We arrived late Friday evening to our hotel in New Ulm and the place was buzzing. Completely booked despite the weather, folks were milling around in anticpation of Bockfest the following day.
The hotel bar was hopping so we stopped in and met a few friends before having a pint. When in Rome... people probably would still drink Schell's Bock... as it is a tasty, chewy, malty treat for this time of year. Carmel-y malt flavors dominate with a well hidden 6.1% ABV.
Weather reports weren't promising, with highs around -5 and worse with wind chill we were a little worried this might be a tough one. We slowly got ready, applying layer after layer (I pretty much wore all the clothes I brought) and headed down to hitch a ride.
We ended up in the back of a pickup truck with about 7 other dudes trying to keep the swirling snow out our faces. Luckily it was a short ride up to the brewery and we walked the last stretch. Shout out to the sober cab who gave us the ride!
Folks were already walking the other way but the mood was still very upbeat. We made our way in and there were still thousands of people on the grounds having a good time. The polka bands were playing, the brats were smoking and the bock was flowing!
A new one for me was "poking" the beer. Around the grounds were fire pits where the attendents were hitting iron rods. Hand them your beer and they'd place the rod carefully in your beer and give it a little swirl. Supposedly this carmelizes the sugars in the bock further and adds a little smoke and smoothness to the beer. I have to say it was pretty tasty either way.
After a few hours we had met our match with the cold and had to head back. We hit a few more spots around town including a great meal at George's Steak and Spirits http://www.georgessteaks.biz
Sober cabs were out and about so it was easy to get around and we made it back to the hotel safe and sound. Overall a great time and highly recommended!