Tuesday, 22 May 2007

A German beer trail

A recent article in the NYT describes a three-city beer crawl the correspondent took through Germany: Cologne, Leipzig, and Bamberg. It's good work if you can get it.

Despite having done German at school, I've spent little time in the country, and Bamberg is the only one of the three cities I've visited. I can certainly endorse the writer's comments about the local specialty, rauchbier: it really is extraordinary stuff. I don't know about "liquid bacon" as a description, since that makes it seem over-the-top. But I've had people look at me strangely when I wax lyrical about "smoked beer", trying to work out what that could possibly mean. (For the record: apparently the malt is wood-smoked.) All I can say is, try it.

My Lonely Planet guide advised dividing one's time on a short German trip between Bavaria and Berlin, with a stopover in Bamberg [or another town, whose name I've forgotten, as an alternate] along the way. I have no quarrel with that advice. Bamberg is a delightful town for a quick visit, pleasant in aspect and with a great variety of architecture in a limited space that can be walked in a day ... and the beer is like nothing else going. The food was great too.

To my delight, when I was working in Blackburg VA for several months, I discovered that one could buy Schlenkerla Rauchbier from a specialist alcohol merchant there. I've not found it anywhere else. If anyone knows how to source it in Sydney, I'd be very glad to know.


Eb said...

Sounds good. Have you been to either of the Belgian Beer Cafes? (Harrington St in the city, or probably Crows Nest) Not sure if they sell it or not.

Eb said...

Good to see you followed my advice and got statcounter.com. :)

Bruce Yabsley said...

No I haven't been to the BBC (or at least not since moving back to Sydney): I should check it out, since I don't mind Belgian beer.

Thanks for the tip re statcounter, BTW: I'm happy with the service. When I looked up their site I realised what I'd said to you was wrong: I'd baulked at one or two of the other counter providers that required advertising, and statcounter had just needed more setup than I had time for at that moment. I clearly should make notes for myself when I walk away from something like that, since my memory plays tricks.

Sean said...

I've always thought of Rauchbier as the Lapsang Souchong of beers, just as Laphroaig is the Lapsang Souchong of scotches.

Looks like you can find it online here. Since I work just down the road from the BBC, I'll pop in to see whether they have any smoky Belgian beers.

Bruce Yabsley said...

sean thanks for the tip on obtaining Schlenkerla Rauchbier online. Not cheap, but at least I now know where to find it.

Last night Eb and I spent the early evening at the Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe, at 201 Clarence Street in the city. They make a rauchbier of their own; it and the organic pale ale were the pick of the beers that I tried in that session. I'll definitely be going back to try out the rest of their (extensive) selection. The food was pretty good too.