Travel

Other Half, Brooklyn NY

There's few places in New York, that has seen the same level of success as the good folks over at Other Half. After less than three years, they've risen to success as a stand-out in the ever expanding beer scene. With an intense focus on hoppy quenchers and the importance of being a local brewery, they haven't seemed to slow down, since their doors opened to the public.

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My visit this February marks my second time coming through the doors in Brooklyn. Contrary to last visit, there's a beer release on this particular day - a collaboration with Russian Zagovor Brewery.

It's a long time coming as the Imperial Stout has been sitting on French Oak Red Wine Barrels. Those same barrels has then been stuffed with birch staves soaked in Armenian Brandy. If that's not enough, some of the beer have gotten raspberries and cocoa nibs added, hence a double release. I grabbed one of each to take home.

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More on Space Soyez Sauce (as it's called) later...

The warehouse and the bar is as packed as ever, with very few places to stand and even fewer to sit. I fight for a place just next to the bar, perfect view for the taplist and not getting in the way of the line, that seems to stretch out the door. Today there's even a door man, who suggest I get a Motueke + Galaxy.

 I obliged!

I obliged!

It may or may not have been a good idea. Starting with an Imperial IPA could seem counterintuitive, as I would like to try more than one beer. None the less, it lives up to the name with tons of fruit, as I've come to expect from Other Half. Slight note of citrus evens it out a bit, and only the bitterness seems to be slightly missing.

The missing bitterness seems to have fled to 3rd Anniversary, I had the day before. 

But as my day has already included two other breweries (Interboro + Finback) and I'm not yet done for the day, I find my last beer on the board, Small Green Everything. Not straying far from the usual, with massive amounts of fruit and citrus. Would've been even better as a starter, but none the less it convinces me I need to bring home some more beers from Other Half.

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Before heading home I get a hold of a can of Hop Showers, in a surprise trading for one of my Finback cans, and a bottle of Cane Life, a collaboration with J. Wakefield. They all fit nicely in my suitcase.

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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.

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).  

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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. 

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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. 

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.