Thursday, February 9, 2012

Beer, Beer and More Austrian Beer


Like many places in central Europe, Austria is a major beer-producing region. As we’ve travelled around Austria, we’ve tried a lot of beer. We’ve already mentioned one in this blog: Gösser. While I prefer it to the other mainstream Austrian beers, particularly for the lack of hangover it gives me when waking up in my hotel room, there are several major types of beer. Beer making is endemic in Austria, so you may even stay in a pension or zimmer that brews its own beer. Be sure to try it ... carefully!

Styria, in the southeast of Austria, produces Gösser, Puntigamer and Murauer. These three are fairly different to each other, so let’s have a quick look at them.

Gösser

This is a light lager that is very easy to drink. When we’re in Styria, this is our lunchtime and dinnertime lager as it goes with pretty much anything. It isn’t particularly complex in terms of taste, but it goes down very easily. Out of the three Styrian beers, this is easily the best.

Puntigamer

This is very similar to Budweiser in taste. Very light and watery with very little flavor. Unless you really love Bud, try something different. There’s so many beers to choose from!

Murauer

This is another typical light lager with a slightly sweetish taste. It’s the sort of beer that is drinkable, so you have it when you want something you recognize or when you can’t see anything else you like better. Personally, I would stick to Gösser when it’s available.

Upper Austria produces another three major brands of beer: Kaiser, Zipfer and Kapsreiter.

Kaiser

This comes in two brands: Kaiser Fasstyp and Kaiser Premium. Kaiser Fasstyp has quite a mellow taste that lingers with a bit of yeastiness. I found the aftertaste a little odd. The premium version is a little better, but they both scream mass-marketed beer to us.

Zipfer

Those who like a slightly bitter lager will love Zipfer. It’s not my cup of tea, but it adds a bit of variety to Austria’s major beers.

Kapsreiter

This is one of the better beers in Austria. It smelled wonderful, and the taste was great. It is a little stronger in flavor than Gösser, but it’s fantastic for savoring. Drink this as a treat if you love full-flavored beers.

Vienna and Salzburg have their own breweries, and these city beers can be quite pleasant when enjoyed on a hotel room balcony or outside in the summer.

Ottakringer

Very light beer with little taste. It’s good for getting drunk on as you can drink a lot, but why not explore Vienna instead?

Steigl

Produced in Salzburg, this beer is somewhat earthy and slightly darker than most lagers. It’s one of the better beers, and it’s great with dark meats or as part of a meal.

Augustiner

If you’re visiting Salzburg, you must go to the monastery to try this beer. With a solid taste and a good fresh feel, this beer is one of the best lagers I’ve tasted. OK, it helps that the experience is also quite cool—you stand in line to get your beer and you drink it at long narrow tables. Very friendly and very sociable.

Finally, I must mention Edelweiss as a great wheat beer. It’s got a fantastically rich flavor and works well if you love porters or stouts.

No matter where you are, though, you will find a beer you like. Whether it’s in the hotel bar, in a monastery, or with friends in a pub, Austria has a beer for you.

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