While on our recent trip to Germany, Chris and I visited our 750th brewery! Three quarters of the way to a thousand! Together! The same one!
That’s right, the one thing I left out of my August post about going to Rogue Farms is that I visited a new brewery, Fire on the Mountain, in Portland that Chris hasn’t been to. That put us even in the brewery count. From here on out (at least until Chris visits the brewery), we will celebrate important List milestones together. It’s very romantic…in a beer geek sort of way.
At the beginning of our trip to Germany in mid-September, we spent three days with our friends Ute and Wolfgang. You may remember them from tales featured in Teachings From The Tap. Excited that we were in Mannheim for several days, they had a number of things planned for us, including brewery visits.
One of our days started out with a trip to Weisses Haus’l Hausbrauerei in Ludwigshafen, a short distance from Mannheim center. As we crossed the Rhine, the puffing smokestacks of the industrial area gave way to caravan parks and walking trails. A small winding road shrouded in trees led us to the Weisses Haus’l Hausbrauerei. Hidden amongst trees and bushes, the beer garden in front of the brewery seemed like the front yard of a friend’s house.
The first customers of the day, it was quiet and peaceful, especially with the large Koi pond. To accompany our Weissbiers and Dunkles, we enjoyed Weisser Käse, a creamy white cheese dip/spread. We had never had it before and served on bread, it was the perfect beer drinking snack. This was a quick stop, however, as we had plans to meet up with our friend Tine (Tina in English) in Worms.
Worms is a city that has existed since before the Romans and it battles Trier and Cologne for the title of “Oldest City in Germany.” Given Worms is a stop for all the Rhine river cruises, it could also battle for the Germany’s “Oldest Tourists” title.
More importantly, it is the home of Wormser Hagenbräu. Located on the Rhine, we were warmed by the sun as we sat outside and enjoyed the view of passing barges and people on the promenade.
Their Helles paired well with Chris’ bratwurst and the Festbier with my käsespäztle. Tine got a kick out of signing her name to our personal copy of Teachings From The Tap on the page where she is mentioned (Page 167).
Ute thought it important that we also visit cultural sites, not just breweries on our trip. Coincidentally, Tine, who works in Worms, suggested a visit to some of the city’s historical sites.
We first visited the Jewish cemetery in Worms. Heiliger Sand is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe, with the oldest legible tombstone being 1076. As are all cemeteries, it was a solemn, yet peaceful place. Burials continued there up until the 1930s, so some of the markers were clearly legible. Others, however, were pitted and worn by centuries of German weather and leaning every which way by the shifting ground. It was a beautifully spooky landscape that reminded me just how old Europe really is.
We then took a look inside the Dom St. Peter, “one of the finest examples of High Romanesque architecture in Germany.” I wouldn’t know Romanesque architecture from Gothic, but I do know that the gold-gilded high altar was amazing! Feeling pious and sufficiently awed by religious splendor, it was time to return to Mannheim.
We have visited Mannheim numerous times. And Ute and Wolfgang have taken us to several breweries in the area. However, one brewery we had never been to was Eichbaum, located right in the city. Sticking with the motto “Drink local,” Eichbaum is our beer of choice when in Mannheim. I guess it’s so part of our experience there, we never thought to visit the brewery. Ute and Wolfgang once tried to arrange a tour for us, but they don’t offer them.
Across town from Ute and Wolfgang’s flat, we really hadn’t considered going to the brewery’s bräustube until this trip. The most exciting realization after deciding to go was that it would be our 750th brewery visit.
We took the light rail over to the Wohlgelegen district of the city. Wolfgang led the way and we made it across the street and down just a few yards. However, he decided that was the wrong way and we instead went the opposite direction and made a huge loop around the block. We eventually located the bräustube. It was just 30 yards from where we started had we continued in our original direction. We laughed at our misguided excursion and joked about lost beer drinking time, but our route offered us a chance to fully understand the mystique of Eichbaum.
Locals lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) refer to Eichbaum as “Leichen Wasser” or corpse water. This macabre nickname stems from the fact that the brewery uses a water source that runs under the cemetery across the street. By going the long way around, Chris and I were treated to a glimpse of the cemetery we had heard so much about. This discovery added to the adventure and helped build anticipation around making our milestone brewery visit.
Eichbaum’s bräustube is modern inside with a long sleek bar, green-colored back lighting, and slide show signage. However, the beer garden, feeling like an enclosed courtyard, was much more our speed. Not very crowded outside, we settled into a large round table. Chris, Wolfie and I enjoyed a few Kellerbiers and Ureich Premium Lagers, while Ute opted for, of all things, a Berliner Weiss (the green kind).
More important than the beer, though, was the fact that we once again shared our beer adventures with Ute and Wolfgang. As we frequently say, beer travel is so much more than the beer. It is the ambiance and the personal interactions.
The heart of beer travel is the way the experience makes you feel. For that reason, we always remember our milestone brewery visits. We also always think that the most recent milestone is the most epic ever. But this time it truly was. Celebrating with dear friends in a city we feel at home in could be nothing less than epic. This amazing achievement couldn’t have been better had Chris planned it ahead of time.
Cheers to milestones and good times spent with good friends. Here’s to many more trips to Mannheim and to the next 750 breweries!