I report on my recent trip with TheBeerNut to Leuven for the (main) purpose of acting as Beoir delegates at the 47th EBCU (European Beer Consumers Union) meeting. I was unable to fly to Brussels until the evening of Thursday so by the time I arrived at the first venue of the weekend (M-Café) the delegates had assembled and were at an advanced stage of sampling the beers on offer. It is a wake-up call when you get to a country like Belgium and find a museum café that has 80 different beers on offer!
The following morning we assembled at 8.30 to walk to the Stella Artois brewery for the EBCU meeting.
Having previously told us about Bateman's of Wainfleet, James Keane was back in England this summer and took the Meet the Brewer tour at the Old Brewery premises of the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, London.
We arrived to Greenwich and we had a look around the Old Brewery bar and restaurant. The premises are shared with a historical centre. We arrived a little early and took a good look around. Our initial impression was that no brewing was taking place here at all and that this was a flagship bar used for publicity and marketing. Happily we were soon proved wrong!
I am a somewhat frequent visitor to Kent so I thought I should take the time to visit Faversham and the oldest surviving brewery in the world, particularly since I do enjoy many of their offerings and eagerly await the start of each new season for the seasonal specials. However I was aware that not everyone on the IrishCraftBrewer site is a fan and that the burning question for some time has been: why clear glass in the bottles and not brown to avoid skunking?
Armed with my ICB t-shirt and my brother-in-law for moral support I showed up at the visitor centre on Saturday morning. The tour starts, as many of these things do, with a short video presentation on the history of the site and brewing in Kent. The guide then elaborated that it had been thought that brewing started here in 1698 but recent papers discovered had shown brewing taking place on the site as far back as 1500.
I made the tour but missed the food - though luckily due to a few people being absent we got our tour given by the very knowledgeable Dave Phillips.
The tour starts in the reception and a quick history of the brewery is given. This began with the explanation that the brewery was started by a farmer purchasing the Crowe Brewery in 1880. Unfortunately only a couple of sentences' reference was given to the famous 'Mr. George', the buy-out in 1987 and the subsequent formulation of the 'Victory Ale'. (I would highly recommend watching Michael Jackson's The Beer Hunter to get a real sense of the romance of this tale.) Further information on the complete history is in the links below.
First stop was the Maris Otter and the malted barley. We were brought straight upstairs to the malt stores. The germination and roasting process was explained, this is where my lads got involved - they got to pass around the barley at different stages of roasting - I was pleasantly surprised with the level of detail the tour was taking!
If Carlsberg were in charge of tourism for the city of Copenhagen, “Probably Eastern Denmark’s Best Beer Destination” might be the slogan that they would choose to advertise to the rest of the world. Even though Carlsberg (and Tuborg) may be one of the first things that comes to people’s minds when the city of Copenhagen comes up, luckily there is a lot more than Danish lager to offer a beer tourist on a trip to the capital of Denmark. I should issue this disclaimer before I go any further though: although I’ve spent the last five years living in Dublin, I grew up in western Michigan drinking Midwest craft beers such as Bell’s and Founder’s, am married to a Danish woman, and have studied, visited and worked in Copenhagen here and there over the past ten years. So basically, in this article, I’ll compare Copenhagen to Dublin and I’m partial to hoppy Indian/American Pale Ales that are fairly popular among Danish craft breweries.