The miracle of St. Bernadus

My legs had been hurting on the ride from Gent to Bruges, so I wasn’t looking forward to 72km of pain on today’s ride to Watou.

But when I woke up all the aches and pains had vanished.

Could it be the restorative powers of Trappist beer at work?

Not only had the pain gone, but for once the wind was behind me, so the cycling was fast and enjoyable and I made good time to Watou.

Nestling just by the border with France, Watou is the home of the St Bernadus Brouwerij, where I would be spending the night in their guest house.

Punctures usually occur in the least convenient of places, but when I noticed my rear tyre deflating I was just 200m from the brewery.

It was a miracle that enabled me to check in and make use of the help yourself ‘loyalty fridge’ packed full of St Bernadus beers before setting to work changing the tube.

I thought I might be on for a puncture free trip, but if you’ve got to mend a puncture then this is definitely the way to do it.

Beers in Bruges

Today was the shortest day of cycling – just 46km, but still about 10km further than my legs wanted to go.

Luckily just inside Bruges city walls is the Brouwerij de Halve Maan – where I had lunch washed down with their excellent Tripel.

Then a little later it was on to Cambrinus.

Now this is a beer menu:

Several beers on tap, such as Delirium Nocturnum and some interesting bottles to try:

The horn was a bit gimmicky, but the Tripel contained within it was very good with lots of flavour from the yeast.

Just around the corner is Cafe Red Rose and a chance to swap wooden bar stools for comfy chairs and a couple more.

The beer above is a 10% Tjeeses Reserva BBA from Struise Brouwers – aged in Makers Mark barrels.

This is a Troubadour Magma IPA at 9%.

Tomorrow it’s back to a slightly longer day on the bike as I head toward the border with France.

Drinking in the views and beers of Gent.

The 70km cycle to Gent involved all sorts of weather, wind, rain, sun – and at one point even a hailstorm.

Thankfully it brightened up as the day progressed so I arrived in Gent to a sunny late afternoon and evening.

First was the city brewery, only to find them closing early for the day – so it was onwards to TrolleKelder for the first beer; a Maredsous Dubbel.

Then an aged Kriek Boon.

Wonderfully sour and woody, this is a terrific beer.

Next stop was Waterhuis aan de Bierkant.

In a nice setting by the water there’s a very good selection of taps and bottled beers – including Gulden Draak at 10%.

Great beers, in a great city that’s often overlooked in favour of Bruges.

Which just so happens to be where we are headed for tomorrow.

Thirsty work cycling from Rotterdam to Antwerp.

Beer doesn’t taste much better than it does after a long bike ride.

Today was 120km with a lot of headwind (but sun rather than showers) so it was 6pm before I made it to Antwerp.


Starting in the main square at Gollem with a Zeezuiper Tripel from Scheldebrouwerij, followed by Zestig Belgian Strong Blonde from Malhuer, then Uno – a DIPA from Omnipollo vs Stigbergets.

With 30 taps to choose from it would have easy spend the entire evening here, but a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery was in order.

It was a short walk to Billies Bier Kaffeteria and a couple of beers from the US -Speedway Vietnamese Coffee Stout by AleSmith, then Abraxas from Perrenial Artisan Ales which is a Coconut and Cinammon Imperial Stout – thick, strong and delicious.

Antwerp is a terrific place for sampling beer, and it would be easy spend a couple of days here.

However the bike trip doesn’t stop – tomorrow’s ride is to Ghent.

The good and the great beers of Rotterdam

I was blown into Rotterdam on a fresh 8°C wind from the Hook of Holland.

I’d no sooner got here than it clouded over, turning rainy and biting cold, so it was an easy decision to head to Sijf for a spot of elevenses – in this case Brouwerij  Noordt’s Dubbel.

It was pot luck on the 7% ABV, as the decent-looking bottle menu was lacking that particular detail, but I picked this because it was a local brew and I hadn’t heard of it.

Compared to a Westmalle it’s got less depth and more fruit, and it helped warm me up as I waited for my blue hands to thaw out.

By the time I had finished my pint, luckily the sun had come back out so it was onwards to Stadtsbrouwerij De Pelgrim which has its own beers on tap. I tried the Mayflower Tripel (7.8%) and Vagabond Stout (8%).

Both beers were excellent and very much in the Belgian tradition: high fermentation and a good depth of flavour.

There are some charming bars and restaurants here in Delfshaven, including my next port of call: Tapperij Vanoods ‘t Kraanjte. To drink it was The Calling IPA from Boulevard Brewing Co, which at 8.5% is every inch a double.

This is the sort of beer where you know exactly what you’re getting and that it is a good thing – in a chewy toffee, citrus/pine way. Lovely stuff.

It was then on to Kaapse Brouwers near the SS Rotterdam, where I’m spending the night. Here it was possible to sample a few of their own brews including Jaape Red Ale (9.4%), Gozer Imperial Oatmeal Stout (9.6%) and an Imperial Stout made in collaboration with De Pelgrim – they even had #2 Annivesary Quad by Kees on draught.

Of course, this was duly sampled – by the water in the evening sun. Tomorrow, it looks like there will be more weather and also some real cycling. Stay tuned!

IBC attends the launch of the Beavertown Brewery’s 2017 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA

The change in the size of the crowd at the Beavertown Brewery Taproom, from the 2016 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA launch to the 2017 crop is a metaphor for the growth of the whole London craft beer scene itself. And by that, I mean explosive.

IBC was at the event last year, where a few die-hards had shown up to try the seasonal IPA. However, this year, everyone and his dog had packed into Lockwood Industrial Park to see the new brew.

Bloody 'Ell Blood Orange IPA

Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint. Bloody ‘Ell – that’s a nice beer. Tangy, hoppy and dangerously drinkable because it hides the high alcohol percentage (7.2%) in such a way that the Blood Orange IPA could easily be a session ale.

It’s a real summer ale – and it’s as if the chaps at the Beavertown Brewery Taproom had told the weather as much. The sun shone brightly over Tottenham Hale as the taproom and can bar doled out numerous drinks to a full house – it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being at a music festival in a retail park.

Where else can I buy the 2017 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA?

Beavertown Brewery Taproom

The famous Beavertown Brewery vans have been hitting the streets again, to deliver the 2017 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA to 12 launch venues dotted around the UK, below. Click the links to see their Twitter accounts:

, Bath; , Leeds; , Birmingham; , Liverpool; , Bristol; , Manchester; , Edinburgh; , York; , Newcastle; , Glasgow; and Dukes Que and Brew, London.

More details on Beavertown Brewery Taproom

To learn more about how to get to the Taproom and what to expect on a regular (non-launch) day at the Beavertown Brewery, see our article.

Beavertown Brewery Taproom | Review by Imperial Beer Club

If there’s one thing Beavertown Brewery know how to do, it’s brew beer – and there’s no better place to sample it than by visiting their excellent taproom on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s worth keeping an eye on their website for events. Most recently, we attended the 2017 launch of the Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA which was like a mini-festival with a few hundred craft beer lovers in attendance.

Which beers are on offer?

At the bar, you can buy a six pack of beers from their core range for £12 – for example:

8 Ball Rye IPA (ABV 6.2%)
Black Betty Black IPA (ABV 7.4%)
Lupuloid IPA (ABV 6.7%)
Smog Rocket Smoked Porter (ABV: 5.4% )
Gamma Ray American Pale Ale (ABV 5.4%)

Beavertown Brewery Taproom

Of course, the Beavertown taproom itself (offering 1/2 pint or 2/3 pint measures), gives you the chance to try some interesting brews you might not encounter elsewhere.

On our most recent visit they were serving Beavertown Says Max Das Intern Bavarian Pilsner (ABV: 4.5%) and Beavertown Brewery’s collab with Square Root Ldn, Bergamonster Hefeweiss (ABV: 5.63%).

But of course we couldn’t miss the Beavertown-Brewdog collaboration Coffee & Cigarettes (ABV 12.1%) which completely lived up to its name – it was like a French breakfast in a can.

In a good way.

Other bits you might enjoy

There’s also a great selection of snacks and street food on offer. Depending on the day, expect to see food and / or nibbles from the likes of Boxty’s (Irish street food), Karkli (lentil snacks), Soffles (pitta chips) and Woza (biltong).

There’s also a strong display of Beavertown Brewery merchandise, including t-shirts, hoodies, beanie hats, glasses and fabric patches, all available to buy.

How to get to Beavertown Brewery Taproom

It’s surprisingly easy to get to the taproom from central London, thanks to the usually reliable Victoria Line, which stops at Tottenham Hale. From there, walk east down Ferry Lane, passing the enormous, vibrantly coloured, student accommodation and cut through Hale Village to get to Mill Mead Road.

You can also take national rail services from Liverpool St to Tottenham Hale.

When are the Beavertown Brewery Taproom events?

Beavertown Brewery Taproom

The brewery taproom is open most Saturdays, 2pm – 8pm, even when there isn’t a special event or beer launch. Visit the Events section of the Beavertown Brewery website to stay up to date or follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Back in (Barrel-Aged) Black: IBC attends Boozers without Borders

On Tuesday 28th March, Imperial Beer Club attended the boozy-yet-worthy cause of Boozers without Borders.

These are a series of regular events which bring together beer fans to enjoy beer and raise money for Help Refugees charity.

A strong crowd had assembled at the Draft House Chancery, at Plough Place near Holborn in London and they looked thirsty. Fortunately, with a selection of beers from Mad Hatter, Põhjala Brewery, Orbit Beers, Weird Beard, Fourpure, Thirsty Smile and more, there were plenty of cracking tipples to sample.

Here’s our pick of the best imperial stouts from the evening:

1. Põhjala Brewery – Pime Öö (ABV: 13.6)Põhjalaime Öö

From Estonian brewery Põhjala, this syrupy, dark and strong imperial stout was  brewed to celebrate the longest night of the year – ‘Pime Öö’ translates to ‘Dark Night’.

Made with Munich, Special B and Chocolate malts and Magnum hops, the aroma definitely brings to mind a dark and broody winter evening.

2. 40FT Brewery – Deeper (ABV: 7.0%)40FT Brewery - Deeper

The logically named export-strength version of 40FT’s Deeper, this is a chocolatey, velvety and earthy imperial stout.

Malt, toffee and almost a hint of tobacco and woody finish, this one boasts plenty of dried fruits.

3. Lervig – 3 Bean Stout (ABV: 13.6%)

Norway meets Brazil in  this collaboration with Way Beers, and the three beans in question are tonka, vanilla and cocoa. Boy, do they show through.

Complex layers of cinnamon, vanilla, the highly perfumed tonka, chocolate, red fruits and dark caramel finish hide the crazily high ABV very well.

4. Weird Beard – Sadako (ABV: 9.2%)

These chaps are already a favourite brewer of IBC but this imperial stout is yet to feature in our monthly box.

Honey, molasses and coffee beans are added to the boil to make this is a complex and creamy, lightly carbonated imperial stout with strong aromas of roast malts and bitter chocolate.

5. Mikkeller- Beer Geek Breakfast Stout (ABV: 7.5%)Mikkeller- Beer Geek Breakfast Stout

Copenhagen’s phantom brewery has made another smash hit with this imperial stout made using 25% oat-based ingredients.

Caramunich caramel-flavoured malts mix with gourmet coffee, chocolate malts, roasted barley, flaked oats and centennial and cascade hops to create a smoky, fruity treat.

Other friends who came out to play

Some Imperial Beer Club favourites were also on show, beers that members will be familiar with. Click the link to read our reviews:

Madhatter Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte

Tempest Mexicake

Siren Blacklight Banana

Northern Monk Smokin’ Bees

 Support Boozers Without Borders

It’s not often you get to drink fantastic beers and make the world a better place – so Boozers without Borders is a pretty special idea.

If you’d like to learn more about what they do, check out their Facebook Page or better still, sign up for their next event Durrty DIPAs on 10 May 2017.

You can also help by joining Imperial Beer Club by 9pm on Friday 7 April. Use the discount code BOOZERS at checkout and we’ll give you 10% off your first box plus donate a further 10% to Boozers without Borders.

Click this link to see what’s in our current box for new members.

Brewing beer at the end of the world: the Swannay Brewery

On the northwesterly coast of Orkney’s mainland, about 40 miles north of John o’ Groats, lies a collection of buildings that once formed a part of a dairy farm. Battered by wind and showered by ocean spray from the Atlantic, the former cow sheds, farmland, barns and stores are now home to the Swannay Brewery, a brewhouse achieving something on a scale completely different to its rustic environment. Read more

5 places around the UK with great food – and good selections of imperial strength beer

As great as it is to have a selection of imperial beers delivered to your door, there’s also something sacred about popping out for a beer and good meal.