Bad Reichenhall is a charming little German town in the Bavarian Chiemgau Alps, noted in the past particularly for salt production. It is the capital of Berchtesgadener Land, set in spectacular forested countryside, not a million miles from Salzburg.
I first encountered it many years ago, cycling to it from the Alpine resort of Inzell in what can best be described as pissing rain. It was in the early days of my long-lasting, but now defunct German cycling holiday phase and one of only two times I forsook the bicycle we had paid so much for. Both were for the same reason - the aforementioned pissing rain. Our destination was Berchtesgaden, another charming (in a kind of colder way) Bavarian town , probably best known as the home of Hitler's Alpine redoubt, the Obersalzberg and its Kehlsteinhaus - also known as Hitler's Tea House.
After a horrible slog, in a torrent of rain, up countless Eiger like hills, we arrived, knackered and soaked in Bad Reichenhall and made for the nearest pub for much need liquid refreshment. I remember the relief and I thoroughly enjoyed the cloudy hefe-weizen brewed by the pleasingly named Unser Burgerbrau. How do I know what I drank? Well somehow, the distinctive glass - perhaps to cock a snook at the appalling German weather - found its way home with me and it took pride of place in Tandleman Towers for quite a few years. Back in Bad Reichenhall, we looked our maps and the waterfall of rain outside. Noting that the railway station was near and that Berchtesgaden was to be reached by even more precipitous alpine ascents, we decided. "Bugger this, we are getting the train." And we did. And I've never regretted that decision.
Is there more to this tale? Well yes. A few years after acquiring the glass, while in bed one morning before work, while E made tea (my job these days and ever since), I heard a horrendous crash of broken glass. I immediately knew what had occurred having drank a hefe-weizen the night before. My treasured glass, on end to drain, had taken the knock by a sightless E, who had neither glasses nor contact lenses aboard at the time.
I was reminded of this a few days ago in Berlin at the Berlin Biermeile, when among the
many beer stands, we came across one from Unser Burgerbrau. I was firstly
uncommonly pleased that it is still on the go and secondly, I was
determined, on this sunniest of days, to reaquaint myself with the
thirst slaking hefe-weizen of that rain soaked day of yore. Alas it
wasn't to be. The hefe-weizen wasn't on sale.
Nor was it possible to pay the deposit and buy and keep a replacement Unser Burgerbrau Hefe-Weizen glass. They didn't have any. Some things are just not meant to be.
It peed down in Berchtesgaden that first night too. I remember sitting in the almost deserted hotel dining room, when at about 9 o'clock, the waiter returned to our table with his coat on and gave us the bill. The rain bounced back to knee height. Escape was impossible. We were in bed by 9.30. On a Saturday night too.
Our trip to the Kehlsteinhaus was completed in glorious sunshine. Our luck changed. We were the last group to enjoy the panorama (2600ft) before fog swept in rendering the views invisible.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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