Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Österreichische Biere!

"He was a wise man who invented beer." ~ Plato

Virtually every country seems to have at least one -- sometimes several -- locally brewed beers.  To paraphrase Frank Zappa, a real country has a flagship beer, airline, perhaps a football (soccer?) team, and maybe a stockpile of nuclear weapons, although at the very least, it needs a beer.  And Austria (a real country -- woohoo!), fortunately, has quite a few beers...which we set out to sample and test our skill in identifying which-was-which with several of our friends.  The setup of our beer tasting-testing party was simple:  every person would be allowed to sample/taste each of the beers then when they were ready to move onto the testing, another person would retrieve a list containing a random shuffling of the order in which the beers should be tested.  I created each beer-testing sequence using the random number generator from Stata (a statistical program I use) -- you can find the program I wrote here -- then I compared each sequence to all the others to verify that no two sequences were the same.  (And I wonder why progress on my dissertation is so s-l-o-w??)  The six beers Lisa and I chose for the party are among the more popular in Austria -- Gosser, Ottakringer, Puntigamer, Schwechater, Stiegl, & Zipfer -- and some of which a few of us were confident we'd be able to easily identify and distinguish from the others.  Turns out our confidence was grossly misplaced:  the overwhelming majority of us came up with just one correct answer.  Oh well, at least it was a reason to stock our fridge with 72 half-liter (~17 ounce) cans of beer! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Bud's For You

And you, you, and you...although the Bud we're talking about is the original (real) Budweiser brewed in České Budějovice in the Czech Republic.  The original Budweiser Beer was founded in 1785 and then in 1895, a separate group of Czech brewers founded another company -- named Budvar -- that also brewed and exported a beer by the name of Budweiser. This second company is the one brewing, bottling, and distributing the beer known as Budweiser to most of the world, the United States and Canada excepted.  (In the US and Canada, Budweiser Budvar is sold under the label Czechvar.)  If you want an Anheuser-Busch Budweiser in a European country (except for the UK), you'll have to look for the beer labeled as "Bud".  Fortunately for Lisa, me, and two of our friends, we weren't drawing such distinctions while at this brewery:  we just followed the tour guide around and praised all things lager. 
"I love you, Budweiser Budvar."  "No, I love you more."
So much love to go around...sampling the beer in the lager cellars before it's bottled.
Our weekend trip to the Czech Republic, however, was more than just a tour of the Budweiser Budvar brewery:  we spent most of it in Český Krumlov -- a quaint, historic town about a three hour drive from Vienna -- wandering around, eating, and shopping.  A leisurely weekend, to be sure.
Flesh-feast for one!
Wandering the cobble-stone streets.
Český Krumlov
"WWJD -- What Would Jesus Drink?  Glühwein!"