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Trip to Germany

November 18, 2010

Last week Harpoon co-founder and President Dan Kenary and Harpoon Chief of Brewing Operations Al Marzi “hopped” on a plane to meet our friends at the Pott’s Brauerei in Germany to help celebrate a Harpoon beer that Pott’s brewed. Earlier this year, Joerg Pott and Peter Weistroer from Pott’s came to help celebrate the bottling of the 32nd installment of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series. Dan and Al flew out to celebrate Pott’s bottling of their version of Harpoon’s Leviathan Baltic Porter.

We asked Dan to take some notes from the trip, and he did. Here they are for all to enjoy!

Monday, November 8

Took off from the brewery, headed to Logan, then off to Munich! When we landed, we started the first leg of our journey to the Brau in Nurnberg via Regensburg.

Tuesday, November 9

Great car, cruising at 100+ mph on autobahn through Bavaria. Driving through fields of hops. Got off at Siegenburg, about 20 miles from Regensberg. Pulled into center of town. Looking for. Cafe, saw sign for brewery! Got to love Germany!

Went up and knocked on door of the Schmidmayer Brewery. Young brewer came to greet us. As it turned out, Simon Whitmann, had lived and worked in the US.

Simon is a great guy and gave us a tour of his family owned brewery that dates to before Columbus. Sampled their “Solar” beer along with Helles, wheat and bock. Of course, he sent us on our way well supplied for our journey.

Had great lunch at brat palace along the Danube in Regensburg. Had dunkel and weisse with brats and sauerkraut. Weather clear and cold. Regensburg is a very nice city.

Drove then into Nurnberg and very glad to have navigation system. Stayed at oldest hotel (700+ years) in Nurnberg located in heart of old city. Got rid of car and began “pub” crawl in search of good beer. Met with mixed success. Too much mediocre pils and helles, but then found small bar/restaurant serving alt. Met other beer industry folks from US and Australia ordering alt by the meter: 13 glass on a meter-long wooden paddle.

Nurnberg is a very nice city and we were very impressed with the hospitality of our German hosts throughout.

Wednesday, November 10

Real enthusiasm at the Brau. We arrived early the next morning (Wednesday) shortly after the doors opened. First stop had to be hall 7 where m+f Keg was displaying one of our new racking machines. Proud moment to be “on display” at the Brau, the largest beer show each year.

Visited GEA Including Bernard, Frank and Rainer at Huppmann and Westfalia, Ziemann to talk about our new tanks, our old friend Axel at Handtmann, Barry at Franke, Al at Optek, Eric at Maisonneuve, Louis and Mike at Steiner, and many others: Krones, Argolith, Theilmann/Portinox, Verallia, Sohm, Rastall, Crisp, Weyermann, Emerson, and others.

Word was that much business was being done this year.

Great being part of such a wonderful, international industry: the world’s second oldest profession after all!

Met Russians selling new growler filling equipment. Saw great outdoor display items.

Returned each evening to old city to make sure alt was still pouring well.

Had Dan Kopman from Schlafly/St. Louis Brewery join us for dinner on second night. Note to Dan: next time you get lost, it is easier to call for directions rather than text!

Dan is a great guy, one of the best in the business. Liked hearing his take on craft business and update on life in St. Louis.

Thursday, November 11

Day two at Brau after morning walk up to castle. We really like Nurnberg.

Party that evening after hours at the Brau hosted by GEA. Saw old friend Fritz who helped with brewhouse install in 2002. Many good friends in German brewing Industry. Best selection of beer at Brau at GEA: Pott’s Landbier, kolsch, pils, weisse, and dunkel. American craft “corner” with Ken and Brian Grossman of Sierra, Larry and John from Bell’s and team from Goose Island led by Mr. Hall senior. Enjoyed catching up and comparing notes on Brau. Amazing difference from last time we came in 1996. Americans are now quite an item of interest on international brewing stage.

Friday, November 12

Early up the next morning to pick up car for drive to Oelde in northern Germany.

Driving 100+ is fun on dry roads with good visibility. Slow trucks pulling out to pass driving 40mph less than cars sucks!

Oelde is town of 20,000 located in Region of Munster in the state of North Rhineland Westfalia. It is home to the world famous Pott’s Brauerei.

We checked into our small hotel, showered, changed and headed to Pott’s for a press event regarding the introduction of Pott’s Brauerei Triple Porter which is their excellent interpretation of our Leviathan Baltic Porter. It is very good.

Had tour of very impressive brewery museum on the premises at Pott’s. Collection is based on holdings of Georg Lechner who sleeps in a large, wooden cask in the museum. I am not making this up. His “bed” sits in the middle of the museum. Great collection of bottles, steins, mugs, and more than 220,000 labels – from western Germany alone.

Our hosts were Rainer and Joerg Pott. Joerg will be 7th or 8th generation in family to run the brewery after Rainer retires in January. They are both exceptionally kind and thoughtful men. Rainer served for ten years as head of German small brewers association and knows everyone and has stories about everyone in German beer business.

Here are some photos from the evening at Pott’s:

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