On the weekend just gone, the Bierbörse came to Karlsruhe. Bier, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, means beer and Börse usually refers to the stock exchange but in this case means something more like market. Basically, it’s a beer festival… but you can erase all thoughts of Oktoberfest style happenings from your head now. There are no Mass glasses here, no tents and the beers are not served by well-endowed ladies in Dirndls. Instead, Bierbörse is more of a celebration of international beers, featuring more than 400 beers from around the world.
Some beers are only available in bottles, while others are on tap and can be purchased either in full size glasses or in a special trial-sized glass – the proBIERglas, as the signs proclaimed (probieren means to try, so a probierglas would be a trial or sample glass… and how could they possibly miss the opportunity for a play on words with Bier?). For the full-sized glasses, you pay a deposit (known as Pfand), which you get back when you return the glass. The small glasses are yours to keep (whether you want to or not!). This year, I was clever and remembered to bring some of the many sample glasses we’ve still got at home with me.
The Bierböse used to take place on a small patch of grass beside the castle, but it’s grown since then and is now held behind the castle in the Schlossgarten proper. Nice and central and in pretty surroundings. What more could you want?
A lot of the stands are literally just wooden structures with awnings over the top, but there are some more imaginative ones – like a windmill and a pirate ship (the ship photo is actually from the 2012 Bierbörse, but it was in the exact some position this year).
This year, I tried a German cherry beer by a brewer that I no longer remember, a chocolate beer (Young’s Double Chocolate Stout), which was disappointing, a strawberry wheat beer by the Belgian brewery Floris (makers of Delirium Tremens for any beer experts out there!) and another Belgian beer, this time a raspberry one by Grimmbergen. And I tried a few sips of Jan’s beers as well, including an Austrian beer which he got so I could keep the glass (he remembered that I liked the glass when we had a beer by the same brewery in Berlin this year).
The Bierbörse has taken place in 14 cities so far this year, with one more to go (Osterode am Harz – if you’re in that area, get yourselves along) and will be back again next year, starting with a visit to Hückeswagen in Nordrhein-Westfalen (about 40 km from Cologne) from 2–4 May 2014.
And next weekend I’m off to a wine festival! You’ll be able to read all about that here in roughly a week’s time.