Berlin – Bräuerei Vagabund – The First of Two November Days


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


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.





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.


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.


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.



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.



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.



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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Bamberg – via Nürnberg – The Löwenbräu Bockbier Tapping 2016

buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-16It’s a long way from Glasgow to Bamberg no matter which mode of transport one uses in terms of time taken. Last year Dr. Stan and I did the Marathon Trek with Eurostar, nights in Brussel and Düsseldorf. Mr. O’Leary provided a new route which was too tempting and actually only commenced this week. The price was right.


buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-47The Tapping of Löwenbräu-Buttenheim Bockbier  is the first Friday in November at 18.00, this necessitated flying out yesterday from Manchester to Nürnberg, spending the night at the latter. It was known that Alan and I would arrive in Buttenheim first today, nobody told us we were both in Nürnberg last night. Not much happened.


nurnberg-bier-traveller-5Hütt’n did not have the wonderful IPA that was on offer last year. Nor did they have the advertised Hopfenphlucker (Pyraser, Pyras, Bayern) which I have only ever had in bottles at Glasgow’s Allison Arms. The Hausbier had to do. Hütt’n Hausbrauerei Hell at 5.2% is unfiltered and shocked the palate. One is used to Bier/Piwo full of Hops, the Sweetness was inevitable on the Hector Palate, but not worryingly so. Somewhere else was called for.

nurnberg-bier-traveller-7Across the street lies Hausbrauerei Altstadthof whose Biers I have sampled over the years, none have impressed. The Hell (4.8%) was served in a 0.4l glass, this is still Bayern, why the smaller glass? As with Hütt’n, the Bier was remarkably Warm for a November evening. It was also close to freezing outside. Again unfiltered, the Sweetness here was less, or was the palate adjusting?


Anyway, this was not the Bar I was looking for. I recalled a Bar around here which sold Bier from a range of local breweries. Dr. Stan was contacted, I wanted the Original Hütt’n. This was located in a parallel street and is now called Nürnberger Alm.


nurnberg-bier-traveller-12The half dozen or so customers were crowded near the Bar, I asked for the Bier Karte, Doris provided. A Kellerbier looked the best option, once again a Hausbier. A Dark Gold this was fine, I was still not finding it as Dry on the palate as I would expect a Kellerbier to be.

Doris seemed determined that I stay for more, in three Bars I had seen around a dozen people in total, it was a quiet night in Nürnberg, time to go home, Big Day coming.

This morning I heard from Alan whom I believed was already in Buttenheim. He was near enough was having left Nürnberg early and managed to check in early too. I predicted I would arrive around 15.00, technically I could not check-in until 17.00. Hector had other Business en route. There was no way I was passing through Erlangen and not stopping off for Curry-Heute. I was pleased to find an empty large locker on Platform 1, how efficient and economical lockers are.


At 15.00 I entered Hotel Schuberths am Schloss. There was nobody there, no Reception. 17.00? Aye right. I saw a key, was it for me? I noticed the Breakfast times posted, below was a phone-number. Moments later I was in my room, if I hadn’t called…


buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-3At 15.30, Alan was standing outside the Löwenbräu Ausschank as arranged. On entering the usual group of Locals were occupying most of the tables. I had been programmed to arrange a table for four people at 18.30. We had to eat before our night of Mayhem, sorry, Merry-making. Acknowledging All, Hansi, Mein Host, turned around from his game of cards. The corner table was empty but Reserved. He gestured towards it.

By the time we had our first Lagerbier (4.8%), we had this table booked also. It was then that two of the Locals whose Stammtisch this was sat with us. We interacted briefly.


I have been drinking this Lagerbier at this venue since 1997, it remains Dry despite the changes in Bier styles enjoyed in the interim. Alan and I were taking it very easily. We still had our second when Dr. Stan arrived exactly at the time we had worked out best on optimum train from Brussel. He had made his connections with moments to spare. Jonathan phoned to say he was on schedule for Dinner but then ran into traffic. buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-6buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-7

Just after 18.30 we were assembled, Deutsche Essen. How can they eat this?


We vacated our table and took up position outside. The Bockbier (6.3%) is served in a room which may only be used once a year. No way was this Bockbier – Sweet. Perhaps a Slight Sweetness in the After-taste. Some of us worry seriously if the day will come when we have to stop drinking Deutsche Bier. Not yet.



Last year, Jonathan and Hector stood outside in t-shirts, not tonight. Hector had to return to the hotel for all the layers. It was then we managed to get a table inside. The same Musician was performing again tonight. His guitar playing, foot switches, and other boxes of Goodies mean that he can play any style of Musik, even Good Stuff. We were treated to Traditional Bier Haus songs, Pop, Schlager. Last year he played requests, later.



buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-23More Bockbier was had, it was going down too easily. Suddenly a Woman is beside Jonathan hugging him, kisses too, wtf? She knew Jonathan and Dr. Stan from having attended over the years. The level of madness had taken new steps upwards. Time for some Hector requests. I put a list of possible numbers that could be played. This year no Sierra Madre, I’m sure we had Smoke on the Water last year. Another Shameless Opperchancity to mention – Bittigheim-Bissingen.

Smoke on the water

Country Roads


Vitamin C


Country Roads was played, time to phone Clive, who is still alive. He was not amused. Rosamunde was next, much swaying at tables. Success.


It was 02.43 when Hector called it a night last year. Jonathan was determined to get to bed ealier. Dr. Stan and Alan departed soon after midnight. A group of of Chaps sat at the adjacent table, before we knew it, two had joined us – Hello again, Tobias and Timo!

buttenheim-lowenbrau-bock-bier-traveller-39We had chatted to them late last year. They had had another year to improve their English, whilst my Deutsch has declined through lack of usage. Two Students who appreciate what they have in their region. So much for an early night. Hector was nearly last out.


The Breweries and Bars visited Thursday-Friday:

Hütt’n  –  Bergstraße 20, 90403 Nürnberg, Deutschland

Hausbrauerei Altstadthof  –  Bergstraße 19, 90403 Nürnberg

Nürnberger Alm  –  Burgstraße 19, 90403 Nürnberg

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

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Crawley – The Clive’s Not Dead Yet Party


clives-not-dead-yet-party-bier-traveller-50Today marked Hector’s third trip to Crawley in the last couple of months. In mid August, Lady Maggie phoned with devastating news, Lord Clive of Crawley had had a major heart attack, the prognosis was not good.

Last month, en route to Brussel, Hector had Ales with Lord Clive and Lady Maggie at Frogshole Farm and the Brewery Shades. Clive’s recovery has been remarkable, that is an understatement.

By 17.00, a significant cohort from Glasgow had arrived in Crawley. When Hector joined The Company at the Brewery Shades, Lord Clive had gone home to prepare for the evening at the Goffs Park Club. Dark Star’s (Partridge Green, West Sussex) Green Hopped IPA has featured prominently this week. This Outstanding – grapefruit in a glass – at a mere 6.5% was the Session Ale in the State Bar, Glasgow on Wednesday night. Here we go again…

Hector had time for one. With our respective spouses busy elsewhere, Hector had made plans with Debs for Curry-Heute at the best source of Curry in CrawleyThe Downsman. Curry may be the attraction the Real Ale on offer here is too traditional, Strongbow (Bulmers/Heineken) was the accompaniment.

clives-not-dead-yet-party-bier-traveller-2Around 20.00, The Company was complete at Goffs, all guests had to be ticked off the list on entry. We were upstairs; as non-members, plastic glasses were mandatory. The Fear of The Weegie?

Jonathan had fetched 30l of Pyraser Landbier (Pyras, Bayern) and 10l of Mühlen Kölsch (Mühlen, Köln, Nordrhein Westphalen, Deutschland) after our trip to Wolf last month. At Wolf we were given a Bottle of Sekt to take away after demolishing a few at one stall, this was here too. A Polypin of Harveys Best (Harveys, Lewes, West Sussex, England) was arranged by Clive, The Company knew what we would be drinking this evening.



clives-not-dead-yet-party-bier-traveller-16Knowing quite a few of The Crawley Company, it was an Opperchancity to catch up. I may have only met Phil’s Lady once before. Niall took up position at the corner of the Bar as he does at The Swan. Colin with arm in sling, stayed near the door all night.  Martin and Liz reminded me of a famous couple at Uerige in Düsseldorf.clives-not-dead-yet-party-bier-traveller-26

Ross – The Son of Clive -, who was part of the ex-Army Group who rowed across the Atlantic earlier this year, introduced me to his Girlfriend. Had I ever spoken to Ross’ Sister – Kally – before? Tina, their Mother, I had not seen since Clive’s 50th Birthday Bash in Köln, ah the Singing Nun, who was not a Stripper…


All those who have ever been to Wolf were assembled for a photo including Locals – John and Jean. Jonathan presented the Sekt to Clive and Maggie who for obvious reasons did not make it this year. Next year…


A Buffet appeared, Hector was still full of Curry, just one Mini Sausage Roll? Our Company was relatively subdued early on. The DJ was playing Mellow Musik, quietly.



When the 1970s happened I know not, even The Hector was on the dance-floor for a minute until it was realised there was too long a gap before the next – good bit.  There was no stopping Craig – London Calling.







Jim produced a Bottle of Schnapps, Aileen was busy telling off her young brother, Alan. The Goffs’ Staff, who were Excellent, providing Plastic Shots Glasses.




 The Mühlen was finished, the Pyraser was finished, the night was drawing to a close, or was it?

Around Midnight

Some took taxis, some walked, it was past Craig and Yvonne’s bedtime; nearly time for the Budgie Cage Cover anyway. Those still standing re-assembled at the Brewery Shades. David and Alison had missed the Party, they joined us. More Green Hopped IPA, then Closing Time.



(And thanks to the Staff here for finding, and looking after, my backup charger.)

The Bar, Restaurant-Bar and Social Club visited today:

Brewery Shades – 85 High St, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1BA

The Downsman Curry Club – Wakehurst Drive, Southgate, Crawley, RH10 6DH

Goffs Park Club – Old Horsham Rd., Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 8PE

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Belgium – Brussel – It’s about time I posted a day out here

brussel-bier-traveller-4815.00 at Brasserie Cantillon, that was the arrangement with Dr. Stan. The 10.58 Eurostar from St. Pancras arrived at Brussel Zuid at 14.05, on schedule. This gave sufficient time to negotiate the indifferent check-in at Hotel Aviation and mop the brow. To say it was unseasonally warm would be an understatement.  32ºC in mid-September is not the norm.

brussel-bier-traveller-33Hotel Aviation only has one redeeming feature, its proximity to the station, the competitive price for a single room, and its proximity to Cantillon. That’s three redeeming features, it is not air conditioned, but is remarkably quiet.

It was exactly 15.00 when Hector turned the handle at Brasserie Cantillon, if one didn’t know one would assume it was closed, the exterior belies what lies within. No Dr. Stan, just an American couple drinking what looked like the Peach. It was Kriek for Hector, as Sour as Bier can be. €9.00 for the bottle is an absolute giveaway compared to what is charged in Brussel’s Bars. Don’t even think about ordering this at home.

brussel-bier-traveller-24We close at 16.00on a Wednesday – Doris advised me as she presented the bottle in its basket, one glass accompanying. Dr. Stan did not arrive until 15.40, there was till time for a bottle of Geuze with two tumblers. Dr. Stan finished the Kriek. One could spend the day here, a wee lie down might be required afterwards. Cantillon Kriek, only surpassed by Hanssens, but the latter only blend I am told, they do not brew.


brussel-bier-traveller-27By 16.05 Mein Host was getting restless. We finished as fast as we could and were escorted off the premises. Tuesday’s Brew had to be dealt with making them extremely busy on a Wednesday, hence the early closing. Do they actually open on a Wednesday in winter?

Hector was last out of Cantillon at 16.10. This makes a change from 04.10.





Moeder Lambic was the next venue. The 46 Bier taps make this a must. Dr. Stan declared we would have the 3.5% mouthwash to get us started. Band of Brothers (Brasserie de la Senne, Belgium) was hoppy but lacked the body. Still, given the heat a good start to the next part of the day. L’amer des Moeder’s (Jandrail Janrenouille, Belgium) is brewed for the Pub. At 6.0% this was more like, truly Dry and Hoppy, what would be considered to be a good Session Bier in Glasgow.




Instinct took us through the Grand Place, past Toone and through the alleys to Delirium Tremens. How quiet it was this Wednesday evening compared to summer and weekend visits. A Pint of a 9.0% Bier may sound like madness, but not where Chouffe Houblon is concerned. This is one of the true Modern Classics, as the name translates, full of Hops, sheer joy. Absolutely no sweetness here. Of course we had another.


Sat at the same table as last November, we were amused by the adjacent photo booth, as were the few who actually put money in. The nearest facilities were downstairs, the Bar here was stowed. I’ll need to establish what the attraction is some time. We could have stayed, but Dr. Stan and Hector had a Brussel’s Ritual to complete, Draught Kwak (Brouwerij Bosteels, Buggenhout, Belgium) at Toone.  8.4% is nothing.



Entering from the wrong side, two Chaps were in the lane. I heard one say something about a Bar and and a Puppet Theatre before they turned back. Oh no you don’t. And so we were joined by Dave and Jorg, an Englishman and a German. Jorg was not drinking, Dave joined the Ritual. The Cheese smothered with Celery Salt was not forthcoming, they had none. We let our displeasure be known. How could this be?


Adjacent to the Mannekin Pis is Le Poechenellekelder, Jorg and Dave were still in tow. Never mind the Bier, let’s get the Cheese. The Chap brought the Celery Salt Seller too, what a mistake to make. Methinks I was a bit carried away, the Celery Salt was everywhere, overkill.



Jorg bade us farewell, Dave accompanied us back to Moeder Lambic where it had to be more L’amer des Moeder’s. It was soon time for Dr. Stan to take his leave, Dave was up for more.





The nightcap was another Kriek. The 7.0% Kriek de Ranke (de Ranke, Belgium) was vom Fass and suitably Sour, Superb. It was after midnight, somehow sense prevailed, or was the Pub closing? The outside seating was stacked up beside us, we took the hint.

brussel-bier-traveller-103Back to Hotel Aviation and a good sleep, the wide open windows did help to cool the room. Altbier tomorrow.

The Brewery and Bars visited today:

Brasserie Cantillon – 56 Rue Gheude, Brussel

Moeder Lambic – 8 Place de Fontainas, Brussel

Cafe Delirium  –  Impasse de la Fidélité 4A

Toone – Impasse Schuddeveld and the Impasse Sainte Pétronille, Brussel

Le Poechenellekelder – Rue du Chêne, 5, 1000 Brussel

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Glasgow Real Ale Festival (G-RAF) 2016 – Day 2

Glasgow Real Ale Festival 2016 Bier-Traveller (1)Nothing much has happened since the close of Day 1 of the Glasgow Real Ale Festival 2016, the UK has voted to leave the EU, the Prime Minister has given his notice, people being interviewed on TV who voted for Brexit appear to not know why they did, and Mr Farage on Breakfast TV admitted that the money they let the populace believe would be allocated to the NHS never would be. This feels like a good day to sample some Ale.

Arriving to start my shift at 14.00, there was already a worthy collection of Ale Enthusiasts in situ at The Briggait. It is Day 2 of G-RAF, as people finished work so more would arrive, some well kent faces included.

Glasgow Real Ale Festival 2016 Bier-Traveller (2)Mid afternoon there was a crowd of Chaps who discovered Trushkar, a 5.0% Black Ale from the Lerwick Brewery in Shetland. Describing it as the best beer they had ever tasted I had to sample it. As one who prefers hoppy ale with a high IBU, this was the antithesis of what I would normally look for. The Trushkar was far from sweet, very smooth, a great surprise. This is what being here is all about. There was still some left late this Friday night.

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Mid evening I was set to work at the door taking the entrance money: £6.00 to non-CAMRA members, £4.00 to CAMRA members, returning CAMRA members with their glass can gain access for £2.00. A group of Spaniards came in – We have Spanish Beers, I assured them. They were surprised, but also keen to try new brands. Another Chap asked if the £6.00 entry fee covered all subsequent Beer. Em, no. The hire of The Briggait has to be paid for.

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Towards the end of the evening I sampled Jambe de Bois, (8.0%) from De La Senne, Belgium as recommended by Dr. Stan. This was very much in Hector’s style, – a small scale blond – said Colin, more please.

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Tomorrow I return as a customer only, be nice…

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Glasgow Real Ale Festival (G-RAF) 2016 – Day 1

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June 23rd, 2016, the day the citizens of the UK decide whether or not to stay in the EU. This also happens to be the first day of the Glasgow Real Ale Festival (G-RAF), the third in the modern era to be held at The Briggait. The Briggait affords light which many UK Festival Venues do not, the locus is therefore superb especially at is time of year when sunset is after 21.30.

G-RAF 2016 Day1 Bier-Traveller (6)One hundred and fifty Cask Ales are on offer this year from Great Britain and Ireland. Two bars split the Ales on an alphabetical basis: A-J on the east, K-Z on the west. On the south side of the hall lies the Foreign Bier and Cider Bars.

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Having worked at the lower end of the alphabet in 2014, and the foreign Bar last year, Hector is more than pleased to volunteer at Alan’s Bar this year serving the higher end. This means we have Marble (Manchester), Oakham (Peterborough) and our very own Kelburn (Glasgow) Ales under our jurisdiction. Those who are referred to as – The Company – throughout this Website will be found manning the West Bar over the next three days.

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The Festival was open to – The Trade – for the first hour, it was pleasing to spend time with the staff of The State Bar, a change of roles. The State Bar have sponsored the glasses this year. It is fitting to remind the reader that one person from The State Bar cannot be with us. Keep the faith.

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Jason Lyons, The State Bar, Glasgow – Farewell, Jason. R.I.P.

Kim told each of the Regulars as we arrived last night – it was a matter of when, today we were told the tragic news, Jason Lyons has passed away.

State Bar Jason Lyons State Bar Bier-Traveller (4)I am proud that I knew Jason and that he knew me, our humour was in perfect harmony. As with the best of Landlords, Jason knew all of his Regulars.  The State Bar was first awarded Pub of the Year by West of Scotland CAMRA in 2012, Jason realised that he could do even more for his customers.  Our Group have identified Ales in our travels around the UK Beer Festivals and beyond. Jason hassled his suppliers to ensure they were provided,  Jason too unearthing some Great Ales.  His determination to order the very best brought more POTY Awards in 2014 and 2015.

I last saw Jason on May 25th, the night the Oakham Staff were up from Peterborough.  What a night.

State Bar Bier-Traveller (2)We had missed Jason over the past two weeks, however, it was only on Friday that the severity of his illness was relayed. This has been a sudden and tragic loss.  Our Group feel for Nancy and the rest of his family.

Jason, your contribution to the Glasgow Real Ale Scene will never be forgotten. Nancy has lost her Son, Peter his Brother, we have lost our Dear Friend.



State Bar Bier-Traveller (7)Jason Lyons: 22.07.1975 – 11.06.2016

The Brewer & the Barman: The Making of Fyne State

Jason Lyons State Bar Glasgow Bier-Traveller.comjason Lyons State Bar

The above are the photos from my collection which I have found to date.  I am happy to post more if people send them. (


Two MartinsMartin Docherty with Martyn Robertson

(Urbancroft Films)

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An afternoon in Brighton, late evening in Crawley

brighton-bier-traveller-comThis is the eve of The Rome Trip officially entitled Hectoris Hiatus Horribilis, as close as we could get to – Hector’s Horrible Holidays. Due to the antisocial flight times from Scotland, Edinburgh specifically, it was conceived that The Rome Trip would kick off in Crawley. Some took the train, not Howard and Hector who flew to Gatwick. Having checked in at our respective Berths for the night, it was off to Brighton with a stop-off at Burgess Hill to see Lady Maggie, Lord Clive of Crawley was at work in The City.

brighton-may-11-bier-traveller-1The Evening Star is usually the first and sometimes also last venue on a Day Trip to Brighton, there have been a few over the years, The premises where the Dark Star Brewery began, this remains a major outlet, though with the relocation of the Brewery to Partridge Green, one has been there to pay homage twice at the new Brewery Tap.

Dark Star’s – American Pale Ale – (4.8%) was considered to be the best Cask Ale on offer, one always hopes for Revelation, perhaps later. With New World Hops still not too shabby but it does lack the bite of it’s Big Brother.


Sharing our table was a Chap busy brighton-may-11-bier-traveller-4at his laptop. Conversation broke out, Howard recognised something about what he was working on. The Chap was arranging the Bier for an upcoming Festival, Howard asked if he knew Alex Hall, this was he. So it goes. He is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, whatever that is.

Hector has toured The Pubs of Brighton with Lord Clive in previous times, today was Sir Howard’s Trip, Hector in tow. The Basketmakers Arms was dismissed, no doubt a fine Pub, but as with the majority of UK Pubs, nothing Special on offer, we – The Company – do not seek English Bitter.


How I have not been to the North Laine Brewhouse before is now a mystery, an excellent venue, bright and spacious, though I suspect that mid afternoon, midweek, was seeing it at a time which suited our requirements. One assumes this place could be Trendy and therefore Busy at night.


The Search for Hops was answered with the staff recommending their very own – Tap Taketh Over at 5.5%. This Amber Ale was suitably Dry in Flavour but suffered from a Diacetyl after-taste, a problem shared by many a Micro Brewery around the World. I should certainly wish to return here, who knows, their Ale may get better.


The Heart and Hand was again considered but dismissed, the objective was the Brighton Beer Dispensary which looked encouraging as we approached. There was quite a gathering outside given the time of day. With six Cask Taps five of which were on, the choice was simple – Bristol Beer Factory’s – Bristol Export at 5.8% (Bristol, Avon, England). Having sampled five in their range, one always has hopes for another great discovery. This Dark Gold Ale was dangerously quaffable, Maltier than I was hoping for, and despite no serious Hop Hit, was still deemed to be a very Worthy Bier.


We sat to the rear in a Conservatory/Atrium, comfortable, and were intrigued by a group of Mature Ladies who also appeared to be on a Bier Tour of Brighton.

There had to be Curry-Heute.

Somehow I found myself on Preston Street, the same street as where Marg, Hector, Lord Clive and Lady Maggie of Crawley dined on the May Bank Holiday in 2014. This evening it was River Spice’s  Opperchancity to impress.


brighton-may-11-bier-traveller-28The final port of call was up the hill to The Craft Brewing Co who started out in Farringdon, another worthy venue. The Brighton Branch has six Cask Taps, Tiny Rebel (Newport, Wales) is a Brewery held in high esteem, though finding their Bier is difficult. The 5.0% Stop-Dirty Out is a Smoked Stout, not my usual style, but if one cannot appreciate a good Porter having drunk nothing but the produce of a certain Irish Brewery for some twenty years, then…

The optimum train back to Crawley via Three Bridges was chosen, by now Dr. Stan, Craig, Yvonne and Mags – whose celebratory trip this was – should be in Crawley. There was a text en route from Maggie suggesting that the first Hiatus of – The Rome Trip – was now occurring. Hector would be giving up his bed for reasons not clear.


Brewery Shades has become the Pub of choice in Crawley in the last few years. The occasional night in The Swan may still happen, however, the Ale here is usually way better. This is especially so when Dark Star’s Revelation (5.8%) is available as it was tonight. With Ales in hand, Howard and Hector went off to find Les Autres. Jean, who is scheduled to be Mags’ room-mate at the Wolf Strassenfest this year was also here to introduce herself – to Mags.


brewery-shades-bier-traveller-5Now it was revealed why Hector was on – The Couch. Booking a hotel on the wrong date is easy, I have never done so, however in the past I have been guilty of booking an Airport Transfer for eight a month early, and train tickets for ten, a day early. It happens. There was no room at The Travelodge, or anywhere else at a sensible price, for Craig and Yvonne this evening.

brewery-shades-bier-traveller-9The last time Hector slept on a settee in Crawley was on the way back from Deutschland during – The Volcano – episode.

The Restaurant and Pubs visited today:

The Evening Star – 55-56 Surrey St., Brighton and Hove, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3PB, England

North Laine Brewhouse – 27 Gloucester Pl., Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4AA

Brighton Beer Dispensary – 38 Dean St., Brighton and Hove, East Sussex,, BN1 3EG, England

The Craft Beer Co – 22-23 Upper N St, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3FG, England

River Spice – 17 Preston St., Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2HN, England

The Brewery Shades – 85 High St., Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 1BA, England

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Poznan – Day 4

There was talk of hiring a car and driving to the site of Stalag Luft III, pity The Rickmeister did not look at a map before he suggested this, plan abandoned. Instead, there would be a rendezvuous at Van Gogh at 14.30. At least Ricky has found a source of Piwa open before the standard 16.00.

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For reasons those who read yesterdays Blog will appreciate, The Hector had no problem getting to sleep last night. Curry-Heute for once did not feel like a good idea either. Perhaps the late night Herring Rollmops had altered the palate, today had to be a Perogi Day.

Tram 8 which goes from the west side of the Train Station was once again the mode of transport to whisk me across town. The Cathedral Island was the chosen tourist destination, I felt I was making good use of the Four day Ticket I had purchased on Sunday, a pity I was here for five.

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The Cathedral is not the finest piece of architecture I have ever seen, red brick. If I was more interested I would find out if it was always so. I admired the exterior such as it was and headed back to Stare Miasto. Hector rarely enters buildings which are places of worship, there is no sense of purpose for this commentator. Had I not seen enough Mosques and Temples in India to do me for a while. I am still mentioning The India Trip.

Poznan Bier-Traveller (6)It was only a ten minute walk back across the Warta River  to the northern end of Stare Miasto. The first main junction is where Marg and Hector ended up on Night #2 back in October when Google Maps could not cope with the stretch towards the Ibis where only trams can go, round and round, until we were further away from the Ibis than when we started. Now I have the Inner City sussed.

Crossing Stary Rynek it was pleasing to see a bit of sunshine, I could still have done with some warmth, in mid April one has come to hope for better in Continental Europe, but then the Jet Stream has been too far north for about a decade. Temperatures in Europe are nothing like as warm as they were when the Budget Airlines started taking us away so often, it must be – Global Cooling.

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I walked due east out of Stary Rynek and found another pedestrianised street that had not registered previously, maybe I am still learning my way around. The main pedestrian street, Polwiejska is where I was headed. The Zascianek Restauracja is well down on the right towards Stary Browar. Marg and I had Traditional Polish Fayre last visit, the venue intrigues.

One enters and climbs stairs to the main dining room. Eventually one discovers that the facilities are in a lower room. The lower room is vast in comparison to the upstairs, this would make an excellent venue for another Multi-Tap Bar and compliment Fermentownia which is across the way but a good bit from the cluster around Stary Rynek.

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Perogi it was, washed won with my usual Sparkling Water. The Dumplings looked poor, deep fried? Reheated? If this was one’s first encounter it would have been off-putting, I know where I shall be having my Perogi next time at – Ratusova. Perhaps by then Zascianek will be a Pub?

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Pub Van Gogh, this was a first visit. Ricky and Stewart were already well into a Bier when I entered, so just how early does this place open? Dangerous.

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With a mere six taps there was a sense of making do. Two of the taps claimed Hops, a choice.

Chmielarz (Browar Zodiak, Polska) at 6.0% kicked off the afternoon session for Hector.  An amber American Pale Ale, this was definitely in the required style, as the name suggests a Hop-presence and without the nasty aftertaste. We were on our own for most of the visit, people should be at work. A young couple came in for one, we were having two, we out-stayed them. Perhaps the Nutcrackers put them off. Stewart and Ricky had a bag of Walnuts, means various were employed to open them.   Bottled Rowing Jack (6.2%) (Ale Browar, Polska) was Hector’s follow up, Stewart had a taste, his first of what Hector believes is the finest Bier brewed in Polska (currently).

Poznan Van Gogh Bier-Traveller (7)Ricky was determined that we would not return to Chmielnik given the prices. Had Dom Piwa not opened late yesterday, we would have been already. From our table in Van Gogh we could see any shutter activity in Dom Piwa.

Open early and with a view of one of my favourite Poznan Venues, Van Gogh is alright.

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I believe I recognised Mein Host in Dom Piwa. We took seats at a high table just off the bar, no stairs would be climbed today. Bottled Rowing Jack (6.2%) (Ale Browar, Polska) it had to be for Stewart. Before today, Stewart had never experienced this Wonderful Bier, he has now.  Lemon Tree (Deer Bear, Polska) at 5.0% was Hector’s choice.  This was an amber, citrus ale, very dry, with grapefruit coming through slowly.

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As much as I like Dom Piwa, this is a stepping stone to Piwna Stopa, or even a fallback if the latter s too busy. Simon, Mein Host was there to greet us, time for The Session to begin, proper.

Poznan Piwna Stopa Bier-Traveller (10)Bier in whiskey Casks?

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Spotting The Rickmeister trying to crack a nut, Simon presented a pair of tension pliers. Perfect. These were used to hammer the shells open. It was going to be a long night.

Poznan Piwna Stopa Bier-Traveller (3)There had to be more Meza (6.5%) IPA (Artezan, Polska). I look forward to finding this on Tap someday.

The XXX Rye Quad Reserva (Struise Browars, Belgium) caused a stir. A 10.0% ale aged in bourbon barrels, this was indeed drinking Bier with a Whiskey flavour. A one off experience, to be shared around.

Poznan Piwna Stopa Bier-Traveller (2)The Komes Baltic Porter (9.0%) (Browar Fortuna, Polska) had to be experienced by the discerning ale drinkers, Ricky passed on this, Stewart loved it.  Having had a sample yesterday when Simon suggested it to the East Lothian Fraternity, even I had a go despite not being in my preferrred style.  Hector does visit – The Dark Side – when the outcome is something special.Poznan Piwna Stopa Bier-Traveller (18)

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There was Wodka on the table before Russel, Sandy and Leslie showed up. Four Scots and Two Yorkshiremen, potential mayhem.

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Before we joined them there was the matter of a football match.  Hibernian scored, Ricky was happy, hopefully not a bad omen for the Scottish Cup Final.

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Simon had another new Piwa for Hector to try.  Apartment Six Flakes American IPA (Raduga, Polska) is 6.0% with an IBU of 75.  It is Blond just, with a big Hop Hit, the aftertaste is on the edge of tolerance.

Poznan Piwna Stopa Bier-Traveller (1)Somewhat predictably we ended up at Pijalnia Wodka I Piwa. For this company it should have been renamed Wodka and Rollmops. No justification was required, we are on a Trip, no Ladies to say it’s time to go home, the prices are so welcoming, then there’s the matter of the Fish. I’ll be back.

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Poznan Pijania

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Had I told Ricky at the start of the day that we should go to a Bar-Disco he would have balked. Russell led the way to Meta. Hazelnut Wodka, Mmmmm.

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After a day on The Hop, Rollmops and Flavoured Wodka, perfect to set you up for tomorrow. I was determined not to be out at 01.00 again, nay problem. It was 02.00 when Taxi Jan was summoned. His English is not wonderful, by this time of night I can speak uninhibited Deutsch. In fact, I had been ordering at the Bar for the last hour in German, I was in the mood.

The Bars and Restaurant visited today:

Zascianek Restauracja  –   Pólwiejska 26, 61-888 Poznan, Polska

Pub Van Gogh –   ul. Zydowska 12, 61-761 Poznan, Polska

Dom Piwa –   2, Mokra 2, 61-766 Poznan, Polska

Piwna Stopa  –  Szewska 7, 61-760 Poznan, Polska

Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa  –  Stary Rynek 85, Poznan, Polska

Meta Seta Galareta Disco  –  Stary Rynek 63, Poznan, Polska

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