mental health retreat in Bayreuth, Germany

This is Avery.

someone let us go to Vegas

Yeah she’s pretty much my spouse.

The two of us flew out here to begin our abroad adventure on the same day, September 9th. Since then, we’ve been going through similar life processes in different cities… for lack of a less cliché term, we’ll call it soul searching. Last week we realized together time was much overdue, so I booked a bus ride and a carpool to get to Bayreuth.


Bayreuth is like San Rafael- seemingly conveniently close to big cities, but really just out of the way enough to make it difficult to get to using public transportation. Eurolines got me to Berlin for $46, and a carpool took me the extra three hours south for another 20 euro. (For budget travelers, is the best resource to find car shares going anywhere in Europe!)

Traveling from Copenhagen by bus is uncomfortable, as the night bus stops two hours into the trip to (surprise!) load everyone onto a boat, where people sleep on the floor from 1:30-4am to keep some semblance of a night’s sleep, and then back onto the bus for the rest of the way to Berlin. The girl driving the carpool from Berlin probably hated me because I passed out in her front seat pretty much the minute she picked me up from the Mexicoplatz train station. Being a boring co-pilot is a really consistent bad habit of mine but something I’m probably never going to kick.


Yeah I have no idea how to pronounce this either. The family Avery is au-paring for lives in this area, where they have the most wonderfully comfortable house in a suburban neighborhood in a hilly context that reminds me of Marin. The Dierkes family is an incredibly warm family that loves to entertain, and their house reflects it, with a big open living space on the ground floor with a connected living room (Vonzimmer in German), dining room and (the best part) HUGE kitchen, and big bedrooms upstairs with cozy lofts in each of them. Oh, and heated floors. This is what the Copenhanish attempt to make their city feel like when they have a fraction of the space to do so.


Within an hour of being reunited, Avery and I started cooking. We made a pot of spicy minestrone soup that ended up being enough for four meals and cheesy garlic bread… mmmm. We were granted free reign of a giant, stocked kitchen!! Bliss.

On this particular night we opened a couple of beers and watched Night at the Museum with Sophia and her dad. Easy night at home in a small town with chips and beer on the couch. It’s like we never left Davis.

Winterdorf and Irish Coffees

We went shopping and of course, everything we brought home was edible. We bought Christmas presents for ourselves, a bottle each of Tullemore Dew Irish Whiskey and Baileys (among curious bacon chip snacks and an almost obscenely large log of marzipan, oops). We called them Christmas presents because we asked the cashier to wrap them up, expecting brown paper bags, and instead got frilly packages with bows.

Sooooo we made our favorite, Irish coffees complete with whipped cream, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Again, just like Davis.

We met some of the people from Avery’s class at the Winterdorf, a bar set up in the plaza of an outdoor mall downtown. It was a really cool concept, mostly open-air with lots of heating lamps. Even though it was in the thirties outside, it was crammed with so many bundled up people drinking warm alcohol in mugs that nobody really noticed that it was maybe thirty-four degrees outside. Most everyone was drinking glühwein, hot mulled wine that pretty much exists all over Europe under different names. (In Denmark it’s glogg– and probably costs four times as much.)

MaisselWeiss Brewery Tour

On Sunday afternoon, Ave and I biked down to the Maissel Weiss Brewery Museum for a tour. It was 100% in German (ha) but only cost 4 euro and came with explanatory packets in English so we could follow along and pretend like we knew what was going on (Avery’s actually pretty good at German now after living here for just three months, but obviously I had no hope).

Since taking our Brewing and Beer at Davis during our final quarter senior year with Prof. Charlie Bamforth, walking through breweries has been so much fun- rarely you learn technical terms in lecture that can be applied in such a fun context. Avery hugs lauter tuns, Ani loves mash filters. Everyone likes saying ‘wort’ in a British accent.

The museum was right down the street from Avery’s house, and contained all this old-school equipment that was used almost a hundred and fifty years ago to make beer! It’s incredible how far we’ve come since. Brewery workers in the 1870s crawled into the copper lauter tuns to clean it after every use. Now, lauter tuns are a) much bigger, b) stainless steel and c) clean themselves. They used to blow cold air over wort after boiling to cool it down. Today, that’s called a refrigerator.

The COOLEST part was the hop room! Bags on bags on bags of hops, and decorated further with dried hop plants. Although it’s hard to believe they use that many in these beers. They said about a handful per liter like it was a lot, but they have no idea what New Belgium Ranger is (I predict five handfuls). I miss California and those Sierra Nevada Torpedoes (mmmm Cascades) so much. Nobody here understands.

And then of course, the tasting afterwards was awesome, with Weiss beers in the usual concave glass. More on the different glassware for different beers later- until then, no more standardized 16oz. pint glasses!

Following the Lonely Planet guide

We stopped to pick up pizza for dinner one night at a small pizza place Avery found in the massive Lonely Planet bible she has, called Hansl’s Holzofenpizzeria. It was small and very clearly family-owned, smelled FANTASTIC, had an amazing selection of toppings (must try the seafood next time, Ave!), and a giant old-fashioned oven. We got beers and sat at the counter to drool over the pizzas being made and then strapped all five of ours to an extremely clutch bookrack on the back of the bike Avery’s been riding.

Just one of the many amazing meals I consumed this week.

To sum up, things I loved about Bayreuth:

  • It was small! The concrete jungle that is Copenhagen definitely put the homey suburbs in perspective.
  • The university looked like Davis! Avery pointed out all the things that had made her feel at home- eggheads, a very arboretum-esque lake running around the outskirts, even red busses.
  • BEER WAS CHEAP!! No more sacrificing taste and going with Carlsberg or rather just the weekly bankrupting for seven dollar beers. Bavarian beer is both affordable and delicious.
  • The Dierkes family. Quite possibly the warmest and most hospitable group of people I’ve been lucky enough to become acquainted with in awhile. They made me feel at home for a week, even calling me “Panda” (thanks for that Avery) and letting us throw a Big Fat American Thanksgiving in their house. But more on that later.

Thanksgiving, Prague, and more beer adventures to come!

tschüs (definitely had to look that one up),




Filed under Beer, Cooking, Germany, Restaurants, Travel

4 responses to “mental health retreat in Bayreuth, Germany

  1. H

    Indeed enjoyable reading!
    I’ve been working as a journalist for years, so now you know… If you want to make a living as a freelance journalist, go for the interesting and rare stuff. One tip: I never make interviews, I make conversation, in that way you relaxe people and make them talk more naturally.
    Be patient and persistant.
    I’m sure you’ll make it!


    • Thanks for giving me the feedback, I really appreciate it! I just worry that I’ll forget details if I’m doing an interview without recording it. Maybe is the key is just to relax myself? Haha.

      Out of curiosity, how did you manage to get the guys at Mikkeller to link the post you wrote on them? I’m very jealous!


      • H

        You’ll remember the most important stuff, I’m sure, but use a recorder. The point is to make a conversation, not an interview. That works for me.
        I didn’t do anything to get Mikkeller to link my post, guess I’m just lucky.


  2. You are amazing. Really enjoyed reading this! And cannot wait for your next visit :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s