Berlin – Prost!

Me with bear smallWie gehts?

Last month, I spent three memorable days in Berlin. I’m due to get married next year and so my great friends decided to take me on an adventure filled weekend in Germany’s legendary capital city.

Over the course of the weekend, we got to see the many awesome sights the city has to offer, from the Reichstag to the Brandenburg Gate to the remnants of the Berlin wall. Needless to say, we also managed to sample quite a few of Berlin’s brews!

Over the course of my next couple of posts, I will recount some of the beers we sampled during our Berliner Ausflug.

Berliner Kindl
The staple beer of Berlin. You’ll find it anywhere – bars, shops, supermarkets restaurants, street food stalls, vending machines. As mass-produced lagers go, this one isn’t too bad, either as an immediate thirst quencher or as a session beer. It’s by no means exceptional, but it deserves a mention all the same.

Berliner Kindl (2)

Berliner Kindl

Maisel’s Weisse
Brewed by Brauerei Gebrüder Maisel, this is exactly what I would have expected for a German wheat beer. Medium-bodied, fruity, creamy texture, frothy head with a hint of spice in the aftertaste. It’s a bit too heavy for a session beer, but certainly one that can be enjoyed at a steady pace.

Maisel's Weisse (SMALL)

Maisel’s Weisse

Holy Shit Ale
With a name like this, how could you not be curious to give it a go? Brewed by Brauhaus Südstern, this imperial IPA definitely packs a punch at 10% ABV.  Full-bodied and extra sweet, this beer needs to be sipped slowly. Worth a try, but I probably wouldn’t have two in a row.

Holy Shit Ale (small)

Holy Shit Ale

 

Me with stein (SMALL)

Prost!

 

Guys with beer

A great bunch of guys!

Prost!

 

 

Holy Grail – Black Sheep Brewery

A good friend of mind picked this one up during his recent trip to Yorkshire. The Black Sheep Brewery produces quite a number of excellent beers and Holy Grail is no exception.

Once it’s had a chance to settle in the glass, you’ll get a lovely reddish-ginger rusty colour with a modest frothy head. Allow it to linger beneath your nose for a second or two and you’ll detect a fruity aroma with hints of caramel. The mouthfeel is very smooth and velvety; almost to the point of creaminess. The taste is fruity and biscuity, sweet and earthy.

The aftertaste is crisp, slightly bitter, and gingery. An all round solid beer from Black Sheep Brewery.

Holy Grail

Cheers!

Murphy’s – Another great Irish stout!

This week, I thought I’d indulge in a bit of nostalgia and write about a beer which takes me back to my days as a student. For my masters’ degree, I moved to Ireland’s second largest city, Cork, which is situated right in the south of the country. Cork is a fantastically vibrant city with a great range of traditional pubs,  historic food markets and a plethora of festivals throughout the year.

Cork is also home to one of the country’s oldest universities, University College Cork, better known as ‘UCC’. It was during my years as a history student at UCC, that I first discovered and developed a lasting love for Murphy’s stout.

‘Less bitter’
When you think Ireland and stout, the first thing to come to mind is probably going to be Guinness right? Murphy’s doesn’t have nearly the same level of international brand recognition as its long-time competitor, but anyone who’s had a couple of pints of Cork’s own ‘black stuff’ will tell you that it has a distinctive flavour which puts it in league with the very best of stouts.

Noticeably less bitter than Guinness, Murphy’s is smooth with a nutty, roasted flavour and an aftertaste which has hints of coffee and caramel. Like any good beer, the pour is all important and if done by a bartender who knows his craft, you’ll get a thick, creamy, bubble-free white head which will last most of the way down the glass.

Murphy's (SMALL)

You will find Murphy’s on tap in any truly authentic Cork pub, as well as in plenty of others outside of the city. A personal favourite of mine from my student days was Tom Barry’s on Barrack Street. It’s a bit out of the way if you’re only visiting the city centre, but during my university days, this pub was a favourite haunt for students and lecturers alike.

I’ve struggled to find Murphy’s stout on sale anywhere outside of Ireland. Last week however, I was delighted to see it on sale in my local Asda and so I decided to pick up a few cans for old times’ sake!

Murphys (3 cans)

Murphy’s stout – on sale at Asda!

 

UCC campus

University College Cork (UCC) – my old alma matter

UCC (bridge)

UCC campus

Bath Ales: Gem Amber Ale

The first thing to grab me about this beer was the aroma. Allowing my nose to linger for a few seconds, I was reminded of freshly made toffee or even candy floss. After it settles in the glass, the colour is deep rusty red.

The mouthfeel is quite smooth, medium bodied and moderately carbonated. After the first sip, Gem Amber Ale is quite bready and smokey, with again that hint of toffee coming through.  The taste is to some extent similar to that of a Belgian brown ale; a beer to be sipped and enjoyed slowly rather than a session beer.

The finish was mildly bitter and hoppy.

Bath Ale Gem (SMALL)

Bath Ales: Gem Amber Ale

Bath Ales produces a good selection of other beers from bitters to porters to stouts. Looking forward to giving some of these a try soon!


Cheers!

 

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

I’ve always associated stout with winter. There’s nothing quite like sipping a creamy pint of stout sitting in front of a roaring fire with a gale howling outside the window.

However, my good friend Peter picked up this particular number for me during his recent holiday in Yorkshire and I was curious to brake it open and give it a go. Stouts are not everyone’s beer of choice. Fortunately, I do enjoy a stout; might have something to do with being Irish?

The first thing that will strike you about Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is the aroma. When I closed my eyes and allowed my nose to hover for a few seconds, the first thing that came to mind was hot chocolate or a rich flavoured coffee. After it settles in the glass, the colour is deep dark and the head is frothy and brown like the sea foam you’ll find washed up on a beach in rough stormy weather.

The mouthfeel is smooth and silky and the taste is quite biscuity and sweet; you can definitely taste that oatmeal coming through. The aftertaste is mildly bitter, with a hint of coffee and even a mild note of whiskey. All in all, this is a well-rounded and tasty stout and definitely worth a go.

Cheers!

Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout (SMALL)

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

International Beer Day!

Friday  was International Beer Day.  Being the curious sort that I am, I consulted Google and was intrigued to learn that this auspicious occasion was first celebrated in 2008, almost ten years ago. As of 2017, International Beer Day is now marked annually on the first Friday of August in over 200 cities around the globe.  Never one to miss an important occasion – particularly one which involves beer – I decided to celebrate International Beer Day with a selection of brews from around Europe.

BBNo 14|04 – Tripel
British German flag (small)OK, this one sounds a bit more like a Star Wars droid than a beer. R2-D2’s second cousin maybe?

The cryptic name is apparently down to a very logical numbering system instituted by the brewer (Brews by Numbers), in which the first number denotes the style, whilst the second denotes the recipe. Makes sense I suppose.

I’ve not come across anything from Brews by Numbers (BBN) before now, but I discovered this one last week in an excellent little shop called Royal Mile Whiskies in Bloomsbury St. in central London.

BBNo 14|04 is an abbey style beer brewed in London with a delicate flavour which is, according to the brewer, down to the addition of the German hop Hallertau Blanc. After pouring it carefully into the glass, allow your nose to hover for a moment or two and you’ll detect a strikingly refreshing fruity aroma. In terms of appearance, BBNo 14|04 very much looks the part of an abbey beer with a decent frothy head and a deep, hazy, golden colour.

The flavour is slightly malty and bready, with hints of various different fruits and herbs; there’s plenty going on here to tantalise your taste buds. It has a slightly bitter, citrus aftertaste. All in all, this is a solid take on an abbey ale. I’d certainly have it again and I’m eager to try its sister brews.

14-04 Tripple (small pic)

BBNo 14|04

R2D2 and beer

R2-D2 approves of this beer

 

To Øl Blossom
Flag-Denmark
Skål (cheers)! In the same shop in Bloomsbury St, I came across a Danish wheat ale called To Øl Blossom. True to its name, this beer has an unmistakably floral taste and aroma.

It is crisp and refreshing with a slightly metallic, bitter aftertaste. It has a hazy amber colour and keeps a frothy white head right to the end of the glass.

To Ol (small)

To Øl Blossom –  if florists did beer…..

 

Cheers!

Brews in Brittany!

I’ve just returned from a week’s holidays in Brittany on the west coast of France where I was staying with my fiancée and her family. It was not my first visit to France’s famous Celtic region, but on this occasion, I thought I’d recount some of my experiences of the marvellous array of beers, food and culture which can be found there.

Alors…….. first lets talk a bit about the beer.

Lancelot Duchesse Anne Triple
I found this beer on sale in many bars and cafes in the towns and villages around Brittany. As you might expect for a triple, Duchesse Anne is quite a full bodied beer with a deep amber colour and a rich flavour, with notes of caramel and honey. Left to linger on the tongue, you’ll also detect hints of various fruits like banana and pear. Duchesse Anne is brewed by Brasserie Lancelot which describes itself, quite modestly, as one of Brittany’s ‘premier breweries’. I only came across Duchesse Anne in bottles, but apparently you’ll also find it on tap.

Me with Duchesse Anne beer

Enjoying a Duchesse Anne triple

 

Lancelot blonde
Produced by the same brewery is Lancelot blonde (pictured below, left). Lancelot blonde is a mild, slightly sweet, slightly hoppy lager with a deep amber colour and a decent frothy head. The taste isn’t quite as pronounced as its sister beer Duchesse Anne, but it is a good quality blonde nonetheless and well worth a try.

 

 

Crêpes
Crepes are to Brittany as fries are to Belgium. You’ll find a abundance of ‘creperies’ wherever you go, each serving a wide selection of both sweet and savory crepes for about 7 or 8 Euro apiece. They are, incidentally as I discovered, a great snack to have alongside a beer. Whilst on a visit to the very picturesque port town of Concarneau, I tried the crêpe saucisse de bretagne, followed by the crêpe chocolat noir maison, both of which were very tasty!

Crepe sausage

Crêpe saucisse de bretagne

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Crêpe chocolat noir maison

 

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A typical creperie in Concarneau, Brittany

 

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Concarneau, Brittany

Yec’hed mat! (cheers!)

Flag_of_Brittany