I never got a chance to blog yesterday as a result of a beer dinner late last night. This tour so far has been partially a study tour and partially a beer drinking marathon. Each brewery we have visited has shown us great hospitality, feeding us, and giving us lots of samples.
Yesterday, we started the day at Zipf. They were a fairly large brewery, similar to Stiegl two days ago. They are owned by Heineken and they told us a lot about brewery safety. Since selling out to Heineken, they have not had an accident in the brewery that resulted in injury. Previous to the buyout, they had about 15 injuries per year. They made us wear orange vests so that we were visible to forklifts and they had walking areas designated with paint. After our tour of the brewery, they gave each of us a coupon book with coupons for 4 beers and a lunch. I personally was not ready to drink 2 liters of beer at 11:30 a.m. so I only used two of my beer coupons and got a lunch.
Next, we got on the bus to Eggenberg. They had a really cool brewery in a castle, and they even had a chapel where they host special Mass and Weddings. Their brewhouse was pretty modern and mostly automated. They had a seperate building for their lauter tun as a result of running out of space when they recently expanded. At the end of that tour, they let us try their Marzen lager and they also gave us a sample of the beer that used to be the strongest beer in the world at 14% ABV.
To end the night, we went to the Bierkulinarium where we had one of the best dinners I have ever had. It was a 5 course beer pairing led by the highest ranking beer sommelier in the world. Each course was very well paired with the beers they served us and the food was great. We also were able to buy beers from pub and I just happened to stumble upon a bottle of Westy 12. It was exciting to get to try it for the first time.
This morning we toured the Schlagl monestary. Their brewhouse would have been considered very modern and innovative 50 years ago. They had an "automated" system that used valves and a control panel that looked like it came out of a 1960's Martian movie. Their brew kettle was actually rhombus shaped and doubled as a mash cooker. In addition to brewing beer to support their monestary, they also contract bottle for some other breweries and they bottle juice as well. They let us try their limited edition naturally carbonated Doppelbock (served from a 3 liter bottle), their Marzen and their Dunkel and they fed us lunch. The food was good and the beer was great.
After Schlagl, we headed to Baumgartner. It was a modern brewery and fairly large. The tour guide was the actual brewmaster and he was very friendly. Their brewery has won a few awards at the World Beer Cup and we got to try 4 of them to end our tour there. We had a pilsner, an unfiltered lager, a Dunkel, and a Marzen. All of the beers were very good and it was nice to have the brewmaster sitting and drinking with us.