Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ramstein Brewery Open House

Greg, the brewery founder, and myself.

The glorious day of March 8th was the first open house of the High Point Brewing Company for 2008. It was also host to one of the fiercer rainstorms of recent memory, but that didn't stop us, or a hundred or so other beer nuts from showing up for the debut of their seasonal Maibock. That's Germanian for "May Bock," or lighter bock to celebrate Spring. It was well worth the trip through flooded streets and highways, and the puddle-strewn parking lot to taste their seasonal brew.

The brewery has open house on the second Saturday of every month, except January and February; so we were quite thirsty for the freshest Ramstein beer to be had. Usually there's a line out the door, but due to the inclement weather they were kind and let everyone in early. It was packed, probably because with the rain there was nothing better to do, but I like to think that like bears, we were done hibernating and came out of our caves hungry for beer. Beer bears. Grar. The Mai Bock lager was served in a Real Austrian Oak CaskTM and tasted smooth, crisp and fruity. I haven't had many mai bocks, but I liked it better than Abita's Mardi Gras Bock, which is quite good.
Pouring some of the fine ould stuff.

Now they have to hand out tickets so you can only have 4 samples of beer; back in the day, it used to be unlimited, but some folks might overindulge. My friend Johnny, the goat-wrangling Marine, got quite soused the day before he went to Iraq, but he wasn't driving and a good time was had by all. We managed to get a few more tickets by bringing the door guy a beer, but we didn't use all of them.

Sarah is in mid-burp, for the record. File under "future blackmail."

We met up with Mike (center) and Crazy-Ass Steve the Rooftop Rowdy (left) but the weather put a halt to our usual shenanigans. The brewery sometimes serves food for special occasions, but this time it was just snacks like cheesy poofs, cheese cubes, peanuts and chips. Sometimes we fill up at the Bee Line hotdog stand on Hamburg Turnpike, which makes a good chili dog. Next time we go I'll get photos, it's in a tiny caboose from a miniature train.

The fine man who fills the growlers.

They give a tour of the brewery as well, explaining the brewing process, from what grains and yeast they use, to how they bottle the beers, and the use of lagering tanks to make a lager. The highlight of the tour is when the guide climbs up the stairs and falls, but that only happens on the best of days.

The spellbinding tour.

You can find their Ramstein Blonde HefeWeizen at many bars and stores in the area, and if you're lucky the Classic dunkelweiss as well. I've found their seasonal Winter Wheat, a chocolatey doppelbock, in some New Jersey stores as well. But if you like beer, it is worth visiting the brewery on an open house day to taste it fresh, for free, and take some home in a six pack or a growler if you like it. They're consistently high rated, and they use an exclusive Bavarian yeast so it tastes a lot like the best wheat beers I had in Germany, and Bavaria in particular. If you can't make it to Munich, you can get your ass to Butler and enjoy the hell out of some.

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