Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010 A Beer Odyssey

I flew into Belgium on Sept. 2nd, 2010, to attend the annual Brussels Beer Weekend, a fantastic festival featuring more than 50 Belgian Breweries and an astonishing array of beer. This is where it all began. The next two months were somewhat frantic, as I traveled over 7000 kilometers in the course of 65 days, tasting more than 400 beers while visiting breweries, brewpubs, bars, restaurants, beer tents, biezels and corner stores across 6 beer-centric European countries. The story of who I met, how I got there and what beers impressed me along the way is contained in the 42 blog postings listed below, along with many photographs and a few videos as well.
I hope you enjoy reading this travelogue as much as I did living it!

Michael 'fezz' Nazarec
November 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks Yous, Shout Outs, Credits and References

This is not over. I will be grooming and updating this site with regularity. I hope to upload more pictures and sort out the problems with the video links. I will also create a new Tasting Notes section, where all reviews can be cross-referenced.

I would like to thank everyone who signed on to this beer odyssey with me, thanks for coming along for the ride and reading about my adventures. Stay tuned, there is more to come!

Also, thank you to everyone I met or was with on the road and who helped make this journey a very memorable one:

Paul Geneau
Nicole and Neil Crawford
The Beers & Jesus Angels of Oktoberfest:
Jessica Zimny, Leslie Wells, Jennifer D'Amico and Kathy Johnson
Marc Rich and Claudia Putzker-Rich, Benedict and Nicolas
Ulli and Eddi Dirksen and family
Anthony Venetz
Lukáš Provaznik and Zuzanna Provaznik
Dana and Mark Whatmore, Taz and Rosa
Todd Trethowan, the Vicar of Cheese
Nasik Kiriakovsky and Martin Vrba at Tambor Brewery (Dvur Kralove nad Labem)
Armand & Lydia at 3 Fonteinen Brewery (Beersel)
Brett at Bristol Beer Factory
Paul at the Seven Stars (Bristol)
Hardy at Sophien'Eck (Berlin)
Jean at Moeder Lambic (Brussels)
Mikela at Prael Brewery (Amsterdam)
Gisele from Stella's (Vancouver)
Cheri from Beerbistro (Toronto)
Jessica DeMello at CBC Radio 1 (Calgary)
David Gray @ CBC Radio 1 (Calgary)
Ron Gaskin at Rough Idea (International)
Charlie Papazian, Anouk, Christian, Sandra, Cody, Fei Xu, Fang Han, Yuliang Huang, Ulrich, Ilya, Josh, Michael and everyone else who let me talk about beer these past 9 weeks!

Music Credits:

Special Thanks to Ted Scarf, Wally Jericho, Us Not Them and Sonic Boom
who supplied music tracks for the videos.

Reference Books:

100 Belgian Beers To Try Before You Die by Tim Webb & Joris Pattyn 2008
The Rough Guide to Brussels 2009
The Rough Guide to Europe 2010
Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers by Tim Skelton 2010
Good Beer Guide 2011 the Campaign For Real Ale

Reference Websites:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Last Beers, Cheers and Next Year

I started the day at Blanche ou Tonneau au Brasseur, a little corner pub with an amazing beer list that Paul and I found when we first arrived, just a short block off of the Grand Place. Their chairs were the only ones on the street, they were opened early for business, so instead of coffee I grabbed a Barbãr Honey Ale (8%) au fut, and took it outside to contemplate my strategy for the day. It was a beautiful warm morning and this was a bright gold coloured brew, with a white foamy head, a sweet nose and a honey laced palate, but balanced and malty, with no evidence of hops, but enough there to keep this beer from being too cloying. I knew where I needed to start.
My favourite spot to buy bottled Belgian beers is Beer Planet on Rue de Fourche, coincidentally on the same street as my hotel. The owner is friendly, knowledgeable, has an amazing selection and also seems to have better prices than any of the shops on the main streets. So, I headed there with '100 Belgian Beers To Try Before You Die' in hand and a virtual list prepared in my head. I was like a kid in a candy shop, looking at bottles, studying labels, cross referencing to my book. The owner has seen it all before, but was very helpful. They have over 600 types of beer in the store, but also do a mail-order online business at I did well there.
So, shopping done, back in my room, ready to pack. I always bring back the allowable limit, if I am able. I filled two suitcases, all bottles wrapped in clothing and carefully distributed, weight wise, between the two pieces of luggage. I haven't lost a beer yet traveling the world. I then made the preemptive move of dragging the bigger one up to a train station locker, just to make my short 4:30 am clickity-clack, cobble-stoned walk up to catch the first train of the morning a little less strenuous and noisy.
So, now there was time for a beer! Back to Cafe Delirium, which was literally only 50 steps away from hotel door, excellent stumbling distance. The place was starting to fill up, so I saddled up to the bar and and ordered a Witkap Stimulo, a 6% pale yellow Blonde Ale from Slaghmuylder. It displays a very fresh herbal nose, a thick moussy head that fades quickly and an interestingly balanced palate, tropical fruitiness and dry spiciness both hinted at. By this time I was engaged in conversation with a young former long-distance runner turned home brewer from Chicago. He seemed to be very much enjoying the vibe of the Delirium, as was I, as the late afternoon crowd spilled in and brought up the energy level. Josh was just getting to know Belgian styles, so I recommended he try one of my all time favourites, the Duchesse de Bourgogne. I went for an Abbaye des Rocs Bruin, a 9% double-fermented, bottled-conditioned treat. Deep, dark brown and ruby hued, this is a big beer, heavy sweet malt and dried fruit aroma, off white thick head, full bodied malt accented palate, molasses tones with big dollops of coffee, wood, dark fruit, drying out a little in the long lingering fining, smooth and way too easy to drink for its strength. We both enjoyed our afternoon pick-me-ups and headed off to other activities.
I was meeting another gentleman I had met the day before at Delirium, Michael from California, who was embarking on a similar European odyssey as the one I was just completing, minus the beer-focus and with less than two months to spend on the road. I offered him a mini tour of Belgian beers, so we met and first visited the Poechenellekelder, across from the Manneken Pis. We were in luck, as they had just released their Christmas list of beers, so we started with St. Bernardus Christmas Ale fresh on tap. This is a 10% dark garnet brown holiday release from the Brouwerij St. Bernardus in Watou. It has a big off-white head, intoxicating aroma of sweet malt and a flavour profile that is well balanced and complex, with a fruity spiciness and an old world charm. Warming hints of coffee and chocolate keep you coming back for more. I next ordered the Hopus, to give us something more diametrical opposed to the abbey/Christmas style. This is a Belgian IPA with a strength of 8.5% abv and huge hop values. It comes served in the most beautiful tall flared tulip-like glass, allowing plenty of room for the big foaming head to form when poured properly from the swing-top bottle. It pours clear, clean and pale yellow, but also comes with a side shot glass that the yeast remnants and remaining beer are swirled into. Big floral hop nose, and a great initial bite of bitterness that eases you into this fresh palate of citrisy and yeasty goodness. Some toasted malt shines through, as does the well balanced layers of astringent hop, and it finishes lovely long and dry.
I planned on our last stop of the night to be at Moeder Lambic, boasting 40 taps and 800 beers in stock. So, we headed there next for a few final delicacies, starting with the classic Cantillon Gueuze, the flagship brew of Brussels own lambic producer. I think Michael was a little surprised at the initial sourness of this beautiful pale straw coloured beer, but appreciated its subtleties and balances, offering hints of Belgian farmhouse brewing history with every sip. At this point, Jean, one of the owners, recognized me and popped over to say hello. He told us about the excitement of the first brewday of the new season at Cantillon the very next day, an event he usually attends, and suggested we drop by. Oh the fates of timing! 'If only...' was all I could think of and 'maybe next year!' Quelle dommage!
To juxtaposed the sourness of gueuze, I ordered Bink Bloesem next, a 7% high quality brew buzzing with fruitiness. From the Kerkom Brewery, it has been described as 'a celebration of the harvest, made with locally grown pears and honey'. It is very fruity and has a slightly slick mouthfeel, reminiscent of mead, with definite honey tones, sweet biscuit malt and some subtle spiciness rounding out the flavour profile. Quite delicious.
I finished this night (and my tour) with a Cantillon Faro (see Beer of the Day, Nov. 3) and for Michael suggested the Metisse from du Lion a Plume. Jean had brought in this lovely special Saison in for the festival two months ago, it was evidently pretty popular and is still available.
After these wonderful night caps, we walked back through the Grand Place and said our goodbyes to Brussels, both vowing to be back some day. I can certainly see making this an annual event, a kind of beer enthusiast's pilgrimage, as it were, to pray at the 'altar of biere', in the centre of the beeriverse, and to be born again, each time, refreshed and renewed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Final Days in Brussels

So, this is about it Beer Readers, my final days in Brussels. It has all come full circle, this is where my journey began. Two months ago Paul and I enjoyed the Brussels Beer Weekend and then the whirlwind traveling began. It's hard to believe all of the places I've been, all of the great people I've met and, of course, all of the amazing beers I have tasted. It is quite the list at this point! There are some that did not make the Master Beer List, as I tend to not report on brews I felt were not worthy, or that I did not really enjoy. Of course, it is a life long journey to try EVERYTHING, and I would wonder if any mere mortal could do that. I have had comments from followers recommending beers I have not posted about, some of which I have tried on previous, albeit, much shorter forays into the European beer landscape. That said, I will be back! A couple of things though...
British beer is a world onto itself. I guess that could be said of each of the countries I have visited, but with 850 breweries operating in the UK, any proper beer tour should concentrate on this wide variety alone, rather than trying to combine it with hopping back and forth across the English Channel as I have done. I met a lovely women in a pub in Bristol who has a friend that owns some double-decker buses. I was told they occasionally tour to different towns and perhaps festivals on one of these buses. Now wouldn't that be a great beer tour? This is something I will have to look into.
Belgium too is a 'beeriverse' onto itself, being truly the Mecca of beer geeks the world over. So many amazing beers, so many great pubs, such a collection of brewing knowledge in one small country! The Brussels Beer Weekend is, of course, a great place to start any extensive beer tour of Belgium, or the continent. There is also an event in the Springtime that would work equally as well. The Toer de Geuze happens every April and has as many as 24 participating breweries involved. This is a weekend in which most of the breweries in Payottenland, the area south west of Brussels where traditional lambic is made, open their doors to the public to come and taste and see just how the process works. I might have to return for this one day as well.
A few other things to report...
The wonderful and very beautiful The Ultimate Hallucination has been unfortunately permanently closed. This fabulous restaurant not only featured great Belgian beers and cuisine, but was an historical landmark in terms of its architecture, being a marvelous example of Art Nouveau style and design. It is a great loss not only to the city of Brussels, but to historians, fans of Art Deco and beer lovers alike. One can only hope that someone with money, interest and taste will step forward to reopen this wonderful place at some point in the future.
That said, at the other end of the spectrum, the Delirium Cafe is alive and well and still going strong. This is the best place to find and taste Belgian beers anywhere, bar none, I would say. They have 15 taps of wonderful ambrosia and have on hand over 2000 beers! This is the alter at which any self respecting Belgian beer geek must pray! The bar staff are very knowledgeable, well schooled in their art, friendly and ultimately entertaining too! I could not believe some of the beers I found here. The Delirium Cafe is notoriously hard to find, located as it is on a dead end alley or 'impasse' off of a small street of crowded cafes. The impasse itself first appears to be the rear delivery entrance to one of the restaurants, but at night, when the pink elephant sign is lit, it is a little easier to spot. This is also the alley where you can find the famous Manneken Pis' not-so-famous little sister, the Jeanneke Pis. The little girl squats at the very end of the impasse on the right hand side, not well lit and locked up behind a cage. I managed to tick off a few more boxes on my list of hard to find Belgian specialties at the Delirium Cafe, and will likely drop by again before my time is up.
The museums of Brussels are amazing too, whether you are looking for Brueghels, Bosch, Magritte or something totally modern or avant garde. The architecture of this famous city is also varied, from the mediaeval to the post modern, with sculpture and fountains everywhere to be found. The nightlife is sublime, musical adventures for every taste and the most amazing restaurants to choose from, any cuisine in the world can be found here and in any price range. It is no wonder this is the European Union's premier capital in this modern age of ours.
Of course, I spent my last couple of days wandering around to some of my favourite spots. I dropped by Moeder Lambic more than once. Always a great and varied selection. On the days I was there they had on a few beers on tap from a new Italian Brewery, Toccalmatto, who began brewing only in October of 2008, and already have a fine reputation for quality ingredients and excellently crafted brews. Their motto 'Birra Viva Artigianale' refers to the fact that their beers are 'alive and artisanal'. Of course, this goes hand in hand with Moeder Lambic's motto 'Beer is the answer!', and anyone reading this blog would know that to be true. What was the question?
So today I can finally shop. Being on the road for two months does have it's limitations. I decided to travel as light as possible this trip, having been embarrassed in the past, always recognized as a North American carrying too much baggage. I traveled with only two pieces of smallish luggage, but have now bought a third larger one which I intend to fill with my allowable limit of beer to bring back home. And there are many places to shop here in Brussels my friends! Beer Planet, De Biertemple, Beer Mania and many more, large and small.
Not much time left, so I'd better get going...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Long Britain, Brussels Calling

My last day in Manchester was just a partial one, as my flight back to the continent was leaving late in the afternoon. My plan had been to ditch my bags at the train station (it is a short train ride to the airport from there) and find a few more CAMRA recommended pubs and do lunch before heading out. I must admit though, I found the CAMRA listings for the city a little confusing. Greater Manchester is divided up into neighbourhoods, as are the listings, but without a very detailed map, it can be a bit daunting to find any of these places. My usual other route was to look up the local CAMRA chapter's website and find out which local spots won Pub of the Year. I struck out with this too, as they did not seem to be as organized as some of the other regional websites I'd visited, and there were no listings as such. So, I just had to follow my nose.
Aware of the nation wide Real Ale & Cider Festival going on at the Wetherspoons chain, I decided on their Picadilly Square location for lunch. From Oct. 27th to Nov. 14th, they were presenting 50 real ales and 10 ciders, all for the astonishing price of 1.85 pound per pint. Of course, these were to be spread out over the course of the festival, 6 beers and 2 ciders available on any given day. The place was humming, as it was after all, a good time for Sunday Brunch, and many patrons were there doing just that, not even interested in the beer and cider on offer. But my, if you were there for a pint, you even could get three 1/3 pint taster glasses of 3 different real ales or cider for the price of one. Needless to say, I was in.
As with most British pubs, you order everything at the bar. So, I went for a spicy Thai Noodle Salad (there's that Asian thing again) and 3 tasters. The first was Woodforde's Once Bitten (4.1%) a lovely copper coloured best bitter, rich in fruity aroma, presenting a palate of sweet malt, warm spice with some citrus notes, before drying out into a very pleasing finish. Number 2 was an international brew, from the Lion Brewery in Sri Lanka, the head brewer traveling to Marston's to make this beer fresh for the festival. Lion Stout (5%), was a very smooth and very dark beer, with a complex aroma of coffee and chocolate, leading to a rich, fully flavoured palate, with a silky mouthfeel, hinting of roasted malt and liquorice in the long finish. This went especially well with my spicy Thai lunch. Next came Shepherd Neame's Cinque Ale (4.1%), a new best bitter that is deep chestnut in colour, with an appropriately hoppy character balanced against a nice fruity palate resulting in a pleasantly dry finish.
My next round brought me to Brewdog's Edge (3.2%) (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 31) a fine and exceptional rarely made mild. The next one was interesting, Batemans Wheat Dreams (4.6%), a new and unique, British wheat beer, brewed exclusively for this festival. Clear gold in colour, with a very floral aroma, refreshingly light with notes of lemon and grapefruit bitterness on the palate. Last but not least was Everards Coppernob (4.5%), another rarely made best bitter, copper coloured with a spicy floral nose, a smooth fruity character balanced against some malty notes and a long, dry finish. With a little time left, I also tried the two still ciders on offer. Westons Marcle Hill (5%), is a gold coloured medium cider with well balanced, smooth and fruity flavours and a crisp, bittersweet apple finish. Broadoak Perry (7.5%) was the other, rather pale coloured with a true pear aroma, medium sweet and followed by a dry finish. This was CAMRAs 2009 winner in its Cider & Perry Competition. Very drinkable.
Next, I made my way to the one CAMRA listing that was easy to find, the Picadilly, right on the Square and close to the train station. I got sidetracked along the way (another interesting CD shop) but managed to have enough coins left in my pocket for one last pint. And that is all that was on offer anyway. The Picadilly is a large rambling bar, with many rooms and was very busy with the day-after MAN U crowd, many also waiting for trains and the like. Of the 3 real taps, only one had any beer left. It was Brains Dark (3.5%), a tasty classic dark brown mild. Smooth creamy mouthfeel, with a thick tan head that coated the glass all the way down, sweet malt tones with a subtle hoppy bitterness submerged beneath a mix of roasted malt and caramel, hints of bitter dark chocolate, with a dry, smooth and well balanced finish.
And finished I was! I retrieved my luggage, made the 20 minute trip to the airport with plenty of time to negotiate my way through the very large and busy terminals, to catch my Brussels bound flight, where I will spend the next three days wrapping up this marvelous adventure before finally heading home to Canada!

Manchester - Centre of the Universe

I have to admit that Manchester has always held a special place for me in my heart and soul. It is one of the UK's largest cities, though the city itself has a population of only about 1/2 million, the larger municipality of Greater Manchester is over 2 1/2 million people. It is also a centre for the arts, music, sport, education and business. First settled by the Romans around 79 AD between the Rivers Irwell and Medlock, it was a slow growing, quiet place through the Middle Ages, until the beginning of the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution took hold during the Victorian era. This shot Manchester to the forefront of growth and commerce, truly becoming the world's first leading industrialized city. A major centre for textiles, factory building ran rampant; the steam engine and railways were developed here, expanding trade; and Manchester grew from a township to a mill town to a city in a very short period of time.
As well as boasting one of the best football teams, Manchester United, this city has been at the forefront of British music for decades. If I were to sort my own not-small music collection into where the bands I like come from, the majority would be from Manchester. The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall, New Order, The Smiths, Oasis, The Hollies, Herman's Hermits, The Chemical Brothers to name but a few, covering all genres and eras of modern music, and they have had major a influence on styles worldwide. As such, the live music scene is still a very vibrant one, and as many places in the world turn towards buying music digitally online, Manchester is still a city where one can spend days combing through CD and record shops, looking for and finding rare and unique morsels of great music. That said, it was one of the main reasons I had come to Manchester, and I was not disappointed.
After spending way too much time and money on this other addiction of mine, it was time to chase down some more beer. Back in Bristol, I had run into a couple of fellows (at the Seven Stars no less) who told me about a trio of pubs on Portland Street in the downtown core of the city. The Grey Horse Inn, The Circus Tavern and The Old Monkey are all basically next door to each other, and so I started there.
The Grey Horse is a Hydes Brewery pub, a family owned regional brewer since 1863. They have 70 of their own pubs, supply 300 free houses and contract brew as well. Two small open adjacent rooms surround the bar and the tiny place was packed. I soon came to realize that Man U was playing in the afternoon and many fans were in town in preparation for the big game against Tottenham. The bar featured 4 real ales, and as this was Saturday, October 30th, I went for the Hubble Bubble (4.4%), with a black and orange ghoulish looking label, an obvious seasonal for Halloween (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 30). This is an old traditional English pub that has survived in the centre of the downtown shopping district, and many patrons were sporting their teams' jersey and talking up a good game in anticipation of the big match later in the day. It looked to me that some early starters might not even make it to game time.
I soon went next door to The Circus Tavern, another anachronistic little traditional pub, even more focused on football, if that is even possible. Every possible space in its two small rooms and the crowded tiny bar, walls and ceilings alike, were covered in photographs of footballers and funny or odd visitors of one sort or another. This bar was full as well, and bartender Alysha told me that the party was just getting started, as she poured me a Tetley's Bitter (3.8%), the only real ale available. Tetley's is a large brewery in Leeds, now owned by the Carlsberg Group, the beer being a classic Yorkshire bitter with a smooth hop character, truly a session ale. I was soon shouldered out of the bar and I found my way to the corner, where the larger and more comfortable Old Monkey is located. Though starting to fill up with football fans as well, I had the opportunity to actually sit down and enjoy the October seasonal of this Holt tied house. Touchwood (4.3%), is a gold hued bitter with a fruit inspired nose, a creamy clinging head and evenly balanced palate displaying some sweet malt notes, and featuring traditional English barley but using US hops for a bit of finishing tang. This pub had been recently renovated and was the more modern of the three, actually serving food, should anyone want any. Three real ales were available, plus 8 others on regular taps and a large selection of bottled products as well. Being close to China Town, I indulged my cravings for Asian once again (this time a delicious Sushi lunch) and carried on with more shopping.
Later on I found Corbiere's, a funky little basement bar on the dead end Half Moon Alley, with a really cool jukebox offering Presley to Marley and everything in between. They had Bazens Brewery's Pacific (3.8%), a pale gold, off white head, some fruitiness up front, but with a gentle bitterness through out, well balanced and fine celestial lacing and a long, lip-smacking finish.
It was dark by then, Man U had defeated the Spurs 2 - 0, and the streets were now filling up with costumed revelers ready to party the night away. I found my way back to the Old Wellington, too late for another new, the real ale bar had been practically drunk dry, but managed a pint of Jennings Cumberland (4%) as a final beer of the day.
Jennings is a large national brewery, using traditional Maris Otter barley malt, as well as Fuggles and Goldings hops. This real ale is gold hued with a creamy white head, starting with some subtle fruitiness soon giving way to a smooth almost imperceptible bitterness. There were hints of understated toffee-like sweetness hidden in the dryish finish. The evening was still warm enough to sit outside, but the place was starting to empty out as people moved on with their Saturday night. And so did I.
Another great day at the centre of the universe!

Monday, November 1, 2010

United Manchester

It was an overcast and damp Scottish morning as I left my hotel to walk to the train station for my journey to Manchester. I have been very lucky with the weather, knock on wood, just about everywhere in my travels this fall, but today the rain was a sign that it was time to move on. The train was on time, I had a reserved seat facing the right direction and it wasn’t long before the overcast skies lifted and gave way to the beautiful green British countryside. Three and a half hours later I found myself at Manchester Picadilly Station, a very busy hub, and the street maps just outside the station’s entrance indicated to me that I did not have far to walk to find my hotel. I wandered through China Town, some high end shopping areas, a couple of crowded city centre squares and then crossed a bridge over the River Irwell into Salford. How odd, I thought, the thriving economy of the town centre giving way to boarded up buildings and closed businesses just like that. I would have started to get worried had I not been able to spot my hotel sign shining in the near distance, only a couple of blocks away. The hotel was fine and in fact, just far enough away from the noise, hustle and bustle of the very busy downtown to guarantee me a couple of good night’s sleep, which I was indeed in need of.
The night was warm and I had passed what appeared to be a very popular downtown hangout with a sign out front offering a number of real ales on cask, so I made my way to the Old Wellington Inn, another pub in the country wide Nicholson’s chain. Large, historical and right in the centre of town, the building that is now the Old Wellington was built in 1552 next to Manchester's market square. In 1996 an IRA bomb exploded nearby, injuring 200 people and badly damaging many of the surrounding buildings, including the Inn. The area had to be totally redeveloped and the pub buildings were dismantled and carefully rebuilt about 300 meters to the north, at their present location. One of their bars (and there were several) offered 5 daily rotating and 3 regular real ales on tap. Always on, but already gone on this very busy Friday evening were Timothy Taylors Landlord, Jenning’s Cumberland and Lancaster Bomber. No problem, I should start with something I don’t know, I thought, and blindly picked an absolute stunner, Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 29). I could have gone outside and joined the throng on the large patio enjoying the beautiful warm night air, but that would have meant drinking my delicious real ale out of a plastic glass. Instead, I stayed in, wandering through the cavernous buildings and checking out the two rambling floors of other rooms. On the far side of the adjacent building was a ‘ lager and cider’ bar, with perhaps a dozen or so sparkling and fizzy beverages on offer there. I liked the fact that they kept them separate. Upstairs was yet another smaller bar, with a smaller selection, but pouring Samuel Smiths from Yorkshire and a few other things too. Impressive!
I made my way back to the real ale bar for a second selection. This time it was J.W. Lees Dark Ale (3.5%). This independent brewery has been making beer in Greater Manchester since 1828. In fact, this cask brew turned out to be a very delicious garnet hued, beautiful dark brown mild with a moussy tan head, light body and a lovely balanced palate featuring hints of dried fruit, chocolate and perhaps a tiny tinge of orange peel that sits on your lips through the long lingering finish. Yummy! I could have stayed longer, but the place was packed and I had my heart set on a curry or something spicy and not the pub grub that seemed to be mostly on offer here. So, I found my way back to China Town and settled on a lovely little Schezuan place, where I was not disappointed. For a night cap I visited a Joseph Holt tied house on the way back to my hotel. Joseph Holt is something of a Manchester institution, a family-run brewery dating back to 1849. They supply about 100 pubs in the area, as well as run 126 tied houses of their own. They make real cask ales, as well as a line of regular tap beers. They had a very nice Bitter (4%) on, when I dropped by their Cathedral Gates location. It was deep gold/copper coloured with a creamy even head and a fresh fruity nose. Some initial sweetness on the palate is quickly overtaken by a lovely drying bitterness in the middle, balancing towards a small bittersweet finish. It has a silky mouthfeel and beautiful halo like lacing that follows the beer right to the bottom of the glass. Holt had a few other brews available, and also offers a seasonal for every month of the year. But it had been a long enough day already, so I thought I’d save something for Saturday and stumbled back to my hotel.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Few More Things About Edinburgh

It was in the Dark Ages that the name of Edinburgh, Din Eidyn or Fort of Eidyn, first appeared in historical records. Castle Rock, the strategic fort built on top one of the area's extinct craggy volcanoes, served as the new nation's frontier. King Malcolm II in 1018 established the River Tweed as the permanent southernmost border and in the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1058 - 1093), the castle became the main centre of power. The surrounding town, which was given privileged status as a royal burgh, began to grow up around it. So began the history of Edinburgh and Scotland.
Of course, no visit to this great land would be complete without a taste of one of her more famous exports, Innis & Gunn, the oak-aged beer, brewed in Dunbar, about 50 kilometers east of Edinburgh by Belhaven, now owned by national giant Greene King. I found no fewer than 6 types available widely. Blonde (6%), delicate and fruity, with gentle aromas of citrus, apricot and vanilla, Triple Matured (7.2%), a darker variety aged for a total of 99 days, brewed using Optic & Chocolate malt, Canadian Whiskey Cask (7.1%), matured for 71 days in Canadian rye whiskey barrels, Rum Cask (7.4%), matured in rum barrels, producing a lively, spicy character, matured for 107 days, IPA (7.7%), matured with large quantities of fresh hops for 55 days, the Original (6.6%) that we all know and love and a new one out for Christmas 2010, Winter Beer (8.5%) aged in bourbon barrels. All of these beers are aged in oak, are filtered and packaged in distinctive clear bottles and are not available on tap. Innis and Gunn also happens to be Canada's number one UK import.
There was so much to see and do in the core of the city, that I really did not wander too far afield, all of the pubs I visited were within view of Edinburgh Castle, towering over the old town, with its tiny cobblestoned streets and closes, and new town, with its magnificent Georgian splendor.
Another one of those, just off of the Royal Mile towards its bottom end on Jeffery Street was The Tass. This large old room represents a more traditional working glass pub, with a wooden floored bar, a small dining room, but still with tall ceilings and lots of light. They serve real ale, malt whiskeys and wine to a mix of locals and tourists alike and is a regular venue for live traditional music. Here I sampled Tass 80/ (4.6%) made by Broughton Ales in Biggar. A dark auburn coloured brew, dried fruit nose, mousy head that thickly laces and slowly falls with the creamy head right to the bottom of the glass, with a malt accented palate and a malt balanced against a hidden hop support structure.
Just up from the main high street on the New Town side of the castle is the Oxford Bar, a small basic historical pub recommended by Clare for its literary connections, unchanged since the 19th century. It is renowned for being the favourite bar of Inspector Rebus and his creator, famed novelist Ian Rankin, and a haunt of many others over the years as well. It has a tiny front bar with high ceilings, 2 or 3 snug rooms up some short stairs, one featuring a warm fireplace for those cold evenings, and features 5 real ale taps, of the old Scottish tall fount variety. So, in honour of Ms. Stanfield and Mr. Rankin, I raised a pint of Cairngorm Tradewinds (4.3%), a spectacular multi-award winning ale. Massive nose of citrus fruit, elderflower and hop leading to hints of grapefruit and apricot on the palate. An exceptional bitter sweetness lasts through to a long lingering finish.
On my way back through town I came across a giant pub, the Standing Order, part of the Wetherspoons chain, on George Street. Situated in a marvelous old Georgian hotel building, it is truly a wonder to walk through the enormous bar and witness the literally dozens of tapped beers, many real ales and many not. However, they were featuring some sort of festival of international brews that day and the place was packed, and with such a din, one would have had trouble placing an order with a barman without shouting. I passed and went to the quiet local nearest my hotel in the Old Town instead.
The Bow Bar is a late 20th century pastiche of a classic one roomed Scottish ale house, featuring a constantly changing 5 real ale taps (using the traditional tall founts dispensing system) and 200 malt whiskeys. There is a lot of room in front of the bar for perpendicular drinking, a number of small fixed, narrow tables and benches surrounding, and of course, a fireplace. Once again I had just missed tasting the now infamous Bitter and Twisted, but had instead Broughton's Autumn Ale (3.5%). Gold coloured with a fresh nose, this hop accented brew has great balance of bitterness over biscuity malt, a smooth palate, a creamy mouthfeel and long lovingly dry finish. My goodness, all of these great Scottish brews are just way too easy to drink! No wonder I never see anyone drinking 1/2 pints, what's the hurry?
I finished the evening with a Bottlewreck Porter (4.7%) from the Hammerpot Brewery. Deep, dark and delicious! Malty nosed and full bodied with big flavour, this is a smooth and well balanced porter featuring roasted, toasted and bitter dry elements, a fantastic after dinner slow sipping brew, with hints of coffee, bitter black malt and a hidden hop drying out the finish fabulously! What a great way to end my stay in Edinburgh!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Derbyshire Beer Festival at the Guildford Arms

I have never seen such beautiful pubs as I've seen in Edinburgh. Many of these historical turn of the century bars (and I mean turn from the 19th to the 20th century that is) are so lovingly restored or recreated that many are breathtaking and awe inspiring, such is the quality and detail on display. The Guildford Arms is one of these places and was first mentioned to me by the gentlemen at the Halfway House, but I didn't get there until my second day. It is an absolutely stunning room, superb high ceiling, tall ensconced windows, gorgeous wood bar, lots of open floor space, comfortable seating and even a restaurant area above overlooking this magnificence. As luck would have it, I walked into the first day of a full blown real ale festival! As if there was not enough great Scottish micros to try, the Guildford Arms was hosting an 11 day event featuring 50 beers from Derbyshire, in the English Midlands. Oh my god! Where to start?
Well, they only have 10 real ale taps (!), so the festival beers would be rotating daily. That limited the field right away, as this would be my only visit. Next, I thought I'd better be prudent and go for the smallest tasters as possible, which turned out to be 1/2 pint glasses only. Okay, now I would need some sustenance to get me through the afternoon, and they had available a 'Scottish Cheese Platter', featuring 4 different local curds, a fresh crisp, coarse chutney with oatcakes, plus some fruit and veggies too. I was all set then, as I walked up to the busy bar and placed my order.
I started with Brunswick's Triple Hop (4%) from Derby, a pale gold coloured and citrus hop bouqueted bitter, featuring some malt sweetness and delivering a firm, dry aftertaste. It seemed to go quite well with the first cheese, something called Blue Monday. Incidentally, this wonderful fermented curd is made by Alex James, the former bass player from Blur, now an award winning cheese maker in his own right. My next beer choice came from Ashbourne and the Leather Britches Brewery, Doctor Johnson (4%), a mild brown ale, auburn in colour, fully flavoured malt accented brew, with some underlying hop and hints of caramel. This was delectable with the Applewood Smoked Cheddar! Number 3 took me to Stavely and the Spire Brewery. It was their 80 Shilling Ale (4.3%), a darker and maltier brew, made from a traditional Scottish recipe, medium bodied and very smooth. This was yummy with the second blue, a more traditional Stilton.
I then noticed that my beers where getting darker with each pour, only coincidentally it seemed, since I was choosing strictly by name and tap label only. Interesting. I also realized that the cheeses were not necessarily really Scottish, and the staff were really no help in this regard, as they were knowledgeable in the beers they were serving, but not the cheeses. The Full Mash Brewery from Stapleford looked good, something called Steve Ashby's Locoil (4.6%) with a picture of the brewer himself, I'm guessing, on the label. This seemed to be an almost black stout, but with a rounded body and a slightly bitter edge. I tried the unidentified Brie with this one, good, but went back to the Blue Monday, as they seemed to complement each other so well. From the beginning I had my eye on the Smoked Porter (5.6%) from the Bottlebrook Brewery in Belper. The label looked hand drawn, which somehow appealed to me, inspiring images of a brewer more interested in his art than the art of marketing, so it was next. Absolutely black, malty and smokey, a true English porter with bitter undertones, but with the presence of a fresh hoppy character. This was one of my favourites, and yes, it went down extremely well with the Stilton.
It was all tasting so good, but by now 3 of the 10 taps were emptied as the clientele came and went, and my stamina was starting to wane just a little bit. Not to mention I had eaten just about everything on my platter, so I allowed myself one more indulgence. It was Divebomber (3.8%) from the Funfair Brewery in Ilkeston. Straw coloured and extremely aromatic, really nice hop content, a very refreshing pale ale with hints of citrus and a wonderfully dry finish. And finished I was, counting myself fortunate to get through 6 marvelous brews and still be able to walk out the door!
The afternoon was fading, but it still was a gorgeous, warm fall day as I walked about the busy streets, knowing the air would do me good. I decided to do some music shopping, as I had glimpsed a great looking CD shop earlier in the day. Maybe not the smartest thing to do after an afternoon of beer tasting, I found way too many things I wanted to buy! But what the hey, I'm not in Scotland everyday! Ach Edinburgh, what a marvelous city you are!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Incredible Edinburgh

What can you say about a city that has it all: architecture, whiskey, music, art, history, a stunning, rocky landscape, world class restaurants of every flavour, real ale pubs, fabulous museums and a population that is fashionable, well educated and absolutely friendly and helpful? Incredible! That is Edinburgh!
It was a beautiful sunny morning as I arrived at the airport on my early flight. The bus to the city centre was right outside and took about 30 minutes. I dropped my bags at the hotel and was out and about before the pubs were open, so I did the touristy things: a big Scottish breakfast, the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile walk and then found the Scottish Whiskey Experience, a multi-media tour through the history and process of malt whiskey making. It was actually very interesting. More so for the 3,500 bottles of whiskey on display (largest in captivity) and the amazing malts available at the bar at the end of the tour. I tried an 18 year old Smokehead from Islay (from an undisclosed distillery) that was absolutely fabulous – peaty, malty, with large hints of salt sea spray. Wow!
The CAMRA Good Beer Guide lists many great pubs in or near the city centre, but it does not take much to find some great spots, just a bit of an adventurous spirit, no fear of wandering up or down the many staired ‘closes’ running off the main streets and a willingness to engage the locals.
My first stop was the Halfway House on Fleshmarket Close, a tiny little pub on a tiny little side alley. I was immediately engaged by a couple of regulars, after I ordered a good local brew, Pentlands IPA (3.9%) from Stewart Brewing, a white foamed perfectly balanced golden coloured session ale, thick, slow falling lace, light on the palate, with a subtle bitterness tickling the tongue, fresh malt all the way through to a wonderfully dry finish. We talked about the Scottish micro scene and landlord Steve joined in describing some of the difficulties to overcome in running a free house in this day and age. He must be doing something right - the Halfway House was CAMRA's Pub of the Year for Edinburgh for 2009. I next tried Kelburn Red Smiddy (4.1%), SIBA's (Society of Independent Brewers) 2010 Best Regional Beer Gold Medal Winner, beautiful copper/red bitter, fruity malt aroma, citrus tones balanced against a good malt base, smooth mouthfeel, lovely, loose staying lace, malt accented finish, with enough hops to dry it out properly. I also met Robert Knops of the very new Knops Beer Co., only 6 months old. He was delivering casks that would not be ready to serve until the weekend, unfortunately for me. He said he did have some bottled versions of his beer in a couple of bottle shops around town, so i vowed to see if I could find them. Everyone recommended a few other places, so I wished them well and wandered on my way.
My next stop was the classic Abbotsford Bar & Restaurant on Rose Street, famous since 1902 for it's beautiful central dark mahogany bar, surrounded by long, sharing tables against the outside walls, a very historical pub. It has a intricately detailed high art deco-ish ceiling and is a popular lunch time spot. I ordered the 'Haggis, Neeps and Tatties' and Hurricane Jack (4.4%) from Fyne, a blond ale with a slightly fruity nose, well balanced hop versus malt ratio, very smooth palate and a nice dry finish. One of the very knowledgeable bartenders, Asten, noticed my note taking and we starting talking about beer. She explained the 'tall founts' system, where the beer is served by pushing it up with air pressure and a 'water engine' (hydraulics) as opposed to the English method of suction by pump. Once common, now only rarely used, the Abbotsford serves 6 real ales, all but one using the traditional Scottish ‘tall founts’ taps. Next up was Trappledouser (4.7%), a gold/amber, hop infused bitter, well balanced and smooth with a long and evenly dry finish. The Atlas Nimbus Strong Pale Ale (5%) displayed a fruity nose, a pale gold colour, a wonderfully malty backbone, with some sweet maltiness running through an evenly bitter palate, hints of apple, and light abstract lacing follows the beer to the bottom of the glass. Before she left, Asten recommended a new pub not far away, the Conan Doyle.
The Conan Doyle is a just refurbished upscale pub, part of the Nicholson's chain of historic pubs, specializing in Scottish food, cask ales and malt whiskey. They have 7 real ales on, I went for Brew Dog's Punk IPA. Pale gold in colour, hoppier and stronger than any other IPA I've tried, definitive floral nose, hop bitter palate held up by a solid malt base, the thick head leaves lovely, light rings of lace after each sip, high hop values, with an astringent, dry finish. I had been wanting to try Harvieston's Bitter and Twisted, recommended by everyone I talked to, but once again I was told that they had just run out. So, I went for the cask version of Brains SA instead. Interestingly, I was not as impressed with this beer as a cask real ale, as I was with the bottled version I tried in Wales. Then it dawned on me, something Lukas had told me in the Czech Republic. Different beers are designed for different purposes, and a beer destined to be bottled may not be the same when presented unfiltered in a cask. Very true in this case. Also, Wales was a long way for a real ale to travel.
After a spicy chipotle infused Mexican dinner (my palate needed a break), I finished the evening at the Blue Blazer, not far from my hotel. The ubiquitous Deuchar’s IPA (3.8%) is a gold hued, mildly hopped pale ale, creamy white head that leaves multiple ‘rings of Saturn’ lacing, smooth, well balanced malt-hop relationship and silky mouthfeel, with the bitterness ascending for a deliciously dry finish. My night cap was Old Mortality 80/ (4.2%) from Strathaven, a lovely garnet brown traditional Scottish ale. It starts with a dried fruit laden nose, has a toasted malt palate with hints of molasses, roasted malt, brown sugar and chocolate. It finishes long and even, smooth and caramelly.
It was a great first day in the Scotland's capital city.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Final Thoughts on Bristol

Built on a succession of hills just inland from the mouth of the river Avon, with a population of about half a million, Bristol prospered during the days of empire building, transatlantic commerce, and on the slave trade in particular in the 1700s. It features an area of waterways and a harbour at the city’s heart and a sprawling commercial centre that spreads up its many hills to Clifton, a more open and airy green terraced area of Georgian architecture, upmarket shops and the Downs, that overlooks a dramatic gorge over the river below. Bristol has a thriving music and art scene, a major university and is home to a very diverse population, from all over Great Britain and around the world.
As I continued my exploration of the city, I found the Hope and Anchor, half way up the hill between the Floating Harbour and the Clifton Downs, right near the university and not far from the city’s 19th century Cathedral. No TV, no pool tables, no VLTs, just a real traditional British pub, with a rotating selection of 6 interesting real ale. It has a nice bright room in front, a hop vine decorated bar, and the room swings around to the right making a L shaped with more tables in the back. Also, out back is a beautiful terraced area with a rocky flower garden for when the weather is nice. I have enjoyed the Hopback Brewery beers I have found in the city’s pubs, so started with Hopfest (4.6%) a pale gold/yellow best bitter, fresh bready/hop nose, light low head that clings to the glass for a thin, fading lacing, and features a wonderful balance, a pervasive subtle bitterness that floats across a toasted malt palate, with hints of tangerine and an astringent dry finish, easy to drink.
They have daily lunch specials and an extensive menu featuring an amazing looking Ploughman’s Lunch (choice of more than a dozen items in two or three lists including some luscious looking English cheeses). No quite that hungry, I went for the tasty lamb burger and listening to the soundtrack of my youth playing appropriately low on the speakers in the pub: Sixiousie & the Banshees, The Fall, David Bowie, Wire and a lot of other great new bands that I don’t even know. I just LOVE British music! Small taster glasses of anything on tap were freely offered by the friendly and knowledgeable bar staff.
Butcombe Brunel IPA (5%) is a gold brew with amber tones, biscuit nose followed up by a bitter fresh hop palate, well balanced with a fruity malt base and a malt-accented, yet dry finish. Wickwar Autumnal (4%) is more amber in colour, the balance swinging in the dark malt direction, but underpinned by a fresh bitterness with notes of toasted malt and hints of dried fruit. Palmers Tally Ho Strong Dark Ale (5.5%) is darker and sweeter still, it’s stronger palate giving way to some roastiness but with enough hops to smooth out the middle and dry the finish nicely.
There are a number of good bottle shops to find real bottle-conditioned and other ales around Bristol. Staying away from the large supermarket chains is a good idea, as their selections, as you can imagine, run the gamut of cheap international lagers and mass market national British beers. But Cotham Wines, in the heart of Clifton, is a decent little shop, with an amazing selection of British real ales, high end imports (Dogfish Head, for example, and a few other award winners from the States) as well as an impressive collection of wines.
Moor JJJ IPA (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 26), was a fabulous beer that I found here. Also, Cheddar Ales Totty Pot Porter (4.7%) Very good dark porter (there really seemed to be so few porters available) featuring tones of coffee and chocolate, with hints of tobacco and a big roasted malt quotient. Kelham Island has become one of my favourite breweries, on tap or in the bottle. Easy Rider (4.3%) is a session bitter, pale straw, good fruity aroma, with full hop flavour and bitterness.
Box Steam Brewery from Wiltshire boasts a steam fired copper kettle, hence the name. Dark & Handsome (5%) is a traditional style old ale, smooth and creamy, citrus notes floating seductively over liquorice undertones, exhibiting a certain malty sweetness throughout.
Another great pub, just around the corner from Cothams Wines on Whiteladies Road is the Vittoria, a beautiful restored traditional British pub. The building dates back to perhaps the mid-1850’s, with a façade added in 1911. The new landlord Les converted it back from a rowdy sports bar about 2 years ago to it's original retro splendor. Nice long wood bar, one long, narrow smallish room, maybe 8 tables with a booth in the front window and a couple of tables out on the street for people watching on the high street in good weather . The coal burning fireplace takes the chill off on rainy days, they have free Wifi, a nice selection of 7 real ales and a varied menu, including daily specials, as in some wonderful meat pies, 6 to choose from the day I was there. Les is very knowledgeable and gave me a short history of the place, of Bristol itself and the pubs namesake too, a pre-WWI British war ship sunk off the coast of Finland while siding with the Whites during the Russian Revolution. As all of the shops on the high were getting ready for Halloween, I continued that theme with my beer selection. Marston’s Wicked Witch (4.2%) is a dark ruby red/brown ale, with a fruity nose and a delicious malt laden body, held up by a generous amount of fresh, juicy hops. Greene King’s Ghastly Ghoul was darker, a brown ale with shades of garnet, a full malt nose with fruity tones, a fully body with hints of treacle/molasses, but enough hop bitterness to suppress too much sweetness. It had a creamy mouthfeel and a long, smooth drying finish.
Bristol is a wonderful city to visit, varied and historically intriguing, full of friendly and interesting people, a hodge podge of architectural types and styles, with many great pubs and exquisite restaurants. I would like to give many thanks to my great friends Dana and Mark, and their kids Taz and Rosa, for their generous hospitality and friendship, and for showing me the city in a way that a simple tourist just wouldn’t see, and for getting me out of the city for hikes in the country and up into Wales. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bristol Beer Factory, The Seven Stars and Beyond

This day started on a crisp, clear morning with a long bike ride down the hill from Clifton, over the river and into Southville where the Bristol Beer Factory is located. Assistant brewer Brett was working on a mash when I arrived, and head brewer Chris was in the kettle, cleaning and preparing it for the day's brew. Brett was able to take the time to give me a quick tour around this tiny brewery that produces so much beer. An independent award winning brewery since 2005, BBF produces some 11 different brews on their 10 UK barrel (16 hectolitre) system, and then some seasonals as well. They source British malt and hops and use a traditional single step infusion mash and open fermentation tanks to create their tasty beers. Once fermented, yeast is skimmed off for reuse, the beer is cooled for 2 days, then transferred to conditioning tanks where finings are added. They spend a minimum of 7 days here before being transferred to casks and delivered to pubs. All of their products are unpasteurized, unfiltered and naturally carbonated, though they do send out a small percentage of their best selling beers to a contractor to bottle for specialty liquor stores. They are also working on bottle conditioning some of their beers at their own facility, though up to 90% of their production ends up in casks for real ale pubs around town and beyond. They have two locations in Bristol of their own as well, The Barley Mow and the Grain Barge, where you can find a full range of their beers. Brett also told me about the first home brew competition BBF sponsored earlier in the year. Some 40 local home brewers stepped up to the plate and entered their British style ales for judging. The winner was honoured with a full batch of his brew being produced at the brewery and was available as a hand-pumped real ale. Pretty special, I'd say. I thanked the busy brewers for their time and continued on with my own day's busy schedule.
My next stop was the historical Seven Stars, one of Bristol's premier real ale pubs since changing hands in 2009, and one of the oldest, dating back to the late 1600s. Landlord Paul Wratten has worked hard this previous year and had just won the prestigious local CAMRA chapter's Best Pub in Bristol award for 2010. Rightly so, with 8 ever changing taps, it is absolutely incredible the variety of real ales that passes through this premises. Paul even has a list in front of the bar where patrons can mark down beers they'd like to see at the bar. I made it back here a number of times during my stay and was always astonished to find a totally different line up on each occasion. This day, however, found me meeting cheese guru Todd Trethowan for a pint. This is his local you see, as his office is right next door in the bell tower of the old congregationless St. Thomas Church. We talked of beer, cheese, the history of the pub, the church and Bristol itself, and had a pint of Boogie Woogie (4.2%) from Blackwater Brewery in the West Midlands. This was a lovely fresh hop nosed pale yellow brew, with hints of grapefruit on the palate spread over an even bready malt base. Todd took me on a brief tour of his 'cheese church' (as I've jokingly started calling it) and then I was back at the Seven Stars for something I had my eye on earlier, a tasty pint of Old Slug Porter from RCH in Somerset. Smooth, dark, roasty and full bodied, with hints of coffee and dark dried fruit, beautifully balanced, creamy mouthfeel, rich and complex. The pub was filling up by now, as on Wednesdays, all of the ales are discounted, a real deal indeed. I finished up with the delightful Kelham Island Are You Lonesome Tonite (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 21) then carried on to a few other great little pubs in the area.
The Cornubia, barely two blocks away, had been recommended to me by several beer lovers, and indeed, was another great traditional pub. They have 7 real ale taps, and also featured 3 casks of fresh rough cider that day. I opted for Quantock Brewery's Sunracker (4.2%) a beautiful light clear gold coloured bitter, presenting a floral hop aroma leading to a well balanced malt based palate with clean, dry finish. Northumberland's Hoof Harted (3.8%) was next, bright and gold coloured, deep hop nose, good malty backbone, smooth clean mouthfeel and a wonderfully dry finish. Yummy! Around the corner and over the canal is The Bridge Inn, basically a Bath Ales pub, where I tried a cask conditioned SPA (3.7%). This light bodied dry bitter has a fruity aroma and palate, is hop accented with citrus notes and delivers a long malty and dry finish.
My last stop was the classic King's Head, dating from pre-1660, and listed in CAMRAs Historical Pub Interiors Index. A narrow long bar leads to a tramcar-like snug in the rear. Pictures of old Bristol decorate the walls and an earlier landlady is said to haunt these premises. The bar seemed to be populated by a few eccentrics this day, but 4 real ales are always on offer, and between bits of intriguing conversation I enjoyed the Sharp's Cornish Coaster (3.6%), a smooth, easy drinking bitter, golden hued with a fresh hop bite and dry malt on the tongue, finishing smooth and full. One more for the road, Butcombe's Gold (4.4%) a decent bitter with a fruity pale malt nose featuring citrus hops and a good bitterness on the palate, slightly sweet, but finishing nicely dry.
All of these great pubs were within easy walking distance of each other, but now I had a long uphill bike ride back up to Clifton on the west side of town. No matter, as it had turned into a beautiful warm autumn day and life was good.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Big Cheese Taste Off at the King's Arms

It's not everyday one gets a chance to pair delicious Welsh cheeses with tasty British beers, so when I told Mark about the sign I saw in the window of the King's Arms, we decided to give it a go. And it wasn't just beer they were pairing the cheese with, but British cider and British wine as well. The wonderful and whacky Todd Trethowan from Trethowan's Dairy, a family owned business of cheese makers & mongers from Gorwydd Farm, Llanddewi Brefi, Wales was on hand to give colourful descriptions of each cheese that was presented. Also on hand were representatives of the three beverage providers, who described their products ahead of each pairing. Everyone was provided with a voting form and were asked to rate the three different drinks that we thought went best with the cheeses in each flight. Of course, beer readers, Britain is not known for it's wines, and alas, I have nothing good to say about the wines that were presented at this evening of pairings, I placed the wines at number 3 each time, so I will leave it at that. The ciders were good, but of the sparkling, commercial variety, very similar to each other and not the zesty and fresh rough, cask ciders I've been enjoying around town, so, of course, my focus was on the beer. The Bristol Beer Factory was the featured brewery, in business since 2005, making an interesting array of beers, using all British sourced ingredients and winning awards for them as well.
The first delectable curd up was Gorwydd Caerphilly, an award winning mature cheese made by hand to a traditional recipe using raw unpasteurized cows milk and aged for two months on the farm. It exhibits a fresh lemony taste with a creamy texture right through to the outer mushroomy rind (known as the “breakdown”) and a firmer but moist inner. It was paired with BBF's Acer, a 3.8% ale with a fruity nose, a big hop presence (they use Soracchi Ace hops), with hints of tangy citrus over a bready malt base. Quite a wonderful combination.
Next up was Dorstone Goats Cheese, presented by Todd, but actually from Neal's Yard Creamery, a traditional, unpasteurized ashed goats cheese with a delicate, wrinkled rind, fluffy yet creamy texture and a lovely zesty tang. This went quite well with BBF's Bristol Hefe, a German style wheat (unusual for a British beer maker), refreshing, tart and light bodied with the traditional banana and clove notes, but also small hints of bubblegum and grapefruit. Delicious!
The last pairing featured a Collingthwaite Farm product, Stichelton, a classic blue cheese from unpasteurized cows milk that is cool and buttery, with an underlying nuttiness and a spicy element. BBF brought out their award winning Milk Stout for this one. This 4.5% brew is black, full-bodied and a touch sweet. They use unfermentable lactose sugar in the boil that accentuates the chocolate sweetness and black malt roastiness. I think this pairing won over the crowd to beer being the best thing to taste with cheese.
On hand from BBF was Brett, one of the brewers, who had a couple of extra beers for those interested. He happens to be an Californian living in Bristol, so was likely responsible for the next brew he poured for me, Southville Hop, a 6.5% American style IPA, made with Columbus and Centennial hops. This is a big beer, amber in colour, huge hoppy nose of grapefruit over a strong malt base, wonderfully complex palate, hinting of tropical fruit, definitely a US West coast inspiration. I had the unique opportunity of tasting this brew cask conditioned on a hand pump, and was suitably impressed again. As a real ale, the hops are somewhat subdued and more evenly balanced, though still running juicily through the huge maltiness quite impressively. He also shared their Exhibition Ale (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 20), perhaps my favourite of the evening. We chatted some more and he invited me to visit the brewery, located in one of the remaining buildings of the old Ashton Gate, once a brewery for almost 200 years.
Todd came over and spent some time at our table as well, talking to us about apprenticing as a cheese-maker, the labourious process of making cheese by hand, his love of beer paired with cheese and beer in general. Turns out we have a lot in common. We agreed to meet the next day at his local, which just so happened to be The Seven Stars, the CAMRA Bristol chapter's Pub of the Year for 2010.

A Day in Bath

Bath is a short train ride from Bristol and home to many traditional pubs and six microbreweries of their own. I decided the best approach to finding good real ale was to seek out the local CAMRA pub of the year. In Bath's case, that meant The Raven. They have 7 local real ales on the hand pump, featuring 3 of their own, made by local micro Blindmans, plus a cider and 4 other taps. The Ravens Dark is a deep, garnet brown with a tan head, light nutty nose, floral hops, creamy malty palate with a rich underpinning of bitterness, though nicely balanced, lovely finish. I ordered the Ravens Pie for lunch, made with their own ale, and my next beer, Sommerset & Dorset Ale (4.4%), beautiful reddish gold, fruit-hop nose, definite hop accented palate, a mild bitterness running through its whole malty profile, lovely dry finish. I ended my session with Otter Bright (4.3%). All these beers are so smooth! This one pale gold, classic hop/malt nose, white head creates a hanging lace, great balance with a tinge of citrus, good malt base and a 'more-ish' finish.
Not far away is the Old Green Tree, a tiny bar with two small adjacent rooms. Their best seller here is RCH Pitchfork (4.3%), gold coloured, fruity nose, sharp hops with hints of citrus on a bright palate, fully flavoured, ending nice and dry. I read they always have a porter on, though this day it was Hopback Brewery's Entire Stout (4.5%). A smooth, light bodied and easy drinking stout, jet black featuring some roasted coffee tones, great balance and dryish finish. Blindmans makes the house brew Old Green Tree Ale for this pub, a light, pale gold, well balanced session beer that is popular as well.
I made my way next to The Bell, a larger more rambling pub a short distance away. Hop vines hanging everywhere, there are 7 real ales available, with 2 rotating guest taps and a very knowledgeable and friendly bar staff. They had a local favourite from Abbey Ales, Bellringer (4.2%). Gold coloured, fresh, floral hop nose, beautiful malt balanced nicely against a nice even bitterness, toasty and dry, lovely and long finish. They had free Wifi, so as I studied my Good Beer Guide and worked on catching up on my blog posting, I went for a Danish Dynamite (5%) from Stonehenge Ales. Full on deep gold ale, big fruity aroma, with a complex palate, fully flavoured, medium bodied, malt accented balanced against a wonderful bitterness. It was all so wonderful, I didn't want to leave! But, it was if the barkeep saved the best for last as he offered me a Weymouth Durdle Door (5%) from Dorset Brewing (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 19). Then it really was time to get to the train and find my way back to Bristol.

The Golden Age of British Ale

Back in the early 1970s, the British beer scene was ruled by the 'Big Six'. Like in many countries, big industrial brewers closed regional breweries to promote national and international brands. This was when CAMRA was born. Now 40 years young, CAMRA is not resting on its laurels, but is continuing the fight against regressive tax laws and promoting traditional, small batch real ale. In fact, due to the hard work and dedication of this great organization, there are now twice as many small, craft breweries operating in Britain than when they began. The real ale revival is reflected in CAMRAs membership, now some 115,000 strong. I've also heard quotes of up to 850 breweries now operating, a impressive number. This is truly a Golden Age for British Ale. As mass market beers stagnate, and many pubs face closure, real ale continues to grow and prosper, and at such a rate that even the annual Good Beer Guide cannot keep their listings totally current.
That said, I had my work cut out for me. Staggering are the numbers of pubs listed in the Good Beer Guide 2011 I picked up upon my arrival, but also just the sheer number of pubs everywhere. There are literally dozens within walking distance of where I was staying. Dana made me o short list of a few places she knew, and book in hand, I set out. My first stop was the Port of Call in Clifton, claiming to be the oldest pub on Clifton hill, dating back to 1760. It has a small L shaped room featuring 4 real ales on the hand pump, and like any British pub I've been in, people are friendly and well informed. This is where I met John and Dave, two regulars, and Dave the barkeep, who schooled me on the local and national scene. I started the day with Cotleigh New Harvest (4%), a golden bitter. Subtle hop aroma leads to citric elements on first sip, but slowly fresh hops come to fore on the palate, balancing the good malt base. It also has a creamy mouthfeel and a long, smooth finish. They also had Sharp's Doom Bar (4%), a bitter from Cornwall presents a malty nose, with a good balance featuring citric notes, fruity palate that dries out nicely in the finish. Some small traditional pubs still close for part of the afternoon, so John and Dave took me down some stairs on a tiny side street to the Beaufort Arms, as Dave the barkeep closed up the Port of Call. This pub did have national real ale casks on: Fuller's London Pride (4.1%, dark gold, malt nose, classic beautiful balance between hop and malt, dry finish) and Young's Bitter (3.7%, pale gold, slight hop aroma, every sip lacing the glass, hop accented built on a good malt base, hints of citrus, dry finish), but I had been brought here to taste some fresh 'rough' cider. Bristol and environs are famous for their orchards and therefore is a centre for cider making, and fall just happens to be the time one can find wonderfully fresh, real still ciders served from casks. Thatcher's Dry Cider is still and a cloudy orange colour with an apple-fruity nose, definite sour apple palate, balanced towards a a drier finish. Tauton Cider is pale yellow, not as cloudy, but slightly hazy with a touch more carbonation, warm apple palate, nice even finish. Cider was the traditional drink of the working man, John told me, and is therefore about 2/3 the price of ale. The place to go in Bristol to taste all the marvelously fresh ciders in the area is The Apple, aka the Cider Barge, down on the city's harbour front. This could be a whole other tour! I thanked my mentors and wandered on my way. Next, to the Coach and Horses, a more modern pub, for a pint of Butcombe Bitter (4%). A lovely, classic dark bitter, malty nose with hints of hop, an even balance with bitterness ascending on the palate, some light peppery notes with a dry, clean bitter finish. I then finished the afternoon at the Jersey Lily, a lovely modern, wood accented room right on the high street, featuring 6 real ales in casks. I went for the award winning St. Austell Tribute (4.2%) medium bodied, copper coloured premium ale, slight citric hop sitting nicely on the malty architecture underneath, with a smooth and light mouthfeel, beautiful stalactite lacing on the glass, and a dry, hoppy finish.
On my walk back up the hill I noticed a small poster in the window of the King's Arms, advertising a cheese tasting with British beer, cider and wine. Sounded like something I should check out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Across the Channel to the Land of Real Ale

It's a quick flight from Amsterdam to Bristol, where I would be visiting and staying with good friends Dana and Mark. In fact, Mark picked me up at the airport on a lovely warm and sunny day, and as we whisked through the beautiful English countryside on our way into town, I could not help but notice, pub after pub, everywhere along the drive advertising 'Real Ales on the Hand-Pump'. It made my mouth water just thinking about it! I've tasted a lot of different styles of beers in a lot of different places during this adventure, but I do have a real affinity for cask conditioned real British ale, and this is one reason I left Britain for the end of my journey. One of the first places Mark took me to was the Portcullis, not far from his house. This just happens to be CAMRA's runner up for Best Pub in Bristol 2010. CAMRA, for those who don't know, CAMRA is the Campaign for Real Ale, the quintessential organization that promotes and endeavours to protect British real ales. They publish their Good Beer Guide annually, and it is the holy bible one absolutely needs to navigate the many pubs to find the best beers anywhere in the U.K. The Portcullis has been a pub since 1821, but was recently saved from closure by the Dawkins chain, and is therefore a 'tied house', offering 9 real ales on tap, three from Dawkins and 6 guest taps. We ordered the Dawkins Bob Wall Best Bitter (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 17) and Dawkins TTT Best Bitter, both measuring in at 4.2% ABV. The TTT is a golden/amber, smooth and easy-drinking ale, displaying some citrus and marmalade tones, very well balanced with a gentle bitter finish. A very nice start, but we had to go, Dana was waiting! Also waiting in their fridge were three beers from the local Bath Ales Brewery: Gem (4.8%) an amber best bitter with a rich aroma of hops, malt and a long, deep, bitter-sweet finish; Barnstormer (4.5%) featuring Brambling Cross hops, a fruity palate with hints of chocolate, complex and malty, a full-bodied dark bitter; and Golden Hare (4.4%) a light ale, well conditioned, smooth yet dry, wonderfully fresh, made with Maris Otter barley and Golding hops exhibiting a delightfully zesty finish.
What a great start to the British leg of my tour!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Tale of Three Brewpubs in Amsterdam, and then some more bock beers!

Of course, like most places in the civilized world, the Netherlands beer industry is dominated by major players: Heineken is the largest (who also control Brand), Bavaria is number two, operating on the cheaper end of the market (though they also run La Trappe) and Grolsch being number three of the homegrown large industrials. There are internationals here as well, Inbev being one who operates Dutch breweries Dommelsch and Hertog Jan, and there are 5 independents: Alfa, Budels, Gulpener, Lindeboom, and Leeuw, which is owned by the Belgian brewery Haacht. There are far more microbreweries in Holland (more than 30) than brewpubs (more than 12), but that too is changing, as it is in many places. There is also a trend that seems to work, contract brewing, where Dutch companies engage other brewers to make their beers for them. The Dutch brew a wide range of beers, both top and bottom fermenting varieties, ranging from Euro-lagers, British and Belgian style ales, as well as some traditional Nederlander beers (multigrain, sour browns and some hoppy types).
There are many great pubs and cafes in Amsterdam, some 1200 for the population of almost 3/4 of a million. My focus on this journey has been to always search out the most local and freshest brews that I can on tap, and in the case of Amsterdam, that boils down to three brewery/brewpubs, all located within the city itself.
The first is Brouwerij de Prael, built on the site of a former 17th century coach house, right in the centre of the Red Light District at the city's heart. The brewery itself is located behind their retail shop, and they currently run a tasting room one block away on Warmoesstraat, but are in the process of building a new taproom within the existing premises on Oudezijds Armsteeg canal. They also have a unique philosophy, employing as many as 70 people, some who might be otherwise unemployable, giving many a fresh start and the dignity of working in a thriving business. As mentioned in a previous posting, they have about 8 brews on tap at any given time, plus a guest beer. I just so happened to drop in for a tour of their facility and found that they not only had a bock beer, but in fact, 3 bock beers! The Nelis Herbstbock (7.7%) is the autumn bock brew, with a sweet malt nose, hazy golden brown colour, tones of chocolate malt giving way to a very balanced middle, with a velvety mouthfeel, nice long lacing and a well rounded and somewhat fruity flavour profile. They also had another version of this same brew, but made with a portion of smoked malt and whiskey malt (see Beer of the Day, Oct.15) named Nelis 'Pyp' or 'Pipe'. The guest beer that day was Polder Bock, a doppel bock I'd say, clocking in at a hefty 8%. Dark brown, tan head, full complex malt palate with some varied bitterness, hints of coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, fairly well balanced finishing with a drying bittersweet maltiness.
Perhaps the oldest micro in town is Brouwerij 't IJ, now celebrating 25 years in the business of brewing. Their brewery and tasting room is located on Funenkade, not far from the city centre. They make an impressive array of beers, from pilsner to Trappist, amber to dark beer and wheat beer to bock, plus many seasonal and specialties released at various times of the year or for special occasions. Their bock beer I commented on in yesterday's blog, along with the lovely bock from Schelde Brouwerij Wilde Bok (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 13) that I enjoyed at Cafe Demmers.
Yet another great Dutch bock I found was at Amsterdam's smallest brewpub on Klovenierburgwal De Bekeerde Zuster, or The Reformed Sister. This pub is part of De Beiaard Group, who run two other pubs in Amsterdam, and a few more around Holland. The small brewhouse is on display at the back of the pub, but there are many rambling rooms of various sizes in this unique bar. They had 4 beers of their own on tap, as well as 6 other guest beers. The golden brown Bock Ros (6.5%) was superb, starting with a sweetish nose, creamy head, malt palate hinting of dried fruit and toffee, medium bodied, with some alcohol warming the tongue. They do a cheese fondue with this brew that is to die for! Also good was their Tripel Ros (7.2%) pale straw coloured, candi sugared treat, sweet malt pervades, hidden spikes of alcohol and fruity notes, nice balance, lovely, long finish.
And I still found more great bocks made in this lovely country! Gulpener Jaarling Bokbier (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 14) was an excellent brew, as was Jopen Bokbier, a ruby red 6.5% treat from Haarlem, made with oats, wheat, barley and rye. Unfiltered haziness with tarty hints of orange, this beer displays a certain smoky roastiness and perhaps a touch of licorice.
Such great bock beers in the Netherlands! Who'd have thought?
The beers of Holland are like hidden gems waiting to be found. This city should be a must on any beer hunters list of places to go.
I would also very much like to thank Ulli and Edzer for their generous hospitality during my stay in Bussum, and for showing me a side of Holland I would have never got to see! Cheers!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running Back to Amsterdam for Bock Season

So, back to one of my favourite cities for some well deserved rest and relaxation. Also, to meet up with a couple of the 'Jesus and Beers' girls (Les & Jess) for their final days in Europe before flying home to Calgary. Our time was well spent doing some fun touristy things: renting and riding bicycles along the canals and the many bike paths this wonderful city has to offer. We also relaxed on a canal tour boat, getting a glimpse of some of the beautiful areas we missed first time around. In between we even managed to tour the Heineken Brewery, a rather fun experience actually, getting there early enough to beat the crowds. Of course, we fit in a few pubs for a few beers and that is when I discovered it was bock season. I was too early during the first part of my journey to catch any German bock beers while traveling there, so I was quite surprised and exited to find a few here. One of the first ones I came across was the guest tap at the Old Nickel, the wonderfully deep, dark, delicious and strong Weihenstephaner Korbinian Bock (see Beer of the Day, Oct. 11). This was a nice prelude to our last meal together, as it were, at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant, a short walk from the old town centre. It was a lovely night and even though we had reservations, the restaurant was not full. It was nice to kick back and enjoy some pre-dinner cocktails that were not beers for a change, and then to have a bottle of beautiful deep, red Italian wine with the excellently prepared and well served meal. We took our time and then sauntered slowly back into town, reminiscing about our collective and separate journeys. The girls had been in Europe for a month, me for 6 weeks. They would leave the next day, I had two weeks to go.
The next morning we crossed paths again at the central train station, Les and Jess on their way to the airport, and I was heading out to Bussum, to visit the friends I'd made on our hike in the Austrian Alps, Ulli and Edzer, only about 30 minutes out of town. It was a beautiful afternoon (what luck I've been having with the weather) so Ulli decided to show me this small town by bike and lovely it was indeed. We were to meet Edzer at the Demmers Biercafe in the adjacent town of Naarden, not far from the Vesting wall, the ancient fortifications overlooking the canal, that once was the high ground citizens retreated to during times of war. Here I was pleased to find, not only a traditional Dutch beer cafe, but they had an excellent Dutch beer selection too. Ulli and Edzer knew I would like this place.
On tap was one of their own brews, the Vestingguilde Blonde, a lovely light, pale yellow brew, well balanced and refreshing. Also on tap though, were a couple of excellent seasonal Dutch bock beers, Wilde Bok from Schelde Bruowerij and Brouwerij 't IJ Bok. The first has been voted one of the best beers in the 'heavy bock beer' category in the Netherlands, a dark brown brew with reddish highlights, full malt body with notes of caramel and some nuttiness, but well balanced with a smooth long finish. The second was no slouch either, coming from one of Amsterdam's finest inner city breweries, being 100% organic and unpasteurized. This brew too was big and bold, perhaps a touch darker, perhaps a touch maltier, but strong flavoured with hints of chocolate and a long, smooth finish. Demmers is a wonderful place to while away the late afternoon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Berlin, Day Two

First of all, two days in Berlin is not nearly enough. My wonderful stay in the Czech Republic threw my schedule a little out of skew, but I narrowed my focus and strived on ahead. Berliner Weisse found, I now felt I had time for some touristy things: sections of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the big Sunday market not far from my hotel on Bernauer Strasse. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny Sunday, and though the Berlin underground and above-ground Metro is probably the best in Europe, it is also an easy place to walk. Kolin, who is a graduate of the Versuchs und Lehranstalt fur Brauerei school here, recommended a unique spot, situated under a railway arch near Alexanderplatz, Bräuhaus Lemke, and so that was my first stop, for lunch and to taste their beers. As luck would have it, they had four beers on tap and even offered a tasting ‘probe’. It was a lovely modern brewpub, two large rooms in fact, the bar area featuring smaller, higher tables and the main room more traditional with long shared tables. They also had a lovely patio, surrounded by large trees and much greenery. I went from dark to light, munching on the toasted grains provided in between, as I waited for my Bavarian-Oktoberfest inspired weisse-wurst and fresh, steaming pretzel meal. Their mustard was good too! The Original was a malty nosed dunkel, caramel and lightly roasted grain palate, a good balance that finishes a little sweet with a tiny hint of rauchbier-style smokiness. The Oktoberfest was, of course, the seasonal offering, a little lighter in colour, a brighter mouthfeel, clear and clean, some hop bitterness underpinning the malt base. The Weizen was a typical cloudy pale gold-amber, fruity nose, but a bit drier than expected, the traditional banana/clove elements missing, but it was well balanced with some citric and a background of hops, finishing quite dry. The Pils ended up being my favourite, big, hoppy aroma, pale yellow, nice bitter first sip, a bright mouthfeel that leads to an even bitter palate, but smooth, ending dry with more hops than other German pils I’d tasted. I ordered another glass of this one, despite the AOR classic rock soundtrack too loud in the empty room. This excellent brewpub now has two locations in Berlin, and I can see why. The beers are quite good and so is the food. More folks poured in for Sunday brunch, as I made my way out and on to other more touristy things.
I then went for Hardy’s recommendation from the night before, the Stangdige Vertretung, or Stäv, as its affectionately called (translated as The Permanent Embassy). This is an historical place, having not only survived the Cold War, but actually became a place for intellectuals of all stripes to discuss current events, the main room being filled with photographs of a divided and united Germany over the years. A lovely location with a terrace across the road, right on the water’s edge, and as the restaurant was full and the early evening warm, that is what I opted for. They served Gaffel Kolsch in the standard tall 200 ml. thin glasses. This tap beer was delicious, pale yellow with a light head leaving great lacing, a somewhat fruity nose, but a lovely even and smooth malt character, good carbonation and enough hops to even out the palate and dry the fine finish. After the lovely lentil soup of the day, and a few more kolsch, I asked if they had any Berliner Weisse. This, of course, led to a discussion with the not-so-busy waitresses. They did have the Berliner Kindl Weisse in bottles, but were surprised I would order it out of season, but also without the usual, sweet syrups. Again I found myself the centre of attention, as all three wanted to know who was drinking such an odd, sour beer. Traveling and writing about beer is a great conversation stater.
I had wanted to hit the Zur Letzten Instanz, but, alas, it was closed on Sundays, and although I had been by the Brauerei Mitte earlier in the day when it was not opened, I got a little lost and ended up not finding it again. But, all in all, I had had a great day, so opted for a Metro ride back to my hotel, where I finished the evening with a couple of glasses of a regional Berlin beer on tap, Wittinger Pils (a 4.9% classic German pilsner brewed with Hallertau hops and local malts, characterized by a smooth bitterness that lingers lovingly on the palate) discussing Berlin life and beer with the beautiful bartender and night desk person Janine. I didn’t nearly spend the time or discover what I had originally intended in Berlin, but I had a very nice slice and was not disappointed in the least. I promised myself that I would be back!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Drinking Berliner Weisse in Berlin

Forgive me beer readers, I have been just a little preoccupied this past week, and perhaps a touch negligent. It has been a long six weeks and I think the continuing travel has been finally catching up to me. That said, though, it is time to talk about Berlin...
I have spent a lot of time in Germany on this trip, very much enjoying the great variety of beers on offer: pils, weizens, dunkel weizens, maerzens, bock beers, rauchbiers, kellerbiers, lagers of various sorts (pale, helle, dunkel, oktoberfest, etc). In coming to Berlin, however, I was after one thing in particular: Berliner Weisse, a beer hard, if not impossible, to find outside of the capital, and one I consider a distant cousin of the sour beers of Belgium. First though, a little background...
History has not been kind to the brewers of Berlin, divided as they were for many years after the Second World War. For a time, some breweries with the same names continued parallel existences on each side of the wall, sometimes producing different beers. Reinheitsgebot was not an issue, being really a long time Bavarian law, and only coming into effect in the rest of Germany at the end of the 19th century. Still, it was largely ignored during the two world wars and not really a concern for East German brewers during the Communist era. Berliner Weisse has had its ups and downs too, one brewery in the east who made it, closing its facility not long after the wall came down. Happy to say, it is being brewed again. This unique style was generally unfiltered, unpasteurized, uncompromising in its flavour profile and, near as I can tell, was made more often in the east side of the city. So, I centred my search around Alexanderplatz, once the heart of East Berlin, and still the centre of the larger modern capital. My first stop was for dinner at the lovely Alt-Berliner Weissbierstuben. A very traditional, if not, upscale room (classic black and white photographs on wood paneled walls, oak bar, brass lamps and mirrored shelving) but the service was unpretentious and efficient. I was lucky to get a small table inside near the bar, as the evenings were getting colder and despite the heating lamps on the terrace, everyone was inside. My server spoke English well, but my request for one of their unique Berliner Weisse beers seemed to miss the mark. She came back with a tall glass of Schofferhofer Weizen. She saw the surprise on my face, of course, because without even tasting it, I knew to be weizen and not Berliner weisse. Then it dawned on her, but no problem, I would have likely ordered one later on any way. This weizen had a fruity nose, huge head, a lovely cloudy pale yellow colour with some citric overtones. Though not big in the banana and clove department, it was a good, tart example of the style and very refreshingly easy to drink. Dinner was a very tasty pork steak smothered in a rich mushroom gravy, surrounded with potatoes and served a fresh green salad. Half way through dinner, I ordered a Schultheiss Original Berliner Weisse. I noticed in the menu that they serve it with sweet syrups (raspberry or woodruff, but also with Brandy or Cognac and even sparkling wine and lemon juice. These concoctions are served in a large bowl-shaped glasses, often with a straw, more like a cocktail, as opposed to a real beer.
I had asked for one straight up, no syrups, and got a funny look from my server. "Are you sure?" she asked. "Oh yes please," I replied. She poured me one from the taps and delivered it to my table with a straw. I jettisoned the straw. It had a frothy white head that disappeared quite quickly, leaving a mild fruity nose and a light, see-through pale straw colour. The first sip told the tale however, a nice, even sourness creating a tart palate that opens the senses on your tongue. Light in body, easy to drink and very thirst quenching, this was not over-the-top for a lambic-loving beer geek like me, but I could appreciate that the average drinker might want to mix this with something sweet. Tiny, sour bubbles danced in my mouth, leaving a long, deliciously tart finish. What a unique and lovely beer.
I left the restaurant quite sated and satisfied, thinking about the rest of the evening. I had heard of a place not far away that served kolsch and altbiers, two other German specialty brews I had not yet found in my travels. So, it was off to Sophie'n Eck, a lovely corner pub filled with the local after dinner crowd.
I found a space at the bar and asked for a kolsch, which I noticed on their menu board. "No kolsch!" came the reply from the very busy bartender, so I settled for the Schlosser Alt. Beautiful copper colour, with reddish highlights, with a crisp fruity nose that extends right through to the malt accented palate, smooth mouthfeel, some nuttiness, clean light biscuit tones, hidden hops carrying the balance through to a nice round finish. A very pleasant and drinkable brew. At this point, the fellow seated next to me at the bar struck up a conversation, as he too was enjoying the altbier and turned out to be a very interesting gentleman. Once a commercial airline pilot, but now a free-lance ferry pilot (shuttling many kinds of aircraft from one place in the world to another) Hardy had also spent time in Canada. We chatted about the free-lance life, his travels, my travels and then, of course, beer. I explained to him my search for Berliner weisse and he pointed out that they did have that beer in the bar. It was then I noticed the bartender flip open a short, stubby, almost Trappist style bottle and pour it completely upside down into one of the bowl glasses I'd seen early. The beer was red and it was served with a straw to a woman nearby. Well, I ordered one too, but no syrup. The bartender looked at me. Hardy looked at me too. "I've never tasted one like that", he said. "I've never ever served one like that!", the bartender added. Still, I insisted and was treated to a Berliner Kindl Weisse, with the same unique pour. This pour is to create a head, of course, which dissipates quickly. Again, it was delicious, bright and effervescent, same tart, sour palate, pale straw colour with some strong lacing left by the quickly falling head. Very enjoyable, I thought, finishing my big, bowl glass and ordering another. By now I was a curiosity at the bar. Who was this crazy Canadian guy drinking not one, but two straight Berliner weisse beers? Hardy and I continued our conversation and he treated me to a shot of some bright orange drink, distilled from a local sour berry, whose name I cannot remember, somewhat sweet and full of vitamin C. Then the evening really got going. It turns out they did have kolsch bier (the bartender thought I'd said 'grolsch', my language skills not being what they were at the beginning of the day), Sion Kolsch to be exact, and the bartender kept pouring them for me in the standard tall 200 ml glasses. Light and malty, crisp, clean and clear pale gold, malt accented, no hop presence detectable, but balanced and easy to drink. Also too easy to drink were those little orange shots that kept landing in front of Hardy and I. I finished the night with a Landmaan Schwarzbier, from the region just outside of Berlin. A Burgundy-cognac brown brew with ruby highlights, a smooth, surprisingly bright mouthfeel, no bitter malt aspects, nice balance and some hidden hop to dry out the finish. Very tasty indeed. By now I was feeling the effects of the wonderful drinks I'd been enjoying, but before I left Hardy suggested I needed to visit the Stangdige Vertretung for their kolsch bier. Good idea,I thought, but that would be tomorrow. Thank you Hardy and good night!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Evening in Plzen

So, I arrived in the town of Plzen by bus, fresh from my beer spa. As luck would have it, a huge billboard pointed the way to my hotel on the main central square, Náměstí Republiky. As I left the bus depot to walk the short distance, I became aware that someone was brewing, as that tell-tale sweet malt aroma filled the street. It was strongest outside of a little door with a sign above called U Sládka. Unbeknownst to me at that moment, I had wandered into Plzen's smallest and newest brewpub. The young brewer was shoveling out his 200 little mash tun as I entered the premises, one of the smallest I've seen on this trip. The friendly barkeep had spent some time in Canada and was fascinated by the story of my adventures, as she poured my a stein of their Pašák Světlý (See Beer of the Day, Oct. 8). They also had Pašák Speciál, a 12° golden amber hued and hazy brew, but with a flowery hop nose and a full head that slowly drops to nice lacing. A sweetish malt palate is immediately pulled down by the underlying hops giving good balance, a pleasant creamy mouthfeel and a somewhat dry finish. There was a darker guest beer available on tap, Polotmavý 12°, from a little brewery about 20 kilometers outside of Prague. This was a reddish amber coloured offering, well balanced with a lovely dry finish. The food on offer was great, I had ordered a cheese and meat plate, that came with generous amounts of both, plus some veggies and and good, fresh bread. Love this place! The brewer even gave me a taste of the sweet wort he was turning into Pašák Světlý in his kettle. By then it was time to go, so I continued on, to find and check into my hotel, after this great little lunch break.
Located right on the centre square, it was easy walking distance to anywhere in the city centre. Of course, top of my list was the famaous Senk na Parkanu pub, one of the very last places you can find Pilsner Urquell unfiltered and unpasteurized on tap. The Nefiltrovaný Ležák had an herbal hop aroma, big white, thick head and a hazy pale gold colour. A biscuit maltiness first appears on the palate followed closely by the hoppy architecture, creating a balanced and smooth mouthfeel, with the hops winning out in the end creating a nice and dry, bitter finish. The temperature is perfect, the lacing looks good with a light covering of head remaining on the surface of the beer to the bottom of the glass, it has excellent carbonation and is very fresh and tasty. This is the best they can do these days, Pislner Urquell being owned and marketed world-wide by giant SABMiller. I've a had a few glasses of this famous beer in my travels in the Czech Republic, and it was not always good. I was unable to finish one or two due to dirty taps, old beer or just generally poor handling. It is a shame that such a well known beer is now just another international product geared for mainstream tastes and treated just like any ordinary mass market beer.
I found my way to Bernard-In, a tied house for the Bernard line of beers, one of the last regional brewers in the Czech Republic, now owned by .... The only one of the 7 taps available served an unfiltered version of Bernard 12°. It had a fresh nose, with some hop present, a pale gold colour, initial maltiness fades to an even hop bitterness, somewhat understated and drying in the middle, lightly hazy and medium bodied with an OK finish. It was a bit cloying and something in the aftertaste just screamed mass-market lager.
I decided to close out my visit to Plzen at Zack's Pub, a funky and favourite little hip bar of the local arts scene, because they are one of the only places to find Pernštejn Porter on tap. A big brew clocking in at 9%, this is the 'originální tmavé pivo' from Pernštejn Pivovar Pardubice. This is an intoxicating, heady brew, a big Baltic-style porter, not for the light hearted. It is a philosopher's beer, one you take time to sip and contemplate. Deep, dark and almost black, with a warming alcohol effect, creamy mouthfeel, tones of raisins, dried plums, coffee and dark, bitter chocolate. Dark tan head, full bodied and lacing its unique glass, this was my fair well to the Czech Republic. It also put my over the edge that night, an amazing night cap indeed! I slept like the dead after this one!


  • 1605er Weisse (btl)
  • 3 Fonteinen Faro (tap)
  • 3 Fonteinen Lambiek (tap)
  • 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Vintage (btl)
  • 3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek (tap)
  • 3 Fonteinen Straffe Winter (btl)
  • 7 Stern Bamberger Rauchbier (tap) 5.1%
  • 7 Stern Hanfbier (tap) 4.7%
  • 7 Stern Herbstbock (tap) 6.3%
  • 7 Stern Maerzen (tap) 5.1%
  • 7 Stern Prager Dunkles (tap) 4.5%
  • 7 Stern Wiener Helles (tap) 4.7%
  • Abbaye d'Aulnes Waterloo 8 (tap)
  • Abbaye des Rocs Bruin (btl) 9%
  • Abbey Ale Roar (cask) 4.3%
  • Abbey Bellringer Ale (cask) 4.2%
  • Adelardus Brune (tap)
  • Adler Hefe-Weizen (btl) 4.9%
  • Aecht Schenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (tap)
  • Aecht Schenkerla Rauchbier Weizen (btl) 5.2%
  • Ambräusianum Dunkel (tap)
  • Ambräusianum Hell (tap)
  • Ambräusianum Weizen (tap)
  • Apostelbräu Dinkel (naturtrüb) Bier (btl) 4.8%
  • Arbor Ales Motueka (cask) 4%
  • Atlas Nimbus Strong Dark Ale (cask) 5%
  • Augustinerbräu Munchen Dunkel (btl)
  • Ayingers Altbier Dunkel (tap)
  • Ayingers Kellerbier (tap)
  • Ayingers Pils (tap)
  • Bamberger Klosterbrau Pils (tap) 4.9%
  • Barbar Blonde Honey Ale (tap) 8%
  • Bath Ales Special Pale Ale (cask) 3.7%
  • Bath Gem Amber Ale (btl)
  • Bazens' Pacific Bitter (cask) 3.8%
  • Berliner Kindl Bock (tap)
  • Berliner Kindl Weiss (btl)
  • Bernard 12 Unfiltered Pale Lager (tap)
  • Biere Leon (tap)
  • Bink Bloesems (tap) 7%
  • Blackwater Brewery Boogie Woogie (cask) 4.2%
  • Blanche de Namur (tap)
  • Blanche de Neige (tap)
  • Bons Voeux Dupont (btl) 9.5%
  • Bottlebrook Smoked Porter (cask) 5.6%
  • Brand Imperator (tap)
  • Brand Oud Bruin (tap)
  • Brauerei Beck Trabelsdorf Affumicator (tap) 9.6%
  • Brew Dog Punk IPA (cask) 6%
  • Bristol Beer Factory Acer (btl) 3.8%
  • Bristol Beer Factory Exhibition (btl) 5.2%
  • Bristol Beer Factory Hefe (btl)
  • Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout (btl) 4.5%
  • Bristol Beer Factory No. 7 (cask) 4.2%
  • Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop (btl) 6.5%
  • Broughton AlesTass 80/ (cask)
  • Broughton Autumn Ale (cask) 3.5%
  • Brouwerij 't IJ Bok (tap)
  • Brouwerij 't IJ Columbus (btl) 9%
  • Brouwerij 't IJ Natte (tap) 6.5%
  • Brouwerij 't IJ Plzen (btl) 5%
  • Brouwerij 't IJ Zatte (tap)
  • Brouwerij de Prael Nelis Pyp (tap) 7.7%
  • Brunswick Triple Hop (cask) 4%
  • Budelse Goudblond (tap)
  • Budweiser Budvar (tap)
  • Buffalo Stout (btl) 9%
  • Burton Bridge Stairway to Heaven (cask) 5%
  • Butcombe Bitter (cask) 4%
  • Butcombe Brunel IPA (cask) 5.7%)
  • Cairngorm Tradewinds (cask) 4.3%
  • Cantillon Faro (tap) 5%
  • Cantillon Gueuze (tap) 5%
  • Cantillon Mamouche (tap)
  • Cantillon Vigneronne (cask) grape
  • Cheddar Ales Goat's Leap IPA (btl cond) 5.7%
  • Cheddar Ales Totty Pot Dark Porter (btl cond) 4.7%
  • Cheddar Ales Totty Pot Dark Porter (btl cond) 4.7%
  • Chimay Blue (btl)
  • Chimay Tripel (tap)
  • Chotebor Premium Bohemian Pilsner (tap)
  • Cluss Keller Pils (tap)
  • Cnudde Brown (btl)
  • Copper Dragon Golden Pippin (cask) 3.9%
  • Corsendonk Angus (tap)
  • Cotleigh Brewing Peregrine Porter (btl cond) 5%
  • Cotleigh New Harvest Golden Bitter (cask) 4%
  • Cuvée de Moeder Lambic (tap) 5%
  • Dalesice Pale Lager (tap)
  • Dalesice Tmare Lezak (tap)
  • Dawkins Bob Wall Best Bitter (cask) 4.2%
  • Dawkins TTT Best Bitter (cask) 4.2%
  • De Bekeerde Suster Bock Ros (tap) 6.5%
  • De Bekeerde Suster Tripel (tap) 7.2%
  • De Cam Oude Gueze
  • De Halve Maan Brugse Zot Bok (btl)
  • De Halve Maan Brugse Zot Dubbel Bruin (tap)
  • De Molen Melk en Mild (tap)
  • De Molen Vuur & Vlam (btl)
  • De Ryck (btl)
  • De Silly Pink Killer (tap) grapefriut
  • De Silly Saison (tap)
  • Delerium Tremens (tap)
  • Deuchar's IPA (cask) 3.8%
  • Dinkelacker CD-Pils (tap)
  • Dorset Yachtsman (cask) 4.7%
  • Duvel Verte (btl)
  • Edelweiss Dunkel (btl) 5.5%
  • EKU 28 (btl) 11%
  • Felen Zeebonck (tap)
  • Flekovsky Lezak (tap)
  • Franziskaner Weissbier (tap)
  • Full Mash Steve Ashby's Locoil (cask) 4.6%
  • Fuller's London Pride (cask)
  • Funfair Divebomber (cask) 3.8%
  • Fässla Gold-Pils (tap)
  • Fässla Zwergla (btl) 6%
  • Gaffel Kolsch (tap)
  • Glastonbury Dream Catcher Cider (cask) 6%
  • Greene King Ghastly Ghoul (cask)
  • Greifenkläu Pils (tap)
  • Grieskirchner Pils (tap)
  • Grimbergen Dubbel (btl)
  • Grisette Fruit de Bois (tap)
  • Grottenbier (btl)
  • Guldenberg (btl)
  • Gulpener Jaarling Bokbier (btl) 6.5%
  • Gösser Dunkel (tap)
  • Haacht Charles Quint Golden Blonde (tap)
  • Haacht Kaiser Karel Ruby Red (tap)
  • Hacker-Pschorr Edelhell (cask)
  • Hacker-Pschorr Export Dunkel (tap)
  • Hammerpot Bottle Wreck Porter (cask) 4.7%
  • Hertog Jan Grand Prestige (btl) 10%
  • Hertog Jan Weizener (tap)
  • Highland Brewing Scapa Special Pale Ale (btl) 4.4%
  • Hirter Morchl Dunkel (btl)
  • Hirter Pils (btl)
  • Hoegaarden Rose (tap)
  • Holzkirchner Oberbräu Weisse Dunkel (tap)
  • Honey's Midford Cider (cask)
  • Hopback Brewery Entire Stout (cask) 4.5%
  • Hopback Brewery Hopfest (cask) 4.6%
  • Hopdaemon Brewing Kentish IPA (btl) 4.5%
  • Horal's Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2009 (btl)
  • Houblon Chouffe Double IPA (tap)
  • Huffendorfer Bier (tap)
  • Hurricane Jack (cask) 4.4%
  • Hydes' Hubble Bubble (cask) 4.4%
  • Innis & Gunn Triple Matured (btl) 7.2%
  • J.W. Lees Dark Mild Ale (cask) 3.5%
  • Jacobin Gueuze (btl)
  • Jacobin Kriek (btl)
  • Jandrain IV Saison (btl)
  • Jandrain VI (tap)
  • Jenning's Cumberland (cask) 4%
  • Jopen Bokbier (btl) 6.5%
  • Joseph Holt Bitter (cask) 4%
  • Joseph Holt Touchwood (cask) 4.3%
  • Kaiser Doppel Malz (btl) 4.7%
  • Kasteel Bruin (tap) 11%
  • Kelburn Red Smiddy (cask) 4.1%
  • Kerkomse Tripel (tap)
  • Kloster Andechs Hefe-Weizen (btl) 5.5%
  • Klosterbrau Braunbier (tap) 5,7&
  • Konig Ludwig Dunkel (btl) 5.1%
  • Kostritzer Schwarzbier (btl) 4.8%
  • Kriek Lambic Girardin (cask)
  • La Chouffe (btl)
  • La Rulles Grand Dix Tripel (tap)
  • La Trappe White (tap)
  • Leather Britches Doctor Johnson (cask) 4%
  • LeFebvre Hopus (btl)
  • Leffe Bruin (tap)
  • Leffe Tripel (tap)
  • Lemke Brauhaus Festbier (tap)
  • Lemke Brauhaus Original Dunkel (tap)
  • Lemke Brauhaus Pils (tap)
  • Lemke Brauhaus Weizen (tap)
  • Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place Amber (tap)
  • Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place Blond (tap)
  • Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place Dark (tap)
  • Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place Tripel (tap)
  • Lindemans Frambroise (tap)
  • Lindemans Kriek (btl)
  • Lupus (btl)
  • Mahr's Bräu Kellerbier (tap)
  • Mahr's Pilsner (btl)
  • Mahr's Ungespundet (tap)
  • Mahr's Weizen (tap)
  • Maredsous 6 (tap)
  • Maredsous 6 (tap)
  • Maredsous Bruin (btl)
  • Markischer Landmann Schwarzbier (tap)
  • Marrach Vidensky Lezak (tap)
  • Marston's Wicked Witch (cask) 4.2%
  • Metisse du Lion a Plume (tap)
  • Moenchshof Kellerbier Dunkel (btl)
  • Mohren Bräu (tap)
  • Moinette Blond (btl)
  • Mongozo Coconut (tap)
  • Montegioco La Mummia (cask)
  • Moor Beer Co. JJJ IPA (btl cond) 9.5%
  • Moor Beer Co. JJJ IPA (btl cond) 9.5%
  • Moor Beer Co. Revival Pale Ale (btl cond) 4%
  • Mort Subite Gueuze (btl)
  • Mort Subite Kriek (tap)
  • Northumberland Hoof Harted (cask) 3.8%
  • Novometsky Lezak (tap)
  • Old Green Tree Ale (cask)
  • Old Mortality 80/ (cask) 4.2%
  • Oldgott Lezak Barique (tap)
  • Orval (btl)
  • Ottakringer Innstadt Weizen (tap)
  • Ottakringer Pur (tap)
  • Ottakringer Weizen Dunkle (btl)
  • Ottakringer Zwickl Dunkel (tap)
  • Otter Bright Ale (cask) 4.3%
  • Oud Gueuze Beersel (btl)
  • Palmers Tally Ho Strong Dark Ale (cask) 5.5%
  • Pattoloereke (btl)
  • Paulaner Salvator (btl) 7.9%
  • Pegas Gold (tap)
  • Pegas Tmavy Lezak (tap)
  • Pentland IPA (cask) 3.9%
  • Pernstejn Porter (tap)
  • Petrus Oud Bruin (btl)
  • Pilsner Urquel Nefiltrovany Lezak (tap)
  • Polder Bock (tap)
  • Poutnik Pelhrina (tap)
  • Prael Andre Lentebok (tap)
  • Prael Johnny Kolsch (tap)
  • Prael Willeke Tripel Blonde (tap)
  • Psenicne Pivo (tap)
  • Quontock Brewery Sunracker (cask) 4.2%
  • Rambouek Kastanomendovy (tap)
  • Ravens Dark Ale (cask)
  • RCH Brewery Old Slug Porter (cask) 4.5%
  • RCH Pitchfork (cask) 4.3%
  • Rochfort 6 (btl)
  • Rodenbach (btl)
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru (btl) 6%
  • Rodenbach Vintage (btl)
  • Roman Black Hole Lager (btl)
  • Roman Mater Wit (tap)
  • Rosemary Hefe-Weizen (tap)
  • Rulles Estivale (tap) 5.2%
  • Rulles Tripel (tap) 8.4%
  • Rychtar Natur (tap)
  • Saison 1900 (tap)
  • Saison de Dottiginies (tap)
  • Salm-Brau Bohemian Mix (tap)
  • Salm-Brau Helles (tap)
  • Salm-Brau Pils (tap)
  • Salm-Brau Weizen (tap)
  • Schelde Golden Raand (tap)
  • Schelde Oester Stoute (tap)
  • Scheldebrouweri Wildebok (tap)
  • Schlossbrauerei MacQueen´s Nessie Whisky Malt Red Beer (btl)
  • Schlosser Altbier (tap)
  • Schofferhofer Weizen (tap)
  • Schremser Roggen Bio Bier (btl) 5.2%
  • Schultheiss Berliner Weiss (tap)
  • Schwaben Bräu das Schwarze (tap)
  • Sezoens Quatro (btl)
  • Sharp's Cornish Coaster (cask) 3.6%
  • Sharp's Doom Bar Bitter (cask) 4%
  • Sion Kolsch (tap)
  • Smisje Dubbel (btl)
  • Sommerset Ale (cask) 4.1%
  • Sophie's Bräuhaus Schwarzbier (tap)
  • Spaten Oktoberfest (tap)
  • Spezial Rauchbier (tap)
  • Spezial Ungespundetes (cask)
  • Spire 80/ (cask) 4.3%
  • St, Georgen Gold Maerzen (btl)
  • St. Austell Admiral's Ale (btl cond) 5%
  • St. Austell Tribute Ale (cask)
  • St. Bernardus 12 (tap)
  • St. Bernardus Tripel (btl) 7.5%
  • St. Feuillieu Tripel (tap)
  • St. Feullien Triple (btl)
  • St. Georgen Kellerbier (tap)
  • St. Georgen Pilsner (btl)
  • Stonehenge Danish Dynamite (cask) 5%
  • Stouterik (btl)
  • Straffe Hendrik Tripel (btl)
  • Stroud Brewing Budding Pale Ale (cask) 4.5%
  • Stuttgart Hofbrau Keller Pils (tap)
  • Super des Fagnes Griotte (tap) raspberry
  • Tambor 10° Pilsner (tap)
  • Tambor 11° Pilsner (tap)
  • Tambor 11° Unfiltered Pilsner (tap)
  • Tambor 12° Pilsner (tap)
  • Tambor 13° Dark Lager (tap)
  • Taras Boulba Extra Hoppy Ale (tap)
  • Tauton Dry Cider (cask)
  • Thatcher's Dry Cider (cask)
  • Thomas Guest Puddlers (cask) 4.1%
  • Timmermans Bourgogne des Flanders (tap)
  • Timmermans Gueuze (tap)
  • Timmermans Lambic Doux (tap)
  • Tirolier Bier Maerzen (btl)
  • Toccalmatto Skizoid (tap) 6.2%
  • Toccalmatto Stary Dog Bitter (tap) 4.2%
  • Trappist Westvleteren 12 (btl) 10%
  • Trappledouser (cask) 4.7%
  • Triple FFF Brewery Moondance (cask) 4.2%
  • Trummer Pils (btl)
  • Tucher Frankisch Dunkel (tap)
  • U Medvidku Rouge Lager (tap)
  • U Medvidku X33 (tap)
  • U Richarda Pale Lager (tap)
  • U Richarda Weizen Lager (tap)
  • U Sladka Pasak Special (tap)
  • U Sladka Pasak Svetly (tap)
  • U Valsu Pale Lager (tap)
  • Urthel (btl)
  • Vedett Extra White (tap)
  • Velkopopovicky Kozel Dark (btl) 3.9%
  • Velkopopovicky Kozel Dark (tap)
  • Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne (tap)
  • Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier (tap)
  • Vestingguilde Blonde (tap)
  • Vicaris Generale (btl)
  • Vichtenaar Oud Bruin (btl) 5.15
  • Vieil Orval (btl)
  • Weihenstephan Weizen (tap)
  • Weihenstephan Weizen Dunkel (btl)
  • Weihenstephaner Korbinian Bock (tap) 7.4%
  • Westmalle Dubbel (tap)
  • Wickwar Autumnal (cask) 4%
  • Wieckse Witte (tap/btl)
  • Wieden Brau Dunkles (tap)
  • Wieden Brau Maerzen (tap)
  • Wieden Brau Pils (tap)
  • Witcap Stimulo (btl) 6%
  • Wittinger Pils (tap)
  • Wolf Howler (cask) 4.2%
  • Young's Bitter (cask)
  • Zillertal Gouder Bock 2010 (btl)
  • Zillertal Märzen (btl)
  • Zillertal Pils (btl)
  • Zillertal Schwarzes (btl)
  • Zillertal Weissebier Dunkel (btl)
  • Zinnebir (tap) 6%
  • Zipfer Märzen (btl)
  • Zipfer Pils (btl)
  • Zwickl Spezial (tap)


  • Amsterdam: Brouwerij 't IJ, Funenkade 7,
  • Amsterdam: Brouwerij Prael & Taproom, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 15,
  • Amsterdam: Cafe Brecht, Weteringschans 157
  • Amsterdam: Het Elfde Gebod, Zeedig
  • Amsterdam: In de Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3
  • Amsterdam: The Old Nickel, Nieuwe Brugsteeg 11,
  • Bamberg: Brauerei Greifenkläu, Laurenzistrasse 36,
  • Bamberg: Brauerei Spezial, Konigstrasse 22
  • Bamberg: Fässla Brauerei, Obere Konigstrasse 19,
  • Bamberg: Klosterbräu Brauerei, Obere Muhlbrucke 1-3
  • Bamberg: Restaurant Alt-Ringlein, Dominikanestrasse 9
  • Bamberg: Zum Kachelofen, Obere Sandstrasse
  • Bamberg: Zum Sternla, Lange Strasse 46
  • Bath: The Bell, 103 Wolcott Street
  • Bath: The Old Green Tree, 12 Green Street
  • Bath: The Raven, 6 Queen Street
  • Berlin: Alt Berliner Weissbier Struben, Rathaus Strasse, 21
  • Berlin: Lemke's Brauhaus, Dircksenstrasse, 143
  • Berlin: Sophien Eck, Eck Grosse Hamburger Strasse, 37
  • Berlin: Stangdige Vertretung, Schiffbauerdamm 8
  • Bristol: Bridge Inn, 16 Passage Street
  • Bristol: Cornubia, 142, Temple Street
  • Bristol: Hope and Anchor, 38 Jacobs Wells Road
  • Bristol: King's Head, 60 Victoria Street
  • Bristol: Port of Call, York Street, Clifton
  • Bristol: Portcullis, 3 Wellington Terrace, Sion Hill, Clifton
  • Bristol: Seven Stars, 1 Thomas Lane, Redcliffe
  • Bristol: Vittoria, 57 Whiteladies Rd., Clifton
  • Brno: Na Bozence, Bozeny Nemcove 18
  • Brno: Pivinice Pegas, Jakubska 4
  • Brussels: A La Becasse, alley off rue Tabora
  • Brussels: Au Bon Vieux Temps, Impasse St. Nicolas, off of Rue Marché Aux Herbes
  • Brussels: Blanche ou Tonneau au Brasseur, rue de Brasseurs et rue des Chapeliers
  • Brussels: Delirium Cafe, Impasse de la Fidelite, 4A
  • Brussels: La Bier Circus, rue l'Enseignement 57
  • Brussels: La Mort Subite, rue Montagne aux Herbes Potageres 7
  • Brussels: La Porte Noire, rue des Alexiens 67
  • Brussels: Moeder Lambic Fontainas, 8 - 10 Place Fontainas,
  • Brussels: Poechenellekelder, rue du Chene 5
  • Edinburgh: Abbotsford Bar & Restaurant, 3 Rose Street
  • Edinburgh: Blue Blazer, 2 Spittal Street
  • Edinburgh: Bow Bar, 80 West Bow
  • Edinburgh: Conan Doyle, Queen Street
  • Edinburgh: Guilford Arms, West Registar Street
  • Edinburgh: Halfway House, 24 Fleshmarket Close
  • Edinburgh: Oxford Bar, 8 Young Street
  • Edinburgh: The Tass, 1 Jefferey
  • Innsbruck: Elferhaus, Herzog-Friedrich Str. 11
  • Innsbruck: Restaurant Krahvogel, Anichstrasse 12
  • Maastricht: Cafe 't Pothuisker, Het Bat 1,
  • Maastricht: Cafe de la Bourse, Markt 37
  • Maastricht: Falstaff, Sint Maartenspoort 13
  • Manchester: Corbiere's, Half Moon Alley
  • Manchester: Old Wellington Inn, 4 Cathedral Gates
  • Manchester: The Circus Tavern, 86 Portland Str.
  • Manchester: The Grey Horse, 80 Portland Str.
  • Manchester: The Old Monkey, 90 Porland Str.
  • Munich: Ayingers Speis und Trank, Am Platz 1A
  • Munich: Der Pschorr, Viktualienmarkt 15
  • Naarden-Bussum: Cafe Demmers, Martkstraat 52
  • Plzen: U Sladka, Poděbradova 12
  • Plzen: Zach's Pub, Palackeho nam. 2
  • Prague: Minipivovar U Medvídků, Na Perštýně 7
  • Prague: U Fleků, Kremencova 11
  • Prague: Zlý Časy, Čestmírova 5
  • Stuttgart: Sophie's Bräuhaus, Marienstrasse 28
  • Stuutgart: Brauerei Gaststätte Dinkelacker, Tubingerstrasse 48
  • Vienna: Bieramt, Am Heumarkt, 3
  • Vienna: Cafe Drechsler, Linke Wienzeile 22, Girardigasse 1
  • Vienna: Salm-Brau Kloster Brauerei, Rennweg, 8
  • Vienna: Siebenstern Brau, Siebensterngasse, 19
  • Vienna: Stehbeisl, Windmuhlgasse, 6
  • Vienna: Wieden Brau, Waaggasse, 5


Total Pageviews