Hupp hupp hurrah! The beer blogger is bock!

Germany is a great place to drink beer. First, there’s an insane number of breweries to try, second, the beer is really cheap and third, the beer is really good. However, the level of insanity reaches really crazy proportions when you go to Bavaria. There, the number of breweries per square inch is higher than anywhere in the world, the beer is cheaper and it’s also even better than in the rest of Germany. Then, just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any better, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon this slightly obscure part of Bavaria called Franconia. Yes, you guessed it – the density of breweries gets even higher, the beer gets even better and the prices, for some bizarre reason, are so low that you feel dizzy. Put simply, it’s the beer drinker’s heaven on Earth.

Centred on the beautiful city of Bamberg, itself sporting no less than 9 breweries that work tirelessly to quench the thirst of the 70,000 or so inhabitants, the region has more than 200 breweries that invariably brew really high quality beer. Add this to the fact that the region is very picturesque and easy to get around on the beer lover’s best mode of transport, namely the bike, and you have a great recipe for a very long holiday.

Sadly, I have not had the opportunity to go there for several years now, so I was extremely grateful when a friend and loyal follower of this blog did the second best thing to bringing me to Franconia  – he brought Franconia to me. In fact, he brought back 4 lovely bottles from the Huppendorfer brewery in Huppendorf, a village so small it could fit comfortably onto a beer mat.

A huppy pils
To stretch the enjoyment, I have been drinking the beers one at the time, and I shall follow this strategy of enjoyment prolongation by reporting on them one at the time. First out was the Pils. This is a beer the Germans seldom get spectacularly wrong (unlike most of the rest of the world), but conversely it’s also one that is seldom very memorable. I was therefore not surprised, but nevertheless strangely pleased, to find that this beer was good, but not fantastic. It had a decent amount of hop character, a good balance and contained plenty of refreshment. In summary, a promising start.
A fantastic vollbier

Next out was the Vollbier. Now those who have experienced Franconia will nod knowingly at this point, because the Vollbier is in many ways the region’s specialty. It’s a medium dark and quite malty, and beautifully balanced with the hops to create a beer that satisfies every conceivable organ in your body and probably a few you didn’t even know existed. It’s not a beer I want to drink all the time, but whenever I get one it leaves me with exactly the same feeling I imagine art lovers get when they visit Florence for the first time.
A zippy zwickl

Then it was time for the Zwickl. For those unfamiliar with this style, it’s normally an unfiltered beer that is otherwise not dissimilar to a pils or a helles. I like Zwickl quite a lot for the same reason I like to throw herbs and spices into all the food I cook – it’s tasty. The unfilteredness of the beer means that a lot of taste, which the world’s big brewers spend a lot of time and effort getting rid of, gets left in the beer and it ends up tasting the opposite of bland, which is dnalb. So, basically a bit like the Pils but with more hoppy spiciness on the palate.

The fourth beer is the Weizen, which I’m saving for a sunny day. So perhaps I’ll report on that another time. For now, I am just pleased to have managed to write another blog entry, Google knows that I haven’t been doing much of that lately. I’ve got loads of ideas for new posts though, so watch this space. Meanwhile, why don’t you plan your next 3-4 summer holidays by checking out the relevant web resources for Franconia. Bamberg is a great place to start, and should be on the itinerary of any person vaguely interested in enjoying the world’s favourite drink. Then you can rent a bike and go bumming around the countryside to marvel at all the lovely barley ripening in the balmy summer wind, and whenever you come across a village that you’ve never heard of, chances are that there will be a tiny little brewery with a nice beer garden outside where you can quench your thirst whilst you think how good life is and how unbelievably more complicated this sentence would be if you had to stick the verb at the end, like Germans do. Well, nobody’s perfect.