Our next schlep was a mountainous ride over spectacular scenery to Hittisau in Austria. It involved a lot of walking up precipitously steep hills pushing a bike and even more grumbling - ok plaintive bleating - from me. Heidi would have been right at home as cowbells tinkled and the sun beat down. Every small down was punished by a grim slog uphill with the thought of "I'm paying for this" ringing loud and clear in my tortured mind. A long descent did bring us to our lovely hotel, which seemed to have no obvious way in to it. Front and back had locked doors, Eventually a supercilious Austrian geezer let us in and seemed surprised that I should find a hotel with no way in, less than welcoming. I was tired and dehydrated by then which obviously had a deleterious effect on my temper.
I was too tired to seek beer, so that delight had to wait until our one Michelin starred dinner which got off to a bad start as we were put in the smoking area (Eileen hadn't thought to specify). Another contretemps with our snooty friend had us (reluctantly) moved. Now to beer I thought. Only Krombacher Pils or Franziskaner Hefe Weizen. Damn. I asked about Austrian beer, but none was available. Huh!
The next morning it was raining and Hittisau, apart from a lovely church, had nothing in it whatever. So what do do? The bus to Bregenz on the shores of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) would surely provide better beery offering? Well no. It wouldn't! At least not Austrian ones. I'll cut out a long story of fruitless traipsing round. Austrian Export (also called Helles or Marzen) mainly from Stiegl and Mohren was the best we could do. Otherwise it was German all the way. So we sat in the by now warm, weather watching Zeppelins take off from Friedrichshaven and meander over and back, while supping Meckatzer Hefe Weizen from the Allgäu not many miles away across the border. A final drink at the station got us more undistinguished Mohren Marzen. Doh!
I know there is much better beer than this and that it isn't typical, but it shows the German brewers in this border area at least, are elbowing their Austrian counterparts aside. The perception seemed to be that German beer is better and no-one seemed to care at all.
The first photo was taken on the ride in Germany. No I don't know why there is a (working) British phone box there either!
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.
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