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Messages - nateo

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Beer Travel / Re: Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 20, 2014, 10:48:15 AM »
Bonus London edition!

So I went to visit a friend in London. I know a week is hardly enough time to make a decision about a place, but here are my initial thoughts: I found a bunch of "craft beer" pubs here, but they were all super trendy, and crazy expensive. Like 6-10 pounds per pint, and quality was pretty middling, compared to "craft" beers in the US. But, maybe of the dozen or so I tried, I just got all the bland ones.

Also, a lot of the pubs are owned by chains now. Nicholson's pubs are decent, as far as selection and price (more like 4-5 pounds per pint), but my favorite were the Samuel Smith pubs. Many of them have the Old Brewery Bitter on cask/hand pump, and they all seem to have the Extra Stout on nitro. Their Dark Mild was good too. The pubs seem to be the stereotypical "British pub" of my imagination: 19th century styling, dark wood, and at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese the front door is on a narrow alley, and you can sit in the basement alcoves.

I have been pretty impressed by the ciders here. I had a handful of them at one of the craft places, and they were really good, although most tend to be pretty sweet.

Beer Travel / Re: Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 11, 2014, 01:45:02 AM »
I don't really want to go to Oktoberfest. I'm not an agoraphobe or anything, but I'd rather have a quiet beer with friends than get black-out drunk with a million people. I mean, if I'm in the area, I might go (once).

It's definitely cheaper to go in the off-season. I found a one-way plane ticket for $600. I've been staying with a friend, which makes it cheap too, but there are cheap-ish hotels in the suburbs if you don't mind the train. The big hostels are actually kind of expensive, if you want a single or double room. There's an OK hotel in Maisach that's 25 euros a night for a single room. Even if you have to spend 8 euros a day for a train pass, it's a better deal than the hostels in the city. Plus I just like taking the train.

I went to Andechs yesterday. There are tour busses that can take you to the monastery, but I suggest taking the walking path (Pilgerweg). It's a really nice walk through the forest. It's maybe 4km, and it's uphill, so going there felt like it took a while, but coming back went fast.

I hung out with a retired Swiss army guy, and this group of older people shared their picnic lunch with me. Apparently Andechs is where all the pensioners hang out. It was really cool to hang out with them. That kind of thing is why knowing German is helpful. The day-to-day stuff you can get by fine with no/limited German, but it's harder to make connections like that if you can't talk to each other.

Beer Travel / Re: Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 10, 2014, 12:15:28 AM »
Went to Augustiner Keller by accident yesterday, by Hackerbrucke street. Watched some people play Eisstockschießen for a while in the biergarten, and they had a hand-made crafts market in the bierhalle. It was pretty cool.

Beer Travel / Re: Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 07, 2014, 06:16:01 AM »
When we went to Hacker-Pschorr, we just stuck our heads in the door to the brewery, and asked if we could look around. The guy working there gave us a brief tour, and then we hung out and talked about brewing for a while. It was pretty rad. Patrick (my friend) said that probably wouldn't have worked if they were busy, but it was around lunchtime and there was hardly anyone there.

The open fermenters were really cool to see, but the rest of the brewhouse was modern.

Beer Travel / Re: Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 06, 2014, 03:46:52 PM »
Tipping, it is customary to just round up. 10 or 20% is what tourists do. The servers are paid a good wage.

Like I said I'm sure there's a range of opinions on what the custom is, even among natives. My friend grew up in the DDR and has lived in Munich for the last 20 years or so. He told me it's not strictly necessary to tip at all, but unless the service is bad, he usually leaves 10%, and more if the service is outstanding.

Beer Travel / Re: Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 06, 2014, 02:06:59 PM »
They sell sodas, waters, Radlers, Spezi, etc in the Getränkecenters too, and some have wine, though not a whole lot.

The Hofbrau Helles was solid. Not amazing, but better than most of the blonde ales/whatever you can find in most brewpubs in the US. We just had the one liter then left. My friend was getting annoyed at the bad service, so I didn't want to stay any longer than that.

There's a brewery called "Unertl" I'd never heard of before. I don't think it's exported to the states. My friend said it's the best weizen in Bayern. I think Schneider's Tap 7 "User Original" is slightly better, but Unertl is still very good. I'd definitely grab some if you see it. 

So far I've really enjoyed Munich. It's really easy to get around by the subway and suburban trains. It reminds me of New York, but cleaner, cheaper, less-crowded, and with friendlier people. So I guess nothing like New York. . .

The Innenstadt is pretty crazy. It's kind of like Time Square. It's where all the tourists go, and it's expensive. Once you get a few blocks away from the touristy parts it's very quiet, clean, and a lot cheaper, too. A dinner may be 10-15 euros in the Innenstadt, but next door in Maxvorstadt it's more like 7-8, and if you keep going to Neuhausen it's cheaper still.

I've been using the ATMs from the Hypovereinsbank. I exchanged some money in O'Hare before I left, just to be safe, but it ended up costing me 13% due to the fees and bad exchange rate. The HVB ATMs give me exactly the exchange rate you see if you google "usd to euro," with no fees or anything. I haven't used any others, so I don't know if that's typical or not.

I really haven't been drinking all that much. The Viktualienmarkt is rad. If you're into good seafood, chocolate, and cheese, that's a pretty good place to go. Some of the produce there was really good too, if you can cook. I've been picking stuff up in the city and cooking at my friend's house most nights.

If you like parks, there are a ton of those. It's also pretty rad to just walk around and look at all the weird old buildings. I think the S7 (suburban commuter train) goes to Aying. I should make the trip down there next week when my friend goes back to work.

As far as restaurant etiquette goes, you need to ask for the check. You say "Bitte, kann ich zahlen" or something similar. The lady comes over, gives you the total, opens her change purse, and gives you your change. There are probably a lot of different opinions on tipping here, but according to my friend tipping isn't necessary, but if the service was good, 10% is reasonable. If the service was great, maybe leave 20%.

Beer Travel / Initial thoughts on Munich
« on: February 06, 2014, 12:37:15 AM »
I've been in Munich for almost a week and thought I'd share some brief observations.

The beer stores (Getränkecenter) here are really cool. Most of the beer comes in the 0,5l bottles. I've seen a few 6-packs of the 0,33l bottles, but only a few of the biggest brands come in those. They cost between 0,75 and 0,95 euro, with a 0,08 euro bottle deposit.

So far my favorite Bierhalle was Hacker-Pschorr. It's on the Theresienplatz where they do Oktoberfest. The Weisswurst was great, and it seemed to be mostly locals there when I went. I didn't see any other tourists at Augustiner am Dom either. Schneider & Sohn was good too, but a bit touristy. Our waitress was an older lady, and she seemed very impatient with all the Russian tourists, but I speak a bit of German so she was very friendly to me. Hofbrauhaus was mostly tourists, and a few very drunk, very loud locals. The service there was pretty terrible, too, compared to the others.

The beer prices were typically 3,95 or 4,30 euro per 0,5l, and I think 7,60 for the 1L Maß in the Hofbrauhaus. As far as the quality goes, everywhere the beer was great. It definitely tastes different (and a bit better, to me) to drink it fresh, but it's not a night-and-day different from what you can find in the states.

Also, don't touch anything in the street-vendor stalls or you'll get yelled at.

It seems like most people in the city speak German. In the village I'm staying in there's a lot more Bairisch, which is almost totally incomprehensible to me. It sounds like Old English. Almost everyone can also speak German (or close enough), although I've run into a few old guys who either can't or won't speak German. Maybe half the people can speak limited English, but mostly the younger people. Most of the people over 30 don't seem to speak any (except for that waitress at Schneider, hers was very good).

« on: January 23, 2014, 07:51:31 AM »
Fantastic! Wow, how long are you going to be on The Continent?

I'll be in Aachen from the end of February to the end of July. After that, I've got a couple job leads in Munich. So, at least 6 months, maybe indefinitely.

West Flanders is great for biking, and you gotta hit De Dolle Brouwers. It's one of my favorite tours as long as long as the brewer's 95+ year-old mother is still guiding them. She's a hoot.

Closer to me (I'm in Tervuren) is the new-ish De Kroon brewery ( It's on the rural bike routes and is probably best visited by bike. You won't be the only one. The beer is decent, but it's the brewing kit that's really drool-worthy.

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm sure I'll hit you up for more advice once I get over there and settled.

« on: January 23, 2014, 07:23:01 AM »
I'm taking my touring bike, and hope to take a few long weekends riding around visiting breweries. It's amazing how small everything is in Europe. I can't wait.

« on: January 20, 2014, 05:54:06 AM »
Kyle's tips are good ones. For Saison Dupont on tap, I'd go to Nuetnigenough. Great little Art Nouveau place with a range of Dupont's beers on tap, including Rador Pils.

Nateo (or anyone else), if you're ever in the 'hood (Brussels), drop me a PM if you you feel like meeting up.

Thanks! That'd be rad. Cantillon is doing an open house brew on March 22nd, I was thinking about doing a day or overnight trip for that. I'll drop a line when I know for sure.

« on: January 19, 2014, 10:43:38 AM »
Kyle - thanks for the tips on Brussels! Cantillon looks awesome. I'll be about an hour away and hope to make a few trips there to explore.

I'll be in Munich for a few weeks too. I hope to hit some of the dumb touristy stuff, but there are also a lot of obscure, acclaimed breweries off the beaten path I want to see.

If you don't have time to make it to all of them, I'm told this bottle shop in Munich has the best selection of local beers:

All Grain Brewing / Re: Decoction Tips?
« on: January 17, 2014, 04:57:28 AM »
That brewery I was thinking of is in Ummerstadt, in Thüringen, on the border with Oberfranken. It's called Ummerstädter Kommunbräu. The do two 90 min decoction boils, then a 5 hour wort boil. One of the guys on the Hobbybrauer forum (Berliner) took a trip there, and took some pictures. It's pretty wild:

People seem to rave about the beer. It's an easy-drinking copper lager (the color is from all the boiling, no doubt), and people call it fruity, powerfully musty (?), flat, and with a sharp, strong hop aroma. I don't know. I think 50% of a beer's flavor comes from where you drink it and who you drink it with, so maybe they've all got the beerfest goggles on and it's not objectively that good.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Decoction Tips?
« on: January 16, 2014, 12:07:19 PM »
I seem to think Nateo posted it on his blog a long time ago but I haven't seen him around these parts in a while.

I'm still alive! But yeah, real life has kept me pretty occupied. I haven't had time for brewing since maybe June.

It's been a long time, so I can't remember the details, but from talking to some German brewers, apparently there is a "traditional" brewery over there that still uses the old techniques. IIRC they did a decoction mash pretty much all day, then a 3-4 hour boil. If I remember the name I'll post it.

Just FYI, most pro and hobby brewers in Germany think decoction is wasteful of time and energy (it is) and kinda silly. However, they love step-mashes with at least 3 steps, although 4-5 are typical, which I think is also silly.

FWIW I think most of the allure of decoction is merely the fetishization of the popular conception of German brewing. It's kinda like foreign branding, or the nonsensical use of umlauts, a la "Haüs Of Growlers."

The Pub / Re: Pronunciation of "Saison"
« on: June 27, 2013, 08:18:24 PM »
Saying nasal vowels when you're speaking English is silly.  The word Saison has been used enough to be considered an English word of French origin.  Don't use phonemes that don't exist in the middle of an English sentence unless you want to sound pretentious.

Actually, if you want to get all technical here, nasal vowels are used in American English, appearing before nasal consonants, in words like "man," "can't" and "then," and "embalm." In British English they're not all nasalized, noticeably "can't." You probably don't notice how they're nasalized because you're a native American English speaker.

If you've ever heard someone who uses African American vernacular English, or some related southern accents say "Hey man" you've definitely heard a nasal "n."

The Pub / Re: Pronunciation of "Saison"
« on: June 27, 2013, 01:58:37 PM »
But when the waiter corrected me at Drai's for saying Belgian endive~in-dive with "it's awn-deev" it nearly got nasty.

Yeah, that's a really bad idea. I've been a waiter, and I've sold ferr-in sounding named skis and bikes. The appropriate thing to do is to pronounce it correctly yourself, when it comes up naturally, but not correct them unless they ask you how it's said. The worst thing you can do is mimic the customer's bad pronunciation, because it sounds like you're mocking them.

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