I’ve started running a little over a year ago, but didn’t have an opportunity to participate in any events: the20K 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.
When in 2020 all bars had to close their doors mere day’s before Saint Patrick’s Day, I didn’t celebrate it at all. For this year’s edition it was already clear well in advance that celebrating in pubs again wouldn’t be an option, but at least I had time to prepare for an alternative!
I started the day with a walk—in my saffron kilt—past a lot of the Irish and Celtic pubs of Brussels. Even Manneken Pis was dressed for the occasion!
When I was back home, I started cooking a traditional Irish dish, that would hopefully also provide enough sustenance for the beery night that would ensue: colcannon. I even poached an egg for the first time!
The main event of the evening however, was an online Saint Patrick’s Day celebration which I co-hosted, on the Discordserver I set up for my beer blog. For this occasion I sourced some beers from a couple of different Irish (Third Barrel, Galway Bay, Stone Barrel) and Northern Irish (Boundary) breweries, and the only Irish dry stout by a Brussels brewery: Stouterik!
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…
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 OverWorks‘ Hocus 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!
No hours spent on trains and buses on Christmas Day this year, the Corona restrictions and common sense made it impossible to travel to the Netherlands to spend Christmas with my family… Instead, I just made the best of it alone at home, trying to recreate a family Christmas as much as possible.
It started of course with a Christmas brunch! I didn’t go through the trouble of creating some—impossible to find here—Limburgish sausage rolls, but just baked some croissants, and had a couple of slices of Christmas stollen.
The previous day I baked my very own kersttulband for the very first time, and it turned out quite well!
Obviously I had to make Christmas dinner myself as well, if I wanted to have a meal at least similar to that of my family. I also set up my computer, so I could at least virtually pull up a chair and sit down at the family table.
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…
After a good night’s sleep in my own bed, while enjoying a lovely hearty breakfast atFrank.—something that was really hard to find near my hotel in Berlin—I’m reflecting on the last couple of days.
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 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!
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?
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!
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.
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 GaststätteDeichgraf.
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!
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, andBräugier, and there are some more to come after dinner!
I felt like chicken tonight—not the sauce popular in the nineties—so I went to Die Henne, where they basically serve one dish: half a crispy fried chicken. Just add some Kartoffelsalat, and that’s a meal!
Tonight’s bars were HOME Bar, and the best place to end the night—at least that’s what I’ve been told—Protokoll. There I met up with friends I already knew, and friends I had just met, and I stayed there until half past three…
I started the day with coffee and an almond croissant at Bonanza Coffee. I visited their roastery café before, on a very rainy last day during a previous trip, but their espresso bars are even nicer to visit.
Since I had already visited most regular museums in Berlin, I decided to go underground this time, and went on a Berliner Unterwelten tour. The theme of the tour was Dark Worlds, giving us an insight in the life of the average Berlin citizen during the WWII air raids that destroyed up to 80% of the city centre. Unfortunately, taking photos was not allowed, so you’ll have to take the tour yourself, if you want to see how it was…
Originally I planned to have lunch at Mogg, since I had heard good things about this place, but apparently they only accept cash, and I didn’t have any. So I went for dessert straight away, at Samy’s Berliner Pfannkuchen Cafe, for a Pfannkuchen, the doughnut-like pastry typical for the city. Although my salted caramel version was slightly less typical…
From then on, I slowly moved onto craft beer territory again, but since Kaschk is both an espresso bar and a craft beer bar—how cool is that?—I started my afternoon with another espresso macchiato.
The remainder of the afternoon I visited Lager Lager and the Biererei. The first one is actually a beer shop, but luckily they also serve serve beers—draught as well—to drink at the terrace!