Driving home for Christmas

The Session logoFebruary's Firday Session is about "Snowed in" and is hosted by The Brew Site

While studying Brewing Technology at the Technical University in Berlin in 2004 I still owned a car. So every year for Christmas I drove down to Augsburg from Berlin. This usually was a pretty straightforward 5-hour drive on the German autobahn. There is one thing you must know about German autobahn: There are no speed limits except for some short parts here and there. You basically drive as fast as the traffic allows and as fast as your car can go. In my case this was about 170 km/h.

So before Christmas I packed presents, a bag, some food, some water and took the Ring-Autobahn to the A9. The A9 goes from Berlin to Munich and in 2004 wasn't that much covered with road works as it was 10 years before.

Before I later sold my car (I've now been over 10 years without a car actually) I really enjoyed driving. I drove for fun, just to get my head around things. Speed and moving fast was - and I guess still could be - a very good way of meditation for me.

While driving on the Ring-Autobahn around Berlin it started to snow. The car was actually equipped with snow wheels. Therefore snow didn't bother me that much. I considered myself a very good driver. After all, I drove through snow in Switzerland quite often, and only had had a small crash in snow once. But that is another story.

The Weather

As usual I hadn't checked the weather forcast the day before. While still on the Ring-Autobahn I turned on the radio and listened to their hourly forecast. A little snow here, a bit of ice storm there, but nothing out of the ordinary. I decided to drive further, switched over to CD and listened to some fine Jazz tunes. It started to get dark. As I estimated 5 hours for the trip, I figures I should reach Augusburg at around 20 o'clock (8 pm).

The A9 is made for driving and I damn drive fast. No traffic in sight, just some lorries here and there on the right lane makes me go on the left as often as possible. Charlie Parker is still playing his saxophone.

After Leipzig the weather changed. I stopped at a gas station, bought some food and had a cigarette break. I listend to the weather forecast again but didn't get anything out of it that would worry me. I looked at the motel on the right, looked up in the sky and drove back to the Autobahn.

Winter in Germany - heavy load by Dominik Jais

I overtook some lorries, until 30 minutes later the whole traffic slowed down. The snow service was driving right in front of me which was great as I got to drive on a snowless road. But unfortunately after some minutes the snow service stopped to help someone who had an small accident. Somone had driven over the right side and gotten stuck. Too bad for me as I was driving on a heavlily-snowed-on autobahn. Another 30 minutes later the traffic got so heavy and slow that Bill Evans playing a slow tune was still fast. With reaching the end of the CD, still whistling to the tune, I realised that I had gotten stuck in a real traffic jam. A looked at the clock which showed the inevitable fact: it was already 8 pm.

Everything, Everything

Over the next 5 hours the traffic moved about 10 km. By 1 am the traffic was moving neither forewards nor backwards. I lit another cigarette and listend to the radio telling that the police and the fire department and the THW (Technisches Hilfswerk = Public social aid) were on heavy duty at the A9. They were also telling that for another 4 hours there will be no traffic on the A9 – everything was blocked, everything. After another cigarette I got a blanket from the backseat and listend to Underworld's „everything, everything“.

As I apparently wasn't going to be doing any driving soon, I grabbed a beer from the back. Actually I didn't remeber that I had put a Berlin Kindel on the back, but that is what I had in my hand. Perhaps I still had it from the recent trip to their brewery. Anyway, this was what I really needed: a cool blond beer.

I love pilsen type beers, because with pilsen type you can see how good a brew master really is. Brewing all kind of flavoured beers you can gild your failures. Who will find a fermentation failure when everything is covered with a huge amount of hops, with so many hops that the complete beer tastes like a hop plant? With a pilsen you have to show what you can do. No gilding, just pure beer flavour.

Someone knocked on the window. I had fallen asleep. It was 5 am. The traffic started to move a little. Good thing I only had that one beer after all. In the end I reached Augsburg at about 8 am - 12 hours later than expected. One could say I got snowed in.  

Dominik Jais's picture