Berlin: Greatest Hits

After two visits to Berlin, both being focused on Stone Brewing and their European invasion I've found a couple of gems among the jungle that is the Berlin beer scene. Not the most advances scene, but one that seems to be blossoming and probably will grow with the addition of Stone. These here are my favourites.

Lager Lager

Lager Lager

Lager Lager functions as both tap room, growler station and bottle shop. Despite it's small looks from the outside, it can seat a good amount of people. I was pleasantly surprised during my first visit, with a well coordinated tap list and a massive selection of bottles from near and far. The place is driven by to passionate people and it shows. The selectionincludes BRLO, Beavertown, Heiden Peters, The Kernel and of course Stone.

Moneterey

Moneterey

Where Lager Lager had a more relaxed atmosphere, still seeming like a hidden gem, Monterey could be the exact opposite. Rock music blaring from the speakers, a showcase of beers enjoyed in the bar, some suggestive pictures on the walls and even an arcade table in the back. This place seems to have it all. Seemed to be heavily focused on American breweries during my first visit, but settled back on some locals during my second. Well worth a visit!

Kaschk

Kaschk

I'm still not entirely sure what shuffleboard actually is, or at least, I don't know how you play it. None the less, this is something as rare as a shuffleboard/craft beer hybrid. The service was very laid back, almost too much, but the beers they had on tap seemed carefully selected, although for me a little disappointing, as there was quite a few 'To Øl' beers on tap. Not that it's a bad thing, I just get them so frequently in Copenhagen. None the less, the vibe and location speaks loud for Kaschk. In the middle of the city and seems to attract a crowd bringing their computers to work.

An American comes to Europe

When you take a good look at Stone, it's hard to combine that with the words micro brewery. But 'craft' is still deeply ingrained in their DNA. With several outlets in the US, they're the first American brewery to open their own facility overseas. Something like that doesn't go un-noticed. With such a name and brand behind you, there's bound to a grand opening party. And as a participant, I can guarantee they succeeded.

Part of the restaurant.

Part of the restaurant.

This is my second visit to Stone, as I was there only two months ago. Back then there was still a lot left to be done, but everyone pulled through and out of seemingly nothing an enormous beer garden rose. My partner in crime for the opening was Andrew and according to him, the Berlin chapter looks and feels quite a lot like the one in Escondido - in a really good way. Big, open, spacious and playful comes to mind, but organic and friendly shouldn't be left out. This place is massive, even if I tried to not count the outdoor area, which seems to be taken directly from California and planted in Berlin.

Andrew with our first couple of beers.

Andrew with our first couple of beers.

But what makes this so special, is not only the restaurant and beer garden. If not even more important, the brewery. The corner stone (pun intended) is the beer and all of the flagship beers will now be brewed in Berlin, with local, fresh ingredients. And that's important, especially for Berlin!

A city that seems to be in it's infancy when it comes to craft beer. Double IPA's are a rare sight, Imperial Stouts are far between, and craft beer places are in general hard to come by, spread across the city. With a giant production like Stone, the small brewers have got some serious competition on their hands.

One of the out door bars. Notice the Stone Farking W00tstout.

One of the out door bars. Notice the Stone Farking W00tstout.

Previously mention w00tstout posing for the camera

Previously mention w00tstout posing for the camera

I won't go into too much detail about what was present at the opening, mostly because I didn't take notes, but also because that list would be massive. I believe to have heard there was 88 different beers on tap during the opening night, where most was in the main bar located in the restaurant, some were in the library bar and yet some more were located outside at smaller stands. 

Fresh hops.

Fresh hops.

My hope is for Stone to bring their Enjoy By series to Berlin and start putting some much needed focus on freshness. Whether that'll be the case or not, Stone is here to stay and I'll be on the sideline, watching, waiting. Anticipating!

The happiest man at the opening

The happiest man at the opening

On a sidenote, I got to meet Greg (the happiest man at the opening) while he was in Copenhagen only a couple of weeks later. I even got to serve him food at Banksia, before bugging him about various beer related geeky questions at Taphouse.

Stone Brewing, welcome to Berlin and welcome to Copenhagen. 

Great Notion, Portland OR

It's never a surpsise that there's still places in Portland I haven't yet been to. I do feel like I've found my favorites, but this time around, I can add an extra stop to my "usuals". Before even setting a foot at the premises I talked to my sister-in-law about the lack of IPA centric moguls in Portland, despite the massive amount of breweries. Not many of the breweries known outside of Portland have hit the IPA goldmine yet, but Great Notion is about to change that.

Lumberjack

Lumberjack

Located in Alberta, where the Mash Tun used to reside and filled to the brim with lumberjacks from various artist. One of them happens to a favorite of mine, Timber, whose shirts I am wearing as I'm writing this. The place is fairly big, yet quite spacious, with the bar taking only a small part of the area, surrounded by tables of various sizes. We're quickly seated and handed menus.

Highlights from the menu

Highlights from the menu

The first thing that catches my eyes are what you see above. House dry hopped Bourbon, but more about that later. I needed to work up some courage for it.

Great Notion, Juice Jr.

Great Notion, Juice Jr.

But beer was what we came for, and the beers did not dissapoint. Juice Jr. was my first choice, as I was still trying to work up to that Bourbon, a six percent IPA seemed like the right choice. The juice part was spot on, with a huge amount of fruit and a mouthfeel thicker than most. Meanwhile Sister-in-law picked a heavier IPA called Ripe. Good, but Juice Jr. was a hard act to follow. The Editor picked a Blueberry Muffin (beer, not actual muffin!) - a sour ale, that delivered exactly what it says on the tin. Tons of blueberries on the nose, but a light and refreshing sour aspect, that balances everything so perfectly!

Sister-in-law and Bourbon

Sister-in-law and Bourbon

And with the lighter beers out of the way, we're ready for some dry hopped Bourbon - and some fries. The bourbon was... interesting. Unlike anything I've tried before, I might not order it again, but it did give me great ideas for some cocktails. More on that later.

Bourbon, hops and fries.

Bourbon, hops and fries.

Beer menu.

Beer menu.

Funky Brewster and Double Stack we're last on the list. While Funky Brewster was an excellent beer it paled in comparison to Double Stack. Most things will though. An 8.5% Stout with loads of pancake, maple syrup and a mouthfeel that's rarely seen in beers this "easy". Might even have been on of my favorite beers on my whole trip to Portland this time around.

My only concern was the amount of taps. It seemed like a lot of them were left empty and that cut our visit a bit shorter. But the quality of the beers is enough to warrant another visit next time i arrive in PDX.

De Garde, Corvallis OR

I've been to Oregon a few times, and I've been close to Corvallis enough times to almost smell the brewery. Fourth times seems to be the charm as I finally made my way to the warehouse that holds one of my favorite sour breweries.

Carved in wood.  

Carved in wood.  

Up there with Castillon, on the top shelf in my cellar, is where I stash my De Garde beers. As they're hard to come by around these parts, I try to spread it out as best I can. Going to a brewery feels as close to unlimited supply as it ever gets - it's like heaven... 

Taste the rainbow.  

Taste the rainbow.  

Everything in the taproom seems so well thought out. The tables, all the memorabilia on the walls, the neat shelfs in the top and the backdrop of the bar. It's exactly what you'd expect from de Garde. Classy without being overly flashy, yet still cosy enough to easily let people spend several hours on the premises. 

We ended up trying the whole menu on the board alongside a couple of bottles, and we of course ran in to some new favorites.  

Cantillon, artwork and a guy with a donkey on his head. 

Cantillon, artwork and a guy with a donkey on his head. 

Avenue no. 2 was probably the most interesting that day. A farmhouse sour with Marion berries aged on oak, already sounds intriguing on paper, but the taste was nothing but amazing. Dry, tart but deliciously fruity, almost like jam. Definitely a highlight on an already phenomenale tap list!

Tap list

Tap list

And as mentioned we also made our dig into some of the bottles on hand at the brewery. A very fine selection of some of their best stuff made is available. Prices are a bit steep, but for a Dane, not unheard of it. We tried to keep to a decent budget, but could've easily splurged if we'd let our hearts choose. 

The editor and the bottles

The editor and the bottles

Thank you de Garde. Keep up the good work (and start shipping to Copenhagen)

Luksus, Brooklyn NY

The whole foodie scene is still fairly new to me, I feel slightly out of my comfort zone when I eat at places that carry the famous Michelin star. Last year I spent six days in Belgium on a press tour where I was treated to fine dinners at several of these places. Some with stars, and some that were "just highly acclaimed". I just don't seem to talk the talk or walk the walk.  

But when I got the opportunity to dine with the former Noma chef at a restaurant focused only on beer pairings (there's literally no wine in there!) I couldn't resist. 

While waiting for the restaurant to open up I got a beer in the front bar, Tørst. That's Thirst for you non-Danes out there. 

Drinking Evil Twin Low Life

Drinking Evil Twin Low Life

First of all, the pictures that I took of the plates doesn't come anywhere near the level of perfection that was put in front of me, why I've chose only a very few of them here. 

At the same time I was overwhelmed with impressions and tastes (and alcohol) so trying to keep all my thoughts together seemed impossible when I got back to my hotel room. 

I do however remember how much at home I felt. In this new city, in a different country among a bunch of people I'd never met, I felt more at home than anywhere else. As a first time lone traveler, it felt very new to me, and I believe I owe most of that to Daniel (Burns) and the excellent staff at Luksus. 

Summer Saison from Blackberry Farm and Daniel Burns working his magic. 

Summer Saison from Blackberry Farm and Daniel Burns working his magic. 

I had front row seats to the kitchen where Daniel was working, so we got to chat about food, beer and life in Denmark. A warm and embracing conversation was all it took, I just hope Daniel could focus on his work while I was talking. 

All courses came with a carefully curated beer pairing and was spot on almost every time. I sensed a slight overdose on citrus among my first pairing, but that's only if I'm nitpicking. At work I do pairings for our eating guests as well, so I take notes when I see something working (or not working).  

image.jpg

The beers selected were from all over the place. Different styles, different countries, yet all tasty!

My night didn't seem to end after the dessert though, a frothy, delicious flødebolle most Danes would only dream of creating. I left Daniel, my new friends next to me and went back into the bar, where another chef from Luksus was sitting. 

image.jpg

Michael, who's been working at Luksus for quite some time have a mutual friend with me (thanks for the introduction Tyler!) so I was in for another chat about food and beer. It's incredible how those two things can bring strangers together. 

I got a tour of the kitchen downstairs and even peeked into the beer room. Any geeks dream coming true - and I have trouble thanking Michael enough for that I need to bring him a beer next time I come back to New York and Luksus/Tørst, he definetly deserves that. 

Of course I'll need to go back... If not for the food, then for the beers. There might be Speedway Stout on tap next time as well.

Sneak Peak: Stone Brewing Berlin

In what was a record for both crowd funding and craft brewing, Stone announced their entrance to Europe. Although the premises are not finished yet, I was fortunate enough to get a tour and a glimpse of what will be the final product after years of work. 

Directions

Directions

The ambitions are obviously high and owner Greg Koch is ever so often present on social media showing his excitement. Latest was a video showing the first canned goods coming from the German brew house. With a rich history in hoppy beers and pushing boundaries for bitterness, it was of course the legendary Stone IPA.

That same beer was also on tap at the temporary outlet dubbed 'The Library Bar'. Located somewhat out of Berlin, public transport isn't the easiest task (yet), but even if it's not completely finished, it's still worth a visit. No other places can brag about a tap list this magnificent. Just from the in-house brewery you can get hopped up on three different levels, with both a session IPA, American IPA and Imperial IPA. But even if you're not feeling the bitter craze, you still have options in the Porter with vanilla beans or the infamous Arrogant Bastard. 

And I haven't even mentioned the 25 other taps available, but I could easily mention Buxton and the local guys from ... 

Definitely worth a visit, and will be even more so when the restaurant and kitchen is up and running. With 500 seats indoors and another 300 outside (if my memory serves me correctly), there'll be heaps of food and beer to enjoy. Also worth noting is the additional 75 taps that'll be located in the restaurant.  

Now, picture time...

The kitchen is almost ready to serve! 

The kitchen is almost ready to serve! 

Stone branded kitchen ware.  

Stone branded kitchen ware.  

The restaurant area as it looks for now. Will seat hundreds of people when it's done. The trees and  wood will be a prominent factor in the decor.

The restaurant area as it looks for now. Will seat hundreds of people when it's done. The trees and  wood will be a prominent factor in the decor.

When the sun is shining, the beer geeks come out to drink. Luckily there's a huge outdoor area, waiting to be turned into a giant biergarten.  

When the sun is shining, the beer geeks come out to drink. Luckily there's a huge outdoor area, waiting to be turned into a giant biergarten.  

Matt, who's responsible for most of the bar work, is here seen talking about beer, surrounded by eager listeners. 

Matt, who's responsible for most of the bar work, is here seen talking about beer, surrounded by eager listeners. 

A brewpub wouldn't be complete without an option to fill growlers.  

A brewpub wouldn't be complete without an option to fill growlers.  

The first canned beer from the new brewery is hitting shelves as I type this. Tried it from kegs and it's as delicious as ever. Will be interesting to see the impact fresh hops will have on the German and European market. 

The first canned beer from the new brewery is hitting shelves as I type this. Tried it from kegs and it's as delicious as ever. Will be interesting to see the impact fresh hops will have on the German and European market. 

Trink Echtes Bier, Drink Real Beer. 

Trink Echtes Bier, Drink Real Beer. 

For now, the outdoor seating is limited. The food equally limited. For now at least... 

For now, the outdoor seating is limited. The food equally limited. For now at least... 

Apparently, ideas for what to do with this beauty is still being discussed. Can be seen from afar, so a good indicator that you're on the right path. 

Apparently, ideas for what to do with this beauty is still being discussed. Can be seen from afar, so a good indicator that you're on the right path. 

Copenhagen Beer Week 2016

CBC is coming up soon, and as always, there's a lot of stuff going on in and around the city related to our favorite beverage. Let's have a look!

Five years in a row! 

Five years in a row! 

Mikkeller started the Copenhagen Beer Week as looks and acts today. They've done immensely for the Copenhagen Beer Scene on that behalf, but it's no secret that with so many great beer travellers in the city, the rest of the industry has followed suit. While Mikkeller seems to run their own party on all their outlets in and around the city, the following is a calendar for "the rest of us".

Find Mikkellers own calendar here.

Monday

Meet the Brewer: Drew Fox @Alefarm

The Battle of the Randalls @Mikkeller + Mikkeller & Friends

Boxing Cat + Great Leap Brewing @Mikkeller & Friends

We Bleed Coffee release @Ramen to Biiru Vesterbro

Tuesday

Buxton Brewery Tap Takeover @Fermentoren

Vertical Tasing of Belgian Classics @Mikkeller

Mikkeller Beer Run @Warpigs

Koelship Takes Over @Mikkeller & Friends

Wednesday

Omnipollo Extravaganza @Banksia Food & Beer

Hoppin Frog Tap Takeover @Fermentoren

Three Floyds Tap Takeover @Mikkeller

Crooked Moon Tattoo Day @Warpigs

Chef Collaboration Dinner @Øl og Brød

Kernel, Beaverton, Brewdog + Brew By Numbers @Mikkeller & Friends

Bokkeryder Tap Takeover @Koelship

Thursday

Opening Party @Brus

Meet the Brewer: Cloudwater Brewing @Banksia Food & Beer

Lervig Tap Takeover / Meet the Brewer @Ørsted Ølbar

Sour & Bitter #3 @Atelier 1B

Meet the Brewers, Alefarm + Dry & Bitter @Mikkeller

Hill Farmstead Day @Warpigs 

Stone Have Landed @Mikkeller & Friends

Boneyard Takeover @Ramen To Biiru Vesterbro

Oud Beersel Tap Takeover + Bersalis Relase @Koelship

Friday

Copenhagen Beer Celebration - Day 1

Funky Buddha @Mikkeller & Friends

Restaurant Spontan @Brus

Saturday

Copenhagen Beer Celebration - Day 2

Sunday

The Hangover Cure @Banksia Food & Beer

Sunday Brunch & Coffee @ Mikkeller

Big Pig Contest @Warpigs

Jester King Meet the Brewer @Koelship

Casual, Malmö

I've been a frequent visitor at Casual in Malmö. All of my previous visits have had one thing in common - a massive hangover. This time around, I'm eating here before heading out for heavy drinking, before I ruin my tastebuds! 

Open

Open

Because, we might as well get it out of the way, Casual deserves that! There's a reason they were invited for one of the first years of Copenhagen Beer Celebration. That's what lured me into their little diner looking establishment the first time around, as I never paid them a visit during the celebration. 

When I enter I'm surprised at how few people are here. It's a Friday afternoon, which in Sweden means that everyone is out getting their "after work". Although it is more a burger joint than a beer bar, they do have quite a good selection of craft beer at hand. Mostly Mikkeller and Omnipollo with some To Øl sprinkles on top, not a bad lineup at all.  

Classic with tomato, salad, onion and dressing

Classic with tomato, salad, onion and dressing

I order a "Classic" for myself while my friend Pascal, who I teamed up with for the occasion, ask for a plate of fish and chips. He's girlfriend Karoline makes the far more obvious choice with a double cheese.

all of the above is ordered with fries. Is now a good time to talk about how much I love fries?! 

Maybe next time... 

Cream Ale and lovely Swedish people! 

Cream Ale and lovely Swedish people! 

My burger is accompanied by a Cream Ale from Mikkeller, that I've had before. It's one of the better in recent memory from the always busy gypsy, and with its low bitterness and mellowed malt base, it should be a perfect match for my classic burger. 

Grease and cream!

Grease and cream!

And it is! Greasy burgers and Cream Ales are my new favorite pairing. It works much better than anticipated and it almost makes me not pay attention to how unclean my glass is. Bubbles cling to the inside of my glass like the ketchup clings to my fries. 

It's easy to forget though, and with a greasy burger like this, should I really be complaining? 

Because greasy is the best way to describe The burgers at Casual. The ingredients seem fresh and of good quality although it comes to a halt in the taste department. My non-hangover tastebuds craves more of the good stuff, a little more spice would work wonders!

I want some of this in my burger next time

I want some of this in my burger next time

It doesn't ruin my experience, but I can think of at least one place I'd probably go more than Casual, although that also has to do with location. Tommy's!

More about Tommy another day! 

Useless fact, Pascal is a Libra.  

Useless fact, Pascal is a Libra.  

I end my visit with a taste of Pascals dessert, an apple pie served in an unlikely fashion and a Zodiac from omnipollo served in proper glassware.  

A word about storing beer

Ideally, this room should be chilled and sunshine should be kept out.

Ideally, this room should be chilled and sunshine should be kept out.

Storing beer is a subject very close to me, as I am a big fan of stuffing my celler full of beers. Some would even say I suffer from cellarphobia. Therefore I've also taken the time to research how to store beers properly, but different beers demand different storage, and as much as I would love to be able to store at different temperatures, I simply don't have the capacity.

But that doesn't change the enjoyment I get from picking up a dusty barley wine from the cellar, realising it recently turned 10 and opening it only to experience the wonder age can do to some beers. Those who do the same know exactly what I'm talking about.

When storing beers, most people would agree that temperature is the most crucial aspect when you intend to let it age. I will, however, try to give a broader list of things to consider. 

  • Temperature
  • Orientation
  • Humidity
  • Bottle Conditioned
  • Light Exposure
  • Style

Most of what is known about aging and storing beers comes from the studies that have been conducted with red wine. Usually they're stored at temperatures below their fermentation, and the same goes for wine. Ales, which are usually better suited for aging, are fermented at 18 - 23°C so if your beer storage is between that, you're home safe. Go higher and you'll end up with oxidised beers; go lower and you'll slow down the aging process significantly, or even stop it completely. In other words, don't go too low (which would be around 13°C). 

Theres another aspect when it comes to aging and temperature that shouldn't go unnoticed. It should be steady. If there's too much variation during a day or a year, some processes will be started but not finished and could also lead to off flavours.

When talking about orientation, it's easy to tell that storing bottles upright is the way to go. Most craft beer has sediment in the bottle from either yeast or hops, and since you don't want any of that in your beer you store them upright. If poured correctly (carefully) all sediment will remain in the bottle and you'll end up with a nicer looking beer, free from eventual unwanted flavors.

But why are some beers stored horizontally then? Cork is the short answer. The longer answer involves humidity. If the humidity is too low, it could dry out corks and precious beer could evaporate from the bottle. Although that process takes time, exposed corks should be stored horizontally if the humidity is below 55%, to prevent the corks from drying out. Another concern arrives here, as horizontal storing will increase the beers contact with the remaining oxygen in the bottle, because of a larger surface area. A whole new dilemma for beer hoarders arises!

BUT!

if the beer is bottle conditioned, a greater surface area will not have an impact on oxidization as secondary fermentation will counteract the process. It is equally believed that a horizontal aging will improve secondary fermentation because the sediment will too have a greater surface.

Another impact is light exposure and the greatest ally in this case is the color of the bottle. UV-rays will break down hop character to skunky flavors and the greatest way to prevent this is up to the brewery. Clear, green and blue bottles will give no resistance to the dangerous UV-rays, but brown ones will do just that. Direct sunlight or fancy ambient light is the enemy. Store your beer in a dark place! Let's take that one more time for the metal heads. Darkness is your friend!

Lastly, a beer's style also has something to say about storage. Strong beers like Barley Wines and Stouts along with sours should sit at 10-13°C , but Pale Ales and IPAs should be a bit colder at 8°C. Beers lighter than that, usually lagers, should be taken directly from the fridge at 5°C, still stored upright to avoid sediment.

Lastly, learn for yourself. A beer should be stored (long-term) as close to fermentation temperature as possible and you might want your beer at a different temperature than your favourite beer friend. You might even disagree about how long your stouts should be stored; maybe you'll find them peaking at different times.

Experimentation is your friend!

Cantillon in Pictures, Brussels

A picture says more than a thousand words, so when I got to visit one of my favourite breweries, I teamed up with the brilliant mind of Jan Odekamp. Jan had been following me and five other bloggers around, during a trip arranged by Visit Flanders, that took us to seven cities around the Flandern Area. I had already seen his excellent skills at work, making me actually look good on camera, so my faith in him was great.

He didn't disappoint, and as you can see from the pictures, Cantillon is a beautiful place with an interior unlike any other brewery I've seen before. Somewhere in-between the old barrels, among the spiderwebs under the wooden roof, magic happens. Jan captured it perfectly!

You should do yourself a favour and follow Jan Opdekamp on his Tumblr and tell him he's awesome. Right now he has a picture of a dinosaur, and dinosaurs are pretty freakin awesome too!