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Author: Martijn

Happy Hogmanay!

This evening once again I mixed traditions. 

Tartiflette is actually a French dish, but it’s also a staple at the Christmas market, that under normal circumstances, would have been right in front of my door for the past month. Chêne, a Belgian dubbel by Brussels brewery La Source, fits nicely with the nuttiness  of the reblochon cheese, and with the the caramelisation of the bacon.

For dessert I went with oliebollen, a typical Dutch New Year’s Eve delicacy. Unlike the Belgian deep fried dough balls smoutebollen, these have raisins and currants in them, which I off course soaked in beer first!

With this sugar and fat overload, I had to choose a beer with enough character to withstand this sensory overload, so I picked OverWorksHocus Pocus, a 10.1% sour stout with raspberries and cocoa nibs, aged in Speyside whisky barrels. It was like having a raspberry-chocolate sauce on the side!

A Special Saint-V…

Today, the 20th of November, is Saint-V, the day when the VUB and ULB students and alumni celebrate the foundation of the free universities of Brussels, and what they stand for.

This year the celebrations mostly take place online for understandable reasons, but that doesn’t keep me from wearing my traditional ‘studentenklak’ on this special day!

Every year special medals are made for the occasion, carrying that year’s motto. The Dutch version of the current edition would translate as “At a distance, but not distant”…

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is not really a holiday I celebrate, but the mask seemed appropriate for the times we live in…

Don’t call the mask medieval, by the way: it is based on those of the now iconic 17th century plague doctors.

Become an Equity Punk!

In a few blog posts I’ve already mentioned I’m a BrewDog Equity Punk. This means I’ve invested a couple of pounds in BrewDog, and own some equity shares in the Scottish craft beer brewer and bar operator. Since they’ve just launched another round of Equity for Punks, and it’s announced to be the very last, I thought I’d share a thing or two about it, and maybe entice you to seize this final opportunity to become an Equity Punk yourself!

Of course, I’m not being entirely selfless here: if you invest using the button below this post, there might be a couple of beers and goodies in it for me…

Berlin & Hamburg Trip: Afterthoughts

After a good night’s sleep in my own bed, while enjoying a lovely hearty breakfast at Frank.—something that was really hard to find near my hotel in Berlin—I’m reflecting on the last couple of days.

Berlin

So Berlin started out as just a small part of a bigger trip, as a short stop mainly to attend BrewDog’s—obviously cancelled—second European AGM, but became the main destination of the whole trip. That meant I all of a sudden started to add a lot of places to my must-visit list, probably more than reasonably fitted in the limited time I had, even after adding an extra night to my stay. So the trip has been quite an exhausting and—quite literally—intoxicating experience, and had better been spread out over yet another extra day or so.
That being said, I’m quite happy I eventually got to go on a trip after all, and even managed to visit most of the places I intended to!

It has been nice to see some bars and breweries I hadn’t yet been to, but I was particularly happy to be able to attend two ‘soft openings’, notably those of the Manifest Taproom, and of the Schneeeule Salon. Since I only heard about those places just before or during my trip, they were really squeezed in my schedule, but they definitely both deserve more time next time in Berlin!

Another place I’ll be staying quite a bit longer next time, is Bräugier. These guys make incredible beers, and I would have tasted everything on the tap list, if I had had more time!
Not new for me, but definitely worth staying until the early hours of the morning—I stayed until 3:30 this time—is the already classic Protokoll!

Hamburg

Hamburg definitely deserves more time to discover! Because I was in such good company, I stayed at BrewDog St Pauli quite a bit longer than planned, and didn’t get to visit any other beer bars…
Next time I’ll book at least one night in a hotel, so I can discover a bit of the nightlife as well!

Stamps

So I managed to get a stamp both in my BrewDog Beer Visa—in BrewDog St Pauli—and my Mikkeller Passport—in Mikkeller Bar Berlin. But I actually gave out more stamps than I received: now customer registration is mandatory in bars and restaurants due to COVID-19, my stamp with my name, e-mail address, and phone number saved me a lot of precious time, and got me quite a few looks from staff and other customers!

Speaking of COVID-19: the Berliner people seem to wear their masks better where required—which is only on public transport and inside buildings when not eating or drinking—than the people of Brussels… I guess that is just the same kind of discipline they also display in traffic?

In conclusion…

All by all, even though this was already my third trip to Berlin, it will certainly not be my last! Actually, now I know more and more people over there—of which some I got to meet this time, others will have to wait until my next visit again—I can see this becoming at least a yearly occurrence!

IC Hamburg – Köln & ICE Köln – Brussel

Train route from Hamburg to Brussels, over Köln

My first leg of the journey was on an IC train. I’m not sure if it’s typical for this type, but it felt quite a bit older: lots of fake wood, actual curtains, no airconditioning… Next time I’ll try to make sure I only book ICEs!

And like it was on purpose, to rub in the fact that I had to cancel a large part of my trip, there was a ÖBB Nightjet waiting in Köln station!

The last leg was a proper ICE again, and even in seat 61! Perfect temperature, comfy seat, loads of space, and Komfort Check-in again! No clue how they actually check it, but every time I used it, they’ve always passed me by during ticket control.

Well, that was it, I’m almost back home! Hopefully next trip will be a bit longer again…

Four Hours in Hamburg

So what do you eat when in Hamburg? #RedHerringAlert Apparently the most typical thing to eat is Fischbrötchen, so that’s what I had once I reached the docks. I first had one with Fischfrikadelle, but although nice, it felt a bit like cheating: it’s just like cold fish fingers with tartare sauce on a bun. So for the next one I picked the real thing: Kräutermatjes, or spiced, soused herring!

My after-lunch coffee was at Playground Coffee. Unfortunately they were only serving in single-use cups—why?—and I wasn’t quick enough to offer them my KeepCup

Then it was finally time to get a new stamp in my Beer Visa, at BrewDog St Pauli! There I also had the pleasure to chat with Paddy, whom I had thus far only seen in a couple of Zoom beer talks, organised by BrewDog during the severest weeks of lockdown… I had scheduled time for just a short visit to Hamburg, so after that pleasant meeting, I had to hurry to the train station again.

ICE Berlin – Hamburg

Train route from Berlin to Hamburg

This Sunday morning I was in Berlin Hbf again. No, I wasn’t there to catch a train home yet, but one to Hamburg first. I was a bit early—getting up and checking out of your hotel can be so much quicker when you’re travelling alone 😉—but luckily I found a nice coffee place just outside the station, Tucano Coffee.

Now it’s just a short ride to Hamburg, so I’ll be arriving there soon!