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I woke up sometime after eight. Or rather, I was woken up by my bladder and it was already late to try to negotiate with it. I went out in search of breakfast (it was not included and I didn't want to pay the 12EU the hotel wanted for it). Unfortunately, there weren't any bierstübe or biergarten open around so I had to make do with a bakery and coffee shop (great pretzel, pretty good croissant, crap coffee).
With something at least a bit solid in my guts I started walking around, following my feet. After a few minutes I remembered what we had been told the day before, that everything in Germany, except bakeries and petrol stations, is closed on Sundays (civilised bunch these Germans). I changed my course to the Getränkemarkt that was near the hotel.
What a wonderful thing a Getränrkemarkt is. This one in particular was supermarket sized and full of booze. And, of course, they had an impressive range of regional beers. I ran into Standa there, one of my travel mates, who knows a thing or two about German beers and was able to give me some advice. I stopped at six bottles, I could have bought a lot more, but I didn't fancy having to lug 30kg once we got to Prague on Sunday night.
I went back to the hotel to leave the shopping and something reminded me that this was going to be a very beer-intense day, so I went to the petrol station across the street to get something else for breakfast, something that would get me ready for what the day had in store.
Besides the ubiquitous mass produced, multinationally owned brands like Paulaner, Beck's and Bittburger, this petrol station had a more than decent selection of regional brews. I picked a Landbier that was cold enough and decent enough to be drunk straight from the bottle. That's class.
I had wanted to visit Bamberg for a long time already and I was very, very excited. The city didn't disappoint at all. It's beautiful (I made many pics, but the weather was rubbish and they don't do the town justice). It's one of the few German towns its size or lager that wasn't destroyed during WWII. It's really worth visiting. It didn't disappoint beerwise, either, far from it.
The tour included a guided visit to the local Brewing Museum. It's interesting to learn about how beer was brewed in the past, but not nearly as interesting as to experience how it is drunk in the present, so I had decided beforehand that I would skip the museum and do some pub crawling (or should I say, stübe crawling) instead.
Fortunately, I wasn't the only one with that in mind, I was joined by Tomáš Erlich, chairman of the SPP, and Petr Buriánek, beer wizard and creator of the recipes for the Zlý Časy's special beers. Petr had been to Bamberg several times and was a very good guide. Our first stop was Brauerei Fässla.
When it stopped raining, some of us moved to the garden in the back to drink and chat some more. Cool time we had.
Weyermann, which has been run by the same family for over 150 years, is one of the most renown maltings in the world. They supply specialty malts to many Czech and, of course, German breweries and also to breweries in the US, Japan, South Africa, etc. They make 80 different kinds of malts, not only for the brewing industry, but also for distillers, bakers, etc.
I must confess that I wasn't very excited with the idea. I wanted to keep on boozing, but in the end I was very happy with the visit. The building itself is pretty nice. We were shown the room where the grain germinates, where we saw how this part of the process is still done the old-fashioned way. From there we went to the room where the grain is dried and roasted. Here we were able to taste some of the specialty malts that Weyermann makes. It was amazing to eat rye chocolate malt and see that it tastes just like top quality bitter chocolate (I would love to drink a beer made with this). The only thing we regretted was that the experimental brewery they have there was unmanned and were weren't able to taste any of the really interesting stuff they had maturing in the tanks.
Once the educational break was over we went to visit the (four me, Tomáš and Petr, at least) fourth brewery of the day, Mahr's.
Pavel Borowiec had mentioned that Mahr's bierstübe was one of the prettiest, and he might be right. It's rather intimate, with a low, almost black ceiling, very welcoming. The kind of place where you want to shelter on a cold and/or rainy day.
From there we wento to Löwenbraukeller. Their Festbier was quite better than the Keller we had drunk a bit before.
I was told I also had a Maß from Greif, which may or may not be true. I wasn't paying too much attention to what I was drinking by then. I do remember that I was having one of the times of my life. I finished the Annafest evening with Pavel Borowiec and someone else listening to a band playing some kickass Blues Brothers-like tunes and singing to the top of my voice with each of the songs.
We went back to the bus, sharing a Maß and happy to be alive there and then.
I went to sleep well after midnight, unsurprisingly pissed, given the amount of beer I had consumed, and there was still one day left.
Choose a Hotel in Prague in the city centre.