights though Munich was fog bound and everything was delayed, so I got to spend an extra 45 minutes in Hannover airport. Because the boards at Munich said the flight to DC was on time I headed straight to the gate, through document check, into a barren wasteland where the "limited shopping and restaurant options" amounted to 3 vending machines with soda and snack foods. Bugger.

Eventually though came an announcement that there would be an announcement about how long the flight would be delayed and if people wanted to leave the secure area they could do so, on the understanding that returning would mean going through document check again. Very few people moved, but if Airbr?u was close by then you bet your life I was going somewhere more comfortable and with something better than fizzy water to drink. Oh joy of joys, the restaurant was just a five minute walk and so I left the secure area with a decided spring in my step.


Other than a couple of ladies sitting at a table, the place was empty, perfect. I took a seat at the bar and ordered a Fliegerquell helles, again relying on my dodgy German, which a few days of bumbling over like the perennial reserved Brit was actually improving again. The barman asked if I wanted a "kleines", "gro?es", or a "ma?", yeah you know what I ordered...


Just what the doctor ordered, and as good a helles as I can remember having. Fresh, unfiltered, unpasteurised, groaning with bready malt flavour and a lemony tinge in the hops that made me think of Tettnang. I was a happy chap again, so the litre disappeared in about 6 mouthfuls, and the barman was shocked when he returned to find I had polished off the ma? so quickly. Same again? I genuinely pondered it, but settled for a half litre of their 1918 m?rzen.


Again a perfectly good beer, but not up there in the same league as the helles, by this point the barman and I were talking about brewing and all that good stuff, and the prospect of a 9 hour flight didn't seem so terrible, I am not a fan of flying really. The m?rzen had more of a crusty bread thing going on that the helles did, a subtle honeyed sweetness that balanced nicely with the hops, it was just a bit flabby round the edges to warrant a second, so I did something I rarely do.


I ordered Kumulus, their hefeweizen, and it was as lovely an expression of hefeweizen as I have had in many a year, all those clove and banana aromas you expect from the style, but completely missing the bubble gum character that screams out bad fermentation control. As I say I rarely get a hefeweizen these days, admittedly it is not one of my favourite styles but done well, and presented properly as it was here, it can be a refreshing change of pace. There was just one more beer available that needed to be tried, the Jetstream Pilsner.


Sure the glass says Fliegerquell, but the liquid was the Jetstream, and again it was a solid, thoroughly to style, and thoroughly satisfying German pilsner, with all the wonderful hop bitterness and clean crackery lager bite that involves. German beer and me just seem to get along like a house on fire, and once again I thought to myself that it really is no surprise that the likes of Stone can't make a go of US style craft beer in Germany. When the native beers are so well made, so tasty, and are such perfect companions to the communion of the stammtisch why bother with the wacky stuff?

Having spent an hour sitting at the bar it was time to wander back to the secure area, where it had been announced that boarding was about to begin. And soon I was on a Lufthansa plane, speeding its way back across the Atlantic Ocean to Virginia, and I promised myself it will not be 11 years before I go to Germany again. Next time I hope I will have the family with me as places I love are just so much better with the people I love.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Oktoberfest Taste Off - The Final

The final four.

Originally my intention had been to have a pair of semi finals followed by a final and third place play off, kind of like the World Cup, but I changed my mind.

On Sunday morning, Mrs V and I, with the twins in tow decided to go to the Somerset Pasture Party being held just up the road from us. Basically the "party" is an exhibition of vintage steam and gas powered contraptions, and with sons that get all excited at trains we figured they'd enjoy it too. We had also arranged to meet up with my good friend Dave and his wife Ali, along with their son, who is slightly older than our boys.


Once done with choking on wood and coal smoke, thank god for what remains of the EPA and the Clean Air Act frankly speaking, we all decamped to our place for lunch and drinkies. With the ladies in the kitchen preparing lunch, the kids watching cartoons and/or playing with toys, I decided to split the bottles I had for the four remaining beers with Dave and choose a final ranking for them. The final four, as a reminder, were:
We decided to rank them purely on the basis of personal preference rather than comparing to any particular style definition, especially as from the picture you can see that they cover a range of colours and interpretations of "Oktoberfest" lager.


Our initial rankings were:

Dave
  1. Goose Island
  2. Ayinger
  3. Sierra Nevada
  4. Samuel Adams
Al
  1. Sierra Nevada
  2. Ayinger
  3. Samuel Adams
  4. Goose Island
Other than both having Ayinger as our second favourite, everything else was up in the air. Dave had Goose Island ahead on the basis that it was not as interesting a beer as Ayinger and Sierra Nevada and therefore something he was likely to down plenty of in a sitting, I had it last because I thought it was not as interesting as the others and I would get bored after a couple, same justification, different outcomes.

We both agreed that Ayinger was a really complex, interesting beer, very different from the American beers, but excellent drinking. The question was whether we would want to drink it by the litre? Both of us said that a couple of pints would be fine, but eventually we would end up with palette fatigue.

Between us I think we have probably drunk well in excess of 120 bottles of this year's Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, and we both love it. I put it first because it would be something I could drink plenty of, and have done so far this year, without getting bored. Dave put it just behind Ayinger because Ayinger was more interesting and if he was just having a couple then he would go for the Ayinger.

It sounds terrible to say, but both of us thought Samuel Adams was just "meh". It's ok, not terrible interesting, not terrible, but also not something either of us would happily down a 12 pack of together on the deck, the sweetness we agreed was one dimensional.

In an attempt to break the deadlock, we asked our respective wives to try our first choices and let us know their thoughts, but Ali preferred the Goose Island, and Mrs V the Sierra Nevada. Birds of a feather and all that jazz.

So we decided to have a policy of horses for courses. If you are having a session and don't want to think too much about the beer you are drinking, go for the Goose Island. If you are having a session and want a beer that doesn't just fade into the background, go for the Sierra Nevada.

While Sam Adams will not likely make another appearance in my fridge this year, the Ayinger most certainly will as I found that I really enjoyed it, even though it was much more "old school" m?rzen than the moodern, paler, Oktoberfest lager styles. I can imagine using it in many late autumn and winter recipes, especially for soaking fruit for a cake, or in my roasted garlic and onion jam recipe that I plan to make again soon.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Kindling Old Flames

I am sure all of us have beers that the first pint of are etched in our memories, and in some small way changed our beer drinking lives forever. I remember well my first pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord, my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and my first Wrasslers XXXX. Another beer permanently inscribed on my tastebuds is Schlenkerla M?rzen.


Back in 2008 I found myself, as was my wont, in Pivovarsky klub. It was my local at the time, my Cheers. I had a fairly regular perch at both the upstairs and downstairs bar, everybody knew my name, and I in return knew everybody's name. I could ask one of the bar staff to just pick something for me confident that they would bring something good, and when they saw Mrs V coming through the door, her Primátor English Pale Ale was poured and ready before she had her coat off. Up to that point I had never touched a rauchbier, but they had got some in from Bamberg and I was eager to try...

Wow, just wow. None of your faint traces of smoke that bring bacon to mind, this was like being smacked upside the head with an entire side of pig. I loved it. Poured from a bottle with a label that just screamed Germany to this utter Germanophile, the colour was a shocking deep mahogany, it was beautiful. If I remember rightly myself and my friends drank the vast majority of their stock, and I was hooked on Schlenkerla beer for life.

As yesterday was St Valentine's Day, I martyred Mrs V by beheading her. No wait, no I didn't, we went to a delightful harpsichord concert in Staunton, had a couple of drinks at a wine bar, and then headed into the gathering snowstorm to try out Edelweiss German Restaurant. I have mentioned my own Germanophilia, thankfully Mrs V is also a devotee of Mitteleuropa life so it was an easy choice really, even though previous visits to German restaurants have had us wondering why the sauerkraut was more sü? than sauer.

Sat on a log cabin, with snow falling outside, the accordianist and guitarist playing their greatest hits, including Ring of Fire (somewhat apt after Liverpool spanked Villa 6-0), everything was looking good and then I looked at the beer list. There was Schlenkerla M?rzen, Weizen, and Helles - the good became great. I knew immediately what I was drinking, and it was everything I have always loved about this beer. It left me wondering why I don't drink it more often.

What a great way to spend the evening, plates of wurst, kraut, and sp?tzle, washed down with mugs of rauchbier, then rounded off with a hulking great slice of k?se tort, all in the company of the inestimable Mrs V.

If you should find yourself on the I-81 near Staunton and in need of a feed, head to junction 213A, find Edelweiss, and just enjoy. Mrs V and I will be back there soon for more.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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