The past week seems to have been a week of parties. First the Sommerfest of the company I work for and then my father-in-law's 70th birthday, which was celebrated over two days.
The Sommerfest, apparently, generally follows the same format; coffee and cakes around 3pm and then the BBQ starts around 6pm, and the whole thing continues till late. As one of the newbies in the company I was automatically on the organising team. My suggestion of a pirate themed party went down well, especially as it meant treasure hunts for the kids, and as the party was being held in the companies boathouse on the River Werse, it seemed like a great excuse to dress up and harass boats on the river. My suggestion regarding sourcing beers from local breweries like Pinkus Müller and Potts didn't seem to go down so well with the rest of the organising team however. I had suggested this for a few reasons; supporting local businesses, keeping the carbon miles down for the event, and plain selfishness, as otherwise I expected it to be a night of Becks. Anyway, I was ignored, with the result that we had one type of beer for the event at which there were I think just over 60 adults and 20 children. That beer was Krombacher. Actually, I lie, there was also Krombacher Alkoholfrei and Krombacher Radler, a mix of Krombacher Pils and lemonade, basically a pre-made shandy as it would be called in my part of the world. Now I don't mind Krombacher all that much. It's a refreshing enough, non-challenging BBQ beer, but after a few bottles my mouth goes dead. I had hoped for at least one mixed case of something else to relieve the boredom. As it turns out, I didn't get much of a chance to drink as I was on BBQ duty for over two-and-a-half hours, trying to keep hungry colleagues at bay with a grill that was far too small for the task. Pretty stressful! I was grateful for the Krombacher after that! I managed to stay till 11pm as by that time I was pretty tired, but the cycle home took me an hour instead of the 25mins it took me to get there. Mainly because it was pitch black and I missed a turn, but it was probably just as well, as the way I came was through woods, and it might have been a bit dangerous after a few beers!
The next day, a Sunday, we hopped in the car for a 400km drive to my wife's home town. We are usually there for the last week in August as it is her father's, her sister's, her nephew's and her niece's birthdays all in the same week! For my father-in-law's event I am usually placed in charge of the beers, but it always seems to be Pils that people seem to bring along in those little 5 litre kegs, so I usually oblige by buying a couple of crates of Pils of some sort, and then an assortment of Weissbiers. This time I bought a crate of Radeberger Pilsner, a crate of Konig Pils, and a mix of König Ludwig Dunkel, König Ludwig Weissbier and König Ludwig Dunkel Weissbier, as well as a smattering of Schmucker Dunkel Doppel Bock and Schmucker Rosé Bock. As well as the wine they had organised, a pair of mini kegs of Rothaus Pils had been ordered by the in-laws.
Now, the interesting thig is how these other beers went down. The last party we had in her home town was the one following our wedding, and the Weissbiers didn't really get much takeup, but this time every single Dunkel, and every weissbier got snapped up, well before the Pils! The only non-Pils beers left were a few bottles of the Bocks. While the northerners seemed happy to just have Pils, down south west (I repeat, south west, near Heidelberg, not Bavaria) the swing was more towards malt than the hop.
This was mirrored in a small-scale but unintentional experiment I carried out between the two locations. A couple of weeks ago I brought a few bottles of homebrew into work to see how my colleagues would take to it. I had two types of beer, an American IPA (which I called Hansa IPA) and a Porter (Münster Mulligan). The IPA was stacked with Cascade hops, and has so far been the most bitter brew I have made. While at an estmated 63 bitterness units with 6% ABV, it felt like more, although had smoothed out considerably after six weeks in the bottle. The porter was a full on malt profile with a mix of malts including Special B, chocolate and Black malts.
My colleagues took to my beers better than I thought they would, and in particular, the IPA. I really didn't expect such a good reaction, and I don't think they were just being polite, as when I produced the bottles one wit told me that they had breweries for this kind of thing. So, in the main, the Münsterlanders preferred the seriously hopped up IPA over the Porter.
The friends and relations in Mosbach appreciated that the IPA was definitely something different to what they would normally get, and thought it was interesting, but too biter, while the Porter got a much better reception.
When I thought about it, it made sense that the IPA went down better than expected up north, as I think bitter Pils are preferred up there. But after that I expected the same reaction from the Mosbachers. This is something that needs to be explored a bit more, but I thought handing out a questionaire at a birthday party might be a bit much. Maybe next year!