When you think of beer and Bavaria immediately the mind goes to an Oktoberfest type theme with leather shorts, dirndls, litre full mass of beer and oompah bands as far as the eye can see. These trestles full of wurst, pretzels and wondrously easy drinking yet delicate lagers are deeply loved and steeped in the history of Bavaria and are in no way put together just for the enjoyment of overzealous Aussies to embarrass themselves for one month a year.Just take a stroll around Munich on a warm Saturday in spring and you will see just how much the locals love their beer gardens and leather shorts. It is a magnificent thing to behold; huge groups of friends new and old sharing long tables of food, beer, singing, dancing and great conversation. This is a prime example of beer being the main reason people have come together but is in no way part of the conversation. It sits there is massive mugs and the only compliment the beer is given is when each mug is drained and refilled with a smile. It matters not that the beer is brewed with fine ingredients by brewers of exceptional pedigree.
You might be asking if this is such a magnificent way to drink beer then why on earth would anyone in Bavaria (let alone the world) want to drink in any other way? Well, trestle tables of big smiles and bigger mugs of beer are well and good but I also love a small country pub. The kind of place with an open fire and where hearty food is being tended to by the publican out the back wafting aromas filling the noses of the small rooms with savoury lust. Head north of Munich out through the hop fields and you will find this.
Pubs that have seen not just a few wars but also the rise and fall of kingdoms. Beer styles that cannot be found anywhere else in the world are available as that is what has always been served. In just the same way that the beer has always been made down the road in small brewery. A lot of these breweries only brew enough beer to service their local area, not because their beer is no good and no one would buy it elsewhere but because they do not wish to brew any more beer. There are nearly 200 breweries in the most northern part of Bavarian, an area called Upper Franconia. The beer capital of this area is Bamberg, a town well known to brewers near and far. Bamberg’s streets are filled with heritage listed buildings, museums, bakeries and brewery pubs. Not a bad place to spend some time. Check out my next post about one of my favourite places in Bamberg to hear more about this special town.