Author Archives: A Tempest in a Tankard

Of Hearths and Heated Ales: A Taste of Drinking History

Part II of “Warming Beers for Cold Nights

“Stepping from behind the bar, the tavern keeper walked over to the flickering hearth. […] Bending over, he picked up the jug he had placed on the brick floor close to the bed of coals. Inside the beer was just beginning to steam. […] While it heated, he returned to the bar to scoop his secret mixture into a large tankard. […] He thought back on preparing it earlier in the day. To the fresh eggs, beaten into a froth, he had added brown sugar and a touch of rum. […] Rather than nutmeg, he added cinnamon, [and] blended in a little apple and pumpkin to create an appealing accent that cut through the richness of the eggs, [making] the drink taste distinctly different from the way it did in other taverns. […] From the jug the tavern keeper poured the steaming beer into the tankard, swirling it with a spoon to dissolve the mixture. Bending over again, he picked up a poker, […] and when he pulled it from the fire it glowed bright red. Then he thrust it into the tankard. With a hiss it threw off a small cloud of steam. […] Caramelizing the sugars, it heated the beer, and cast an aroma of sweet spice throughout the room.”  (Gregg Smith, Beer in America, 209-210).

Flip

Like W.T. Marchant and John Bickerdyke writing in Britain nearly a century before, Gregg Smith takes up the theme of mixed drinks made with beer in his Beer in America: The Early Years (1998). And like those nineteenth-century writers before him, Smith’s rumination on what American tavern denizens were drinking in times prior to the rise of industrialism is revealing, both in terms of the ingredients and attitudes toward warm drinks. Just as in the old country, beer was thought to be better than drinking water, but warm beer was thought to be best, presumably because warm liquids were easier to digest and because beer was considered healthy. And it had the physician’s imprimatur. Indeed, many a colonial drinker influenced by the recommendations of physicians and prevailing lore “were as likely to order a warmed, mixed beer as a tall, cold one” (Smith, 211).

As for the ingredients, eggs play a starring role in many a warm beer drink consumed prior to the early nineteenth century. Eggs, you say? Though the thought of eggs in warm-beer drinks might strike many a contemporary drinker as odd, both Marchant and Bickerdyke enumerate several warm beer drinks that featured eggs in their respective works about historical drinking customs in Britain. The flip described at the outset was a popular tipple, all the more so in colonial America if we’re to believe Alice Morse Earle’s account in her turn-of-the-twentieth-century Stage-coach and Tavern Days: “There never was a day, never a minute of the day, and scarce of the night, that some old Yankee flip drinker was plunging in a loggerhead, or smacking his lips over a mug of creaming flip” (Earle, 108). Even the New England Almanac from 1704 attests to the drink’s popularity:

The days are short, the weather’s cold, / By tavern fires tales are told. / Some ask for a dram when first come in, / Others with flip and bounce* begin. (Cited in Earle, Stage-coach and Tavern Days, 108).

*Bounce was a colonial-era liqueur made from cherries or other fruits such as apricot.

So ubiquitous was the drink in the taverns along the New England turnpikes and stage coach routes that the tools and vessels needed for making it were part of the surroundings in these taverns of yore. Large mixing jugs and long-handled spoons were among the tools of the tavern keeper’s trade, but perhaps what made the flip in colonial America a truly “American” drink was the loggerhead. Sometimes known as a flip-dog or hottle, the loggerhead “was as much a part of the chimney furniture of an old-time New England tavern and farm-house as the bellows and andirons” (Earle, 112).

Published a decade before Earle’s work, Bickerdyke’s Curiosities of Ale and Beer and Marchant’s In Praise of Ale provide a glimpse of the recipes that gave rise to the American variations. Here’s Marchant’s version:

“Keep grated ginger and nutmeg with a little fine dried lemon peel rubbed together in a mortar. To make a quart of flip:––Put the ale on the fire to warm, and beat up three or four eggs with four ounces of moist sugar, a teaspoonful of grated nutmeg or ginger, and a quartern of good old rum or brandy. When the ale is near to boil put it into one pitcher, and the rum and eggs, &c., into another; turn it from one pitcher to another till it is as smooth as cream.” (Marchant, 607-608).

Of note is that both chroniclers of the flip in Britain make no mention of the loggerhead treatment — a good thing for those of us in latter-day homes or apartments without fireplaces and pokers. Marchant’s recipe adds rum or brandy; Bickerdyke’s calls for rum or gin.

Speaking of gin …

Purl

Purl is another warm ale-based beverage that enjoyed immense popularity during its heyday, so much so that it was, according to Bickerdyke, “the common morning draught of Londoners” (Bickerdyke, 387). Purl was also popular during the American colonial era, as Gregg Smith notes.

Marchant describes the recipe thus: “It is made with a mixture of beer or ale (formerly amber ale was only used), and gin and bitters, or gin bitters. The gin and bitters are put into a half-pint pewter pot, and the ale warmed over a brisk fire, and added to it, at the exact warmth for a person to drink such a portion at a single draught” (Marchant, 609).

Bickerdyke has left us an even more complex and time-consuming recipe for ostensibly “common” purl prepared in advance and left to mature in the cellar for up to a year: “Roman wormwood, gentian root, calamus aromaticus, snakeroot, horse radish, dried orange peel, juniper berries, seeds or kernels of Seville oranges, all placed in beer and allowed to stand for some months.” Bickerdyke adds — tongue firmly in cheek — that “the writer who gives this receipt says a pound or two of galingale improves it — as if anything could improve such a perfect combination! (Bickerdyke, 387). So there you have it: If you don’t have any gin on hand, just procure some galingale and calamus aromaticus along with your juniper berries and make a “gin-beer” instead. Don’t forget to heat it up after it has stood for the requisite several months.

Possett

Flips weren’t the only warm-beer blends made with eggs. An egg hot was a simple concoction made with a pint of ale to which the barkeep added three eggs, two ounces of sugar, nutmeg, and ginger (Smith, 215).

Even more elaborate is the flip’s cousin, the egg possett, described here by Marchant:

“Beat up well the yolks of eight eggs with refined sugar pulverized and nutmeg grated; then extract the juice from the rind of lemon by rubbing loaf sugar upon it, and put the sugar with a piece of cinnamon and a quart of strong home-brewed beer into a saucepan, place it on the fire, and when it boils take it off, then add a single glass of gin, or this may be left out, put the liquor into a spouted jug, and pour it gradually among the yolks of eggs, &tc. All must be kept well stirred with a spoon while the liquor is being poured in. If it be not sweet enough add loaf sugar” (Marchant, 606-607).

***

It may well seem strange to even think about drinking your beer warm — or, for that matter, about adding eggs to your beer. That said, think of these recipes as a fine way of gathering some friends together while the weather’s still cold to experiment with a few of these forgotten gems from the past. (Don’t forget to check out Part I, “Warming Beers for Cold Nights,” while you’re at it.) Who knows? You might even find some inspiration for the present!

Sources

W.T. Marchant, In Praise of Ale, Or, A Compendium of Songs, Ballads, Epigrams, and Anecdotes Relating to Beer, Malt, and Hops, with Some Curious Particulars Concerning Ale-Wives and Brewers, Drinking-Clubs and Customs (London: George Redway, York Street, Covent Garden, 1888).

John Bickerdyke, The Curiosities of Ale and Beer: An Entertaining History (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1889).

Alison Morse Earle, Stage-coach and Tavern Days (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1900).

Gregg Smith, Beer in America: The Early Years, 1587–1840 (Boulder, CO: Brewers Publications, 1998).

Images

Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern (date unknown): Salvatore Colleluori, “The Colonial Tavern, Crucible of the American Revolution.”

Loggerhead: Earle, p. 113 (screenshot).

Other images: F.D. Hofer.

Related Tempest Articles

Warming Beers for Cold Nights

When Once They Drank Beer Warm: Cocktails and Concoctions from Olde Albion

© 2018 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Warming Beers for Cold Nights

~ “The past is a foreign country.” ~

You might have ended up here thinking this post was going to be about barley wines, Belgian quads, barrel-aged imperial stouts, or winter warmers. It’s not, much as I enjoy those typically malty styles. My apologies. Blame it on a piece I wrote a few years back called “When Once They Drank Beer Warm.” My enthusiasm for introducing readers to a nearly forgotten past did not mesh well with the timing of the piece. (Read: not an inordinate number of page views.) You see, I posted this article about warm beer at the height of summer. Who in this day and age wants to contemplate warm beer when the temperatures say beach and biking? But with a good two months’ worth of cold weather on the horizon, now might not be a bad time to revisit the past and cook up a tankard or two of warmed and spiced ale to parry the cold. So buckle up for a journey into the brave old world of warm beer concoctions, along with several recipes sure to expand what you thought possible of those aforementioned winter warmers.

***

John Bickerdyke begins Chapter XIV, “Beverages Compounded of Ale or Beer,” of his 1889 work, The Curiosities of Ale and Beer, with the following observation:

“Very few people, when warming themselves in the winter months with Mulled Ale, know that they are quaffing a direct descendant of that famous liquor known to our forefathers as the Wassail-Bowl, and near akin to Lambs-Wool, of which Herrick wrote in his Twelfth Night:

Next crowne the bowle full

With gentle Lambs wooll*,

    Adde sugare and nutmeg and ginger,

With store of ale too

And thus ye must doe,

    To make the Wassaile a swinger.’”

*Lambswool is one of the traditional drinks of the Wassail and was made with sweet, spiced hot ale or cider and roasted apples.

That Bickerdyke could assume his audience would be warming themselves with mulled ale is indicative of just how much our attitudes have changed regarding the “proper” consumption of beer in the intervening space of a mere 125 years, especially concerning temperature.

Bickerdyke was not alone. Published a year earlier than Bickerdyke’s Curiosities, W.T. Marchant’s In Praise of Ale dedicates an entire chapter to warm ale. Here, Marchant references a work published some two hundred years before his own, the title of which bears clear witness to the author’s attitudes regarding cold beer: A Treatise of Warm Beer, Wherein is declared by many reasons that Beer so qualified is farre more wholesome than that which is drunk cold (1641).

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Given the ample references to the deleterious effects of cold beverages in these older sources in conjunction with encomia lauding the benefits of warm beer for health, countenance, and constitution, it’s not surprising that recipes for warm ale and beer concoctions abound in the days before the arrival of cleaner water supplies and more reliably consistent (and industrialized) methods of beer production.

Hold my warm beer … …

* * *

Why warm beer now, winter weather notwithstanding? In his socio-cultural history in the form of a book about beer and ballads, Marchant lamented that “the making of these warm, comforting, and invigorating drinks has become all but a lost art” (Marchant, 606). Books are a form of cultural memory, and beer books are no different. Writing in the waning years of the nineteenth century, Marchant was attempting to preserve a long history of sociality that barely survived the Industrial Revolution. And even if history is, in many ways, about preservation, it is also about sensitizing us to difference –– cultural difference, political difference, differences in traditions and mores, and, yes, differences in beer drinking customs largely unfamiliar to us. (Warm beer, anyone?) Though the echo of this history resonates in some culinary circles enthusiastic about keeping old drinking traditions alive, these seemingly foreign traditions are almost all but forgotten among the wider public of beer enthusiasts.

So why did warmed beer beverages nearly fade into oblivion? Why is this past so foreign to us drinkers of cold beer? Refrigeration, a late nineteenth-century invention, may have had something to do with it. Beyond that, Gregg Smith, author of Beer in America: The Early Years, maintains that enough circumstantial evidence supports the notion that beer-based mixed drinks were a means of saving beer that had gone awry. “As brewing’s raw materials, equipment, instruments, procedures, and science advanced in the 1800s, beer mixed drinks […] all but disappeared” (Smith, 224). Writing over a century earlier about lambswool and the Wassail Bowl, Bickerdyke wryly notes the following:

“It can easily be understood that when ale was for the most part brewed without hops, and consequently rather insipid in taste, many people would have a craving for something more highly flavoured, and would put nutmeg, ginger, and other spices into their liquor. It is not unlikely that the introduction of hops was the cause which ultimately led to beer cups going out of fashion” (Bickerdyke, 381).

In other words, sugar and spice were very nice in times when home- or tavern-brewed beers were of wildly varying quality and the ale preceding hopped beer was “rather insipid in taste.”

* * *

The metaphorical shelves of books by late nineteenth-century writers like Marchant and Bickerdyke are stocked with a curiosity cabinet’s worth of drinks awaiting the intrepid contemporary beer enthusiast on a quest for novelty in the past. Here are a few recipes for your historical cocktail hour, straight from these pages. (Of note: Should you venture to try these at home, I’d opt for malty beers over hoppy ones.)

Rum Fustian. A night cap prepared in the same way as posset (discussed in my next piece), with subtle differences. Combine “the yokes of twelve eggs, a quart of strong home-brewed beer, a bottle of white wine, half a pint of gin, a grated nutmeg, the juice from the peel of a lemon, a small quantity of cinnamon, and sugar sufficient to sweeten it.” (Marchant, 607). Oddly, no rum.

Lambswool. A drink that has absolutely nothing to do with the wool of little lambs, and plenty to do with roasted apples. Authors differ on when the roasted apple should be added to the beverage. Smith states that “apples were […] roasted until the skins burst and were added to the warm beer mixture before serving” (Smith, 223) — possibly a colonial American variation on a British theme. Bickerdyke suggests the following means of preparing lambswool:

“To make this beverage, mix the pulp of half a dozen roasted apples with some raw sugar, a grated nutmeg, and a small quantity of ginger; add one quart of strong ale made moderately warm. Stir the whole together, and, if sweet enough, it is fit for use. This mixture is sometimes served up in a bowl, with sweet cakes floating in them” (Bickerdyke, 382).

As for the rather curious name? Bickerdyke and others trace it back to an ancient Celtic pagan festival called La Mas Ubal (The Day of Apple-Fruit), which was held on the first day of November. La Mas Ubal was pronounced lamasool, which was eventually corrupted by the countryfolk into lambswool, the beverage for the feast day bearing its name.

Warm Ale Cup. “One quart of ale, one glass of brandy, two glasses of sherry, and a quarter of a pound of lump sugar. Spice according to the palate. Boil the sugar in half the ale, and then mix the whole together” (Marchant, 608).

Freemasons’ Cup (served hot or cold). Combine Scotch ale with a similar quantity of mild beer, half a pint of brandy, a pint of sherry, half a pound of sugar loaf, and plenty of grated nutmeg. Ever the wag, Bickerdyke quips that “freemasons must have strong heads” (Bickerdyke, 391).

Buttered Ale. Marchant cites a seventeenth-century traveler to England who wrote the following: “In the evening, the English take a certain beverage which they call buttered ale, composed of cinnamon, sugar, butter, and beer brewed without hops” (Marchant, 612).

Braggot. Last but not least, braggot. Writes Chaucer of this elixir in his Miller’s Tale:

“Hire mouth was as sweete as braket or the meth*” (cited in Bickerdyke, 380).

*“Meth” here refers to metheglin, a type of mead.

Braggot is a beverage of great antiquity and has gone by many names, including bragawd, braket, bragget, and braga. The latter is of Nordic origin, and is derived from the name of one of the mythological gods of the Edda. The drink’s iterations over the years are no less diverse. With characteristic wit, Bryckendyke observes that “to define Bragot with any degree of preciseness would be as difficult as to give an accurate definition of ‘soup’” (Bickerdyke, 379).

Marchant furnishes us with a recipe of suitable vintage, “The Crafte for Braket”:

“When thou hast good ale, draw out a quart of it and put it to the honey, and set it over the fyre, and let it seethe well, and take it off the fyre and scume it well, and so again, and then let it keel a whyle, and put thereto the peper, and set him on the fyre, and let him boyle together, with esy fyre, but clere. To four gallons of good ale put a pynte of fyne tried honey and a saucerfull of poudre of peper*. (Marchant, 606).

*As far as I can make out, “poudre of peper” possibly refers to the medieval spice blends “poudre forte” (a spice blend based on cinnamon, clove, and black pepper) or “poudre douce” (similar to poudre forte, but with ginger and without black pepper). Unsurprisingly, like gruit, the variations were manifold. The spice retailer World Spice Merchants adds Grains of Paradise to its poudre forte.

* * *

Remember those winter warmers I mentioned at the outset? In the absence of anything but anecdotal evidence, I don’t think it would be a stretch to claim that the concoctions I have described here were the inspiration for many a contemporary spiced beer fit for winter evenings by the fire. In the same spirit of preservation and historical archeology evinced by the likes of W.T. Marchant and John Bickerdyke, I hope to have opened a small window onto an almost forgotten drinking past by offering you this small compendium of recipes.

Stay tuned for Part II, which gives you a taste of the origins of early American drinking history, itself borne out of the spirit of these drinking customs of Olde Albion. Here’s to keeping the cold at bay!

____________

References

W.T. Marchant, In Praise of Ale, Or, A Compendium of Songs, Ballads, Epigrams, and Anecdotes Relating to Beer, Malt, and Hops, with Some Curious Particulars Concerning Ale-Wives and Brewers, Drinking-Clubs and Customs (London: George Redway, York Street, Covent Garden, 1888).

John Bickerdyke, The Curiosities of Ale and Beer: An Entertaining History (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1889).

Gregg Smith, Beer in America: The Early Years, 1587–1840 (Boulder, CO: Brewers Publications, 1998).

The Oakden Traditional Cookware blog.

Image Credits

Pinzgauer Alps: F.D. Hofer

Jan Luyken, The Brewer (1694): Brookston Beer Bulletin

Marchant title page photo: F.D. Hofer

Engraving from title page of the 1604 edition of Marx Rumpolt’s Ein new Kochbuch: Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden, http://digital.slub-dresden.de/id313700877

Simon A. Eugster, Cinnamon: sticks (ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka), powder, and flowers. Created from 31 images stacked with CombineZP. Wikimedia/Wiki Commons.

Honey photo: organics.org

Related Tempest Posts

Of Hearths and Heated Ales: A Taste of Drinking History

When Once They Drank Beer Warm: Cocktails and Concoctions from Olde Albion

Spreading Good Cheer with a Tankard of Mulled Beer

© 2018 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Reflections and Resolutions

So here we are again. One more turn around this mortal coil, drinking to forget the follies of an old year and toasting the auspiciousness of the new. For me 2017 has been extremely enjoyable, uncanny parallels between the 1930s and the present notwithstanding. I hope it has been the same for you.

Enjoyable but busy — which is why you haven’t heard too much from me in 2017. Fortunately, life hasn’t been all work and no play. And you’ll hear more about all of the play in 2018. See under: Resolutions (below).

For now, I’m going to do something rather out of character as we sail into the sunset of 2017. Any long-time reader of Tempest knows that I’m not a fan of “best-of” lists, but since I’m already hearing the siren call of New Year’s Eve festivities, I’ll make an exception of sorts. Following is a list (in no particular order) of five beers I drank for the first time this year and found particularly impressive. I’m picking more or less at random here, but they’re all beers worth searching out. Three Tankards, if you will. Along with these five beers, I’m including a list of five stellar beer-related places I visited for the first time this year. All are places that you’ll want to put on your travel bucket list for 2018 or further in the future.

Reflections I: Beers

Birra Baladin, Elixir. My first beer of 2017, Baladin’s Elixir set quite the tone for the year. This beer is a malthead’s dream: honeyed malt sweetness to spare, rum-soaked dark cherries, lush caramel, and Calimynra figs mingling with vanilla and toasted coconut. Demarara sugar and high-end milk chocolate (Italian or Belgian, take your pick) follow the initial crescendo of aromas and flavours, all accented by a “Belgian” yeast character that’ll bring plum, baking spice, and overripe banana to mind. If you’ve ever eaten Spanish fig chocolate cake, you’ll love this beer.

Brouwerij ’t Verzet, Oud Bruin. I had visited Cantillon for my second time in as many years the day before, and I could just as easily have listed their superb 2013 Lou Pépé Framboise or their 2016 Saint Lamvinus Grand Cru (featuring Merlot grapes) here. But fortunately we took the word of a woman who has been leading tours of a famous brewery in nearby Bruges for years now. When she’s not regaling beer tourists with stories of her well-respected brewery, she’s singing the praises of up-and-coming younger brewers in the region. And the folks at ’t Verzet are on to something. This copper-garnet beer offers up aromas and flavours you’d usually expect to find in an Oud Bruin, but with a twist: liquid caramel with a dusting of sea salt, chocolate reminiscent of the filling in a Belgian truffle, and a bright balsamic character that heads in the direction of cherry-like Chianti wine. The beer is sour but full-flavoured — a difficult feat to pull off. A green apple/apple cider-like acidity rounds out a subtle earthiness that shades into Amontillado sherry and aged saké.

pFriem Family Brewers, Frambozen. You know what, I didn’t take any notes on this beer. But it has stuck with me. A wonderful mix of fresh raspberry and wild-fermentation funk reminiscent of horse blanket, elegant Band-aid (if ever there were an elegant Band-aid … ), and fresh-cut meadows. North America doesn’t get much closer to Belgium than this.

Fremont Brewing, 2017 B-Bomb (Coconut Edition). I’m a huge fan of just about any imperial stout but tend to gravitate, firstly, toward barrel-aged versions, and, secondly, toward less austere and more rounded expressions of the style. Freemont’s 2017 version starts out as a fine example of blending virtuosity: a mix of their 9-, 12-, and 24-month Winter Ale aged in 12-year-old American Oak bourbon barrels. Add in some toasted coconut and you end up with an exquisite blend of milk chocolate, vanilla, cacao, dates, toasty malt, mocha, and, yes, a clearly present but well integrated aroma and taste of toasted coconut guaranteed to make you bolt in the opposite direction from that next “coconut stout/porter” spiked with extract you’ll probably encounter this year.

U Trí Růží, Tmavý Speciál. Czech dark lager doesn’t get much press back at home, but it has, at least, achieved minor fame as a BJCP beer style in the 2015 guidelines. And long overdue at that, considering the pedigree of a place like U Fleků, that Prague institution that brews and serves one beer and one beer only. And do make the trek to U Fleků for a night on the town singing Czech folk songs with suitably inebriated patrons, one and all quaffing the urban brewery’s signature dark lager. Assuming you likely will (or have) visited U Fleků, here’s another spot that lies a mere hundred meters from the hustle and bustle of Charles Bridge and all the congested pubs in the vicinity. This is the beer that inspired me to take a crack at brewing the style a month back. Needless to say, mine’s but a pale reflection of this stellar beer that features rich cocoa, dark chocolate, freshly ground coffee, and just a touch of dark cherry. Wondering what the difference is between a Czech dark lager and a Munich dunkles Bier? All I can say without getting into too much detail is that they’re similar but o-so-different: like twin cousins.

Reflections II: Places

I don’t want to spoil anything for 2018 (see under: Resolutions), so I’ll operate here under the assumption that a photo is worth a cliché’s worth of words.

‘t Brugs Beertje, Bruges. A classic Belgian watering hole. And a stellar selection of western Flanders beers that’ll help you make sense of the tile patterns on the floor.

Kloster Weltenburg, eastern Bavaria. Serves up one of Germany’s best Doppelbocks named after two of Bavaria’s best Baroque architects, the Assam brothers. Should you tire of the beer on offer (heaven forfend!), you can admire the surrounding monastic architecture to which the aforementioned Doppelbock pays tribute. I’m leaving out a whole lotta Bavaria here, including Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom, a Munich gem hidden in plain sight serving up superb Bratwurst accompanied by Augustiner Helles fresh from the barrel. But that’s fine. The beer, the architecture, and the scenic voyage through the stunning Donaudurchbruch (Danube Gorge) is worth the trip from Kehlheim of Schneider Weisse fame. Make it a two-for-one.

Zum Uerige, Düsseldorf. All the trappings of a classic Altbier tavern and then some. It’s everything you’ve heard about the place. Some claim that the Altbier is better in other taverns. It may well be. And I could certainly give you recommendations for more “off the beaten track” Altbier breweries. But this warren of dark rooms, dimly lit Ausschank areas (where they roll out the barrels), and convivial spaces where the whole family gathers after church in the half-light of stained-glass windows is one of those iconic Euro beer spots that every beer enthusiast should visit at least once.

Päffgen, Cologne. You’ve stepped out of the train station and stood in awe of the cathedral. As a beer drinker, you’ve probably already realized that it’s about a 30-second walk from the train station to the Gaffel shrine to Kölsch. Maybe you have decided to see another 5-minutes’ worth of the town before succumbing to the temptation of checking out what the Köbes (Cologne’s famous Kölsch servers) are up to at Früh. No one will judge you for either of these choices, least of all me. But if you spend a few more days and peel back the proverbial layers, you might find yourself in the Friesenviertel. Some say Päffgen’s is the best Kölsch in town. Whatever the case may be, it is, without doubt, one of the most traditional places to find a Kölsch. (I could have put “traditional” in scare quotes, but I’ll save that for another year. Hint: Kölsch ain’t all that old as a style. Suffice it to day, though, this place has all the requisite “X-factor” stuff going on when compared to the other places.)

Letná beer garden, Prague. Pilsener Urquell and Kozel Černý in plastic cups. Forget everything I’ve ever written about proper glassware and just enjoy the stellar view.

Resolutions:

Write more in 2018.

**

All the best for 2018, everyone!

Further Tempest reading:

A Pivo Pilgrimage to Pilsen

Where the Wild Beers Are: Brussels and Flemish Brabant

Of Coolships, Cobwebs, and Cantillon

How Paulaner’s Salvator Doppelbock Got Its Name

A Season for Strong Beer

From Horse Races to Beer Steins: Oktoberfest Since 1810

Where Did All the Märzen Go? Provisioning Oktoberfest Imbibers over the Centuries

All images by F.D. Hofer

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Beer Goes to the Museum

Just a little over a year ago, the internet was abuzz with news that the Smithsonian was in the market for a beer historian. That the venerable Smithsonian Institution would be looking to collect, document, and display the history of brewing in the United States is a striking move. It is also a move entirely in keeping with the booming popularity of craft beer in the United States –– itself a phenomenon with aspirations to reconnect beer drinkers with local traditions.

The German Hop Museum in Wolnzach (Hallertau)

Alas, I’ve been bored senseless by one too many museums of breweriana. You probably know the kind: beer signs, beer coasters, beer bottles. Not that these can’t be interesting objects in their own right, but all too often displays of breweriana lack the kind of layered contextualization that both historicizes and revitalizes the object in question. As a historian, I find it encouraging to see an institution of national stature taking a scholarly approach to documenting the rich history and tradition surrounding brewing in the United States. At some point over the next few years I plan to make it out to D.C. to see how their efforts at collecting, exhibiting, and programming have worked out.

For now, though, here’s a look at two museum exhibitions from my recent time in Europe: a temporary exhibition dedicated to the history of the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) in Munich, and a hop museum in the Hallertau region of Bavaria. Even if the Reinheitsgebot exhibition has since closed, I talk about it here because it demonstrates the potential of well-crafted exhibitions to enrich our experience of what’s in the glass.  At any rate, I’m certain it won’t be the last of its kind.  And there’s always the extremely informative catalogue if you’re able to read German.

How Beer Made Munich

On the occasion of the five-hundredth anniversary of that famous German beer law that some people love and others loathe, the Münchener Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum) staged an exhibition called “Munich––Powered by Beer.” The English title doesn’t quite capture the essence of the pun in the German title, Bier. Macht. München, which translates roughly into both “How Beer Made Munich” and “Beer. Power. Munich.” Either way, the title of the exhibition alludes to how beer has shaped everything from medieval brewing rights to Munich’s urban development. The exhibition also underscores the extent to which the beer industry was and is closely entwined with the political and economic powers that run the city.

In scarcely any other major city is the culture of beer so much a part of its history and identity. The exhibition traces the history of brewing in Bavaria from the days before the enactment of the Purity Laws in 1516 through the industrialization of production in the nineteenth century to domestic export networks in the twentieth century.

Industrialization and scientific advances in brewing technology play a major role in the exhibition. One segment recounts the interconnection between the lager-style beers prevalent in the region and Munich’s role in the development of refrigeration. Beer in popular culture plays a large role in the exhibition as well, with galleries dedicated to consumption (beer halls, beer gardens, taverns), advertising, and the history of Oktoberfest. The curators also tip their hat to other annual beer festivals that revolve around particular styles of beer, religious holidays, or changes of season.

“Munich—Powered by Beer” is celebratory, to be sure, but manages to maintain a critical distance. Its treatment of the role of beer halls in the rise of Nazism is but one example, along with its (albeit brief) acknowledgment of the overlooked contribution of Jews to German beer history. As a whole, the exhibition draws on a well-calibrated mix of written documents, artworks (engravings and paintings/portraits), photographs, postcards, technical objects used in the brewing process (hydrometers, refrigeration units), advertising placards, a wide variety of objects (such as tankards, steins, barrels, taps, figurines), and installations of original tavern rooms and bars.

A Hop Museum in the Hallertau

The German Hop Museum (Deutsches Hopfenmuseum) is right in the middle of the Hallertau hop-producing region and well worth a side trip from Munich. Open since 2005, the architecture of the building pays tribute to the local hop yards, while the exhibition itself is a welcome departure from the breweriana of most beer/brewing-themed museums. The exhibition was designed with a focus on interactivity, whether in the form of touch screens with maps and layers of information, hands-on displays, or even a station in the shape of a hop cone that generates hop aromas.

With the aid of objects such as tractors, mechanical pluckers, trellises, and a life-sized replica of a hop kiln, the exhibition details the social and economic history of the hop industry. It also delves into topics as diverse as the role of monasteries in medieval hop cultivation and the use of pesticides more recently. The first part of the narrative emphasizes hop production as a labour-intensive seasonal occupation that drew upon migrant labour and involved the entire village. The latter portion addresses the radical changes and dislocations wrought by the postwar mechanization of the industry. All the while, the exhibition deftly resists the urge to romanticize the back-breaking work of hop picking while also relating compelling tales of camaraderie during the cycle of planting and harvesting. Singing, dancing, and festivities were all hallmarks of the hop harvest.

All of the objects, documents, films, and installations come together in what amounts to a fascinating and sometimes surprising cultural history of hop production in Bavaria. Objects on display include scientific writings on hops ranging from early botanical studies such as those by Hildegard von Bingen to recent works on hop processing. A series of films focus on scenes from everyday life in the hop villages as well as on the dangers faced by those who constructed the hop trellises. Throughout the exhibition, photo albums and oral histories bring the hop harvest to life. The very last section of the exhibition focuses on the market for hops during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and pauses to shine a light on the often overlooked history of Jews in the hop trade.

Unsurprisingly, hops rule the roost in the museum’s gift shop as well. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up after taking in the exhibition, you can buy delectable chocolate containing hops. You’ll also find hop soaps, hop teas, hop jellies, and hop pillows alongside books on hops and postcards with botanical renderings of the hop cone.

**

I must confess that I’m always a bit baffled when I hear people complain about how beer and politics don’t mix. What both of these thoughtful exhibitions demonstrate is that beer is intimately bound up with economic and political power. And not only that. The agricultural crops that go into our glass have given rise to rich cultural histories of labour and sociality. Where there’s a history of this, that, or the other, you can be sure that beer’s not far away. So when you’re contemplating your next beer pilgrimage, set aside some time to support museums like these in both North America and Europe.

Cheers to beer in museums!

Related Tempest articles:

When Once They Drank Beer Warm: Cocktails and Concoctions from Olde Albion

A Season for Strong Beer

From Horse Races to Beer Steins: Oktoberfest Since 1810

All images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Cooking with Beer: Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue

Not long ago I went on one of the more stellar culinary journeys of my life. Mortadella and bowls of tagliatelle di ragù in Bologna. Mounds of culatello and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma. Vitello tonnato and carne cruda all’Albese in Alba. Every kind of snail dish imaginable in Cherasco, home of the Cherasco Worldwide Institute of Snail Breeding. (Bet you didn’t know there was one).

And, of course, several liters’ worth of wine from Barbaresco and Barolo to round out all the wine we had drunk in the Emilia Romagna region. We did have a few bottles of beer as well, including some prima ones from Birra Balladin (Piedmont) and Birrificio del Ducato (Parma) — but those are worth another round of words.

So what does Italia have to do with Doppelbock and aged Gouda? While we were on our adventure in search of the fine cheesemakers at San Pier Damiani in the Parma countryside, I got to thinking about recipes that combine beer and cheese. And what better way than to put the two together than in a fondue? The recipe below doesn’t feature Parmesan cheese for a few reasons. Parmesan doesn’t melt as well as many other cheeses. I also haven’t had a chance yet to experiment with Parmesan to finish fondues. Last but not least, I just so happen to have this old tried-and-true recipe kicking around that’ll help you stave off the evening chill of these autumn evenings.

Brechtian moment: I know it requires a bit of lateral thinking to get from Point A (northern Italian wines and cheeses) to Point B (northern European cheese and Bavarian beer) to Point C (fondue), but I’ve been looking for a way to work my Italy trip into a post for quite some time now. At any rate, it’s probably not the worst writing sin I’ve committed. And what’s not to like about Italian food and wine?

Before we get to the recipe itself, some beer and wine pairings:

  • Aged Gouda is a distinctive cheese, and melds seamlessly with both the Doppelbock and nutty sherries like Oloroso or Amontillado.
  • Stouts and porters match aged Gouda’s nuttiness and notes of caramel.
  • The “cru” Beaujolais wines from communes such as Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Morgon, and Chiroubles balance fruity elegance with enough staying power to counter the cheese.
  • If you can find something like Birra Baladin’s Nora or their Elixir, you’ll be in for a treat. Nora is a rich and spicy “Egyptian” ale redolent of dates and candied orange peel, and Elixir is a cornucopia of honeyed figs, rum-soaked cherries, Demarara sugar, and plums accented by Belgian yeast aromatics.

At San Pier Damiani, one of many artisanal makers of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

And now for the recipe:

Doppelbock Fondue (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 0.75 lbs. aged Gouda
  • 0.3 lbs. Gruyère (the Swiss versions have more character)
  • 0.2 lbs. Emmenthal (ditto)
  • 1 500 mL bottle of Doppelbock (you’ll only use about 300 mL, but you can drink the rest)
  • 2 tbsp dry Amontillado or Oloroso sherry
  • 1 tbsp Moutarde de Meaux (or other suitably grainy mustard that isn’t too sharp or hot)
  • 1 tbsp shallot, finely chopped (a bit less than half a shallot, depending on its size)
  • 2 tbsp flour, divided
  • pinch sea salt, pinch cayenne, pinch nutmeg
  • 1 loaf sourdough bread or rye bread

Directions:

Cube the bread and grate the cheese. Mix in about a handful of flour into the grated cheese. Heat the beer till it bubbles, add shallots, then slowly incorporate the cheeses. Add the pinches of nutmeg and cayenne. Meanwhile, mix the mustard with the sherry. (If the fondue doesn’t appear thick enough as the cheese melts, dissolve the remaining flour in the sherry-mustard mix). Once the cheese has melted, finish with the sherry-mustard mix. Test for salt, and add sea salt if needed.

Notes:

For the beer, I use Weihenstephan’s Korbinian Doppelbock, which is suitably rich and complex. You could also try other malt-forward beers like Scotch ale or British barleywine. Weihenstephan’s Vitus or Schneider Weisse’s Aventinus could also be interesting options.

Sourdough bread goes particularly well with this fondue, as do vegetables such as mushrooms and parboiled cauliflower.

Grappa: perfect digestif after a rich fondue.

More Tempest posts to help ease you into winter:

Spreading Good Cheer with a Tankard of Mulled Beer

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Dining Down the Holiday Stretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

Images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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What does it mean to “drink locally”?

The shadows are getting longer on this late afternoon in early autumn as I pull in from a long bike ride. I need a beer. Like most of us in North America these days, I’ll probably head down the road to the local brewery to quench my thirst or stop by a taproom that stocks a selection of beers brewed in the region.

***

Many of us have heard or even uttered variations of the following: Drinking beer brewed locally connects us with the place where we live. Drinking locally is a deliberate act that signals a rejection of mass-produced wares. Beer brewed by the sweat of the brow of the folks down the road is more authentic than the fizzy liquid that flows forth from large factories across the land. Beer brewed locally tastes better. And beer brewed locally might just taste of the place in which it was brewed.

But what does it actually mean when we say we “drink local”? This is a question I have entertained since the earliest days of A Tempest in a Tankard. I started thinking about it again after reading a recent article entitled “The Next Big Thing in Beer is Being a Small Taproom.” Of course, being a small taproom means selling most, if not all, of what you brew to patrons who live within a stein’s toss of the brewery. Local is in like it hasn’t been since the days before Prohibition.

As I begin to re-formulate my thoughts on locality, place, terroir, aura, and authenticity for a few new projects, I thought it might be worthwhile to isolate questions I have couched within longer Tempest articles and pose them here in relatively open-ended form. Chime in with your thoughts!

1. Do we feel more connected to locally-brewed beer than we do to beers brewed elsewhere?

2. What do we mean when we say “authentically local”? Who and what do we exclude in this place-marking gesture?

3. What does it mean to be “local”? Is it the brewery itself, rooted in its particular place, or is it the ingredients? Does the brewery down the street brew with “locally-sourced” ingredients, or does it brew with malt from Germany, the United Kingdom, or Belgium?

4. Does the use of internationally-sourced ingredients at the brewery on the corner render its beer less “local”?

5. What are the spatial constraints of the term local? Does it refer to ingredients produced within a hundred kilometers of the brewery, or –– if the brewery is, say, Belgian –– can the term also refer to hops produced in Bavaria’s Hallertau region but used in Brussels?

6. What if your “local” beer is brewed under contract in a different region or state? Who decides, in the end, what constitutes a locally-brewed beer?

7. What about the brewer who simply can’t brew a beer with “local” ingredients? Is the beer produced at a brewery amid the warehouses of a light industrial district any less “authentically local” than the beer that contains maple syrup tapped from trees on the brewer’s land?

8. In recent years some commentators have suggested that brewers and their innovations are a more decisive component of “terroir” than the soil in which the hops or grain are grown. Does this sentiment stretch the notion of terroir to its breaking point? Or is there something to it?

9. Beer was once stamped with a sense of place due to a number of factors beyond the control of local brewers. Nowadays, brewers in Austin can create helles Bier that tastes like those brewed in München. What happens to the uniqueness of terroir when skilled brewers separated by an ocean can make beer that tastes virtually identical?

10. Beers may be a reflection of place, but can we “taste place” in beer?

***

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please take a moment to address any of these questions in the comments. Cheers!

If you’re interested in how I have approached these questions, check out the following articles:

A Reflection of Place, But Dimly

Pinning Down Place

Romancing the Local

Returning for Another Sip of Terroir

Images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

The Setting Sun: Five of Vienna’s Best Spots for a Late Summer Beer

A colleague of mine at the Wien Museum (Vienna’s city history museum) asked me over lunch today about some of my favourite places to have a beer in Vienna. It was a fitting question. He had recently participated in a learn-to-brew day at Brauwerk and has kindled an interest in beers beyond his favourite styles. It was also a timely question. Today was my last day at the Wien Museum. Two years in this fine city, and five days left.

As any regular reader of Tempest has probably noticed, I don’t normally do “best of” lists. But today I’ll make an exception. Maybe you, like me two years ago, have arrived in Vienna to work for one of Vienna’s many top-notch cultural institutions or international organizations. Perhaps you’re winding down a trip through Europe with a few days in Vienna. Maybe you’re a student who has arrived from abroad for a semester at one of Vienna’s many colleges and universities. Whatever the case may be, right about now you probably need a beer.

This is not a comprehensive guide to all that is new, hip, and happening on Vienna’s beer scene. Rather, this is a very personal tour of my favourite locales, places where I’ve taken old friends and made new ones.

Hawidere

Located in Vienna’s gritty 15th District (Rudolfsheim-Fünfhausen), Hawidere attracts a mixed crowd of beer enthusiasts and locals out for a drink. Hawidere pays tribute to an old Viennese salutation (“Hab’ die Ehre”) that means something along the lines of “I’m honoured to meet you.” The name of the pub may well be redolent of Alt Wien and the ambience evocative of a traditional Viennese tavern (Beisl), but the good people at Hawidere are very much attuned to the moment. A continually rotating selection of fourteen beers on tap and roughly seventy bottled varieties comprise the cutting-edge selection of beer from around Austria, Europe, and beyond. You’ll also find brews from “Collabs,” the owners’ own nomad label featuring (you guessed it) collaborations with breweries across Europe. And if you’re hungry? They have some of the heartiest burgers anywhere.

Kängaruh

In a city that has seen the likes of Brickworks and Mel’s Craft Beers and Diner pull in the craft beer crowd with admirable beer portfolios at (super) premium prices, it’s refreshing to see that the old-school Kängaruh still manages to keep a lid on things. But it’s not just the extremely fair prices that make Kängaruh so special. If Belgian beer is your thing, you won’t find a better range of styles and bottlings anywhere outside of Brussels. The candlelight ambience within and the small terrace outside invite you to dream of Belgium while sipping on a Cantillon, a Westy XII, or any other Belgian beer you haven’t heard of yet. A true gem of a place on the eastern edge of Vienna’s 6th District (Mariahilf).

1516 Brewing Company

Considering just how close this excellent brew pub is to where I worked for the past two years, it’s a shame I didn’t stop in more often. Lunches here were always a fine proposition: ample portions of North American-style pub food with an Austrian twist, and an ever-changing menu of creative beers to wash it all down. If you’re one of those who has an inexplicable allergic reaction to the German Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Laws) promulgated in 1516, fear not: you’ll be able to find your jasmine IPA here. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find some superb Central European-style beers brewed according to that very Reinheitsgebot to which 1516’s name refers. If you can’t make it for lunch, stop by in the evening. You won’t be alone.

Schweizerhaus

Few other al fresco drinking spots in Vienna combine shaded chestnut groves, roasted pork knuckles, conviviality, and freshly tapped Bohemian beer (Budweiser Budvar) the way the Schweizerhaus does. If it’s warm and sunny and you have time to go nowhere else in Vienna for a drink, go here.

*For more on the history of the Schweizerhaus and its Prater surroundings, check out my Exploring Vienna’s Beer Gardens

Medlbräu

Say you’ve just spent the day exploring the stately rooms and sprawling manicured gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn. You could do much worse than to quench your thirst at Medlbräu in nearby Penzing (Vienna’s 14th District). Medlbräu is one of the older “Hausbrauerein” (brew pubs) in Vienna, and they don’t venture far from the tried-and-true classics. For those of you missing full-flavoured lagers and maybe a decent Hefeweizen to top things off, this place is like an oasis in a town where it’s surprisingly hard to find a compelling Helles, Dunkles, or Märzen.

Five nights left as the sun sets on my two years in Vienna. Cheers to your first five days here!

Related Tempest posts:

Beer for a Day: Living the Good Life in Salzburg

Prelude to a Drink: Vienna

Beer Travel off the Beaten Track: Austria’s Innviertel

Exploring Vienna’s Beer Gardens

Vienna, City of Beer Gardens

All images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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Beer Flights: The Smart Way to Drink

5300-plus breweries in the United States and counting. Another 775 in Canada as of 2016 (and counting). A veritable explosion of new and innovative breweries in Europe’s strongholds of brewing tradition: Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.

Judges at the 2016 edition of the Great American Beer Festival evaluated 96 general categories of beer covering 161 beer styles.

Never before has such a prodigious diversity of beers been available to those of us who like to drink them.

With all this variety, beer flights are more important now than ever before. I’m sure many would agree –– fortunately, flights are ubiquitous at North American craft-influenced establishments, and are on the rise in Europe. But occasionally I’m left scratching my head when hostility to flights bubbles to the surface.

Vinepair recently posted an article asking brewers to name a beer trend “that needs to die.” One response had to do with flights. Patrick Barnes of Islamorada Beer Company in Florida offered this response to the question of which beer trend he’d like to see go the way of the dodo bird:

“Beer flights. Beer is meant to be drunk by the pint, not by the shot. There are a lot of flavors and aromas that are lost in small tasting glasses, as well as switching back and forth between tasters wrecks your palate.”

Since the Vinepair article started making the rounds, more than a few friends, acquaintances, and members of Facebook beer groups have voiced support for doing away with beer flights. (Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that someone has expressed an antipathy toward flights. Back in early 2015, a barkeep in New York’s capitol region wrote an incredibly subtle think-piece entitled “Flights are dumb, and you’re dumb if you like them.”) Why this hostility to flights, perhaps one of the better ideas to come out of this phenomenon we call craft?

Before going any further, though I do have something against the typical shaker-type pint glass for reasons I’ve touched upon in my “Five Ways to Become a Better Drinker,” I have nothing against pint measures and have drunk my fair share. They have their time and place. Like in a beer garden, for example.

But to return to Barnes’s response: the assertion that beer is meant to be drunk by the pint is absurd. Why by the pint? Does every style of beer lend itself to being drunk by the pint? And why don’t we drink wine by the pint? After all, German late-harvest Rieslings have often have a lower alcohol percentage than many imperial stouts.

It’s similarly misguided to suggest that flavours and aromas are lost in small tasting glasses. A 4-ounce snifter that tapers toward the rim concentrates far more aromas than any 16-ounce pint glass of the shaker variety ever will. (I’ll go out on a limb here and assume that the vessel to which Barnes refers when he speaks of pints is the common shaker glass.)

Granted, switching back and forth between tasters can wreck your palate, especially if you have a high-IBU double IPA, an intensely hopped NEIPA, or a wild/sour in the flight. But let’s step back from the bar for a moment. Before the flight even gets off the ground, as it were, it’s the brewer’s or taproom manager’s responsibility to make sure his or her staff are familiar with the best ways to construct a flight so as to avoid palate fatigue. This could take the form of in-house training or subsidized Cicerone courses, or what have you. (Yes, I know that many breweries and taprooms already engage in this best of practices, but since some folks keep trashing flights … .)

Even the oldest brewery in the world is getting into the game

Now, one could adduce more potent arguments against flights along the following lines: Assembling a flight ties up a member of the bar staff who has to pull a number of 3- or 4-oz pours instead of one nice, hefty 16-oz pint. The bar staff then has to make sure that the drinker knows what each beer is. Though I do empathize with harried taproom staff, flights eminently address that wonderful issue of variety I mentioned at the outset. After all, the way I see it, a significant part of being a “craft” brewery or taproom involves education about beer and its myriad styles. Flights are the way to go.

An enlightening side-by-side tasting of gueuze and kriek: Boon, Tilquin, Cantillon, Girardin, etc.

  • Flights allow you to taste beers side by side. Depending on the flight that you or the bartender put together, you can taste a number of similar beers to see what makes a style tick, you can taste stouts next to porters to see what makes these styles subtly or not so subtly different, or you can run the gamut from a lager to a lambic. Say a brewery offers a range of IPAs –– something not entirely uncommon these days. Try them all next to each other in a flight. If you’re at a taproom, put together a flight of IPAs from different regions and taste them next to one another. Not only is this fun, it’s educational. Tasting beers side by side is much more of a revelation than drinking beers in succession.
  • For people just getting into craft beer –– or even for seasoned veterans –– flights provide an easy and enjoyable way for brewers or taproom staff to introduce drinkers to new styles, innovations, or experiments without the visitor needing to go “all-in” on a pint. (That smoked meat and maple syrup porter aged on juniper branches and blueberries sounded interesting in theory … )
  • Knocking back a few pints in a beer garden or in the pub on the way home from work is great if the beer clocks in at 4.8%-5% ABV. But when you’re talking American-style IPAs and numerous latter-day stouts, many of which clock in well north of 6.5% ABV, you’ll be feeling the hit sooner than later. Flights can make the next day that much more bearable.
  • Sure, anyone living in the vicinity of a particular brewery can head over from time to time to taste his or her way through the brewery’s offerings, pint by pint. But if I’m traveling through town and have only one shot at experiencing what a brewery has to offer, a flight means that I don’t have to get hammered in the process. I might eventually settle on a pint; offering a flight of beers gives me a chance to find that beer or beers.

So there you have it. Flights are smart, and you’re smart if you like them.

And sometimes only a pint will do. Cheers, everyone!

Related Tempest articles:

Five Ways to Become a Better Drinker in 2015

Epicurean Unbound: Five Ways to Expand Your Drinking Horizons

Three Vintages of Goose Island’s Sofie

All images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

The Beer Gallery: Highlights from Belgium, Bavaria, and Bohemia

Cologne, Sunday, 11:30 in the morning. The server, called a Köbes in Cologne, brings me my second glass of Kölsch and makes another mark on my beer mat. I’m not the only one here. Around me sit a mix of regulars populating the area around the bar, elderly couples who have come to sip on a few beers after mass, a family stopping in for a light snack and a beer before their afternoon outing, and a handful of English-speaking beer enthusiasts at a nearby table who, like me, are here for the Kölsch. It’s a scene that plays itself out endlessly in the traditional taverns of Cologne and Düsseldorf.

Regensburg, Monday, 2:30 p.m. It’s almost too cold on this late spring day to sit out in a beer garden, but we’re rewarded with a magical view of Regensburg’s gothic cathedral and medieval town center on the opposite bank of the Danube. The Steinerne Brücke dates from the middle of the twelfth century, and was the only bridge across the Danube when it was built. Regensburg may not be Munich, but the beer’s just fine and it’s an ideal base from which to visit two of Bavaria’s more iconic breweries: Schneider Weisse in Kelheim and Kloster Weltenburg a half an hour from there by boat.

Kloster Weltenburg, Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. We made it to Kelheim in time for the first sailing along the Danube in the direction of the Donau Durchbruch, the stunning gorge that serves as a gateway to the equally marvelous Kloster Weltenburg. The Assam brothers designed the opulent church and monastery; Kloster Weltenburg brews a Doppelbock in their honour. It’s one of my favourite Doppelbocks, but it tastes even better underneath the chestnut trees of Kloster Weltenburg’s beer garden, rain be damned.

Goes great with Spargel

Prague, Wednesday, 6:00 p.m. From the terrace in the shadow of the Strahov Monastery the Malá Strana and Staré Město districts spread out beyond a stretch of urban orchards and vineyards. Once we’ve imbibed the view, we head off to rub shoulders with the early evening drinking crowd at the Pivnice u Černého Vola, one of many traditional Prague pubs. Fortunately, you’ll still find plenty of these gems amid the deluge of tourists and the bars that cater to them.

Prague: more than just pivo

Bruges, Thursday, 4:00 p.m. We walk past the place where I first encountered Belgian beer, way back on a misty late-autumn eveing in 1991. The beer looked like the pilseners and lagers I had just learned to appreciate in Germany, but something was just a little different. I downed it and ordered another. I drank this one a few seconds more slowly and noticed that the beer had a certain richness and residual sweetness to it. Not long into my third beer I noticed something else – a bit of an unexpected kick. This time around I discover a nice twist on this beer they call Tripel: Cuvée Soeur’is, an oak-aged triple kriek from Brouwerij de Leite served up in the dimly lit surroundings of ’t Brugs Biertje.

De Halve Maan brewery in the background

Bellegem, Friday, 8:30 a.m. After a night exploring the beer cafes of Brussels, I head out with an old friend to western Flanders. We were there for the Flemish red ale, and for a tour of Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghiste. Neither disappointed. And I made a new friend named Le Fort Tripel.

Foeder room, Omer Vander Ghiste

Munich, Saturday, mid-morning. The weather has finally turned the corner, and the Aumeister beer garden in the northern reaches of the Englische Garten is just the perfect place to be. It appears we’ve beaten the crowds this morning, but it won’t be long before we’re joined by three thousand like-minded folks on this balmy summer day.

Tea for two

***

This itinerary combines four different beer-related journeys upon which I’ve been lucky enough to embark over the past few months. Now that the “field research” is behind me (somebody’s gotta do it, right?), I’ll have time over the summer to put pen to paper and round out these sketches of life in Europe’s beer centers.

Here’s to hoping that you, too, will be able to dust off your travel gear and head out somewhere – anywhere! – in search of good beer. Prost!

Related Tempest articles:

The Colour of Fall Leaves: Tasting Notes on Märzen, Oktoberfestbier, and Vienna Lager

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

Where the Wild Beers Are: Brussels and Flemish Brabant

All images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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How Paulaner’s Salvator Doppelbock Got Its Name

Paulaner may well have become one of the world’s leading brewers of Weissbier in recent decades, but its Salvator Doppelbock remains inseparable from the history of the brewery’s famous Salvatorkeller beer garden atop Munich’s Nockherberg.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Astrid Becker begins a recent article on Paulaner with an anecdote about a church bell. Markus Gottswinter, pastor of the Mariahilf church east of the Isar River, saves the bell for only the most special of occasions. And with good reason. When rung, the seven-tonne behemoth resounds with a force so thunderous that tiles fall from the roof of the church. The name of the bell: Salvator.

Cast in Erding in 1952, the bell was never intended for this church in the shadow of the Paulaner brewery. But the truck hauling it to its destination broke down in Nockherberg. The parishioners wasted little time in interpreting this fortuitous turn of events as a sign that the bell was meant for their church.

It’s also no surprise that the parishioners who inherited the bell called it Salvator. For here, in the vicinity of their church, the history of another behemoth named Salvator began: with the Paulaner order of Franciscan monks, who originally settled in 1629 in the Neudeck ob der Au monastery to the south of Mariahilfplatz.

The Paulaners inherited the right to brew in 1634 when the parents of one of their monks passed away. It just so happened that the parents came from a well-established brewing family. With their passing, the order acquired the Lerchl family’s brewing right (Braurecht), albeit with tight restrictions imposed by the city council. The Paulaners could brew beer in the Lerchlbräu brewery, but only for their own consumption.

Yet what the authorities decreed was a matter of indifference to the monks. They drank the beer they brewed, served it to the poor –– and sold it to the locals. Starting in 1651, the monks brewed a particularly strong beer each spring to honour the founder of their order, Franz von Paola (Francesco di Paola). Back then, the beer was euphemistically called “Sankt-Vaters-Öl” (oil of the sacred father) because the monks were allowed to consume plant oil during the Lenten fast. This salutary beverage found quite a following on account of its reputation for quality, and soon became the chief source of income for the order. So beloved was this beer that it engendered no small amount of consternation among the other brewers in the area. Their complaints kept the local magistrates busy, but to no avail. No amount of persistence could bring about a prohibition of the monks’ special form of hospitality –– perhaps because the magistrates, too, were convinced of the merits of the Paulaners’ strong beer.

It’s not entirely clear when the Paulaner monks began to brew Bock beer, a style that was all the rage in Munich well before the Paulaners came along. One detail is certain, though: the Paulaner interpretation was more formidable than the Bock that flowed forth from taps controlled by the secular authorities at the Hofbräuhaus. Not only that; the beer was also more substantial in a nutritional sense –– brewed strong enough, in fact, to carry the monks through the Lenten fast. This sweet, dark drink tapped every year on the occasion of Franz von Paola’s feast day went by several names: “Sankt-Vaters-Bier” (beer of the sacred father), “des heiligen Franz Öl,” (oil of the Holy Franz), or, simply, liquid bread.

Despite the prohibition of public sales, the good souls of Munich flocked to Nockherberg in droves every year on 2 April for a sip of that potent elixir. The beer-drinking public had spoken, and in 1660 the order’s brewing right was finally confirmed. In 1751, the Prince-Elector Max III Joseph legalized the sale of the beer for eight days in April. After all, he, too, was an enthusiast of this famed beer.The Paulaner Brewery experienced a dramatic shift when Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806. As a result of the secularization accompanying the Napoleonic Wars, the brewery was expropriated from the monks. Eventually, one Franz Xaver Zacherl acquired the brewery and all rights associated with it.

As we have seen, Paulaner’s strong beer had been known by many names over the centuries. Zacherl, however, recognized the need to sharpen the beer’s identity and worked tirelessly to turn it into a brand that beer connoisseurs recognize to this day. Inspired by the expression “Salve Pater Patriae,” he coined the term “Salvator” (saviour).

Given the popularity of the style, other breweries began calling their strong beers “Salvator.” Zacherl, one of the early combatants in the nascent field of trademark disputes, was not impressed with the flattery. He filed suit against his imitators, but passed away in 1849 before he could savour his success. In the end, the judges ruled in his favour: In a nod to tradition, the name Salvator was to remain a possession of the Paulaner Brauerei, but other brewers could use the suffix “-ator” in the branding of their Doppelbocks.

And with that begun over a century-and-a-half’s worth of Celebrators, Triumphators, Maximators, Liberators, even Alligators. The latter are particularly dangerous.

Related Tempest articles:

A Season for Strong Beer

From Horse Races to Beer Steins: Oktoberfest Since 1810

Where Did All the Märzen Go? Provisioning Oktoberfest Imbibers over the Centuries

Sources:

Astrid Becker, “Vater aller Starkbiere,” in Süddeutsche Zeitung (ed.), Mir san Bier: Braukunst und Biergärten in und um München, 2013.

Ursula Eymold (ed.), Bier.Macht.München: 500 Jahre Münchner Reinheitsgebot in Bayern, exhibition catalogue, Münchener Stadtmuseum, 2016.

Images:

Salvator-Ausschank auf dem Nockherberg, lithographed placard, 1951

Paulaner logo by Paulaner

Remaining images by F.D. Hofer

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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