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.

Nate

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