Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oktoberfest, on the Dubbel!

Two new Gottberg beers went on tap today: Steinworthy Oktoberfest and Toil & Trubbel Dubbel. The Oktoberfest is pretty good. The Dubbel is tasty, but a bit too dark and roasty for the style. The 8.7% abv is out of bounds, too, but what the hell.

Left to right: Steinworthy Oktoberfest, Toil & Trubbel Dubbel, after yesterday's filtration

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hops processor welcomes 'Dirty Jobs' film crew

The Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs — one of the few reasons to own a television — recently taped an episode at Hopunion in Yakima, Washington.

[Show host Mike] Rowe spent two days picking and inspecting hops, working the kilns that dry the hops and making bales, [Hopunion GM Ralph] Olson said. In addition to visiting Hopunion, which provides hop leaves, pellets, extracts and oils to the craft brewery industry, Rowe worked in the fields at Loftus Ranches in Moxee.

The episode's airdate hasn't been set yet, but you can read the story at the Yakima Herald. (Thanks to the Real Beer Blog for the link!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back at it

There's always lots to do after a week's trip.

  • Monday: Fixed the seal in the kettle pump, cleaned and sanitized a bright beer tank, did the excise tax report, filled some kegs.

  • Tuesday: Brewed a desperately-needed batch of Bugeater Brown Ale, filled a couple of root beer kegs and delivered them to Lincoln, stopped by Misty's Steakhouse & Brewery for dinner.

  • Wednesday: Cleaned the huge pile of kegs that had amassed over the past couple of weeks.

  • Thursday: Fill kegs, pick up Paris in Omaha, work the Micro Brew HaHa festival.

  • Friday: Do whatever I might have missed, possibly including filtering the Gold and Oktoberfest.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, 14 September 2008: Home from Basel

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, I went to the airport early in anticipation of any possible problems. None were apparent, so I had a couple of pre-flight Affligem Bières Blonde to kill the time. I had a small can of Heineken with my airplane food and slept as much as I could.

We arrived in Detroit on time and began the slog through immigration and "security". Why is it that at American airports, we have to pick up our checked bags from the luggage conveyor and then immediately hand it to a screener who puts it on a luggage conveyor? It's an absurd and pointless delay; they don't do it in Europe.

Anyway, lunch at DTW consisted of fish and chips and a couple of Guinness. The flight to Omaha was on time, but oversold. They asked for a volunteer to give up a seat in exchange for a $300 travel voucher, and I figured what the hell, a couple more hours waiting won't matter. But they didn't need my seat after all, and the bumpy ride took off and landed on time.

I got home at 6:30pm, 18½ hours after waking up. Back to the brewery tomorrow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday, 13 September 2008: Paris (the city), unexpectedly

Yesterday: Luzern

Heading home today. 9:00am: the tram to the bus to the airport. It took a while to figure out where I was supposed to check in. The airport is actually in France, but ground traffic from Switzerland arrives at a place that is considered for convenience to be Swiss territory. I had to go through French passport control to get to the Air France check-in desk. I got my boarding pass and checked my bag (something I never do) and asked the agent whether my 45 minutes at Charles de Gaulle would be sufficient to make my connection. She said yes, "but you may have to run a little bit". [Insert ominous pipe-organ chord here.]

I then went in search of breakfast. This is what I found:

Grimbergen Blonde

My flight left Basel-Mulhouse fifteen minutes late, but we landed at CDG on time. The aircraft parked some distance from Terminal 2D, and a bus carried us there. Another bus carried us to Terminal 2E, nearly a mile away. Then, despite being "airside" the entire time, we had to go through security again before hiking (barefoot) to the departure gate. I got there, waving my boarding pass, just in time to see the jetway pulling away from the plane. The gate agent told me that "ze doors zey are close, eet eez too late".

So yeah, 45 minutes is not enough time to make a connection at CDG.

The incredibly friendly and helpful service desk agent tried to find another flight for me, but there was nothing available for the rest of the day. It took a good 45 minutes, but she got me on a flight via Detroit tomorrow — at least I won't have to go through O'Hare as originally planned — and a hotel room with dinner and breakfast included for tonight. (All the while, I could see "my" plane, still parked at the gate. It departed almost an hour late.) She told me where I could find the hotel shuttle, and even escorted me part of the way, but CDG is a maze, and it took me a good hour and a half to find it.

Campanile Roissy Hotel's tiny rooms are overpriced at 80€ ($113) per night (of course, Air France was footing the bill) located under a CDG departure route, and lacking transportation anywhere other than back to the airport, but it has free Internet access and a restaurant and bar. I used what was left of my laptop battery to find an easy-to-reach brewpub in the city, and made my way to The Frog & Rosbif in the 2nd arrondissement.

Brasserie Frog et Rosbif, Paris, France

It's a very English-pub kind of place, and everybody was watching UEFA 2008 on the televisions.

Frog et Rosbif taps

Brewhouse at Frog et Rosbif

I sampled all five beers and settled on the Parislytic to wash down a Chicken Madras.

Frog et Rosbif Parislytic

Back at the hotel, I found these at the bar:

Pelforth Brune

Affligem Bière Blonde

Tomorrow: Home

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, 12 September 2008: Luzern

Yesterday: Zürich

Addenda from last night: I had a couple of beers at a nearby pizza place while waiting for Paris to get back from the office.

Pizzeria Riehenhof, Basel, Switzerland

Eichhof Ziegel Hof Panache

Eichhof Hubertus

We decided to have dinner at Restaurant Pinguin «zem Bier-Huus». They've got a reputation for having the greatest variety of beer in town, so we were looking forward to trying a bunch of beers that we'd never had before.

Restaurant Pinguin «zem Bier-Huus», Basel

Each beer at Pinguin is served in its own proper glass, and they have a store at the front where you can buy the glassware for your home use.

Glassware at Restaurant Pinguin «zem Bier-Huus»

Their beer menu is a huge three-ring binder that includes information about the breweries, the history of beer, beer styles, and even samples of ingredients.

Beer menu at Restaurant Pinguin «zem Bier-Huus»

Thumbing through the beer menu, we found that they do in fact have a great selection. Unfortunately, a whole lot of the beers were American microbrews and others that we had already tried. But we did find a few new ones for the book, and here they are:

Boxer Brunette

Dubuisson Cuvée des Trolls

Boxer La Biére du Demon

Calanda Dunkel

Lindemans Gueuze Foudroyante

Hoegaarden De Verboden Frucht

So the Pinguin is worth a visit, but I have to say that the service left a lot to be desired. We were the only people in the place, and it was still 20 or 30 minutes from the end of one beer to the ordering of the next, and another 45 minutes before we could get our bill.

Today, I set course for Rathaus Brauerei Restaurant in Luzern.

Rathaus Brauerei Restaurant, Luzern, Switzerland

Mash tun at Rathaus Brauerei Restaurant

Rathaus Brauerei doesn't have a cellar on-site. This picture shows part of the route the brewer has to take to get to his cellar. He pumps the wort through underground pipes to the whirlpool and fermenters there. [Map]

This clothing store is the entrance to the Rathaus cellar. It feels like something out of Get Smart.

Rathaus Brauerei fermenters

Serving tanks at Rathaus Brauerei Restaurant. Once the beer is finished fermenting in the cellar up the street, it gets pumped back down the hill to these tanks at the bar.

Rathaus Naturtrüb, available year-round

Rathaus Heubier, the current seasonal offering

Back in Basel, it was time to return the bottles to Unser Bier and claim our CHF 9.00 ($8.05) deposit. As it happens, their pub is open Thursday and Friday evenings, so we stopped in for a couple.

The bar at Unser Bier, Basel

The brewhouse at Unser Bier, Basel

Unser Bier Weizen

There is one other small brewery in Basel, called Käppelijoch. My search for this beer had been unsuccessful so far, but there were rumors of one more bar, the Bar-O-Meter on Falknerstrasse. Alas, there was no sign of the Bar-O-Meter on Falknerstrasse, and I never did find Käppelijoch Bier. Next time, I'll try contacting the brewery directly.

After walking around in the rain a while, we settled on Restaurant zum braunen Mutz for dinner and Feldschlösschen beers.

Restaurant zum braunen Mutz, Basel

Tomorrow: Paris (the city), unexpectedly

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, 11 September 2008: Zürich

Yesterday: Rothaus

The train left at 9:42 this morning, a little earlier than most days this week.

Basel SBB is an old-school train station

I wanted to get an early start at TurbinenBräu, because they close at 2:30 in the afternoon. I got there just after they opened at 11:00.

TurbinenBräu, Zürich, Switzerland (poorly stitched)

The beer garden, restaurant, and bar TurbinenHalle is in the alley east of the brewery building

The bar at TurbinenHalle

The brewhouse at TurbinenBräu is rather more automated than mine

Things are expensive in Zürich. These four beers alone — 0.3 liters each — totalled CHF 19.80 ($17.50):

TurbinenBräu Gold Sprint Spezial

TurbinenBräu Start

TurbinenBräu Weizen

TurbinenBräu Rekord

If the Start hadn't been so fizzy and filling, I would have had another Sprint, but a big plate of Teigwaren mit Kalbfleisch for lunch was all I needed. That, and a double espresso for the walk back to the train station.

The train back to Basel passed the spectacular Feldschlösschen brewery in Rheinfelden.

Feldschlösschen, Rheinfelden, Switzerland

Tours there require advance reservations, so maybe I'll check them out next time.

Tomorrow: Luzern

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, 10 September 2008: Rothaus

Cutting directly to the chase, today's target was the Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus, near Grafenhausen in Germany. Half an hour on a train from Basel to Tiengen, then 45 minutes on a bus that wound through Black Forest logging country before stopping directly across the street from the brewery.

Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus, Grafenhausen-Rothaus, Baden-Württemberg

Gasthaus at Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus

Antique brewkettle displayed outside Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus

Modern brewing vessels at Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus

Interesting reading at the bus stop in front of Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus

I sat at the (small) bar today, rather than in the Biergarten; all the tables indoors and out are full of bus-tourists. Thomas, the lone very busy bartender, told me that it's like this every day.

The bar in the Gasthaus at Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus

95% of American bartenders don't know how to operate one of these.

Beer bar laws from October 20, 1792

Publicans throughout the St. Blasian area will serve the same measure of beer, the Banndorfer Mass, as is served in the beer hall at Rothaus.

Other than beer and spirits, publicans may only serve their guests bread and cheese.

Publicans selling a measure of beer at a higher price than the same measure is sold in Rothaus will be fined 20 Kreuzer.

Permission to operate a bar depends solely on our most gracious permission.

The publicans have taken extreme measures to ensure that their beer is pure and honest.

I had planned to visit Mooswald Heimbräu in Wolfenweiler, Germany tomorrow, but I called them only to find that they don't open until 4:30pm. So I'll go to TurbinenBräu in Zürich instead.

Tomorrow: Zürich