Drinking Beer in Bamberg

by Billy Broas

View from Michaelsberg into Bamberg GermanyAs a side trip of my beer adventure in Munich I headed up to Bamberg. If you’re in Munich, seriously consider the trip. It’s a bit of a hike but totally worth it. Bamberg is tiny: only 21 square miles with a population of 70,000. NFL stadiums hold more than that. Yet this quiet Bavarian town is home to an astonishing nine breweries.

Munich is a laid back city in itself but Bamberg is even more so. The rivers that run though it seem to have a calming effect. The architecture is beautiful and there are seven hills dotted with churches and castles.

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Drinking Beer in Munich

by Billy Broas

New City Hall MunichI’m back from Munich, and the trip was incredible. Dr B. (my Dad) and I spent 6 days exploring Munich, Bamberg, and other parts of Bavaria. Let me fill you in on the best part of the trip: the beer.

My thoughts on the Munich beer scene

Beer is part of daily life in Munich. It’s more ingrained into the DNA of Müncheners than it is in Americans. At your meal, you get a beer. On the train, you get a beer. When you’re just hanging out, you get a beer. And they don’t get out of control, either. You won’t find much overt drunkenness (outside of festivals, of course).

There aren’t the same stigmas that we have about drinking beer, especially when it comes to women. Everyone drinks beer. I even saw numerous occasions at beer gardens where parents would pass their glass to their little kids for a few sips. Looking around it was obvious that we were the only ones who thought it was strange.

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False Advertising
When something is hot, everybody wants to ride its coattails.

Craft beer was up 15% in 2012, while the beer industry as a whole was up only 1%. Craft beer is hot, and marketers want a piece of it.

There are two recent examples of the term “craft beer” being abused.

The first was at Yankee Stadium this year when the baseball season began. See the picture below.

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Aecht SchlenkerlaAs I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m headed to Munich in May.

Part of my brutal training regimen is drinking a ton of German beer. We’re planning on spending one or two days of the trip in Bamberg, which is about 140 miles north of Munich. It’s home to the Rauchbier style of beer, or “smoke beer”. No liquid smoke in these though. This is the reaaaal deal. They produced it via the authentic practice of smoking the malt during the kilning process.

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kickstarter-logoThe beer industry has latched onto Kickstarter in a major way.

The fundraising platform with its social nature and quirky promo videos is the perfect fit for a new brewery looking to raise some cash. A search for “brewery” brings up 137 results.

Now we’re seeing all sorts of beery ventures, beyond just breweries. Here are some cool ones I’ve been following:

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munich-gateIn early May I’m taking a beer trip to Munich, Germany. You could say that I’m excited.

In 2006 I spent a day in Munich while traveling in Europe. I almost wish I hadn’t because it was so much fun I didn’t want to leave. It’s been a while, but I’m finally going back.

I want to make sure I do it right though, so I thought I would share with you my plan of attack. I also know that many BillyBrew readers have been to Germany and I’d be an idiot to not tap into that knowledge. I’ll be traveling with my photographer aka Dr. B aka Dad. He’s always wanted to go to Germany and I’m glad we can do this trip before he becomes an old(er) fart.

Here is the gist of the trip:

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Beer barrel cellar roomWood aging isn’t new. It’s what was used to ferment, age, and transport beer before there was anything better, like stainless steel.

But that doesn’t mean breweries aren’t innovating with wood.

Not content with simply “wood-aging” beer, craft breweries are experimenting with new creations made with this ancient technique. We’ll look at some of the different methods that are being used in today’s beers, along with examples.

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Bitch Creek ESB
It doesn’t always take a growler-full when cooking with beer. Sometimes just a dash will do. A small amount of the “secret ingredient” can leave your guests mystified and delighted. What IS that!?

Sriracha anyone?

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5 weeks.Sour beers for the bjcp exam.

That’s how far away the BJCP exam is.

For some background, I’ve been wanting to become a certified beer judge for years now. Last January it was one of my New Years Resolutions to pass the exam; a group of us formed to study for it.

There is a huge demand for the BJCP and not enough resources, so the earliest we could schedule it was March 2013. In hindsight, I’m glad we’ve had over a year to study because it’s a ton to learn and a whole lot of fun.

We’ve been fairly consistent about meeting every two weeks. The study sessions generally go like this:

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My “beer mood” is constantly changing, but one style that I can drink day in and day out is Berliner Weisse. It’s refreshing, tart but not sour, and light enough that you can have multiple multiple multiple pints.

Given my love of matching beer and food, I had to track down the best bites to go with a Berliner.

When finding the right food to pair with a beer, one of the first things I consider is intensity. Berliners are light bodied and generally 3-5% abv, so the food cannot be too powerful. Ribs, rich dessert, or anything smoky will overpower the beer, so you can rule those out. If you think about a beer dinner with multiple courses, you would place the Berliner towards the front, with the appetizer not the entrée.

That’s when it hit me.

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