355. St Feuillien Blonde

No opportunity to try new things spared, my last shot at another Belgian beer (whilst in Belgium anyway) was found at the airport. Definitely the most novel of airport canteen drink fridges, it was stocked full of all kinds of crazy, and boutiquey looking beers. At least in comparison to the normal airport serve-yourself type canteen things!

Airports are apparently the only places where it is internationally socially acceptable to drink on your own, so I grabbed the most funny looking, odd shaped, novel one I could. Not bad either.




353. Jupiler Beer & Mini Keg Shenanigans

For Pukkelpop we of course had to stock up before hand on pre drinks, and few things are more cost effective than beer in Belgium. At the supermarket, all of the major breweries all sold these mini 5L kegs, which we thought was just the most novel thing! Slightly more than buying in cans, but we thought “when in rome.” Also the first time I’ve tried Jupiler before. I’m not really a beer drinker so once again my critique goes as far as ‘it was ok.’IMG_5448 (640x480) We were reunited with the campervan once again (we’d roped in Claire’s brother to be our driver by that stage, as our licenses were still not recovered nor were replacements able to be sent from NZ or any other documentation able to be provided). The van had a mini fridge in it, and much hilarity ensued when we discovered the keg fitted perfectly into the fridge! Tapping it was most definitely an exercise in logic, with only a funny shaped plastic thing and a rubber tube to work with. There were probably instructions in Flemish or something, but it took us a while without an IKEA type instructional illustration…IMG_5447 (480x640) (2) IMG_5446 (640x480) (2) We also bought one of these cheap, mini pop up tents, which, apparently, every other festival goer had too. There were just fields and fields of that same tent! Ours was the green one to the left, and when we woke up in the morning, immediately on the other side of the fence behind was an entire herd of cattle there waking us up with their mooing.IMG_5449 (640x480)

344. The Best Beer In The World. Apparently…

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Supposedly, Belgian bar Delirium is home to the Best Beer In The World, Westvleteren 12. I’m not entirely sure who makes such a decree, but I thought I ought to give it a try.

The bar was really cool, with a very industrial, inner-workings-of-a-brewery feel to it. Though I’ll be honest, I could barely taste the difference between the top beer and the cheapest house beer on the menu.IMG_5221 (640x480)IMG_5220 (640x480) IMG_5222 (640x480)
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321. Spanish Beer

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On arrival in Barcelona, after a massive and much needed sleep (airport benches are not that comfortable, it turns out) we went for a wander to find some food and drink. We were actually staying at an airport hotel just out of Barcelona which was a very good balance of cheap + comfortable, compared to an inner city hostel, and it had free shuttles into the city. I’m officially converted to the ways of airport hotels! The downside was being in the middle of an industrial area. About a 30min walk away was a wee town? suburb? I’m not quite sure, called Viladecans, where we found a great selection of tapas bars. Being in the middle of nowehere it wasn’t at all watered down and touristy, and as well as being super cheap (€1.60 for a beer + tapas!) we were later delighted by the locals who bought their guitars along to provide their own entertainment. So with a much needed drink in hand, I sampled my first Spanish beer to the tune of some local music and had some delicious pre dinner snacks (which was lucky, because nowhere served food until after 9pm).IMG_4338 (640x480)

292. Release of the Danish Christmas Beer

IMG_8281 (480x640)There should be a giant sign at the Danish border that says “Be warned: you are now entering Beer Country.”

The Danes love beer like a fat kid loves cake. And at Christmas, the breweries bring out all their Christmas beers. Tuborg in particular does a massive marketing push, with the release of their Christmas Beer being a massive event all over town on the first Friday of November. It used to be a Tuesday, but apparently workplaces and Universities nationwide were unimpressed with Wednesday’s productivity.

Most bars in town will have a free keg of the Christmas beer to give away from exactly 8:59pm. From 8:56pm there was quite the mosh pit at the bar, but in an orderly Danish kind of way, as patrons competed to be the first to taste the slightly darker Tuborg. Once the keg had been given away, the natural progression from there was the limbo, and the more Danish Shnaps.IMG_8275 (640x480) IMG_8270 (640x480) IMG_8300 (640x480) IMG_8307 (640x480) IMG_8335 (640x480) IMG_8349 (640x480) IMG_8356 (480x640) IMG_8358 (640x480) IMG_8359 (640x480)

Just as I thought the free beer fun was over, suddenly a bunch of blue santas turned up and were handing out bottles, unloaded direct from the giant Christmas Tuborg truck. IMG_8362 (480x640) IMG_8363 (480x640) IMG_8366 (640x480) IMG_8368 (480x640) IMG_8369 (480x640) IMG_8371 (480x640) IMG_8373 (640x480) IMG_8375 (480x640) IMG_8379 (640x480)

The madness didn’t stop there, though, as we arrived in town later on to find even MORE blue santas, and a selection of other bars giving out Christmas beers from other breweries.IMG_8381 (480x640) The most entertaining part of the night was when people started drunkenly confessing that despite all the hysteria and excitement, most of them don’t actually like the Christmas beer!

253. A True German Beer Garden

In Englischer Garten we found ourselves at the “Chinesischer Turm” (Chinese Tower), the second largest beer garden in Munich.

The history of the Beer Garden, so I’m told, is that brewers were only allowed to brew in winter (in the early 19th century). In order to keep their beer cool for sale in summer, they stored it in cellars along the river Isar under the shade of the trees. These areas soon became popular drinking spots, and a law was enacted in 1812 to allow/encourage the sale of food, thus bringing to life the beer garden.

Whilst there are self service beer/food kiosks at the beer gardens, you can actually bring your own food/drink and have a wee picnic at the tables.

At the Chinesischer Turm, named after the Chinese Tower in the middle (which is actually modelled on the “Great Pagoda” in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London), we were delighted by an Omm-pah band as well as a lovely leafy green area full of tables and chairs, and a little self service kiosk full of Hofbrau beer and bretzels, among other famed (clichéd?) German delicacies.

205. Das Boot

For anyone that has seen the movie beerfest, there is a quite hilarious scene where the lead characters are challenged to drink a beer out of a glass in the shape of a boot as fast as possible without it splashing in their faces. Our hostel, Grand Hostel Berlin, happened to have a wee deal on beer served in such a vessel. The incredibly enthusiastic bartender explained to us it was actually a drinking game, where a group each drinks as much as they can out of the boot, and if it splashes you in the face or you are the last to finish, you lose and have to buy the next one. We thought to ourselves, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so naturally we gave it a go. I found it was actually quite easy to drink it neatly if you just turned it on the side…

116. Sexist Beer

Tromso is home to the world’s northernmost brewery – Mack’s Brewery. I thought that was a little coincidental, given there’s a Mac’s in New Zealand, where you’ll also find a (different) brewery laying claim to the world’s southernmost brewery in the thriving metropolis that is Invercargill.

Anyway, the Brewery tours weren’t open on the weekend but the bar was, so we decided to pop inside for a warmup drink around 1 or 2pm. And it was one of the more interesting customer service experiences I have had, all thanks to a man I like to call  “presumptuous bartender.”

He probably thought of himself more as some kind of beer oracle. As we walked up to the bar, we asked him for a couple of pints of Arctic Beer. Mostly for the novel name. The rest followed something like this:

Presumptuous Bartender: No you don’t want that.

Harriet: I think I do, I just ordered it.

Presumptuous Bartender: You can get that anywhere in town, have one of the beers that can only be sold here.

Harriet: Let me guess, they are more expensive?

Presumptuous Bartender: Well this one here (points to main beer on tap) is our award-winning beer, much better than Arctic Beer.

Ryan (sensing a scene): OK I’ll have one of those then

Harriet: Ok fine me too.

Presumptuous Bartender: No you (points to me) can’t have that one. You can have the ladies beer.

Harriet: The what?! And why can’t I have the other one?

[Note: I really don’t like being told (as opposed to helpful recommendations) what to order. And I really really don’t like being told I can’t have/do the same thing as a male for no good reason, so this guy was really grinding my gears]

Presumptuous Bartender: This one has won awards too, and girls seem to really like it. It is slightly lighter blah blah trivial beer stuff

Harriet (getting irritated and wanting to sit down): OK fine just give me your sexist beer then!

Presumptuous bartender: [has the audacity to look offended]

Sexist beer to the right