Next we headed east into the Hallertau hop growing region to Hopsteiner. They are basically producers of hop pellets and hop extracts. They also have a huge cooled warehouse to store hop products.
|Hop pellet die's|
After the tour we all piled on the bus and drove to an old brewery just down the road that is closed but the Hopsteiner folks have access to the kitchen and dining hall. They treated us to beer and dinner, which was fantastic.
After dinner we piled on the bus again and drove about half an hour away to the mid-evil town of Regensburg where our hotel was. After checking in a group of us followed Michael Eder through town on his way to his favorite beer bar. Along the way he gave us some history of the town. It was a very interesting walk. The city is along the Danube river and very old. This is where the pope is from. At the bar they had a dark bock that was absolutely mind blowing. One of the best beers I have had thus far in Germany.
|The cathedral in Regensberg|
Tuesday: The next day we drove just north of town to the Krones headquarters. This is a massive facility. At this particular plant they produce filling equipment. Of course we were asked not to take photos inside the buildings. They did treat us to lunch which was quite nice.
|Old bottle filler|
After our tour and lunch we headed back into Regensburg to the Bischofshof brewery. This is a pretty state of the art brewery in a pretty old complex. They had new Steineker brewhouse equipment, and new Krones bottling equipment. I am pretty sure they are owned by the church or something like that. Anyway we had a really nice tour and they treated us to beer and food. They also sent us off with three crates of beer for the bus.
|Pegasus lauter tun|
After this we drove north for awhile to the town of Bamburg. This was pretty special for me, as I am a big fan of rauchbeer, which is a beer made with malt that has been smoked, usually with beechwood malt. Bamburg is now a days the home of the style. We checked into our hotel and went directly to Brauerei Spezial which is the oldest producer of rauchbeer in Bamburg. Their beer is a little light on the smoke flavor, but still a great beer.
After dinner and a beer we went across the street to Brauerei Fassala and tried one of their beers before moving on. We walked through the streets of Bamburg to Schlenkerla. This is the place where the Brauerei Heller serves their rauchbeer. Their beer has a far greater smoke character compared to the Spezial, but wow is it good. I also tried their smoked weisse beer, which was heavenly as well. We ended the night there and headed back to the hotel.
Wednesday: We got up, had a nice breakfast and got back on the bus for a short ride to Kaspar Schulz. They are producers of brewing equipment, that is more aimed at smaller to mid-sized breweries. They are also the creators of the Schoko gentle wort boiling system. It is a pretty neat add on that can save a whole lot of energy. After the tour we were treated to a bunch of Brauerei Spezial rachbeer and some traditional bavarian fare. Again another company that was over the top with the hospitality.
After our nice outdoor lunch we drove a couple miles away to another mecca of sorts for me, Weyermann Maltz. I have and still do use a lot of their products, and have always been very pleased with them. They had us watch a small powerpoint presentation, then split us up and gave us a tour. We weren't allowed to take photo's inside, but wow what a facility they have. One really neat part of their facility is their pilot brewhouse made by none other than Kaspar Schulz. They also have another much larger brewhouse onsite solely for the production of Sinamar.
After the tour we headed back to their Beir Stube to try some creations from the pilot brewery. They had a Bohemian Pils made with their floor malted pilsner malt, and a nice rauchbeer. In the end they were vary gracious hosts, and I will always be glad to use their malt in the future.
That night we had some dinner in the town square then a pils and a game of cribbage in the hotel bar. I turned in early that night to re-charge the batteries.
Thursday: We rose early and headed back towards Munich. Our destination was Brauerei Schneider in the town of Kelheim which is also on the Danube river. We were given a great tour that included special access to their fermentation room to see the open fermenters.
We had a nice snack of cheese and bavarian ham that had been smoked with beechwood. After this we drove to the town of Abensberg to the Brauerei Kuchlbaur. This may be the strangest place I have been in a long time. I can best describe it as a wheat beer brewery mixed with an amusment park, mixed with someone who took too much acid. The history is that it is an old brewery, and in recent years the owner decided that weisse beer was made by the weisse beer dwarves, and they needed a place to live so he commisioned by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It's basically a 35 meter high tower paying homage to weisse beer...very strange.
They also had the largest collection of weisse beer glasses in the world at 4200.
|Weisse beer dwarf|
|20 liter weisse beer glass|
All in all it seemed like a lot of money to spend on weird stuff but to still have pretty worn brewing equipment, but it seems to work the beer garden was packed.
After leaving "beer world" we all got back on the bus and headed back to Munich. Because Easter fell right in the middle of our study tour in ended up that we were going to have four days off. Jay, Bryce and I decided awhile back that this would be a great opportunity to go explore Berlin and Leipzig, so later that night we boarded the night train bound for Berlin. They were sold out of sleeper cars which absolutly sucked. We ended up in reclining seats, but both Jay and I are taller and there was a wall in front of us that prohibited us from stretching our legs out while sleeping, and poor Bryce had to sit next to the loudest snoring guy I have ever heard. Needless to say it was not the most fun 10 hours I have ever had.
Friday: We woke up on the train to the sound of someone's alarm going off, then some train alarm going off, and people milling about, but the great thing is we were almost in Berlin. After arriving we decided to walk a few miles to our hostel. This was nice because my knees were still angry from the train ride. We got to the hostel and found out that we couldn't check in until 3:00pm, and it was 9:00am. We were able to drop off our bags and we headed towards the city center in search of breakfast and sights to behold. After a very american style breakfast buffet we wondered around for a couple of hours. Berlin is a really amazing city, with some crazy cool architecture.
Fernsehturm Tower (television tower)
After wandering around for a few hours we decided it was time to sample some of Berlin's beer. This is actually one of the main reasons for coming here. We had read about some newer
microbreweries here that were starting to buck the trend of German beer, plus we were on the hunt for Berliner Weisse, which is a wheat beer that has had a lactic acid producing bacteria added to give it a sour taste. We ended up at a place called Brauhaus Mitte. Low and behold they had Berliner Weisse. I tried the sampler tray, which consisted of a Pilsner, a Dunkel, a Weisse beer and their special of the month which was a Zwickle. This is a beer that has been taken from the conditioning tank and is unfiltered and usually a little green tasting. This one had a bit of diacytel in it, but was still a good beer.
Saturday: We got up and had some breakfast. Bryce decided he would sleep more to try to break his sickness so Jay and I went off in search of more adventure and more beer. We went to the hofbahnhof (main train station) and started walking. We were in search of part of the Berlin wall that is still standing. We also wanted to check out Check Point Charlie. On the way we also saw the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial. When we found the wall there was a building with a bunch of information on WWII and the rise of the nazi party. It was a very depressing place, but still interesting to see these parts of history close up.
After seeing all this we decided it was time for a beer. We found the Brauhaus Lemke and had their Pilsner in their beer garden.
We then headed back to get Bryce and continue our beer hunting mission. We crossed town to a place in East Berlin called Hops & Barley. They weren't open yet so we got some mexican food at a place just down the street. After an awesome plate of nacho's we went and checked out Hops & Barley. I had the Pilsner which was very nice. We went back to the hostel and just hung out for the night.
Sunday: We got up, had some breakfast then went to the train station to catch a train at 12:45. Our destination was Leipzig which is south of Berlin. The main goal for going here was more beer hunting. We were seeking out Gose. We checked into our hostel, then set out for the Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof which is in an old train station. After a short walk we has a seat in the beer garden and got to enjoy this wonderful beer in some very wonderful weather.
We then walked through town in search of more Gose. Leipzig didn't get the bombing that other German cities did in WWII so there is still some really old and beautiful buildings standing. Johann Sebastian Bach is also buried here.
We finally arrived at Ohne Bedenken which was the first place to revive the Gose beer in the 80"s after it was nearly extinct. We had a nice meal and tried the third type of Gose available in Leipzig, Rittergut Gose. All the examples we tried were fairly sour, didn't have the strong salt character some american craft breweries give it, and didn't really have too strong a coriander taste. They were all very good beers though.
After we got back to the hostel, I talked to Jen for about an hour, tried and Alt beer that I had purchased in Berlin, then went to bed.
What a week it's been. I have a feeling next week will be as eventful, as well as the coming weeks. I can't wait.