I do a fair bit of travelling to various destinations. It's hard getting around everywhere I'd like to. But there's one place I never miss: Franconia. I go there every year. It's a sort of pilgrimage.
A chance to drink simple, tasty beer in simple, cosy places, far away from the clamour of the city. About the only time I get anywhere near the countryside.
This year, for the first time, I went with my son. Though that's not quite true. We went to Annafest 10 or 11 years ago. This year was the first time he was of legal drinking age. That makes all the difference.
It wasn't a particularly long or complicated trip. Four nights in Ebermannstadt and one in Munich. A day at Annafest, one in Bamberg and another at the Kellers of Buttenheim. A return to places I love, beers that quench and a peace to be cherished.
I love Lager. Annually renewing that love has become part of the rhythm of my life. It's not about drinking the rarest, oddest or strongest beer. But about reconnecting with the gloriously simple Franconian approach to beer. Where drinking a beer with your breakfast evokes no condemnatory glances. Where the beer isn't trying to show off and the food not straining to be clever and quirky and new. Where there's time to just sit and enjoy life, watching it meander past like lazy brook.
There wasn't a beer I didn't enjoy, though one really sated my thirst for Lager's perfect simplicity: Neder Export. Sublimely drinkable.
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