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Archive for the ‘beer glasses’ Category

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We had decided that Oranienburg was a promising destination for a day out from Berlin. A shining renovated palace, hopefully a picturesque town, too. And I had a lunchtime spot penciled in.

It’s about an hour’s train ride from central Berlin by the rather slow S-bahn, with nothing spectacular to watch along the way. Some of this is rather drab DDR suburbia, probably better to be seen in midsummer.

The town of Orianienburg is not much to write home about, either. Seems like half of the shops and cafes on the main street at named Am Schloss, showing where the focus is.

The palace goes back to the 17the century, and our guide took us through the centuries, starting with prince electors who were pretentious enough to make themselves kings of Prussia. Beautiful tapestries and paintings have survived burning, looting and warfare, while there is not much original of the building itself.

Photographs are not rnormally allowed, but when we were shown the beautiful 30 liter beer glass (with a small tap on the side for cheaters), I asked in my best German if they could make an exception. Permission granted.

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I bought a booklet in the souvernir shop on the way out – Beer and winemaking in Brandenburg. The man behind the counter gave me a piece of advice:

-Frankly, the wines of the state of Brandenburg are not up to much. But there is some really good beer here, I would recommend the Schwarzbier.

Time for lunch at the Alte Fleischerei, as the name implies, the old butcher’s shop. Very good food, I had a slow boiled shoulder of mutton – Lammhaxe. With this a glass of Oranier, a local beer from a brewery as yet undocumented on Ratebeer. But  frankly, the beer was not up too much. So I wouldn’t make an excursion just for that!.

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I have visited Berlin repeatedly over the last decade, and there has been interesting beers to seek out, particularly among the brewpubs scattered around the city. At the same time, the industrial brews generally available are not all that interesting, and there are juste echoes of the old brewing heritage of the city. The Berliner Weisse that the waiter poured over syrup in your glass now comes pre-blended in bottles. But while the old is not very present, the new is moving in, and things are happening fast.

Sometimes I travel primarily for beer (and beer writing), sometimes it’s business or family holidays. This time it was the latter, meaning limited time to seek out new bars and new breweries. But I still have a few nuggets to share with you, and even a suggestion for a day out.

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While Berlin has not yet seen the staggering number of breweries you can find in London, the number has been growing fast. Ratebeer lists a bewildering number of contract breweries, but there are still a few dozen bricks and mortar operations scattered around the city. Some of them have their won brewery taps, others are to be found in specialist beer bars and shops – or just in restaurants  and shops where they have managed to get in. The most concrete example of small scale – well, they call it craft in German as well, they are surprisingly eager to adapt English words – beer finding new markets is in the restaurant and bar of one of the Berlin landmarks – the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz. Three beers from contract brewery BrewfactuM are not only listed, but they are given a whole page of descriptions in the menu, a bit inaccurately identified as a Berlin brewery, but you can’t get it all right the first time. Pity I was there having breakfast…

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One place close to Alexanderplatz to have a beer is Kaschk.  I’m pretty sure there is Norwegian ownership here, they have a strong selection of Scandinavian beer, and the name is a phonetic spelling of the nickname of the staple drink of Norwegians – coffee, sugar and home distilled alcohol. Never mind, they are open at lunchtime, and there are always some local beers on tap, too. Very studenty at midday, taking advantage of free wifi and decently priced coffee.

Ten minutes away is a charming second hand bookshop, dedicated to cookery books and related items. Bibliotheca Culinaria, but it is far more gemütlich than its pretentious name. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of food books,  including publications from the DDR. Some shelves of beer and brewery books, too, well worth browsing into.

And a piece of advice if you want to open a pub: Instead of buying the interior from someone who makes replicas of English or Oirish pubs, go here and buy their selection of original beer mugs. There were at least fifty different ones on display, including a number of fine ones with pewter lids on sale for ten Euro a piece. I am sure this is a good place if you are looking for more rare beer books, too. Thanks a lot to Micromaid for the tip!

That’s all for to today. But stay tuned. There is a side street beer shop with friendly natives, Stone Berlin – and a 30 liter beer glass coming up.

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I must admit I have never given much thought to beer glasses. Sure, there are special designs, be it a revived pewter mug in England or a Kwak glass in a touristy bar in Brussels. And there are iconic glasses for classical beer styles, Kölsch, Berliner Weisse or Bavarian Weissbier. There are small samplers for, well, sampling. And there is the liter Mass glass of the Bavarian beer gardens.

But I was recently invited to a beer tasting where the focus was as much on the glasses as on the beers.

Bavarian glass maker Spigelau, with a history going back to the middle ages, has had a huge success with their IPA glasses, developed in cooperation with Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. They are now launching a Stout glass, this time they have used Rogue as their partner.

Their range now includes a lager glass, a wheat beer glass, a tulip glass and the IPA and stout glasses mentioned above.

The tasting made us compare the same beer from two different glasses, one of them a generic beer glass being used in bars and restaurants all over the globe, the other glass the one developed especially for the type of beer in question.

Did they manage to convince me?

Well,  despite a slight feel of evangelism in the presentation, there is a significant difference. It started off with a plain Carlsberg, and the Spigelau glass managed to make the most of even this standard lager, lifting aroma and flavour. With the Hefeweisse the difference was even more pronounced. And the big beers, a Chimay and a Sierra Nevada Torpedo, were just great when served in an optimal glass.

The glasses keep the beer at the right temperature, as they are thin without being brittle. They lift the aroma and flavour, and they give the right carbonation and the right head for the beer they are made for.

You can buy boxes with all the glasses or pick the ones you want. A quick search shows that you can get sets with four  different glasses for about 350 Norwegian kroner around here. Which is not much when you consider what you pay for a beer…

At the very least, I will retire a few glasses with brewery logos to the basement and make room for the IPA and stout glasses from Spiegelau.

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