Years Back - Vienna and Brataslavia.

Vienna's near northside hosts the Erste Wiener Gasthaus und Brauerei. Yellow of course, like all good Austrian buildings. This hosts Fischer and their Fischer Brau brewhouse in a back 1-story windowed pavillion behind the terrace. The Gasthaus is a very busy local hangout with jazz, blues, and classical music on Saturday night and Sunday afternoons.

The Brauerei makes only Fischer Helles - Yellow, unfiltered, organic, pure malt very balanced between hops and malt but unbiting. Very fresh.
 
 

Vienna's other brewpub is the Seven Stern Brewery (7Sternbrau) on Siebensternstrasse (Seven Stern Street). It's near the old section of town down a side street. A big place with an attentive staff. "Wurde im Jahr 2000 vom englischen bierguru <<Beerhunter>> M. Jackson zuden Sieben beste Osterreichischen biere gazhalt".

Their 7 beers:
  • Bamberger Rauchbier - Bamberger malt. Dark cordovan. Mild smoke helps crisp the beer rather than give the main theme. 5.2%
  • Prager Dunkles - Dark brown with a long lasting creamy tan head. Thick and sweet. Filling. Roasty malt.
  • IPA - They were out.
  • Chilli - PAY ATTENTION HERE - ABV - 4.8%.Style - Hell (in more ways than one). IBU - who cares? Measure it in Scofield units, it's about the same as jalapeno pepper. The waiter served two beers and said "be careful of the chilli". It's made with little red peppers. "Fur chilli freaks und mitglieder des www.pepperworld.com clubs". Order a pretzel with this one.
  • Marzen - Typical. Good. 5.2%.
  • Wiener Helles - Long lasting white head. Bitter helles. Saaz hops. Pils yeast. 4.8%.
  • Hanf - Made with hemp seeds and belladonna in a "style brewed since the 16th century". Puckering dry yet very rich. Aroma of butter and green beans, but not vegetal.
 
 
 
 

A block down the Siebensternstrasse is Centimeter II which has 8 beers on tap. A worthy visit.


There are barley fields aplenty in northern Austria. They don't smell as good as malted barley though.Sebastian Stroh Obst Schnaps. 35%. Clear. Smooth with no throat burn. Apple and pear on the label. Some actual apple/pear in the drink - tough to tell with any schnapps. I'd buy it again and would probably keep a bottle at home.
Other beers tasted:
  • Hof Brau Munchner - At the Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden. Skunked very fast in the sun.
  • Konig Ludwig Dunkel - From Schlossbrauerei Kaltenberg, Furstenfeldbruck. Creamy and sweet. Sweet malt and sugar sweetness combined.
  • Erdinger Hefeweiss (from Bayern, Germany) - Very mild with no citric notes.
  • Andecher Dunkel (from a Benedictine cloister in Andech) - Malty brew. Chewy and very sweet.
  • Ottakringer Dunkles (from Vienna) - Chocolately aroma and lingering taste. Ottakringer brewery dates back to 1837.
  • Kapstreiter Landbier (from Sharding, Austria) - Golden hell with Tettnanger hops. More creamy.
  • Edelweiss Hefetrub Klarweiss - From Hofbraw Kaltenhausen. Very typical fresh German weiss with strong banana. Since 1475.



 
SLOVAKIA
 
Slovakia is obviously a post-war country and Brataslava where we spent a four days showed not only the old dilapidation but also the dour attitude of the people. At the small museum inn town we were followed around by an old woman who's job making sure we didn't steal anything was more important than her knitting.
 

Beers:
  • Staropramen 12º - Deep gold. On tap with a thin white head and good carbonation. Maybe the best East European beer I've ever had (and that's not saying a whole lot since I really don't appreciate the style). Creamy. Bitter that seems like Noble German hops rather than the slightly skunky, slightly soapy bitterness many Czech, Polish, Russian beers have.
  • Zlaty Bazant - On tap downtown. A quick, pleasant hit of caramel sweetness. Followed by a hop bitter finish. Maybe I'll need to rethink the style.
  • Zlaty Bazant - In a bottle at a Jewish Pension/restaurant. Uggggh. Now I remember why I don't like the style. It's not good in bottles - but this one was produced on February 8th.
  • Zlaty Bazant tmany - Dunkel. On tap and maybe stale. Oxidation built very quickly in the glass and I didn't finish it.
  • Pivovar Cerna Hora - On tap. Bold yellow copper color. Thick white head. Adequate carbonation. Passable bitter east European lager. Not much more to say about it.
  • Kelt 12º -  On tap. YAEEL (yet another east European lager) but creamier than most. Got skunky fast even on a cloudy day under an umbrella.
  • Pilsner Urquell - Bottled. Same as at home - very hoppy.

Years Back - Salzburg

Die Weise (Weissbierbrauerei) in Salzburg is located in a residential neighborhood in the east part of the town at the foot of Kapuzenerberg mountain in the Schallmoos area. It's a favorite local corner pub. The yellow building houses an upscale restaurant, hotel, brewery, bottling plant, and of course a shady beergarden.They only make one beer, a hefe-weizen. It's a solid beer with lots of citric flavor and chewy bready character. A hint of clove and banana. Served without lemon.
They do make some seasonal weizens including a Rote (rye), Dunkel, Ruperi (with herbs), and Fasten ("schwarz & suffig").

The Augustiner ex-monastary runs up the hill from the pay-parking lot in one huge building. They also only make one beer - a Marzen, strong thick golden lager of 4.6% ABV although there is a 6.5% bock for Christmas and a 5% Fastenbier for lent.
It's a do-it-yourself place. First, climb up the stairs from the entry garden to the food stands on the first floor inside. Select from fish, breads, pretzels, sausage, corned beef, salami, pastries, eggs, cheeses, chocolate, even hamburgers. Everything except soup, nuts, and pizza. The food stands are leased out to private vendors.
Then, food in hand (no trays), pick a mug from the rack. .5liter and 1liter pottery mugs are available, with depth markings. Then pay for your beer. 2.50 or 5. Next the mug and receipt go to another stand for filling. They pour lots of foam but don't complain about a short pour - you're in freaking Austria so be happy.
Walk to one of the 3 indoor keller rooms or go back down the the terrace, it seats about 900 people. To get another beer, rinse your mug at the stand and head back to the casse (teller).

 
 
 
 
 

Austria's largest brewery is Stigl and their BrauWelt (Beer World) claims to be the largest beer museum in Europe. And it probably is. It's certainly a first class museum done by a competent curator. Located in the old malting rooms they abandoned in 1986 in favor of using a malt-house in Vienna, it covers a lot of malting history of course, and a lot more. One floor is devoted to ingredients and the brewing process, including a small brewery that makes a special "Paracelsus" organic wheat beer. Exhibit signs are in German and English, a real plus.
9 gets you the museum, 2 beers (half liter each), a pretzel and a gift glass. Not too bad a deal really. Free parking even.

 
 
 
 
 
 
The Filtration exhibit claims unfiltered beer will go bad in a couple of weeks.
All Stiegl beer is filtered of course.

Austrian beer tower.
 
 
Every year they run a label contest and the best get used commercially.
BrauWelt had 6 beers available in their tasting room/restaurant. All on tap and well carbonated.
  • Goldbrau - Marzen. Clean and bitter. More bitter than Augustiner.
  • Weizen Gold - A clove and banana German-style weiss. Very good. Spicy and sweet. We should import this stuff.
  • Paracelsus - Organic. Made with some wheat. Less bitter and lighter than the Weizen Gold but with no wheat notes.
  • Dunkel - Deep brown. Malty sweet with a little roasted character. A+.
  • Pils - Light, somewhat hoppy pils. Very like an all-malt pilsner from an American specialty brewer.
  • Holunder Sommerweizen - Bottled June 1st and very fresh tasting. Chill-hazed. Lots of wheat. Medium bitter. A bit of banana sweetness comes through in the belch.
They also make a 3.3% light beer, a 5.3% zwickl, a 5.5% Spezial, and a 7% bock.

Beer facts as told by Stiegl:
  • Stiegl's history goes back to 1492 when documents list the brewery property being bequeathed by the owner to his wife.
  • St. Florian is the patron saint of brewers.
  • Traditional central Europe beers are Pilsner, Dortmunder, Munich, and Vienna. All were concocted after Anton Dreher found bottom-fermenting yeast in 1841 and invented "Klein-Schwechater Lagerbier".
  • Marzen is a Salzburg specialty.
  • Brewery inns are gaining popularity in Austria. There are now 52 brewery inns with an average output of 1,000 hectolitres per year. (this sign was dated 2002).
  • The biggest Austrian brewery is Puntigam, followed by Goss and Schwechat.
  • Shandy (Radler in German, meaning cyclist) was invented by Franz Xaver Kugler. He had an inn, Kugleralm, 20km outside Munich, with a cycling path going past. On the first weekend in June, 1922, 13,000 cyclists stopped at his inn and he was faced with a shortage of beer, so he mixed the beer half and half with lemon soda and told the crowd he invented the drink especially for cyclists and called it Radlermass (cyclists' liter). Stiegl makes three Radlers - Raspberry, Lemon, and Elderberry.
  • New years day, 1939 saw the strength of the wort decreased to 9º from the normal 10º to 12º. (We think this is degrees Plato, 1040 to 1048 OG).From 1943 until 1945 beer could only be made with wort of 2.7º. They called it dunnbier. After the war, shortages forced the strength to drop to 2.5º but the Americans were brewing a pilsener at the Stiegl brewery of normal strength for the occupying military. Raw materials for this beer were imported from the U.S.

Years Back - Switzerland

Once we hit the German-speaking area of Switzerland, we found more brewpubs.
In the lakeside town of Wadenswiler, south of Zurich, The Wadi-Brau-Huus serves some great beers in their pleasant bar / restaurant / terrace. Their beers are only available on site and at a take-away downstairs.
  • Premium Blond - 4.8%
  • Hell - 4.8% (Hell is German for "white" of course).
  • Ur-Hell - 5.1%
  • Ur-Weizen - 5.0% Deep orange / light oak color. Some citric, more intense in the belch.
  • Dunkel - 4.8% Creamy and well carbonated. Dark brown. On the edge of chocolaty.
  • Hanf - 5.0% We're guessing the Dunkel with an addition of hemp seeds. A bit fresher then the Dunkel with a little floral and (green) grass notes.
     
While we were there, a brewing seminar was taking place. 14 people paid 139 CHF (about $105) to watch a 5-hour brewing session, have dinner, samples, and experience the finer points of professional brewing. Although some were "hobby brewers", most attended for fun and curiosity.
They hold this "Grosse Brauseminar" 4 or 5 times a year and have shorter sessions, 30 minutes to 3 hours, about twice a month.



Part-time brewer Sebastian Ringlar.

Frauhenfeld, northeast of Zurich, has the Brauhuus Sternen, a deceptively large restaurant with many rambling rooms. They also bottle and have some accounts in town and in Zurich. It opened in December, 2003.
 
  • Hell
  • Swarz - Mild black beer using caramunich malt and "schwarzmalzextrakt".
  • Honey Brown Ale - US / Kanada style light brown ale. Clean with lots of clover honey aroma but not sweet. A very good beer.
  • Hefe-Weissbier Hell
  • Belgian Wit - Seasonal Speziel - Robust and looks like a hefe-weizen. Some bitter orange but not really to the style of a wit. Good nonetheless.

In Konstanz, Germany, we got off a ferry and I saw a sign for the Ruppaner Braurei. Whipped the car right, scaring Terry.
Turns out this large brewery has a tied house next door, the Cafe Hoheneggisa in an uninspiring brick building with a million-dollar view (across the parking lot) of Lake Constance. They say "since 1795".
  • Edel Pils
  • Spezialexport
  • Schimmell Hefe Pils
  • Hefe Weizen Hell
  • Hefe Weizen Dunkel
  • Kristallweizen
  • Colaweizen - !
  • Hecker Dunkel - Dark copper with a peaky ivory head. Malty but balanced semi-dark lager. Not inspiring but OK. 5.2%.
     

Near the east end of Lake Constance, Arbon, Switzerland, boasts the Gasthoff Brauerei Frohsinn - a real jewel. It's a 100-year old hotel, upscale restaurant, and beer keller rolled into one within a building remodeled in 1986 that's spotlessly clean throughout.We were shown about by an enthusiastic and cordial woman who called her daughter, Judith Krim, to help translate. We mention Judith by name because she's married to an American in New Glaris, WI and is an avid fan of the New Glaris brewery.
Their two staples are a full, clean Blonde and a nice brown Dunkle lager.
Seasonals include a Strong beer using wheat and corn, a Maibock, a medium Pils, and a Guinness-style stout. All were out of stock at our visit. They went through 1000 liters of the Strong beer in just a couple of weeks.
They brew weekly and lager long, as evidenced by the 12 1000 liter lagering vats that double as serving tanks.
Jazz, blues, or Gospel is live every weekend. Just the place to base a week visit to the southern Germany, Northern Switzerland, Western Austria, Lichtenstein area. June is a fine time for it, beat the tourists, still have snow on the mountains, weather in the 60s and 70s.
 
 
 
"The Frohsinn Beer"
"Mainly, The Frohsinn beer is bottom fermented. But, as an old custom, one or two brews of top fermented Stout is brewed every year."
  • Frohsinn Hell (Pale Lager)
  • Frohsinn Dunkel (Dark Lager)
  • Frohsinn Pils (Pale Lager, Pilsener Style, seasonal)
  • Mais Bier (Swiss corn is used along with Malt, seasonal)
  • Schwarz Bier (Black Lager, seasonal)
  • Wiener Bier (Vienna Lager, seasonal)
  • Maibock (Pale Strong Lager, seasonal)
  • Samichlas (Amber Strong Lager, brewed only on 6th of December)
  • Weihnachtsbock (Dark Strong Lager, seasonal)
  • Maerzen (Munich Oktoberfest Beer, seasonal)
  • Schlossbier (special Amber Lager only for a special customer)
  • Frohsinn Stout (strong Stout with over 7%ABV, seasonal)

Down the road in Rorsarch, the Lowengarten brewery which distributes to a wide region in Switzerland and Austria. Rorsarch is a hip little lake town with a Ferrari dealer.
The Lowen Pub has rich all-new cherry veneer and check out the booth seating at the bar in the picture to the right - great idea. And couldn't that picture be an advertising poster?
Lowen Prinz and Lowen Dunkel Spezial are in bottles and Lowen Strange Hell Spezial on tap. The later is a robust yellow lager, quite effervescent, not at all hoppy (which seems to be the region's main style characteristic). Mild but promises an alcoholic kick after 2 (or 2:30 at the latest).


Other beers tried:
  • Mohren Brau Pils - Brewed near Bergenz in the corner of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Yellow. Good thick pils with some real hop background. Well kept at a deserted hotel just 20km south.