A Mustard Club? A group of some 350 members is keeping Bavarian tradition alive in Cincinnati. On the second Saturday each month, the club has a casual gathering at Mecklenburg Gardens in Cincinnati. Lots of sausage is consumed along with several varieties of Händlmaier Mustard, along with copious quantities of beer to wash it all down, of course!
The club is officially a fan-club of specific mustard - Händlmaier of Regensburg. Exactly 100 years ago, Louise Händlmaier created a special sweet mustard to complement Bavaria's famous "Weisswurt." (Boiled white sausage - see related article here)
The Händlmaier Company is proud to have a fan club dedicated to its products and invited the Cincinnati fan club members to Regensburg to celebrate its 100th year anniversary. The Cincinnati club joined with BayernTrips to develop a custom itinerary which brought the club to Bavaria and culminated with the festivities at Händlmaier. On Thursday, May 8, 2014, the club rolled into town and visited the factory. Since food production is a sensitive process which demands sterile conditions, this was not so easy. Each club member had to remove all jewelry, don special protective clothing and hair nets, and proceed through an automated hand sanitizer station to be allowed access to the factory. Inside, we saw the production facilities, packaging lines, and warehousing. Even though it's a relatively small factory with under 70 employees, it took nearly 2 hours to cover all aspects of the operation. After the tour, the club checked into their hotel and got ready for the Anniversary party.
The celebrations as held at the Gravenreuther in downtown Regensburg. When we arrived, we were greeted with a small glass of Bavarian Weissbier from the Graf von Arco brewery. Soon after our arrival, the local media swarmed in and began interview club members. Many other guests, perhaps some 130, also made their arrival, but the highlight for our club members was meeting their partner-club from Landshut. Händlmaier`s Freunden Niederbayern e. V. is the only other Händlmaier Fan Club and many members of each club already knew each other. Upon entering the restaurant, we realized we were given front row seats for the festivities. An 8 man brass band, the Kapelle Josef Menzl, was on hand and they really lit up the crowd. They played many Bavarian favorites, but were masters of improvisation and jazzed up many tunes. For dinner, we enjoyed a Horseradish soup, a selection of Bavarian specialties served as Tapas, and freshly made Weisswurst, which was produced from scratch right before our eyes. The dining ended with a custom torte capped with a marzipan jar of Händlmaier mustard! The evening was reported on local TV and also in the local newspaper.
Obviously the club members didn't come all the way to Bavaria for one evening - we developed a custom itinerary to expose them to the Bavarian culture and historical sites. A day by day summary of their activities follows:
The club members arrived on various flights and our first meeting was at the Weisses Brauhaus in downtown Munich. After enjoying some great Bavarian food and Schneider's many Weissbier selections, the group shut things down relatively early to be ready for the next day’s official start.
Day 1 consisted of a tour around Munich’s Marienplatz and the Alter Hof and then a stop at the world famous Hofbräuhaus. The weather was a little questionable, so we juggled the schedule and brought the group past the infamous Mäderbräu on our way to the Bier and Oktoberfest Museum. We toured the exhibits and watched a short film about the history of beer before sitting down to a formal Beer Tasting featuring the Bavarian styles from Augustiner: Pilsner, Helles, Dunkles and Weissbier. After this event, it was back to the hotel to get ready of the Frühlingfest event at the Theresienwiese. This is the little sister of the famous Oktoberfest and we had reserved seats inside the Hippodrom tent. We meet up at the Bier Karussell which is a large Merry-go-round serving beer - the best ride on the festival grounds. Shortly before 6 we made our way to the tent and suddenly found ourselves part of a large crowd waiting to enter the tent. Promptly at 6 PM, the doors opened and we were propelled into the tent. Once inside we found that we had 3 tables already beautifully set with massive appetizer trays. Our two servers took excellent care of us and they delivered beer within 5 minutes. The band started off with a variety of marches and typical brass band tunes. After the main course of rotisserie chicken was served, the band launched into the typical German party songs and the place turned into a massive sing-a-long with everyone dancing on the benches. Since our hotel was strategically located 1 block from the festival, everyone was able to head back on their own. Shortly before 11:00, the band launched into two AC/DC encores and then suddenly the craziness was over.
On Sunday morning we met for a true Bavarian Tradition: Weisswurst Breakfast. We had 2 large tables front and center at the Weisses Brauhaus were we could enjoy the 4 piece brass band. Many strings were pulled to get our guests these prime seats which are usually impossible to reserve. Afterwards, we walked to the National Theater, passed the Residenz, and into Odeonsplatz where we discussed Hitler's failed Putsch of 1923. Several people expressed an interest in visiting the Englischer Garten, so we walked through the Hofgarten, past the memorial to the Weisse Rose, the American consulate, P1 and the House of (German) Art before watching the Eisbach Surfers in action. From there it was only a few more minutes to the Chinese Tower for a light lunch while being serenaded by yet another brass band. From there we took the tram to the Augustiner Keller beer garden and then on to a secret insider tip hidden away out in the suburb of Perlach. Here, the Forschungsbrauerei brews the freshest beer in Munich and serves it up with their specialty chicken.
On Monday, we took advantage of the great weather and took the train down to Kloster Andechs. Over a plate of the world’s greatest Schweinehaxe and 1 Liter mug of Doppelbock beer, the club learned about the treasures of Andechs and the mouse that saved them. Further, they heard stories about St. Hedwig and learned about the composer, Carl Orff. After soaking up the sunshine on the terrace and enjoying the stunning views of the snow covered Alps in this distance, we retraced our route back to Munich. Several members went off to take care of some shopping and others made their way to the Hirschgarten. This is one of Munich's largest Beer gardens with seating for some 8,000 guests. Augustiner beer is served from giant wooden barrels to the customers who first chose and rise out their own 1 liter glass mug. We sat in the sun and enjoyed a beer while watching the deer and goats enjoying their afternoon feeding. Returning back to the Altstadt, we enjoyed a quick stop at Ayinger am Platzl before dining on Wiener Schnitzel at Augustiner am Platzl.
On Tuesday morning, it was off to Bamberg on the ICE train. Arriving in Bamberg in less than 3 hours, we checked into our rooms at the Fässla. Fässla is one of 9 breweries in Bamberg and we were lodged in the floors above the small brewery. After meeting in Fässla's courtyard style beer garden, we took a tour of the historical site of Bamberg: The old town hall, the Bamberg Knight, and the tomb of Henry and Kunigunde. We separated for some free time and meet again at the Schlenkerla where we tried its storied "Smoked Beer" and the typical Bamberg Onion for dinner - similar to a stuffed green pepper; this is the perfect accompaniment to the Rauchbier.
On Wednesday there was choice to travel 45 minutes to Nuremberg and visit the Nazi Parade Grounds, Documentation Museum, and the old town or meet at noon at Fässla to continue the beer tour of Bamberg. Most opted for the beer tour and we enjoyed the Ungespundetes at Mahr's, the Pils at Keesman, and the Lager at Greifenklau. Since the weather had broken, we braved the 1 km walk down to the Spezial Keller where we enjoyed the panoramic view over the spires of Bamberg. Making our way down the steep hill back to the old town, we found ourselves at the Klosterbräu, Bamberg's oldest brewery which is famous for its "Braun Bier." Dinner was back at the Fässla brewery and conveniently located one flight of stairs under our rooms!
On Thursday, we were met by Patrick in a private bus. On board, we enjoyed some historical film clips on the TV monitors as we made our way to Prösselbräu. This was a tip from an acquaintance at Blog ums Bier and it didn't disappoint. Once a Cloister, it is located on a hilltop just outside Regensburg. The family running it was extremely friendly and served up some excellent food and their number one beer, Palamator - a 7.5 % ABV Bock beer. After lunch, the brew master offered us an impromptu tour of his small brewery. From here, we headed off to Händlmaier as described previously above.
As you might imagine, we got a slow start the morning after the Händlmaier festivities. We met at 10:00 and walked to the Spital brewery where we meet with the young brewmaster, Anton, where he treated us to his pride and joy, the bock beer. It was amber-colored bock with a light colored toasty Carmel flavor - really excellent! He took us through his Brewing operation which still shows some signs of the destruction wrought by Napoleon and features open fermentation! The brewery belongs to a non-profit foundation which also includes a nursing home and senior citizens home. A key benefit of staying there is the 5 liters of freshly made beer that is delivered to your room weekly. Immediately after Anton's tour, we were treated to a short history tour of Regensburg on our way to the Händlmaier outlet store. At the store, we enjoyed an impromptu mustard tasting and were each presented with a large gift packages. From here, we enjoyed a few hours of free time in Regensburg before meeting up at the cult location of Kneitinger am Arnulfsplatz. We had prime places in the hall and enjoyed massive plates loaded with Nuremberg- and Regensburger sausages. In the evening, several people visited Regensburg's Festival, known as the Dult.
For our last day of touring, we wound it down nice and easy. We started with a tour of Kuchlbauer - a crazy brewery featuring animatronics, a copy of DaVinci's Last Supper, and a massive tower designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser (see related story here). We then journeyed 20 minutes to Kelheim and boarded a small ship on the Danube. We enjoyed a beverage as the Liberation Hall and massive stone cliffs floated by. Arriving at Kloster Weltenburg, we toured the church and enjoy the dark beer from this Year 1050 founded brewery. After some relaxing time there, we finished the one hour ride on to Munich. We stayed at a small hotel near the airport which featured its own brewery's beer and excellent food.
From here, we hadn't reckoned with the closure of Munich S-Bahn on Sunday morning, so we organized several taxis for everyone to make their way back to the airport in plenty of time to catch their flights.
Our time with the people of the Händlmaier Mustard Club was wonderful and we are looking forward to seeing the again at Mecklenburg gardens on a Saturday in the future! In the meantime, if you want to experience Bavaria from an insider’s viewpoint, send me an e-mail! In the meantime, be sure to check out our friends at http://mustardclub.org/ or purchase your own Händlmaier at http://www.germanmustardusa.com/