It’s hard to believe it’s already been over two months since our summer 2018 Europe trip. It still feels like just a couple weeks ago we were walking the black sand beaches of Iceland, gazing out over the Cliffs of Moher and admiring in revered silence the beauty of Westminster Abbey. We talk about our trip all the time and are already dreaming up our next one. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s one more country and ale adventure story to tell…
I’ve had a life-long obsession with skyscrapers. I don’t really know where it came from, maybe growing up just outside New York City played a roll, or maybe too many Tower of Babel lessons in church as a youngster had the opposite effect of what was intended. Now, I tend to judge cities on two major categories: Their skyline and their craft beer scene, two lovers who often quarrel rather than get along. Where the towers rise, the beer quality tends to fall – world class postcard skylines like Dubai and Shanghai have not inspired great beer to follow suit, and while both cities have recently been doing better in this regard, in New York and LA you have to get outside the high-rises to find the best stuff. However, the Hong Kong Beer Scene proved to be different.
Whether you have a long layover, or you’re able to take a few days to explore, here’s a few of my favorite places I went to while enjoying the shade of some of the most marvelous structures made by man.
For the past nine months, Katie and I have been adventuring our way through Minnesota’s craft beer community. With more than 150 breweries and brewpubs to visit — last we heard that number was actually upwards of 180 now — we’ve been busy and content with what’s right here in our own backyard. But sometimes a new adventure calls, and when an opportunity to visit breweries in Iceland, Ireland, London and Paris came calling — we answered.
In truth, no one came calling for us; we just happened to be heading to Europe on a sort of one-year anniversary/bucket list trip. Still, we took advantage of our time abroad to visit some new taprooms, make some new friends and drink some new beers.
I’m nominating Apocalyptic Thunder Juice, the latest delight from Norway’s Amundsen Bryggeri, as the Official Juice of the ThunderCats. If this beer was available 30 years ago, that band of ninja felines would surely have partaken in a few after battling Mumm-Ra. And just look at the can artwork. It is safe to say that the ancients responsible for such totems could have been inspired by bipedal cats from outer space.
The first image that pops into my head at the word Pilgrim involves folks wearing tall hats and large-buckled shoes while sharing turkey and Stove Top stuffing with the Indians at Plymouth Rock. You know, historically accurate stuff. Nonetheless, the general premise of the American story involves a pilgrimage — a significant, spiritual journey to a new, location of importance. And although the Swiss do not celebrate ye olde pilgrimage to the New World in search of canned cranberry sauce and green bean casserole, I found a brewery here that celebrates pilgrims in another way.
After a cold day of exploring the streets of Krakow in January, my friends and I stopped for lunch at a traditional Polish restaurant and the list of hot beverages caught my eye. “Hot beer?!” I exclaimed breathlessly, and immediately ordered myself a large mug. The menu warned that hot beer would take ten minutes to be prepared and heated, so I sat back and began to research this intriguing beverage.
This morning Avery Brewing announced that it has sold a minority stake to Mahou San Miguel. The 24 year old Boulder-based company now joins Founders Brewing out of Grand Rapids, MI as the second American-based craft brewery that has seen minority investment from the privately held, family owned Spanish company.
If you fly to Iceland during the cold half of the year, there’s a good chance it’ll be dark when you get there. In early November, when my wife and I boarded an A321 in Chicago and flew to this volcanic island in the north Atlantic, the sun set by 5 p.m. and didn’t rise again until after 9 each morning. In the middle of winter, it doesn’t rise at all. The island is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so if your plane takes off in the afternoon or evening, it’ll be hours before dawn when it touches down at Keflavik International Airport, about thirty miles from downtown Reykjavik. A short walk through the cold, pre-dawn air will see you onto a shuttle bus that will deposit you on the city streets of the world’s northernmost capital a little under an hour later. Those streets will still be dark, and the city will just be waking up, slipping on thermal underwear and insulated jackets to keep out the insistent chill of this city on the water.
While there are an incredible abundance of existing and soon-to-come craft releases in the U.S., Brewmeister‘s Snake Venom is a rare sight in these parts. I recently had the honor of getting to try this beer that tops many beer drinkers lists. These aren’t charts for flavor and overall ingenuity, but simply because of the fact that it will knock you off your feet. At a staggering 67.5% ABV this fortified monster has made its rounds on the web as a viral hit, enticing the alcoholics of America with a great name and the promise that you won’t remember tomorrow. However, the real challenge isn’t staying alive after consumption, but rather just getting a hold of this beer in the U.S. in the first place.
If someone asked me about the Estonian craft beer scene a month ago, I probably would’ve shrugged my shoulders and guessed there wasn’t one. I would have been wrong. I’ve now had three beers from Põhjala Brewery (pronounced Poh-ya-la) out of Tallinn, Estonia and this Öö Imperial Baltic Porter is so far, my favorite.
Sand between the toes, hammocks, sunshine, rustling palm trees and now Church Street Brewing — that could describe your next Caribbean vacation. The suburban-Chicago brewery is taking its beer to the tropics!
Ever since a 6th grade math teacher corrected the spelling of my name, I’ve had an itch to visit Denmark. Even though we all know the rhyme “I before E, except after C”, the majority of folks named Niel in the States spell it backwards – Neil. But not me, regardless of what Mrs. Something-or-other seemed to think. I later learned that my family has roots reaching back to at least the early 1800s in the Danish countryside, the origin of this funny spelling. Which made me wonder, “Is there a land full of Niel’s that spell their name the right way?” Fast forward 20ish years and I now live within an hour’s flight of the homeland. And though I didn’t find anyone sharing my first name, I did find lots of good beer.
I remember being forced to read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in high school. To explain the tome’s epic verbosity, I subscribe to the myth that Charlie was paid by the word and have been permanently scarred by the experience. I mention Dickens because he would likely have been an inspiration to the British poet for whom this beer is named – Thomas Hardy. Hardy was a writer of world-renown but unfortunately, thanks to his compatriot’s writing style, there’s zero chance of me putting down Stephen King to pick up Jude the Obscure anytime soon. His namesake brew however, Thomas Hardy’s Ale, that’s a different story.
“In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” but a few months before Columbus landed in the Caribbean, an Austrian brewery that came to be known as Stiegl arose in the town of Salzburg. Five and a quarter centuries later, the world has dramatically changed, but Stiegl is still there and still delivering beer in its hometown by horse and carriage. The one thing that is new is the Stiegl Zitrone Lemon Radler, its newest summer-friendly, highly sessionable U.S. import.
Featured photo credit: Birrificio del Ducato.
Two years ago, back in the summer of 2015, I traveled to Italy. While I am normally a beer drinker, in Italy I drank as the Romans drank, which included some of the …
Featured Image Credit: Heineken.com
We all have different opinions and different views of the world, but it is key that we learn to have open and honest discussions about those differences. If no one is willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you end up with a divided nation full of people who are more interested in stalling their opponents’ agendas than in finding a path toward the common good. The new “Worlds Apart” video from Heineken posits that beer can be key to discovering that common ground.
Many years ago I was fortunate to participate in a group study exchange to Italy, where five Americans sent overseas for a month to see how our Italian counterparts live. Each of us were housed separately, with families, to allow for real immersion into the culture. On the whole, we were stuffed with homemade pasta, preservative-free (read: hangover-free) wine and an incredible amount of warmth and big smiles. While I did not indulge in any brews from Birra Amarcord, the bottle of Mora I recently consumed brought me back in a flash thanks to it being an Imperial COFFEE Porter.
ABV: 6.6% | IBU: N/A
It’s cold. Goddammit, it’s cold. For those of you not so blessed to be living below the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re likely in the midst of what’s been a long, cold winter. As the mounds of snow continue to grow and you begin to forget that the sun exists; winter tightens its icy grip this time of year. So, how can you fight back and stay warm? Should you bundle up with extra layers or rely on hand and toe warmers in gloves and socks? While those options are smart and practical, I tend to go another route. I avoid the cold by staying inside with beer, such as Mikkeller Chipotle Porter, the fuzzy slippers of the soul.
Two years ago, I heard a shocking story. My brother’s then-girlfriend had never seen the original Star Wars.
It seems impossible that one could grow up in America and not see these epic films. I’m not even close to a full blown Star Wars nerd, but I still love those three original films from the ’70s and I am always stoked when a new one comes out. (Well, not the Jar Jar Binks one; that sucked.) I have yet to see Rogue One, but when I saw this bottle of A New Hop: Hopi Wan Galactic Ale from Federation of Malted Republics (FMR), there was no choice but to buy it.