Sunday, March 31, 2013

Old Bisbee Brewing Company

Old Bisbee Brewing Company Homepage

While I normally would not write anything here about American beer, I have to give a shout out to a tiny brewery I discovered this week in Bisbee, Arizona, a charming old western mining town where my father was born. It is the Old Bisbee Brewing Company.

The Old Bisbee Brewing Company is a really micro-brewery located adjacent to Brewery Ave near the entrance to Old Bisbee. It is one of the best American brews I have tasted. Unlike watery brews, this beer approximates the more creamy texture of German beer.

The brewery has a tiny bar and  a patio where you can drink and enjoy a brat as well. Their selections include a pilsner lager (my favorite) a hoppier brand, a stout, a lime lager, and a black and tan.

Check out their site.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Other Countries Have Great Beer Besides Germany?

Since this site has settled the question of which country has the best beer (Germany), I will mention a few others that rate honorable mention. This includes only those countries I have visited and know from personal drinking experience. This is no particular order.


The Netherlands

Dutch beer is excellent. The Heineken's there is much better than the product we get in the US. Ditto for Amstel. The only problem each time I was there is those darn small glasses they served it in. Hopefully, that has changed. When I was living in Italy, Heineken's was brewed in that country "under license and supervision" of blah, blah, blah, woof woof woof, quack quack quack. Take my word for it; it was Italian beer.

Interestingly, Amstel has a brewery in Curacao, where the beer is made from de-salinated sea water. The while water itself is the best I have tasted anywhere, the beer doesn't measure up to Netherlands quality.

Czech Republic

Outstanding beer in another country where beer is king. The Pilsner Urquell and Budweis are both excellent and better than you find imported into the US. If you want a real Budweiser, try the original Czech brand. It puts that swill here at home to shame.


A surprising choice, but this country produces great beer, which goes perfectly with their food. The biggest brand is Efes Pilsen. When I was there in the late 1980s, they also had a Tuborg brewery. Just as the Heinken in Italy, the result was Turkish beer and thus, better than that produced in Denmark in my opinion.



The Indonesians have a fine beer called Bintang. Not surprisingly, they were schooled in brewing by the Dutch being a former colony. It goes well with the rich Indonesian cuisine.


San Miguel in the Philippines is outstanding. Though you can find it in the US, like other imports, it is not the same as in the home country. Hong Kong has (or had) a San Miguel brewery when I was in Asia in the 1970s, but it was nowhere close to that in the Philippines. Several years ago, I found a Filipino restaurant in Aruba serving San Miguel that the docking Filipino sailors brought in. It was very good.

That's it. As for the Americas, I cannot give the same reviews as I can to the above. Mexico is a good country for beer as is Thailand and to me their imports, Bohemia and Singha respectively, are the best imports you can find. They don't rank at the top, however.

If you are asking why I don't include Belgium, it is because my time spent there amounts to one evening trying to sample as many brews as I could. I don't go for strong beer, and the first one I ordered smelled and tasted like perfume. I even tasted a Stella Artois. It's OK, but not up to Germany. Till I get another chance to visit the country, I withhold judgement.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What About the Beers of SW Germany?

Aside from Bavaria, another region of southern Germany rates pretty good for beers in my view. That would be the state of Baden Wuerttemberg.

Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Two of the most well-known beers are from the state's biggest city, Stuttgart. Those would be Dinkelacker and Stuttgarter Hofbraeu, both of which by own tasting experience many years ago were pretty good. (My old army sgt pal, who is an American descended from the state, disagrees as as to Dinkelacker, however.)

Dinkelacker also produces Schwabenbrau, which I like.


Here is one that I recommend-from Karlsruhe. It is Moninger Ratshernn Pilsner.

My experience with this beer goes back to the early 1980s when we were visiting friends in the nearby village of Bad Herrenalb. This one was the best I found in that area. The local beer of Bad Herrenalb, Monch's Klosterbraeu, was also pretty good.

The only beer I am aware of in Heidelberg is Engelbrau and only because I have a mug of theirs. I don't know how good it is or about any other breweries in the city.

As for Freiburg, I only ate and drank beer there for lunch one day, and I recall being somewhat disappointed in the beer. My friend, who studied in Freiburg, says the beer there "sucks". I wouldn't be that harsh since even the disappointing brews to me are good.

I should comment about Goeppingen, where I spent the first couple of months of my army tour in Germany before moving to Erlangen. This is where I started drinking beer-at a local beer fest. I don't recall the brands and actually didn't get off post that much. It seems the big brewery there was Staufenbrau, which apparently moved in 1996. Here is a page that also lists other breweries in Baden Wurttemberg.

A couple of local Goppingen breweries I found on the internet are Kaiser Brau and Lammbrau Hilsenbeck.

All in all, if you are traveling in the region, I don't think you will be disappointed in the beers there.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What About Beers in Northern Germany?'

Everyone talks about Bavarian beers, but the question I ask is whether they are truly better than those in other parts of Germany. No question that Bavaria is the best place to drink beer with its beer gardens and beer halls. Munich is the classic example. But what about northern Germany?

Let's start with the Rhineland. Dortmund has the greatest reputation with breweries that export to the US, such as Dortmunder Union and DAB (Dortmunder Aktien Brauerei).

Konig Pilsner of Duisburg is well known around Germany and can be found in other parts of the country. Until I drink it in Duisburg (where I have no plans to go), I will withhold final judgement.

Nord-Rhine Westfalia is the home of another internationally-known brew, Warsteiner. I have yet to drink it in Germany, but found it disappointing not only in the US, but in Switzerland as well.

Becks of Bremen  has the biggest international reputation. I have only had it once from a bottle in Erlangen. Good but I would rather try it closer to home. An American friend of mine who studied in Germany says in Bremen, it is better to drink it from the bottle as opposed to the tap.That same friend (he studied at Goettingen) sings the praises of Einbecker, which is brewed in Einbeck as opposed to nearby Goettinger Edel Pils.

Back to the Rhineland, where Cologne is noted for its Koelsch, a lighter pils, and Dusseldorf is noted for its dark beer (Dunkles or Alt). When I was going there back in the 1960s, the pubs in the Altstadt were serving all dark beer. You had to specify light beer. Maybe it has changed now. Diebels Alt is a known brand.

Cologne-home of Koelsch beer

Jever beer, brewed in the town of the same name, is well known inside Germany and has a good reputation. The only time I have had it was in Riga, Latvia at a German style restaurant /pub that featured it as their main brew. It was better than Latvian beer, but I can't say how it tastes in Germany.

Basically, I can only list the most well-known beers of Northern Germany without giving my opinion on how they taste where they are brewed. And that is only a matter of personal taste. Again, we go back to the basic premise that there are thousands of locally-brewed beers in towns and villages that are just as good as the well-known brands. I do think, however, that the the beers in northern Germany as in other parts of the country can stand up to the Bavarian brews.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Berlin Beer

I have only twice visited Berlin, in 1970 and 1987, both times before the wall came down. I intend to get back hopefully in the next couple of years. As far as beer is concerned, Berlin does not enjoy the reputation Munich has, but I still maintain that while Munich is a great place to drink beer with its beer halls and beer gardens, you can find beer just as good outside of Munich or even Bavaria. Just my opinion.

As for Berlin, there are two traditional brands associated with the city, Berliner Kindl and Schultheiss, which I understand are now under the Radeberger company-the once dominant beer of East Germany (DDR). I have sampled all three, in Berlin (West and East and in Dresden (Radeberger). I have no particular memories of any of them being standout, but hopefully, I can refresh that memory soon.

Berliner Kindl has one of the best logos in Germany with a blond-hair boy's head sticking out of a mug.

My last time in Berlin I found a great metal Berliner Kindl poster in a shop and still have it.

In addition, to the above two brands, Berlin is famous for the Berliner Weisse which is a drink consisting of beer with some kind of raspberry syrup added. It is light and refreshing, but doesn't replace a pils or lager.

One of my favorite photos of old Berlin (before it was bombed) is that of Potsdamer Platz, which used to be the site of a large restaurant owned by Munich's Pschorrbrau.

Potsdamerplatz-The Pschorrbrau restaurant is on the right side.

Berlin apparently is better for beer gardens that for actual beer halls, which is more to Bavarian culture. The Munich brewery Weihenstephaner does have such an establishment in Berlin, however.

Now-a-days the word is that Berlin is filled with micro brews, restaurants that produce their own. Here is a posting that describes the recent beer scene in Berlin (Hat tip Ron Pattison).

Berlin's beer fest comes in August. I have never attended it. but it is apparently huge featuring beers from other countries as well. It only last three days, however.

Berlin is a fabulous city with much to see. With its fabulous nightlife, finding good beer should not be a problem.

Friday, March 1, 2013

New Hofbrauhaus Locations in US

Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh
Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh

The other day I was singing the praises of the Las Vegas Hofbrauhaus as the only place you can experience authentic-tasting German beer in the US. I added that there are affiliated locations in Newport, Kentucky and Panama City, Florida. You can add Pittsburgh and Rosemont, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) to that list. Here are the links.


However, a warning: I note on their sites that they brew the beer themselves, unlike Vegas, where the beer is flown in from Munich.

By coincidence, I am tentatively planning tips to both Chicago and Pittsburgh this year to see the Cubs and the Steelers (my favorite teams). Thus, I will be able to visit both sites and find our if the beer is truly authentic. I lived in Pittsburgh from 1987-1990, but there was no such place at that time. This location is on the South Side of Pittsburgh.