Europe

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. 

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. 

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.  

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!

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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