I recently spent 8 glorious days galavanting across Europe and the UK with Rachael. It was a whirl wind of activity that involved soaking in the sites, gulping down the booze and checking an item off the bucket list.
Part 1 focuses on our stay in Deutschland.
After nearly 21 years I returned to the place were I spent numerous joyful summers as a child. My aunt and uncle’s home is in the small village of Bellings in the town of Hessen just under an hour outside of Frankfurt. I marvel in it's simplicity and truly admire all the ways that it isn't a big city.
The first day was an entirely surreal experience; here I was back after all this time and almost every detail was identical to how I remembered it. The three days that we spent there consisted of nostalgia, valuable time spent with family and friends, good beer and probably too much schnapps.
On the second night my aunt and uncle hosted a bbq in the back yard and many of my cousins and old friends came through. After a few beers it was like we never skipped a beat picking right back up where many of us left off all those years ago. Rachael couldn't help but ask why didn't we visit sooner and its a question that I was pondering myself.
We drank our way through beer from the bar in the basement and the beers stashed away in the cellar reserve next to the huge drums of home made Apple wine. When the beers ran low we turned to bottles of Ramazzotti, Jagermeister and Sambuca, which were all summarily consumed.
In Germany, as one may have suspected, beer drinking is quite popular and done often. The primary styles I encountered were pilsners and Weiss (or wheat) beers, along with some unique Weiss beer variations.
Typically Germans favor crips pilsners which is a classified as a type of pale lager. Extremely popular due to its relatively easy drinkability, pilsners account for more than two-thirds of the beer produced in the world.
Weiss beer another German favorite is usually top-fermented which typically means that it is brewed with a large proportion of wheat relative to the amount of malted barley. Generally a 50% wheat to barley malt.
Weiss beer was particularly popular amongst the locals in the town of Hessen. They indulge in it often and sometimes drink it with cola, also called Cola Beer. Another beer mixture that pairs surprisingly well is Radler which is the German term for a mixture of beer and fruit soda or lemonade. It’s light, sweet and refreshing and Rachael was particularly fond of the style.
I’d like to shout out the village’s one and only watering hole, the Weisse Taube (the White Dove). They serve a solid selection of brews and are run by an extremely hospitable family. We enjoyed throwing back a few rounds with friends there and look forward to throwing back a few more in the near future.
Even though 21 years passed since I saw most of my family and friends they greeted us with open arms and open beers. They took time from their schedules to accommodate ours and it was deeply touching to reconnect with them all. In several of these instances beer functioned as a catalyst for conversation and played its part as it always does in social interaction. We shared a few brews and seamlessly reminisced after all this time, sharing old memories and making new ones. It was a unique and gratifying experience for me and it's one I won't soon forget.
The village of Bellings celebrates its 850th anniversary this summer and a few months back my friend Jo sent me a commemorative mug. While reconnecting with my old friends I promised that I'd take a photo of the mug at the Statue of Liberty. The irony is that even though I'm a New Yorker, like many fellow New Yorkers I've never actually been to the Island to see it up close. So this week Rachael (another New Yorker who's also never seen it) and our kids took a trip to see the statue, and it was a very cool experience.
We plan on heading back to Deutschland again in the near future but this time with our three little dudes!
We had quite a few solid brews but here's a few that stood out:
Badisch Gose - brewed by Welde Bräu GmbH & Co. KG Bright golden yellow in color, with slight yeast opacity. Notes of banana, citrus and coriander. This beer was awarded with a gold medal at the International Craft Beer Award of Meininger 2016. Shout out to my cousin Cara for picking this one up of us!
Paderbourner Pilsner by Paderborner Isenbeck Brauerei Haus Cramer GmbH & Co. KG. Nothing spectacular here but another fine example of a classic German Pislner - clean, bright and easily sessional with a crisp bite.
Kulmbacher Pilsner brewed by Kulmbacher Brauerei AG yet another fine example, this one again is bright with a crisp taste. Very sessional and pairs quite well with food.
Fruh Kölsch brewed by Brauerei Früh am Dom. Notes of apples, pears, grapes, spice and some grassy earthiness along with a bit of honey like sweetness on the nose and tongue. A solid and refreshing Kolsch.
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Interested in some German Glass ware? Check out this awesome two piece set featuring 1 Erdinger 0.5L Glass and 1 Weihenstephan 0.5L Glass or if you're looking to get a little more beer in your glass check out the 1 Liter HB Hofbrauhaus Munchen Dimpled Glass Beer Stein.
Happy Drinking! Cheers
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