Thursday, 9 October 2008

A quick trip to Bayern

I'm just back from a short trip to Bayern, where I and a group of super duper colleagues stayed in a little hamlet called Hohenbercha, about 28km north of Munich, while we attended a training course in a sister office close by. Unfortunately our busy schedule didn't leave time to look around which is a shame as it's been about 11 years since I was last in Munich. We were also close to Freising, home of Weihenstephan, but maybe I'll get there next time.

As it was, we were staying in the nice litle Gasthof Hörger, or to give it the full title, Hotel Hörger Biohotel und Tafernwirtschaft, a family-run hotel where all the food comes from certified organic sources and the owner is also the head chef. Very nice food it was too, all on a very Bavarian theme, which happens to appeal to me anyway, especially the likes of the wild boar (although maybe not the calf's head, though I was told the lips are a delicacy). Hohenbercha is a tiny place, but the restaurant seemed to do a good trade on both nights we stayed, so I got the impression that it is very well regarded locally. The hotel is mix of very traditional (with the old building and decor being pleasently old world) and very modern, with a new all-wood building in a very modern, minimalist style alongside an old orchard. It looked like we would be sleeping in large wooden boxes at first, but the details in the room were really cool. I don't know what the rooms are like in the older building.
With a couple of exceptions, the beers on offer were all from the Hofbrauhaus Freising (est. 1160). I didn't take very detailed notes as I was in company, but here a few notes.

Little cards on each table drew my attention to their Kirchweih Markt Fest Märzen, a light amber, low carbonated beer. This has a juicy sweet malt with toffee, dark bread and vegetable undertones and a slightly spicy finish. It's slightly chewy and rich, and quite satisfying. It was probably a mistake to start with this, but it had been a long day!

The Dunkel is a dark, dull, mahogany brown. It's sweet, but not overly so, leaning more towards fruit, figs, vanilla with a slight roasted accent. The finish is relatively dry considering the sweet fruity flavours. I wasn't sure if it was too fruity, but despite that it's reasonbably easy drinking. I managed a couple anyway!

The Hofbrauhaus Freising Graf Ignaz Pilsner, with its impressive whipped cream head that I can never get, is a bit more like the Pils of the north than the examples from Franken I have been trying recently, with a clean, prominent noble hop flavour, but with a mild bitterness. This is on top of a nice bready maltiness. A simple, refreshing beerwhich was a good palate cleanser.

The Helles, as I recall, is pretty much what you might expect from a Helles, with more prominence on the bready, biscuity malt flavours, but with a nice lemony twist. A good opener after another long day, and I could have had another couple but opted to return to the Dunkel for another test drive.

Being a biohotel they do of course offer eco-friendly beers. With the Bioland mark displayed on the bottle, in the same way as Pinkus Müller, the Viva Bavaria Festbier from Riedenburger was a flatish, dull, malty beer that I just couldn't take to. Sure, it started off ok (see the photo), but it quickly collapsed into a sweet watery soup. Maybe it was a dud bottle, as even a colleague commented that it looked more like cider, and it made no "pop" when the bottle was opened, but as it was, the flatness just made it too sticky and boring.

There were more beers on offer including the Hüber Weisse beers from Hofbrauhaus Freising (in Hell, Dunkel and alcohol free varieties), another fest beer, and a couple more alcohol free beers and radler.

Overall, a nice place to stay if you like it quiet and simple, and I look forward to my next visit. Oh, and I was told that there is an excellent beer shop in Kranzberg, where the office is. Another one for next time!


The Beer Nut said...

Top beer blogging tip: when in polite company, bathroom breaks are an ideal occasion to go and write notes.

Definitely like the sound of the Kirchweih Markt Fest Märzen. Did your companions think it unusual you kept switching beers?

Barry M said...

Good tip!

As it is I'm fairly open about what I'm doing, so my close colleagues know I'm into beer, like taking photos of it and making notes (this time using my phone thanks to Boak and Baily's tips, but I prefer my little black book). I don't know if they understand why, other than it's a hobby of sorts. But some will be reading this tomorrow, so maybe they can tell you if they think I'm just some crazy Irish guy :D

Anyway, on that basis they understood why I was having something different almost every time. And the great thing is some people have been telling me about the beers they have found interesting or special, and I've received some bottles simply because we talk about beers.

Although I think I do go on about it a little too much sometimes... :)

Stefan said...

Nobody is concerned noticing a colleague switching beers. It is the amount of beer consumed that makes the close colleagues fear for him!

Even in germany being more than interested in beer and it's taste and production is very common, a friend of mine (from school) did the same with bottled beers and brought all emptied bootles in an accurate position in a special room while telling stories about taste and the evening he consumed that one.

Barry M said...

I didn't realise I had guardian angels with me! And next week I won't have anyone taking care of my liver. At least it's a short fall from the tavern to the bed... :D

I haven't gone as far as keeping bottles, but I did start keeping the labels, as I was removing them anyway to keep bottles for home brewing. My wife knew all the tricks for keeping them flat and in good condition, but it's too much trouble so I don't bother. I have a photo record after all ;)

The Beer Nut said...

And the cirrhosis will last a lifetime (i.e. about a year or two).

Stefan, it's good to know there are proper beer geeks in Germany, and that not everyone drinks only the beer from their home town.