Thursday, 22 January 2009

Beers of Germany-Part 1 (Introduction & Background)

German beer = Lager.
One word with the emphasis (in England at any rate!) on the aaaa-ger part of the word!
That is probably what you are thinking right now as you read this, ‘there’s only lager in Germany, it is fizzy, clear, served cold and rather easy to drink!’.
Right, or wrong?
Well, right and wrong.
Before we start, there are quite a few German words which have been unwisely adapted by the English speaking world and turned into something that the original word doesn’t really mean and the word lager is one of them! So it is probably best that we really start with the actual definition of the word lager-a quick German lesson-when we are talking about lager within the context of beer then it simply means ‘cold maturing’ and no it doesn’t refer to a primary top or bottom fermented style of beer either!
Another very important definition-within this article the terms top, bottom and spontaneous fermentation is used to define the primary fermentation when beer is brewed, the use of ale and lager is just too simplistic within the context of German beer! Sorry!
It is hard to believe that in this country of 85 million people with around 1300 breweries (of which around half are in Bavaria), there are in fact over 20 different ‘styles’ of beer in Germany which can be more or less clearly defined, unfortunately the fizzy liquid which we call lager in the UK and the USA is in fact usually just a sort of a version of a style of beer called Pilsner (originating in the town of Pilsen in the Czech Republic) which swept through Europe during the 1800s and has remained here ever since! Mass immigration from Germany during the late 1800s could attribute to this and yes you’ve guessed it, the immigrants took the new Pilsner (Pils) style beer across to the USA and the rest is history! For the ‘style police’ amongst you; whereas the Beer Judge Certification Programme (BJCP) is an attempt to ‘judge’ beer, this article outlines how to ‘drink’ beer! Smile.

On the left photo you can see some Lagering tanks at Eck Brauereigasthof in the Bavraian Forest. The tanks are in a cellar dug many years ago deep below the hamlet of Eck, the temperature is held just above zero °C, wakes you up if you have had one or 5 too many the night before! Mike the brewer showed us around. Thanks Mike-awesome place!

One of the very sad facts that is within Germany it is very unusual to have more than around 3 different types of beer in a pub, there will usually be a lighter coloured beer such as a Pils or in Bavaria a Helles, a darker beer and also usually a bottled Weizen beer, in many country breweries especially in Franken, Düsseldorf and Köln there will be just one beer available!
We will now attempt to make sense of all the beer and styles of Germany so that at the end of this you will find yourself wanting to get out for a few fresh German beers yourself!


Coming up in the next installment.., part 2-a quick bit of history!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The Beers of Germany

Coming soon...The Beers of Germany!
We thought you may all like the article that was published in the Oct/Nov/Dec edition of Beers of the World magazine, 'probably' the UK's premier beer magazine. Sally the editor has given us the green light to put it on our blog.
Thanks Sally.

We will be publishing the expanded version of the article which waffles on a bit more than you can put in a 5-page magazine spread!

We believe that Beers of the World magazine is the the UK's only beer magazine. The magazine comes out 4 times a year and deals with all types of beer (regardless of the amount of hectolitres they produce-we like that!) We just wish you had the magazine out every month....
Articles are written by established beer writers as well as well of course the not so established 'beer tour guides'!
You can subscibe to the magazine on the magazine's website.

Oh, and please don't take the article too seriously though, it is after all only our opinion (and we all know what opinions are like.....)
After all it's just beer.....

Hope you enjoy it.

PS, the photo on the top right was in the Katacomben underneath the Bayreuther Bierbrauerei and Maisel's Brewery Museum in Bayreuth-we visit the brewery museum (and cooperage) during our Franconia nd Bamberg Special tours.

Monday, 19 January 2009

2009 Tour Schedule July-December

Colorado Wild West Special
Sunday 05-Sunday 12 July
Franconia & Bamberg Special
Thursday 23-Friday 31 July
This amazing tour for a group from the States takes in Zoigl-land in the Oberfpalz as well as Forchheim's Annafest.

Franconia Bike n Beer Tour (SB-090808)
Friday 08-Sunday 16 August
This amazing new tour is a Bike n Beer tour. Breweries, guesthouses- the tour is fully vehicle supported and you ride only the good sections of the route!
Contact us for details.


Great European Beer Tour (PM-090911)
Friday 11-Monday 21 September
This amazing 10-day tour is a new version of a tried and tested route and combines 3 tours in one go, The Franconia Special, The Bohemia Special and well as Oktobefest & the Alps Special! We start in Frankfurt and take in Kulmbach, Zoigl-land, Czech Republic, the Bavarian Forest as well as Salzburg (Austria) and the Alps. The tour finally ends in Munich where we visit the Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest & Alps Special
Friday 18-Monday 21 September (MB-090921)
Tuesday 22-Friday 25 September (MB-090922)
Friday 25-Monday 28 September (MB-090925)
Tuesday29-Friday 02 October (MB-090929)
These 4-day tours take in the Alps as well as Munich's Oktoberfest.


Friday 02-Monday 05 October (MB-091002)
These 4-day tours take in the Alps as well as Munich's Oktoberfest.


Go East Special
Friday 06 -Sunday 15 November (GE-091106)
Friday 20-Sunday 29 November (GE-091120)
6 places left for these 10-day tours of the former East Germany.

Franconia Christmas Special
Various dates throughout December
These tours are our Christmas version of our Franconia and Bamberg tours, during these tours we also see a few Christmas markets, have some Glühwein, soak up the German Christmas atmosphere......

You can get even more information by emailing

2009 Tour Schedule January-June

We hope you are all looking forward to the year ahead, even during the current economic downturn and credit crunch, we still have to be positive about things, maybe a relaxing Cultural Beer Tour will do you good!
Yes, it's that time of the year to let you all know what we have planned for the rest of the year, if any of the tours interest you then drop us a line, either by email or phone.
Last year in 2008 we teamed up with Ute from the German American Connection and we now offer Cultural Beer Tours in the former East Germany, again, all our tours aim to not only show you the 'must-see' places but also to get you to those places you wouldn't normally go to. We achieve that by careful research, meticulous planning and by using small Mercedes minibuses and small group size.
We hope you like the tours.

January-March 2009
No tours are scheduled for these months. We are in hibernation....

Bruges and Flanders Special (BF-090403)
Friday 03-Sunday 05 April
This tour for a group from Eire is now full and takes in Bruges and West Flanders with visits to Westvleteren, Thiriez, and of course overnighting in both Bruges and Mont Cassel in French Flanders.

Bohemia and Franconia Special (PM-090410)
Friday 10-Sunday 19 April
We have 6 places left on this 10-day Czech Republic and Germany beer tour, we go both sides of the border to Germany and to the Czech Republic, this really is an awesome tour! Pick-up can be Frankfurt or Nuremberg and we then head straight to the Bavarian Forest via Regensburg. From then on we cross over the border into Czech republic picking up Budweis, Prague and Pilsen. More details....

Go East Special (GE-090424)
Friday 24 April-Sunday 03 May
6 places left for this tour of the former East Germany.

Ardennes Special (AS-090512)
12-14 May
This mid-week tour is full and takes in Chimay, Bouillon, Orval, Millevertus as well as Bastogne, Achouffe and the Haute Fagnes, Belgium's highest area. This was our most popular tour in 2008!
Great Belgium Beer Tour (GBBT-090522)
Friday 22-Sunday 31 May
There are currently 6 places available. We believe that it is the most comprehensive cultural beer tour of Belgium and Northern France available. In fact even you don't like beer you will see most of Belgium and northern France anyway!

Colorado Wild West Special
Saturday 13-Saturday 20 June
Saturday 27 June-Saturday 04 July
We have 3 tours for June and July, all tours are 8-day tours and start and end in Denver, Colorado. For these tours we have 8 places per tour as the minibuses are sligtly larger than the ones we use in Europe!

Great Belgium Beer Tour-May 2009

A few places are still available for our Great Belgium Beer Tour (GBBT-090522) this May from Friday 22-Sunday 31 May.

This is a truly epic tour, we only have a maximum of 6 people on the tour making it pretty much an exclusive 'VIP' tour of Belgium and Northern France.
Not only do we include overnight stops in the Flemish towns of Antwerpen, Bruges and Bruxelles but we also get ourselves into the heart of Wallonia and Northern France. We believe that France has its rightful place on any beer tour of Belgium!
We include beer dinners, bier-cafes, WW1 sights, WW2 sights, breweries, chateaux, castles, museums, some great countryside and lots lots more. All tours are also in effect 'half-board' with all main meals included in the price. We also visit every province in Belgium as well as all 6 Trappiste monasteries-we don't do brewery tours at the Trappiste monasteries because we respect the wishes of the monks (if we do then we don't talk about it!).

When we are in the Ardennes (day 8 and 9) we stay at La Vieille Forge, this is a converted 300 year old forgery and run by Tine and Pol, Tine is an awesome cook and we have some excellent food there, usually cooked in a beer sauce! Thanks Tine! The forgery is a great end to our 10-day tour and a chance to unwind and look over where we have been over the last 10 days. Oh, and Pol also brews a mean beer.... (ssshhh!).

We visit some really off the beaten track places, the following video shows the Chateaux Charmois, located in the Pays-de-Meuse countryside just north of Verdun in France, Alain brews an excellent beer, in fact he was trained at Orval Trappiste brewery! Thanks Alain.

The 2009 Tour Itinerary can also be downloaded.
Download Tour Itinerary.

The price of the tour is €2150.00pp, however if we have a full tour then we offer a 10% discount per person, a saving of €215.00pp.
If you are thinking the tour price is expensive, yes it is, however if you consider that the tour is for only 6 people maximum and also what is included and where we visit then you will see that the tour really is an amazing 'experience'! We don't 'do' mass tourism, these are very specialist exclusive tours run by us.

Be good to see you.

Not Just Oktoberfest!

Our Oktoberfest and the Alps are not just about Munich's Oktoberfest, we think that it's a good idea to see some more of Bavaria and of Munich so we have designed our tours with that in mind! The tours start with a drive into the Alps and an overnight at an Alpine guesthouse in the village of Oberammergau (famous for the Passion Play), we then have day 2 in Munich with a walkabout and then the highlight of the tour being Oktoberfest on day 3. If you do want to go to the Oktoberfest grounds on day 2 then feel free.

Day 1-After we meet you all, we get ourselves out of Munich and visit Ludwig's castles at Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau as well as having lunch there in a beer garden if the weather lets us, normally at the Bräustüberl!
After lunch we then take you south across the border and into Austria, stopping at the border though to have a look at the Lechfall, a gorgeous waterfall. After the Lechfall, we then have a breathtaking drive on the back road from Füssen to Oberammergau and around the Plansee, an Austrian Alpine lake surrounded by high mountains. This is an opportunity to relax and take in the scenery, get to know your companions and chill out!
If we have time we usually go to the Benedictine monastery in Ettal-the Ettaler Kloster, the church is truly amazing, walk left for the church and monastery, walk right for the 'pub'! Choice is yours! The monastery still brews beer which can be drunk from their brewery tap across the road from the monastery grounds.
After some religion and beer we then check into our gorgeous guesthouse in Oberammergau, Zum Stern, this is a really rustic guesthouse in the middle of town, we also eat in the Stuberl-a traditional cosy room just under our rooms! We also hit the brewery pub Maximillian, they go a great Weizen as well as an unfiltered Hell beer-both delicious and brewed right by the bar!

Day 2-
After our 'Alps' night in Oberammergau we then drive into Munich and check into our hotel, this year we will be using the 4* Hotel Concorde for all tours. This hotel is located just around the corner from the Hofbräuhaus and excellently located for our stay in Munich. Incidentally, all our tours start and end at the Concorde.
We then get ourselves out and about, first stop is normally the world famous Hofbräuhaus for lunch, food and a sing-song! Atmosphere is amazing! After the heavy food and litres of beer you will probably be wanting some fresh air, so we then have a much needed 'walkabout' around Munich picking up some of the sights. If you wish to do your own thing then feel free, maybe you want to get over to the Oktoberfest grounds!

Day 3-This is the highligt of the tour when we get over to the Oktoberfest grounds and usually the Hacker-Pschorr Festzelt (beer tent) and to our reserved tables. We normally have the reservation from midday (or 1pm) until around 5pm, plenty of time.
The rest of the day is yours. Cheers!

Day 4-All our Oktoberfest tours end at the hotel after breakfast unless we have arranged to drop you off.

We hope this gives you some more of an insight into these wonderful, low key tours, designed for small groups to give you a real holiday experience in Bavaria!

Bier-Mania! will be running 5 Oktoberfest and Alps Special tours this year 2009. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Oktoberfest 2008 Tour 3

Photos from tour 3 can be seen here.

Oktoberfest 2008 Tour 3

This was our 3rd and final Oktoberfest and Alps Special of 2008 and wow, what a tour! Everyone was from the States and travelled a long way to be in Munich, as we had a total of 12 people we used 2 minibuses for this tour and all finally meeting up in Oberammergau after picking up the last 3 people in a very lonely and cold Oberau train station! Great to see you guys.

Day 1-Friday
After Neuschwanstein and a scenic drive around the Plansee lake, it was onto Ettal monstery for a looka round a naturally a beer brewed ont he premises.
After checking into our guesthouse, we ate in their cosy restaurant and a full meal and beer at Zum Stern in Oberammergau was followed by the presentation of 'Certificates of Competence', (or in German Urkunde) which Bier-Mania! awards to all guests who have been on a tour! Cheers!
After Zum Stern we got ourselves down to Maximillians brewery for a few more beers fresh from their bar, good beer!
Day 2-Saturday
Next day (Saturday) was Munich 'walkabout' day when we had, well.... a walkabout around town, pick up a few sights, have a few beers and take in Munich. After having lunch and warming up in Hofbräuhaus (some people warmed up very quickly!), as it was perfect blue skies, we walked down by the River Isar, had a look at the Müllers Volksbad (a swimming baths dating from the 1800s) and on to see some surfing. Surfing? Yep.
We stopped in the beer garden at the Chinese tower in the Englischer Garten for some more refreshments.
Day 3-Sunday
Sunday was the Big O and after taking a short U-bahn ride we finally hit the Oktoberfest grounds and to our reserved tables in the Hacker Festzelt. Beer, chickens and singing....
By the way, you guys looked great in your Bavarian outfits, real cool!

The Oktoberfest grounds.....

The balcony in Hacker Festzelt......

And in the middle.....

Hope to see you again next year!

Bier-Mania! will be running 5 Oktoberfest and Alps Special tours this year 2009. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Oktoberfest 2008 Tour 2-The Babe and the Hooligan

Oktoberfest is just one of those very special occasions in your life. You've just got to go, the atmosphere is just incredible, as you can see....

Oktoberfest 2008 Tour 2

Our 2nd Oktoberfest 2008 tour started on the morning of Tuesday 23 September and ended on the Friday.

Again we went straight to Neuschwanstein for lunch and then across the Austrian Alps via the scenic back road and the Plansee lake and over to Oberammergau and to our guesthouse, the rustic Zum Stern stopping at the Ettal monastery on the way for a quick beer or 2!
We then went to Munich on the Saturday and after checking into our hotel we had a Munich 'walkabout' and lunch in the Hofbräuhaus.

Sunday was the Big O with some serious dancing!
We also met up with Kenneth and the guys and girls on his Thirsty Swagman tour.

Click here for tour photos.

Some action from inside the Hacker festzelt...

Oktoberfest 2008 Tour 1

Bier-Mania!'s first Oktoberfest tour of 2008 was from Friday 19-Monday 22 September, great time and good to be back in Munich!
The tour started on Friday morning in Nuremberg after which we drive to Neuschwanstein for lunch and then across the Austrian Alps via the scenic back road and the Plansee lake and over to Oberammergau and to our guesthouse, the rustic Zum Stern. Oberammergau also has a brewery, bit chicky-micky but great beer!
We then went to Munich on the Saturday and after checking into our hotel and meeting up with our other guests from Canada we had a Munich 'walkabout', see some sights people don't often look at during the Ofest period.
Sunday was the Big O where we had our reservation in the Hacker Festzelt, beer, chicken, songs.... great time.
Hope to see you all again next year!
Tour photos can be seen online.

During the tour we became very 'focussed' on hats and feathers, particularly the size of feathers in people hats! So lads and lasses, a message from Big Andy.....

The following shows the Malerei in Oberammergau, call it grafitti if you like! Oberammergau is a really cool place in the Bavarian Alps.


Bier-Mania! is running 5 Oktoberfest 2008 and Alps Special tours this year. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Oktoberfest 2009

Oktoberfest 2009, don't miss it!
Oktoberfest & Alps Special

Tour 1
Friday 18-Monday 21 September (MB-090921)
Tour 2
Tuesday 22-Friday 25 September (MB-090922)
Tour 3
Friday 25-Monday 28 September (MB-090925)
Tour 4
Tuesday29-Friday 02 October (MB-090929)
Tour 5
Friday 02-Monday 05 October (MB-091002)

These 4-day tours take in the Alps as well as Munich's Oktoberfest. More information can be found on our website. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

I am from Bavaria!

Country and Western meets Bavaria! Crazy!
Bier-Mania! is running 5 tours to Munich's Oktoberfest from 19 September until 05 October 2009.
More information can be found on our website.