The longer lockdown goes on, the more I find myself daydreaming of and reminiscing about German beer gardens.
A community hub; clientele made up of families with kids, couples, groups of friends. All ages; everyone’s welcome, everyone enjoys themselves.
Settling in for an afternoon or evening of food, conversation and, of course, beer. Such wonderful beer.
Looking around in awe of the skill of the waiters and waitresses, who are effortlessly carrying multiple mugs of foaming beer or a tray full of glasses, without wasting a single drop of the precious nectar.
The comforting smell of hearty food in the air. Large plates regularly appearing from the kitchen. Eating’s not cheating here.
The pleasant hum of conversation, jokes, laughter. Old friends, new friends. Prost!
I find myself thinking back to Bamberg. It was the height of summer and the middle of a Europe-wide heat wave with the sorts of temperatures that I, as a woman from the North of England, rarely come across; high 30s, each step an effort and bringing with it waves of exhaustion.
We climb up a hill on the outskirts of town. It feels steeper than it is, the progress takes longer than it should and I grumble that it better be worth it.
Our goal was Greifenklau, a beer garden so perfect it felt like I’d custom designed it in The Sims. A wide space providing a feeling of openness, seating both under cover and out in the open, benches comfortable enough for the long haul, complete with cushions on offer if you so desired. And then, there’s the view.
A choice of tables open to us, thanks to the early hour of the day, and we opt for one right on the far side. It’s right on the perimeter of the site, providing sweeping views up to a castle and over what appears to be an orchard, with a very welcome tree providing shade from the glaring heat. Probably the best seat in the house – proven later by the scramble to get it when we vacate.
We sit, we relax, we order. The beer arrives, it’s a mug of lager for Ross, a bottle of wheat beer for me. Taking that first sip. It’s exactly what I wanted, desired, needed.