“One half for me, please!” – How often did we hear this sentence in the recent years during the Tour de Bier? In each of the visited breweries, beer bars, at each place, by each participant. For the chronicler, this sentence became a winged word during the Tour de Bier to Bayreuth from 11th to 13th May 2012. For professional reasons, he was able to take part only in about a half of the tour programme, and as a consequence, “One half for me, please!” was the valid device for this part of the tour as well.
But one after the other:
Despite the initial plans that had foreseen to go to Cham, the tour organizers decided to go to Bayreuth this year. Arriving around noon, Friday, the 11th May 2012, at the commonly booked Arvena Kongress Hotel, we started the interesting and varied programme. Wonderful weather, sunshine and a temperature of about 30° C accompanied the participants as they were taking the 30 minutes walk to the brewery Becher slightly outside the city. Refreshing beer (“One half for me, please!”), brewed on the premises on a brand-new and shining installation was waiting for the beer tourists, who were – due to the high temperatures and humid air – already very thirsty.
A small brewery only, not too much space, so the guide through the brewery had to divide the group into two halves (“One half for me, please!”) and lead them one after the other through the small rooms around the brewing vessels. Quite a nice challenge for the organizers to keep track who had already paid the entrance fee, and who had not – but finally, everybody turned out to be happy.
After this brewery visit a nice walk back to the city centre followed, and later that afternoon, the tour participants met again close to the old Aktienbrauerei in the Herzogkeller, the Maisels-Brewery’s wonderful beer garden (after all, it is the Maisels-Brewery, which meanwhile owns the adjacent Aktienbrauerei as well). Despite support of many witnesses, the chronicler has not been able to count, how often the statement “One half for me, please!” could be heard during this late afternoon and early evening – he has however, been able to note that the group again divided into two parts: When it started to rain, some turned out to be more waterproof than the others – one half stayed stubbornly outside in the beer garden, the other half went into the nicely decorated beer hall. But after the rain had ceased, everybody met outside again.
Saturday morning started with the chronicler arriving at the scene. During the breakfast, he asked for his 50 % share in the tour (“One half for me, please!”), and from that moment on, he is also able to report authentically about the tour, based on his own experiences. The hotel was well prepared for our group and had reserved a separate dining hall for us, and as a result, we could already during the breakfast work out in detail all the plans for the day.
We started at about half past ten at the tourist office in the Opernstraße, where we have been again divided into two halves (“One half for me, please!”), and two obviously very differently qualified ladies led us through the interesting city. Bad luck for the chronicler – his tour guide, Ms Gisela, turned out to be a bit boring, not too enthusiastic, not even very much interested in her job. Sometimes, she was even lacking some background information. Thanks to the interesting variety of places in the city, that the one-and-a-half hours walk through the pedestrian area was fun anyway; we even climbed the old castle’s tower, enjoyed the wonderful vista and finally reached Oskar, the famous Bayreuth beer house in the city centre.
Friendly young waitresses, original Bavarian food and a rich choice of Maisels and Aktien beers were waiting for us – among the beers we found Oskar Hell, a house brand. And what did we hear shouting from all tables? Indeed, “One half for me, please!” During the city tour we had received a small booklet, and it contained some vouchers, one of these valid for Oskar, and as a consequence, we all got some original Bayreuther sausages in beer gravy. Yummy!
Well fed and due to the beer in a very good mood, we walked through the historic city centre to the Kulmbacher Street, to the old building of the former Maisel’s Brewery. As already described elsewhere in this blog, this old complex hosts the famous Maisel’s museum. Instead of tearing the old brewery down after having built the new production facility, the Maisel family decided to keep the old premises, to change it into a museum and to collect some more beer memorabilia. As a result the “Maisel’s Brauerei- und Büttnermuseum” offers a unique beer experience to the Bayreuth tourists.
Again, we were divided into two groups (“One half for me, please!”), and what followed was a really impressive walk around through the old premises. The chronicler had already visited the museum some months ago, but again it was a real good experience – surprising, how many new details one can recognize during a second visit. Very special thanks to Ms Laura from the Maisel’s team, who was able to show us in a very professional and exciting manner really every interesting detail, and was still able to guide us to the exit and the beer bar in time.
Here, in the beer bar, we could taste all the different Maisel’s beers (didn’t we hear “One half for me, please!” also in this place?), and the collected beer memorabilia shown behind the bar and all around the pub would have been sufficient to fill a museum on its own. For hours we could have sat here, watching all these wonderful and shining things.
Friendly, but consequently, we were informed that we already had drunken way more than the initially offered one glass per person (“Ma’am, it was just too tasty, you know?”), and after a short stroll through the Maisel’s shop we walked over to the Herzogkeller some hundred metres away.
Meanwhile it was quite cold outside, so we decided to go directly into the beer hall, where we could change our next voucher for a solid portion of Bavarian meat pudding (Leberkäse) with potato salad. And – of course: “One half for me, please!” – some more Maisels and Aktien beers. It was really cosy here, but at around seven o’clock, some of our colleagues showed some imminent signs of unrest, impatiently wiping their backs on the beer bench. And finally, they admitted: Today are the finals of the German soccer cup, and we undoubtedly have to move back to the hotel to watch the game on the big TV screen in the bar!
Well, the tour changed from Tour de Bier to Tour de Ball, and the fans crowded in the small hotel bar, whilst the less interested tour participants gathered in the restaurant area. But here as well as there, our statement could be heard frequently again: “One half for me, please!” And even the chronicler himself is not able to estimate, how often this has been said, how many half litres really have been drunk – in particular, because some of the tour participants on their own initiative made an additional pub crawl through the city or visited the beer fest at the Maisel’s Brewery.
The next morning offered a good breakfast and – much to his regret – the end of tour for the chronicler. Whilst he was already on the Autobahn back home, the other participants enjoyed a walk through the catacombs under the Aktienbrauerei. The endless corridors in the limestone have served during the recent centuries not only to store millions of liters of tasty Aktien beer, but also as a shelter for refugees in wartime and as a war hospital.
Some last beers in the Bräustüberl at the Aktienbrauerei, and slowly the motto faded away. “One half for me, please!” was heard a last time, and then it was the right moment to say farewell to all colleagues: See you next year, and thank you very much for the organisation.