A PIVO PILGRIMAGE TO PILSEN

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Grab your favourite beer steins, folks! We’re heading to the source for a pilsener.

To many a beer drinker, the city of Plzeň (Pilsen) is virtually synonymous with its storied brewery and famous beer style. But beer in this western Bohemian town wasn’t always the kind of liquid sustenance that inspired pilgrimages.

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German Beer Vignettes: A Kölsch at Früh in Cologne

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Kölsch is part of the very fabric of Cologne, an element of the city’s cultural heritage as important as Carnival. Kölsch is a relatively young style, and it wasn’t until after WWII that Kölsch cemented its status as the premier beer in the city. Things developed quickly from there. By 1986, Cologne’s brewers had come together to sign the Kölsch Convention, an agreement that turned Kölsch into a protected appellation.

FRÜH AM DOM
Like any major city, Cologne is worth several days in its own right, but you’re also in luck if you’re just passing through. Not only is the Dom (cathedral) located just outside of the train station, so, too, are a handful of taverns serving up Kölsch. If you have an hour or so, stop off for a peek into the Dom followed by a Kölsch or three within half a kilometer of the train station.

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WEIHENSTEPHAN: ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF BREWING AT THE WORLD’S OLDEST BREWERY

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Weihenstephan is a brewing institution steeped in superlatives. The very name of this venerable old brewery north of Munich evokes associations with some of the most respected wheat beers in the world, beers like the style-defining Hefe-Weissbier, and Vitus, a lush Weizenbock. And not only is Weihenstephan home to one of the most famous brewing schools in the world, it’s also the world’s oldest existing brewery.

A MONASTERY BREWERY OVERLOOKING FREISING

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GIVE THE GIFT OF BEER TRAVEL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

I’m sure just about every one of us could do with a beercation right about now. It’s been a year like no other in recent memory. Virtual happy hours have largely replaced the comradery of the taproom, tavern, and beer garden. No Oktoberfest this year, no local brew fests either. And beer travel, a pastime that has grown in popularity with each passing year, has all but ceased.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. With the lightning-quick development of vaccines against Covid and their hopefully steady rollout, my optimistic bet is that we’ll be travelling again by summer or early autumn. And it just so happens to be the holiday season right now, which always lightens the mood.

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WELTENBURGER KLOSTER, THE WORLD’S OLDEST MONASTERY BREWERY

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

The morning fog in Kelheim has just lifted as we walk down the ramp to board the boat. We set sail, passing the imposing Befreiungshalle, the neo-classical hall commemorating the battles that ejected Napoleon and his armies from the German states, on our way upstream. The channel begins to narrow and the banks on either side steepen into cliffs as we enter the Danube Gorge, a sublime wilderness of vertical rock slabs and outcroppings crowned by lush green woods. A few kilometers on, and there it is looming up in front of us: Kloster Weltenburg.

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BELGIAN BEER CAFÉ VIGNETTES: DE GARRE, BRUGES

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Clichés about hidden gems aside, there are hidden gems, and then there are true hidden gems. De Garre is a true hidden gem — literally. The address is simple enough: De Garre 1. But it’s a clue more than anything else. You have to look hard for this place tucked away to the southeast of the Grote Markt in an alley along the Breidelstraat in Bruges. The small passage, wide enough for two people, is a bit like an Edinburgh alley: blink and you’ll miss it.

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Off the Beaten Path Near Munich

Writteb by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Munich has it all for the beer drinker. And if that’s not enough, breweries like Ayinger, Kloster Andechs, and Weihenstephan fan out at various points along Munich’s regional train network. But there’s even more beer bliss in store for the intrepid beer traveler willing to journey further afield. This cluster of historic beer towns, aristocratic breweries, and monastery beer gardens is a short trip away in Upper Bavaria. You can combine a few of these as day trips from Munich, or base yourself in Bad Tölz for some relaxing small-town charm in the foothills of the Alps.

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Bamberg’s Beer Garden’s: A Bierkellar for ALL Seasons

Written by Franz Hofer for for A Tempest in a Tankard

The broad verdant valley north of Nürnberg gradually gives way to hillier terrain covered in woods. There’s gold in them there leafy hills the closer you get to Bamberg. Liquid gold, that is. And liquid amber, bronze, and copper. The spires and steeples of Bamberg may well symbolize the city’s historical power and influence, but it’s those green hills that have long nurtured one of the sources of Bamberg’s wealth: beer.

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Kloster Reutberg: Magnificent Alpine Views and Beers Worth the Hike

Written by Franz for A Tempest in a Tankard

You’ll come for the beer and stay for the Alps. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, the panoramic view from Kloster Reutberg’s terrace is one of the best beer garden views in Bavaria. If you get here in the morning while the mist is still clinging to the Alps, it’s as if the curtain is lifting on a majestic performance as the sun dissipates the clouds.

Speaking of early, cyclists and hikers flock to the monastery grounds perched idyllically atop a hillock rising gently above the meadows of Sachsenkam, especially when the weather’s nice. Be sure to arrive early enough to claim your front-row seat on the terrace. The early bird gets the worm. And don’t forget to bring sunscreen.

Kloster Reutberg, meadow view

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The Art of the Beer Garden Food Feast

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

KING MAX AND THE HUNGRY BEER GARDEN PATRON

A refreshing beer and a meal in the cooling shade of the beer garden: It’s a beloved rite of spring and summer that dates back to early nineteenth-century Bavaria. For several years, the citizens of Munich had taken to spending more of their time (and cash) during the warmer months at the beer cellars along the banks of the Isar, preferring these shaded chestnut groves to the stuffy inns where the beer was decidedly less fresh. Innkeepers were incensed and petitioned King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria (1806–1825) to do something to stop these dastardly brewers from serving beer garden food.

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