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.

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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!

 

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.193 Brodie’s Prime, No.194 Saison Rue, No.195 Red MacGregor, No.196 Dark Island, No.197 La Meule, No.198 Uerige Alt and No.199 Modus Operandi.

Beers No.193 Brodie’s Prime, No.194 Saison Rue, No.195 Red MacGregor, No.196 Dark Island, No.197 La Meule, No.198 Uerige Alt and No.199 Modus Operandi.

Edinburgh is an excellent place to visit, its great if your on a beer hunt like me, but just in general it seemed to have nearly everything you could require from a city break. A great mixture of centuries old heritage and modern, up to the minute, bars and locations. More on Edinburgh later as I was successful in tracking some beers down but first a little up date on where I work.

I am very lucky to work in an industry that is a passion of mine as I have mentioned before. It has allowed me to meet bonafide rock stars like Band of Horses,IMG-20170223-WA0023

meet bonafide Beer Stars like Tiny Rebel Brewing Co,

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and try some of the beers I’m after on draught which is obviously getting rarer and rarer.

One example of this is No.193 Hawkshead Brewery’s Brodie’s Prime.

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This beer from the Lake District is surprisingly new, only being created in 2004. Named after the brewery’s founder Alex Brodie, this dark premium beer has all the classic traits of winter ale, being a little thin for stout, but also can boast the fruity herby flavours Cascade hops can bring to it.

I also get to try rarer beers in bottle too, like No.194 Saison Rue by The Bruery.

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Strangely enough this is another beer named after the brewery’s founder. This time it’s Patrick Rue, who is the creator of The Bruery. Saison Rue is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned take on a Belgian beer complete with Brettanomyces yeast.  It’s got a nice bright orange colour and flavour with a lingering Champagne dry finish. It was very good, maybe the best saison I have ever had, but then again it wasn’t very saisony, more like Brett Pale.

Then on to..

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As I mentioned earlier Edinburgh was a great place, I was warned by the locals on more than one occasion not to bother coming up for the Comedy Festival, as its simply too busy, overpriced and if you want to watch comedy in Edinburgh there is plenty of options available to you all year round regardless.

My wife and friend went up off season (is there is a season) and it was really well priced, I think the flight cost 40 quid return from Stansted and our apartment which was simply fantastic was less than 100 for the night. I’d highly recommend where we stayed actually. It was in a great location, spotlessly clean and very spacious. It was a little noisy at night due to its location, but with so many beers available you’ll be conked pretty quickly after your head hits the pillow anyway. We stayed at St.Giles Apartments, Google it, it’s great. Actually I’ll try and put a link up, hold on…

https://www.stgilesapartments.co.uk/

There we go, don’t know if it’ll link anywhere but you can’t say I didn’t try.

Being the geek I am I had already done some research and planned a little pub crawl which I knew had some of my beers. Its geeky but I really enjoy doing it this way as you get to go to some out of the way little places you had no way of knowing existed before, an sometimes these can even open up whole areas of the town which you wouldn’t know were there, which is what we found in Edinburgh.

After to a trip to Tiles Bar which reaped no reward for me we traversed to The Royal MacGregor where I found 2 beers both by The Orkney Brewery. It was also the scene of my favourite photo from our trip…IMG-20170314-WA0034

It may not look like much we like it, Michelle was talking to a tramp, and we’re disgusted by this fact as we’re so middle class.

The place itself was small and friendly, and my first beer, No.194 Red Macgregor, was excellent.

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It had a classic bitter taste, red in colour just like its name suggests, it had a lovely creamy head, all three of us enjoyed it. Interestingly after the previous 2 beers in this blog, this beer may not be named directly after the names of the brewery’s creator but it is indirectly so. The beer takes it’s name from the MacGregor clan of Scotland who the original owner of Orkneys Brewery claims he is a descendant.  Either way it’s an excellent beer and probably my favourite of the trip, which as good as it’s Scottish.

The second Orkney offering was No.195 Dark Island

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A dark beer that poured with no head. Michelle thought it was like a pint of fizzy liqourice whilst Heather was surprised how nice it was calling it like a lager with a smoky bacon finish. It was thin for how dark it was and not creamy at all. So much so Michelle invented the word uncreamy for this very beer.

After a stroll about the old town we found our 3rd and most profitable in my eyes bar. The SaltHorse. With a smorgasbord of different beers it didnt take long to find some beers I liked (well wanted to try at least). 3 in fact!

First off was No.196 La Meule by Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes and my first from Switzerland.

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Made with sage leaves this is an interesting beer. Michelle thought it was like a honey cream whilst Heather thought it was really sweet and tantalised the tastebuds. It was very pleasant with a nice wheaty flavour.

Next up was No.198 Uerige Altbier

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I need to mention the bottle first. My photo does it no justice, it was really cool with some nice artwork very similar to the Fallout game series. Now this beer is a lot older than the rest, dating back to 1862 and it’s one of the most famous in Dusseldorf. It is supposedly a secret recipe having not changed in that time. It’s very dry with quite a food smell due to it’s maltiness. It was quite creamy with dark undertones. Heather described it as almost like wine whilst Michelle described it as almost like sawdust. I’m starting to doubt my travel companions credentials as professional critics.

Our final beer of the journey was the hallowed Wild Beer Co. No.199 Modus Operandi.

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Brettanomyces are not these girls game. This revered beer was described them as nail varnish remover in smell and taste, proper horrid, completely disgusting without one ounce of goodness. Pretty harsh reviews showing how dividing the Belgian style can still be. It does have a lot of balsamic vinegar coming through mixed in with cherries. At first I didn’t like it either but I think that may have been just through making the jump from a different, easier style because by the end of the glass I didn’t want it to finish!

So that’s that then. Edinburgh ticked off. I highly recommend it. One thing though, make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the toilet as we found in nearly every bar the toilets are miles away and usually involve stairs!

Ta Ta