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VedettWent to Southsea between Christmas and New Year to visit a friend and we had lunch at the excellent Southsea Beach Cafe fish and chips and a pint of beer.  Well the pint of beer was Vedett extra blond.  Never heard of it?  Well it comes from Belgium and from the brewers of Duval and is an excellent larger – keeps it’s sparkle to the end of the glass and is really refreshing.  So when I got home I went to their site – it’s worth a visit and they will even customise packs of beer for you.  Interesting and unusual.  Very impressed!

Grimbergen Blonde

When we lived in Belgium we used to sometime visit Grimbergen Brewery on a Sunday for lGrimbergen Blondeunch.  Seemed a good place to take the kids (they weren’t old enough to drink but the restaurant did have high chairs and was well sorted  – except that everyone smoked!).

I like Grimbergen and its transfer to Heinken and subsequently to Carlsberg has not taken anything away.  It is an Abbey beer but it is lighter and more aromatic than some and is very refreshing.  There are now quite a few pubs in the UK and bars in France (where it also brewed) which serve this on draught again this works well.  Quite a strong beer at 6.7% but for once that doesn’t detract from the taste.  Thumbs up from me

Athens November 2014

Not sure why but we decided to go to Athens in November.  Arrived around 7pm after the 4 hour or so flight.  We decided to take the Underground into the city because we knew we were staying fairly near a station.  The train takes ages and Alpha beerreally you are better with the airport bus which doesn’t stop everywhere.  Anyway just before leaving the train it became very crowded as we approached our stop at Syntagma Square, the long and short of it is that my wallet was stolen with all my holiday money – you have been warned!  Anyway aside this set back we had a good time.  All the Greek beers I’ve had have been larger type beers and while they are pleasant they are unremarkable and in a blind taste I’m not sure I could tell them apart.  I did have one wonderful beer with a meal in the Funky Gourmet but I’m not sure what it was as it came with the mean (and “flight”) – iyt might have been Fresh Chios Beer but you’ll have to go there and try (it’s expensive!).  The main ones are Alpha (pictured here), Fix , Hellos and Mythos.


IMG_20140831_125648869I’ve always been a big fan of White Beers.  I first saw these in Germany and the Berliner old ladies used to drink this with a fruit cordial (but I’m going back a long way here).  I lived in Belgium for a while and there are some great ones there including one with cardamom.  They are now common and popular all over Germany and although I didn’t have any at this year’s Oktoberfest I did two years ago – not sure I mentioned that in the post.  Anyway here’s one from Iceland – I bought on impulse in Majestic but probably available elsewhere as well. Very smooth – more refreshing I would say than Hoegarden.  I really liked it but it is a little pricey.


IMG_20140821_114353133We went to Split for the Bank Holiday weekend.  Prices are a refreshing change from the usual Euro nonsense.  I’m afraid the beer we sampled was all much of muchness and so we probably didn’t hit the right spots.  (Red wines were very good too).  The half litre sampled here was excellently cold and very refreshing and we spent a happy lunch hour drinking several only interrupted by a sudden downpour.  Would recommend Split but try for a quieter hotel away from the main tourist streets.

Six Nations Beer challenge

Shepher Neame Kentish Ale labelsOK it’s a Saturday of sport.  Up early for qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix – so many new rules but more daunting are the changes in team principals and engineers – where has Ross Brawn, Patrick Head and Martin Whitmarsh.  They will turn up again soon I’m sure – anyway too early a start for beer.  12:30 – now the fun starts, lunchtime for the Peroni-Shepherd Neame challenge.  Peroni is light and easy to start with but now we know why Shepherd Neame has been going for 300+ years.  Great flavour – who needs lunch!   Inevitably the Peroni is lighter less strong but a great beer and fitting weather to drink it as well.  The Kentish Ale a little stronger heavier but an all day drink none the less.
Punk IPABarry Island IPANow it’s Wales vs. Scotland.  An interesting beer from Majestic Wine – Barry Island IPA, this is Brains’ attempt a craft beer and it says proudly on the label in collaboration with Simon Martin of youtube fame  Actually although I was introduced to this through Majestic it’s also available at Tesco and other fine establishments.  I made the mistake of drinking this with a cheese and pickle roll and I was less impressed than when I have drunk this without food.  The flavour on the front of the tongue is great but I found it had a slightly strange after taste 6% full of flavour and really is reminiscent of American Pale ales of the East Coast, Scotland was represented by our old favourite Brew Dog’s Punk IPA.  I say old favourite because I thought I had written about it before but it seems I haven’y- I will do a separate write up but if you haven’t had any of the Brew Dog beers then you must buy a sample pack and go through them – they are wonderful (well most are some are just too strong for my liking).  Punk IPA is 5.6% and is available in all the supermarkets so no excuse to try it.  Also visit their site Brew Dog because they have interesting funding opportunities and I’m told the shareholder meetings are good fun!


Magners Pear and GingerSo now we are into the decider – Ireland will win the 6 nations if France don’t win the match.  France up at half time and this has been accompanied by my old favourite – Pelforth Brune.  But now what as we we go to the second half with Ireland trailing one point – Ahhhh no Irish Beer in the house – so we are down to an Irish Perry – Magners Pear and Ginger.    It’s a little fizzy but really refreshing – I could imagine this on a sunny evening drinking outside maybe at the pub – but also before a BBQ and followed up with some nice heavy French red wine.  There’s an idea……  Now back to the TV for the second half.

So Ireland win and win the championship.  Well done Ireland and Well done England – just 10 points goal difference.  Maybe Lewis Hamilton can make England proud tomorrow!



Tap Room IPA

Tap room IPAWell this was a real surprise – I wasn’t expecting to find real US craft beers for sale in Sainsbury’s but there they were – two of them from the Tap Room Brewing Company, Rochester New York.  This is bottled especially for Sainsbury’s and well done them because it’s a really nice beer.   Initially tastes a little sweat but has a very hoppy and long lasting flavour.  I’m a fan and I have yet to try the other beer of these I bought yesterday.

Oktoberfest report

This was the 40th year since I first went to Oktoberfest in 1972 after the Olympics, and I’ve been  most years since.  Then I was in a VW camper with a bunch of guys and we had been driving around Europe, spending a month or more in Greece with the hippies.  On the way back we went through Hungry and Czechoslovakia (as it was until January 1st, 1993).  We re-entered Germany on the Nuremberg road and picked up an Australian hitch hiker who told us that the Oktoberfest started that day – so off we went.  We lasted a whole week in those days now we are down to a few days!

So as usual flight from Gatwick at crack of dawn and checked into the hotel (need to do this first or else!).  We went straight to the Hippodrome tent and sat in the garden, Sparten is one of my favourite beers and we always start here.  I was very nervous about the weather but it all held up well for the three days we were there.  My travelling companion is a smoker and there is no smoking in the tents anymore.  The Hippodrome is a smaller tent but the size of these things has to be seen to be appreciated and there are great videos of them putting the site together on Youtube.

We sampled three or four more tents and their beers including the Paulaner Weissbier, I can’t remember seeing this little corner that sells only Weissbier before but it makes a refreshing change.  Unfortunately at this stage I can’t remember which of this family of beers we actually sampled but it sure wasn’t one of the no alcohols ones!  I also forgot to take pictures!

This went on for two more days and and on the day we were to go to the airport we went for our favourite location for lunch: the Lowenbraukeller (go to Stiglmaierplatz station or walk from the Hauptbahnhof).  This is without doubt the best place to drink Lowenbrau – maybe it doesn’t travel I don’t know but it’s great here.  Try the sausages, Wiener Schnitzel or if you feel like a family roast for four to yourself the Schweinshaxe (actually you can now get a cut down version).  Brilliant.  I apologise for drinking half litres here but it was the third day, and I didn’t have just one.

Now normally at this point my drinking companion would head for the station and I would head for the airport but for once he had decided to fly so we headed out to the airport together.  The airport has grown and grown and now has two terminals with a large covered open area between them  (I don’t normally venture here but we were flying from different terminals) and what did we find there but micro brewery Airbrau with its own beer garden – where else in the world is there an airport with a microbrewery?  And it’s 2/3 the price of in town drinking so why not just stay there.

One last thing when you fly to Munich seek out one of the helpful assistants at the S-bahn ticket machines and make sure you get the best tickets for your stay – we bought a family (several adults and children and a dog) go anywhere 3 day ticket because we wanted to go out to he lakes south of the city for less frantic lunches but there are many options and its worth getting help as you can save a fortune.  These family tickets make sense even if there are only two of you but with three or four its a big save.



Brains – SA Gold

We all know Brains from watching the magnificent Welsh Rugby team, but I had never tried the beer.  This is an easy drinking hoppy beer but I think would be better if it was drunk as draught beer in the pub (probably with song).  At home it didn’t come across as memorable but that’s so often the way with ales at home.  I looked on the Brains site and there have a good range of beers available, I’ll have to seek out a local pub that stocks them.  The site has loads of other interesting stuff and it even recommends recipes that can be made with the beer, in this case Cheese Fondue which actually sounds good.  Basically using beer as the liquid base.  It still gets drunk with Kirsch though which is the downfall of cheese fondue (and mine on one occasion!).