Kippen – Fallen Brewing Company – Jars in Memory of Jason

Fallen Brewing Company – Station House, Kippen, Stirlingshire, Scotland FK8 3JA

Martyn offered Hector the last two seats on the bus to Fallen Brewing at the start of the week, Dr. Stan would be my – Plus one. This would be Hector’s first – State Bar – outing, Martyn was determined to continue the excursions that Jason had started in bygone years. A £2.00 pint of Soda Water was my aperitif before the 13.00 departure.

For reasons nefarious, we headed north west via Stockiemuir and a View fit for a Queen, driving round two sides of the Campsies. It hasn’t rained in the West of Scotland for ages, we were in for another fine day.

Arriving at the Brewery just after 14.00 we were greeted by Paul Fallen the owner, unfortunately he had to leave us. I had a mental picture of an abandoned train station, and a brewing plant on a platform. A short embankment with a sandstone brick outcrop was the only evidence of what might have been here once upon a time. Imagine a railway line connecting Balloch and Stirling, that there was one, and it was callously closed, belies logic. Thank you, Dr. Beeching.

Jamie, the sales and marketing manager, took us around the plant and explained the brewing processes. Fortunately we had nobody to ask twenty minutes worth of questions requiring forty minutes worth of answers as we had on a CAMRA Trip to Caledonian some years back.

Au Biere

Two taps had been set up outside. Having sampled nine Fallen Ales prior to this visit, it was hoped that Chew Chew would be on, it was. Chew Chew and Platform C are two of my favourite Cask Ales, the latter being IMHO the best Ale on offer at the recent Paisley Beer Festival. At 6.3%, Platform C was deemed to be too much for a session, it was waiting for us back at the State Bar. Grapevine at 5.4% does not have the same – Hop Hit – as Platform C.  This is where most of us started, Martyn doing the honours initially. Thereafter it was help yourself; the Chew Chew at a modest 6.0% took a huge hit. This Salted Caramel Milk Stout may be the antithesis of the IPAs that I generally seek, however, it has brought me back to my roots, for my most of my life I have drunk Stouts and Porters.

Some went to see the canning machine in action, an opperchancity to take up a spot at the Bar with Dr. Stan and Alan. A bottle of Big Raspberry Dog Chew at 10.0% appeared along with cans of The Big 1 at 8.5%. The Dog Chew has – in your face – Fruit. The Big 1 is an intensely hopped IPA, very dangerous. A blank can also appeared, talk about – blind tasting.

The merits of – cans – were discussed, the way ahead it appears now that they are given a lining so that the Bier does not end up tasting metallic. Dr. Stan admitted to buying party tins of Watney’s in his youth, this of course will go no further.

The Chew Chew was finished, we would never finish the Grapevine in the allocated time. One lemonade bottle was the only receptacle for a Takeaway, Martyn commandeered this. We were back at the State Bar just after 18.30, Platform C please.

Thanks to Martyn for arranging this great day out, where next?

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Katowice – An Evening at Browariat, Plus

Direct trains are possible from Kraków to Katowice, in the evening. Steve and Hector needed to pass two hours between checkout in Kraków and check-in at the Katowice Hotel. This necessitated an hour’s travel north on an Inter City train, a change at Wloszczowa Polnoc, then another south west to Katowice. Two hours with complimentary tea, coffee, water, in the most comfortable of trains. Who needs a direct Bus?

As a Geographer, I despise those who refer to places as being – in the middle of nowhere. Wloszczowa Polnoc was certainly somewhere and its station quite peripheral. Had our connection been cancelled we would have been well stuffed, no other train for hours.

Hector’s third visit to Katowice, the short walk from the Glowny to Katowice Hotel has become well trodden. Rynek is almost complete, the Main Square now boasting a large sign saying – Katowice -, just in case one was not sure. The Katowice Hotel in all its former Communist Era Glory, remains a must for Hector. The price is right, the wi-fi works, the Breakfast Buffet has all one would expect in a hotel with more stars. The view from the ninth floor was, well, Katowice. Some traditional flats, too many 1960s era monstrosities still dominate the skyline. However, modern buildings may block these in time. Katowice has a charm, one needs a sense of humour too.

Pizza was eaten in the shopping mall at the Train Station, the worst service I have ever experienced in a Pizza Hut. Today, Curry was not on the Menu, Polish Cuisine planned for later at the excellent – Krystalowa. The afternoon Bier Session would get underway as ever at Biala Malpa. Last time they had virtually no Tap Bier, it arrived as we consumed the little on offer. Today had to be better.

The once open yard is now covered, a Conservatory for those who desire foul air. Hopefully this means the Upstairs is now smoke-free.  As the only visitors, we would not find out.

The number of Taps and the arrangement had visibly changed since 2015. Fourteen Taps have become twenty one, including a hand-pull, one Cask Piwa. We asked the Chap for our desired style – Pale and Hoppy, not a silly abv. The choice was not great. Loco Loco (Browar Beer Bros., Polska) at 5.0% was an APA, hopefully up to scratch. It was indeed, Pale, Gold and Hoppy, but the Hops did not taste American. This was a distinctly German tasting Piwa, and not why were in Polska.

I asked for some of my Favourite Piwa in Bottles, no joy. Apparently they have sold a lot of IPA, APA, PIPA in recent days, the stock has run low. Is this a feature now of Biala Malpa, lots of Piwa, but not the best? A Bottle of Szotowe (Browar Spoldzielczy) at 5.2% was the best our Chap could come up with. A Dark Gold APA, it was thin and had a slight astringency.

We both supped Ale, Hector hoping his would go away. Once Steve had finished his Bier I left what remained. This was poor. Biala Malpa should be so much better.

Thanks to Ontap.pl, Hector had a new Katowice Bar to inspect, Kontynuacja, a Favourite from Wroclaw, now here. Siostra Bozenka which went down so well yesterday, was reportedly available. We would pass our chosen Restaurant en route. Krystalowa has gone, what a loss for Katowice. Like Hotel Katowice, it was a venue stuck in time, and so were the prices.

Two Siostra Bozenka were ordered, it went off as soon as the Charming Waitress started pouring. Steve and Hector spent the next ten minutes sampling many Piwa to find one that was – in the style – and would enable us still to walk out, unaided. We had a long night ahead of us.

Gruby Joe (Browar Jana) at 6.0% was definitely not – in the style. An American Stout, this Piwa was suitably Dry in Flavour and was not OTT in alcohol. The hoped for Chocolate or Coffee never emerged, still, perhaps what we had was needed after that which came before at Biala Malpa.

A Chap started his shift behind the Bar. PodgorzSiostra Bozenka at 6.0% was restored, all was well with the World. Steve and Hector were headed to a Happy Place, we had – The Hops.

March 1st, there was a semblance of the days becoming longer, being so far east in this time zone helped. When it was declared a sensible time to go and eat, we headed back from whence we had come to Restauracja Indyjska Masala House. Curry was not planned for today, but Hector had to take the Opperchancity to try the remaining Curry House in Katowice. Only afterwards did we discover the same Restaurant has a new Branch metres from Kontynuacja. We also passed a branch of Ministerstwo which is known from Poznan. And so the expansion of successful Bier Outlets is taking on a predictable pattern.

BrowariatAn Analogue Pub for Digital Times

Previous visits to Browariat have been well documented. Robert Klos made Marg and Hector so welcome back in 2014 that when Fahren de Polen was conducted in 2015, The Company came here en masse. Two Legendary Nights, a third surely awaited.

Hi, Hector! – was the greeting as soon as I walked down the few steps from the doorway. To be fair, our visit had been announced months ago when the flights were booked, and updates given via a certain Social Medium. It was not even Robert’s shift this evening. He took over from the Chap who had been serving the handful of Locals. Soon it was just Robert, Steve and Hector. A Pole and two Scots, with a Pub to themselves, what could possibly go wrong?

No. 1 on the Board of eight Tap Piwa was Brew by Numbers‘ (Bermondsey, England) 21/08. This 5.2%, Hoppy Pale Ale was so much – in the style – that Steve would stick to this for much of the visit. In passing, Robert showed us a Bottle of Partizan’s (Bermondsey, England) IPA. The label is clever. It was Bier from this Brewery which kicked off my first sampling of Bermondsey Bier on my first visit to Browariat.

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One of life’s great mysteries is the Kernel Brewery (Bermondsey, England) who stopped selling Bier to drink on their premises, despite being stowed every weekend. Perhaps their accountants may have something to say in the long term. The Opperchancity to drink their IPA – Citra Ekanuot at 7.3% on Tap, and at Polish prices, had to be taken. Again, another winner. One could easily have stuck with this, however, as we were at a Bier Emporium, Diversity would be the theme of the evening.

The Bottled Piwa at Browariat is not just there to make up the numbers, each one is there for a reason.

Robert presented a Bottle of a Collaboration Ale brewed at Jopen (Haarlem, Nederland). Get In The Sea! at 6.5% featured the Logos of Hopcraft and Waen, both Wales. Hector knows Hopcraft Gazza and Sue from Waen, this had to be sampled, but hang on, what’s happening?

A very familiar rumble was grinding out from the Browariat Turntable, Hector recognised the singer instantly. Malcolm Mooney, original Vocalist from Hector’s Favourite Band of all time! Can from Köln! My Connection – from Limited Edition, 60p worth of Vinyl back in the mid 1970s. Excellent. Hector has tickets to see Malcolm Mooney perform with what is left of Can in London next month. The passing of their Drummer – Jaki Liebezeit – has been mentioned in my humble web pages earlier this year.

The Jopen, Laverbread Porter, was Seriously Hoppy, a strange Bier, with a slight Chocolate Flavour. The abv belied belief, a potentially dangerous Bier to sup.

Next up, an Imperial IPA at a mere 10.00% from Tanker, Estonia. One would never have thought that Hop Power had this abv, full bodied of course, with just a hint of sweetness, this was a brand new taste experience. A worthy recommendation by Robert.

The Vinyl was varied and interesting. Hector was taken aback once more when Irmin Schmidt’s – Endstation Freiheit from Filmmusik Vol. 2 filled the room. Irmin Schmidt, from Can! To hear – Can – in a Bar is quite unusual. The State Bar (Glasgow) would oft feature – Ege Bamyasi – courtesy of Jason. Bir & Fud (Roma) treated Hector to extracts from the entire catalogue in 2016. Good Bier, Good Musik, Good Company. It was becoming a question of how much more time would Robert allocate us? He had a home to go to.

Schrönramer’s (Bayern, Deutschland) Russian Imperial Stout at a modest 9.5% followed. With a bit of Sweetness, no Coffee or Chocolate, this was another brand new Taste Experience. This was a Bier! This was the time of night to be drinking it.

Robert was by now enjoying his role as DJ. Country Mike’s Greatest Hits was as bizarre a collection of songs as one could encounter. Steve should adopt some of these arrangements for his beat combo. Who are the Beastie Boys anyway?

The Last Piwa

Uiltje’s (Haarlem, Nederland) Dr. Raptor at 9.2% was a wonderful Bier to finish. An Amber Cloudy Bier, with so many Hops, but not to its detriment, one has to question why this could not have been drunk earlier. However, this was far from being a Session Bier, definitely an – End of Session Bier.

Farewell

No visit to Katowice would be complete without a night with Robert at Browariat. He has suggested that we spend longer next time and make some Daytime Trips together. Robert, you’re on!

Until next time.

The Bars and Restaurant visited today:

Biala Malpa3 Maja 38 40-097 Katowice

Kontynuacja – Staromiejska 8, 40-013 Katowice

Browariat  –  Francuska 11 40-015 Katowice

Restauracja Indyjska Masala House – Mickiewicza 32, 40-085 Katowice

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A February Day in Kraków – Because We Can!

Kraków, it has been a while. Since the end of 2015, Hector’s Trips have been concentrated in the west of Polska: Wroclaw, Poznan, Bydgoszcz, Torun, Gdansk and Gdynia. Steve was given the challenge of finding a four day Trip to Polska, and so we find ourselves doing the reverse of the summer of 2015. Tomorrow is Katowice, then two days in Warszawa.

Arriving in Kraków just after 14.00 via a punctual flight from Edinburgh, it was most certainly Bier o’clock. Steve was staying at his usual haunt in Kazimierz, Hector took the cheap option of the Ibis Budget next to Kraków Glowny.

The first port of call was the first of the venues Steve had not been to. Ursa Maior proved to be a hit with some of our group in 2015, this was a good place to start since it opens earlier than the typical 16.00. Arriving first, I had the place to myself, what would one expect on a Tuesday afternoon in February?

All Piwa here is from Browar Ursa Maior itself. Drapenzik (Predator) was a Light, Blond, Session IPA; a gentle, Hoppy Bier, a good start to the day. The Megaloman at 6.2% was the Bier which took some prisoners last visit, no sign of this today.

With only six Taps on here, the call of the eighteen was heard loud and clear.

Ontap.pl had been consulted, Craftownia stood out as the new venue in Kazimierz worth visiting. The line of Taps was perused, Stone’s IPA (Berlin, Deutschland) was tempting, but I had this at Source in Berlin recently. The Chap behind the bar proved to be most useful. Challenged with recommending a Hoppy IPA at a sensible abv, Browar Podgorz – Siostra Bozenka at 6.0% was just the job. With an IBU of 70, this matched Ale Bowar’s – Rowing Jack – and Artezan’s – Mera – which are the yardsticks.

On split levels I would explore the premises later. First the Piwa – Gosh! This was bang on what we look for. Hoppily Heavenly – this had all the required Hoppy Bitterness, and was not OTT in strength. There had to be another, after all, there was no guarantee we would find this again.

The Barman was engaged, he and his colleague who was on the laptop, have been here since April 2016. In 2015, Viva la Pinta stood out as being my favourite Kraków venue. It would now be hard to beat Craftownia, they are also not tied to sourcing Bier from one Brewery.

Having bought a Tram ticket down to Kazimierz at the Tram Stop, we found no machine for the return. A Lady standing at our stop assured us tickets could be purchased on board. How can one be expected to remember every City’s Systems? Is it not about time we had Uniformity, an EU Directive? Dare get on a Tram in Edinburgh without a ticket!

It was time for Curry-Heute!

The Indus Tandoor fulfilled most expectations, as is written.

The Tap House is the Brewery tap for Pracownia Browar. To have eighteen Taps on from a single Brewer is quite a feat. Markovy Resperator (5.6%) was deemed to be a Session IPA. After what came before, this felt too Thin, too Easy. The Piwa was being sold in 0.4l glasses which felt small. Having failed to find anything – in the style – to compete with Siostra Bozenka, it was time to move on.

Viva la Pinta

Viva la Pinta is notionally a Brewery Tap for Browar La Pinta though other Brewers are represented. This venue made a huge impression when I was last in Kraków. To see it on a winter’s night was quite different from the height of summer, all were most decidedly indoors. As we walked down Florianska, I gave Steve the challenge of spotting the entrance, no chance. This was not helped by the planks which took one from the street to the inner courtyard. By springtime the entrance may be more obvious.

Browar Artezean’s (of – Mera – fame) Pacific Ale at 5.0% felt like a sensible choice, we still had plans to visit other venues, no point going for the 9.0% Piwa. The Pacific Ale, an American Hopped Bier had bite, but not the most powerful of flavours. Our Standard had been set earlier at Craftownia.

House of Beer

For old times sake we had to go to House of Beer. It was as busy as it always is at night. The Hector Palate needed cleansed. Ale Browar had just the job. Johnny Sour at 6.2% only had an IBU of 15. This puzzled, we are always learning. Bitterness and Sour are on different scales. The colour may have been off-putting, the Bier did its job.

Standing at the end of the Bar, we could see the array of bottles, one stood out.

Can you see what it is yet?  Hint – The Knack

A Wild Goose Chase

Ontap.pl shows Wezze Krafta (Dolnych Mlynow 10, Kraków) as having twenty five Taps. This was a new venue for Hector, it had to be explored. A ten minute walk westwards from House of Beer took us to the address. Here is the proof we were there. At the time of writing, they still claim to be open. We saw no sign of a venue at this address, and here is a problem in Polska, it could have been anywhere. Next time in daylight.

Having wasted VDT, there was nothing for it, the walk down to Kazimierz on top of our detour commanded a taxi. Minutes later we were at what remains one of Hector’s all time favourite Kraków Pubs, Strefa Piwa.

Strefa Piwa

Rowing Jack was evidently not in town today, Siostra Bozenka was, it had to be. And so we stayed until after midnight when it was clear it was time to go, guess who was last out?

Steve walked the few metres back to his Digs, Hector had no problem finding a taxi at the market, back to the Ibis Budget. The Bar in the Ibis-proper was still open for another twenty minutes. Hazelnut Wodka, a Nightcap.

Tomorrow in Katowice, Robert will be waiting for us at Browariat.

The Bars and Restaurant visited today:

Ursa Maior – plac Wolnica 10, 31-060 Kraków

Craftownia – Krakowski Wielokran – Swietego Wawrzynca 22, Kazimierz, 31-060 Kraków

Tap House – Pracownia Piwa i Przyjaciele – Swietego Jana 30, 31-018 Kraków

Viva la Pinta – Florianska 13, 31-019 Kraków

House of Beer – Swietego Tomasza 35, Stare Miasto, 31-027 Kraków

Strefa Piwa  –  Józefa 6, 31-056 Kraków

Indus Tandoor – Slawkowska 13-15, 31-016 Kraków

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Halifax – A Town Now On The Radar

After an Excellent Lamb Handi at Sarina’s (Queensbury-Bradford) en route to Halifax, Howard, Dr. Stan and Hector continued on Bus 576 towards Halifax. Sit downstairs if you don’t have a head for heights, some of the drops beside the road are a bit hairy.

The Pump Room is located across the road from Halifax Bus Station. Six Cask ales were on offer, the Stillage behind the Bar; five Taps for Keg offerings also featured. A former shop unit judging by the shape of the premises, there was a sufficient variety of seating styles.

Yakima Chief West Coast IPA at 5.2% from Bob’s Brewing Co. (Hightown, W. Yorkshire) ticked two boxes: a Local Ale, and in-the-style. Suitably Dry, with some Hops coming through, a painless start to the day.

Being early afternoon, it was apparent to the Barman that we were not here for a session, but to tour the Bars of Halifax. He listed the other Microbars that have opened in Halifax in recent times, and offered directions. Dr. Stan was leading the way, The Man from Bradford had programmed him, what could possibly go wrong?

A couple blocks up the hill lies Halifax Town Hall. Behind this landmark building, adjacent to the entry barrier, lies The Grayston Unity – aka – The Grayson Perry. The most attractive ale on offer was from The Hop Studio, a Pale Winter Ale at 5.0% called Fire & Ice. This would be my third Ale from The Hope Studio (Elvington, York), add another to the list of Excellent Ales!

Fire & Ice had the distinctive Flavour of American Cream Soda, quite strange.

We sat in the room off the Bar, a Living Room by any other description, complete with watchdog. This was as relaxing a setting as one has ever encountered. The settee was 1960s – hideous – however, getting out of it took determination, comfort of sorts. We could have sat here all day, clicked our fingers and have Ale brought, in our dreams. Man you’ve got to move on, Man you’ve got to move…

The Alexandra Beer House was the next port of call, a ten minute walk along one of the main shopping streets of Halifax and passed the Halifax HSBC, very confusing. Google Maps showed it near the Theatre, it still took a bit of lining up to find the correct side street.

The downstairs is indeed very much a Bottle Shop with Bottles of Bier from everywhere on shelves from floor to ceiling. With only two Taps the choice of Cask was limited. Squawk (Ardwick, Greater Manchester) Pale Ale at 3.9% was the better of the two. With El Dorado, Chinook and Simcoe Hops, what more could one desire, the same at 5.5%?

We sat upstairs in what was a strange room. The homely Singer sewing machine aside, the seating was limited. If this place ever got busy, would people stand up here? I may never know. By the time we had finished our Pint, the odd charm of The Alexandra Beer House kicking in. They didn’t have Hanssens Kriek else I would have been dragged out.

With this area of the Map now within our grasp, we used a side lane to walk the few metres uphill to the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe. This was the most Traditional looking Bar we had visited today, yet much smaller than the typical Bar. We had arrived in the middle of a Black Ale Festival. The Victorian Craft Beer Cafe is a Multi Tap Bar with as many Keg Beers as Cask, something here for everyone.

Titanic (Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire) Plum Porter was on offer, an offer not to be refused. At a very modest 4.9% this does not pack the punch of say Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild, however, it has all the Flavour one could hope for and more, Plum indeed.

For the first time today we were in busy premises, thus the photographic record was restricted. Already there was the feeling that this would not be our last visit to Halifax. Four Micropubs, each with their own merits, it was time to try to the well-established.

Heading back towards the Town Hall, The Gundog was located with ease. This was stepping back in time, a Multi Room Bar with five Cask Ales.

Thunderbridge Stout from Small World Beers (Huddersfield, Yorkshire) at 5.2% had full on Chocolate and Coffee, truly Excellent. Two things were confirmed at this moment: Hector is starting to enjoy Stouts/Porters as much as IPAs these days, Huddersfield is becoming a Bier Mecca.

We took seats in a small room at the front of the Pub where – other Chaps – were also congregated. We were engaged by – The Chaps. Our Purpose of Venture was related. Dr. Stan asked how long it would take us to reach The Cross Keys at Siddal on the southern edge of Halifax. It sounded as if it was within relatively easy reach,but a hike nevertheless. We were advised that if we were going to The Cross Keys we should also visit Shears Inn.

We headed south, down Calderdale and reached the The Three Pigeons. This was probably only a few minute walk form the Train Station, but we had not passed this today, bearings were being acquired. The Three Pigeons is an Ossett Pub, a feature which ten years ago would have had us in raptures, no more. With nine Cask Ales on Tap, a reasonable array was on offer.

Abbeydale’s Deception (Sheffield, Yorkshire) at 4.1% would have been the choice once upon a time, time to try something I hadn’t had. Chinook from Fernandes (Wakefield, Yorkshire) at 4.0% was Blond, Soft-tasting, not demanding. If one is having Hops, one needs a helluva lot more. The Breweries which established themselves around the start of the twenty First Century may have got themselves in a rut having to maintain the production of what was – New – when these Hops arrived from the USA. Still, The Company has fond memories of visits to the Fernandes Brewery Tap in Wakefield.

The Three Pigeons is again a fine example of a Traditional English Pub with rooms off the main Bar area. Why this style of purpose built Pub never caught on in Scotland may be explained in the depths of history.

The walk south continued, we reached Holdsworth Mill. Google Maps wanted us to walk into an abyss of darkness, no way. We took the lit option an behold here was Shears Inn – Halifax Best Kept Secret – is their claim. You would not find this place by chance, em, we just did.

With three Taps, all selling Timothy Taylor (Keighley, Yorkshire) it had to be Landlord at 4.3%. How sensible we have been today, nothing silly, yet.

With this tried and tested Ale, we took a seat in the very comfortable surroundings. This place has clearly been here a long time. The list of Tapas/Starters caught my eye, and then the Mains, Marg would love this, I thought. Shears Inn has accommodation, I resolved to bring Marg here to stay, this very year.

We were still unsure how to get out of the Mill complex and find The Cross Keys. A Chap came out of Shears Inn, we asked, he pointed across the River Calder and up the slope. Somehow the three of us were in the back of his vehicle and were being driven up to Siddal. Wonderful. It would have been no more than a five minute walk, the drive was two. We also saw the route which was equally important.

The Cross Keys dates back to 1913, another Traditional English Pub. Salopian (Shrewsbury, Shropshire) Flashback at 6.0% was the standout Ale on offer. With Simcoe and Equinox Hops, an absolute winner. We had more, Dr. Stan announced this would be his last. Hector and Howard had other ideas. The Young Lady behind the Bar sorted a taxi for Dr. Stan, it was a bit far to walk. We stayed on. We were informed that the Landlord is also a lover of Strong, Pale, Hoppy Ales. Alas, he was elsewhere this evening. We had a Bier, we had a Pub, both worthy of note, we would return.

The Morning After

Yvonne had been texted, – We suggest a stop-off at Halifax for an hour en route to Huddersfield.

It took a while for the implications of this to take hold. It came to pass that Hector, Howard, Craig, Yvonne, Mags and Neil descended upon The Cross Keys, Flashback was still on. The Company were unanimous, – This is The Pub!

The Bars visited today:

The Pump Room – 33 Northgate, Halifax HX1 1UR

The Grayston Unity  –   1-3 Wesley Ct, Halifax HX1 1UH

The Alexandra Beer House   –  17 Alexandra Street, Halifax HX1 1BS

Victorian Craft Beer Cafe   –  18-22 Powell St, Halifax HX1 1LN

The Cross Keys   –  3 Whitegate, Siddal, Halifax, HX3 9AE

Shears Inn  –   1 Paris Gates, Halifax, HX3 9EZ

The Gundog  –   48-50 Crown St, Halifax HX1 1JB

The Three Pigeons Ale House – 1 Sun Fold, Halifax HX1 2LX

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Praha – Three Days in January 2017 – Day 3

+4°C !

After an hour or so doing – the sights – around Stare Mesto, The Bier-Traveller had to return to the hotel room at U Medvidku to remove a layer, a rise of 18°C, very noticeable. I had a quick look into the main Bierhalle just in case Steve was having a sneaky pint. In the end I texted him, he was a few doors along the corridor. Neither of us had any interest in Pivo before 14.00.

We took the Metro to Jiriho z Podebrad, no BeerGeek today, the destination was a venue which Hector holds close to his heart – the Birthplace. Pivnice U Sadu is where a certain story was told back in 2007 which resulted in the moniker – Hector – being applied to yours truly, ten years. We did have a Birthday Cake back in 2012, I had to at least visit sometime on this Trip.

Hello can I help you? – was the greeting from the staff member nearest the Bar as we entered. Ten years ago we all enjoyed our visit. Last time we left due to the incompetence of the staff. The tone of today’s greeting was not right. The smell of tobacco hit one in the face, half a dozen customers, every one was smoking, wtf.

You have no non-smoking area! – I asked rhetorically. Had it not been for the – special occasion – we would have left immediately.

That was the last intercourse with him, a Waitress would serve us, eventually. Again, walking would have been a consideration, there are plenty of other venues nearby. Sadek (Nefiltr) (11°) would be our solitary Pivo here. It turned out to be most pleasant, and despite the excesses of the past two days, went down very well. The Sadek was suitably dry, and cloudy as one would expect from an Unfiltered Bier.

It was Steve who borrowed from – Breaking Bad – to compose the celebratory photo.

Lipanska is a well known Tram stop to Hector. We headed over the Square towards it to find the Tram which would take us to Bulovka and hence Pivovar U Bulovky – Richter Pub. Having established we were going in the wrong direction, I decided to return to my strength and employ the Metro. Up to Palmovka and Tram 10, tried and tested.

My memory of Pivovar U Bulovky is of being a bright, modern, very Germanic Bierhaus, set in an open area. Imagine my surprise when we stumbled upon this modest establishment. Yes, I had been here before, so where is the venue in my head?

Most tables were reserved from 17.30 0nwards. An hour or so for a couple of Biers would be sufficient. We had a choice of four.

The IPA (15° / 6.5%) was the obvious starter. Ten years ago I would no doubt have gone for the Svetly Lezak, even then my Weissbier Obsession was waning.

The description of the IPA mentioned – Citrus – I could taste the Hops were from the US, but not necessarily the Hops I wanted, could be better, if a Bier can be overdone, this was.

The Vanocni Special (15° / 5.9%) truly was – Spezial. Smoky berries, a unique combination of flavours, I would return just to have this again.

Another Bier was an option, but there are other places to visit this evening. More importantly, there had been no Curry-Heute! Yesterday we passed Indian Happy Tandoor, research suggested it was well worth a visit. It was! With Quality Curry and a Unique Bier within minutes of each other, it looks as though Pivovar U Bulovky will be a – must visit – venue on future trips.

There was no messing about after the Curry. The Metro from Koblisy took us back to the City Centre in minutes. Our Holden Tours of the last two days had not included Restaurace Kulovy Blesk, this impressed back in 2015.

Kulovy Blesk was stowed. The heated/enclosed – outdoor – area was fully occupied. We went downstairs, no joy, but at least we managed a glimpse of the Main Bar. There was nothing for it… Excuse me, mind if we join you?

No more hand holding at our table tonight.

Bad Flash – Hop Wings – APA (12°) appeared to have the required pedigree. Sadly, it was relatively thin, even watery. The Pivo was decidedly dry, but had no distinctive flavour. It is possible the taste buds had been overloaded with Smoky berries and Marinated Lamb.

Steve took a different path, I returned to the familiar. Matuska – Raptor – (15°) had a much fuller body, the hops were evident rather than pronounced. This was a step in the right direction.

Now where?

Illegal Beer had not been visited, Jama I am led to believe is closed. Wherever we chose next had to be excellent, it would be the last venue of The Trip. The walk along and up to Dno Pytle was as done in 2015. The main room at the front was half full. As I approached the end of a large table, Mein Host pointed to the far table where we had sat two nights ago. He moved his Lady so that Steve and I could take our places. Excellent, and so was the Bier. Lissa – Huera IPA – once again kept us going until we decided it was time.

As we left I shook Mein Host’s hand. This is a my favourite Pub in Praha. I spotted Kraus – Bock – (Hirschaid, Bayern) in the fridge for tomorrow, Friday. Steve and Hector were there the day after – The Tapping – back in November. Dno Pytle has the best of Czech and Deutsche Bier.

If the Tram heads towards the river, we’ll get off this time. As long as it does not turn south.

When the Tram turned south, so we baled. It was a fair hike in the pouring rain to IP Pavlova, the Metro was off, Taxi!

We were too late for the Pivni Bar, there is always Reception!

And so ended three excellent days in Praha. In 2007 I was there three times. I need to go back again this year.

The Breweries and Bars visited today:

Pivnice U Sadu – Škroupovo nám. 1282/5, 130 00 Praha 3-Žižkov

Pivovar U Bulovky Richter Pub – Bulovka 373/17, 180 00 Praha 8-Liben

Restaurace Kulovy Blesk – Sokolska 13, Nove Mesto Praha – 2

Dno Pytle – Vinohradská 1485/63, Praha 2 – Vinohrady

Pivovar U Medvidku – Na Perštýne 7, Praha 1 – Staré Mesto

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Praha – Three Days in January 2017 – Day 2

-14°C had taken its toll. Hector woke in the small hours feeling as if there was a rock in his left eye. The bathroom mirror revealed nothing, the streaming eye and the pain continued all night, and all day thereafter. Should I have brought the – long johns – to supplement the thermal trousers which have been de rigeur even in Blighty since last November?

Google revealed I may have burst a blood vessel in the eye, pain I can tolerate as long as I know as it will end. Eyes heal quickly. Another legging layer would not be out of place, where was Howard? He has a pair at home, never worn. Ricky was here without a hat.

Steve managed Breakfast, Hector was keeping the appetite intact, the Curry House was visited twice on my last Trip to Praha, it had to be the place to eat first thing today. The Man from Bradford had another idea. He was due to meet me at the Curry House but found a cheaper deal at Prague’s only Sri Lankan Restaurant. Steve had Breakfast, he would amuse himself until summoned.

How the four of us ended up at the Curry House is written. It was now time for The Holden Tour to continue. Tram 10 from Palmovka to Kobylisy (spotting Indian – Happy Tandoor en route) where there was also a Metro Station, also connecting with Bus 200 to the outskirts of Praha. Pivovar Sedivak was the objective.

Alighting at the appropriate stop, it still took Google Maps to pinpoint our intended locus, yes, Pivovar U Sedivaka is located at the bottom of a block of flats and also goes by another name. With two versions of Pivovar Sedivak already in use, why give a third? Why not? Pivnice Grey – the name used by Google Maps until Hector stepped in.

The first thing that hit us on entry was the – Fug – one often discusses how bad – the old days were in Pubs – there were only a dozen or so customers in the L-shaped venue, but each and every one was engaged in – the thoughtless habit. Just what Hector‘s runny eye needed.

The Waitress came over after a few moments. Hausbier – was asked for by The Rickmeister who was so chuffed with himself for getting us here. He was effusive about – Holden Tours.   On Hector’s Horrible Holidays, smoking is not tolerated.

The Pivovar Sedivak (10°) is an Unfiltered, Light Bier. That it was not sweet at all, gave Ricky more to boast about. When the dry after-taste kicked in he was on a roll.

Hector’s moment came when the Lovely Braufrau appeared and the photo was captured. She told us she had created the Recipe for the Dark Pivo on offer, we had to try it.

At 14° the Cerne (Dark) had more body than the alternative and was again not Sweet. The reality is: all Dry Pivo can be appreciated, enjoyed even.

Due to the time getting out here, the sun had long since set when it became time to leave. Was it actually warmer than when we arrived? Hector would have put us all on the Metro at Koblisy, The Rickmeister insisted on a Tram. Alighting at Charles Bridge there was an attempt at recording the moment. The snow was falling thick and fast, confirming it was warmer, enough to bring the UK to a standstill.

U Dobrenskych was our next venue. Hector was here briefly in October 2015, the Bier was sweet, smoking totally spoiled the visit. I suggested we take a table in the lower room where I believed the air remained clean.

Having studied what was on offer, for Hector it had to be the Salvia Stout, Ricky too. Stewart took the Lemongrass Ale option. Despite telling Steve enough times, he would still go for the Tribulus. Or would he?

Such was the time taken to be served, and the number of times The Chap serving passed us, ignoring us each time, we nearly walked. Even after the Order was given, walking was still considered. He was – Slow!

The Salvia Stout (14° / 6.0%) was so much better than the Tribulus, it wisnae’ sweet. A full bodied Stout, this I believe would be the Bier to have here. Stewart passed his Lemongrass Ale around, no thanks. Meanwhile Steve pretty much hated his Bier. It was too sweet. Someone should have told him.

One Bier was enough, it could have taken all night to get another. Back outside the snow had stopped, however, the streets were ankle deep. Next stop should have been Pražský most u Valsu. We found it easily, but not the door. Eliminating the obvious we entered a business entrance well round the corner. A Reception was underway, not for us evidently. A Private Party, next time.

Pivovar Narodni was not far to walk and did not take long despite the underfoot conditions. My visit here in 2015 was all too brief, the Bier not that impressive. It was still early evening, had we travelled more than we had consumed Bier? Upstairs to the one free table which would accommodate us.

Expectations were not high, the house-branded Czech Lion – Lezak – Nefiltinovany – (11°) had been sampled on my first albeit brief visit. Steve took one sip, the expression on his face said it all. Hector’s turn – Diacytl – this was horrific. As a Brewer, Stewart was forgiving, methinks Ricky was not bothered. If we were staying it had to be something different.

Christmas Monkey (14°) was advertised everywhere as the current Seasonal. With Amarillo Hops and a full body, it tasted way better than the Lezak, but that was not difficult.

It was about time we found a truly worthwhile Pivo this day. Ricky had never been to the Beer Museum at Namesti Miru, he was scathing about the Original due to being – the smokiest place in Praha. The Master of the Tram found a suitable conveyor outside Pivovar Narodni, Namesti Miru here we come.

It’s expensive here – was a fair comment. Having to walk through the smoky bar to reach the non-smoking larger room still mystified.

Lucky Bastard Pale – APA – American Pale Ale at 5.2% was the Bier which spoke to The Hector from the Menu. This Unfiltered Pivo was too thin, a higher abv would surely bring out the Hops? In the end, a Hop Blast of sorts, was achieved.

There may have been many Biers to choose from here , but nothing on the List really stood out. There are better prices and better venues.

It was a short walk across the Square to Pivnice Nabidka, better known as 20 PIP Craft Beer Pub. The air was clean, the place was stowed. Stairs beside the Bar led to a Mezzanine, possibly an upstairs proper. We were told there was no space. Tables and stools were cobbled together, the four were seated.

Roddiny pivovar Zichovec – Mosaic Ale – (12° / 5.5%) hit the spot instantly. Full of Hops, a sensible strength, this was for us, a great session ale. There was more.

Noting that some people had come downstairs and not returned, I did the necessary and went upstairs to verify the availability of a table with four chairs. Checking back downstairs with the Barman and Waiter who had served us, I conveyed that we were going upstairs, with our Tab. More Bier, and maybe some more again. This was the Bier we had been looking for all day.

There was an incident when it came time to leave. The Chap serving us upstairs was not bringing us a Bill. We went downstairs to pay. The staff had lost all track of our tally. Ricky informed them that if they could not come up with a sensible number we were off. We wanted to pay, they still didn’t want money. In the end a compromise was reached, money changed hands. Staff stupidity aside, this is an excellent venue.

Ricky and Stewart disappeared to their cheap and remote domicile. Hector and Steve were served by the Metro, home in minutes, and back to our Night Bar at U Medvidku. Pivni Bar – is the official name of this venue.

Hector was last out of Pivni Bar, never fear, the Hotel Reception serves Residents.

More Old Gott, more photos. Tomorrow we will be two. Hector will be leading the way. Had I spotted the junction near which Pivovar U Bulovky is located from our Tram up to Koblisy this afternoon?

Day Three links from here

The Breweries and Bars visited today:

Pivovar U Sedivaka – Lodžská 765/15, 181 00 Praha 8-Bohnice, Czechia

Pivovar Dobrenskych – U Dobrenských 3, Praha 1 – Staré Mesto

Pivovar Narodni -Národní 8, Praha 1 – Nové Mesto

Prague Beer Museum at Namesti Miru – Americká 341/43, Praha 2 – Vinohrady

Pivnice Nabidka 20 PIP Craft Beer Pub – Slezska 1357/1, Prague 120 00

U Medvidku – Na Perštýne 7, Praha 1 – Staré Mesto

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Praha – Three Days in January 2017 – Day 1

Mr. O’Leary’s timetable meant that Hector was collected by Steve at 05.00 in time for our dawn flight to Praha. We arrived at our hotel – U Medvidku – before Noon, officially 14.00 was the check-in time. The Receptionist could not have been more helpful. Our rooms would be ready shortly, meanwhile we were invited to have a – Welcome Pivo. Well, we were staying in a Brewery! It was good to be in from the cold, Praha in January, -4°C on arival, dropping to -14°C by tonight.

Old Gott – Barique – at 5.2% was the first of what will no doubt be many Biers consumed over the next three days. Sweeter than one is used to, it had the body, no need to rush.

The room keys were forthcoming, up to the second floor it was. Quality accommodation indeed, a huge room with some interestingly named soaps provided.

U Medvidku is located metres from Narodni Metro Station which has been the focal point of many visits, from here I can find my bearings. It was deemed better to walk to my ritual first port of call – Novometsky Pivovar. Pivo and Chicken Wings, it has to be. The choice of Bier was Light or Dark, Novometsky Lezak at 11° has been enjoyed more and more over the years. Despite being just under the 5.0% mark, this Bier is full bodied, tasty and only a slight sweetness.

The Chicken Wings were more numerous but smaller cuts than I have been served over the years; with the Garlic Mayo, still something to savour. The Waiter offered us another Bier, tempting, but The Man from Bradford was nearby. Interestingly, the price of our Bier at Novometsky Pivovar was significantly discounted because we had ordered food, an excellent idea.

Go to Krizokova and turn left – was Mr. Holden’s instructions on how to get to Hostinec U Tunelu, which left? Google Maps can be very useful. After a couple of blocks and we could see a tunnel under the hill ahead, U Tunelu, just outside the tunnel, to where?

Ricky and Stewart arrived in Praha yesterday, it was sheer coincidence that our Trip would overlap by two days. Indeed, I was receiving texts yesterday to arrange a rendezvous for a Pub in Mala Strana. You’ll have a long wait – was my reply.

Seven Biers were on Tap at U Tunelu, all from Pivovar Konrad. IQ Nefiltr (11° / 4.8%) was recommended. Blond, but relatively clear for an unfiltered Bier, it was too sweet. When Ricky ordered food, there was the Opperchancity to have another Pivo. Spytihnev (14° / 6.0%) was full bodied, less sweet, a very decent Bier. I was warming to the Pivo and the venue. Ricky had also spotted that the Bier was discounted here also when food was ordered. One wonders how widely this is the case in Praha.

Being out of the City Centre, the pavements were still covered in ice. We took care walking back to the Metro, Jiriho z Podebrad was our destination Metro stop, but to which venue? BeerGeek? Fine with Hector.

Hector was here fourteen months ago as part of my two days spent with Fred Waltman. Being late afternoon BeerGeek was much quieter, I took the same table as I secured last time, from here one can see all.

Permon – Hopper Sorache Ace – (15° /6.3%) with an IBU of 50 was most comforting. There is strong, pale, hoppy Bier in Czechia, one just has to persevere. Sorachi Ace I now know is a Japanese hybrid Hop.

The electronic board featured Falkon – Double Idiot – at 9.3%, but who would order a Bier at this strength, this early in the day? Time to move on.

Trusting Mr. Holden can be dodgy at best. When he announced we were going to Dno Pytle next, all was well. Dno Pytle impressed greatly on my last visit. We took the Tram one stop down Vinohradska, it was slightly warmer in the Tram than the street, the temperature was plummeting. Entering Dno Pytle felt like going home. Mein Host was in situ, I enquired about Bier vom Faß, why was our entire conversation conducted in Deutsch, spontaneous. Mein Host has access to Bier from Franconia, two Barrels were cooling in the fridge. He did not take too much persuasion, one was tapped.

Fred told me that on Fridays, Bier from Löwenbräu-Butteneheim is served. What we were being served today remained a mystery for a few moments longer.

Lauterbachter (Lauterbach, Bayern) Nostradamus Doppelbock at a mere 9.0% had a well rounded flavour, was most certainly full bodied, and not at all sweet. Lauterbach lies between Augsburg and Ingolstadt, this was a new Brauhaus for The Hector.

Having put this on – for us – we had to have more. Dno Pytle filled up, the back rooms were occupied, there were more than enough customers to justify the Barrel. Eventually it was time to come down off the mountain, back to Czech Pivo. Beskydsky pivovarekLissa Huera IPA – (14° / 6.3%) had the Hops, Summit, Amarillo, Premiant to be precise. This was a great, hoppy, session ale in comparison to what came before. Seriously dry, grapefruit started to come through, Hector’s top lip was dripping. This was a Bier, we had more.

Things were becoming silly, Ricky announced that he and Stewart would have to take their leave having started so early. Steve and Hector had also started early with our – welcome drink – at U Medvidku.

Having been taken around today on – The Holden Tour – it was time for Hector to step up. The Tram stop was directly outside Dno Pytle.

We’ll take the first Tram that comes, as long as it doesn’t cross the river we’ll be ok.

As the Tram crossed the River Vltava, Hector decided we had better alight. The first Tram back took us to the Metro at Staromestka. Changing at Mustek for the second, or third, time today, we came to realise that the walk to take Line A to Narodni was longer than just alighting at Mustek and walking to Narodni.

The Night Bar at U Medvidku was the magnet. I have wanted to visit this for years, Unfiltered Budvar is what I believed I had seen advertised in the past. So, another Old Gott variant it was.

We took a table inside the Copper, crazy. Steve and Hector had lasted the day well, fuelled only by Chicken Wings.

Day Two follows here.

The Breweries and Bars visited today:

U Medvidku – Na Perštýne 7, Praha 1 – Staré Mesto

Novometsky Pivovar – Vodickova 20, Praha 1 – Nové Mesto

Hostinec U Tunelu – Thámova 396/1, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín

BeerGeek – Vinohradska 988/62, Praha 3 – Zizkov

Dno Pytle – Vinohradská 1485/63, Praha 2 – Vinohrady

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Berlin – Stone Brewing – The Second of Two November Days

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With the day to ourselves, Hector was able to plan accordingly. We headed down the hill from Ibis Mitte to Alexanderplatz passing the Berlin Hofbräuhaus, the plan was to rendezvous here with Steve and Louise later. Firstly Marg had to be kept happy. I suggested the Hackescher Markt where there are a variety of suitable venues. Marg declared that if she didn’t visit the Brandenburg Gate then she would not consider herself as having been to Berlin. We walked along Unter den Linden from Friedrichstrasse, as ever there there was a congregation. What puzzles is how often the access through the Arches is blocked off, 10k runs, concerts, today something Turkish. Still, we walked across to – The West – because one can.

The Berlin Airlift

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The U6 was boarded south to Platz der Luftbrücke, other U Bahn Lines are available. This Square was considered to be the ideal starting place to explore Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof. Still unsure about what to expect, we were at the side of the massive terminal before it was realised that all of this construction was so. Boldly we walked in towards the Terminal, a Cafe was signposted, a dead end, Umleiting. A ramp disappeared into the bowels of the complex, it may be from here that the assembled Fighters emerged and went straight into battle in the latter months of WW2.

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Airside is now a Park, nefarious activities were underway. For a Saturday the area was quiet, the winter gloom couldn’t have helped. Standing in the middle of the main runway was another Historic Moment. The Berlin Population had a referendum in 2014 in order to decide what to do with this extensive open space on the south of the City Centre, the result, to leave it as is.

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The U6 was re-boarded at Alt-Tempelhof and taken to Alt-Mariendorf, the end of the line. From here it was a fifteen minute walk westwards along the Ring Road to the Old Gasworks. Stone Brewing is located in what is now an Industrial Estate. The building is a conversion, the Interior Designer had a field day, this is Bier Disneyland.

berlin-stone-brewing-bier-traveller-9The venue is huge and has diverse seating with rooms off. We selected a table which was booked at 19.00, a couple of hours for a couple of Biers should be sufficient. The IPA (6.9%) was first sampled at Open Baldin in Roma earlier this year, this was a must. To start with 6.9% felt daunting, Stone Go To IPA (4.7%) was therefore the first choice. With an IBU of 65, this was Absolutely Stunning. The Light Body, Dark Gold Unfiltered Bier hit the Hector Palate with a Vengeance. If one was here for a session, then this would be a worthy recommendation. However, time was at a premium, the IPA had to be had At Source. With an outrageous IBU of 77 this was more Bitter than the Go To IPA, but lacked the depth of flavour. This had the Body.

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berlin-stone-brewing-bier-traveller-6Meanwhile Marg, drinking wine, had ordered a couple of Starters to keep us otherwise amused. The Hot Olives were a new experience, the Dips worked well. The portions were Small, the prices were High. Indeed The Bill was on a par with what we paid for dinner soon afterwards at Swera, a Curry Haus. €6.90 a half litre is Pricey, and here we were At Source. Why can House Breweries not follow the example set by Cantillon (Brussel, Belgium) where prices at the Brewery are Discounted, Significantly?

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berlin-stone-brewing-bier-traveller-24We could have exited to the north and taken a faster S Bahn back to Mitte, however, releasing that Kreuzberg had a Cluster of Curry Houses, we returned on the U6 once more to Platz der Luftbrücke which was nearest to Swera from the South. Afterwards we headed North to Mehringdamm. We did pass a potentially other good outlet – Craft Bier – on this stretch, one for another trip. Kreuzberg may be a good place to reside, there’s plenty happening here.

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And so back to Alexanderplatz and the Berlin Hofbräuhaus. Those with the habit were draussen, Bouncers were also outside on this damp, chilly night. Hector used his Deutsch to convince the Chaps we had friends already inside. The Greeters at Reception let us go no further. Without a Reservation things are difficult, and this is November, what must it be like in the Summer? Go online and book! After a few minutes we convinced a Doris that a table for four should be allocated, we were marched to the rear of the Large Bierhalle, past the Band, to a table occupied by a couple from Newcastle. Ein Mass Helles (5.1%) was ordered, Marg stuck with wine. Deutsche Bier is Sweeter than Craft, but at €8.40 per litre, quaffable, a Session Bier.

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The layout of this Hofbräuhaus impressed. The raised and divided seating areas resembled the Festzelt at Wiesen. With an allocated Waitress, there was never a problem getting served, a worthy setup. The Newcastle Two departed once they had finished their meal. A Waiter rested a tray of Bayerische Cuisine on the end of our table, no way. Who could eat that?

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berlin-hofbrauhaus-bier-traveller-12Steve and Louise did not get past the Bouncers. Eventually I felt vibration in my pocket, Marg went out to fetch them. And so The Party began. We were permitted two, enough, especially given the plan for the next few days.  The Ladies had Ice Cream, and why not?

*

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Marg led the singing, people danced in front of the Band, the whole room of hundreds having a good time. Why is the UK mentality such that this would never work in Blighty without mayhem every shift?

Footnote:

poznan-shivaz-curry-heute-1On Sunday morning, Steve and Hector waved goodbye to Marg and Louise at Alexanderplatz, they headed to Schönefeld for their flight home. Steve and Hector? A train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Poznan (€19.00). How did we get away with this?

The outlets visited today:

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Im Marienpark 23, 12107 Berlin

Hofbräu Berlin – Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 30, 10178 Berlin

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Berlin – Bräuerei Vagabund – The First of Two November Days

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In recent years, those who have been fortunate enough to work at a certain Independent School in the West of Scotland have enjoyed an ad hoc Holiday in the middle of November. In November there are no Bank or Other Holidays, it’s a long drag from October until the Festive Season. And so it shall be again next year. This was apparently Marg’s last Opperchancity for a November City Break until she too retires.

Marg, Hector, Steve and Louise embarked on the 07.25 flight to Berlin, an early rise but better than having to travel through to Edinburgh which happens too often for sensible destinations in Central Scotland. Edinburgh Airport, don’t start me.

We checked in to the Ibis Mitte just after noon, we would have two full days. Bier!

Not yet

berlin-bier-traveller-5President Obama was in Berlin today, however he made a fast exit as we entered our Lunchtime Venue. Lunch at Alexanderplatz was a Modest Affair, Pasta for Louise and Hector, Marg had Soup (only?), Steve had Curry Wurst, really. If we were away with The Company there would have been a Cry for Bier thereafter. Not today. It was Wet, Unpleasant, a good day to go Underground.

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In 1992, Kenneth and Hector stood on what was once No Man’s Land near the Brandenburg Gate, speculating on a mound as to where the Bunker of a distant relative may have been. Not here – the Locals said. Such things have been sensitive. Now there is Unterwelten, an organised Bunker tour under Gesundbrunnen Bahnhof. We arrived just after 14.30 in time to buy the last four tickets for the English Speaking Tour at 15.00. This gave us enough time to cross the road and go into the park where the remains of the Humboldthain Flak Tower still stand. We climbed to the top, did the necessary and were back in time for what became an amazing afternoon.

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The Guide was English with a Mysterious Lilt, Aussie? He knew his stuff, spoke quickly, moved the group of some twenty five from room to room, always with a commentary for each locus which always surprised.

It is uncanny that in the week I saw the excellent movie – Arrival – I should find myself in a German Air Raid Shelter, the connection? Slaughterhouse 5.

No Photos were permitted, Copyright, the exhibits in the cases do not belong to the Tour Company. In one showcase was what looked like a beaten up typewriter. When asked if anyone knew what this was, there was a moments silence before the Voice of Authority spoke up.

Enigma!

Marg was proud of Hector. I had never seen this coding device in the flesh, as it were.

The end of the Tour showed photos of Berlin’s underground reservoirs, Breweries were re-located here too, this put us in the mood, as if…     For a Chap who said he did not drink Bier, the Guide put the Craft Scene in perspective. Put Bier in Fancy (Small) Bottles, call it – Craft – and charge more.

berlin-bier-traveller-13Bier O’Clock

It just so happens that Gesundbrunnen is one stop on the S Bahn from Wedding, an area The Company have stayed in often, Eschenbräu being the local attraction. Wedding has a new and welcomed addition to make this – Garden Suburb – all the more worth visiting – Vagabund.

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Bellevue, which disappeared years ago, was the only Hausbräuerei in Berlin where I have found the Bier to be Palatable. The rest serve Bier which tastes Home-made, the clue was in the name I suppose. Vagabund is one of the new Regime of Deutsches Bräuerei which use New World Hops. Rheinheitsgebot?

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Located in a Shop halfway along a street of tenements, Vagabund is little more than a Shop. Somebody has been to Polska. The Board had four Tap Biers on offer, and a decent selection of Biers from around the World in a well-stocked fridge. The prices of the Imported Bottled Bier were Astronomical, even allowing for Brexit.

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The American Pale Ale was listed as being 5.2%, not the 4.7% reported elsewhere. Still, the American Pale Ale was a sensible strength to kick off what is going to be an intense few days, just wait until Monday. This Amber Ale had a Citrus flavour and belied the reported IBU of 30. It was far from Sweet, and so totally unlike Mainstream Deutsche Bier. It hit the spot.

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The Double IPA at 7.5% was a completely different affair with Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, and Summit Hops, an IBU of 60.  A Dark Gold, Hazy and Full Bodied Bier, this could be dangerous. It did not drink at 7.5%, so beware. The Bier impressed, the t-shirts were a sensible price, the Ladies were hungry, we had to leave. Hector had been to Wedding and had not visited Eschenbräu, times they are a changing.

The U6 goes straight from Seestrasse to Kochstrasse, which is metres from Berlin’s Augustiner outlet. It’s as if somebody had planned this day out. We had to queue for a table for no more than five minutes then a Chap took the entire queue through to a back room.

berlin-bier-traveller-14See what the Boys in the Backroom will have

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Edelstoff (Augustiner, München, Bayern) was why we were here, one of the finest (5.9%) Helles there is. To eat? Steve mentioned Schweinhaxe. Why did Hector think even for a moment that a Schweinhaxe was the food of Choice? Perhaps because it is years since I tackled one, maybe to see if the appetite has truly returned. I did my best. berlin-augustiner-bier-traveller-1berlin-augustiner-bier-traveller-6

There was still a lot of Meat left on my plate when I waved the White Flag. Marg asked for a single Wiener Schnitzel her wish was granted.  More Edelstoff, and some more just to make sure. All that Pork had to be washed down.

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The outlets visited today:

Bräuerei Vagabund – Antwerpener Str. 3, 13353, Berlin

Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt – Charlottenstraße 55, 10117 Berlin

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Forchheim – The Greif Bockbieranstich

The plan for today was simple: visit the Brauerei Ausschanks in Forchheim then go to Hirchaid for the Bock which was superb last year. Steve might even join us if his flight was on time. It was Lunchtime when we discovered that Steve had flown to München and not Nürnberg. At least we knew he was staying in Bamberg tonight, not Buttenheim. He would complete – The Five – later.

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forchheim-hebendanz-bier-traveller-3A Dreich Saturday afternoon, a good day to be in the Pub.  Neder was first, their Fassbier/Kellerbier at 4.9% is not too demanding. The first of the day takes a while. Again, no hurry, there is the potential of another big night ahead. The few metres to  Hebendanz was still about dodging the rain.

forchheim-hebendanz-bier-traveller-11forchheim-hebendanz-bier-traveller-12Entering the Ausschank we were surprised to find the place empty and laid out for a party. Every table was Reserved. As Mein Host muttered something in Deutsch my phone rang, Hassan (Cafe Salma) from Casablanca. The Chaps managed to establish that we could have Bier if we departed before 19.00, not a problem.

The Export Hell at 5.0% was a small step in the right direction. Other people were allowed to come in, a strange experience. We’re closed but you can come in, effectively. Why else would there have been staff present? I could have done with some staff at Hotel Schuberths am Schloss yesterday afternoon.

Dr. Stan mentioned – EichhornForchheim‘s other Brauhaus. For Hector the memory of this was a more upmarket Restaurant than a Ausschank, I had not been impressed. Jonathan had also mentioned that Greif, who closed their premises adjacent to Neder and Hebendanz a few years back but have an Ausschank at the Brewery itself – closed at 14.00 today. This was much further from the Bahnhof anyway and would require at taxi if we had ever intended going there. I was persuaded that – Eichhorn – was worth another try. This was also different premises.

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Vollbier (4.9%) – Golden Promise came to mind. This was Dry, Pleasant and had a good body. I could have been tempted to have another, but by now we knew we were definitely meeting Steve in Hirschaid. I asked a Chap at the adjacent table to take a Group Photo. There were sighs of despair from my own table.

forchheim-eichhorn-bier-traveller-2Meet Frank, son of the Annafest Organiser, a well known Chap in Forchheim. He was quick to tell us that tonight was the Greif Tapping, he was on his way. We thought we had better go and have a look.

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As with last night in Buttenheim, the Ausschank had extra exterior accommodation in place for the night. The Bockbier (6.6%) could either be bought indoors or out. We had no chance of a seat, but had a spot as long as it didn’t rain. It didn’t, much.

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forchheim-greif-bier-traveller-10forchheim-greif-bier-traveller-19Frank introduced us to Martin; we became Celebrity Bier-Travellers from Scotland. Steve was contacted – Take the train back to Forchheim and a taxi Greif.  We stayed for as long as sense prevailed.  Steve, who was in greater need of sleep, went for a train.  Eventually it was time for a taxi.  One would have thought this locus would have been a Honeypot.  Only having walked back to the town centre did we secure a taxi back to Buttenheim, €22.00.

forchheim-greif-bier-traveller-6The Löwenbräu Ausschank was still – sort of open – Doris was serving Bottles only.  Hansi, Mein Host, sat with us, one for the room was provided.

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Jonathan has booked rooms for himself, Alan, Dr. Stan and Hector next year.

We’ll be back.

The Breweries and Brewery Taps visited today:

Hebendanz – Sattlertorstr. 14, 91301, Forchheim

Neder – Sattlertorstr. 18, 91301, Forchheim

Eichhorn  –  Bamberger Str. 9, 91301 Forchheim

Brauerei Greif – Serlbacher Str. 10, 91301, Forchheim

Löwenbräu-Buttenheim  –  Marktstrasse 8, Buttenheim, D-96155

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