Disco Stu’s European beer adventure
Hi, my name is Stuart Whytcross (disco stu) from Griffith NSW. I have been all-grain brewing for about two years now. In October last year I was introduced to the Canberra Brewers Club by Dicko at the Nationals. I was amazed to find so many other people as passionate about brewing as myself, and so the next day I became a member of the National Champions!
Being 350kms from Canberra, I have yet to attend my first Canberra Brewers meeting, but I still manage to get to Canberra quite regularly. Since joining the Club my brewing has dramatically improved as well as my enjoyment of the hobby. The friendship and knowledge I have gained from members on visits to Canberra, the forum, ‘The Ferm’ and competitions has been extraordinary to say the least.
The selection of souvenirs I was able to bring back in my luggage.
Unlike last Europe trip I decided not to bring beers back, due to extra
weight and customs declarations (and also one breaking in my bag!)
This year i’d like to share with you a selection of highlights of my recent six week European winter beer adventure that myself and wife Leigh (a Winemaker) experienced in December 2009 and January 2010 and also four weeks in January 2009. Now by this stage you’re probably wondering why anyone would travel to Europe at this time of year to drink beers in temperatures as low as -16°C? Well there is a simple answer. I am a high school teacher so my travels revolve around school holidays. But there are also plenty of other advantages of traveling to Europe during winter:
- There are less tourists, particularly an advantage for places such as Munich, which during summer time is crowded with loud drunk obnoxious Australians and American tourists (according to a local I met), he went on to tell me how the streets are covered in spew and the metro has a constant spew and urine smell. Many of the popular places are still quite crowded in winter, but they are crowded with many more regulars and locals, and their dogs!
- Hotels, restaurants, museums, flights, transport etc are all noticeably much cheaper in winter.
- You get to experience many of the local bock, strong, Christmas, winter, special beers.
- Much of the cuisine, particularly German, ie Schweinshaxe (hot roasted pork knuckle) tastes much better on a winters day!
- Where else can you sit by a fire, looking at snow outside enjoying a pint?
Fuchschen Alt Bier in Dusseldorf
There are obvious examples of the down sides to traveling Europe in winter, however do not be put off by the cold, snow and short days. A Europe winter is a true experience. Armed with my home made beer tasting booklet, a camera, a selection of beer travel books and a small pocket sized version of the bjcp beer style guidelines, I set out to discover many of the origins of beer styles today.
“Real Ales” hand pumped Casked beers at ‘The Harp’ in London
Over the year I hope to show you some highlights of my trip and also some of the history, beer culture, brewery/beer/pub and food reviews (and maybe a few proper pronunciations) from many renowned beer havens and some other lesser known ones across Europe. But most of all I hope to inspire you to experience some of these fantastic places for yourself.
Me and my tasting booklet in Schlenkerla tavern.
In no particular order, well there is some logic to the order, that being I want to show you the Rauchbier, Bockbier, real ales etc. during our winter time to help you get a better feel of the beers and beer culture. So unfortunately you will have to wait for some of my personal favourites until later in the year:
- Nederland’s and Heineken
- Whiskey and Brewery tours in the Scottish Highlands.
- North Rhine Part 1-Cologne’s Kolsh’s
- North Rhine Part 2-Dusseldorf’s Alt
- In search of Bavaria’s best hefe-weizen
- Rauchbiers of Bamberg
- Munich and the Big 6
- Pub walks through some of London’s best “Real Ale Pubs”.
- The Bière de Garde’s of France.
- Italy and Spain.
- Those crazy Belgians.
The Churchill Arms Pub near Kensington, London.
Next edition; Nederland’s and Heineken – I show you Brouwerij ‘t IJ, and also the old Heineken brewery in Amsterdam, as well as some fantastic bars and plenty of Dutch beers with a strong Belgian influence. In my travels I have gathered plenty of beer related books, maps, brochures and pamphlets that I am more than happy to share with anyone thinking of planning a trip to Europe. Please contact me on the forum, as i'm more than happy to share these resources and help you in planning your European beer trip!