10.03.07

I’ll have another

Posted in Travel at 17:35 by RjZ

I enjoy both beer and travel very much, so it’s not surprising that I’ve tried to sample beer every where that I’ve visited. Beer is enjoyed nearly everywhere I’ve visited, but rarely in the exact same way. In the U.S., you can tell from the “coldest beer in town” signs at gas stations across the nation that drinkers here like their beer cold. Way too cold, if you ask me; how can I appreciate the hoppy aroma with ice crystals floating in the glass? The United Kingdom is equally famous for their room temperature, really cellar temperature, beer.

Germans take seven minutes to serve the perfect Pils, while Belgians serve every beer in its respective, custom glass. The notoriously cheap Dutch uncharacteristically keep pouring beer until they fill the glass and scraping off the over-flowing foam with a special plastic knife sending it irrevocably delicious beer down the drain!

What got me started on this research of beer serving, toasting and enjoying traditions was my first trip to Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was still Czechoslovakia at the time, by the way. My friend and I were backpacking around Europe like many people do during their college years. We’d joined up with two fellow travelers from France and, after our fill of site seeing, we made our way to a downtown pub where we sat down together with several locals at one of the many community tables and each ordered a beer.

The Czech Republic is where Pils beer was invented. Pils is the light yellow stuff that the rest of the world calls beer even if they only have one kind. While I am not usually a fan of watery yellow beer, there is something unmistakably drinkable, quaff-able beer drinkers say, about Czech Pils. It doesn’t hurt that it was about $0.50 for a half liter either.

The server dropped a coaster for each of us and marked a small stroke on the edge before setting down our delicately foaming beer. It wasn’t long before the beer disappeared from our glasses. As I put down my empty glass, exhaling satisfyingly, the smiling waiter nodded and returned immediately with another glass of beer and another stroke on my coaster.

Now that’s service, isn’t it? The same happened for the rest of our party and we were pretty impressed by how these guys had read our minds. Another glass drained and here comes the waiter with a beer and check mark! The French girls, more used to drinking wine, were a little unsure they still wanted more at this point. My traveling partner was pretty sure he didn’t feel like more, but once that final glass was empty, the waiter promptly came by with yet another.

And another while everyone (well, everyone else, I was having a great time) tried to explain to them that they were done, but he kept trying to explain that we had ordered another beer! How?! We looked around and noticed something interesting, when people were ready to pay, they’d call the waiter over and he’d count up strokes on their coasters. They’d pay, and then finish their last gulp of beer before leaving. That was the secret! We kept finishing our beer and then asking him to come over so we could pay! It turns out that draining your glass is Czech for, “I’ll have another.” How convenient. An enjoyable lesson that made me understand I had more beer research ahead of me. And as soon as I got over the six or so beers I inadvertently ordered, I had plans to get to it!

1 Comment »

  1. erin said,

    October 4, 2007 at 11:15

    a wonderful travel story; you paint a lovely picture of a good time. have you had any good chilean beers? i fell in love with several of microbrews in the lake country and in patagonia. mmm beer.

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