A brief look at drinking the fine beer of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany.
On our recent trip I was fortunate enough to drink a lot of beer – not in one drinking session! I mean I drank a wide variety of beer. I have written this article at the suggestion of a few of my friends, who should be suitably jealous.
Our trip started in Bratislava and I was able to try a couple of beers here. The first one was an Erb, a lovely drop from the central Slovakian town of Banská Štiavnica. After the initial pop of the top as you opened it, you enjoy this lovely 12% svelté (light) beer. It was an excellent accompaniment to our light meal at the delightful Foxford. It was certainly one of the best beers I had the pleasure to drink whilst away.
The following night we ate at a slightly touristy restaurant, Slovak House, and I tried another Slovak beer, a Zlatý Bažant (from Hurbanovo) that was very enjoyable and went well with the sliced beef and flat style dumplings I ate.
From there we travelled to Novy Smokovec in the High Tatras where we based ourselves for a week. I tried a number of beers here, but most came from the neighbouring Czech Republic. At the Grill Alpina Teracy in Novy Smokovec I had a Samson, which was a Budweiser beer from the Czech Republic. It went very well with my delicious meal of grilled chicken, fried potatoes and salad.
The following day was totally rained out but we ate out at Café Hoefner in Stary Smokovec. The beer that I tried here was another Czech beer, a Staropramen. A few nights later we ate at the Sibiranka Pizza Restaurant near where we were staying. Here I drank another Slovak beer, a Šariš pilsner that matched the paprika coated pork fillet really well.
The next part of our trip was cycling from Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic to Dresden in Germany. In Prague we had a huge meal at Hastalsky dedek restaurace a quiet venue a bit away from the main square but still close enough. The beer on tap there was a Krušovice, another pilsner which I enjoyed greatly.
Our cycling journey took us firstly to Mělnik where we ate at Restaurant U Císaře. There I drank an ice cold Pilsner Urquell to go with my meal of pork steak and creamy mushroom sauce.
The next two nights when we stayed in Litomerice and Decin I drank another Pilsner Urquell and also a Budwieser, both drinkable without being outstanding. I also enjoyed a refreshing Budwieser in the border town of Hrensko after we walked up to the Prebistor rock formation in the Bohemian Swizterland national park.
Next our cycling trip entered Germany and we stayed at the Hotel zum Roten Haus in Bad Schandau and ate at the restaurant downstairs. Excellent food. My schnitzel was well accompanied by a Wernesgrüner beer which was a really nice pils. On our last day of cycling we stopped at Potzscha on the opposite side of the Elbe to the larger Stadt Wehlen. We ate outside in the sun at the Bauernhaus. While we waited for our lunch I had the pleasure of drinking a Schöfferhofer weizen (wheat beer). Very refreshing after our morning’s ride.
Our cycling trip ended in Dresden and we based ourselves there for a week. The first night we ate in a nearby Italian restaurant, La Casina Rosa, which was highly recommended in the Lonely Planet Germany guide. We enjoyed the pasta and pizza, which recharged us nicely and they went well with my Radeberger pilsner, which was really nice. The next night we ate downstairs
at a hamburger restaurant, Bit’n Burger. The burgers were excellent as was the company we sat with on a long outdoor table. It was a good way to meet some of the young locals. The beer I drank was a Becks which was okay but the burger was better. The next night we headed to Plan Wirtschaft, a restaurant below a hostel. The menu had good choices and most ingredients were sourced fresh locally. Our meals were good. Karen ate a vegetable pancake and I had spaghetti with a tomato and local sausage sauce. Really good with the lovely Rechenberger beer I drank. Next night we cooked back in our apartment and I drank a bottled Meissner Schwerter pilsner, a good drop and all the better because it came in a larger 500ml bottle not the usual 345ml size. Our final night in Dresden we went local again and ate at Baguettes and More, an Asian eatery with a definite Vietnamese leaning. The meal was excellent and I tried a Saigon export beer which was a nice precursor to dinner but also went well with the food.
The accompanying Ur-Krostitzer pilsner was ice cold, deliciously refreshing and went down a treat.
We drove further west and stayed the next two nights in Quedlinburg. The first night as we walked by the sign caught our attention and inside we were provided with a special drinking experience at the local brew house of Lüdde Bräu. Three beers were on offer but after my first unfiltered pilsener I was sold and I never managed to switch to either the black or the brown. Nice food (grilled chicken and rosti) and good conversation with the people on the adjoining table made it a memorable night in every aspect.
The following evening we ate at Market Sieben, a restaurant on Quedlinburg’s main square. The food was nice enough. I ate a grilled kebab with salad and a baked potato but the darker Schnieder Weissebier I drank wasn’t to my taste sadly.
Next stop was Hannover. We ate on the edge of the city at Café Mezzo in Lister Meile, which turned out to be quite a good café and restaurant area. We had a very helpful waitress who spoke excellent English. She recommended I try two different beers. The first was a lovely cold Gilde Pils, which I really enjoyed. The second beer was a Hannover Bio, an unfiltered pilsener which was obviously quite different to the Gilde but I also enjoyed it.
Next we stayed with friends in Viersen. Their preferred beer tipple was a Bitburger so I was able to have a number of Bitburger premium Pils of an evening. An easy beer to drink and enjoy.
From there we headed south to Freiburg. We were lucky enough to arrive on a festival day so the atmosphere was very friendly and first up I enjoyed a Ganter beer, a nice local beer for a warm day. At night we headed to a local brewery Hausbrauerei Feierling. There was a large beer garden as well as a restaurant on the brewery site, which was where we headed to, as we were hungry and thirsty. The beer was unfiltered and excellent to drink. Needless to say it went well with a meal of schnitzel and roasted kartoffel. Overall a great place to go, it had a very friendly atmosphere and easily earnt its high Lonely Planet ranking. The next evening we ate at Café Legere and the cold Fürstenburg beer that accompanied my yummy hamburger was thoroughly enjoyable.
Next beer on my tasting tour was a Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier which I enjoyed drinking on several occasions whilst staying with Karen’s cousins near the Bodensee (Lake Constance). I was certainly enjoying the taste of wheat beers overall.
We travelled on to Stuttgart and were able to attend Karen’s aunt’s 100th birthday and help celebrate. I had a Rothaus pils with the celebratory lunch meal and it was easy to drink. I also tried a local beer, a Dinkel Acker when we ate out at an Italian restaurant in the Market Hall complex the following day. It went really well with the pasta I ate.
My next beer was a Gold Ochsen Original in Ulm. It was a well-deserved reward for climbing all the way to the top of the münster (cathedral) there. After our climb it was very quickly downed. It certainly hit the spot. The claim on the glass was Gold Ochsen was liquid gold, a claim I was happy to acknowledge.
Whilst staying with Karen’s cousins at the end of September we took the funicular train and cable car to the top of the Zugspitze. The beer menu at the Sonn Alpin wasn’t big so I ended up drinking a Beck’s with lunch. It’s a beer that is available in Australia and having drunk it before I was happy to give it another go, as it was a delightful day of 25 degrees. The following night I drank a local Allgäuer Meckatzer wheat beer with our evening meal. It was darkish in colour but the wheat flavour was good. The next day we went to a local eatery, Wildgasthaus Tobias, which was near to where Karen’s cousins live. The Teusch pils from the local Allgäuer Brauhaus that I drank went well with the local specialty, spatzle.
My final beer wasn’t German or Czech but a Heineken from a can on our flight home. It was enjoyable but I definitely preferred some of the lovely beers I had whilst in Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
(Please note these are influenced by ambiance within venue, weather conditions, food eaten, recent activity etc. and are my opinion, which may not be someone else’s opinion! Note I haven’t rated any 10/10 but some were close!)
Erb 12% svelte 9/10
Zlatý Bažant 10° svelte 7.5/10
Šariš pilsner 8/10
Krušovice pilsner 9/10
Pilsner Urquell 7/10
Budwieser budvar lager 7/10
Meissner Schwerter pilsner 7.5/10
Wernesgrüner pils 9/10
Schöfferhofer weizen 9/10
Radeberger pilsner 8/10
Saigon export 7/10
Ur-Krostitzer pilsner 9/10
Lüdde Bräu unfiltered pilsner 9.5/10
Schnieder Weissebier 5/10
Gilde Pils 8.5/10
Hannover Bio unfiltered pilsner 7.5/10
Bitburger Premium Pils 7/10
Ganter beer 8/10
Hausbrauerei Feierling unfiltered 9/10
Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier 8/10
Rothaus pils 7/10
Dinkel Acker 7.5/10
Gold Ochsen original 9/10
Allgäuer Meckatzer wheat beer 7.5/10
Allgäuer Brauhaus Teusch pils 8/10
Footnote: Thanks to all the waiters, waitresses and restaurant owners who I asked for beer mats for my collection and who were always more than happy to fulfil my request. I have taken a quick snap to show the range.