Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday, 15 January 2009: Stuttgart

Yesterday: Söflingen, Dellmensingen, and Ravensburg

We're not flying home until tomorrow, but we decided to come to Stuttgart today to give Paris a day away from work. The 2½ hour train ride didn't seem that long, but I think I slept part of the way.

We checked into the centrally-located Hotel Ketterer in the Fußgängerzone, near the Stadtmitte S-Bahn stop. I say it's centrally-located because you could almost throw a blanket over the hotel and three brewpubs together.

Three brewpubs in Stuttgart-Mitte

The first stop was Sophie's Brauhaus, just down the street from the hotel. It's on the second floor (or first, depending on how you're counting) of the building, and it's decorated in a dark, wooden, Victorian style. Very nice. The Flammkuchen was excellent, and the beers were drinkable.

Sophie's Brauhaus, Stuttgart

Sophie's Hefeweissbier

Sophie's Schwarzbier

Sophie's Hausbier

TÜ8 is just a couple of blocks away. This brewery supplies three restaurants that are (more-or-less) in the same building: Hacienda, Spaghettisssimo, and 's Mäxle. We chose the latter for dinner, a good choice, as we were met with massive plates full of Schnitzel and Spätzle. There were only two beers on tap here this time, but the Weizen was well worth it.

TÜ8, Stuttgart

TÜ8 Hefe Weizen

TÜ8 Pils Naturtrüb

So full we could barely walk, we made our way through the Fußgängerzone to Calwer-Eck-Bräu. This one's also located upstairs, and it's also decorated in lots of 19th-century dark wood. The food looked and smelled fantastic, and the portions were at least as big as TÜ8's, but we couldn't bring ourselves to eat any more. We did try all of the beers, served by a very helpful and knowledgeable bartender.

Calwer-Eck-Bräu, Stuttgart

Calwer-Eck Weihnachtsbier

Calwer-Eck Helles Hefeweizen

Calwer-Eck Naturtrübes Pils

Calwer-Eck Braumeisterbier

Back at the hotel, we took our nightcap from the minibar: the aptly-named Ketterer Pilsener

Ketterer Pilsener

Tomorrow: Home

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday, 14 January 2009: Söflingen, Dellmensingen, and Ravensburg

Yesterday: Hailtingen and Zwiefaltendorf

Ulm is the closest sizable city to Hopfenweiler; my daily half-hour walk and an 80-minute train ride got me to Ulm's Söflingen section, home of the Kronen Brauerei. The beers were tasty and reasonably-priced, at 2.10€ for a small and 3.50€ for a large. The Schweinefilet Tessiner Art was damn tasty. The Stammtisch was manned by eight or so boisterous fellows. All in all, a fun place, well worth a visit.

Kronenbrauerei Söflingen, Ulm-Söflingen

Söflinger Spezial Hell

Söflinger Kellerpils Naturtrüb

Söflinger Natureisbock

Söflinger Hefeweizen Hell

Söflinger Urtrunk Dunkel

(A side note: last time I was in Ulm, I was unsuccessful in my quest to find the Albert Einstein monument. This time, I was similarly unsuccessful in finding the Johann Gambolputtydevonausfernschplendenschlittercrasscrenbonfried-diggerdingledangledongledunglebursteinvonknackerthrasher-applebangerhorowitzticolensicgranderknottyspelltinklegrandlich-grumblemeyerspelterwasserkurstlichhimbleeisenbahnwagen-
macheluberhundsfutgumeraberschönendankerkalbsfleisch-mittleraucher von Hautkopft of Ulm monument.)

Forty-five minutes after leaving the Kronen Brauerei, the bus dropped me off at Brauerei-Gasthof Adler in Erbach-Dellmensingen. All three rooms that I could see were quite busy for a Wednesday afternoon, but I easily found a spot in the Stube to spread out and get down to business.

Brauerei-Gasthof Adler, Erbach-Dellmensingen

Adler Urbier Hell Naturtrüb

Adler Pils Naturtrüb

Adler Urbier Dunkel Naturtrüb

Adler Exportbier

Adler Weizenbier

I got back to the hotel around 6:00 and met Paris and three of her colleagues who wanted to go to Ravensburg for dinner. I suggested Brauerei Leibinger. I had tried to visit Leibinger a couple of times on previous trips, but they don't open their Gaststätte until 4:00pm during the week. We found it tonight with only some small difficulty and had a fine dinner along with their Dunklesbier.

Brauerei Leibinger, Ravensburg

Leibinger Dunkles

We fly home out of Stuttgart on Friday, but we're heading there tomorrow morning so Paris can have a fun day away from the office.

Tomorrow: Stuttgart

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday, 13 January 2009: Hailtingen and Zwiefaltendorf

Yesterday: Ummendorf, Laupheim, and Biberach an der Riß

Today did not go as well as it could have. How not-well did it go, you ask? Between the time I left the hotel this morning and the time I returned to the hotel tonight, I had exactly three beers. And only one of those was at a brewery.

The weather was nice, and the trains and buses were all on-time, and I arrived at Adlerbrauerei Rupf at 11:30am.

Adlerbrauerei Rupf, Dürmentingen-Hailtingen

The brewery staff were walking into the Gaststätte for their lunch break just as I came in. I was introduced to the brewmaster, and he poured me a beer, and that was the last I saw of him or anybody else. It wasn't clear whether — or even if — they were open to the public today, and I had the place to myself.

Adlerbrauerei beer

The food smelled fantastic, but there was nobody around to get me some. I finished the beer, left 5€ on the table and left. At least that put me way ahead of schedule for once.

Hairy coo near the Hailtingen bus stop

I got back to Riedlingen at 1:00 hoping to catch an earlier bus to Zwiefaltendorf. No dice: the next scheduled bus was the one I was originally scheduled to take at 2:00. So much for being ahead of schedule.

One thing about these Real Small Towns is that there aren't any public restroom facilities. So I wandered around Riedlingen looking for a beer and a toilet. I found both at Gasthof zum Hirsch.

Gasthof zum Hirsch, Riedlingen

Then I still had 40 minutes or so to kill. On the way back to the bus stop, I found Pizza Kebap Treff, featuring Döner Kebap and Königsegger beer. I hadn't eaten yet, so I got a Döner sandwich with a bottle of Hefeweizen.

Königsegger Hefeweizen at Pizza Kebap Treff, Riedlingen

The 20-minute bus ride to Zwiefaltendorf was uneventful, except for the don't-fall-asleep part. Blank's Brauerei, Brennerei und Mosterei is almost right at the bus stop. And when I got there, I had a major you-dumb-shit moment. There was a sign on the door saying that they were on vacation until January 20. It was then that I remembered getting an email from a member of the Blank family, saying that they'd be on vacation until January 20. I even responded to her, saying that it was too bad that I would not be able to visit their brewery this time.

Blank's Brauerei, Riedlingen-Zwiefaltendorf

The bad news was that the bus I came on was obviously long gone. The good news was that there was another one coming in 20 minutes. The bad news was that I couldn't wait 20 minutes plus the 15-minute ride back to Riedlingen, if you know what I mean, and Blank's appeared to be the only Gasthaus in town. After much frantic wandering, I found a quiet spot to, well, you know.

Back in Riedlingen — where there's no bar in the train station — I found some new connections to get me back to Bad Waldsee. Since I was now two hours ahead of schedule, I thought I'd try to find an Ausschank for the local beer, Steinacher Hausbräu. Of course, without Internet access, I had no maps, and I missed a turn and ended up in Bad Waldsee's Altstadt. Which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I never did find Steinacher beer, and I gave up and walked back to the hotel, getting in around 5:15. So now I'm in the hotel bar, typing this up and drinking Meckatzer beers to make up for lost time.

Meckatzer Weizen

Tomorrow: Söflingen, Dellmensingen, and Ravensburg

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday, 12 January 2009: Ummendorf, Laupheim, and Biberach an der Riß

Yesterday: Planes and Trains

Today began early, as Paris had to meet her new colleagues for breakfast. They all drove to Biberach together, while I walked the mile or so to Bad Waldsee Bahnhof.

View from the hotel window

I should have brought my skates

As I was sitting on the train typing up yesterday's notes, I completely missed the stop at Biberach and found myself in Laupheim. So today's schedule got more or less inverted.

Kronenbrauerei und Malzfabrik Paul Eble doesn't have a Gasthaus, but the office staff kindly directed me to the nearby "3 Mohren" and sent me on my way with a bottle of Bock.

Kronenbrauerei und Malzfabrik Paul Eble, Laupheim

Laupheimer Bock

Gasthaus 3 Mohren, Laupheim

The conversation I overheard at the Stammtisch was surprisingly intelligible Hochdeutsch: African politics, brewing equipment, and which German dialects are taught in school vs. spoken at home. Lunch consisted of Flädlesuppe and Maultaschen alongside the Kronenbrauerei beers.

Because I had already botched my schedule so early in the day, I ended up waiting a half-hour for the bus to take me to the train station, and a half-hour waiting for the train to take me back to Biberach, and 45 minutes waiting for the bus to take me to Ummendorf. But I did get there in the end, around 2:30pm, and checking the schedule I found a perfectly-timed bus that would take me back to Biberach so I wouldn't have to walk the five kilometers. Bräuhaus Ummendorf is just a couple of blocks from the bus stop.

After I had sampled the beers, Owner/Brewmaster Stefan Dobler showed me around the brewery.

The pictures would normally appear here, but it seems my camera ate them. Not happy.

Back in Biberach an der Riß, I found Brauerei Grüner Baum. They no longer operate their own brewery, but they serve beers from Berg Brauerei, which I haven't been able to visit yet.

Beer Me! contributor Roland Rashleigh-Berry joined me at Grüner Baum for a few beers. It turns out that he's working for Paris' new client here, and there's a good chance that they'll run into each other during this project. Small world.

I got back to the hotel much later than I expected to, but not so late that I couldn't have a couple of beers and a sandwich at the bar, then Paris and I polished off the two bottles I had picked up along the way.

Tomorrow: Hailtingen and Zwiefaltendorf

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday-Sunday, 10-11 January 2009: Planes and Trains

We left home at 10:30 CST and drove the 90 minutes to Omaha. Lunch (which included New Belgium 2° Below, which tasted suspiciously like Fat Tire) was a fine Cajun meal at Jazz, then a few pints at the Crescent Moon.

Our flight left Omaha at 5:00pm CST and arrived at Memphis on time. Our connection allowed no time for beers there. Then our departure was delayed because a couple of people checked bags, got on the plane, then decided they couldn't go, so their bags had to be dug out of the hold.

Despite the delay, arrived in Amsterdam on time, departed Amsterdam on time (again, no time for a beer) and arrived in Stuttgart on time. With 45 minutes to kill before the S-Bahn left, we had a Dinkel Acker Sanwald Hefeweizen at the "Welcome Bar".

Dinkel Acker Sanwald Hefeweizen

The S-Bahn was the start of the three-hour train ride to Bad Waldsee. We switched trains at Stuttgart Hbf. The train inexplicably stopped halfway between Göppingen and Ulm. (Actually, an explanation was given, but I didn't understand it.) We got to Aulendorf as our next train was scheduled to leave, but we just made it. A taxi picked us up in Bad Waldsee and drove us to the hotel in Hopfenweiler. We checked in at 6:30pm CEST, 25 hours after leaving the house.

Too tired to find the hotel bar, we drank the beers from the minibar — Metzacker Weiss-Gold and Pils — and called it a night.

Tomorrow: Ummendorf, Laupheim, and Biberach an der Riß

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Maps and directions

I've added a new feature to the site: brewery maps and directions. It's not particularly pretty, and I'm going to keep fixing it up, but it's useful as it is.

Wedged in between the brewery's information and its beer list, you'll find a Google Map of the brewery's location.

Initial brewery map view

Breweries that are open to the public are marked , and those that are not are marked . (I'm working on some more informative icons.)

Clicking on a brewery's icon brings up an information window, thus:

Brewery map with information window

Clicking on the "Directions" tab lets you look up driving or walking directions to the brewery. (This part needs some "ease-of-use" work.)

Brewery map walking directions

Finally, zooming out will display the 100 closest breweries to the initial location. (Eventually, I'll remove the 100-brewery limitation.)

Brewery map zoomed out

This should work with all modern, standards-compliant browsers. If it gives you any trouble, let me know.

One more thing: clicking on a "[Map]" link will still take you to

Monday, January 5, 2009

Best beers of 2008

Of the 864 beers I tasted in 2008, these 46 — about 5.3% — got a perfect "20" score. They're the best of the best!

A passion for drinking on the job

Sure, it sounds cool. In fact, being a beer judge is cool. But no self-respecting competition organizer will expect any judge to handle 101 beers in a single day. Two words: palate fatigue. There's no way to even pretend to evaluate a beer subjectively after that many.

Colin Mallon is in no danger of being fired for drinking on the job, which is just as well considering he recently tasted 101 beers in six hours.

The impressive feat happened when Mr Mallon, 37, judged his first big beer competition an annual Wellington beer survey. Unlike wine tasters, beer judges must swallow each brew so they can get the full impact of its colour, smell and taste.

Read the whole (very misleading) story at

U of Saskatchewan student completing PhD in how to save beer from going bad

I wasted my university education on computer science and astrophysics.

Monique Haakensen is not just another university student who claims to have spent her academic years occupied by beer.

Haakensen has helped discover three new methods of detecting beer-spoiling bacteria, including a DNA-based technique, that has big breweries around the globe hoisting pints in celebration.

Breweries usually have to keep batches of beer for two to three months to make sure they haven't spoiled before cases are shipped out on trucks to liquor stores, says Haakensen.

"What we've done here is, by using DNA methods, we can actually figure out in a matter of one to two days if that beer will spoil," Haakensen says.

Read the whole story at Yahoo! Canada News.

Beer straight from the kitchen counter

Not long after I started homebrewing nearly 20 years ago, I had an idea for a countertop machine that would brew beer. My machine never made it past the sketches-on-paper stage, but these guys have made theirs a reality:

Housing a complete brewery inside of a 2-foot by 8-foot kitchen counter, the NanoBrewMaster is compact, mobile, and more exciting than your everyday kitchen cupboard. From sterilization on through to beer at the tap, the brewing of beer is handled automatically by the onboard computer system.

In addition to self-cleaning, the system also recognizes when to heat and when to cool, insuring that a cool, refreshing home brew is waiting for you at the other end of the tap. Two 7.5-gallon containers allow for up to 15 gallons of beer per brewing cycle. Experiment with one, and stay traditional with the other.

Neat stuff. Read the whole story at CNET.