AppenzellOctober 28, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 8 °C
After a busy and drizzly day we've found an overnight spot at the end of a track between the River Sitter and a playing field at the edge of Appenzell town.
The weather definitely suited indoor activities, so after a brilliant trip to Maestrani's Chocolarium we drove on to the Locher Brewery in Appenzell for another self guided tour. The public isn't allowed inside the factory that makes Appenzeller Bier, but the same building houses the Brauquöll visitor centre which you can access for free (paid tastings are available for groups of 10 or more).
It felt quite small after the Chocolarium, but we managed to set the audio guide headphones to English and the recordings talked us through displays at different stations showing elements of the beer brewing and whiskey distilling processes. There were examples of barley, hops and yeast to feel, spring water to taste, brown glass bottles with different aromas to sniff. Miniature mash tubs had sections cut away so you could see what went on inside and in a seperate room was a small museum of equipment from the 1950s. Like on our chocolate tour, we sat in a small cinema, and watched a short video showing us how Appenzeller Beer is brewed. A bit randomly it was told through the story of two dwarves who had bravely trekked to Appenzell in search of a magic elixir to cure their beautiful queen of her illness. Once the queen was skipping healthily and happily though an Alpine meadow with her devoted followers, the screen showcased the different types of beer on offer in the shop. We made our way through and picked out four bottles; Quöllfrisch (original), Weizenbier (wheat), Mielfiore (honey) and Vollmond (brewed by the full moon). Sampling each of them that evening with a tasty autumnal tray bake we were impressed.
Appenzell seemed like an interesting town so we decided to stay a second night. After returning the bottles to the brewery to have their deposits refunded, we strolled into the centre. Despite the precipitation and low light under overcast skies the characterful buildings couldn't fail to impress. The beautiful old dwellings had walls, timbers and wooden shutters painted in warm reds, oranges and sepia tones. Some hosted murals of a lone soldier or farmer, many had wrought iron decorations protruding from a corner. It reminded us a little of Colmar in North Eastern France as well as of our time in Austria.
Ever since arriving in Switzerland over 4 weeks ago we'd been eyeing up restaurant menus, but had always found ourselves put off by the prices; usually at least 25-35Sfr (£20-27) for a main course. With our imminent onward passage to Italy prominent in our minds, we didn't want to leave the country without dining out. Though the shops were shut for lunch, the mainstreet had a good range of eateries. We chose Gasthaus Hotel Hof because they offered both a local fondue and raclette. With a warm greeting, the server seated us at a nearby table for 6. The large room had lead piped windows with the crests of local districts in stained glass. The interior was decked out like a chalet, with untreated pine beams and a homely feel. Almost all the other tables were occupied and a relaxed hum of conversation filled the air. Our table was set with a little stove and the spirit lamp lit when the Le Creuset saucepan of herby fondue was brought out. Will began dipping the bread with the long handled fork, while Vicky coated the potatoes, and soft slices of gherkins, carrots and cauliflower in the thick, stringy cheese that had been melted on her piping hot plate. We savoured our small carafe of white wine and swapped meals half way through. The food was tasty and the friendly staff gave us time to enjoy the experience.
To walk off our filling lunch we strolled around the retailers that had now reopened. We spent a long time in a couple of cookware shops admiring the shiny utensils, perfectly carved wooden implements and pristine crockery. We'd never seen such high quality ranges, presented like works of art with prices to match! A few espresso cups caught Will's eye, but at 39Sfr each he quickly moved on.
With the rain hardly pausing for breath, we cocooned ourselves in the van with hot cups of tea for the rest of the day.Read more