If you have been a close follower of this blog, you are aware of my general disdain for summer’s heat and humidity. July’s weather is a prime example……did you enjoy doing anything outside that didn’t involve being submerged in water!?
Its during the hot nights of summer that I find myself looking at the myriad of pictures I took of last winter. Even though it was only six months ago, I feel like it was years. And it’s somewhat comical looking at my family dressed in winter garb….how can we possibly be cold!? (Literally I think this while sitting pool side in flip flops and Hawaiian shirt)
Some of my pictures were from a trip I took to Germany last February. I wasn’t planning to take a business trip so close to opening, but circumstances warranted a surgical strike to Munich (and besides, I left Dan working hard at the brewery). I meant to write a blog post about it when I got back, but we were on the cusp of getting our Certificate of Occupancy at Autumn Arch and a lot of little details (like anchoring the half wall, finishing the bathroom tile, installing the bar top, etc.) needed my attention as soon as my return flight touched down.
Now that the urgency has passed, I can give you my general impression of Bavarian beers and people.
This was my third trip over to Bavaria, and so far, all have been in winter, which I don’t mind at all. Except for the fact that I have yet to drink in a beer garden.
But let me immediately confirm what you already suspect - a Bavarian winter is cold, gray, and dark. Which is actually a good summary of a Delaware winter. But due to the increased latitude, Germany is even darker.
But I didn't let that stop me from exploring the city and it’s world-class beer scene in the evenings.
While known as a beer mecca, Munich does not have a wide variety of beers. Helles, Pilsner, Dunkel, and Wheat. That’s it. Maybe substitute out a Maibock or Kellerbier in spring. Otherwise, choices are limited. And definitely no beers with IBU above 6.
The lack of variety surprised me on my first visit, but it’s more than made up for in overall quality. There was a point in my life where I was not a big fan of lagers, but a week in Munich changed my thinking on this. The quality of Munich lagers is extremely high - golden and crisp. Not even a hint of a defect. It takes a skilled brewer to produce a light beer with no flaws. There are no hops or alcohol to hide behind.
I’m a big fan of the glassware. Normally, I prefer a pilsner, but those usually come in the tall skinny glasses, whereas the Helles comes in a liter stein, which has the added benefit of making anyone holding one automatically look (and feel) more badass. So I had a couple of those throughout the week.
Let me digress and point out my observations of the people of Munich. I didn’t want to admit it, but overall, Bavarians display a level of toughness beyond the typical Delawarean.
Let me explain. When I stepped out of the subway one evening, bundled in scarf, gloves, down coat, and thermals to ward off the savage cold, a gaggle of school girls whizzed by me on their bicycles. And similar encounters like this happened a lot - I was constantly being passed by men, women, and children on their bikes as I walked around the city in the cold and dark. Like I said, a general level of winter toughness is on display in Munich, and I was impressed.
On my final night in the city, I visited the Giesinger brewery. This is the only "craft" brewery I could find in Munich, as the city is dominated by several huge breweries (Paulaner, Augustiner, etc). When I walked in, the aroma of malted barley almost knocked me over. They must have just finished brewing for the day, so I was a little disappointed that I missed it. But the staff was moving tables INTO the brewing area, which piqued my curiosity, so I asked the server if there was a special event, and he replied, “no, we just let people sit in the brewery on busy nights”. SWEET! There's something special about enjoying a beer in the place it was made....and specifically right next to the tank it fermented in. Kudos to Geisinger for having an open policy with regard to brewing and enjoying beer.
I know a brewery in Newark, DE kinda like that.