The Year in Beer Top 10 – Chris’ List

With the Year in Beer now over, we would be remiss not to come up with a list of top 10 experiences from our amazing year. The original plan was to come up with a combined list, but within the first minute of discussion, it was clear that wasn’t going to work. So, here is my list not necessarily in order…

The Kerstbierfestival
Our kind of festival where great beer, friends and conversation seem to be the focal point. Maybe the perfect end to the Year in Beer.

The “Four”
I still need to come up for a better name for our July-October stretch of the Year in Beer. In these months we went to four of the premier beer events in the world; Oregon Brewers Festival, Great British Beer Festival, Oktoberfest and Great American Beer Festival. A lot of beer geeks would be happy to make all four in their lifetime; we did it in consecutive months.

Anchorage in January
The first month for the Year in Beer and there was some worry about how it would turn out. Not only was Anchorage’s beer culture quite amazing, the community was so nice and welcoming. We couldn’t have started the year in a better fashion.

Cologne, Munich and Vienna
After the Bergkirchweih beer festival, we joined our friends Ute and Wolfgang for Flogging Molly shows on consecutive nights in Cologne, Munich and Vienna. Day one was Kölsch, day two was beer gardens with liters of beer and day three was our first visit to Vienna.

Hallertau Hop Tour
One of the fringe benefits of the Year in Beer was that we got a tour of the Hallertau hop growing region by Anheuser-Busch’s European hop guy, Willy Buholzer. Thanks to Willy for being a great host and hop guide.

The Beer Bars
The Year in Beer gave us the opportunity to go to some of the best beer bars in the world… Toronado, Monk’s Cafe, Standard Tap, Brouwers, Falling Rock, Kulminator, Arendsnest, In de Wildeman, ‘t Brugs Beertje, Cafe Delerium, Liar’s Club, Cafe Amsterdam, O’Brien’s… to name a few.

Visiting All Seven Trappists
One of the main goals of our December trip was to visit all seven Trappist breweries. The worry was that in December, the six that were open to the public, would have limited hours or be closed. The beer gods were smiling down on us as we were able to visit all seven and drink the beer at the six that were open to the public.

One of the side trips we made during 2008. Big thanks goes out to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing  Corporation for inviting us out for Philly Beer Week. If they hadn’t, we would still be talking about someday we need to get to Philly. We knew about Monk’s Cafe, and it is truly amazing, but there is a lot more to Philadelphia’s beer scene than just Monk’s.

Seeing Our Friend Win Beer Drinker of the Year
Another 2008 side trip… Being into beer, for me, is not just about the beer, it is also about the great friendships you make. And to be on hand to see our friend, Matt Venzke, win Wynkoop’s Beer Drinker of the Year, was not only a great time but was worthy a Top 10 Year in Beer experience.

OK… this is probably number one. I got to spend the Year in Beer with my best friend and better half. It truly doesn’t get better than that.

beergeek.TV Bonus Video – Flogging Molly 3X

After we finished up the Year in Beer Franconia portion of our trip, we met our friends Ute and Wolfgang of in Cologne for the first of three Flogging Molly shows. The next night we saw the show in Munich and Vienna the night after.

We were planning on the three nights being an episode of One Pint at a Time… see if Merideth and Chris can survive large amounts of beer, the mosh pit, late nights, and early mornings. But, it wasn’t to be. First, our filming time was limited because we couldn’t bring the video camera to the venues. Then the star lost her voice after the Munich show and we only shot one clip in Vienna.

But all is not lost. We decided to put the footage together as a short bonus video. Highlights include:

  • Being passed on the autobahn while going 106mph
  • Drinking many a Kölsch in Cologne
  • Liters of beer in Munich

So enjoy Flogging Molly 3X…

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For all the beergeek.TV bonus videos click here.



Three Crazy Days

The last three days of our trip were quite a crazy whirlwind of beer drinking, travel and punk. We finished the Year in Beer portion of our trip on Tuesday and drove to Cologne to meet up with Ute and Wolfgang for the first of three Flogging Molly shows on successive nights.

In the course of the three days, we got to meet a lot of new people and catch up with some old friends. Oh… and there was plenty of beer.

YiB-5We arrived in Cologne around 3pm, [By the way, avoid driving on A3 between Würzburg and Frankfurt until sometime in 2010] quickly dropped our bags off at our hotel, and walked the 30 meters to Früh am Dam. Früh is one of the more well-known Kölsch breweries and after a long day of travel, 10 or 12 small glasses of beer are just what were needed. Our group of six managed to down 40 glasses with Wolfie and myself accounting for the lions share. Check out the hash marks on the coaster.

Kölsch drinking tip: when you don’t want another, put a beer mat on top of your glass.

By the way, the Flogging Molly show was great . It was the first time we had seen them in Europe and we were blown away not only by the band, but also by the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Wednesday began bright and early since we had a 10am flight to Munich. Nothing like getting back to your hotel room at 1am and having to be at the airport at 8am the following day.

A little Munich travel tip: the airport has it’s own brewpub, Airbrau, in the central area, complete with a biergarten. We chose this as an opportunity to grab a quick beer before we boarded the S-Bahn into the city. We were also joined by a friend of Ute and Wolfie’s, Tina.

Typical of Bavaria, Airbrau had a Helles and Hefe Weizen, both of which were quite enjoyable.

The bonus was the biergarten; something I didn’t realize that was there. It was a beautiful day in Munich and the beer, the company, and the sun helped in the recovery from the long day and night before.

In the city center and feeling recharged, it was time for us to show our German friends around Munich. None of the three Germans we were with had spent much time in Munich. Due to time constraints, we got to do about one percent of what we wanted to show them.

First stop was the Weisses Brauhaus, the Schneider Weiss beer hall right off the Marien Platz. Besides the great Weiss beer, the main reason we wanted to go there was so that Wolfgang could do battle with the waitresses who can, at times, be a little snarky. But after years of waiting for this moment, our waitress was very nice and we had a pleasant time sitting in the sun and enjoying beer. Actually, the waitresses are more or less nice all the time – just at night and when it is really busy, they can be a tad short which is hard due to the language difference.

But soon it was time to get serious, and in Munich that means ein maß – beer by the liter. So, we headed around the corner to Hofbrauhaus and started the party for real.

Yes, the Hofbrauhaus can be touristy, but that is mainly at night and on the weekends. On a sunny weekday afternoon, it is very pleasant sitting in their biergarten drinking beers with your friends, new and old.

Finally, it was off to the to the Flogging Molly show. The venue, located on the Isar River had, of course, a biergarten. So, the liters began flowing anew. And even better, we weren’t kicked out after the show so we got to hang out in the biergarten again and talk to some of the band members.

After another late night, it was off to Vienna on Thursday morning. But this time, we were taking the train, so not only did we not have to be at an airport way too early, but also the four hour train ride gave us an opportunity to get more sleep.

This was our first trip to Vienna and we only had 24 hours. I will say straight out that we didn’t see many of the sites, except doing a quick Clark Griswold-esque tour of the city center.

But we did get to two of the Viennese brewpubs. And I have to give credit for the two we visited for stepping outside the lager box and actually brewing some ales as well.

The first, 1516 Brewery is located in the city center, a short distance from the Hofburg – the imperial palace. I stuck with the lager styles… a Lager and a Pilsner. I wanted to try their their Bavarian Dunkel, but didn’t get a chance. They also brewed a dry-hopped Irish Stout and served Victory’s Hop Devil on tap. By the way, 1516 is looking for help and speaking German is not a requirement.

The venue Flogging Molly played, the Open Air Arena, was pretty cool. It was an old slaughterhouse converted into an almost-too-hip concert venue with five or six different stages. Scattered throughout the complex of buildings are some cool bars serving a number of different Austrian lagers.

We visited the second brewpub, 7 Stern Bräu, the next day before we had to fly to Frankfurt. Located near the Neubaugasse U-Bahn stop, 7 Stern has good food, a nice biergarten and some excellent beer.

I tried their Helles, Dunkles and IPA. The Dunkles was the star of the bunch, but I have to say the IPA was surprisingly good. Not the 75+ IBUs that we come to expect on the West Coast but well-balanced and hoppy.

They also brewed a Chili beer, which I tasted and found a little too spicy. I don’t like my beer to burn going down.

I would like to thank Ute and Wolfgang for being the great friends they are and for introducing us to some new friends… Tina, Stefan, Annie, Simon, Klemens, Felix, Lucas, Bianca… I certainly hope I didn’t forget anyone…


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