Tag Archives: beer

Sausage Rolls, Beer in Roadkill, and Attention-Grabbing Headlines

28 Oct

Here I am again! Rushing in at the last minute as the teacher calls my name, yelling “PRESENT!” I’ve realised my promise to try and post each week was about to expire and join a fast-filling basket of broken promises, missed deadlines and piked-out-on RSVPs. If you add the numerous tedious events I’ve pulled a smoke bomb from I start to look like quite the unreliable individual.

Today I’ve come to talk to you about a couple of things. The first is a wonderful, growing family of beer bars run by Scottish brewer Brewdog. You may remember I mentioned Brewdog back in my post about Glasgow. Well it seems that they have started to invade the south with bars popping up all over the place.

This one is in Camden, a very friendly 3-minute walk from Camden Town tube station. We were there because of something you may have heard of called a Groupon. If you’ve not heard of them, basically it’s a reward for knowing how to navigate the internet that allows you to get stuff cheaper than it usually is. This is even more helpful when, like in this case, it’s something you actually want.

This Groupon allowed the holders (us) to attend a two-hour beer tasting of Brewdog offerings. We were led to a secret room called the “Hop Bunker” (secret means it was behind a chain and down some stairs), where we were greeted by our host and the first tasting:

Yes, it does seem pretty pretentious but to that I say an unpretentious “up yours”.

This first beer is called ‘Punk IPA’ and without going in to tedious detail about beer, its really nice. As we were reminded a number of times by our host, Brewdog’s main aim is to let people know that there is a far superior alternative to drinking the mass-produced lagers like Fosters, Stella or Carlsberg.

As our next beers for tasting were prepared, we were also treated to a lovely surprise, since their was no mention of it on the Groupon:

This was almost as welcome as the beer.

A guy across the table and I eyed this for a long time, wondering which of us would be the first to crack. I forget which of us was first, but the edgily taken first piece of Brie gave way to a free-for-all that almost ended in lost fingers. The platter was a nice touch though, and probably necessary as the beers kept coming.

The beers also got stronger. The ‘Punk IPA’ above was around 5%, however this was followed by an amber ale, porter, double IPA…and then it starts to get a little hazy. The details I give now can’t be verified by my memory, but I’m fairly sure the tasting ended with an 11.1% alcohol beer, followed by a beer cocktail with gin. Then there’s this photo:

His name is Steven.

The story behind this is long. But the short version is that it’s a 55% alcohol beer that is bottled then put inside taxidermied roadkill. We didn’t get to try it because it’s hideously expensive, but if you want to order it, ask for ‘End of History’. I’m not sure how often these classes run, but Brewdog should definitely be running more of them. And if you can pick it up on a Groupon for £12 each, then let the good times roll.

Today I will also be fulfilling another promise, that which concerns the world’s greatest sausage roll. If you are ever in London (and I hope that you are), the first thing you should do is definitely get a Mars Milk. Once that is done however, you need to find yourself a Ginger Pig.

These butchers use their expertise in all things meat to concoct what I don’t mind saying is the WORLD’s BEST sausage roll. My pick for the best place to get one is the Borough Market near London Bridge, as you can wander around and taste all kinds of other foods as well. If not, they also have shops in Hackney, Shepherds Bush, Marylebone and Waterloo.

I recently discovered that they make different varieties, this one is a pork and stilton (cheese):

This was fantastic as well, however I can’t go past the first time I bit in to the original pork. The meat is spiced in a way I never thought possible and is sweet, savoury and juicy. This is complimented by the golden pastry which somehow melts and crumbles at the same time.

You’re probably wondering how I can talk like this about a humble sausage roll, but that just means you need to get over here and try it for yourself. It’s well worth the flight ticket from wherever you are.

And there’s other stuff to do as well.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

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A Change of Plans: Less Chocolate, More Beer (deal with it)

26 Aug

You may remember a while back I floated the idea of riding my bicycle to Belgium. However, having left more money in Turkey with kebab and fez vendors than was budgeted, I have had to change my plans slightly.

Instead, this past few days have been spent in York, which will henceforth be know as “the Belgium of The United Kingdom”.

I make no apologies for the previous misinformation. If you’ve spent more than 15 seconds here in the past you’ll be aware that such indiscretions have little impact upon my journalistic integrity (mainly because you need to have journalistic integrity upon which to impact).

Unrepentant though I am, if you are so outraged that you must navigate elsewhere, please let me hasten your exit with a link to ‘man eats seat on no.12 bus‘.

Otherwise, let me and my words transport you to a place that lies somewhere within that mythical land Londoners refer to as The North.

Source: London and You – All you need to know about the world. 

The trip to York was my first chance to relive the joys of Megabus. For the uninitiated, Megabus is pretty much the cheapest way to get anywhere in the UK. In actual fact, I can’t fault the experience, especially when it cost £9 the day before travel. The only minor problem was slight confusion related to the fact the fare was half train/half bus, but for that price I’m happy if I don’t end up in Cardiff.

This was really a chance to extend my knowledge of the UK. My only knowledge of York beforehand had to do with an indecisive and/or cruel Duke and his large number of men, and I’m not sure how accurate that information is.

We arrived late in the day and immediately discovered that York has the requisite “eye” (huge Ferris wheel) that is apparently necessary for all cities these days, touristy or not. Fortunately York at least has stuff to see from such a structure. We didn’t go on it, however I’m sure it’s a lovely view if the ground level is anything to go by. For starters there’s York Minster, a pretty impressive cathedral that all roads in York seem to wind towards. Here is my bestest camera phone image of it:

A lot of people substitute the word “crap” for “arty” these days so I’m going to do the same.

There are also a number of sections of city walls which are like, really old (to use technical language). These are available free for the public to wander along and look at car parks.

That photo is seriously “arty”.

Or if you’re not a car park enthusiast, you can also find roman building ruins along the walls with accompanying information boards.

I’m going to pause here and just say that after that the trip became something of a pub crawl and craft beer appreciation getaway. Again I’m not apologising for this, but I prefer to keep you informed of upcoming content.

While craft beer has increased in availability in Australia of late, it is an area where The UK is still streets ahead. Nowhere is this more apparent than in York. It doesn’t hurt that York has its own brewery, but it seemed in every pub visited there was a great selection of local ales and also beers and ciders from many different places around the world.

I could go in to a detailed description of each pub, but to be honest you could venture in to almost any pub in York and find a great venue for its own reasons. The main thing is there are different beers, and lots of them. A quick round up of the best ones include The Last Drop Inn (great sausages and mash) and The Three-Legged Mare, both run by the York Brewery. These are fantastic because of their commitment to great beer and sensible, conversation-friendly rules including no music and no children (I’m not a grumpy old man).

Other good options are Pivni and my favourite, York Tap which is located conveniently at the York rail station. Both have a great range of local and international beers at very reasonable prices. The decor at York Tap also makes me feel classy despite walking around York in the same hoodie for three days.

While not being technically the best tourist on my visit to York, I can say it is genuinely a beautiful and evocative place to just wander the streets. Even if you are just looking for the next craft beer pub, you can’t help but be blown away by the quaint, cobbled streets and the obvious pride taken in preserving its history. Here is one such street:

I know it isn’t cobbled but some of them are.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to York and jump back on the Megabus/train to London. I should also give a mention to Ace Hostel which, despite a rather rude guy who checked us in, was a very clean and comfortable place to stay at a reasonable rate.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were bade an inquisitive farewell by a local avian resident.

“If you don’t have any bread, get outta my town” seemed to be its message.

 

Thanks for reading, safe travels, and may all your umbrellas stay intact. J

Copenhatin’ that I have to go Home: Stick that in your Pun Pipe!

22 Jun

You’ll be glad to know this is the final post about Copenhagen for now. For I know all you hardcore fans really come here for those times when I have nothing “travely” to write about, and so just post things about Ludacris and pointless photos.

Let’s pick up where I’m pretty sure we left off. The day after The Stoo-dent-er-who’s-it we felt rather bushwhacked. So after a moderate sleep in, I went on my final nostalgic tour of Copenhagen. Basically I took my city bike (or someone else’s, I’m not sure) and visited places like where I used to live and where I used to go to class for four hours a week. I also visited the university cafeteria to have some smørrebrod (for old time’s sake).

I won’t bore you with any more details than that, because that would be like that relative at family functions who tells you about all those other relatives you never knew you had, and by the end of the conversation, wish you didn’t have.

Suffice to say that if I was less of a man, I would’ve been weeping in to my open sandwich. All those happy memories.

So anyway, one thing everyone should take note of is the cycling lanes and general respect for cyclists in Copenhagen. Seriously, take a longer-than-average glance at this picture.

Ahead and to the left is the parliament building, so I assume all these other cyclists are MPs.

That’s right, rather than London which has to crowbar cycling infrastructure into roads already barely wide enough for two Reliant Robbins, the Danes have roads with purpose-built separate bike lanes!

Manly weeping done, I ventured back across the city. After not too long, I found where my friend and I were to further embrace what the Danes will tell you they’re the best at. Beer. And thanks to the Mikkeller Brewing Company, they’re probably not exaggerating.

The Danish love affair with beer probably goes back to olden times (like, before zeppelins, skinny ties and emoticons) when the water in Copenhagen was so filthy, it was safer to brew it into beer before consuming it. I know this sounds like a classic, sharp-witted humourous story clearly concocted for the purposes of this blog. But there’s never been anything remotely classic, sharp-witted or humourous on this blog. I leave that to the experts. I assure you its true.

This meant it was common for a nice jug of beer to be placed in the kitchen (instead of water) for the whole family to enjoy all day long. This in turn meant it was forbidden to hold any important business meetings after noon, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, Danish command of brewing processes has now evolved to produce Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. His acclaimed brewery has now spawned a bar in the hipsterific suburb of Vesterbro, where you can sample 20 different brews on tap as well as their entire bottled range (huge). The bar looks like this:

And the beers look like this:

“Cheers to our wanky beer tasting, don’t hate it ’til you try it.”

The next morning it was time to say tearful goodbyes. For we knew we wouldn’t see each other for another three and a half weeks. Which is roughly how long it’ll before you can enjoy another “travel” post about Denmark. This time it’ll be about my selfless volunteering at the Roskilde Festival.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep this blog going with the usual quality you’ve all come to expect. Also in the meantime, book a trip to Denmark. It’s not cheap but it’s worth it.

Cheers for reading, safe travels. J

Hamburg 2: Judgement (of sausage) Day

19 Apr

Previously on BBS: I traveled to Hamburg and apparently spent most of the time writing things not about Hamburg. And now, the hopefully-more-relevant continuation (no promises):

With my Hamburger friend at work, the next day was a chance for me to explore on my own and confront my irrational fear of language barriers. Before we go on, in this context “Hamburger” means someone from Hamburg, though I must admit even I couldn’t help but imagine this:

The other hamburger friend

Hamburg’s public transport system is much like an unmanned farmer’s stall on a country lane. Honest people pay, but there’s little to stop you not paying. Unless you’re the unlucky one to be shot at from the porch for “helpin’ y’self  ta some corn bread”. I was honest, and after paying took a quick and efficient trip in to the city centre.

The city centre and shopping district is quite pleasant without being spectacular. There is a very impressive City Hall building, and imaginative tourists can spend a good few minutes wondering what this guy was pondering:

"Hmmm...I wonder why I have to rest my head on my arm when I've got the neck of a steroid abuser."

I must have questioned him for at least 10 minutes with no response. I spent the rest of the day either in Balzac Coffee or wandering around trying not to look like a tourist. Having come through Asia this was the first time in a while where I didn’t automatically look like a rube for every rose or crappy trinket salesman. To illustrate my point, I’m sure I did better than these people:

Surefire way to attract attention

Just seconds later, this unfortunate couple were mobbed by “tourist hunters”, and after a whirlwind of activity were left with nothing but a mini replica of City Hall and a St. Pauli football g-string for modesty. BBS top tourism tip: GPS on your iPhone will work with no internet connection if you load the map before you set off. Paper maps are the metaphorical equivalent of having “steal from me or sell me crap” tattooed on your forehead.

That evening I satisfied my main two objectives for the trip in the space of one well-chosen venue, the Groninger Privatbrauerei. To save my exhaustive description, here they are in telephotographic digital pictorials:

I asked for a side of sausage instead of salad but sadly they weren't having it

I was similarly transfixed when I saw the 10L table keg.

If there is a better reason to travel than these two things, I don’t want to know about it. The night (or possibly my friend) then took us to Hamburg’s famous Red Light District. Here you are certain to find authentic local bars, authentic local music, and authentic local venereal disease. Ever the cultural adventurer, I naturally had to experience two of these.

A few beers and quite a few songs later we found ourselves back on the train home. So ends the second installment in the Trilogy of Hamburgers. 

Oh and to make my flimsy movie-themed title make sense, at some point during the day I had a Krakauer sausage from one of the many fine outlets in the city. It was very tasty.

Safe travels as always, thanks for reading. J

COMING SOON TO BBS – H3: The Mighty Burgers (It’s getting hard to come up with different movie franchises)