Ultimate 6er: A Pub Crawl from Dublin to Prague
One of my bucket list items was to go to Munich and visit the birthplace of Oktoberfest. This year, I decided to cross it off my bucket list and go for my belated dirty thirty. What started out as a trip to Munich, turned into a three week long pub crawl full of awesome beer and liquor.
After visiting six countries in Europe, I return to you with my take on some of the best beers I’ve had in Dublin, Ireland; Edinburgh, Scotland; Bruges, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Munich, Germany; and Prague/Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Here is my story of my trip throughout Europe, in beer form.
The first stop on the trip was Porterhouse Brewery Pub in the Temple Bar district. While sitting at the bar sampling their collection of beer, a couple of ladies sat next to me. We began chatting away and, eventually, I asked them where they were from. As it turned out, we lived 5 blocks from each other in Denver. It is such a small world! During the conversation, I was sampling the Porterhouse oyster stout. I’m not an oyster stout connoisseur, but this beer made a huge impression on me. From the dark and rich appearance of the body to the robust smell of roasted malt and saltiness. There is a nice balance of sweet and saltiness with hints of hops to this brew. When you taste it, there is a creamy texture similar to Guinness but with a slight amount of brininess that fills your mouth. Upon finishing the stout, there is a dryness that makes you want some more.
The second stop of the trip was the Whiski Bar and Restaurant. One of the most interesting things to try while you’re in Scotland, aside from whiskey, is haggis. Haggis is a pudding made with sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs). The best thing to have with a Scottish delicacy is a Scottish beer. Innis & Gunn, an Edinburgh brewery, makes an awesome Rum Cask Oak Aged beer. This Scotch style ale has a copper body with a reddish tint, topped with a thin layer of foam. It has a strong, rich caramel smell with subtle flavors of hints of dried fruits, spices, oak and rum. You can taste the sweetness of the dried fruits and toasted caramel. There is a hint of earthy flavor from the oak, with a light and smooth spiced rum finish. It feels lighter and smoother than the traditional scotch ale, making it a dangerously delicious beer. It goes well with the saltiness of a haggis pie.
The third stop of the trip was De Halve Maan, a small family owned brewery in Bruges. It was well worth the trip from Brussels, from the tour given by the owner to the awesome collection of beers they brew. Of all of the beers I had there, I recommend the Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel. It is one of the strongest beers I had in Europe (at 11 percent), but you could hardly notice the alcohol with the creamy texture and well balanced caramel and malty taste. There are hints of hops, which imbues a floral flavor in this quadrupel. It has a deep brown complexion with a nice fluffy layer of foam. It has a strong smells of caramel and plums, so strong that I couldn’t smell any hops. I cannot get enough of this beer!
The fourth stop of the trip was the Red Light District… just kidding. A couple of friends met up with me here and continued the pub crawl through Europe. Their flight landed at 8 a.m. and I wanted to welcome them to the city by taking them out for breakfast and beer. Amsterdam loves to promote Heineken, but I am not a fan of the beer at all. However, I did stumble upon a small local brew made by Brouwerij ‘t IJ called Columbus. This beer, enjoyed with my friends, was amber in color with a rich and full body head that seems to linger for some time as carbonation tries to leave the beer. It fills your nose with citrus, hops, and spiced apple. The taste is very complex with a mixture of grapefruit or orange, with a bit of bitterness, tossed in with some malt, a little bit of spice, and hops. I’m not sure how else to describe it except that it was very crisp and light, especially considering it had an ABV of 9 percent.
The fifth stop of the trip was Oktoberfest. Oh, how I love you! Munich is such friendly small town with great beer and food. The town is filled with locals and tourist (most were Australian) all united in celebration of beer. Armed in lederhosen and a stein, we hit town and began the festivities. We started drinking alcohol at 10 a.m., going from tent to tent having a liter of beer. Of all the beer tents and beer halls we went to, the Hofbrau Munchner Weisse beer won my heart. It has a hazy golden yellow body with a frothy head to start. It smells of bananas, spice, citrus, and hints of cloves found in a typical Bavarian hefeweizen. This masterfully created brew tasted like bubblegum to me. A little tarty at first from the citrus, followed by the sweetness of bananas with a touch of spice throughout but especially at the finish.
The sixth and final stop of the trip was Pivnice Dacicky, a beer hall in Kutna Hora (an hour east of Prague) with great beer and Czech specialty food. Food and beer is great there and on top of it, Czech is very cheap for Americans, with most beers range from $1 – $2! While my friends and I wrapped up our trip, we had a great meal and three beers with a total cost of $15 per person which included a 15 percent tip. At Pivnice Dacicky, the beer that impressed me the most was the Primator Dark Lager. It had a very dark brown body but a little transparency where you can almost see through it. It has the smoky malt smell to it, like a porter. The taste of malt is stronger than the rest of the flavors inside which included a hint of hops and a touch of coffee/caramel. A very well balanced and drinkable brew that is not too strong. Nice overall dark lager.
These beers are great and it saddens me that I need to hunt them down here. Luckily, we are fortunate to have such great microbrews in the states that provide satisfying and flavorful beers. Let me know what foreign beers you like.