Once inside we were confronted by a narrow corridor with rooms and stairs leading off in a few directions. The building certainly had a feeling of age and more than a hint of reverence, as indeed it should. It is for many beer lovers the St. Peters of their religion where they come to bow their heads at the altar of Alt and drink from the narrow glass chalice of the life blood of their faith.
There was a buzz running through the place that seemed to be coming through the walls, up from the floor and permeated our bodies making us more eager, if possible of our first taste. We looked into a few rooms that were all busy and seemed to be reserved for locals and not for pilgrims like us. We were channeled towards the back where one door opened into a high roofed, bright smoking room. Being none smokers we turned right, our only other option, and ended up in a open room with a bar, long tables and more importantly free seats.
The bar was covered in polished bronze and a small tubby wooden cask sat at an angle on top of it. A bar man was quickly filling small glasses of beer with fine heads and sliding them to one end of the bar. From there, one of the waiters would load them on to a tray and make his way around the room. We decided that we should move out of the way and looked for a free table.
We sat down at a large empty table, the only empty one there, and waited in impatient anticipation to be served. The waiters seemed to be somewhat distracted by a gentleman sitting close to us on a section of the seating that wound it's way around the wall of the room. At first glance he appeared to be sitting with a middle-aged couple but they scuttled to one end of the table that they shared with the man. A closer look at him revealed a disheveled look of someone who was down on his luck to say the least. He didn't appear to be drinking but still seemed to be worse for wear and muttering to himself while scratching all the hard to reach places of his body. It was these combined activities that brought him to the attention of the waiters. One of them approached him and asked him to leave, or at least I presume he did, I don't speak German but his hand signals were the universal sign for 'Please leave the premises as quick as you can'.
Our inebriated friend didn't take kindly to this and made this clear to the waiter with a barrage of words and a couple of even more universal hand signals. Suddenly there were three waiters there and the roughly grabbed the guy and man-handled him to the side exit. As he was dragged from his seat our attention was drawn to a large pale coloured puddle which had formed where he had been sitting. We immediately thought the worst. No wonder they got rid of him. One can't have people peeing on the seats can we?
The waiter returned from his eviction duties and reached for something from the floor where our troubled friend had been sitting. It was then that we got that unmistakable smell of sweet, pungent liquor. The waiter was talking to the people at the table beside us and we picked up the word 'Schnapps' in the conversation. He than produced the small bottle he had picked up from the floor. They guy had been drinking it and this was what was now spreading along the seat. The waiter quickly cleaned it up with a bit of a grumble and got back to the task in hand. Doling out more beer.