The final holiday blog

bars

So, it’s my last day on holiday and I am leaving Sweden (for the time being).

I wanted to do a complete round up of bars in Gothenburg and Stockholm but due to some timing issues that didn’t quite happen. I’m sure I’ll achieve this at a later date but for now I have a review of another beer local to Gothenburgh and three of the bars I though stood out.

The beer in question is Poppels Bryggeri DIPA (Double India Pale Ale) which weighs in at 8.0%. Encased in a stubby this beer lets me relive a bit of my youth.

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The beer is a dark orange colour with a thin cream coloured head.

The nose is grapefruit and pine resin forward with a slight note of sweetness, following this are hints of red berry and a sweeter almost blood orange note. At the very end of the nose this is a light almost candyfloss or burnt sugar armoa.

The flavour is very pine and sweet citrus forward. There are notes of lime and blood orange which balance out the hugely bitter flavours which try to dominate. The finish has an almost jam sugar syrup sweetness which adds another dimension to what is a very well rounded and well balanced beer.

The finish is drying and the mouth feel is oily but this beer is still refreshing even at 8.0%!

This leads me rather nicely to part two of this blog in which I hope to encourage you (should you be lucky enough to visit this wonderful city) to visit some of my favourite bars.

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First on the list is Carnegie Kaj which is located in a Novotel but stay with me. The bar & hotel are situated on the site of the old Carnegie Porter Brewery in the Klippan area of the city. This was previously quite industrial area but is in a period of resurgence, with a number of artists collectives and cafes popping up in this beautiful area of town.

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The bar hosts a number of vintages of its own (Carnegie) porters, along with illustrious company from a number of choice porters/stouts from all over the world including Jester King and Great Divide to name just a couple. Sporting some of the finest views in the city this bar is very worthy of a visit and the area is great to explore too!

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Next is The Rover, based in the Järntorget area of the city. This bar is probably one of the most welcoming with friendly and very helpful bar staff. The tap list is something to behold with local and international beer of great quality from end to end!

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The food is also great quality and value, I indulged in a Gustafssons Burgare which was almost too much for me but tremendously tasty!!

The seats are comfortable and there is outdoor seating also should conditions prevail.

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Finally is Järntorgets Byrgghus. Home of a huge array of bottled and tap beer. Normally when I’m here I would only look at the tap list in a bar, but the bottle menu is wide ranging and the tap list is no slouch either. With a bar upstairs with a cellar which can be opened during busy periods this is the most spacious of the three bars.

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The seating is utilitarian and simple but this adds to the charm of this very clean and open bar. The staff are again friendly and knowledgeable and provide you with any information you need. The beers are a combination of Swedish and American with stand outs such as Pang Pang and Lagunitas on offer.

Should you need any more information or advice on other bars in the city please tweet me @MagnusMcKay and I’ll gladly help!

Back to sunny Scotland next!

Cheers!

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C.A.S.C – Cigars, Ale, Scotch & Coffee

bars

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Writing about bars isn’t always the easiest. It’s sometimes hard to grasp what someone is trying to express by looking at the interior of a chain bar, or someone trying to simply cash in on a trendy scene.

With this blog I had no such trouble, as soon as you walk in to this bar you can feel that a lot of thought, effort and feeling have gone in to making this bar theirs.

CASC is situated on Stirling street, a stones throw from Aberdeen city centre.

 

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CASC is run by father and son Bill & Paul West along with operations manager and whisky ambassador Aly Mathers.

The bar has 24 keg lines, a huge stock off bottled beer and over 200 whiskys and other assorted spirits.

As you walk in the bar you are welcomed in to a comfortable area with soft lighting. To the rear is a huge ever changing chalk board detailing the assortment of beers which are available on tap. Either side of the bar are two fridges heaving with domestic and international beers.

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Behind the bar are more fridges containing German and fruit beers crowned by what can only be described as a mountain of whisky, stretching as wide as the bar itself and as high as the roof!

 

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I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to the guys about how it feels to be running the bar now they are 21 weeks in.

 

How do you feel things are going after 21 weeks?

 

“It’s like every day is Christmas!” Paul proclaimed. “We had a vision of what our perfect bar would be like and we had no idea that so many people shared our vision”. They told me that when they started the bar they just wanted create a bar that was comfortable to them & full of the things they enjoyed.

Paul adds “It’s been great to see the way the public have responded to us and we’ve also been welcomed warmly by all the other bars in Aberdeen. No one sees us as competition just as friends”.

 

The beer!

 

Where some of the other bar in Aberdeen have a distinct focus on specific types of beer CASC have managed to avoid pigeon-holing themselves. Offering a range of beer from the likes of Adnams in Norfolk to Sigtuna in Sweden to the likes of Jolly Pumpkin in the USA, CASC have built up an eclectic mix of flavours and styles offering a wide range of choice to their customers. Along with this Paul and Aly encourage the staff to taste the beer.

 

Aly tells me “This allows their staff to become familiar and build up a flavour profile of the beer and therefore allow their staff to provide a great service to the customer”.  Which is nice to see, it’s not often that a bar owner is brave enough to let His/Her staff build up and share their opinions of the beer they sell. This in my own view allows not only a greater honesty between the staff and the customer, but with their employers too!

 

CASC are also the only bar I’m aware of who pride themselves on having a high quality range of non-alcoholic beers also which is really good to see….even  if I haven’t had any yet…….

We also spoke briefly about any beer events which would be coming up. They didn’t let much slip, simply telling me that some exciting stuff would be coming soon.

 

Having such an extensive & ever growing range means the guys are unwrapping boxes like little kids pretty much every day!

 

I asked them what their plans were in the future with their whisky range?

 

Aly “We plan to retain our focus on Scotch whisky, it’s not a difficult choice to make when you look at the sheer number of whisky producers on our doorstep and slightly further beyond. We are close to the heart of whisky country here so we have to take advantage of it!”

 

In addition to the monthly whisky club there will be a beer and whisky pairing menu chosen by the staff.

 

Cigars

 

Fitted with the only walk in humidor north of Edinburgh, CASC will soon host a huge variety of cigars from a number of countries and ages.

 

The guys plan to design a pairing menu of whisky and cigars.

 

Coffee

 

Brewing coffee using a syphon (A method invented in Germany in the 1800’s) allows Paul and Aly to make coffee to a standard higher than your high street coffee shop. A variety of beans are used and rotated weekly.

 

Paul then tells me that they plan to alter their opening hours in order to provide a morning coffee service.

 

 

The bar is a combination of things, a place to socialise, a place to read, to relax and enjoy whichever of these beverages take your fancy!

 

This is a bar more than worth a visit!

 

Cheers!!

It’s been marked on my calendar for weeks, a trip up to Inverness-shire & Ross-shire to visit two breweries and The Anderson’s extreme beer festival.

@beeryme and myself set of from Aberdeen train station on Friday just after 8am. After arriving in to Inverness just after 1030 we jumped on to a bus which took up took us the 25 minute trip in to Drumnadrochit.


Loch Ness Brewery 04/04/14

Our first port of call was the Loch Ness brewery which is located in Drumnadrochit. The brewery is around a 10 minute walk from the bus stop on Kilmore Road. As we walked in to the building we were greeted by Alan and Graeme who were running around like mad bees! While sparging (the step at the end of the mashing process where hot water is run through the grain bed to extract the wort) Alan explained that the brewery which was previously a British Legion bar is a stop gap until a new bespoke brewery is built

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We also spoke about the growth of breweries within the local area and their own brewery. Alan then spoke about growth from outside the UK with Victory and Sam Adams in the USA and a Russian company also wanting to distribute their product.

We were then shown around the brewery, I’m always surprised by how small these places are but compared  to the 2 barrel set up previously this 8 barrel set up must feel  huge!

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After being allowed to smell some of the gorgeous red ale which was fermenting in the tank we let the guys back to work!

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After this we walked down to the Benleva Hotel which was where the Loch Ness brewery started originally.  We shook the rain off and got settled next to the bar.

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The bar had three Loch Ness beers on cask, and to my delight they had the fantastic Caith Ness on along with four other guest beers.

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We were sadly unable to get a chance to talk to Steve or George as they were both snowed under with the business side of the brewery.

Just as we got settled in, it was time to head back to Inverness (this is a bar that I will be returning to)!!

After a quick stop in Inverness for a sandwich it was time to get the bus to Fortrose for The Anderson’s extreme beer festival.


The Anderson Extreme Beer Festival 04/04/14

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The bar opened it’s door just as we arrived at 1600. As we entered the bar we gazed at the list of amazing beer as can be seen below:

IN KEG:-

CROMARTY/SAND MAN HAWAIIAN LUAU (5.5%, Scotland) Collab brown ale fermented with BBQ pork and smoked, grilled pineapple (yes, meat beer!) 

TO ØL F*CK ART THIS IS ARCHITECTURE (5.0%, Denmark)  Ultra-hoppy Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with brettanomyces (editing is ours — we’re not very sweary)

MIKKELLER DRINK’IN THE SUN (1.4%, Denmark) American-style wheat “microbuzz” ale 

BREWDOG/EVIL TWIN HELLO MY NAME IS SONJA (8.2%, Scotland)  Collab double IPA brewed with fresh blueberries and Mosaic hops 

CROMARTY/TEMPEST CONE HEAD (7.4%, Scotland)  Lightly-spiced barley/oat/rye ale brewed with toasted pine cones and fermented with Ardennes yeast 

LEVAIN FRANKEN RYE BREAD SOUR (3.5%, England) Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with sourdough rye bread and fermented with wild yeast 

BROOKLYN CUVÉE DE BÔITE (8.2%, USA) Belgian-style grand cru brewed with lemon, saffron, crystalized honey, lime leaf & chile pepper 

MIKKELLER/BRODIE’S BIG MOFO STOUT (10.5%, England) Imperial stout “collab beer” brewed with liquorice & cranberries 

IN CASK:-

PILOT ICED TEA ALE (6.0%, Scotland) Pale ale infused with tea leaves and spiced with lemon grass 

SIREN 7 SEAS (6.0%, England)  Black wheat IPA seasoned with seven different ultrahops 

HIGHLAND IMPERIAL STOUT 2010 (8.0%, Scotland) Vintage imperal stout gently aged in The Anderson’s stone cellar 

MARBLE GINGER 5.1 (5.1%, England) Copper-colored ale infused with fresh ginger and spiced with clove & coriander 

IN BOTTLE:-

BREWDOG WATT DICKIE (35%, Scotland)  Ice-distilled hop-a-licious IPA — served in 25ml portions only – 

POPPYLAND CRAB APPLE SAISON (7.2%, England) Bottle-conditioned saison brewed with Norfolk barley and crab apples 

MIKKELLER MAD3 WEED BEER (3.5%, Denmark) American-style wheat beer brewed with fresh grass from Refshaleøen

DE MOLEN SPANNING & SENSATIE (9.8%, Hollland) Imperial stout brewed with cacao, chili peppers & sea salt 

HELLER AECHT SCHLENKERLA RAUCHBIER MAERZEN (5.1%, Germany)  A distinct taste of bacon from this old-school extreme beechwood-smoked lager 

(I’d do tasting notes for all of these but I’m only going to select a few to save people getting bored!)

The first beer I went for attracted me because of it’s general lunacy, Cromarty Brewing’s- Hawaiian Luau (keg), which is made with smoked and grilled pineapple and PULLED PORK! Yes, pulled pork. This has resulted in a beer that was definitely a crowd splitter.

The colour is cloudy orange/brown colour with a very thin white head.

The nose has pineapple notes, dark treacle, slight smoke, Jamaican ginger cake, dark cane sugar. There are notes of dark malt and spice but apparently none are put in??

On tasting start has a slight citrus prickle but this is followed by and almost greasy note. There are hints of smoke, pineapple and fruit sugar syrup. There are nips of sweet sugar and treacle too.

This coats your mouth like a soap sweet??

Next up was  Pilot – Iced tea ale (cask).

On appearance the beer is light amber – golden colour with a white head.

The nose has smoked tea note, small amounts of citrus, red berry, lemon skin, orange pith & light sugar.

On tasting there are mild floral notes, hints of smoke, light tea hints, lemon and orange pith.

The finish is very dry.

Poppyland – Crab apple saison (bottle).

Golden colour with a thin head from the bottle.

The apple is noticeable in the aroma even at a distance!! Hints of lemon and line with notes of sherbet also. There are notes of orange and herbs also.

Theres a huge smack of bitter apple, lime leaves, sherbet, lemon, white grape & elderflower.

Very dry finish!

The food as always to accompany these fantastic beers was just as good! I indulged in a beef hough stew which was just gorgeous!

After this it was time for the return trip to Inverness where I spent the night and rested for the next day!

After a night of a sofa I awoke feeling roughly 50 years older and got ready for a return to one of my favourite breweries!


Cromarty Brewing (05/04/2013)

After the winding bus ride we arrived in Davidston (5 minutes from Cromarty).

Craig greeted us along with the guys from six°north who had joined us.

Craig took us around the brewery showing us his in progress boiler room, which he is building at the same time as making his beer!

Since my last visit in February his brewery has grown to 16 barrel but again I imagine he is no where near reaching the demand for his beer!

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As I walked around I was stunned by the fact that even after more that 2 years all of his equipment glistens, you get the impression that Craig loves what he does so much he sits awake at night polishing the tanks.

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Then came the words I’d secretly waited for all day! Would you like to try some of the Kowabunga. This is the new American style pale ale, with a huge amount of American hops which created beautiful tropical fruit nose teamed with a really refreshing pineapple and mango hit!

After the guys from six°north and Craig had a chat about something…no idea what…but surely something exciting in the future!

It was sadly time to leave!

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After a wait for the bus it was back to Fortrose for the final part of the weekend!


The Anderson 05/04/2013

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Following trying the beers on the festival list the night before, it left me free to explore the phone book sized beer list! Contemplating my choices while tucking in to a Korean style 12 ounce burger I settled on a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops.

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This the 10.5% 2012 version, is and imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels has hints of dark chocolate, vanilla and chilli was just fantastic!

Then Jim Anderson appeared with a glass of Hair of the Dog’s Eve. An eisbock which weighed in at 12% and was bottled 18 years ago! The beer had held up well having thinned out and oxidised to the point of tasting like a very good port!

After a couple more beers and some great conversation it was sadly time to return to Aberdeen.

I can’t advocate going to enjoy the beery delights which are scattered around Inverness-shire & Ross-shire!

My thanks to @beeryme, Jim Anderson @TheAndersonUK, Craig Middleton @Cromarty Brewing & Steve, George, Alan and Graeme @lochnessbrewing along with everyone else who made this trip possible!!

Cheers!!

 

bars, Beer

The Hanging Bat!

bars

I was lucky enough to be one of people who descended on Lothian Road for the soft opening of The Hanging Bat bar.

As you come into the bar you are greeted by a comfortable wooden interior with low lighting and a mixture of wooden and leather seating. 
The bar itself is polished wood with 14 keg taps and 6 cask taps (the cask taps are crowned with wooden bats) and staffed by fantastically knowledgeable and friendly staff!
On this occasion there were 18 beers on cask and keg from breweries all based in the UK. Behind the bar there is also a glass fronted fridge containing some of the casks in one of the most fantastic displays I’ve seen in a bar in Scotland!
On premises there is also a brew kit which will be used to produce beer for the bar along with allowing some of the customers to brew their own beers under the supervision of the staff at the bar, this to me is not only a novel way of getting people into the bar but a tremendous way to educate people about beer! The first brew will be taking place next week!
While we were sitting in the bar we were not only treated to fantastic beer but some great food! The staff were making their way through the bar offering people chili dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and macaroni cheese. the food was of a very high standard and accompanied my glass of Tempest’s Brave New World perfectly!
The bar has also taken the idea of a tasting board to a whole new level. In exchange for £10 you will receive a third glass (which is yours to keep) filled with some fantastic beer and five bottle caps with the Hanging bat logo on them. Every time that you visit the bar subsequently you will receive another third of a beer of your choice in exchange for a bottle cap (two bottle caps for a higher ABV beer) which for those who enjoy tasting different beers is a great idea, for those who are trying different beers for the first time is an inexpensive way of making craft beer accessible! To me this is a simple idea with a touch of genius!
The bar will open officially on Monday the 19th of November and whether interested in beer or not please get yourself down there it may change the way you look at beer! 
A huge thank you to the staff, Chris and Bruce for working so hard and making this possible!
Cheers!