Saturday, September 30, 2006

"Mr. Phillips, I presume?" (Part 2 of 2).

It turned out that our erstwhile compatriot was waiting to take the overnight train to Brugge. He’d richly enjoyed his extra time in Vienna, and noted that 1516 was just a couple of blocks further down the street … and not only that, he’d had multiple pints of Hop Devil during his last session there, which had concluded only a short time before our unplanned meeting at the kangaroo bar.

Hop Devil?

Victory Hop Devil? The American IPA from Downingtown, Pennsylvania?

I thought the heat (or the alcohol) had gotten to Graham, but with mock indignation he offered to guide us there and prove it.

Sure enough, after settling the bar tab with the gracious Crossfields hostess, we strolled to 1516 and there it was: Hop Devil, originally brewed at 1516 in February, 2004, by Victory’s Bill Covaleski as part of the brewpub’s guest brewer program (a visit apparently arranged by Austrian beer guru Conrad Seidl), and back on tap just for us, so as to provide a desperately needed American hop jolt after so many days of characteristic, balanced golden lagers.

The beer menu observed that Hop Devil marked the “first time (that) whole hops was used in 1516 Brewing Co.,” and that Hop Devil was a “winner in Conrad Seidl's 2004 Bierguide.” That’s a good pedigree … as if Hop Devil needs any help. For the record, it is made with Vienna and Caramunich malt, and Centennial, Tettnanger and Cascade hops.

I celebrated by drinking three. Graham departed for the train station after a pint, and if the single biggest surprise of the trip -- and perhaps of any trip I’ve ever taken -- was coming across him at the one place of hundreds that I decided to glance into, second place handily goes to the surreal joy of drinking Victory Hop Devil at a Viennese brewpub.

There was a Mexican-style burrito on the 1516 food menu, and after so many days of pork prepared in a myriad of ways utterly baffling to the uninitiated, it proved a fine appetizer (but not up to the standard of La Rosita’s, by any stretch), happily providing the strength necessary to walk another quarter-mile to the Salm Brau brewpub.

Salm Brau’s location adjacent to the Lower Belvedere palace grounds and gardens predictably makes it a popular tourist stop, but happily, it seemed to be filled with quaffing and chatting locals during our two-beer visit.

A longer walk followed our Salm Brau interlude, and it brought us at dusk to the friendly confines of the Siebenstern brewpub, which is situated on the street of the same name, in a rapidly gentrifying 19th-century district just up the hill from the increasingly and deservedly popular Museumsquartier (MQ).

My first experience at Siebenstern came almost ten years ago, when an American pulling duty as assistant brewer at the time offered a bottle of house-brewed barley wine as evidence that flights of stylistic fancy occasionally were sanctioned by the management.

Sure enough, an IPA was on tap as Bob, Kevin and I settled into patio seats, as was a Rauchbier brewed with Weyermann smoked malt from Bamberg. Acting on the suggestion of my cousin and frequent Vienna explorer, Don Barry, I ordered a Rauchbier and a full rack of succulent rubbed and smoked spareribs. A second Rauchbier followed, and numerous forkfuls of Bob‘s transcendent side of tender, delicious sauerkraut were transferred from his bowl to my plate. A third beer, the pub’s renowned Dunkel lager, capped the meal.

Walking had become more challenging at this stage of the evening, but even so, our feet carried us to a final venue, the Bogside Inn, noted summertime hangout of expatriate Hoosiers, and an establishment that helpfully was only a short distance from our beds.

The Bogside probably isn’t the world’s most scrupulously authentic Irish pub, but it is very comfortable, boasts a youthful and intensely loyal local clientele, and plays a diverse musical selection courtesy of a massive computerized filing system. The pub provided three perfect pints of Guinness to settle the Siebenstern’s spareribs, and people responded affirmatively as to whether they could vouch for the drunkenness of Don and his colleague Randy during their July nights.

Another memorable pub crawl – and another memorable Viennese evening – came to a delightfully cosmopolitan and Irish-accented close. Posted by Picasa

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