Years Back - Still in Southern Germany

Heidelberg - Schefel's Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg. Hotel and brewpub in the old city. The cornerstone was laid 15.10.1998. The Kultur must be the downstairs jazz club under the patio. An Indian family group was playing that night.
Trendy place with a high "to be seen" factor. Brewer Berend Paschke's copper brew kettles are partially visible across the alley in the attached hotel.
  • Keller Lager - Transparent mahogany with plenty of carbonation maintaining a white head. Tastes thicker than it is. Caramel aroma and some floral. Taste is without bitter notes but isn't sweet or bland either.
  • Weisse - Hefeweissen. Very carbonated. Pale apricot color. A little caramel and a bit of an ice cream sundae start.
  • Krausen - Helles

Heidelberg - Vetter's Alt Heidelberg Brauhaus. Great location for an ordinary small restaurant and a daring brewer. It's down a side street a block from the Church of the Holy Spirit (biggest in town) and a block from the much-photographed pedestrian bridge (the turrets in the background of the picture below).
They proudly display their vessels next to the bar and inches from a drinking shelf in the dark restaurant area. It must be extra hot in there on brewing day. Interesting that the vessels' working guts at the base are also totally exposed, not to mention ugly.
It's a true brewpub as they do no bottling except carry-out 1-liters in swingtop bottles. The food is well priced with big portions. The blood and liver sausage pan with fried potatoes was very good. They also serve pans for groups for anything from 25 to 125.
You can book a seminar for 46 per person that includes a meal and a lecture from the brewer. Yike.
  • Dunkles Hefeweizen - A seasonal that should be on tap all the time. (left below). Chewy chocolaty and sweetish but balanced.
  • Vetter 33 - 33% OG (1132), 11% alcohol. (center below). Fully opaque walnut brown, with a dark brown head that disappears quickly. There is some carbonation if you look for it. Aroma is strong of alcohol with some almost-licorice, sweet candy, vanilla extract, and something quite akin to drying paint. It climbs in your nose and punches you in the forehead. The taste is more alcohol and almost-licorice. Neither bitter nor sweet. A simple combination of these 2 powerful tastes. Could be quaffed though. Some raisin comes out when it finally warms to room temperature. Served only in quarter-liter mugs for 3.30. This would have to be called a strong ale or barleywine style but no one could tell me anything about the yeast (ie top-fermenting). I was told that it is fresh - "ya, just brewed" - rather than aged for a year or two. Wonder if the brewer has some kegs set back.
  • Pils - Big. Lots of hops. It's to style but thick. Bright yellow-gold (right below).
  • Hefeweizen and helles are also always on.
  • Other seasonals include a bock, Christmas beer, marzen, and a maibock.
  • They also sell a beer schnapps.

A hopf chandelier.

Mannheim - Eichbaum Brauhaus. In a neighborhood near the university. A restaurant right next to the big brewery. Small garten with a big selection of beers. A convenient crawl to the tram.
The name dates to 1679 but the current administration goes back to 1973 when Eichbaum and Purlachel breweries merged.
Their motto: "Ist das ein bier" - Ben Beckel.
  • Jubilaumsbier - Kellerbier. Dull orange gold. Little aroma. OK carbonation. Dry, bitter attack. Doesn't seem like a strong beer. Long, bitter finish.
  • Bananenweizen - Milky vanilla color. Little aroma. No clove and only a hint of banana. Mainly just sweet. After ordering, we found out this is a "beirmix".
  • Dunkelweizen - Lots of carbonation giving a bubbly white head on top of a walnut brown beer. Refreshingly cold. Aroma has a tinge of unpleasant wet clay - think baseball diamond. Taste is balanced with subdued dark malt - not roasty. Black patent?
  • Export - From bottle at the train station in Heidelberg - Full-bodied with pleasant bitterness. Fresh.
  • Also on tap at the brauhaus - Ureich (pils), Habreckl Marzen, Export, Hefeweizen Hell and Dunkel, Schwarzbier. Plus a kristallweizen in the bottle.
  • They also have a schnapps they call an akavaat made from their eisbock in Denmark. 80°. Pure alcohol nose and a pure alcohol taste. Could be vodka.

A series of 4 stained glass windows in the brewery that relate the history
of the company.

Bad Rappenau - Haffner Brau. A hotel in the spa area of this spa town (Bad means spa by the way) with a brewery larger and only slightly uglier than the hotel. It also is the first thing you see when you enter their parking lot. They claim to be 200 years old on the bar mat, but the entire place is pure 1960s. We'll explain both of those architectural nightmares in a minute.
Many bars and even hotels have "rehetag", rest day, each week and theirs is Friday, the day we visited. A very nice owner gave us the first, and maybe only, taps of the day of two beer.
  • Helles - Export. Tasty malty aroma. Adequate bitterness. Bright gold. Quite good.
  • Scharzberg Gold - A Dunkel lager. Mild with more bitter than malt. Aroma is a bit soapy. OK, but not a favorite of ours.
  • Seasonals produced at random: Kurpils and a Kellertrub called Rabans Brau. Also a Bierlikor.
Let's get back to the depressing attitude we got as we approached. Pictures will do it best.

A picture of the hotel in the 1800s.

By 1922 they had added two stories to the back and an enclosed porch.

In this picture, from 1969, a complete renovation is underway -
except for that enclosed porch and front steps.

Today a big hotel has been added to the left side.
At the far right, the 1969 hotel with porch is recognizable.
This side is now a pedestrian walk and cars approach from the back, past the brewery.
Maybe that's how an historic brewery can retain continuity as Weihenstephaner has. Well, OK, it really doesn't have anything to do with beer but the pictures were neat.

We stopped in Zuzenhausen at AdlerBrau, a brewpub with local distribution, a cheery hotel, and restaurant. Just at opening time guests were starting to eat lunch and a crowd of local men were making their daily stop. We were rightfully waived off by the staff and didn't try their Keller bier or Dachsen Franz Dunkel. Too bad.
AdlerBrau, like many others, makes a beer schnapps. The difference here is they have the distillery right in the dining room.

It happens almost every time. I order a Dunkelweizen  or Dunkel or Schwartz - often by name but always exactly as they have printed it on the menu and the waiter/waitress denies they have such a beer. I point to the line on the menu. They say "dark beer?" and I say yes. It's not like they can't believe you would order it, but it's obvious they've had problems with foreigners before.
Other beers:
  • Nattheimer Export - On tap at a butcher shop in Heidenheim. Pretty normal but with a big bitter aftertaste.
  • Palmbrau Export Classic - From Eppingen. Since 1835. Bottled at a hotel high above Heidelberg. Bright yellow light pils of the Czech style. 5.2%. The label was date coded with no notches but it was fresh and refreshing. Crispy bitter.
  • Palmbrau Weizen Dunkel - Hefe. Pretty typical.
  • Distelhauser Dunkel Lager - "Der dunkel bierspezialitat in Distelhausen". On tap in a small cafe in Bad Wimpfen. Fresh aromatic floral aroma. Lightish transparent brown. Short on flavor or follow-through.
  • Heilbronner Kronen-Brau Pilsener Naturtrub - Unfiltered but clear pale gold with lots of fizz maintaining a tight white head. Deep Czech bitter that comes out late seems to be the only flavor.
  • Lauterbacher Kristal Weizen Dunkel - Mahogany with fluffy white head. The blandest dunkel we've had. Yes there's malt and no doubt hops but it's no more aggressive than the dunkel at the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh.
  • Binding Lager - "The International Taste". Lovely bubbles but an unfortunate name that will keep it out of English-speaking countries. Crisp light lager. Fairly unnotable but a very good beer that would make any US brewpub proud.
  • Schofferhofer Weizen Hell - Thick cloudy hefe. Big bubble white head. Very good. Seems thick and creamy with plenty of banana and some clove.
  • Sanwald Hefeweizen - On tap in a riverside restaurant in Hielbronn. Big foamy head calling for a cherry. Fresh field-wheat smell. Strong taste with more clove than we've see before in southern Germany.
  • Schwabenbrau Das Schwarze - From Stuttgart. In swing-top bottle. "Vollwurzigund hopfenherb zugleich". Guinness brown lager with nice bitterness that augments a toasty-burnt taste. 4.9%. Goes down easy.

It might not be beer, but Vom Fass in Hielbronn is interesting. This shop sells oils, vinegars, grappa, whisky, schnapps, brandy, wines, and liquors by the 100ml (or multiple) portion. You supply your own bottle or buy theirs (-.30 for a basic bottle but fancy gift bottles are available for over 10).
Scotch brands include Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Auchentoshan, Dufftown, Macduff, and Tomintoul - all familiar but not high-end names. Besides the Scotch, there are few brand names - Williams Christ was the only one well represented with 3 or 4 selections of brandy. Prices range from -.20 for an apple cider to over 7 for deluxe brandies.
No tasting, unlike the place in Casa De Guardia in Malaga, Spain which was mostly drinking with a few flasks sold. Also more acceptable as a downtown German store - read clean, neat, quiet, and efficient. Also, this is a chain so we might get to try more down the road.
We got 100ml each of four different unbranded hooch.
  • Obstwasser aus Schwaben - 38% - 1.75€ - A local product. A clear schnapps, pure and simple. Alcoholic and cheap but no burn.
  • Erdbeer-Limes - 16% - 1.75- Another local product with lots of bright red pulp but no seeds. Looks like tomato juice. Not much strawberry smell but very distinctly firm strawberry taste without alcoholic notes of any kind.
  • Alter Calvados Napoleon 25 Jahre - 40% - 3.25€ - After spending 25 years in wood, there's lots of oak and lots of alcohol with considerable burn. The apple basis is distinct also. Quite nice - I wish I had more experience to better compare it to commercial calvados.
  • Alter Cognac Reserve VSOP - 40% - 5.75€ - Normally cognac is too expensive to buy - more so than good Scotch. While this price equals only $56 per 750ml it's still good to buy just a taste. Maybe especially good since a decent cognac in the states can easily run over $100. Should one trust a half-price VSOP? Answer: Yes. It's lovely. I'm, again, no expert but this is smooth. Big nose. Thick on the tongue. Filling the mouth. Sorry, the words are lacking. Every sip, you want to lift the glass as in a toast.

Brandies and Whiskys.
The Erdbeer-Limes is in the flask on the barrel.

Flasks with liquors.

Wines in kegs under pressure dispense.

Jars of vinegars.

Olive and other oils.

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