It’s Part Two of Travels in my Shoebox and I’ve dragged out a few coasters from my impressive and, some may say, worryingly large collection of beer coasters (it’s so large that I need two shoeboxes). Coasters are one of the few souvenirs that I actually collect in my travels – okay, and maybe that has a lot to do with the fact that they are FREE. I’ve picked my way through them (or should that be pickled my way) and pulled out the coasters that have a story behind them (mind you, there are many that I can’t remember the stories – and the beer brand on the coasters may have something to do with that). So, pull up a bar stool and enjoy…
Or…the beer that made binge drinking famous. Well, at the Sapporo bier garten it does at least. Attached to the brewery is a massive beer hall where you pay around $40 to eat – and this is where the bingeing comes in – drink as much as you can in 100 minutes. A mini-grill is set up on your table then the waitress proceeds to bring out plates of marinated mutton and vegetables and bottomless mugs of beer. I went with a Japanese fellow who could eat, drink and smoke at the same time. He managed to drink $40 worth of beer in the first half hour.
Chingis is Mongolian for Genghis – as in Genghis Khan. Yes, Chingis may have raped and pillaged his way across Asia (and beheaded a few hundred thousand people along the way just for kicks), but that didn’t stop the Mongolians naming their countries premier beer after him. You don’t really imagine Mongolians making good beer (their national tipple is fermented mare’s milk after all), but this ‘German’ style lager is one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Or maybe it just tasted so good after drinking all that mare’s milk.
The beer at the Augustiner Bräu Kloster Mülln (trying saying that after a few beers) in Salzburg, Austria is brewed by monks. After a night of guzzling this fine drop I staggered back to the hostel with a bunch of fellow backpackers through the quiet backstreets of Salzburg belting out ‘Do-re-Mi’ and ‘These are a few of my favourite things’ at the top of our well-sozzled lungs. This, I imagine, must happen on most nights in Salzburg, which would help to explain why the locals hate The Sound of Music.
I picked up this coaster at a Russian Mafia owned karaoke bar in Moscow. I only had one beer because it cost an arm and a leg (not literally – although I bet the mafia have taken a few arms and a legs in their time). You can read the entire story in the Russian chapter from Brian’s Karaoke World Tour blog.
I picked this one up in Antwerp, Belgium. Apparently the ‘forbidden fruit’ wasn’t an apple – it was a frothy mug of Hoegaarden beer. Their tag line is ‘Let yourself be seduced’. And with 8.8% alcohol Adam wouldn’t have had much problem doing some seducing.
Okay, I did pick up this coaster from the Davy Byrnes pub in Dublin, but I can’t remember much of the night at all. Either could the author James Joyce by the sounds of it. He wrote about the pub: ‘He entered Davy Byrnes. Moral pub. He doesn’t chat. Stands a drink now and then. But in a leap year once in four. Cashed a cheque for me once.’ I think he drank a few more pints than I did when he wrote that.
This is an old one – when Germany had an East and West (although I did pick up this coaster – and drink this beer – in London). The nice thing about this beer is that you can get plastered (it’s ’strong in alcohol’) while staying nice and trim (it’s a ‘diet’ lager).
I got this on the Carlsberg brewery tour in Copenhagen, Denmark. I met a couple of English guys on the tour (who had done the tour before) and had worked out how to get lots of free beer. ‘Stick with us,’ they said to me, when the tour finished. While everyone sat down at different tables for the free tastings the guys waited then jumped on a table filled with old ladies. The ladies didn’t touch their beer, so we had the lot. It was hard work, though. First of all we only had 20 minutes to drink it all and – for me at least this was a challenge – it was only 10.30 in the morning.
I went to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich once. That was enough. Yes, they make a mighty fine beer and the oompah music has as much oompah as other beer hall oompah music bands in Munich, but there just aren’t many Germans there. I spoke to a waitress who told me that she hadn’t served a single German customer the whole night. It was full of drunk and obnoxious Aussies. I could have stayed at home and been in bar full of drunk Aussies. I preferred the Löwenbräukeller, which was full of drunk and obnoxious Germans.
I’ve had many an afternoon or evening sitting outside the The Bulldog ‘Palace’ in Amsterdam with a large bottle of Grolsch. The ‘cafe’ is in Leidseplein (one of the main squares) and it’s great spot to watch all the freaks. And in Amsterdam there are plenty – although most of them are just spaced-out foreigners high on grass and space-cakes in a desperate dash for a munchy fix at McDonalds.
In Minnesota, beer coasters recommend that you ‘Pick up a local honey’. So that’s exactly what I did. Then I married her.