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Monday, November 12, 2018

Forgive Me Beer Gods for I have Sinned

Forgive me beer gods for I have sinned. It has been seven months since my last beerfession. No, I didn’t quit drinking, nor have I stopped brewing beer. Neither back injuries (1) nor broken bones (At least 3) could prevent me from consuming the greatest beverage on earth. One look at my ever expanding waistline confirms my never ending quest for malt, water, and hops. In the following paragraphs please find my feeble attempt to summarize the past seven months of my ongoing beer adventure:

Hope Springs Eternal

Last spring was one for the record books, not because of temperature, but because of the countless number of beer festivals in Europe. Over a span of 14 days in April the navigator and I attended THREE festivals. We kicked off spring at Stuttgart’s annual fruhlingsfest. Think October fest but in the spring. What was initially supposed to be a short 2 hour visit with colleagues morphed into a several hour affair involving not less than three liters of beer and shots of schnapps. Needless to say I should have stuck with just the beer. 
Four days later, having just recovered from fruhlingsfest, I found myself at Stuttgart’s 2nd annual craft beer festival. The Stuttgarter Craft Beer festival is sponsored and organized by my favorite local craft beer bar, Kraftpaule and contains hundreds of beers from breweries across Europe. From IPA’s to Belgians there is more than enough beer for even the most discerning beer snob. Over an afternoon I had the privilege of meeting several brewery representatives, including one in particular from Belgium after I knocked his popup display over, TWICE.  As I fumbled to fix the display, while heaping praise upon their beer, the brewery rep told me they would be serving their beer the following weekend at a festival in Leuven, Belgium.  Not surprisingly I already had reservations.

The Beer Capital
The weekend following Stuttgarter Craft Beer Festival the navigator and I struck off for the Zythos Beer Festival in Leuven Belgium. Having attended last year’s festival ( Zythos festival has become my annual kickoff for spring. Arriving in Leuven on Friday evening we quickly checked into our room and struck off to rendezvous with our friend the “Philospher”.  After a quick meal the Philosopher suggested we visit the Beer Capital, a local beer joint with 20 beers on tap and more than 500 bottled beers. After several hours of pre-festing we parted company, took a short nap, reconvening the next morning for the 11 am opening of Zythos. Much like last year’s festival the 2018 Zythos contained 80 breweries with more than 500 beers. Suffice to say a good time was had by all.
In desperate need of some rest the Navigator and I took a three week hiatus from beer festivaling before striking off for Prague to attend the Czech version of spring fest over Meorial Day weekend.  Over the past few years the Prague beer festival has transitioned from a traditional “Big Czech Brewery” affair to a more regionally focused “Craft-Like” feel. Located in the Letna area of Prague it is within walking distance of downtown. Or at least that’s what we were led to believe. Striking off from the hotel Saturday morning we walked, and walked, and walked. Five miles later we arrived at Letna Park, well, the base of it anyway. The park sits atop what must be the tallest point in Prague. A 30 minute climb and one sunburned head later we arrived at the fest. The Prague beer fest is somewhat small with various breweries and food vendors arrayed beneath a series of tents with a central table area. Much to my dismay many of the breweries did not send representatives but instead fest employees, who knew little or nothing about the brewery, served beer from a wall of taps only accepting beer requests by the beers number vice the name. Nevertheless I quenched my thirst with some amazing Czech beer although I couldn’t tell you which one was best. (Number 17 was delicious).

So there you have it three countries and four fests in six weeks. Only five more months to catch up on!

Until next time,


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Age is Just a Number…..

Tap Room
Age is just a number, at least that’s what they say. Age also equates to experience leading us to the “age old” question, youth versus experience. The same holds true for beer. Would you choose beer from a new startup brewery or one that is well established and has a history? Yuengling, America’s oldest brewery was founded in 1829. In contrast Germany’s oldest brewery Weihenstephan was founded in 725. While I have yet to visit America’s oldest brewery I did seize the opportunity to visit Germanys. 

A mere two hour drive from Stuttgart, 20 minutes from the Munich airport lays the town of Freising. With a population of approximately 45000 Freising is the home of the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University which is where I found myself the day before Thanksgiving, sort of.  Freising is also the home of the Weihenstephan brewery, adjacent to the university. In early November the Navigator and I paid a visit to Weihenstephan, embarking on a two hour tour of the brewery. Naturally, beer samples were included.

Weihenstephan operates at maximum capacity year around. Despite their obvious need for expansion, and an offer from the town to provide the land, the brewery remains true to its roots remaining at their original location where they have brewed beer for more than a thousand years. In so doing Weihenstephan places history and tradition ahead of profits, a rarity in this day and age.


As the state brewery of Bavaria, Weihenstephan beers are generally considered by beer enthusiasts to be among the best in Germany. Weihenstephan strictly adheres to the
Weihenstephan strictly adheres to the Reinheitsgebot or “German Beer Purity Law” using only water, barley and hops in their production process. Their beer offerings include a hefeweissbier, weizenbock, hefeweissbier dunkel, kristallweissbier, dopple bock, and pilsner. As an American, lover of all things big, I gravitated toward their bock both for its flavor and the 7.4% ABV.

Weihenstephan may be short on variety, but they are definitely rich in history. As the saying goes, “If It Aint Broke Don’t Fix it” and Weihenstephan definitely aint broke. Age is just a number however in the German beer scene; it’s a really BIG number.

Until next time