Friday, October 15, 2021

First Full Day in Antwerp

No visit to Antwerp is complete without having the local beer De Koninck. So we stopped at Oud Arsenaal for a bolleke. As delicious as I remembered.

The taps are pretty much unchanged. As always, a great bottle selection.

The inside is as I remembered, except for the bicycle hanging on the wall...

We were sitting outside -- it was a tad chilly but not so much so that we didn't have another beer. I chose the Arsenaaltje, the house beer brewed by Brouwerij The Musketeers.

We then walked over to you know where...

I decided to do the lambic tasting. Eight 12.5cl glasses of lambic. One is missing from the picture, the 

Here are the details. In picture they go from 16 to 8. Missing is #12 Jasmiijnlambiek.

They were all very good. The Rozenlambiek (Rosemary) was the most interesting, but I'm not sure I could  drink a bottle. The Jasmiijnlambiek (Jasmine Tea) was also quite different, very earthy.

I like triples so I asked Leen to pick me one and she brought the Name Tripel, and old favorite and it didn't disappoint.

Staying on the theme, I ordered a Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel, another favorite.

It just arrived and wasn't on the menu yet, but we were allowed to drool over the new Rodenbach Red Tripel. I understand only a small amount was made so it is likely to be pricy.


Someone wanted an old beer, so we got a Bornem Dubbel from 2000. Nice sherry, but not much "Dubbel" left (which was expected)
We had a dinner reservation at Billies Bier Cafeteria so we wandered over.  I understand why the do it, but I am in Belgium to drink Belgian beer (or at least BeNeLux beer) so a little limited on the selection, but some great beers.

I chose the Lupulus Tripel. I had had this in the past and enjoyed it, but this one was not as good as I remembered.

I ordered some deep fried mussels to tie me over until the main course came. There were good, but I prefer the steamed, even if they are more work.

To go with dinner I ordered a Scheldebrouwerij Zeezuiper Tripel. A very nice beer.

Dinner was Stoofvlees (Beef and onion stew) and it was very good. It is game season so they had a venison stew and roast pheasant, which the others said was very good.

 The liter of lambic I drank earlier in the day caught up to me and my stomach was starting to rebel, so I called it an early night. The rest of the gang went on to De Ware Jacob for a night cap...

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Arrived in Antwerp

It was a hard flight, no fun wearing a mask for that long a time. But we all arrived safely. We checked in the hotel, dropped our bags, caught a quick lunch and heading for the Kulminator. We were the only ones there.
I ordered the Malheur 60 Blond, getting it confused the 6. It is a 10% abv beer with 60 IBUs. Very bitter and very good. So much for easing into the day.
The Het Anker Cuvée van de Keizer Blond was out, so I went with the regular version, a long time favorite. It didn’t disappoint, though it was a bit on the sweet side. Don’t know if it was that vintage or my memory had faded.
In addition to the lambics on the board, there are a few more that you can order.
One day I will start with the full sampler.
Time to try some new (for me) beers. I had read about the Rochefort Triple and that seemed a good place to start. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was supposed. I really enjoyed it and look forward to when we can buy it at home.
Some have never had the Westmalle Extra (the 4.8% “Monks Beer”) that monastery recently released to the public. Turns out the Kulminator also had a four year old one, from the days you could only get it at the monastery. Seemed like a comparison was in order.
The four year old one held up very well. The two beers were nearly identical, with just a bit of oxidation on the older one.
Being jet lagged is like being a shark — you have to keep moving or it is all over. So we decide to walk up to De Ware Jacob
The taps were as expected.
The guest beer as out, but that only effected our second beer.
I was having some camera issues, so the foam had settled a bit. That is on me — the pour was perfect.
Guy (the proprietor) mentioned he had the Chimay “Green Label” — the recently released version of their 150th Anniversary beer of. a few years back. I had to have one.
It did not disappoint, nicely hoppy and spicy and too easy drinking for a 10% beer.
Some of the others had the Tynt Meadows English Trappist, which also is very good. But I forgot to get a picture.
I had reached my limit, so I said I was headed back to the hotel. It was contagious, as everybody else decided it was time, too.
On the way, I stopped at my favorite kebab place in Antwerp, on Koningin Astridplein. It too, did not disappoint.
Pretty soon the rest of the group showed up for kebabs as well. There was some talk of them having a nightcap at Beerlovers, but I passed.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Beer Trip About to Start!

After 19 months on the bench, I'm headed out to Antwerp, Düsseldorf, Bamberg and Berlin with a group of friends.

We already hit one snag as one person had to make a sudden hospital visit (not COVID and he is fine) -- hopefully he will be able to join us mid trip.

And now there is another snag. Belgium requires one to fill out a "Passenger Locator Form" within 48 hours of one's arrival, stating where you've been for the past two weeks, where you sat on the plane and where you are staying (for contract tracing). In order to fill it out you give them a mobile number and they text you a PIN code. All very modern, except it appears the service they use to send texts to US numbers is down!

I managed to get the form this morning, but the others have had no luck (using multiple numbers). I managed to get another PIN by using my German mobile number. If worst comes to worst I guess I'll try using that number for everybody.

The joys of travel in the pandemic age.

Watch this space...


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Last Day in Dublin

I finally headed out to check out the new BrewDog Dublin Outpost in the Grand Canal Docks area. I ended up tacking a taxi as there is really no convenient bus route. I used the FreeNow app (formerly called MyTaxi — a much better name) which made the whole thing as easy as using Lyft or Uber. From the door of BrewDog you can look across the Liffey to the 3 Arena — you just can’t get there. Supposedly a foot bridge is planned, which will make it a bit easier to get to BrewDog.

BrewDog has its own building right on the waterfront. They spent a Euro or two on this setup.  The place is huge, with bars on two levels and a large patio for when the weather is nicer.

The brewery is operational (first batch in the tanks) but they don’t yet have permission to sell, some confusion on the paperwork.

They had seven guest beers but only two were Irish and one I’d had before (Of Form and Fury) and the other was 10% so ordered a BrewDog beer.

I went with a Jet Black Heart Stout, figuring it was at least an Irish style stout. It was nicely roasty.

The food going by looked good (and I had many recommendations to try the wings) but nothing was hitting the spot so I ordered another beer, this the Brew Gooder Lager. It was well made but a bit boring. Probably should have expected that, but I wanted to try it.

The brewery is at the back. Some tank porn for your enjoyment...

I wanted to make another stop at the Porterhouse so I  fired up the FreeNow app and was soon there.

I ordered an Oyster Stout and a plate of oysters to go with it, but was informed they had no oysters today. They suggested the mussels but that just didn’t seem right.

I ordered the Seafood Chowder instead, which had a couple of oysters in it (though cooked).

I had another Oyster Stout, but I won’t bore you with the picture. I headed out to my next stop and got a nice picture of the River Liffey

I as was walking, I passed Sin È. You can see the Sierra Nevada sign — they had three Sierra Nevada beers on tap, so I guess it is a favorite.

They had a house Pale Ale, brewed by Trouble Brewing, so I ordered that, as it would be rude not to have. A nice beer, well worth the stop.

Just about around the corner is The Legal Eagle, my destination.

It is primarily a restaurant but there is a bar and you can just go have a beer (or a coffee for that matter). They have upped their tap list since I was there a two years ago. Something for everybody.

I ordered the Whiplash Bowsie Brown Ale. This was one of the beers that was out at the Brickyard the other day, so I was glad to have a change to try it. A nice beer.

I was still a bit hungry, so I ordered a Scotch Egg and their Ploughmans.  Lots of fruits and vegetables, of which I have not been eating as I should. BTW, that is not my finger, the cheeses were being explained to me as I took the picture.

One last beer, probably my last in Dublin this trip. It was a tough decision but I went with the Kinnegar Scraggy Bay IPA over the Trouble Dark Arts Porter as I hadn’t had that one this trip. It didn’t disappoint. It is a little less red in real life.

It was then back to my hotel to pack and get ready for my early morning bus to the airport. All in all a successful trip. Didn’t get to all the places I wanted to but visited most of them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Quiet Day in Dublin

I am still fighting off the recurrence of my bad cold, so Monday ended up being fairly quiet.

I hopped on the LUAS Green Line heading south to Balally the home of the Brickyard Gastropub. The pub is in a complex right at the station and the trams literally run underneath it.

They have 24 taps, four of which are industrial beers, leaving 20 interesting beers for the rest of us. One side effect of visiting a pub soon after they open on a Monday is they still could be recovering from a good weekend. This happened here. The first beer I ordered, the Two Sides Red Brick Ale kicked while trying to pour it. A number of other taps where dry (many were ones I’d like to try, showing my tastes and locals coincide somewhat). I decided to go with the other Two Sides Beer, the Brickline Lager. Brickyard is part of the Two Side consortium, hence the “Brick” in some beer names.

The beer was fine, well made and tasty but nothing earth shattering. A good first beer.

Lunch was a sandwich and a bowl of soup. The soup was sweet potato/carrot/coconut which didn’t sound all the appealing but it worked. There were some Thai spices in there that gave it a bit of kick.

Next I tried the Yellow Belly Molecules of Freedom Brown Ale. A very nice American style brown though at 7% a bit stronger than usual.

I had intended to stop at a number of other places on the way back to the city center, but I was feeling a bit off so I just went back to my hotel room and rested for a while.

Eventually I headed back out again, to T. O’Brennan’s, an old pub that re-opened as a craft beer pub a few years ago. Originally they were tied to 57 The Headline but I am not sure if that relationship is still in effect. The LUAS track go right past them but there are between two stops. Going there I get off at Broadstone and walk downhill to the pub. Going home, I continue walking downhill to Dominick. Lazy, I am.

They have 12 taps, all Irish craft beers.

I ordered their House Pale Ale, which is brewed by Third Barrel Brewing (who also brews the Two Sides beers and a bunch of others). Third Barrel was formed when Third Circle and Stone Barrel combined their ventures. The beer was very nice, well balanced between malt and hops.

I had hoped to get a bite to eat — previously they had toasted sandwiches and cheese and meat boards but those were on hold for the moment, so I had to make do with a bag of chips (“crisps”).

Next I tried the White Gypsy Ruby, Irish Red Ale. It was a nice beer but I think I like the house beer more.

One thing about T. O’Brennan’s is the lighting they have over the bar — it makes my photos look a lot better than usual, In fact, some of my favorite beer photos have been shot here.

I could have had another beer but I was getting hungry so I passed and headed back towards my hotel. When I got off the tram there was a Vietnamese restaurant right there so I went in and had a bowl of chicken soup. Always good for what ails you.

Tomorrow is my last day in Dublin. I will probably bite the bullet and head out to the new BrewDog places then fill in a couple of places I’ve missed so far.