England

Brewdog Camden, London

From Oxford to London, from country to metropolis, from smooth cask to imperial everything. The Scottish version of Mikkeller and my first time visiting a real Brewdog location, although there are numerous venues under the same name in London. 

Yours truly, the Editor and our dear friend Adam

Although it's not my first visit to London nor Camden, it's my first time here somewhat focused on beer. As I walk down the street from Camden Station, passing by Camden Market all the way to Camden Lock, I notice a lot of bars and places I've visited before. They all seems blurry by now, either from four years passing or imperfect beer experiences. Only later, do I realise that we've already passed the street leading to BrewDog - A street I've passed ever so many times before.

 Crew, bar and beers

Crew, bar and beers

When we finally turn down Greenland Street it's hard to miss. From the exterior it looks small and classy, but I don't really know what to expect until I enter. A big Hollywood marquee with the beers on draft for today takes up the whole wall behind the bar. I start studying the menu while The Editor and our friend  Adam get seated. I start a tab in the bar and head to my table with a Punk IPA. I figure that'll be super fresh, but I'm surprised to find that I've had it a lot fresher elsewhere. Not what I expected from BrewDog.

 Adam in a thoughtful moment in front of the bar

Adam in a thoughtful moment in front of the bar

The Editor makes a much better choice than myself and gets a apricot-infused Jackhammer. That's more how I like it; fruity, fresh and different from the generic IPAs. Vagabond Pale Ale, #mashtag 2015 and Libertine Black Ale also grace the table somewhere around the same time we get our food. I get a greasy burger that leaves my fingers - and most of the table - looking like a disaster. I'm very happy and ready to have another beer, but new adventures await.

 Nice and greasy burger.

Nice and greasy burger.

Before leaving I ask the bartender if there are any places nearby he could recommend for bottles, since I plan on filling up a suitcase (as I always do when I travel). Oddly enough, he's also Danish and I can continue talking in my native language. I get two recommendations (more on those later) and head back into the world, with my first BrewDog visit fresh in the memory bank!

 Goodbye for now. See you soon Adam!

Goodbye for now. See you soon Adam!

Euston Tap, London

As I was heading for the English capital I sought advice on beer related sightings. One of the most mentioned places was Euston Tap, highlighted for their excellent service and impressive tap list. I could not wait to enter this gem. 

 Entrance to Euston

Entrance to Euston

Sadly, my visit speaks a different story...

With wife in hand, I arrive around noon with a thirst for craft brewed hoppy goodness, so naturally I ask the bartender for her freshest IPAs. She recommends two wheat beers I have tried before: Camden Town Gentlemans Wit and Maisels Weisse. I'm not really feeling any of those and I'm slightly confused by the recommendations. I change my mind and go for a sour beer instead. Eve from Orbit Beers is local, and elderflower in a sour beer sounds intriguing.

It could have been a masterpiece, but Eve is a disasterpiece. Imagine if a cider and puke had a baby. That's almost how bad Eve tastes and it marks the first time I've ever had to take back a beer.  

We're sitting outside, since the seating indoors is almost nonexistent, but before I head back in I ask the editor what she thinks of her beer. She had taken a different approach. She had liked the name of a beer and asked what kind it was, with an unsure answer that it might be an IPA. It was quite tasty, but very much not an IPA.

While she keeps enjoying her Saison, I go back in to find the bartender sitting behind the bar, phone in hand. I politely tell her that I strongly dislike my beer and as I had now settled on a sour I'd like to try the other sour the bartender mentions from the board: Floria Framboise from Brouwerij Huyghe. It is a very sweet fruit beer and therefore doesn't really classify as a sour for me, so I return to my initial wish. 

On my second try I finally get something hoppy, although I find it a little too malty and out of balance. It might even be a bit oxidized, which doesn't come as the biggest surprise as I sit right next to what appears to be the keg storage. Having your beer stored outside is not ideal in the summer time, with high fluctuations in temperature during the day.  

Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing didn't save Euston tap from being a failure in almost every sense of the word on this particular Wednesday in August.  

If I really try to find something good to say about the place, it would be the outdoor area. With lots of seating and a small park right next door, you almost forget about the busy road on the other side when you dream of better and fresher beer.

Luckily I had a Simcoe Citra IPA from The Kernel in my bag, and I used it to remove the bad taste in my mouth. It did the job to perfection.

The Eagle and Child, Oxford

When in Rome, they say you should do as the Romans do, so I must give Cask Ale another try when the editor and I arrive at The Inklings' old hangout in Oxford, England. Great stories have come to life in this place, so it is only natural to write about our visit here. 

 Beautiful exterior and sign

Beautiful exterior and sign

 I've never quite understood my own fondness of the British accent. It might be underexposure, since most of the TV and movies in my youth have been American. Nonetheless, I adore it when English people speak. The bartenders here at "The Bird and Baby" are no exception to this rule although they don't seem to know too much about beer. 

Clearly, beer is not the main focus here, even though there's a wide selection of Cask Ales and regular bottled beer. I order [a beer] while we wait for the chefs to arrive. They've apparently overslept, which gives me plenty of time to understand why Cask Ale seems to be all the rage here. I fail with my first attempt, but admire the beautiful circles lacing down the inside of my glass. 

 Excellent service, mediocre beer... 

Excellent service, mediocre beer... 

 As the chefs arrive, soon our food follows. Keeping it British we are sharing fish 'n' chips. It works extremely well with my beer, as it doesn't have much intensity to offer. As with my beer it's just kind of stale, but the British kitchen is not known for spices and intensity! It's an easy meal and it might bring me closer to an appreciation of Cask Ales. 

The beer is not why I would come back to the Eagle and the Child, but the friendly staff and creativity oozing from the atmosphere could easily draw me back.

 Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

I never found out whether the rest of the guests were Oxfordians or tourists, but I know that the place was almost empty when we arrived and packed when we left. Either way, they all seemed to enjoy refreshing Real Ale - and even I found myself a little closer to understanding what the buzz is all about. 

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