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Beer, Cider, & Sake

A trip through lager land

ThomasvanDale | May 9, 201408:58 AM     3

For about two weeks, I've been travelling through the eastern and central European lager lands - Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. No, not Germany, because I'm going there in three weeks time.

The best new beer I found was a Czech dark beer called Litovel. I found the town where it is made (also called Litovel) and hope to stop there sometime. The beer was quite lovely at 3.8 percent alcohol by volume and cost only €2.15 for a half liter (I had it in a very nice cafe in Krakow, so that is translating to Euros). According to the brewery, beer has been made in the town since 1291.

In Salzburg, I returned to what is, I think, one of the nicest places to drink beer I have ever been. It is in a monastery called Augustine (the brewery with the same name in Munich is not related, from what I know). The pub part begins with some religious paintings and sculptures. Customers are allowed to bring their own food or to buy it from various small food vendors in a hallway outside the drinking areas. There are three indoor beer halls and an outside beer garden.

There are, over the year, three beers served: at Christmas there is a Bockbier, in the springtime there is a Fastenbier and all year there is a Märzenbier. I had both the Fastenbier and Märzenbier. All beers are served by gravity from wooden barrels that, I assume, were used during the lagering period. The Märzenbier was 4.6 percent alcohol and the Fastenbier 5.2 percent. As I recall, the beers were about €3 for a half liter.

An unusual feature of the beer halls is the Bierwärmer (I don't think I need to translate that). Since the barrels come directly from the lagering cellars they can be a bit cool. If you are thinking that this sounds a lot like Real Ale in the UK, you are correct.

I like lager beers. Most of them have rather low alcohol, yet the best ones have very interesting and rather complex tastes. Almost always, they are well-balanced. Generally, you can drink lager beers all day long (you must, of course, drink somewhat moderately). A couple of years ago, in Bavaria, I had, for the first time, such a delicious beer that I drank two liters of it. I did this over four hours, I think, and was able to walk out rather stable. Well, at least I'm sure that I didn't get injured or injure anyone else.

I've tried posting some photos I took on the trip. I hope it works.

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