Monday, May 2, 2011

Week 12

Monday:  We woke up in Leipzig and lounged around the hostel for awhile before checking out. We decided to go back to the Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof for brunch. I had some pasta which was fantastic, and of course another Gose. We returned to the hostel and hung out until it was time to head to the train station. One thing I would recommend to anyone traveling on train in Europe is, get a reservation on the train. We were told we didn’t need them when we purchased our tickets. It turns out that if the train is full and you don’t have a seat reservation, you stand!! We were able to secure the table at the bar but there were no seatsat it. What could have been a miserable 4.5 hour train turned out to be alright though. I always feel that when traveling you have to be very flexible, and if things don’t go your way, make the best of it. We were standing right by the bar so we drank beer and played cribbage the whole way back.

Tuesday: We resumed the study tour today, this time heading to Austria. It was an early meet-up time and we managed to get all but one of the people on the bus. The guy that was left behind had to take a train an meet us there. Our first stop of the day was Stiegl Brewery. This place is massive. They really have quite the operation here. One of the interesting things is they just started doing a weisse beer, and it has been so successful that they have a giant room ready for more tanks when the time comes. After the tour they treated us to three different beers, their Martzen, their Weisse, and their Zwickle. All were very nice. We also had sausage and straight pretzels. 

Ready to add more weisse beer tanks.

After Stiegl we went a couple miles away to Augustiner Brau. This is not associated with the Augustiner in Munich, it is just owned by Augustine monks. The place was the exact opposite of Steigl. It was a pretty dated place. They still use a coolship and some old-school chilling methods. They also package most of the beer in barrels and only really sell it locally. They have their own re-pitching system for the barrels which was something I have never seen. The thing I liked was after the tour we tried their beer and it was great which shows that all the fancy equipment in the world doesn't mean the beer won't be good. It was a really neat experience. We also tried some Stecherlfisch, which is just fish cooked on a stick. Delicious.

The coolship

Wort chilling

Barrel re-pitching

After the tour we checked into our hotel room, then re-grouped an hour later to head to Gusswerk. This was a unique place. It reminded me of an American brewpub. The brewer gave us a nice tour of their little place and explained his dedication to organic brewing. They also fed us some great food. I actually had a stout too, it's been a long time. After the dinner and tour we were all supposed to take a bunch of taxi's back to our hotel. The first round left and about 20 of us had to wait about 45 minutes for the other cabs to return. It was not a very fun wait.

Wednesday: We departed heading for Eggenberg. They are most famous in the states for making Samichlaus, which is a really strong dopplebock. The tour was pretty neat. They have a nice brewery that overlooks the alps and many years ago used to be a castle, but that burned down in the 1800's. At the end we tried a few of their beers, including Samichlaus and Erbock. Both are really strong but well made.

Next it was on to Brauerei Hofstetten. This is an old family brewery in the Austrian countryside. They make some great beer, with one of the main attractions being their Granite Bock. The beer is fermented in big granite tubs, then they heat up chunks of granite and stick it in the beer to caramelize the unfermented sugars. It was really something I was just blown away by. They also have a mill from 1929 that is still in operation. They had some big port barrels and they asked us what they should put in them. We suggested stout, then the brewer said "We have a russian imperial stout we weren't sure what to do with, perfect". That will be great if they go for it. One of the beers they served us was a bucket beer, which is basically just a pilsner taken from the maturation tank and served from a bucket. They were very gracious hosts. I ended up picking up a barley wine they made, that I plan on drinking at the close of the Master Brewer program.

The old mill

Granite fermenters

Bucket beer
Next it was off to the town of Aigen-Schlagl. We were going to Schiffener which is a guest house/beer destination place. They serve all sorts of beers from around the world along with good food. The plan for us was what is called the bierkullinarium. It was a 5 course meal with beer pairings. The owner Karl Schiffner is a champion biersommelier who matches some great food with beer. We had a very filling meal and some great beer matches. The absolute topper was the heated bock. The idea is very similar to the granite bock, in that a bock beer has a really hot thing put in it to caramelize the unfermented sugars. This was different in that he stuck an iron rod in the beer. The story was that iron workers years ago would be drinking beer and it would get too cold in the winter time so they heated up iron rods to warm up their beer. The result was the heated bock. It's amazing how the beer changes. This is something I will gladly bring back to the states.

The food

The beer

Heated bock

Thursday: We got up and had breakfast at the guest house, then headed down the hill to the monastery brewery Schlagl. This was a pretty short tour, but did have some unique highlights. One being their brewhouse, which is from the 70's. The pump control panel looked like something from Star Trek. It was a great tour though. Afterwards they treated us to a beer. I had their Roggenbier, which is a rye based beer. It was a very sub-dued version of the style but nice none the less.

Pump control panel

After the beer and a little lunch we got on the bus for the final destination Flottweg. They specialize in centrifuge and separator technology. We were running behind schedule and there were a lot of detours on the way there, so the bus driver was driving really fast on windy country roads. The whole bus was a little woozy by the time we got there. The tour itself was a good one. I can't say that I am super in to separator technology, but it was interesting none the less, and of course photo taking was not aloud. We ended up getting back into Munich at about 7:30pm. We got some dinner, hung out for a bit then went to bed.

Friday: Well friday was graduation day in that those doing the diploma program were done and headed home the next day. Earlier in the week we had found out our scores on the test for this segment. I ended up getting a 100%. That was kind of surprising to me, but hey, I'm not going to complain. For our graduation we went to a place called Wilderhirsch which is right around the corner from Doemens. It was a nice little ceremony with a nice lunch and some beer. Afterwards a group of us headed out looking for a specific beer garden that we never did find. Instead we ended up at another one that was probably equally as good. Later we headed down to the Fruhlingsfest, which is basically the spring version of Oktoberfest. It was absolute madness. There were tons of carnival rides and various foods as well. The true highlight was the Augustiner tent which literally had about a thousand people inside all drunk as hell and having a good time. It was pretty unreal. I got out of there pretty early because I needed food, but wow what an experience.


Raouf (my favorite Egyptian) and I

Saturday: I got up, had some breakfast then said goodbye to the guys who were headed home. It was a bittersweet moment. They will all be missed, but I am excited for each and everyone of the guys I have gotten to know over the past 12 weeks. I wouldn't say I really got to know everyone in the program well, but the one's that I did will be friends for life. The rest of the day was spent power lounging and it was awesome. Kyle and I ended up going down to the Euro youth hostel to watch some football (soccer) with our classmate Robbie. We are all enrolled in the Master Brewer program, hence why we are not going home yet.

Sunday: Sunday was very similar to Saturday in that we lounged for a good part of the day then went down to watch more football. Well, now it's time to get ready to do some traveling and to not be in school for awhile. This is the part that actually feels like a vacation. Now I am just waiting for Jen to get here next Wednesday, and we will be off on a new adventure, part of which will include Belgian beer as well as some exciting new Italian craft beer. I can't wait!!
Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment