Monday, February 15, 2016

Kindling Old Flames

I am sure all of us have beers that the first pint of are etched in our memories, and in some small way changed our beer drinking lives forever. I remember well my first pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord, my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and my first Wrasslers XXXX. Another beer permanently inscribed on my tastebuds is Schlenkerla Märzen.

Back in 2008 I found myself, as was my wont, in Pivovarský klub. It was my local at the time, my Cheers. I had a fairly regular perch at both the upstairs and downstairs bar, everybody knew my name, and I in return knew everybody's name. I could ask one of the bar staff to just pick something for me confident that they would bring something good, and when they saw Mrs V coming through the door, her Primátor English Pale Ale was poured and ready before she had her coat off. Up to that point I had never touched a rauchbier, but they had got some in from Bamberg and I was eager to try...

Wow, just wow. None of your faint traces of smoke that bring bacon to mind, this was like being smacked upside the head with an entire side of pig. I loved it. Poured from a bottle with a label that just screamed Germany to this utter Germanophile, the colour was a shocking deep mahogany, it was beautiful. If I remember rightly myself and my friends drank the vast majority of their stock, and I was hooked on Schlenkerla beer for life.

As yesterday was St Valentine's Day, I martyred Mrs V by beheading her. No wait, no I didn't, we went to a delightful harpsichord concert in Staunton, had a couple of drinks at a wine bar, and then headed into the gathering snowstorm to try out Edelweiss German Restaurant. I have mentioned my own Germanophilia, thankfully Mrs V is also a devotee of Mitteleuropa life so it was an easy choice really, even though previous visits to German restaurants have had us wondering why the sauerkraut was more süß than sauer.

Sat on a log cabin, with snow falling outside, the accordianist and guitarist playing their greatest hits, including Ring of Fire (somewhat apt after Liverpool spanked Villa 6-0), everything was looking good and then I looked at the beer list. There was Schlenkerla Märzen, Weizen, and Helles - the good became great. I knew immediately what I was drinking, and it was everything I have always loved about this beer. It left me wondering why I don't drink it more often.

What a great way to spend the evening, plates of wurst, kraut, and spätzle, washed down with mugs of rauchbier, then rounded off with a hulking great slice of käse tort, all in the company of the inestimable Mrs V.

If you should find yourself on the I-81 near Staunton and in need of a feed, head to junction 213A, find Edelweiss, and just enjoy. Mrs V and I will be back there soon for more.

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