We're now getting to my favourite part of the journey. Where each beer was more characterful than the last and nothing disappointed. In case you're losing the thread, this is still just the second day. Lots more to go, I'm afraid.
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Another beautiful monastery church I didn't enter. My excuse was watertight this time: it was closed. Odd, as it was Sunday. Fortunately the pub was open. Someone has their priorities right.
After so many examples of 1970's light pine folksiness, the Stube was a welcome example of genuine age. Like one of the nicer Prague beer halls. My photo gets a bit of the feel, though fails miserably to illustrate our fellow customers. Aged couples, families with kids, middle-aged loner with mum. A cross-section of of the community.
I was much taken by the delicious-looking plates of pork and dumpling, decorated with a blue and white flag, which kept floating past. Mmmm. That looks nice. Forcing an egg down an breakfast seemed a lifetime away. I was tempted. But not tempted enough to ignore the beer.
Four draughts: Altfränkish (amber), Dunkel, Pils and Hefeweizen. Unusually for Germany, they have a sampler tray of all four, either 10 or 25 cl. Dunkles. I always go for Dunkles first. All those years of drinking Tetley's Mild have left their mark. Stonch went for a larger set of samplers and seemed to almost instantly regret his decision. Good to know I wasn't the only casualty of the previous night's skirmish.
Hair of the dog. What a strange expression. But the concept works. I felt a new man about half way down the Märzen (they have it in bottles). No, it wasn't the middle-aged loner I felt. I was revived.
Both beers I tried were pretty decent. "Malty, nutty, slightly smoky" - that's what my notes say about the Dunkles. Obviously, I was still only semi-human when I wrote that. Surely there must be something better about the Märzen "malty, smooth, quite pleasant". Not exactly Michael Jackson level, is it? Never mind. I would happily drink either again.
With a yearly output of over 20,000 hl, they are larger than most of the breweries we visited. Two new conical fermenters lying outside the brewery were a worrying sign.
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There are some places you immediately love. You feel a warmth, a cosiness. Instinctive reading of body language is what I put it down to. You sense the contentment of your fellows and relax. Hofmann is like walking into a sauna.
After seeing the food in Weissenohe, I had feared that moving on for lunch was a bad idea. Then I noticed the same dumpling/pork combination. No need to consult the menu, then.
Why are some people so against children in pubs? It's crazy, when you analyse it. The presence of families acts as a natural restraint on the rowdy. And who will be the future customers of pubs? In Germany it's totally normal to take your kids along. Maybe that's why pubs there are so less violent than in the UK.
Regular readers will already have seen the lump of pork I ate. Very nice and just under 7 euros. A bargain. After we'd eaten, Frau Hofmann broke off from her cooking duties to show us the brewery. You could have mistaken it from the outside for a barn.
I won't waste words describing it. Photos will work much better. And it's nearly teatime and I have to hurry or my food will get cold.
They like to keep things simple around here. The menu only has a round a dozen items. There's just one draught beer and bottled Hefeweizen. Makes life easy for the waitresses.
A similar principle operates at the brewery. The brewer (and cook) Frau Hofmann is the fifth generation of the family. She and her sisters (an identical twin also works in the kitchen) take care of the pub, too. Their one beer only has four ingredients. That's including water and yeast. Vienna malt and Hallertau hop pellets are the other two.
This where the Dunkles (and my notes) started getting better: "roast, smoke, liquorice, pepper, nuts" I identified. That means "very nice" in plain English. At least for me it does. I like these Franconian Dunkles with their generous use of hops. A completely different type to Munich Dunkles if you're being a style Nazi. I much prefer the hoppy Fanconian variety. Any home brewers might be interested to learn that the colour comes from a variety of malts. Sometimes it's Farbmalz, sometimes Caramelmalz, sometimes even Vienna Malt. The one thing I never heard mentioned was Munich malt.
Hofmann do bottle their Dunkles Export, but it isn't distributed. You need to knock on the brewery door if you want to buy some. (I've got two bottles. But they're all for me.)
Seriously... - And that's as political as we're gonna get here. (It's a joke, BTW.)*Boy, it's dusty in here. * Hard to believe I used to post every day, for four years. T...
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