European Beer Experience

Posted on August 30, 2010


Without doubt going to the UK to a friends wedding I didn’t expect too much from the dearth of Scottish or English beers, but I definitely came away with a strong and good understanding. Scotland is known for Whiskey and to Americans for their BrewDog brewery. The UK is known for beer, and a growing legion of ‘Real Ale’ fans, so I took it upon myself to spend several days in bars throughout Liverpool & Manchester. Currently now in France that is not a beer culture, more Vino than Biere.

First stop was Amsterdam for a 7 hour layover but luckily I ran into a Pub called Gollem Cafe.. where I was able to have my first Westvleteren 12 in a friendly bar in the town centre. It was soon followed by a few beers at the bartenders choosing including his choice of Mardsous 10, which was nice. NO the Westy is not the best beer in the world but the story of how the beer is made is.

After the wedding in St Andrews I made my way to Liverpool to meet up with a close beer mate named Andy. He pretty much took me on a sunny sunday afternoon to a hotel to dump my bags and off we went. Some various shots of the journey and great pubs is shown first.

Some of great bars of the UK have some amazing history, and the ceramic bathrooms in this pub in Liverpool put most to shame. What I found staggering is due to the emense history in many pubs most were not updated, and the bathrooms were not more than a small crawl space at the back or bottom of the pub. I definitely learnt what pubs should be like, and it gave me more of an idea that Pubs are for men in the UK much like they are in Australia. I never once saw 2 women sharing drinks in a bar like you do in the US or Canada.

So Bartenders pulling beer on Cask is the point of this UK journey to let my mate Andy show me what its meant to be like. In the US & Canada its rare to drink anything under 6-8% in the craft beer market, but in the UK it’s pretty much all between 3.7-4.7% with the higher strength beers in the 5-6% range.

Have to admit though when i woke the next day after touring about 15 pubs and drinking pints/half pints in all of them I was not feeling too bad. I could never do that in Canada.

Out of the bars I had to say the Ship & Mitre in Liverpool and the Marble Arch in Manchester as my 2 favorite experiences. I do not think all British beer is bad, but I think many of the beers are stuck in a timewarp without experimenting. I saw a lot of bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale, and even that beer on tap in many places, but the Pale Ales & IPA’s in the UK were not as hoppy as the US counterparts. I resorted to drinking Belgian beers in several places something I didn’t want to do, but when the beer is shit I don’t care how much it costs I’m not drinking it. I also feel some bars I spoke with didn’t want to change too much as it would upset the regulars, well then you end up seeing images like this one .

Now that I’m in France I’m mainly drinking Wine as that is also what this trip is about, my belated honeymoon in a Wine country that I love. But we’re  hitting Belgium in a few days which will be about the beer again.

Drinking Leffe & Affligem on Tap is not hard to do as its the most available pours across France. I was lucky enough to stumple upon a bar called ‘Charlies’ in Montpellier in Southern France that had 14 taps of French & Belgian beers. But again it was empty and everyone was sitting outside in the sun drinking Heineken & Leffe in a cafe.

Posted in: Belgium Beer