Late October the Amsterdam ‘Beurs van Berlage’ sizzled once again because of the annual Bock beer festival – and for the first time in my life I did not attend. I planned to be somewhere else though, a little pain in the heart, but my reward was sweet. With my brother in law I went on a beer journey to Ried im Innkreis, Oberösterreich.
Ried holds a rather impressive beer institute called Karl Zuser Jun, the proud landlord and host of Gasthof Riedberg. This is a bed-and-breakfast, aka restaurant aka beer bar oozing all that Austria is famous for in terms of hospitality and, above all, love for beer. It boasts a cellar with close to 500 unique brews, five taps (one serving the especially brewed Bürgerbraü for Karl) and offers an amazing array of beer-related items like beer vinegar, beer chocolate, beer mustard – the list is long. Of course the restaurant has a beer menu which, in its largest form, has seven courses, each accompanied by a perfect beer match. And if you’re still peckish after that, Karl will cook you up an extra course: no worries!
All of this is of course reason enough to make Ried your next stop: perhaps on the drive to summer holiday, why not spend a relaxing night with a phenomenal beer dinner and a superb breakfast in Beervana? O, and by the way: Karl is the cook who takes the final ‘beer and food exam’ at Doemens Beer Sommelier School, after a thorough hands-on class. The man is, in short, a beer hero.
What made the weekend even better was the coinciding Rieder Biermesse, second edition. In a sort of very large Bierstube, twenty local breweries showcased their brews, over 200 in total. We were expecting to habving to cut through dozens of Helles Lagers, Hefeweizen and Märzen beers – and we were not disappointed. Sure, there were some daringly hopped beers there: I spied a Citra Hefeweizen and an English Style IPA. I saw wood-aged porter and even a Barleywine! But, to be honest, that was not my reason for being there. I had the chance to sample around fifteen different Keller beers, Zwickl and Zoigl’s. You know, the beers you ideally drink from the lagertanl, beers that go off really quickly. I had the chance and took it!
Boy did I enjoy muyself! Fresh beer has to be God’s greatest gift to mankind. The only extreme in these beers was their freshness: no wacky and daring hop compositions, no white truffel soaked in tiger drool as a creative ingredient – just the beer in al its simplicity and naked richness. These are the classics that will never die but still need to be discovered and respected by many. Please, go out there and give them a try!