Since my arrival in Deutschland I have opted to spend the winters drinking my homebrewed beer and counting the days since I last saw the sun. If I restricted my beer drinking to sunny winter days, I would undoubtedly reduce the size of my bulbous midriff by 100 centimeters, like 2 inches in standard measuring terms. But hey, what fun is that? As all the cool kids like to say YOLO. A rare mid-January beer fest is just what the doctor ordered. Well, not my doctor, but I digress. When a few friends suggested we attend the Karlsruher Craft Beer Festival I jumped at the chance to imbibe on my version of liquid sunshine.
Karlsruhe is a lovely city. The second largest city in the state of Baden-Wurtemberg (Stuttgart is the largest) it is the seat of the Federal Constitution Court. Located a mere 80 Km’s (12 miles or so non-metric measurement) north of Stuttgart its an easy drive, which is why we opted for the train. We are nothing if not responsible. Arriving at the fest location we discover the beer tent is in fact a circus tent. As we all know its best to leave circus tents erected year around in case a circus without a tent wanders through town.
Entering the tent, I’m pleasantly surprised by both the temperature and the lack of elephant dung. Several beer fest tables stood at center ring with nary a clown in sight. We quickly secured a table and struck off to experience craft beer under the big top. Most participating breweries were German, many of which I had sampled before. One German craft beer stood out amongst the others. Chilliero a chili pepper beer produce by Hofpfengarten brewery in Bamberg, Germany. This beer was shocking on two levels. One, most pepper beers are unbalanced, with the spice overpowering the beer. Chilliero however was well balanced. Second and more notably, Bamberg is the home of Rauch (smoked) beer. Ninety nine percent of the beer produced in Bamberg is smoked beer. I challenge anyone to enter any bar in Bamberg and asked for something that isn’t smoked……good luck.
Smoked beer aside I found myself returning again and again to the Browar PINTA booth, Polish craft beer at its finest. Their Vermont IPA was surprisingly juicy, rivaling many U.S. produced New England IPA’s. Somewhere around my third trip to the Browar PINTA both with a friend of mine he was told beer is free for brewery representatives. We shared confused glances before realizing the server had assumed my friends Guinness shirt meant he was also a vendor. I quickly began disrobing, removing my hoody revealing my Stone Brewery shirt. Alas I was to late as my friend informed the server that we are NOT vendors.
While the weather outside was frightful, craft beer under the big top is the epitome of the craft beer scene in Germany. Random beer fests in unusual locals are what makes my beer experience in Germany one for the ages. I look forward to next years Craft beer Circus during the height of European winter dankness, providing hope in the form of liquid sunshine that winter cannot last forever.
Until next time,
Stay Crafty my friends.