Oslo for Beers No.242 Ke To Re Porter, No.243 Re Ale, No.244 Oskar Blues G’Knight, No.245 Ardenne Blonde, No.246 Dark Horizon and No.247 Norwegian Wood

Oslo for Beers No.242 Ke To Re Porter, No.243 Re Ale, No.244 Oskar Blues G’Knight, No.245 Ardenne Blonde, No.246 Dark Horizon and No.247 Norwegian Wood

We got an overnight ferry from Copenhagen through Kattegat and Skagerrak into the Norwegian fjords and on to Oslo. It was definitely a ferry not a cruise ship. The ballroom was full of inebriated Scandinavians clapping hands in a large circle to the Venga bus is coming.

Needless to say I was in my element.IMG-20180319-WA0009

After a surprisingly comfortable night in a cramped cabin it was a beautiful still morning to wake up gliding across the fjords.IMG-20180319-WA0012

We moored up at Oslo harbour and found our way to the hotel. After dumping our stuff we made our way to the beautiful Opera house.IMG-20180319-WA0007

It’s a splendid building with an interior full of Scandinavian designs.


Even more impressive you can walk up the roof to the top, I’ve never seen anything like it but it’s a fantastic way to see the views of the harbour and the city itself.IMG-20180319-WA0011

We were getting pretty peckish and it was a lovely day so we decided to get something to eat on one of the outdoor tables on the waterfront.

Oslo was looking pretty pricey, we had already noticed a wrapped plastic cheese sandwich sets you back 7 quid, but the place we found, Olivia’s, was a really pleasant looking Italian with a very reasonable lunch time meal offer.

To cap it all, after a lovely pizza, pasta combo I notice they had a couple of Italian beers from my list!


Ke To Re Porter has all the wonderful flavours of a stout but in a milder version.  A really nice daytime stout, this is actually brewed with a little tobacco for some sweet aroma. Though you wouldn’t know unless you were told to be honest.


Re Ale was the second beer I had there and the second beer from Italian Brewer Birra del Borgo. This was one of Leonardo Di Vincenzos first beers and it was the one that made him famous. It’s amber in colour, and light for a 6.4% ABV. It has a fleeting flavour of blood orange and just about pick up able bitter grapefruit.


After lunch we walked up to the Amundsen Bryggeri & Spiseri. It was really like an old English pub before everything was modernised and had one of the smallest breweries I have ever seen in what I can only describe as a glass cupboard at the end of the bar.


Amundsen, I presume named after the Norwegian geezer who was the first person to the South Pole, are very cool at the moment with their brightly designed cans backing up their exciting range of beers like Everyday Hero IPA which is a strong example of the style.

It’s pricey there though. Cor dear is it pricey. Michelle had a house brewed Porter. Not Imperial just standard and seeing as it was brewed in house so minus transportation and maybe packaging you would think it might be less in price than others, but you’d be wrong. It came in at a princely £6.60 a half, £13.20 a pint.

I saw an American beer on my list Oskar Blues G’Knight. It was a can, it’s not that hard to get hold but still set me back £15.60!Christ alive. We were starting to feel glad we were only here for one day!


The beer itself is an Imperial Red IPA and it’s very red. Its kind of scented without being perfumey. Loads of caramel and hops, resiny yet still refreshing.

I hadn’t found a single Norwegian beer I was after yet so we decided to push on as I only needed 3 from here.

We made our way to Dr Jekyll’s pub and I really liked it. It was practically a theme pub as they went all out on the horror memorabilia. It had a super cool toilet which is hidden behind a bookcase like you see in the big film houses. Nicely laid out it felt like  a dangerous pub as in it seemed to be inviting people to get very drunk there. They had a great beer list too, a very helpful young lady behind the bar and some Norwegian beers I was looking for.IMG-20180319-WA0002

The first was Ardenne Blond. This is a saison that is unmistakably made with Brett yeast. It’s clearly very refreshing on a summers day but I found it a little tart.


My second felt like the polar opposite. Dark Horizon is a thick very strong (16%) dessert beer. It’s double fermented with brown sugar and coffee. I thought it had loads of interesting flavours but the one that was most pronounced was frazzles the crisps with loads of bacon coming through from somewhere.


The night was drawing in early as to be expected in Scandinavia, so we ventured forth into the darkness to find the last pub which I hoped would hold the last beer I needed.IMG-20180319-WA0008

We arrived at Handverker Stuene and our initial impression was that it was the most authentic bar we had been in all night. It was very busy but that may have been due to the theatre next door. It had a great layout, feeling like a traditional Scandinavian inn, though I’m not sure what that’s like, just a hunch. They had a great selection of Norwegian beers including my final beer I should try before I die from this country I was increasingly enjoying.


Norwegian Wood was our second beer from HaandBryggeriet which means hand brewery with Ardenne Blonde being the first. This, just like Ardenne,  is real craft beer. Sculpted using locally harvested juniper branches, German and English malts and American hops. This like many others I have tried on this journey are a million miles away from commercial continental lagers I grew up smashing my way through. I found it had a bitter sharpness with a smoky mouldy orange coming through. If the Dark Horizon reminded me of Frazzles this was definitely more in the Walkers Smokey Bacon camp.


So there we have it, Oslo. Very clean, very friendly, very expensive. So much more to do than our little skim of the service, it felt relaxed, with a city confidence of a well maintained infrastructure.

Worth a visit, but again, bring your wallet. Bowl of chips? £16. Forget about it.


Festivals for Beers No.235 Exmoor Beast, No.236 Bluebird Bitter, No. 237 Dark Ruby Mild,  No.238 Dale’s Pale Ale, No.239 Fuller’s Golden Pride, No.240 Windsor and Eton Republika and No.241 Verdi Imperial Stout 

Festivals for Beers No.235 Exmoor Beast, No.236 Bluebird Bitter, No. 237 Dark Ruby Mild,  No.238 Dale’s Pale Ale, No.239 Fuller’s Golden Pride, No.240 Windsor and Eton Republika and No.241 Verdi Imperial Stout 

I love a festival. Whether it be beer, music, film or any other type, the word festival creates the same sense of excitement within me as the word buffet does.

I went to four relevant festivals last year, all very different from each other, 3 of which are already, or becoming a tradition I hope.

The first is the Chelmsford Beer Festival. I have been to this festival two years in a row and it really is one of the highlights of my year.20170705_165443

I go with Michael Wheeler and it’s a great day out.  The only problem with Chelmsford Beer Festival is that it’s in Chelmsford. It’s so close yet so annoying. The bus is £15 return and takes an hour or so which is ridiculous or you have to change at Shenfield if you’re getting a train which is a right ball ache as it seems to take ages on that platform.

It’s worth the rigmarole though, especially on a pleasant day. If you’ve never been to a beer festival before there’s quite a surprising amount of different people. Most people expect it to be a mixture of Detectorists, Saxondale and men in Iron Maiden T Shirts supping on a pint of best but it’s far more diverse than that. Of course those people are there but there’s also quite a lot of young people there and quite a few ladies. Though I suppose to be surprised by that is pretty prehistoric. 

Theres always great food available and some cover bands, it’s just really pleasurable. These festivals are only about a fiver to get in so I’d really suggest getting some mates down in the summer months for a lovely relaxing afternoon.

And of course there’s beer, and plenty of it. I always download the programme beforehand so I get a little heads up on what I am gonna get before I arrive. That’s just because I am a geek though. 20170705_155057

I was aware there was 3 beers from my list at this year’s festival so a pretty good haul. 

I started with Exmoor Beast from Exmoor Ales. This is a luxurious rich strong Porter. Lots of rum and raisin, and coffee coming through. At 6.6% it’s not the strongest Porter in the world but it’s certainly warming. A lovely beer I’m sure to sip on a winter evening. Not sure about it as the first pint in a sunny field though! 

My second was more in keeping for a sunny day. Coniston Bluebird Bitter is a pale with lots of Citrus. It won Champion Beer of Britain in 1998 and I have seen it used numerous times as examples of the style in various textbook. It was nice but I found it a little dated. 

The final beer from Chelmsford was Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild. This is an older beer having been first brewed in 1921 and is a rare example of a strong mild. It was quite smoky with a little chocolate liquor. For all its history and how much I would liked to have liked it I wasn’t that impressed. 20170812_153445

Next up is a little music festival called Bandcamp hosted by Paul Noble and his lovely family. It gave me a chance to set up my first ever bar and I really enjoyed doing it. 

We preordered a couple of ghostship polypins and the rest I picked up from work or Bookers. 20170812_144439

It went really well and it was good fun dishing out the pints with the help of Pauls dad Keith, even if it is what I do every day. 

I made a bottle list up of world beers like every self-respecting festival bar should and of course I included a couple of beers from the list. 20170812_145344

To start, Dale’s Pale Ale. This is a lovely refreshing pale from Oskar Blues Brewery out of Colorado. It’s regularly revered as one of the finest examples of its type, with some pretty hard hitting juicy hops. It’s also cited as being the fore runner and one of the main advocate of putting craft in can. Up till this point canned beer was seen as the reserve of the big boys, Bud and whatnot whilst craft was more from the bottle in the old English/homebrewing style, how beer should be packaged. Dale changed all by pointing canning was better for the environment, more convenient and less chance of skunking. It’s a debate that has rattled on ever since and its getting hotter and hotter this side of the pond. 20170812_223117

I followed that with a Fuller’s Golden Pride. This is a great example of one my favourite styles of beer, barleywine. Always quite a strong style this example is no different coming in at 8.5%. It actually started as a 9% beer in 1967 but was reduced a little in the 80s.

A lovely beer deep and fruity, the historic Fuller’s have reinforced this style for me yet again. 

My second music festival of the year was on abit of a grander scale. End Of The Road, is a 4 day indie affair that I’ve been to 4 or 5 years in a row now and is always a great craic. They themselves always have a good selection of ales available and some made just for the festival. They also have a meet the brewer every morning and some guest speakers. This year I managed to catch Pete Brown who is a fantastic writer, and was very interesting to hear some of his anecdotes from his new book Miracle Brew. I was lucky enough to meet him afterwards and sign a copy of the book. Nerd checklist tick.

The festival has embraced the craft beer revolution too with Beavertown alloted their very own bar, which is cool but a pricey way  to spend a weekend with each can of 330ml costing around a fiver, so they soon add up in the sun. 

On the way there me and Noble like to stop off at a brewery for a pitstop. Last year we went to Hogsback which was very nice, and this year we went to Windsor & Eton with Leighton in tow and it was even better.20170831_144454 

Windsor itself is a lovely town just west of London. All very royal with the castle and what not and I have never seen as many swans in my life. 20170831_144311

The beer I was after from the little tap-room just a short walk from town was called Republika, which is quite an ironic title seeing its born in such a royal backdrop. 20170831_140008

It’s a beautiful Pilsner, how lager should be. A taste of Europe in middle England. Tasting this makes you wonder how we could have got so far from what lager is supposed to be when we see the bland few massive chains up and down the country. 20170831_140115

Finally the Pigs Ear Beer Festival at the Round Chapel in Hackney. This festival was held in a really sensational venue. Grade 2 listed church which is now an events hall, this remarkable building is beautiful to look at and, like many buildings in London, evokes such an amazing sense of history you feel privileged to be there. I went up there with Nick Elliot from my old work as a little farewell before he moved off to pastures new in the Balearics.


The festival itself was a pretty standard CAMRA affair and though they had many interesting cask offerings but as usual I was more interested in the world bottle bar.


There I found the final beer of this blog, Verdi Imperial Stout. 


This beer made in the village where the famous Italian composer was born helped launch the Italian craft beer movement. Its an Imperial Stout with the interesting addition of chilli peppers. I’m not sure it’s psychosomatic but it definitely felt warming to me, though this may have been due to the generous 8.5% ABV. Either way it’s an enjoyable Stout and a nice way to finish this blog.

So there we go, that’s festivals. If you have never been to a beer festival I really recommend you going. Like I mentioned earlier it’s hardly any money, £5 at the most, and it’s always a friendly, convivial atmosphere. Come along to the Chelmsford one and hopefully me and Michael will meet you there!







Copenhagen for Beers No.227 Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, No.228 Mikkeller Black, No.229 Eclipse Imperial Stout, No.230 Founders Breakfast Stout, No.231 Limfjords Porter, No.232 Celis White, No.233 Bombay Pale Ale and No.234 Maisels Weisse. 

Copenhagen for Beers No.227 Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, No.228 Mikkeller Black, No.229 Eclipse Imperial Stout, No.230 Founders Breakfast Stout, No.231 Limfjords Porter, No.232 Celis White, No.233 Bombay Pale Ale and No.234 Maisels Weisse. 

When we think of Danish beers we immediately think of Carlsberg, and for good reason. Though they probably don’t make the best beer in the world they have furthered the possibilities of manufacture immeasurably.

Founded in 1847 they set up the Carlsberg laboratory in 1875, dedicated wholly to the science of brewing. Here, amongst other things, they introduced the concept of pH levels which we all still study at school. According to Wikipedia the Danish chemist Soren Peder Lauritz Sorensen introduced the concept of pH, a scale for measuring acidity and basicity of substances. While working at the Carlsberg laboratory, he studied the effect of ion concentration on proteins, and understood the concentration of hydrogen ions was particularly important. To express the hydronium ion (H30+) concentration in a solution, he devised a logarithmic scale known as the pH scale.

Now whatever all that means I’m certain they took their beer pretty bloody seriously.

Emil Christian Hansen became the first person to isolate a pure cell of yeast whilst working at the laboratory in 1883. It was named Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis and it’s the yeast all yeasts in lager beers are derived. I don’t know why I felt the need to put that bit of Latin in italics. It just seemed the right thing to do.

Anyway times have moved on, people have taken what Carlsberg have done for the industry and have done wondrous things with them. Of course Carlsberg are by far the biggest brewer in Copenhagen but it’s the smaller companies that excite me. Smaller is relative of course as Mikkeller in the craft beer world is massive.

Founded in 2006 Mikkeller are a cuckoo, or gypsy, brewery. This means they don’t have an official brewery, they use other breweries equipment. This is obviously not too much of a drawback though as they have become one of the world’s most respected breweries. Not bad for a journalist and a teacher who were self taught home brewers.

Beer Geek Breakfast was their first beer that was critically acclaimed and won an international event, so it seems fitting that it was our first beer in Copenhagen.

This is a beautiful beer, seven malts, roasted barley, flaked oats, American hops and real coffee it’s certainly indulgent but lighter than you might expect. It had a slight brewers yeast smell and isn’t quite what your expecting to taste. Every mouthful surprises you due to the aroma and takes you on an unexpected journey.

We had this beer at the Mikkeller bar in Viktoriagade which I think was the first one they opened. It’s so cool, everything we were expecting from Scandinavian style. Cosy, small, minimal with on point decorations and a warm and welcoming vibe.

Our second beer there was Mikkeller Black and this is a different prospect entirely. It’s defining character is its strength. This beer, that was brewed in Belgium weighs in at a hefty 16.1% and definitely packs a punch. Michelle hated it and I wasn’t over bothered, it’s an experimental that’s worth trying but I’d be flabbergasted if it’s anyone’s go to bevvy of choice! Like a can of bloody jagermeister!

We tried a couple more from the beer geek series, namely the vanilla maple shake and the triple flat white and we enjoyed them all immensely.

It was time to push on with our crawl but before we did I noticed one last drink on the bottle list I needed and didn’t expect to see. Eclipse Imperial Stout. The person who made these beers, Todd Ashman, is a bit of a pioneer when it comes to barrel aging beers and this one you can choose which bourbon barrel the Imperial Stout was aged in, we went for Elijah Wood 12 year old. At 11.9% it packs a punch but it’s richness and full flavours envelopes for a luscious mouth filling warming rich delicious beer. With burnt toffee apple up front it seemed appropriate we had it on Halloween. It was smooth with an alcohol that wasn’t overbearing and a pleasurable expensive whisky coming through late. Two thumbs up. IMG-20180125-WA0003[1]

Our next stop was the Orsted Olbar. I absolutely loved this place. It was definitely a craft beer place with some new hip breweries such as Anarchy and Track on their 20 taps, but it had a real pub feel about it. Lots of wood, candles in bottles (but Speedway Stout bottles), football on the telly when there’s a match and a table football. I loved the place. It was probably the closest I’ve seento what I want. The Mikkeller bar was fantastic and super stylish, this place just seemed a bit more fun time.

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They had a good bottle list too. We found lots of different beers that interested us including Founders Breakfast Stout.

This is a bit of a celebrated classic and certainly not that rare but it was the first time I had come across it I think. First made in Michigan in 2001 this strong coffee flavoured Stout not only help save the Founders but pushed them into being a major player in the craft beer scene.

​​Onwards and upwards and we strolled off to the more bohemian side of Copenhagen, crossing a bridge on the way.

 The river was weird. It stopped when it got to the bridge then resumed the other side of the road. I can’t explain it, I suppose it was a dam of some kind, I dunno, I ain’t no geography teacher.

What I do know is the Norrebro region of Copenhagen  is very cool, and within this area is one of the coolest bars around Himmeriget the Evil Twin tap room.

Evil Twin is named as the inventor is the identical twin of Mikkel from Mikkeller. Arriving on the scene 4 years later supposedly he called himself  Evil Twin a wind up as they hate each other. How much of this anomosity is real and how much is media stroking no one really knows. A lot like the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, it’s seems convincing.

Jeppe of Evil Twin has moved to Brooklyn  now but his influence remains and this place is full of his his crazy inventions.

For example Big Ass Money Stout is dry hopped with pizza and dollar bills. It was 60 quid a bottle so I didn’t have one, but I deeply regret that decision now!

They had a beer I needed though, even if it wasn’t from Evil Twin.

Limfjords Porter is a baltic porter. These are typically sweet, strong and bottom fermenting. The Thigsted Bryghus (Brewery) has been around since the 19th century. They first took their Limfjords Porter from another brewery in 1986 when that brewery closed down. They tinkled with it a bit and created a fine example of the style. Smoky and malty. It was incidentally commented to be the favourite of the bar man in Himmeriget and seeing the wonderful smorgasbord of world class beers he’s surrounded by that means a lot, well to me anyway.

Onwards and upwards through the tight roads and past a million independent shops in a community that just breathed life. Unfortunately the next bar we visited in the area was the first time we were disappointed really.

The barman didn’t have time for us. Only half the taps had anything on due to the fact they were “changing to winter beers” the next day. He had no interest in engaging just wanted to get back to his newspaper. Hey, I know how he feels sometimes for sure but it did take the wind out of our beer sails a bit.

It did have some amusing art up though that Michelle liked. IMG-20180125-WA0008[1]

And a beer off the list that I liked too!

Celis White is a Belgian spiced wheat beer first brewed in 1992. It tastes like a classic witbier like drinking half a Hoegaarden. It’s gone some orange tones coming through which must be due to the added Curaçao orange peel alongside the other addition of coriander.

Nothing else of the list and no other reason to stay so we went to the next stop on my predetermined crawl which is a brewery.

The Norrebro Bryghus is a cut above the other places we had been to. Super fresh like the new Mange Tout in Southend, it was very clean, very friendly and was a shame not to eat there.

We came for two beers but unfortunately one of those, the Little Korkney was now out of production. They did have the Bombay Pale Ale though.

And very pleasant it was too. Juicy, a little spice and some mango coming through, this European take on the US IPA made by a former Carlsberg brewer ticked all the boxes for me.

We were sad to leave but the clock was ticking and we had a few more places to visit believe it or not. We were starting to seriously fall in love with Copenhagen.

We popped into a couple more bars that were both very different but didnt have any of my beers.

SKAAL  was cool and funky, bit young for us, reminded us of East Coast Social. They did however have an excellent tap selection, and an even better TV set up to tell us what beers are on, what style they are and how much is left of each one.

Lord Nelson was the complete opposite. It was more like a dive bar yet still cool. Very rocky, the bar person was cool and you could smoke sitting at the bar which is super rare. We were drunk by then and got carried away by the USB ports all along the bar. Genius, can’t believe we haven’t seen that anywhere else. Yoink.

Our final stop was in a bar called Fermentoren, back in the meat packing district where we started. By now it had taken a bit of a rougher edge with the local rehab centre or shelter or whatever it was kicking some colourful characters out on to the street. It was the first time in Denmark we felt a little uneasy.

Still we found the pub easy enough and they had Maisels Weisse there.

Maisels Weisse is a weird one for me as I used to sell it in the Paul Pry when they had their first wave of craft beer bottles. It was pretty prevalent but seems to have dropped away a bit. Still, I can’t believe I had never tried one.

This beer is one of the main reasons for weissbiers resurgence as the brewer’s spent a lot of time and money advertising all over Germany. It’s a great example of the style, it has a long lingering fruity hold with plenty of banana esters.

The pub itself had a good outside area, the best we had been to in the town, it was cool with a little rough edge, we were surprised it closed at 12.

It also had the best toilet graffiti I have ever seen from one of my favourite films.

Do you know the quotes? If you do post it in the comments section and you can win a bottle of Maisels Weisse! Terms and conditions apply.

So that was Copenhagen. The next day we walked to the ferry via the indoor food market which I highly highly recommend.

And the little mermaid which you can take or leave really but is quite pretty. IMG-20180125-WA0010[1]

This is the longest blog I have ever written I reckon and I have a feeling I am writing to myself. But if you did make it this far well done and thank you very much.

One last thing, Copenhagen has more bikes than I have ever seen in my life. Bye!!!sdr

Seville for Beers No.220 Weihenstephaner Pilsner, No.221 Dark Force, No.222 Old Foghorn, No.223 Weihenstephaner Vitus, No.224 La Rulles Estivale, No.225 La Rulles Triple and No. 226 Route des Epices.

Seville for Beers No.220 Weihenstephaner Pilsner, No.221 Dark Force, No.222 Old Foghorn, No.223 Weihenstephaner Vitus, No.224 La Rulles Estivale, No.225 La Rulles Triple and No. 226 Route des Epices.

The first thing you notice about Seville is the heat. It is the hottest major metropolitan area in Western Europe, with the summer temperatures being above 35C (95F). That’s average, not a freak day! When we arrived I remember driving into town and the little temperature signs saying 45C, I thought that can’t be right, it’s 5pm. When I stepped out of the car wallop! The air conditioner had lured me into a false sense of security. It was felt exactly the same as the heat you feel when you open an oven door. Except this oven you step into.

I love Seville though, this was the second time we had been. I think it has everything. A vibrant music scene, helped along by the University of Texas having a campus here, the rock scene of the 70s and 80s and of course flamenco. The Tapas are world renowned here, they have become a massive cultural attraction with people going on crawls round the various bars. All this amongst  three UNESCO world heritage sites packed into 4 square kilometres of Old Town what with it being about 2200 years old and that.

But we as always were here for a new phenomenon, the craft beer revolution thats not just sweeping Spain, but Europe, seemingly being blown over from the innovation of America to the history of Europe.

We started in a little bar called La Jeronima and though I didn’t find any beers from my list there I am definitely going to give it an honorary mention.

It was cute as balls as the saying goes. It was half a bar half a bookshop, very bohemian. And all their beers were from Andalucia, very cool. Imagine a bar in England only selling beers from Essex. I would love a place like this, so laid back but I fear in England with the constraints of tax and rent it just couldn’t work as a business model. I suppose maybe if you bought the building outright and had no debts it could be feasible, but I won’t be in that position for a sight longer yet! Oh and it had a great mirror in the toilet…2017-06-07 20.22.24

So some great local beers but we pushed on with the hunt. The next bar we went to was La Linterna Ciega. This was a little busier but still cut from the same cloth as the previous bar. What I remember most is torches hanging above each table. I really liked that, and it was very in keeping with the DIY attitude I see in many of these kind of bars all across Europe. It’s the sort of thing the bigger companies try and copy but just can’t do as they have to roll it out across a 1000 and pubs and always ends up looking mass produced no matter how much that try to make it look characteristic.

A good example of this is the chequered shirt. A few years ago the chain pubs all had uniforms (usually a black shirt) whilst the manager wore something smarter. Independent places however which had a more casual approach were more often than not hosted by someone in a chequered shirt as that was the rage a few years ago. Larger companies then wanted to put across a more independent local image so they made chequered shirts the uniform. Now if you go to The Smack (Greene King) on a Friday night you will see a row of 6 team members behind the bar all wearing the same awful green colour chequered shirt, completely stripping it of its independent credentials.

It’s a similar story with tattoos, but I will save that rant for another day!

Anyway they had a beer I wanted, No.220 Weihenstephaner Pilsner  

Declaring themselves the Oldest Brewery in the World, Weihenstephaner date back to 1040. Pretty unimaginable. Gawd knows what it tasted like. Definitely nothing like this nice refreshing pilsner, which dates back to 1908 so is no spring chicken itself. It’s a lovely drop though and perfect in the summer.

Once finished we strolled up to Guevara & Lynch. I knew they would have a good selection the second I spotted this tap…IMG-20171025-WA0036.jpg

I never even saw one of those in Belgium!

It was quite a strange place. It felt like a chain bar even though it was is the only one. The barman was quite offish so I enjoyed catching him out, not that I tried to, he just didn’t have what I asked for even after he said “If it’s on the list we’ve got it” in a condescending manner simply because I asked if they had something in stock. Then proceeded to search through every fridge in an increasingly frantic manner before returning sheepishly to inform me that they didn’t have everything in stock. No one ever has, and no one minds, so it was a dickish statement to come out with, setting yourself to be caught out.

Anyway they had a beer I wanted, No.221 Dark Force by Norweigan brewers HaandBryggeriet.IMG-20171025-WA0034.jpg

What a beer this is. A Double Extreme Imperial Wheat Stout. The first wheat stout I had come across and it was until recently the only Imperial Wheat Stout in the world, though there is a few around now. It’s as dark as it’s name suggests and it tastes super strong though being (only!) 9% so not as strong as many imperials we have tried. A great beer, one to savour, with wheat and hops and roasted grains its a cavalcade of flavours I would like to try again as soon as possible actually!

Like the beer the evening was getting dark. We pushed up to our final destination. Bier Kraft.

2017-06-07 23.50.55

Though it was dark outside the temperature was still ridiculous. It was around midnight by then yet it was 32C. That’s the uncomfortable thing with Seville, though it was far hotter in the day (a blistering 113F which is even hot for them) it’s kind of a challenge in the day, you expect it, it’s exciting. You say to someone “Bloody hell its hot innit?” with a smile on your face, like that is what you paid up for. But in the night that all goes, it’s just uncomfortable, I actually remember thinking the was a chance of suffocating the air was so hot and stifling. Of course this is impossible but it had just gone on for hours by then and your getting tired and it just gets claustrophobic.

Anyway they had a beer I wanted, No.222 Old Foghorn by Anchor Brewing.2017-06-07 23.56.43

I thought this was a delicious beer, but then barley wine is one of my favourite styles. It’s actually the first example of barley wine in the United States, appearing nearly 100 years after Bass introduced it to England. It was strong and smooth with a lot of caramel. There is always a lot sweetness in a barley wine and this beer is no exception. Maybe not the best thing to drink in the aforementioned heat but enjoyable nonetheless.

It’s a good bar Bier Kraft. Obviously they had gone over to London and seen a Craft Beer Company, as their stylings reminded me of them though with a Spanish twist. They have a  good choice of beers too.

Same hexagon, just blue background instead of red, and Bier Kraft instead of Craft Beer. Still we all get our influences from somewhere.

My second beer there was No.223 Weihenstephaner Vitus2017-06-08 00.35.03

As far as I know this Weizenbock is Weihenstephaner’s newest beer, being introduced in 2007. Weizenbock is a strong wheat beer. This one clocking up a respectable 7.7% ABV. It strangely smells of sweetcorn though our senses may have been on the wobble by then. It was clean, smooth, and an easy drink for it’s strength.

Unfortunately it was packing up  time, being only a Wednesday. But this was a great pub, I was most impressed. Popcorn on the table for every drinker was a great touch to keep people drinking, though I’m not sure I should include that in my blog as I want to nick the idea for my bar.

The bar tender was super helpful. She not only recommended us some places to go out around Tarifa way but she let us take some beers with us and gave us a free tote bag to carry them. Three beers in fact. We had them when we got back to Calahonda, they were…

No.224 La Rulles Estivale was our first beer from Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles. This Belgian beer from the heart of Gaume (which I cant find on Google Maps) is a Summer Ale and a very nice one it is too. It has a wheaty appearance, it’s light with some bitterness coming through. It’s very light in fact, almost a lager but this Belgian Pale also has some honey and mango in the mix too.

The second one from the same brewery is No.225 La Rules Triple. At 8.4% this one is a different beast. As historic as they look with their traditional style drawings this brewery has only been around since 2000 but they have already built themselves quite a reputation. This well bodied tripel has a lovely head, it’s bitterness leaves it quite difficult to drink  but its dryness soon disappears leaving a nice citrus flavour.

And finally…

No.226 Route des Epices from Brasserie Artisinale Dieu du Ciel. Another recent beer, this Canadian offering was first brewed in 2002. Dieu de Ciel! is a little brewpub is knocking out some of the worlds most interesting beers and this Rye beer brewed with peppercorns is no exception. This speciality beer is light and palatable. You can smell the pepper though which makes it really interesting.

Well worth a shot, just like Seville which I implore you to go and visit. It really is one of my favourites. Actually if you do go give us a shout as we can’t wait to go back!


Prague for Beers No. 213 Stiegl Goldbrau, No. 214 Uneticke, No. 215 Bernard Dark, No.216 Primator Weizenbier, No.217 Old Gott, No.218 X Beer 33, No.218 Cerna Hora Granat and No.219 Bud Super Strong.

Prague for Beers No. 213 Stiegl Goldbrau, No. 214 Uneticke, No. 215 Bernard Dark, No.216 Primator Weizenbier, No.217 Old Gott, No.218 X Beer 33, No.218 Cerna Hora Granat and No.219 Bud Super Strong.


Hello everyone, it’s been an age, but I’m back for another rock rollicking adventure in my beer pursuit. Next stop was Prague, a bit of a beer Mecca for those who are on a stag.

The Czechs are famously the biggest per capita beer drinkers in the world, and there are so many beers I need to try from this country I knew this won’t be only visit.

We got there by train from Vienna, and on the way I had my last Austrian beer I picked up from a supermarket.sdr

No.213 Stiegl Goldbrau from Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg is probably not supposed to be drunk out of a plastic cup, but then as it’s Austria’s biggest selling beer I doubt I am the first. First introduced in 1912 the brewery had already been going for 420 years.  This Marzenbier was a lot lighter than the Marzens we and particularly the Germans think of. Michelle really like it, it had a bold flavour yet light as it is after all an amber lager.

We had booked our accommodation from Air B&B again and this time (like every time to be fair) we were on to a right winner. We had booked a houseboat just for something different, and the fact it was moored on the Danube made it special, and wow, it lived up to expectations.

It was a really cool place, moored on a small island a quick taxi trip from the centre. We couldn’t believe how well made and solid it was. I don’t know what we expected exactly, but we have never been on a houseboat before and to be honest once inside there was nothing to give away the fact it was a boat except the views out the window.

We loved it so much and felt at home instantly, so much so in fact we decided to stay in for the first night there and order what turned out to be two of the biggest pizzas we’d ever seen!20170419_232145

So Prague was off to a good start, and the following day we decided to have a walk around this beautiful city. There was plenty to see, from the modern history of the Beatles wall20170420_143949

To the historic Charles bridge which was constructed in 1357 with its numerous stone statues and even more numerous tourists and caricature artists.

It’s a nice historic city but a little too touristy for me, some the streets were literally jammed packed with walkers, like a London Underground station at 5pm. Luckily we were beer tourists and that often takes us off the beaten track. Our first stop had to be the famous beer museum. It was a nice place, but I was underwhelmed by the choice. I mean there was 30 or so to choose from, including 3 from my list but maybe I am little spoilt by England as I am used to this amount in many a craft beer bar or Bruges that blew me away with the amount of choice. Besides this was the bleeding Prague Beer Museum! I was expecting to never leave, but like nearly all this city it was just for the tourists and they did just enough to satisfy them.

So to the beers…


Beer No.214 Uneticke was our first of 3. And what a great start. The archetypal Pilsner, a perfect pale lager exactly what I was hoping for on my trip to Prague. They may have only been brewing since 2011 but Uneticky Pivovar clearly know what they are doing. Clean, crisp and light with Saaz hops lingering in the cheeks. Why cant the lagers we have in England taste this good, why have we settled for tasteless Fosters and even worse, Coronas? As the writer Pete Brown wrote, “this (lager) is flavourful beer brewed to be drunk in large quantities. If flavourful beer was somehow challenging or difficult to drink, the Czechs wouldn’t be the biggest beer drinkers in the world.”

Next up beer No.215 Bernard Dark.

One of the reasons the lagers we have in our pubs are bland, tasteless and, as the famous joke goes, like making love in a canoe, is pasteurisation. This can diminish the aroma and flavour of lager and this is why Stanislav Bernard leaves that part of the brewing process out. This beer is lagered for forty days for a rich, malty body. It’s lovely and thin but that’s mainly due to the fact your brain is expecting a thick porter due to it’s colour. The roasted malts come through a little at the end but disappear again quite quickly.

For our final beer in the Prague Beer Museum was No.216 Primator Weizenbier


This wheat beer tastes of fruit salad, caused by esters left by the yeast. A lovely beer with lots of citrus and clove notes from the specialist in specialities brewery Pivovar Nachod.

After these we were off exploring again. We found an excellent market that was quintessential Europe.

I was wearing my “I met Lil Sebastian” T-shirt whilst having a browse around the market and by pure coincidence I met Lil Sebastian whilst wearing it.


I was suffering from pretty bad toothache at this point so Michelle grabbed a table looking on to the square and I made my way to the poshest dentist I have ever been to.


I was a little worried I was seeing the orthodontic Hannibal Lecter. Luckily he told me it was a little gum disease, gave me some special toothpaste and sent me packing.

After all this excitement I needed a beer, so we decided to head to a brewery.

Mini-brewery U Medvidku is the smallest Czech restaurant brewery which also makes the Czech Republics strongest beer. It is situated at the back of a beer hall which was built in 1466.

Whereas stainless steel is abundant in nearly all breweries worldwide U Medvidku still uses wooden vessels.

Our first beer was their Amber Lager No.217 Old Gott.


It’s a complex lager that’s their house favourite. It smelt like a brewery whatever that means. With an amber, dusty, creamy taste. I wasn’t that keen on it to be honest had a bit of a carboard taste, but it was certainly one of the freshest beers I’ve ever had, have a look at the taps it come from in the picture above.

Our second beer was at one point the strongest beer in the world, and at 12.6% it must still be up there for the regularly produced beers. This isn’t a crazy one off, or a Christmas special, this is one of their lines.


No.218 X-Beer 33 is made without any addition of alcohol, sugar or wort, it reaches its extraordinarily high ABV after being fermented with two types of yeast and conditioned for at least seven months. It’s the Czech equivalent of a barleywine and the sweetness really comes through. It doesn’t seem crazy boozy but the price and the sweetness give the strength away.

We found one last pub of the night that seemed typically Czech. There’s a quote again by Pete Brown that says “There’s no tourism like beer tourism. See the world with beer as your guide, and you’ll see it in a more interesting way than any tourist brochure or guidebook could tell you.” This is certainly true in us finding the tiny little brewery of U Medicku and likewise this last pub.20170420_224048

Away from the tourists, no one speaking English, this is what we prefer. Of course a quarter of the price of everywhere else to boot. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos of the pub, just the one above and I don’t know the name of it. The only record I have is of the beer we drank there.


No.219 Cerna Hora Granat tasted like a roasted lager to us. Which is exactly what is is. Black lagers actually predate the more familiar golden ones. This offering was first brewed in 1896 but Cerna Hora beer was first mentioned as being drunk in 1298! Unbelievable history and practically impossible to comprehend.

So that was Prague, to be honest we were a little disappointed but maybe that’s because we came straight from the exhilarating Budapest and wonderous Vienna.

Before we left we snuck one more beer in on our houseboat.


No.220 Bud Super Strong is a million miles away from what most of the world consider a bottle of bud. A 7.6% its certainly not that super strong as the name suggests but it does have a winter warmer feel due to the fact that it’s rare to have a lager that strong. It’s hopped with 100% Saaz hops and conditioned for at least 200 days.

I’d certainly go back to the Czech Republic again, I cant wait to do so in fact. But just like Dublin in Ireland, there’s a Cork round the corner and we are excited to discover it.

Our only regret is we didn’t go to the pub next to houseboat, we chickened out and I wish we had gone in. It wasn’t the most welcoming though…




Vienna for Beers No.209 Alaskan Smoked Porter, No.210 Trumer Pils, No.211 Schwechater Zwickl and No.212 Commerzienrat Riegele Privat.

Vienna for Beers No.209 Alaskan Smoked Porter, No.210 Trumer Pils, No.211 Schwechater Zwickl and No.212 Commerzienrat Riegele Privat.

We got a train from Budapest to Vienna and my word, what a palava. The ticket was on my phone but I had around 5% battery and we idiotically hadn’t bought an adapter with us. The only print out we had was one that clearly stated “this is not a ticket” on it.

The train itself was like one of those old James Bond carriage ones with little 6 seat cabins in. It was ridiculously claustrophobic trying to find our cabin as the walkway was so tight and there was sooooo many people all trying to find where they were going, most of whom were carrying luggage. Once we found where we were supposed to be the relief was amazing. It was one of those dreadful experiences I’m really glad we had if you know what I mean.

The journey took about two and a half hours. Once we arrived we got an Uber. I love Uber. Not so much in England, but in foreign countries its a real godsend. The app installed on your phone is international (I managed to charge mine through a USB on the train by the way). So straight away it eliminates having to track down a taxi number either through Google or at the station and of course trying to ring someone.

It also allows you to put the destination in through the app and gives you your fare before you order, so no more lost in translation conversations on where you are supposed to be going, and of course its impossible to rip tourists off as the fee is set before they know if your local or not!

All in all I think its great and Vienna is a great city to travel through.

As we were only staying in Vienna one night we decided to get a luxurious hotel instead of our now beloved Air B&B route. 20170418_184607

It was a beautiful hotel and everything we expected. We knew we were going to fall in love with Vienna but we decided to have a much needed nap and check out some bars then do the sight seeing the next day.

The first place we went to was called Mel’s Craft Beer Bar and my word what a winner.


I think it was the best best craft beer bar we have been to and pretty much established itself as the bench mark for us. The decor was perfect, the food option good and by the look of it plentiful.

The drinks menu was very impressive also, we took a lot away from the place for our venture. Michelle liked it as she said she would happily come here just with Heather whether it was Craft Beer or not which is important to us.


Craft Beer it was though and we found a great one from my list. Not Austrian but surprisingly Alaskan!


No.209 Alaskan Smoked Porter by the Alaskan Brewing Company, set me 40 euros for the bottle but I think it was worth it. Strong, black, takes you on a journey and the fact it was bottled in 2008 made it even more appealing. You can tell it’s smoked it had a really strong flavour of it coming through. Delicious.

The one thing that let Mel’s down was the slow service, it took an age to pay the bill, which was a shame as it was practically perfect otherwise.

We had booked a meal in a restaurant called ef16. I found it on trip advisor and it was the eighth best rated restaurant in Vienna out of 3646. So you could say we were fairly excited.


It was empty when we arrived but soon filled up, it had a really nice welcome and immediately great service. We were going to have wine with our dinner, but a beer first to settle in, and bang…


No.210 Trumer Pils. This is a classic pilsner really. Smooth refreshing, bubbly and light, everything you want from a lager really. Very hard to find such a good example so readily available on our shores

After polishing that off and ordering a lovely bottle of red, our food arrived. But I had made a huge mistake.


Vienna in Austrian is Wien. Which is of course the birthplace of the Wienerschnitzel. I thought as I was here, in one of the best restaurants in Austria I had to try what Vienna is culinarily famous for. Unfortunately it’s just not my cup of tea. I’m sure it was a great example it just doesn’t do it for me as a dish. Michelle’s steak on the other hand…

Pretty much perfection. It had a chilli chocolate sauce that gave it an amazing depth of flavour. To say I was jealous would be an understatement!!

Though I chose incorrectly it was a fantastic restaurant with fantastic company. We were starting to get a little merry and finding the language amusing.20170418_222015

Maybe it was time to make our way back, everyone had seem to have come and gone in the time we sat and enjoyed ourselves.

During our giggly walk we found ourselves in high spirits, again amused by the language, we saw this place which reminded us of our often partner in crime Heather Engel.20170418_230232

We didn’t really want to go back to the hotel straight away and we found a cool little bar still open.20170418_230948

Very quiet as you can see but the bloke behind the bar was very nice and we didn’t feel rushed at all. The thing that surprised us most was that you could still smoke in pubs! We’ve found this unimaginable now as it’s been so long since the ban started in England and we both work in pubs, but this city, which seemed very clean, health conscious and in most places downright posh still embraced it!

It was hardly a craft beer pub yet I still managed to get two off my list. One Austrian and one German.

No.211 Schwechater Zwickl is an unfiltered lager. Very hazy I dont think it would sell well in England. I found it very nice though, tasted very fresh with a sweet floral flavour.


and No.212 Commerzienrat Riegele Privat is actually a German beer. It was my third lager of the day and I had enjoyed them all. Quite malty, definitely biscuity and especially easy to drink on a night out.


All in all a great night. We managed to make it back to our hotel for a nice day of sightseeing before catching a train.

Vienna is a really wonderful city, the architecture is breathtaking.20170419_112414

This was just a street. There is so many tall, old buildings that streets have either been cut through them, or they were built incorporating throughways.

We found an amazing destination. Cafe Central. Incredibly famous and historic, opened in 1876 it can count  Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freud, Vladimir Lenin and even everyone’s favourite Adolf Hitler as some of it’s patrons. It was touristy but that was only at the beginning as you get your own booth and the place is a delight.20170419_113033

We had a little light lunch then pushed on as I wanted to find another Viennese speciality Sachertorte.

It had started to snow by then so we were glad when we snuck into one of the most authentic Sachertorte cafes in Vienna.20170419_125041

A lovely end to a lovely city, we would definitely like to go again. One word of warning though. If it starts to snow it’s absolutely beautiful, I mean it’s the homeland of the snowglobe, but it’s a long walk to the station!!!!!20170419_140526

Toodle Pip!

Budapest for Beers No.207 Dreher Bak and No. 208 Keseru Mez

Budapest for Beers No.207 Dreher Bak and No. 208 Keseru Mez

Many people go to Budapest for many different things. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and is cited as the most liveable city in Central and Eastern Europe. It is also ranked as the second best city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler whoever they are. Michelle and I however were there for the beer, two in fact. We also had a particular interest in the ruin pubs of Budapest that lived up to our expectations and the famous Spas that we never even bothered going to in the end!

We had booked our accommodation through Airbnb and our host picked us up from the airport which was a nice little bonus. Where we were was a grand townhouse of apartments which reminded me of many classical capital cities in Europe especially Paris.

I had already done some research as I am a massive geek so we didn’t hang around long in the apartment even if it was very impressive.

Our first stop in this very bohemian and culturally on point city was a little bar called Neked csak Deszso

It was pretty cool but didnt have much we we’re after. We drank their own brew which was pretty tasty and very cheap. We had already seen a Dreher Bak in the off licence but there was no sign of the Keseru Mez, so we decided to push on to the infamous Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s first ruin pub.

And what a pub it was…

I have never to any bar or pub that what so exhilarating and exciting.  It was massive and buzzing. I’ve seen so many that has the same kind of vibe from The Sunrooms back in the day when Mark Hey had it, to The Railway now, that sort of cultural, cool, indie look, but I’ve never seen done it on a scale like this. Kert means market, and this three storey giant apartment block had a massive courtyard with so much going on. There is films projected on the wall, a band playing in the corner, a smoking area complete with shish pipes and even an old Trabant car to sit in whilst enjoying your drinks, as seen in my photos.

Upstairs was loads of old apartments that are now individual bars, or kitchens, or just places to chill out. There doesn’t seem to be a square inch that hasn’t got graffiti  or a sculpture or a photo or some kind of art adorning it. It really is an experience, and I would emplore any one who loves bars to go and visit it.

Again we were there for beer though, so when we saw Keseru Mez on the menu our excitement levels were raised, only to be dashed when told they were completely out of stock. We were getting closer.

Hunger was coming and luckily immediately next door was a super cool food market called Karavan.

It was excellent, we had this sausage in a pastry cone thing. Gawd knows what it was, but it was delish and crazy messy. Again where we were just oozed cool, so young, so hip, so happening, we were starting to fall in love with Budapest.

Onwards on to the next pub, with a walk through this lively city with surprises round every corner.


Lehuto bar is on the corner near the Elektrotechnikal Muzeum (!). It is unashamedly craft, very heavy on the Brewdog.

It was nice, and Michelle had a lovely Coconut Coffee Porter that she thoroughly enjoyed.

One thing caught my eye on the blackboard behind us


They had Four Pure cans for 1390 Forints which works out at about £3.95. In England in a craft beer bar you can not get one for that cheap. We sell them at my bar for £4.65, thats an increase of around 20%. What’s annoying is that the Four Pure Brewery is in Bermondsey, 2.6 miles away from my pub, whilst where we were, selling the exact same product is 1009 miles away.

This isn’t due to the business owners wanting to line their products, they operate on very fine margins in this industry, instead its the amount of tax we, the English, pay on beer. So much so its 20% cheaper to buy English beer in Budapest than England.

For every pint of beer sold in Spain (I couldn’t find the figures for Hungary) approx 4p goes on alcohol tax, whilst in England its a staggering 50p!


This makes it so difficult to keep the prices down. As many of you know I would love to open my own craft beer bar, but its so risky taking this kind of punt as taxes are just so high. More and more people are staying home, as having a few drinks with friends is becoming increasingly a luxury due to this very reason.

I’d love to start a campaign, but it ain’t gonna happen, so I’ll just go along with it, like the rest of us sheep. They’re gonna get their money off us somehow.

On that happy note we went back to our apartment and went to bed.

The next day we went sightseeing and again Budapest is a beautiful city.

Not that my photos do it any justice but thats the Danube, with some beautiful historic buildings over looking it.

We seemed to walk forever before finding one of the most striking bars I have ever been to.



It’s called Jonas Craft Beer Bar, sitting on the Danube, it is I presume named after Moby-Dick, as it is housed in a huge whale looking building, but I could be completely wrong. We had a few drinks and it was nice surroundings, but there was nothing I needed or was inspired by beer wise.

I was starting to worry a little. Just like Moby-Dick is modeled on the notoriously hard to catch actual albino whale Mocha Dick, we had had no more sightings of the legendary Keseru Mez beer, and we were leaving the next day.

It was getting late and we were getting hungry so we headed to Raday Street which is known as Restaurant Street in Budapest.

We wanted a couple more drinks before we went for a meal as we thought we might go back to the apartment after the meal so we went to a bar called Puder Barszinhaz.

It was cool, in a ruin style and I had a couple of interesting beers, lots of that sort of throwaway furniture and old bikes.

No Keseru and I was starting to get toothache.

We drank up and strolled over to Voros Postakocsi (Red Stage-coach) Restaurant. There we had a couple of results. They had Dreher Bak so we could try it somewhere nice and Michelle had the best meal she has ever eaten in her life!


Bak means bock in Hungarian and the 7.4% ABV lives up to the style. The Dreher part of the name comes from Anton Dreher who was an Austrian brewer, a very important figure in the development of pale lager, so much so he invented Vienna Beer which was ironic as thats where we were going the next day.

Dreher Bak itself was dark but quite thin. We didn’t find it very drinkable, in fact we tried to drink three times over the course of our trip and left it three times.

The food on the other hand, we didn’t leave a single morsel. Michelle had been desperate to try goulash since we arrived and we had noticed that it is traditionally served as a soup, so we ordered 2 for starters and a couple of steaks.IMG-20170501-WA0017

Sorry for the unflattering photo, but my God it was delicious. Melt in your mouth meat, so much flavour packed in the oily sauce, it was fantastic. The steaks were forgettable, in fact I have forgot them but the goulash was the best thing Michelle had ever eaten!!!

So that was Hungary, we had a goulash, visited a ruin pub, had a beer of my list and had a thoroughly good time.

I was sad as I only wanted two beers and I couldn’t find one of those. I had a little Google to have a look at the now, mystery legend that was Keseru Mez.

Hold on a minute, I think I recognise that label! I think I’ve seen that beer! I think it was in Lehuto!

We rushed back, me delirious with pain from toothache, Michelle delirious with oil from goulash and low and behold…

What a great way to end a couple of days, we were really happy to find it, and it felt for the first time that we sought out a difficult to find beer. We’ve travelled to breweries before to get rare beers, but we have always known where we were going, this felt like the first time we tracked one down.

Keseru Mez which means bitter honey is one of the forerunner of Hungary’s craft beer revolution. It is a hoppy lager quite like anything else, it has a really cool bottle and is a lovely drop.

But most of all we found it, and we found Budapest enchanting and exhilarating,  well worth a visit.

Next stop Vienna.