I mentioned, in a previous post, a Yorkshire-themed bar here in Münster called The James. I'd only popped in once before for a swift Riggwelter, but as my wife and son are away, leaving me to my own devices, I found myself waiting outside for their doors to open. Well, they open at 5:30pm, and I had spent a little time in Pinkus Müller (more about Pinkus another time) before that recovering from a very short shopping spree, so I don't think I was starting too early.
I'm not the type to go for ex-pat kind of bars. I haven't been tempted by the Irish bar in Muenster at all, for example, preferring to "integrate" as much as possible. The James however has been recommended by some colleagues as a nice place to sit for a beer and a chat. And they were right. It has a good mix of clientele, and a very chatty barman/owner who is clearly in love with all things ale, and in particular Yorkshire. He makes regular trips over to ship in bottled beer from Theakstons and Black Sheep, and while he also stocks the likes of Caledonian 80/- and Newkie Brown on draught, he reckons they're going to be unavailable because of all the shenanigans in the brewery ownsership world, with Callie 80/- being left for the local market instead of export. I have no idea, but that's what he said. He had a similar situation with Beamish of course. Anyway, Axel is also a member of CAMRA, so I was able to flick through some CAMRA publications while sitting at the bar. He'd really like to get some cask beer in (I'm avoiding calling it real ale, as I still don't know exactly what that term really means) and pointed out that Germany does have such a tradition still alive and well in parts of Franken and indeed in Düsseldorf's altbier breweries like Füchschen.
I asked him how the locals liked the British beers he had on, and he thought that the most common comment was that "there are no bubbles". I'll have to extend my own research.
Anyway, I passed a pleasent evening in The James and struck up a conversation with a Scottish chap, a former military man, who said he'd spent more of his life in Germany than in Scotland at this stage. I had a Callie -/80 for old times sake, followed by a Theakston's XB to have with my ham and cheese sandwich (pity it wasn't toasted). I found the XB a little bland, although with a slightly spicey, gingery backdrop to its otherwise fairly plain malt-juice body. Mr. BeerNut had it recently and perhaps thought better of it than I did.
Axel had one bottle of Franken beer in stock, from Brauhaus Faust zu Miltenberg; their Schwarzviertler Dunkel. A really dark amber (at least in the dim light of the pub), this had an interesting sweet and slight roasty aroma. The flavour is very much malt, just like chewing a mouthful of the grain. While I really appreciate malt as a fine ingredient, I generally expect to find more complex flavours in the beer it was used to make. This one verges towards Malzbier flavour (think maltesers), and although Axel said it had a balancing bitterness, I just didn't detect hop bitterness at all (or hop extract I should say, according to the label). I'm not painiting a very nice picture of this beer, unless you really love malt flavours, but in fact it wasn't overly sweet. Pity the roasty hints from the aroma didn't come out to play in my mouth.
I finished up the evening with an Affligem Triple, just to get something Belgian into me after so long without. Oh matron!
Now, I have to go prepare a beef stew for my visitors. Today is brew day, and something involving malted rye will be produced this evening.
Yesterday I was told to go and buy a lottery ticket as the jackpot was standing at 35 million Euro. Lotto mania struck, with stupidly long queues for the lotto desk in the local newsagents. How can a nation with a reputation for orderliness not know how to stand in line and take their bloody turn in a civilised manner? Needless to say, I have not won 35 million Yoyo.