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Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 8

Edinburgh & Leith

My last full day in Scotland started with breakfast at Papii, and coffee at Lowdown Coffee. Then I was off to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. I knew there wouldn’t be any demonstrations of the actual camera obscura, but I didn’t expect it to be completely closed off for the public! So that left me with the World of Illusions—nice, but it wasn’t what I came for—and the observation deck, which at least gave me an interesting perspective onto Edinburgh.

The visit was over a bit quicker than I anticipated, but that at least meant I had time to revisit Oink for some pulled pork and crackling, and find a good spot to hear the One o’Clock Gun, and see the time ball drop on the Nelson Monument. I’ve been in Edinburgh a few times already, but somehow I’ve always missed it… I found a great position, one o’clock came, the gun blasted loudly, and the ball… did nothing!

Oh well, to Gladstone’s Land then, which is other than you might expect, a house. Each floor is redecorated and refurnished as it would have been in a certain period of its long life. Hats off to the NTS volunteers, enthusiastically telling the story of their floor, and pointing out all kinds of interesting tidbits.

Another coffee or two, at The Milkman this time, and it was time to discover Edinburgh’s bus network, and head over to Leith. Apparently, that’s where all the cool, new breweries open up (a taproom) or move to nowadays.

I actually went to two locations of Campervan Brewery: their Lost in Leith taproom, and their taproom—beer garden?—at the brewery itself. In between I tried to visit Pilot for a cheeky canny, but I didn’t think to check until what time their shop would be open…

Back in the centre of Edinburgh, I then headed to The Hanging Bat for a chicken club sandwich for dinner, and a beer, of course.

Then it was time for a special moment: my visit to the final Scottish BrewDog bar, BrewDog Lothian Road! Exactly one week after I entered the first Scottish BrewDog bar on my trip, I stepped into my last. It might sound silly, but I was actually even a bit emotional about it! Before I left, I collected the final stamp in my Beer Visa needed to complete the Flying Scotsman challenge.

As promised to the Fierce crew, I then finished the night at Fierce Bar Edinburgh, for my last beers on Scottish soil…

Flying Scotsman Trip – Day 2

Peterhead, Ellon, and back to Aberdeen

The second day in Scotland started—as it probably will a couple more times—at the Travelodge breakfast buffet. After that was time to fulfil the last Corona formality: taking the self test, and mailing it. It was even more extensive than the tests performed by professionals, probing both throat and nose! After I got rid of this biohazard, I still had time for an espresso macchiato at BrewDog Castlegate before my bus to Peterhead would leave.

I arrived at BrewDog Peterhead just after they opened, and managed to order the last Smokey Joe pizza, since they apparently ran out of smoked sausage. I was hoping to see some of local brewery Brew Toon, but neither bottle shop nor taproom was open… The bus I planned to take to Ellon afterwards, apparently didn’t run today, so I had some more coffee at Symposium Coffee while I waited.

Luckily the staff at DogTap was happy to change my booking, and when I arrived, the welcome was as warm as it could be, and I don’t just mean the indoor wood fires. They even had a goodie pack for me, because they felt sorry they couldn’t yet provide the tour I was hoping for! Seriously guys, thank you!

It was nice to have a slightly different menu here, and I really enjoyed the oak fired chicken. Frickles—fried pickles—however, are not really my thing. After devouring the chicken, I did my own tour, in the publicly accessible parts, that is. There’s even a indoor roof terrace with a view on the humongous canning line!

After I made it back to Aberdeen, my first stop was the Fierce Bar: quite a cosy bar, and a great tap list!

My last stop of the evening was at CASC. I didn’t try any of the cigars or whisky: just the beer did do just nicely. Even though they’re still only using less than half of their lines, among what was available, were some bangers!

A Belgian Holiday – Part II

For the second part of my Belgian holiday, I went to Wallonia. The beer world still seems to be a more old fashioned here—both when it comes to bars and breweries—but luckily there are some exceptions.

Liège

My day in Liège started again with a bit of a hike. The south of the country is a bit more hilly than the north, so there was a bit more climbing involved. At least that provided me with a couple of nice views as well!

After reaching the city centre again, it was time to nourish and refresh the body: coffee at Darius Cafe, a waffle—I was in Liège after all—from Une Gaufrette Superlipopette, and some beers at BeerLovers’ Café. I would have liked to have a couple at Wild Lab as well, but contrary to what they had told me before, they weren’t open…

Misery Beer Co.

Two days later I passed through Liège again, on my way to Comblain-la-Tour. From there I hiked to Misery Beer Co., as I did once before, but from a different direction this time, starting at the Comblain-La-Tour train station.

Once arrived at Misery, I spent a wonderful couple of hours there, enjoying a beer that had long eloped me, one that was just released that day, and some of their classics. If there’s one brewery I regret not participating in the crowdfunding of—”it’s in the middle of nowhere, I’ll never make it out there”—it’s this one… They always make me feel so very welcome, and their beers are outstanding!

A Belgian Holiday – Part I

Last Friday, I once again found myself in Bruxelles Midi station in a train. This time however, I wasn’t on a Eurostar, but on a regular Belgian, suburban train. I had some days off work for my long awaited Scotland trip, but since I didn’t feel like going into an expensive quarantine for ten days, I postponed that trip for the third—and hopefully last—time. Being quite the optimist when it comes to travelling however, I waited right until the last minute to make that decision, and by then it was already too late to cancel my days off…

Gueuzerie Tilquin

So I decided to stay in Belgium, the only place I could freely travel about, and last Friday, instead of whizzing underneath the Channel on my way to London, I was cycling alongside a canal, on my way to Gueuzerie Tilquin.

Strong headwinds, in combination with a heavy, 7-speed Blue-bike, made the trip a bigger effort than I envisioned, but the destination was worth it: Tilquin had been celebrating their ten years of existence over the past couple of weekends, and this weekend was the last one. I enjoyed a couple of flights, and had a chat with Pierre, before the winds—and a train from Halle—took me home again.

Leuven

On Saturday I took a train to Leuven, or actually to Veltem, two stops before Leuven’s main station. That way I could get a couple of kilometres under my belt, before reaching my destination of the day: beer shop Hops ‘n’ More, which was hosting a tap takeover by Croatian brewery Nova Runda. The walk to Leuven was nice enough, and mostly dry, but by the time I reached the center, it was pouring down… I even had to cover my beers while heading for shelter under a just-too-tiny terrace umbrella, to prevent them from diluting too much!

Ghent

On Saturday I went to Ghent. There are plenty of beery places there I’d been longing to revisit since lockdown started again, but a day in Ghent of course had to start with a nice coffee, accompanied by a donut this time, at Full Circle Coffee.

Then onwards to Dok Brewing Company, Brouwbar, and Bar Beenhouwer, while enjoying some more sights on the way. Luckily, the weather was a whole lot more pleasant—and dry—than the day before!

Brewery Run Virtual Edition

I’ve started running a little over a year ago, but didn’t have an opportunity to participate in any events: the 20K of Brussels was postponed, then cancelled, and even the ‘corona safe’ Run for Nature in the Sonian Forest was cancelled last minute…

When Brewery Run popped up in my timeline, I just had to do it! Travelling to the Netherlands for one of the ‘live’ versions still wasn’t an option, but at least I could do the ‘Virtual Edition’ right at home, in Brussels. So I ordered a ‘ticket’—which included some Dutch beers and a medal/bottle opener—and set out a nice 10K route, visiting eight of Brussels’ breweries.

Liège & Manoir de Harzé

With one round trip left on my free government issued Rail Pass, and a museum assignment to complete, I decided to go to La Boverie, a museum in Liège, so I could take a nice walk in the Ardennes afterwards. So this dreich Sunday, I got on a rather empty train to Wallonia and spent my morning in the museum, and fruitlessly walking through the city looking for an open espresso bar.

In the afternoon I travelled on to Aywaille, and walked to Manoir de Harzé, home to the great Misery Beer Co., which I had visited before last summer. I had rain, hail, and sunshine during my hike, but it was sure nice to be able to be outside, in woods and fields, without a mask. Upon arrival, I had a couple of cold beers (the shop was still open, and I bought a glass as well), before heading home again with a backpack full of beer…

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!

More Breweries and Brewers

After those breweries and taprooms, and before visiting some more, I needed some sustenance, and that came in the form of this delicious Kalbsleber Berliner Art, at Gaststätte Deichgraf.

I then proceeded to the next brewery, Eschenbräu, but their beer garden was full, and there was already a line of people waiting for a seat, so I decided to immediately move on to the next stop.

Luckily, there was still plenty of space inside at Vagabund Brauerei, so I enjoyed a couple of beers there. Afterward I went looking for their new Kesselhaus which was supposed to be not too far from the taproom, but somehow I couldn’t find it… As it turned out, I was mere meters from spotting it, but I’ll have to check it out next time.

The last to-visit place was the Schneeeule Salon für Berliner Bierkultur, the perfect place to drink some Berliner Weiße in the company of the brewer herself! I wasn’t even aware that this place existed before my trip—understandably, since they didn’t even have their official opening yet—but I was very happy to be able to end my evening here!

Brewery Day!

My last day in Berlin starts with a slightly unconventional brunch: döner kebab! Different location—Hisar Fresh Food this time—but basically the same planning as about a year ago, when BrewDog organised its first European AGM in Berlin.

Although never even officially announced, this exact Saturday the second edition was supposed to take place, and even though this isn’t happening for obvious reasons, I decided to go to the brewery anyway. Still no S-Bahn station in front of the premises, so it was a bit of a walk again.

I had taken a tour the last time I was there, but it was only a short version, and at the time they hadn’t even started brewing their own beers yet. So I decided to take the tour again: the full version this time. The included tasting gave me the opportunity to try some of the beers brewed there, and after that DogTap still had a couple of beers on draught I hadn’t tried yet.

But I wouldn’t have called this post “Brewery Day” just for visiting one brewery: on the opposite side of town—after a coffee at Stück vom Glück— I also visited Two Fellas, and Bräugier, and there are some more to come after dinner!

Back in Berlin

So almost exactly a year after my last visit, I’m back in Berlin! After checking into easyHotel Berlin—same as last year—and dropping off my baggage, it was time to get some food in my belly.

When I visited Berlin the very first time, I already visited Markthalle Neun, At the time, they were already closing, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to check out the market itself. This time round, however, it was Street Food Thursday, meaning the food stalls were open late! Of course, brewery Heidenpeters was still there to provide me with some beer to accompany my dinner…