Friday 12 June 2020

Travel stories

I am feeling itchy, in need of a roam beyond the run of home. I want to be on my way to Prague, or Berlin, or Bamberg, or even, at a pinch, London. However, I’m still in Exeter, a lovely city and I love living here and I drink some great beers here but after 12 weeks of my universe being constricted to the local park, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and the butchers around the corner, to paraphrase Jim Kerr, who I once interviewed in the 1980s, I want to travel. 

I want to walk along the platform at Midi in Brussels, and then make my way to Moeder Lambic Fontinas and order a glass of Tilquin Gueuze and feel its tingle and tapestry of flavours on my tongue. After several of these, I want to continue into the city centre, with the hope of catching the aromatics of fries drifting through the air like wraiths and aware of people going back and forth, with both purpose and the lack of purpose in every step, and I want to walk up the steps to Poechenellekelder, where I shall fall upon a freshly poured glass of Taras Boulba and then ask for a bottle of Dupont’s Moinette Blonde. Is that too much to ask?

Or if it is, maybe I want to walk out of Berlin Schönefeld in the direction of the train station and pop into the rustic-looking tavern that is run by Augustiner and set myself up for the roistering and rumbustiousness of Berlin with a litre of Helles. Then I shall get on the train into town, probably embark at the madness of Alexanderplatz and walk partly along the Spree to Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg and drink beer at Heidenpeters, somewhere I have been visiting and drinking at for several years. And with a bit of luck, if it this time of the year, I might be able to order the brewery’s full-bodied Maibock. Later on? I shall make my way back over the river to Hops & Barley and drink deeply of the Dunkles brewed there. Currywurst? Yes please. And tomorrow afternoon I shall head over town to Foersters Feine Biere and drink a lot of Franconian beer. 

I want to get off the station in Bamburg, glance at the massive maltings named after the town (there are two, did you know, the other being Weyermann’s) and then walk up into the old centre of the city and push my way into the wooden womb of Schlenkerla’s tavern, where I shall indulge myself in plenty of rauchbier and once my thirst is frequented I will stroll over, weather permitting, to Brauerei Greifenklau, in whose beer garden I once sat and heard the thunder in the surrounding mountains, while diving deeply into the brewery’s clean, malty, minerally and earthy Kellerbier. I think I shall be there for some time. 

But I can’t do any of this at the moment so instead I think and I write and this is what I think and I write because I write about beer and travel. 

Beer is the drink of the barbarians, the drink of the victors, the losers, the drink of the mother, the lover, the carer, the father, the misfit, the outlier coming in from the cold, the saviour, the coward, the bawler, the bawling baby, the refugee, the soldier, the minister, the spinster, the swimmer, the fastest person in the race, the one who preferred not to be paced, the other, the cut loose, the one with the juice, the tailor, the sailor, the tinker, the spy, the cry baby, the high roller, the stranded and you and me and you over there. That’s all. 

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