Thursday, March 02, 2006

Warming Up For Beer

Indiana Beats Purdue by 11

The speed bump that wasn't. Indiana took another step toward sneaking into the NCAA tournament by beating Purdue in West Lafayette last night. To recap Indiana, they've got a three game winning streak, their tournament life is still on the line, and their coach is leaving at the end of the season. They play Michigan this Saturday to pretty much determine if they get into the tourney or not.

Saturday's gonna be a nailbiter. sheesh. Michigan better be taking those baseline drills seriously.

Mmmmmmm Beeeeeer...........

One of the joys of going to Germany in September is Munich. Munchen (umlaut omitted) is perhaps the coolest city I've been to traveling abroad. There's something about it that feels homely yet urban. Its like being in a German version of Chicago, and that's perhaps why I like it so much. The two cities are remarkably similar in their architecture, public transit, and cultures. The people are friendly, the streets are packed, and the bars are everywhere. The only difference is the quality of the beer.

When my wife and I visited Munich last year it was smack in the middle of Oktoberfest. "The Winter Festival" as it is known in German was started back in the 1800's to strike up some enthusiasm for the new monarchy in Bavaria. The original plan was to have a party to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen that all the subjects of the relatively new kingdom could attend. And to encourage their new subjects to attend, the monarchy brought plenty of free beer. To no one's surpise it was a huge success. So they decided to keep doing it.

Today it has grown into an adult version of Disney World. The Bavaria Ring in Munich where the festival is held is roughly the size of Disneyland. There are 14 main tents and 20 or so side tents where party goers can enter, eat, and drink.

Now when I say tent, its not that descriptive. The main tents hold in excess of 6000 people. The smaller ones hold between 1000 and 3000. Imagine, if you will an aircraft hangar, with bench seating all around, decorated like a Bavarian nightmare, packed to the rafters with people, hammered people, with a raised platform in the middle of the hangar where a lederhosen clad umpah band plays John Denver's "Country Road" in broken english. Like I said, Oktoberfest, the happiest place on earth for people over the age of 12. The outside of the tents are just as impressive as the insides. There are 100 foot towers with rotating 40ft steins of beer, anamatronic bears that rotate pigs on spits, and dancing anamatronic bavarians. My personal favorite was a 40ft tall lion holding a stein of beer, seated on a 100ft tower that rotated 360 degrees. The lion drank the beer, wagged its tail, then let out a huge belch, then rotated and repeated this process. When you've got 2 liters of beer in you, it is the coolest thing you've ever seen. I literally had to be dragged away from it.

Now to the beer. Beer is served in glass mugs that are either .5 liters or 1 liter. If you're a dude with a .5 liter glass or mug, it'd better be some kind or Weiss beer or people will mock you in German. (Side note, German is the funniest language in the world. I spent most of the night cracking up as alcohol/speech impaired Germans yelled at each other. I want to learn it just so I can yell at people in German after drinking too much.). For conversion purposes 1 liter is a little more than a quart. 3.8 Liters equals a US gallon. Translation: Do not drink 8 Liters. We'll leave it at that.

My wife and I hit a few of the tents. We drank at the Pschorr tent, the Hofbrau tent, and sipped a beer outside the Spaten tent. We finally found seating and stopped for good in the Paulaner tent. The Paulaner tent is one of the larger tents holding approximately 6500-8000 people. For some reason they served food, but no one seemed to order it. Everyone was too busy drinking their beer. Good lord their beer is good. If you've never had Paulaner beer, you're missing out. The Paulaner Oktoberfest Amber is amazing, full bodied, a little nutty, and goes down with the ease of a Miller Lite. We ended up closing down Oktoberfest that night with a bunch of German college students who'd adopted us as their "crazy american friends" who weren't from Texas. Apparently they'd shared a bench with a bunch of drunk Texans the night before who couldn't hold their booze, so their impression of American's wasn't too high. Needless to say my wife and I set them straight. (U-S-A! U-S-A!). We drank round after round and sang along to every bad 80's song that Germany seems to have embraced. Its amazing how hard it is to operate your feet after drinking Paulaner for 4 hours. Regardless, the beer was so good the headache the next morning was well worth it.

The problem with living in the states is that it is incredibly hard to find Paulner beer unless you're really willing to look. So when my wife came home with a case of it last night, I nearly broke down in tears. Because it was a work night we sat and savored a few bottles before calling it a night, but rest assured the remainder will not survive the weekend.

Moral of the story, go to Oktoberfest and try this beer. So tasty. If you can't make the trip across the Atlantic this year (warning: World Cup is going on), at least buy it in a store. Pluses: taste, body, color, ease of drinking. Minuses: If you drink to much of it you will put on weight. Drink it at home. Bring it to a Michigan tailgate. It's not some froo-froo micro brew that makes you look like a wuss. Its good German beer that'll beat the crap out of anything brewed in ohio.

If you're looking for me, I'll be the guy with the brat's and the Paulaner.

Minor Milestone

Yesterday, I noticed the passing of a minor milestone as Maize n Brew logged its 1,000th visitor. To be honest, I'm surpised I reached visitor 5. Thanks for visiting and please let me know if there are things I can do to make this little endeavor of mine better.

Update: Drew Sharp Still Sucks

Brian over at MGoBlog provided this little link to cheer me up after I let Drew Sharp get under my skin two days ago. The writing on these critiques of his book is far better than anything I can put together right now. Here's one of my favorites:


On the surface, publishing a compilation of articles from one of Earth's most untalented journalists probably seemed like a good idea. This culmination of decades of wasted ink and mindless opinions would certainly have many uses. I bought five copies of "Razor Sharp" for five practical purposes. First, I used Mr. Sharp's witty criticism of area athletes as fireplace kindling. While the book burned with a foul odor, the pages heated my home for several minutes. With a second of Mr. Sharp's book, I completely replaced my fly swatter with a tool more sturdy and accurate. Thirdly, I used Mr. Sharp's insidious ramblings to do calf stretches. I can now thank Drew for my increased flexibility and comfort. Fourth, I stood on top of a copy of Mr. Sharp's mindless rants to fix a lightbulb in the garage. For a fifth practical use I tore out individual pages of Mr. Sharp's nonsensical opinions and used them as toilet paper. I can now attest that the almost illiterate words of Mr Sharp are equally as soft as Quilted Northern.
Enjoy the rest.

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