“Die Weltmeisterschaft in Deutschland” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.
For two years, we’d been dreaming of watching the world’s greatest sporting event while in Germany. Arriving the last day of group play for both the United States and Germany, we stayed through the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup.
This trip will always hold a special place for us. Watching Germany demolish both England and Argentina, the intensity of the matches, and the joys of the celebrations were all absolutely remarkable. But what we’ll remember most is that we spent these great beer travel moments with friends.
So enjoy our latest beer adventures in Germany…
For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.
After almost a week of pounding the pavement of various German cities, we needed a nature break. Southeast of Dresden is Sächsische Schweiz, (Saxon Switzerland), a national park along the Elbe River. Known for its rock formations, the park is popular with everyone from your average tourist to avid rock climbers.
Despite the projected 95 degree heat, we forged ahead with our plan to get some exercise. Hopping on the S-Bahn with hordes of other tourists at Dresden’s Hauptbahnhof, the ride to Sächsische Schweiz was a short 40 minutes. Getting off the train at Kurort Rathen, the final part of our journey was a ferry crossing to the opposite bank of the narrow Elbe River.
At this point, I somewhat doubted our decision. Not only was the hot late morning sun beating down on us, but the hordes seemed to have multiplied on the ferry.
However, once off the ferry, we quickly separated ourselves from the pack, located the trail and headed up. As our hikes in Europe go, this one was pretty mellow. We were shaded from the scorching sun and we weren’t in the back country. It was more of an uphill walk comparable to the walk to Andechs, just a bit steeper.
Being Germany, we knew we were going to be rewarded with beers for our efforts. Sure enough, when we reached the top, we found a little beer garden amongst the complex of buildings. Sitting down for a rest, we enjoyed a couple of Hefeweizens and a Bratwurst from a nearby stand.
Then we headed back down the trail from where we came. It wasn’t like our hikes in the other Switzerland; in fact it looked nothing like Switzerland. But we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. And there was beer.
Obviously, there had to be a plan to visit a brewery somehow in this journey. Hopping back on the S-Bahn towards Dresden, we got off three stops up the line in Pirna. The brewery was located on the opposite side of the city from the train stop.
In a way, the several kilometer walk to the brewery was more difficult than our hike. Crossing a bridge over the Elbe River, we passed through the city center and then headed up a hill. While it was not as steep as our hike, we had no protection from the midday sun. And we weren’t quite sure where it was. I was very relieved to see the sign that said Brauhaus Pirna zum Giesser was only 300 meters away.
Finding a table in the shade, Merideth and I quickly ordered beers from our waitress. Having not found a beer menu in the 30 seconds we had been sitting down, we both just instinctively ordered a Pils. Good guess on our part. The golden brew tasted amazing after the long, hot walk.
Finally finding the Getränkekarte, Brauhaus Pirna zum Giesser had an eclectic stable of beers. Unfortunately, the ones I really wanted to try were the seasonals. We had just missed the Maibock and were too early for the Rauchbier. After the Pils, I also tried the Pirnaer Stadtbier, an amber and Weltmeisterbier, their light, summery World Cup beer.
It was our last full day in Germany on the trip. As we enjoyed our late lunch and beers, we reflected on our many beer adventures. The next day, we would be in Prague.
Our stop in Dresden really didn’t have much to do with beer. For years, I have been fascinated by the city and its resurrection from the fire-bombing by Allied planes February 1945. It is estimated that 25,000 civilians died in the raids and subsequent firestorm.
My recent interest stemmed from our first visit to Munich in 2001. We were at our very first dinner in Germany and Merideth and I were struggling with the Bavarian dialect menu. Nothing seemed to be in our Germany dictionary.
There was an elderly couple sitting close to us. After about 10 minutes of looking at the menu then looking at the dictionary then looking back at the menu, the man finally asked in perfect English, “Can we help with the menu?” We gladly accepted and he and his wife spent the next few minutes translating the menu for us item by item.
In subsequent conversation, we learned that he was a Dresdener and that he was in the firebombing. Having a degree in History and an interest in the Second World War, it was very special to get to talk to this elderly man.
Nine years later, we finally made Dresden part of our Germany itinerary.
A symbol of Dresden’s resurrection is the 18th century Frauenkirche. It seemingly survived the raids only to collapse into a heap of rubble the last day. It remained a heap of rubble for almost 50 years. Reconstruction began in 1993 and was finally completed in the 2000. Using the original plans, the church was rebuilt with the existing stones where possible.
Our hotel was across from the Frauenkirche. Arriving late afternoon, we quickly checked in and then headed out to walk the Altstadt’s cobbled streets. It was one of the most beautiful we had ever seen in Germany. From the impressive buildings to the blindingly gold statues, we wandered around in awe.
The Frauenkirche rose impressively out of the central square. The checkerboard pattern of new and salvaged stones had us pondering how did the builders know where to put them.
Merideth and I were quite parched from the walk around the Altstadt in the hot and humid weather. Located the the opposite side of the Frauenkirche from our hotel was Augustiner an der Frauenkirche. Normally, we wouldn’t be drinking Munich beer in Dresden but we learned from our friend Paul that they poured a beer from the barrel. That’s too good an opportunity to pass up.
While Merideth ordered her cherished Helles, I went with Edelstoff aus dem Holzfass. An “Export” lager, the Edelstoff was a bit warm from being out in the heat. The temperature gave it a ‘real ale meets lager’ mouth feel, but the brew was still crisp and refreshing. The next day, I was fortunate enough to have another one. This time from a freshly tapped keg. The beer’s temperature was much more what I would expect from a German lager. Both were excellent, but the colder version paired better with the hot and humid weather.
There are several breweries in Dresden. We needed to cross to the opposite bank of the Elbe River to seek out the first. Looking at my printed out map, I was unsure of whether we could walk there in a timely manner, but we set out on foot anyways. After about twenty minutes of walking, it looked like we were barely halfway there. Reaching a tram stop, we climbed on the next tram headed in our direction. We were dropped off right in front of Brauhaus am Waldschlössen.
The history of the Waldschlössen (little forest manor) dates back to 1790 with brewing commencing in the 1830s. The current brewery reopened in 1997. Quite an impressive building, Brauhaus am Waldschlössen sat on top of a hill with Dresden’s largest beer garden overlooking the Elbe River Valley.
The heat of the day was finally breaking and the evening turned quite pleasant. Merideth and I grabbed an unshaded table on the edge of the beer garden.
Merideth was in luck as Monday was Hax’ntag. For less than 9 Euro, Merideth got a pretty good sized pork knuckle which also included a half liter beer. She paired her Haxe with the Hefeweizen. My beer choice was the excellent Zwickelbier which I paired with a two 75 Euro cent pickles.
We enjoyed the view of the river and the distant Dresden skyline as we devoured our haxe and pickles and drank our beers. Another day, another beer garden, another great memory from Germany.