Sunday, 18 March 2018

Nuremberg Altstadtfest - Feeling the Culture

When we learnt that our last trip to Nuremberg would coincide with the Nuremberg Alstadtfest - or Old Town Festival - we got the impression that it was just a beer festival but as we discovered, it was so much more than that.

The Altstadtfest which happens over 12 days every September is effectively a festival which celebrates the beautiful city of Nuremberg. It spreads across the whole of the old town and as we discovered, it was incredible.

The main square is bustling full of stands selling traditional German food such as Drei Im Weggla (3 small Nuremberg Bratwurst in a bun, and for the love of god don't you fucking dare put ketchup on it) as well as various traders selling clothes and handmade items, and there's a giant stage where live music of all kinds takes place over the course of each day and evening until around midnight.

If you stand on the bridge on the south bank of the river Pegnitz, if you're lucky you might catch the water jousting which is a highly entertaining activity to watch.

And then you'll find the beer.

What I had imagined was something akin to Oktoberfest in Munich with tents and long tables but what we walked into was even more incredible. Around 30 breweries and establishments construct wooden restaurants and pubs with full kitchens, long tables, beer taps and honestly, it's like being in a proper restaurant; not like being in temporary construction that's only up for 12 days of the year.

We found the first small chunk of restaurants on Hans Sachs Platz, the smallest area, which has 10 places to sit and have a beer. We stopped at Pyraser first as we like their beers and it was unlikely we'd get a chance to visit Hutt'n where their beers are served this time. I had their Kellerbier which was a nice, slightly bitter, herbal and grassy hazy lager whilst Sammie went for the dark and roasty Schwarzbier.

After this we decided to wander to the main part of the Altstadtfest at Insel Schutt where we were overwhelmed by the choice of a further 20 bars and restaurants! We stopped for a quick hot dog and St Georgen Brau lager at the first stand we went to, the frothy and soft lager being served as I like it, in a stone mug.

We then stopped at Herrnbrau which was quiet during the day as it was tucked away at the back, behind everything else for yet another delicious lager.

Our next stop was the Bierwerk restaurant where I had some kind of amber lager which I wasn't a massive fan of as I'm not into amber beers. This was even quieter than Herrnbrau which I figured could be because they're a slightly more daring brewery among more well known and traditional Franconian brewery.

We were then wandering and about to go to Schanzenbrau as we loved their pub in Gostenhof the night before, but we saw Gutmann and had to go because Gutmann Hefeweizen is possibly my favourite hefeweizen of all time.

It was here we had quite a lot of beer because we struck up a conversation with a bunch of German chaps on the next table. They really know how to charm the British with one of the guys' opening lines being "Ah, so you're British. You are all fucking stupid for voting for Brexit" to which we could only respond with "Well we didn't, but your point stands. Fair play". The conversation, unsurprisingly, was rather political from then on. Lovely chaps who ended up buying us what they described as a "Brexit sympathy beer", which is fine as I'll always accept a free beer from a stranger! We bought them one back anyway in order to strengthen UK-German relations, and also because we wanted another beer!

Of course, this wasn't our only trip to the Altstadtfest whilst we were in Nuremberg because whilst pubs and restaurants fill up really quickly in the evenings, you've always got a spot on a bench next to a stranger!

I've never really seen anything quite like it; sure, in Norwich when we have an event like the Norfolk and Norwich festival on, they usually put a bar in a tent in Chapelfield Gardens but you're fucked if it rains, and you're lucky to get served a lukewarm hot dog let alone a full main meal of schweinbraten whilst chugging decent pints and chatting to random people who are also doing the same.

We absolutely loved the entire experience! Sure, it's not the cheapest way to drink in Nuremberg because beers are coming in close to €5 where the city average is probably around €3,50 but it was an awesome and sociable experience which I'd love to go back to and spend an entire day or two visiting each of the bars that we'd missed before grabbing a couple of bottles to watch the music in the hauptmarkt with!

Don't go to Oktoberfest, go to Nuremberg Altstadtfest instead.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Craft Beer In Nuremberg - Step Away From Tradition

The first time we ever went to Nuremberg we were pretty unaware as to whether what we refer to as "craft beer" existed over there. Of course, we did research beforehand but I guess since it was our first trip there, we really just went to the obvious traditional restaurants, pubs and brewpubs that we'd read mostly about.

It wasn't until the second time I went, with Alec, that the craft beer scene was discovered; and then the next time last September with Sammie I discovered even more of this, outside of traditional lagers.

I absolutely love Nuremberg and I'd highly recommend visiting, so I just figured I'd share with you some places where you can step away from the tradition of Germany and find some delicious craft beer...

Mr Kennedy - When I first visited Mr Kennedy, it was a tiny dark and dingy little bar on what seemed like quite a sketchy and dark street just behind the city walls, and then they moved location to a bigger dark and dingy bar in the old town, just a couple of blocks over from the castle. Mr Kennedy is associated with New Beer Generation brewery so you'll always find a good bunch of theirs on the bar as well as a guest or two, and fridges full of bottles from all around the world (stands to make sense that they've got a decent American selection since Luke, who you'll usually find on the bar is American). The last time I was there I had a NBG Hop Pop IPA which was juicy and full of bubblegum, and was quite well balanced. [Location: 22 Brunnengäßchen Nuremberg]

Bierwerk - Quite a large and sterile craft beer bar which has a whopping 13 beers on draught which is probably the biggest selection of draught beers in Nuremberg. 3 of those beers are their own core range, as well as some of their seasonals, and the rest is sourced pretty much from all over Germany, as well as bottles from across the world. It was ragingly busy when we went, but thankfully it was a very warm September evening so we grabbed a half litre of their Marzen (Oktoberfest beer) from the bar and sat outside. I much preferred their Marzen to many I've had before because it had a decent hop bite and thankfully wasn't as sweet as the style usually dictates. The most random thing about this bar was that we found a Blue Monkey Brewery (Nottingham) beer mat! I'd like to go back for a cheese board sometime when it's not so busy. [Location:  Unschlittpl. 9, 90403 Nürnberg]

Boeheim Bar - This is the first of the Boeheim Brewery's two locations which are both in the centre of Nuremberg. This is a tiny, and very shiny bar with a familiar back of the bar tap wall which has 5 taps, as well as a few bottles. As well as drinking in, they also have 1L bottles that they'll fill for you to take home. When I visited, the only food available were hot dogs that were warmed up in one of those novelty home hot dog makers. I recall having their IPA and Hell here, which were both respectable; the IPA being more malty and English style, but still with a decent chunk of citrus. [Location: Klaragasse 11, Nuremberg]

Boeheim Bierhalle - A slightly larger bar/restaurant and literally only a couple of streets over from their original bar. This has outside seating, 6 taps and serves BBQ food (which I will be coming back for). I had yet another Marzen here, and it was good. It had a slight candy sugar sweetness but it seems they're trying to modernise it with a little more fruitness. [Location: Brunnengasse 11, Nuremberg]

Kater Murr - Again, this is very much in the city centre, just off of Konigstrasse, so it's easy to get
to. I believe the name translates to "Tomcat" which is funny since we met a lovely doggo here. This place is quite big, bright and I'd go so far as to describe it as "very Shoreditch" as people sit sipping coffee with their mac books. This bar has Teku glasses. I had a fairly unremarkable Green MONKey Hersbrucker imperial pilsner but Sammie chose correctly and went for Orcabrau Kirschenwäldchen cherry gose which was deliciously sour, salty and bursting with fruit. [Location: Johannesgasse 14, Nuremberg]

Café Bar Wanderer & Bieramt - This is probably my favourite craft beer bar in Nuremberg. It's only a VERY tiny place with a few taps, only a few tables and some seats at the bar but in the summer, it spills out into the streets with wobbly tables on the cobbles. The square that it's in is a proper sun trap and the ideal place to soak up the sun with a beer. Last time I was there was a very hot September day so we sat outside drinking juicy and hazy pints of Braustelle Helios, a Kolsch but not as you know it. I could be so bold and say that it was hitting the juice levels of citra heavy Kernel beers; it was just so good. [Location: Beim Tiergärtnertor 6]

I love Germany, in particularly I love Franconia. Nuremberg is such a nice, traditional city with plenty of old buildings and in a way it reminds me of Norwich with the sheer amount of churches and cobbled streets.

Underneath the tradition and in the background, modern beer is starting to poke through if my extensive research is anything to go by. There are some great bars and breweries doing more fun and untraditional beers which is great to see and again, seeing the craft beer scene in Nuremberg develop reminds me of how I've seen the scene in Norwich grow and I'm excited to see what happens next!

if you just want more traditional beer in the city, check out my blog from a couple of years ago: