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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

London for Beers No.200 Petrus Aged Pale, No.201 Dochter van de Korenaar Belle Fleur IPA, No.202 Cantillon 100% Lambic Bio, No.203 Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, No.204 Tannenzapfle, No.205 Sharp’s Doom Bar and No.206 Wells Bombardier.

London for Beers No.200 Petrus Aged Pale, No.201 Dochter van de Korenaar Belle Fleur IPA, No.202 Cantillon 100% Lambic Bio, No.203 Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, No.204 Tannenzapfle, No.205 Sharp’s Doom Bar and No.206 Wells Bombardier.

As we all know London is a fantastic place and at the cutting edge of all the new fads so of course it’s been rocking craft beer for years now. Obviously with the company I work I am involved daily but it’s still great to go and see different pubs to see which inspiring innovations they are bringing. Michelle and I traveled to Bethnal Green to check a New York inspired Tap Room I had heard a lot about.

It’s called Mother Kelly’s and I must say I was very impressed. Its situated down Paradise Row which sounds like it’s out of Grand Theft Auto and it’s all very modern and hip.

It’s 21 taps were fitted to the back wall in a very fashionable and the taps in the bathroom were super cool being a beer tap themselves. They had lots of beers in fridges along the side wall which were nicely sorted and labelled by style. We were particularly impressed by the food option. It was a choice of meat board, cheese board, veg board or dessert board. All for £7 to £10. Surprisingly we went for the veg board and it was excellent. It had fat olives, crisp peppers some cheese, bread and other things I can’t remember now.

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It was excellent, we really enjoyed it. the good thing about it from a business side is it can be all prepped in advance so that bar staff can sell them. This of course eliminates the need for the space and money of having a kitchen. It also gets rid of the requirement of a chef which can hold your hold business to ransom. Finally it means the food can be served right up till closing time at 1am not have to finish at 9pm or whenever. All in all a great idea that I am definitely nicking when I open my own place.

Of course with all the beers on offer, of which there was plenty, there was a couple I needed for my list.

My 200th beer is Petrus Aged Pale by Brouwerij Bavik. Supposedly thrown into the publics eye (or mouth) by Michael Jackson (the beer writer) when he paid them a visit and requested some to be bottled for the US. It’s nice and creamy not sour or challenging very close to an English pale.

We followed that with No.201 Dochter van de Korenaar Belle Fleur IPA is made in a Belgian enclave in the Netherlands near the border. Its a new beer first brewed in 2011 yet it is labelled in a style a lot older. It’s a nice hoppy yet smooth IPA, its quite fruity upfront with a very bitter finish.

After the drinks we met up with my mate Jack in one of the Craft Beer Co’s pubs. This time in Clerkenwell which is the highest rated bar in the whole of the UK by ratebeer, and 26th in the world!

There we got a couple of bottles of Cantillon to share.

The first one No.202 Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio is the second time I have had a beer from this brewery that opened its doors in Brussels in 1900. Lambic means a spontaneously fermented beer from the area around Brussels. Spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts. Gueuze is made when young and old lambic beers are mixed together. In this case they use one, two and three year old lambics. This creates a super sour sharp beer with grapefruit overtones.

We followed this with No.203 Cantillon Rose de Gambinus. My word this is a challenging beer. Very sour raspberries, you can taste them but its tough to get to them, this is a million miles away from Fosters and want I wanted from this journey, if not to enjoy them wholeheartedly but to experience them and expand my palate.

Back to my pub in Limehouse and we’ve got a new bottled beer in, and just happened to be on my list.

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No.204 Tannenzapfle,or Rothaus Pils as we call it at work, is a lager from the black forest first brewed in 1956. It’s really really nice, one of my favourite lagers I’ve ever had and it’s massively popular in Germany. Supposedly it has its smoothness from the soft water of seven natural waters. Either way it’s fandabedozee.

The last two beers on this small portion are two I’ve had many times before but revisited for the sake of completism.

Michelle and I went to The Axe and Compasses in Aythorpe Roding, West Essex for lunch. It is an ward winning 18th century building surrounded by beautiful countryside, well worth a little trip out. There they had No.205 Sharp’s Doom Bar. Obviously I’ve had this one before as it really revolutionised the way English Ale is seen by a lot of young people and out sells nearly all others about 4:1 when I was at The Trading Rooms. Named after a sandbank in Cornwall, it’s an easy drinking very accessible ale.

Followed by another classic, this one I just drank at home. No.206 Wells Bombardier is one I’m sure you are all familiar with. Famous as much for it’s taste as the hilarity of those who pronounce it in a French accent this beer has been around all my life. Well not quite all as it was first brewed in 1980 but I wasn’t sinking many up to the age of three anyway. This self proclaimed Beer of England is the Official Beer of The English Heritage so you are doing a little bit of good with every pint you drink. Made with Challenger and Fuggle hops,it’s a lovely malty, fruity bitter. With many youngsters chasing the hottest APAS from across the pond and the craziest flavours from all over the world it’s easy to overlook some of our own, more solemn, masterpieces.

Beers No.166 Reserva 1925, No.167 Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer, No.168 Weihenstephaner Hefeweiss, No.169 Franziskaner Hefe-Weiss, No.170 Boont Amber Ale, No.171 Emelisse Imperial Stout, No.172 Andechs Weissbier Hell and No.173 Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel.

Beers No.166 Reserva 1925, No.167 Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer, No.168 Weihenstephaner Hefeweiss, No.169 Franziskaner Hefe-Weiss, No.170 Boont Amber Ale, No.171 Emelisse Imperial Stout, No.172 Andechs Weissbier Hell and No.173 Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel.

Malaga has really embraced the craft beer revolution. Of course the Malaguena Victoria and San Miguel, brewed near the airport, still dominate. There is now a few places popping up all over the city putting it at the forefront of the craft beer scene in Spain.

First we had a few days in my flat on the Mijas Costa where I found 2 beers in the local supermarket. One of which I was expecting and one of which I was very surprised to find.

img_20161101_230800.jpgAlhambra’s Reserva 1925 is a pretty standard bottled beer on the Costa Del Sol found in every supermarket I went in and nearly all the bars too. Of course it’s brewed in Granada which is only a couple of hours away as so I’m not sure if it’s widespread across Spain. It’s a nice beer and tastier than most widespread beers in Spain or England for that matter. Surprisingly it was the only Spanish beer I had on my journey.

The second beer I didn’t expect to see. I picked it up from Alcampo in La Canada just outside Marbella.

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Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer is a Scottish beer that I wasn’t looking for on my journey to Spain. It’s a interesting beer as (you can probably guessed) it is aged in Oak barrels similar to whisky. In fact it came about after the brewers were contacted by a whisky producer who wanted a beer flavoured whisky but this beer came from it (I don’t know if the whisky is in production). Saying that don’t go into this thinking of Ola Dubh, it’s a nice beer and interesting concept but not much flavour is imparted. They do a few different varieties, the one pictured and in my book is the original but I preferred the Toasted Oak IPA I picked up in The Alex.

After a lovely week in Calahonda, we drove up to stay in Malaga for the weekend.

Malaga is an exciting city, it has got some pretty rough looking areas, which is where our first hotel was. It’s bustling and alive though. It seems modern yet steeped in history, and the Calle Larios is superb with the restaurants all having tables on the second floor overlooking the street. It has loads of great street art too. Yeah it’s graffiti but it’s clearly sanctioned and had time spent on it so I’ll use the more pretentious phrase of street art.

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Very close to our first hotel is a little bar selling Belgian and a couple of other interesting beers called Het Boste Bierje. It was cool with the menus outside and a friendly bar man.

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At this bar I found a beer I needed on draught which is so rare these days I was over the moon. Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier is a German beer from the South of the country. It has a head that disappears very quickly. It’s refreshing and very light for a white beer. It has a fruity orange nose and some bitterness in flavour.

After a stroll into the city, and finding it peculiarly hard to find some Tapas we sat in a café on the square. I wasn’t expecting to find anything on their little menu but Bingo!20161104_173919.jpg

I’m never sure if this is the right Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse but after a little research I think is and they have just changed the label slightly, bringing the Hefe bit to the bottom of the bottle. It’s a pretty popular bottle on the Costa, I’m not sure whether that’s because of all the German tourists or whether the Spanish have just developed a taste for this particular white beer. This one has a long lasting froth, especially compared to the last one I tried, though this may sometimes be down to glass management. It had less flavour though and the flavour it did have leaves very quickly. It did taste very clean.

Finally on our little trip we sought out a tiny little bar called La Botica de la Cerveza which basically means the beer store. It had loads of bottles in the fridges and on the walls and a great beer menu which had five beers for me!

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It was a great little place with a really friendly barman. I found it all quite inspirational. No draught, peanuts in a little self service dispense machine on the counter for a euro and a very limited tapas menu that he gets out the fridge behind the bar and pings in the microwave. It obviously works as it got busy, and mainly with the locals.

So going through the five beers I had…

Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. It had a very cool label but an unappealing colour. This Californian beer is pleasant yet quite unassuming and has a nice caramel flavour

Emelisse Imperial Stout was not the easiest drink to get through, a definite sipper. A Dutch beer rocking up at 11% it is thick, sweet with an almost burnt flavour. It’s nearly treacle like and gets sickly sweet the more you drink of it. One for the Pros.

Jever Pilsener is a nice dry bitter Pilsner from Germany. It has a bit of a nutty taste and actually reminded me of Harvest Crunch bars. It is very pleasant but the bitterness does hit you at the back of the throat, maybe surprising some lager drinkers.

And to finish with, 2 beers from the same brewery, Andechs Weissbier Hell and Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel. Andechs Brewery looks like a beautiful Benedictine priory so it’s a little bit of a shame I no longer have to visit there for the purpose of this list. The Weissbier Hell is a centuries old beer dating back from 1764. It is creamy for a white beer with not too much fruit. The Doppelbock Dunkel has a nice toasted smell but I found it a little disappointing. It was pleasant but quick underwhelming for a beer so revered. It had a certain fig taste to it.

So that’s that. Malaga. Very enjoyable but I was disappointed I didn’t manage to tick off a few more Spanish beers I am after. All in all though I would definitely recommend a visit, and if you do go let me know and I’ll come with!!!!!

 

Beers No.142 Murphy’s Irish Stout, No.143 Porterhouse Oyster Stout, No.144 Torpedo Extra IPA, No.145 Brooklyn Local 1 and No.146 Fruh Kolsch.

Beers No.142 Murphy’s Irish Stout, No.143 Porterhouse Oyster Stout, No.144 Torpedo Extra IPA, No.145 Brooklyn Local 1 and No.146 Fruh Kolsch.

If you’ve decided to try lots of different beers in a list like I have, I recommend a visit to Cork. It’s a great place with so much life. All the pubs seem to be very individual, no chains, and they all have their own character.

There is of course the traditional Irish music bars, we went to one called Canty’simg-20160928-wa0027.jpg

It had an excellent  atmosphere, Michelle and Heather danced the night away to some Dylanesque geezer that put on a great show.

There is modern places like Soho http://www.soho.ie/ that are right up there with anything in London for their forward thinking and stylised approach to modern hospitality.

There is also a great little rock bar called Preachers.

Complete with walls adorned with memorabilia from the early 90’s and drum kits for lampshades this is a cool little bar especially for a middle aged indie kid like me.

My favourite place though was called Rising Sons. This microbrewery come taphouse is what I imagine similar to those popping up all across the USA in the craft beer revolution that is in full swing at the moment.

It was very cool. All the fermenting tanks and tuns are on display, working away behind the bar. You can’t get fresher beer. Then on the other side of the room they make their own pizza which they sell as a very reasonable deal of 10 euros for  a pizza and a beer.

So Cork is a bit of a pub paradise, we went to so many in the couple of days we were there but we felt there was so, so many more.

But to the beers, which was the main reason we were there.

We started at a bar called Thomond’s which was a pretty run of the mill, touristy sports bar, but it sold Murphy’s Irish Stout.wp-image-249100405jpg.jpg

Murphy’s is from Cork so it didn’t take long to track it down in its hometown. It has a nice thick creamy head and a smooth, liquorice taste. It’s a very drinkable session stout that stretches back to 1856. I prefer it to it’s bigger rival Guinness, just like I prefer Cork to the bigger Dublin.

After a ridiculously big pub crawl we went out on the Tuesday to a pub called The Porterhouse as I knew they made a couple of beers I need for my list.wp-image-718776249jpg.jpg

The Porterhouse itself was an excellent pub, mainly due to the fact it was connected to another bar and bowling alley so it had a great rooftop communal area with a retractable roof. It was a smoking area but it felt like you were still indoors. Unfortunately I didn’t like their Oyster Stout as much as their bar. It had a weird taste, which I presume is created by the oysters but I thought it tasted more like stinging nettles. I found it had a strange sweet then bitter taste, maybe a little too gourmet for my palate.

The bar had a great selection of other beers from around the world including maybe my favourite I have found on my journey so far….20160927_211006

Brooklyn Local 1 is an incredible beer. Served in a Champagne type bottle but this is for a reason not novelty. This beer is refermented in the bottle just like Methode Champenoise which brings an amazing effervescence. It was beautiful, so smooth it tasted inbetween a lager and an ale. There was no aftertaste, it was very fizzy and very pleasant. My favourite beer of the journey so far!20160927_204258

After that treat I tried a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. This was another good beer. Very floral due to dry hopping this had a lot of flavour. It had a great tang and there was lots of fruit.

Finally in this gem of a bar I got a Fruh Kolsch.20160927_220828

Kolsch is a style of beer from Cologne. It is top fermented like Lager but it is warm fermented like Ale. This example was first brewed in 1904 but I wasn’t over impressed. In fact I thought it tasted like cheap Sainsbury’s value lager but maybe that was just due to the heavyweight competition it was up against that evening.

So that was Cork, I would highly recommend anyone taking a visit here, mainly just for the variety of pubs. I didn’t have that many beers from my list there, though I am sure they are all there somewhere, and I didn’t make a visit to the bierhaus which is pretty ridiculous seeing as they have the greatest stock of beers I had ever seen on my previous visit. I did have one last little bonus though. Feeling a little disappointed I had missed out on a few Irish beers, I found a great result at the airport just before I stepped on the plane home.

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2 of my beers in a 3 pack! What a great way to end the holiday! I’ll let you know how they were next time.

 

Beers No.123 Trade Winds, No.124 Harvest Pale, No.125 Pendle Witches Brew, No.126 Taras Boulba, No.127 Zinnebir, No.128 Bush Ambree Triple, No.129 Gouden Carolus Classic, No.130 Popperings Hommel Bier, No.131 Etoile du Nord, No.132 Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, No.133 Lindeboom Pilsener, No.134 Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout and No.135 Thornbridge Kipling

Beers No.123 Trade Winds, No.124 Harvest Pale, No.125 Pendle Witches Brew, No.126 Taras Boulba, No.127 Zinnebir, No.128 Bush Ambree Triple, No.129 Gouden Carolus Classic, No.130 Popperings Hommel Bier, No.131 Etoile du Nord, No.132 Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, No.133 Lindeboom Pilsener, No.134 Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout and No.135 Thornbridge Kipling

I love my wife Michelle, I will do anything for her. That’s why for her birthday I took her to the 39th annual Peterborough beer festival. To be fair it was a nice day. We stopped off at a beautiful pub called The Plough in Cambridge and had lunch. Michelle decided she was going to write her own blog called “Around the world in 80 Ploughs” where she would travel the world only stopping in places called The Plough. It’s quite ambitious but certainly original.

After Lunch we went to our hotel in Peterborough. The Pearl Hotel is pretty crazy as it’s above a Thai restaurant and it feels as though it’s combined with it. Our room was beautiful though.

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We dropped off our stuff and went to the festival. Peterborough itself is pretty mental. The section called The Broadway was pretty rough and we both felt a little intimidated even though it was about 3 in the afternoon. Then you reach the cathedral and the same street turns into a much nicer area with plenty of al fresco dining. It retained it’s edgy side all along the high street though. Plenty of skinny men with their tops off restraining dangerous dogs. It’s kind of like Southend.

The beer festival was O.K. Michelle prefered the Canterbury beer festival and I the Chelmsford festival but we did discover Scorpion Death Chocolate.

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That’s right, a chocolate so hot it’s called Scorpion Death and has a printed disclaimer.

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Of course there was lots of beers to try. Especially lot’s of foreign bottles.

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I was excited about this, but really both Michelle and I would have prefered sitting with a few nice pints of ale than pissing about with half a bottle each of extreme flavours, but that’s what we were here for!

Cairngorm Brewery’s Trade Windis a Scottish beer laden with awards including Britain’s Champion Best Bitter in 2006. It is very refreshing and easy to drink. It tasted of peach to me and the elderflower which is added to it.

Castle Rock’s Harvest Pale is another Champion Bitter of Britain, incidentally the year after, in 2007. it is flavoured with a blend of U.S. hops, but I didn’t find it that full. It was very light and seemed to have more aroma than flavour, in fact it maybe even seemed a little watered down.

Moorhouse’s Pendle Witches Brew is a very nice, creamy amber beer with plenty of grapefruit coming through. Thoroughly enjoyable but then I do like a Fuggle.

Brasserie de la Senne’s Taras Boulba is a dry beer with a low strength for a Belgian offering. Named after a Russian novel this beer dries your mouth out and has a lot of quinine flavouring that leaves a bitter finish.

Another of Brasserie de la Senne’s offerings Zinnebir is a lot sweeter. Kind of like a honey lager though it’s an ale, it’s caramel sweet with a powerful bitter kick.

Brasserie Dubuisson’s Bush Ambree Triple is a completely different kettle of fish. At 12% it’s a classic challenging Belgian beer. It is smokey and has a syrupy treacle mouthfeel. It tastes clearly strong and to be frank reminded me of Tennants Super.

Brouwerij Het Anker’s Gouden Carolus Classic is a very famous Belgian beer that is so award winning and popular it has a range of beers also bearing the Goulden Carolus name. We found it quite unpleasant though. Sweet and licouricey, it’s quite the acquired taste.

Poperings Hommel Bier is a hoppy little number for a Belgian beer. It’s quite sour but still very drinkable, surprisingly so for it’s 7.5% ABV.

Brasserie Thiriez’s Etoile du Nord is a French brew which is pretty new, first brewed in 2003. The beer pours with a frothy white head. It’s quite cardboardy but not unappealing. It has a long dry, bitter finish.

Where Brasserie Thiriez doesn’t have much history Augustiner-Brau is absolutely steeped in it. First established in 1328 and Munich’s oldest brewery their Lagerbier Helles itself is a couple of hundred years old and it’s lovely. It’s quite lemony and has a bit of hop in there too.

Lindeboom’s Pilsener is another lager over 100 years old. It’s certainly refreshing but we found it unassuming on the verge of being non-descript.

Nøgne Ø’s Imperial Stout was our last beer of the festival. It had a strange tang to it. It was smoky and had licorice tones but Michelle, who is my stout expert, exclaimed it tasted of ashtray water. When she had drunk ashtray water to make this comparison is beyond me.

Last weekend I went to The End Of The Road Festival in Wiltshire. On the way I stopped off at the Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham to pick up a bottle of OTT.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a well stocked shop where I picked a few of the beers I am after for my list.

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This included Thornbridge’s Kipling. This beer I couldn’t get at Thornbridge’s brewery in Bakewell so it’s quite strange to buy it from another pub. It was the last of the beers I needed from this brewery and I must say they have established themselves as one of my favourites. Kipling itself didn’t disappoint. Titled a South Pacific Pale Ale, this beer which only uses New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hops is refreshing, fruity, and pretty much perfect.

 

 

 

No.119 Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter, No.120 Liberty Ale, No.121 Velkopopovicky Kozel and No.122 Perla Chmielowa

No.119 Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter, No.120 Liberty Ale, No.121 Velkopopovicky Kozel and No.122 Perla Chmielowa

I found an excellent little shop in Elm Road, Leigh. On the outside it appears to be just a shop selling wine and a few beers, but it has a  little courtyard out the back. The selection is small but excellent. They stock a couple of American beers, most of the Samuel Smith range and a few interesting Belgian beers such as Orval, Trappistes Rochefort, Triple Karmeliet and St. Bernadus. Pretty rare in this area.

I actually discovered this little gem as I went to the Leigh Beer Festival, in the town hall opposite. Unfortunately they didn’t post a beer list online and when I arrived they didn’t have a single beer I require for my mission. As I was by myself I decided not to stay but noticed the Orval through the window of Blossom’s which drew me in. Luckily they had a few from my list including two I hadn’t tried yet.

Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter is a vegan beer which is very dark with a custard head. Created by John Smiths nephew in Tadcaster which is why it has such an interesting name, it is creamy and fudgy but quite thin. A nice beer but not in the Porter hall of fame for me.

Liberty Ale is a bit of a trend setter. It was one of the first beers to feature Cascade hops which is know pretty synonymous with American Craft Beer. First created as a Christmas Ale is dry and orangey. I found it wasn’t as punchy as many dry hopped beers I have tried though.

In the week we popped in to Mangetout as I had heard they sell Kozel. Interestingly they had a very nice selection of draught beers. They have Goose Island, Brooklyn, Kozel and something very well respected starting with Tong which escapes me at the moment. Whats interesting though is for this diverse selection they have hardly any bottled beers, I think they are missing a trick. I think a good selection of American bottles and cans, similar but wider than that of Henry’s Burgers, could really go down well. Anyway we were only there for one thing.

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Velkopopovicky Kozel is a beautiful Czech lager. In fact Michelle described it as the best lager she has ever drunk. It’s currently the best selling beer abroad and it’s easy to see (or taste) why. It smells creamy and has the taste of Ice cream flavoured jaw breakers if you can remember such a thing? There is no aftertaste but leaves you with an enjoyable subtle sweetness.

When we got back I grabbed a beer from my collection…

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One of the first lager producers this brewery has an interesting story since its founding in 1846. Unfortunately I didn’t find it’s best selling and the regions most popular beer Perla Chmielowa quite as interesting. Pleasant enough but it didn’t really have anything to lift it above the millions of other lagers in the world. Especially after I had had Kozel previously that evening