The white-haired man in the corner studies several newspapers, which are spread before him on the table as if they are maps for his cultural campaigns. Phew, there’s room for a plate and a glass though. He studiously chews his food, sausages, slowly and deliberately, a pen in one hand, a fork in the other; books to read, music to listen to, TV shows to catch, perhaps. An assiduous ticker.
He wipes his lips with an ivory white napkin, scratches his chin, clean shaven, dimpled, takes a last sip of his Eden-Pils (fresh, lemony, light and noble, I have the same in my glass) and then asks for another. It is after all only brewed at the back of the pub.
In this long, dark wooden panelled space, there is no music, just the murmur of voices and the scape of cutlery on plate. There are antlers curled around the lamps that hang from the ceiling, the aroma of sausages and the sour-sweet wrench of sauerkraut piled on plates. The bells of the nearby Dom sound the hour, honest and uncomplicated, an ancient liturgy heard every night since the metal was cast. On this night, the old town of Regensburg is easy going, local, quiet, unhurried and calm and the beer at Kneitinger has an equal serenity about it.
And on the next day, the old town breathes again, lets its hair down, engages with the hordes who crunch their way down the narrow streets, glance and pay heed to the medieval streets and the emerging remains that the Romans left, while we, my son and I, who is 16 now and can buy me a beer, sit in the garden of Eden that is Brauerei Spital’s, across the Danube on the island of Stadtamhof, with the spires of the Dom in the distance, and toast our good fortune to be here with Spital Hell — full-bodied, a shadow of lemony hop in the mid palate, clean, refreshing minerally, gently carbonated and with a creamy mouthfeel. And afterwards we walk across the Danube, and look at its pliable surface, a snake’s skin, dark green, and a carp, reddish brown, lazily breaks the surface, while the river continues on its way to the Iron Gates and the oblivion of the Black Sea.