I started with the Heidelberger, which I got on tap at Bräustüberl, a restaurant at the NH Heidelberg hotel. It looked like a cozy restaurant, but looks are where it stopped. The service was awful, after waiting 15 minutes for our beer, they came back and asked for our beer order again because they couldn't remember what we ordered. I ordered the dunkelweisse but I was uncertain whether it was just a dunkel, or if it was, in fact, a dunkelweisse. The taste was uninteresting and slightly bitter, with no characteristic wheat taste. The food service was even worse, and then the credit card machine didn't work with any of our cards, so all in all a bad experience.
I also checked out the town's two brewpubs: Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg, and Brauhaus Vetter.
Kulturbraueri is big and even has room for private parties, but it is often quite busy. They also have a beer garden in the summer. They had 3 beers available:
Kräusen, a pilsner, which is unfiltered, and therefore naturally cloudy, the waiter described this as a pilsner, and I don't have much of a taste for pilsner, so I didn't try this one.
Hefeweizen, a wheat beer, which is a drinkable wheat, but nothing special that sets it apart from any other hefeweizen. This is a seasonal beer.
Oktoberfest, which they describe as a dark beer, was a bronze delight. Slightly sweet and malty, I think this is the same as their Märzen style Kellerbier. This was a very tasty beer, one I would return for.
The thing that Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg seemed to be missing was that brewpub creed: if you want to know about the beer, I'll tell you all about it.
Brauhaus Vetter had promises of being better than Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg, it was so popular that when we arrived the first time for dinner, there was no room available. We returned for lunch the next day to find out what it was all about.
Unfortunately the waitress wasn't willing to share any beer wisdom with us so we ordered blindly and didn't end up with any prizes.
I chose their Dunkel. This tasted almost like a carbon copy of the Heidelberger dunkel I had at Bräustüberl, not much taste, but slightly bitter. I left disappointed.
It turns out what makes Vetter so popular is their 33. It a doppelbock with a starting gravity of 33%, which means if all the sugars were fermentable, the beer would have 33% alcohol. This was once the beer with the record for highest starting gravity. The end result is a beer with 10.5% ABV. Could be interesting, could be sickly sweet. If I end up in Heidelberg again, I think I'll try the 33, and just pace myself.
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