This months Session is hosted by Steve Lamond at Beers I've Known
I want to hear your beery tall tales, yarns, recollections(in a Grandpa Simpson stylee) or otherwise, delivered in the manner that you befits sitting around a log fire, favourite beer in hand.
When Deana and I first booked a trip to Germany the first thing I did after securing the plane tickets was look for a brewery to visit. It took awhile, but eventually I found a brewery that was offering English speaking tours while we would be in the area. The brewery we choose to visit was that of Erdinger, makers of some of the best wheat beers in the world.
I knew I would have fun on the brewery tour, but of all the things I was going to get to see, I figured this part of our travels would be the least memorable. I saw castles, WWII concentration camps, hiked through Schwarzwald, and witnessed scenery that was so beautiful it literally brought tears to my eyes. How could a building that produces beer live up to that?
As this was my first time traveling outside of the country there was plenty of adjusting I had to go through. I'd never navigated a train or bus system, and I couldn't read or speak the language at all. I was pretty much getting by on danke, hallo, and sprechen sie english. So when it came time to figure out how to make it to the brewery there was a lot of trepidation on both of our parts. The last thing I wanted to do was get lost in a country where I could barely communicate. Deana was nice enough to look up directions to the brewery before we ever made it to Germany, but the directions weren't very descriptive. Without official directions on their website, we were left to depend on the words of some guy on a message board.
When the time came, we took a deep breath and boarded the S2 train that was headed for the town of Erding. It was roughly an hour outside of Munich and when we arrived it was cold and raining. The next step of our adventure required us to board a bus that would get us a little closer to the brewery but which bus? There was the one we had listed from the message board directions, but there was another listing that sounded almost the same. I hopped on a bus and tried to confirm we were getting on the correct vehicle, but the lady driving the bus only spoke German. Well, damn. Here I am, an hour away from my hotel and luggage and in a town I know nothing about. If I get on the wrong bus, where the hell am I going to end up? I didn't want to make a mistake, so I got off of the bus to give Deana and I an opportunity to collect our thoughts and figure out our next move.
Luckily, just as we were at most confused a new bus driver came by to take the place of the lady I was just speaking with. Either she mentioned that we were trying to ask her something or he noticed our deer in the headlights look and decided to see if he could help us. As luck would have it, he couldn't speak English either, but when I pointed to a map that I was trying to get to Erdinger's Brewery his face immediately lit up with a mix of happiness and pride. We might not have understood each others native tongue, but we both spoke the language of good beer. Not only did he confirm that I was on the right bus, but he drove us right to the brewery's front door. A special stop just for us! What a relief! And what a guy. He didn't have to do that for us. There aren't enough danke's in the world I could ever give that guy.
The tour we took was as good as any tour I've been on in America. They went through the brewing process, tell you a little about their beers, and show you all of the different rooms where mashing, brewing, fermentation, and bottling take place. It's cool, but nothing you can't get back home. What they gave us at Erdinger was a chance to make connections with people from all over the world. After the tour comes to an end you have the opportunity to reconvene in the tasting room where you sit down at a small table and they serve you weisswurst, pretzels, and all of the beer you can drink. None of that 2 ounce sample business. We got to drink beer -- delicious German beer. At our table we had the chance to talk with a couple from Newcastle, England and another couple from Berlin. We shared food, laughs, and talked about the beer we liked to drink. As interested as I was to learn about their favorite beers they were just as keen to hear about the Dogfish Head beer they noticed from the hat I was wearing.
When I think back on my trip to Germany I have plenty of great memories to fall back on. But it was the bus driver, the small handful of people at our table in the tasting room, and our shared love for beer that made the adventure to Erdinger the best day we had all trip. Prost!