• Beery weather
In the grand tradition of dedicating specific days to things that ought to be important all year round is International Beer Day, on Sunday. We’re going to draw the spotlight on Germany’s less well-known beers, the ones that aren’t served at Munich during Oktoberfest.
Altbier at Düsseldorf
Start off in the Ruhr valley, the industrial and financial heart of Germany. This is where engineering is precise, bridges are big, and the beer is dark, light, and dry. Head to the Schumacher pub in the city centre and ask for the Altbier—literally, old beer, because it ferments over the entire year.
Barley ho: From Alt in the north-west to Rauch in the south-east, Germany offers lots more than lager.
Also buy: Killepitsch. Düsseldorfers claim that this local liquor, made out of more than 50 herbs, is an aid to digestion. Be warned, though, that it’s an acquired taste.
Kölsch at Cologne
Cologne isn’t too far away from Düsseldorf, and its beer, Kölsch, isn’t brewed differently. Kölsch has a lighter colour and a slightly sweeter taste than Altbier—but these slight differences are taken seriously. Here, to join in the rivalry, tell your drinking mates, “Düsseldorfern sind dusselig (Dusseldorfers are stupid)!” Mind the umlauts, though.
Also buy: Kölnisch Wasser, better known as Eau de Cologne.
Schwarzbier at Brunswick
From Cologne, head north-east to Brunswick (Braunschweig) in Lower Saxony. Saxony and Prussia gave the world the stereotype of the hard-headed, emotionless and militaristic Teutons. That’s the bad news. The good news is, these regions are also the traditional homes of schwarzbier, or black beer.
Also see: The Saxon and Thuringian regions have great food and spectacular wilderness areas. Build up an appetite by going hiking in the Harz mountains or the Frisian coast, and then satisfy it with sausages and baked owls, before washing them down with your schwarzbier.
Weisse at Berlin
Brunswick and Berlin are only a little over 200km apart, but that’s enough to take the beer from schwarz (black) to weisse (white). Brewed from wheat, Berliner Weisse is light (in colour and alcohol content), sour, and so delicious that most of south Germany started making its own white beers. Today, geographical indicators prevent anything not brewed in Berlin from being called a Berliner Weisse. The only widespread brand still produced in Germany is the Berliner Kindl—have it neat, or with added fruit syrup to take the edge off the sourness.
Also do: Berlin is one of the world’s great cities, and offers lots for history and architecture buffs, as well as nightlife-seekers. Decide what you want to do once you get there.
Rauchbier at Bamberg
Wrap up your beer tour by heading into Bavaria—but to Bamberg, not Munich. This is the home of Rauchbier, or smoked beer, made by drying malt over an open fire before brewing it. This is old-school beer production, made obsolete by malt kilns, but Bamberg’s Schlenkerla and Spezial-Keller pubs have stuck to it, claiming that the smokiness carries over to the flavour of the beer.
Also see: The entire old city of Bamberg is a World Heritage Site, thanks to its immaculately preserved medieval architecture. If you’d rather head outdoors, you’re close enough to the Black Forest for a long hiking trip
If you’ve booked yourself on to the Dadar Amritsar Express and are hit with a sudden craving for veg hakka noodles, cooked Jain style and delivered to your seat once you reach Bhopal Junction, chances are you’re quite the queen about your food.
But Travelkhana.com allows you to be as picky as you choose. This website is a call centre-based service operational in 15 cities along the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Jabalpur, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Bangalore, Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Hyderabad and Delhi-Goa train routes.
CEO Pushpinder Singh explains: “Travel in India allows you few conveniences; passengers have to fend for themselves for everything from booking a taxi to food. There are eight billion train journeys a year in this country, and three and a half billion are non-suburban users. The biggest inconvenience to them, we found, was the food.”
Travelkhana tracks train movements real time, which means that as long as you give them an hour or two’s notice, you can place an order before you reach a station to find the food waiting for you, even if your train is late. “To maintain freshness, vendors like McDonald’s do insist on not more than half an hour prior delivery. Other vendors are okay with an hour,” says Singh.
For details, visit www.travelkhana.com
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