Every so often, when I travel around Germany for no, one or perhaps several good reasons, I come across strange little places that somehow stick out from the bunch. Most villages in Germany are actually pretty boring – they usually consist of a few well-kept houses clustered around a through road, with perhaps a church, a bakery and – if you’re really lucky – a pub to add a minor amount of interest. The two things that can make a German village leap from complete obscurity to a permanent place in my consciousness are a splendid name and the presence of a brewery.
Village names are usually forgotten as soon as you’ve cycled through, but since there are almost as many villages as there are people in Germany, some are bound to differentiate themselves by naming themselves a bit more adventurously. It could be argued that a handful have taken this too far – the village of “Fucking” situated on the German-Austrian border certainly have their fair share of people driving through with screwdrivers and angle cutters to purloin the signs. There are a few other ones that were no doubt named some time before English became the world language – my favourites, though, are the ones that don’t make sense in English (or any other language I know), but simply sound funny. Which brings me to the main topic of this blog post: beer.
I may have mentioned once or twice that I like beer and that Germany has both good beer and an amazing number of breweries. The fact that I, who likes beer, live in Germany and travel to Bavaria whenever I have the chance, is a happy coincidence. And so it came to pass that, for my lovely wife’s birthday weekend last week, I booked us a nice escape in, you guessed it, Bavaria. I managed to wrap the weekend present in fluffy things such as a gourmet meal, a race, a trip to the local spa/swimming complex and a bit of geocaching, all of which camouflaged the beer hunting agenda very nicely, except that I had made the somewhat obvious “mistake” of booking a hotel next to the local brewery, namely the Löwenbräu (incidentally a very boring brewery name) in Bad Wörishofen. The “bad” actually means “bath”, and was something just about every town that discovered some kind of natural spring decided to stick in front of their name to attract the hordes of tourists that seek to immerse their corpulent bodies in the allegedly healing qualities of the water. There are so many of these “Bad” towns nowadays that the humorous value of reading the name in English has completely faded, with the obvious exception of “Bad Kissingen”.
|Another brewery we stumbled upon|
Anyway, having enjoyed a very expensive, fancy and incredibly gourmet meal on my wife’s actual birthday, I managed to convince her to sneak in a little nightcap half-litre in the brewery’s very pleasant and cosy bar. Fresh beer straight from the brewery seldom fails to hit the mark, and the very sturdy beers they had on tap both impressed – the Urtrunk was quite dark, malty and full-bodied whereas the Helles was also malty, but unsurprisingly a bit spicier and lighter.
The real jewel around Bad Wörishofen is a place about 10km away, though – and I’m talking about none other than the world not very famous village of……… DIRLEWANG. Now there’s a village name straight from the top drawer. I have no idea how they managed to come up with such a classic, but considering they also had the sense to reject closing the local brewery, I now officially declare the village of Dirlewang the best tiny place in Germany to visit for between 5 and 10 minutes, unless you’re not driving in which case you should stop for a few beers. As it happened, I was in a car, but I nevertheless stopped for 4 beers, which I requested to be surrounded by brown glass and sealed with a crown cap, a bit like a working class king if you see what I mean. Anyway, the brewery bar itself was an interesting place – probably refurbished sometime just after the Napoleonic Wars and populated by a bunch of geezers who were a smidgeon too young to have fought in them. The reception was friendly though, even though the local dialect can be a challenge, and I was allowed to take away said 4 beers for the princely price of €3.20, which I rounded up to €4 to ensure that the brewery remains profitable.
Why am I telling you all this? Mainly because I haven’t got anything else to say and that I have just tried one of the four beers, just to celebrate the end of yet another working day. And boy was the beer good, in fact even better quality than the work I did today, which wasn’t too bad either. A satisfyingly full body was livened by just the right amount of hoppy spiciness to ensure a pleasurable passage down my thirsty throat. The best news is that I still have two beers left from Dirlewang as well as a six-pack from a very nice brewery in Ottobeuren as well as a few more local ones that I picked up in a bottle shop. Feel free to pop by for a little tasting session.
|A real Dirlewanger waiting to be consumed|
All good things must come to an end, they say, and so it was with both the weekend in Bavaria, the bottle of beer from Dirlewang and this blog post. All that remains is to observe that the evening is dark and that the temperature is dropping. This, surely, means that winter is around the corner, and that the Christmas beer is sitting somewhere, maturing, and waiting to be wheeled into the shops and supermarkets, or – if you’re in Norway – the state-controlled monopoly outlets. The only benefit of this monopoly is that they’ve got a catalogue of all the beers you can supposedly buy there, so it makes it much easier to compose your Christmas wish list. In fact, perhaps I’ll just send the entire catalogue off to Santa Claus’ North Pole lair and hope he doesn’t drink it all before he delivers it down the chimney in time for the annual Christmas beer tasting. As they say amongst the Inuits up in that part of the world: Inuuhiqatsiaq!