Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beer lake freezes in German city

A busy intersection in the German city of Kassel turned into a lake of frozen beer when some 1,600 bottles smashed after poorly secured crates flew off a delivery truck, police said.

Read the whole story at ABC News (no, not that one, the other one). Thanks to for the link.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Scientists No Closer to Curing Hangovers

With New Year's Day right around the corner, here's something to ponder:

They can put a man on the moon, the saying goes, but they can't come up with a decent hangover cure. Considering how hangovers have been afflicting humans since time immemorial, you'd think that finding a cure would be a major public health goal, right up there with clean water and female literacy.

Yet there's no war on hangovers, as there is with cancer. There's no multinational race to find the hangover gene. What's the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism working on, anyway?

If ever a Nobel Prize was merited, it would be for the team that finds a hangover cure.

Read the recommendations at

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Germany in January

Our next trip: Bad Waldsee, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, January 10-16. A Google Earth map of my planned brewery visits is in the Travels section at

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BrewCasted again!

Back in October, the BrewCast.NET crew came to Columbus and brewed our latest Impromptu Pale Ale. They came back a couple of weeks later after it was tapped, filled their growlers, went back to Lincoln and tasted it on their podcast.

This is the third time this year that Gottberg has been featured at BrewCast.NET; here are links to each episode:

Listen to their show, then take their advice and come drink my beer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Schedule shuffle

Never mind what I said yesterday.

Today: clean and fill kegs.

Thursday: Brew Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen.

Friday: Brew Weizenbock.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Where's the beer?

When I left for Switzerland, we had nine beers on tap. When I got back, there were but six, and one of those ran out yesterday. So I've got some brewing to do. Fortunately the malt I ordered some weeks ago finally arrived, so I'll brew some Dunkelweizen tomorrow and a Weizenbock on Thursday.

Once my new batch of yeast show up next week, I'll brew some Gold and...something else that I haven't decided on yet. Then I'll be able to use the harvested yeast for a Wee Heavy and Small Beer I've got on the drawing board.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2008

OK, so I was rather lax about posting the details back in October, but this year I again pledged my monthly bonus to be donated to the Gateway for Cancer Research. The details of the pledge didn't change from last year, but the amount did: $735.01, up from $602.17 last year. Thanks to everybody who pitched in!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday, 4 December 2008: Basel and Zürich

Yesterday: Kenzingen and Lörrach

Today is our last day here; tomorrow we fly home. Paris isn't sure how long she'll be at the office today, so I decided to hang around Basel. I wandered around Klein- and Grossbasel this morning, looking for beer and an Internet connection.

Wandering around Basel

The Rhein flows through Basel

The Rathaus, Basel's city hall

I never did find Käppelijoch Bier. I did find a reference to a restaurant that may have it, but they wouldn't be open until 4:00pm today.

What I did find was fumare non fumare, a pair of identical bars situated next to each other, one for smokers and one for non-smokers. I took advantage of their free wireless Internet access to catch up on some of my typing, enjoying a few glasses of Unser Bier in the process.

fumare non fumare is located between the Marktplatz and Barfüsserplatz tram stations

Paris called and said she was on her way back to the hotel, so I took the tram to meet her there. I got there first and had a bottle of Feldschlösschen Dunkle Perle while I waited.

We took a train from Basel to Zürich's Hauptbahnhof, where we found Brasserie Federal. It's a big, busy bar that offers more than 100 bottled and draft Swiss beers. I learned from the bartender that beneath the bar is a bakery, butcher shop, and most importantly, a small brewery where they produce a monthly special beer. So we had a few here, along with some dinner, which was the first time either one of us had eaten today.

Brasserie Federal, Zürich

Locher Appenzeller Schwarzer Kristall

Locher Castégna

Falken Munot-Weizen

Hürlimann Hammer

Aare Amber

Federal Schneeflöckli-Winterbier, brewed here at the train station

Sternen Huusbier Schwarz

A short train ride got us to the Zürich airport, and a shuttle bus took us to the nearby Mövenpick Hotel.

Tomorrow: The flight home

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday, 3 December 2008: Kenzingen and Lörrach

Yesterday: Bern

Have I mentioned that I love Deutsche-Bahn's Baden-Württemberg Ticket? For €18 ($22.75) you can travel anywhere in Baden-Württemberg, by rail or bus, from 9:00am until 3:00am. Today I availed myself of one of these tickets to visit the Gasthof-Brauerei Hirschen in Kenzingen.

Gasthof-Brauerei Hirschen

Gasthof-Brauerei Hirschen, Kenzingen

Despite what the historical marker outside says, they don't brew beer here anymore. They do serve beers from Brauerei Lasser — which coincidentally is the next brewery on my target list — and the food smelled to good to pass up, so I stayed for lunch.

Lamb kebab at Gasthof-Brauerei Hirschen, Kenzingen

I was expecting a plate full of food; instead, I was presented with this kebab suspended over rice, peppers, tomatoes, and dates. The waiter doused the kebab in liquor and set it alight at my table. On the side was a plate of french fries.

I had to go back through Basel to get to Lörrach. A short layover in Freiburg gave me time for a Ganter beer in the train station.

Once I got to Lörrach, it took me a few minutes to find the Brauereigaststätte; it's actually around the corner from the brewery's main address. It was really quiet there when I came in, but it turned out that they're only open until 4:30pm, so I was one of the last customers.

Brauerei Lasser, Lörrach

Lasser Dunkles Export

Lasser Maisel's Weisse

Lasser Export

Lasser Premium-Pils

Paris and I had dinner and a couple of Warteck Dunkles at Restaurant zum Alten Warteck across the street from our hotel.

Tomorrow: Basel and Zürich

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday, 2 December 2008: Bern

Yesterday: Waldkirch and Riegel

There is snow on the Alps, and there are a few flakes falling here in Bern today. I started the day off by getting lost: I walked right off my map without even leaving the Bern Bahnhof!

The Zytglogge is one of Bern's great landmarks

Brauerei Egger of Worb doesn't have a pub, but their beers are available in Bern at Restaurant Brasserie Anker.

Restaurant Brasserie Anker, Bern

Lunch was an excellent creamy barley soup with bacon, a salad, and pork schnitzel with pasta and mushroom gravy for CHF17.50 ($14.35).

Egger Albertus Dunkel

Egger Galloper

The #21 bus took me north of downtown to Brauerei Felsenau. Their beers are available at the nearby Restaurant Felsenau, on the hill above the brewery.

Restaurant Felsenau, Bern

Felsenau Lager Hell, CHF3.80 / $3.12 for a 10.1-ounce glass

Felsenau Bärner Weizenbier, CHF5.50 / $4.50 for a half-liter bottle

Felsenau Bärni Dunkles Spezialbier, CHF4.90 / $4.00 for an 11.2-ounce bottle

The skies had been cloudy all the time, but they cleared enough this evening that I could catch this nice arrangement of the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter over our hotel.

Moon, Venus, Jupiter

Back in Basel, we met Paris' colleague Marco and his charming wife Paloma for dinner at the Pinguin for beers and dinner (in that order).

Caulier Bon-Secours Bière Vivante!!

Huyghe La Guillotine

des Cimes Yeti

John Martin Gordon's Finest Scotch Highland Ale

Tomorrow: Kenzingen and Lörrach

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday, 1 December 2008: Waldkirch and Riegel am Kaiserstuhl

Yesterday: Finally arrived in Basel

The hotel's breakfast buffet is CHF29.50 ($24.50) per person per day. I'll be buying pastries at the train station for the rest of the week.

It's overcast and maybe a bit chilly — around 2°C — and the people here are bundled up like we're at the North Pole. I have a light jacket that I'm carrying more than wearing.

I arrived at Waldkirch around 11:30 and walked 15 minutes or so from the train station to Brauereigaststätte Stadtrainsee Waldkirch. Aside from four pretty good beers, lunch consisted of a creamy green bean soup, salad, and bits of pork in mushroom gravy with french fries for €5.50 ($6.94). Good stuff!

Hirschenbrauerei Waldkirch

Hirschenbrauerei Waldkirch

Waldkirch Weizen

Waldkirch Weizen

Waldkirch Kellerbier

Waldkirch Kellerbier

Waldkirch Pils

Waldkirch Pils

Waldkirch Export

Waldkirch Export

A bus and a train got me to Riegel am Kaiserstuhl. Rather than wait five minutes for a three-minute bus ride into town and a five-minute walk to the brewery, I decided to walk the 2km in the rain. I arrived at Brauhaus Riegel around 2:45. A couple of their beers are brewed and bottled by Fürstenberg, and the rest are brewed on-site.

Brauhaus Riegel

Brauhaus Riegel

Riegeler Neun Linden

Riegeler Neun Linden

Riegeler Spezial Export

Riegeler Spezial Export

Riegeler Landbier

Riegeler Landbier

Riegeler Felsen Pils

Riegeler Felsen Pils

Martina, Martin, Hans, Richard, and Hans

Martina, Martin, Hans, Richard, and Hans

I got to drinking and talking to the folks here, and pretty soon I had missed my bus. Martin offered me a lift to the station to catch the 6:30 train. I was just pulling into the Basel station when Paris called to find out when I'd be back at the hotel.

We met up with Paris' colleague Melissa and headed for the Cargo Bar. It's hard to find, being on a street below the main streets, right next to the Rhein. The brewery website said that Steinegger Bräu would be available here, but it wasn't. Instead, they did have a couple of beers I had never tried, and a couple more that I had.

Cargo Bar, Basel

Paris and Melissa

Paris and Melissa enjoy their Trois Dames Black Stout

We got back to the hotel sometime after midnight and had a Feldschlösschen Dunkle Perle before turning in.

Tomorrow: Bern

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, 30 November 2008: Finally arrived in Basel

Yesterday: Off to Basel

After yesterday's merry-go-round of aircraft changes, we finally made it to Paris late this morning. En route, I got to try a can of Nigerian Star lager, which wasn't too bad.

We got through the rat's maze that is Charles de Gaulle in time to catch a flight to Zürich earlier than the one we had re-rebooked. We even had time for a couple Affligem de Noël.

This airport is the O'Hare of the EU. In fact, I've determined that the French words Charles de Gaulle translate to the English word clusterfuck.

But we did get to Zürich, and from there took a train to Basel, and we checked into the hotel at 5:30pm, exactly 27 hours after we left home yesterday. So much for a quick pub crawl in Germany this afternoon.

Tomorrow: Waldkirch and Riegel am Kaiserstuhl

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008: Off to Basel

  • Got up early this morning and verified our flight's on-time status.

  • Left home at 7:30am and drove an hour and a half to Omaha.

  • Checked the departures board and found that our flight was delayed three hours due to a mechanical problem, and so we would miss our Atlanta-Zürich connection.

  • Rebooked Atlanta-Paris-Zürich so that we'd still arrive on Sunday.

  • The delayed flight landed in Atlanta even later than expected, so we missed the Atlanta-Paris connection too.

  • Re-rebooked Atlanta-Paris-Zürich on a flight leaving Atlanta two hours later. The new itinerary includes a six-hour layover at Charles de Gaulle Airport, arriving in Zürich at 5:05pm on Sunday. Then there's a 80-minute train ride from Zürich to Basel.

Tomorrow: Finally arrived in Basel

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back to Basel

Just got word Tuesday morning that Paris and I will be visiting Basel, Switzerland again from November 30 through December 5. (My notes and pictures from the September trip are here.) I'll be looking for new breweries to visit this time around, so if you have any tips, please pass them along!

Wednesday's adventure

Yesterday's root beer deliveries to Lincoln and Council Bluffs were delayed a couple of hours.

Tire wreckage
Tow truck

Thanks to AAA Nebraska, LincolnLand Towing, and Graham Tire Company for getting me back on the road in under two hours!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Germany wants warning labels for pregnant women on beer

The pussification of Europe continues. I'm all for full disclosure and labels warning of non-obvious hazards, but if you don't already know that an intoxicant might not be good for your fetus, you've got no business getting pregnant in the first place.

“Before the parliamentary election in 2009 we want to lawfully implement warnings on beer bottles that are aimed directly at pregnant women, who can cause considerable damage to their children by drinking during pregnancy,” [German Drug Commissioner Sabine] Bätzing told the [Rheinische Post].

Plans for the labels include images of a pregnant silhouette with a strike-through line, similar to existing labels in France.

It's like tobacco warnings: how can you not know that inhaling concentrated products of combustion is hazardous? It's SMOKE, for cryin' out loud!

I don't want to sound like some kind of anti-fun crusader. If you want to smoke, you're free to do so. Ditto with alcohol consumption and the myriad other activities that may strike your fancy. But anybody with enough intelligence to walk upright and handle a lighter or a pint glass must know that inhaling smoke might hurt the lungs, and consuming alcohol might hurt the fetus.

Criminey. Read all about this nonsense at The Local.

Grab a pint: Best beers for every season

NBC's Today Show weighs in with their choices of seasonal beers. They seem to lean toward spiced and fruited beers — not my favorites by any means — but they list some real classics also.

You can find their list and the reasons therefor at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Halloween Handfasting

It's been pretty quiet around the brewery — clean kegs, fill kegs, rack the odd beer — but rather exciting on the personal front. Paris and I got married on Halloween in a Wiccan handfasting ceremony at Max & Joe's Belgian Beer Tavern in Omaha. We decided to conduct the ceremony at a bar so as not to cut into anyone's drinking time. I don't have any still pictures yet, but here are some videos of the proceedings:

Down the "aisle" (0:47)

The ceremony (9:29)

The dance and the party (10:00)

I'll post the pictures when I get them. If you were there, Paris and I thank you for helping us have a great time! And thanks to Tom Dinwiddie (the tallest man in the room) for shooting the video.

I'm expecting some fresh Hefeweizen yeast later this week, so I'll probably brew again on Friday or maybe Tuesday.

Barnabas, our big buddy. 12/18/1989-11/5/2008

In memoriam

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1300 gallons of root beer

Today, I turned 1450 pounds (658 kg) of sugar into 1300 gallons (4900 liters) of root beer. That should be enough pop to get us through the middle of December.

I need to brew something with the Wyeast 3068 that's in the cooler. Maybe a new batch of Uncle Ivan's Dunkelweizen, either tomorrow or Thursday.

I'll be filling and cleaning kegs on Friday.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Texas law stifles state's craft brewers

More liquor-law stupidity, this time from Texas, America's bastion of liquor-law stupidity.

[Debbie] Farquhar-Garner, who runs the [Fredericksburg Oktoberfest] on behalf of the Pedernales Artists' Cooperative, wants to mimic the ritual opening of the original Oktoberfest, in which the mayor of Munich taps the ceremonial first keg. In 2000, Farquhar-Garner did a television interview and mentioned the fact that Shiner's master brewer would be on hand to meet the public. That landed her in trouble with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

"Every year I sit down with the TABC, and they tell me what we can and can't do," the Oktoberfest director says. "I found out that talking about a specific beer company is a big no-no." At Munich's Oktoberfest, the big beer companies put on the party. In Texas, it's illegal for a festival to even mention beer, and it's strictly forbidden for a beer company to donate alcohol.

This bears repeating: "In Texas, it's illegal for a festival to even mention beer".

Read the whole story at the Dallas Observer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A vote for beer over politics

...[Terry] Heckler, who knows something about selling beer and something more about selling an idea, never plied his hand in political advertising. The man responsible for some of Seattle's most famous ads -- the run of delightfully offbeat Rainier Beer television commercials of the 1970s and 1980s -- says he never even was tempted.

"We stay away from politics and we stay away from religion," said the man who co-founded Seattle's Heckler and Associates in 1968. Political ads tear down, he said. Political ads demonize, deconstruct. And, as these ads become increasingly constant before the November election, they do the worst thing of all: They bore.

Read the whole story at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Thanks to for the link!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back from California

I just got back last night from a week in California. The stated purpose of the trip was to attend my cousin Kelly's wedding to XM Radio personality Matt the Cat near Big Sur. While a tasty keg of Newcastle Brown was consumed at the wedding, there was also time for some coastal brewery visitations:

Monterey Coast Brewing, Salinas

English Ales Brewery, Marina

Peter B's Brewpub, Monterey

El Toro Brewpub, Morgan Hill

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Santa Cruz

Boulder Creek Brewery & Cafe, Boulder Creek

Gordon Biersch Brewing, San Jose

The trip map is already posted. Notes and pictures will magically appear when as I get my typing caught up.

Today's tasks at the brewery simply involved filling kegs. They ran the Oktoberfest kegs dry while I was gone, and nobody here knows how to fill them.

Tomorrow: clean fermenters.