Shortly before our tour of the Stalin Museum in Gori, Georgia, our guide pointed out a Russian Army base a mere 400 metres from the main Tbilisi - Black Sea highway. It was a reminder that beyond that short distance, lies the occupied lands of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It seems too that the war which officially ended in 2007, is still in small ways going on, as the Russians have the rather annoying habit of moving the barbed wire fences overnight, swallowing up a little more of Georgia each time. Georgian citizens are not allowed within 200 metres of the occupied area for fear of being kidnapped. This dread of Russia consumes every Georgian and explains in part the riots that took place when we were there. Oddly though, Russian tourists abound and are treated very well. The argument is truly state to state.
Sadly we didn't have time in Gori for a beer, but I rather liked the fact that Stalin had the bright idea of having a museum to himself built in his home town. His colleagues apparently agreed this was a splendid plan. Very wise of them. It was full of (retouched) photos and paintings of the local lad made
On the way up the mountain road to our destination, I caught a glimpse of a very Germanic looking building, but it was forgotten as we visited one of the oldest churches in Georgia, some 7000 feet up and a mere 14 kilometres from the border with the Russian Federation. We stopped for a beer in the frontier town of Kazbegi, where fortunately the sun shone. We leaped ahead of the assorted crumblies that were our companions, ordered and paid for our beers which gave us the chance to avoid the tension that "comfort" stops brings when 48 people all try and get served at once within a half hour. At this stop we were advised that we'd be stopping for lunch a half hour back down the road to Tbilisi. Great stuff.
Back down the mountain we went and pulled up at the Germanic looking building - our lunch stop. To my astonishment this was a little piece of Bavaria in the Caucasus. It was Hofbräuhaus Gadauri. Yes a pub restaurant, German inside in every way and a part (one assumes) of the Hofbräuhaus Group of Munich. We filed inside and were taken upstairs to a huge wooden panelled dining room, which could have been upstairs in the Munich Bier Hall. Downstairs was a large, but empty bar, very much in the Bavarian style.
Now on these capers you usually get a set lunch and so it came to pass. Time was short and by the time we were served and had eaten, it was time to go. I did though manage a look at the menu, and HB Helles, Hefeweizen and Munich Dark were all available. A party of Japanese tourists were getting stuck into some. Lucky people.
Alas the tale ends here. No beer for me. Time ran out. But it existed. Honest.
These guided tours are mixed blessings. You see a lot, but there is little time for a beer break in the exotic destination, which is a disadvantage- to this old soak at least.
The photo of the beer shows the most common beer we came across. It wasn't at all bad really.