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.


  • 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


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