Entering from the wrong door can shape perspectives in a misleading way. Principal enhances tend to be, as they very well should be, conceived with intention, to convey something particular, to direct, to provide order, or to impress. Skipping this thought out door, one gets the chance create there own impressions.
The first night my dad and I started in Salzburg, we went to the Augustiner Brewery did dinner. Brewed by monks for centuries, it is both an strong example of Austrian culture and a gastronomic delight. On this occasion, we entered through the side door, not intentionally, rather choosing the first door we saw.
The side entrance was unassuming, a small, hardly marked door leading to an empty corridor. Pictures of monks and benches supported by subdued stone lions adorned the bleakness, and lively music faintly sounded from the far end of the dimly lit hallway. Coming into the building proper, we were greeted by permanent booths selling sausage, sauerkraut, pretzels, chicken, potatoes and other fine looking examples of Austrian cuisine. People ate standing around barrels since transformed into tables. To the right was the beer hall itself.
Wandering the beer hall looking for a table, we also searched for reason in this crazy place. After much observation, we figured out everything is bought individually and separately then brought to the table. The beer was also mysterious, but we discovered you get a mug, rinse it to cool it off, pay and they fill it up. Only then can you bring it back to your table. Soon we had ribs, sausage, potatoes, sauerkraut and most importantly, a liter of beer in a thick ceramic mug.
It was in Munich three and a half years ago that I saw my first Maß and knew I had to have one. I was “too young” at the time, skipped out on Oktoberfest, and went to Freiberg during the wrong season. Childish as it may be, the big beer was a dream realized.
Good food and beer are easy to come by, but not always in a thrilling environment. Augustiner provided all of the above. To begin, people of all ages are drinking beer, from old women to 12 year olds with what seems to be there first beer but probably isn’t. Upon sitting, we saw a seventy year old women walk by with six liters. Not all for herself, but a sight yet unseen by my eyes.
We were joined by three Austrian men at our table. They seemed to be of lower “rank,” no reservations, not rowdy, and they brought their own food. Even with bread, meat and mustard, Austrians don’t make sandwiches, making their eating habits interesting to watch as they quickly and efficiently shovel down a piece of this, a piece of that.
In the booths to our right were the serious crew, the regulars. One table housed four men in lederhosen and hats, accompanied by a giant st. Bernard. They laughed loud. Add another table was a family of tourists, I’m not sure from where. The son got his picture taken holding a liter of beer and an even bigger smile. The amusing part was that despite probably being seventeen, he had to borrow his mothers for the photo.
Our favorite regulars were two men on a night out from the wives. The appearance of one of them speaks for both. Einstein hair that was out of control, a huge noise, shiny, rose colored wide waled coudoroy pants and new balance sneakers. Every time he rose for a refill, he walked just as straight, even after three or four liters. Most likely, the table says their names, because despite being two at a large table, they turned down all seeking their open seats. That is, until a pretty woman tried. Full of fidelity, they were in the mood for fun, and joked with her until her husband sat down. The joke was on them. I couldn’t understand their conversation, as it was in German, but they seemed to recover well with laughter and a loud prost.
An enjoyable meal with wonderful people watching, we were just as glad to escape the constant snow of our weekend in Salzburg . Finishing our beers, we said goodbye to the beer hall, it’s dark wooden walls brightened by the cheer that beer and good company brings.
After, after adventure of course…