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. Thirsty.

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 Gent.

Where to drink 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:

 

There were 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 beers, such as the 10% Tjeeses Reserva BBA from Struise Brouwers – aged in Makers Mark barrels – and a Troubadour Magma IPA at 9%.

Tasty.

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

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.

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?

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.

3 beers to try at the 2017 Great British Beer Festival

Heading to the Great British Beer Festival this week? We spent an afternoon at the trade session sampling a few of the stronger beers, and we’ve picked a few highlights.

1. Tiny Rebel: Captain Insano – ABV 10% (B14)

I can’t think of a beer that’s had as many mentions in recent months.

Whether you’ve had a good can, a bad can or haven’t tried it yet – this is your chance to taste the beer as it ought to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s also the only British beer over 8% in the whole festival.

What?!

In fact there are only 8 more British beers over 7% which seems like a massive oversight on the part of the organisers with so many amazing strong beers being produced domestically.

2. Rio Bravo Brew Co: Grab Em By The Putin – 13.5% ABV (B08)

The USA cask ale stand was easily the most popular, giving the chance to taste lots of beers you wouldn’t ordinarily come across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s somewhat unusual to have a big boozy, Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout from a cask – but absolutely delicious nonetheless.

You should try it.

3.  Hardywood Park: Raspberry Stout – ABV 9.2% (B09)

This was the beer of the day for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From beginning to end is has the sharpness of fresh raspberries in a superbly drinkable stout, and at £12 for a 22oz bottle there was plenty to share with friends.

It didn’t last long.

The other place you’ll want to spend some time at the festival is the Dutch/Belgian stand (B20) with fridges packed full of beers you might be familiar with from our boxes – including breweries like Kees, De Molen and De Struise.

It is worth going to this festival for the international beers alone, and you certainly won’t be left short of beers to try – but what you won’t find are the best British beers.

Such a shame.

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.

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, followed by 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.

The good and 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 tried 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 Anniversary 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!

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%)

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?

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.

5 places around the UK with great food – and 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.

So we’ve hunted down a handful of places, dispersed around the UK, which should never let you down when you’re looking for a delicious meal and (perhaps more importantly) an imperial beer to complement it:

1. Salt Horse, Edinburgh

This Scottish institution always has 12 keg lines of great beer from around the UK and further afield, plus a number of bottles of ales. The team regularly hold tastings and events, and if you’re willing to brave the weather, there’s a beer garden.

To eat

The Salt Horse team offer – as they put it – “a veritable heaven of BBQ and burger delights”, thanks to Jones & Son Bespoke BBQs, their resident chefs for now. On the menu are handmade burgers in a variety of styles and with a host of toppings, such as the bacon cheeseburger, buttermilk chicken burgers and panko-crusted mushroom burgers, all served with hand-cut fries. Recently, buffalo wings were added to the menu and here’s hoping Jones & Son’s famous pulled pork will join the menu soon, too.

To drink

You can expect to find a good selection of imperial stouts and ales here – either on tap or in the beer shop. You can expect to find, for example:

Siren Ryseing Tides (ABV: 7.4%),
Cloudwater v12 DIPA (ABV: 9%).
Weird Beard Double Perle (ABV: 8.6%),
Wild Beer Co BrettBrett IPA (ABV: 8.4%),
Lagunitas Hop Stoopid (ABV: 8%),
Victory Golden Monkey (ABV: 9.5%).

Details

57-61 Blackfriars St, Edinburgh, EH1 1NB
0131 558 8304
salthorse.beer

2. Friends Of Ham, Leeds

This venue started out as a small ground-floor bar and basement on Leeds’s New Station Street in July 2012 and has now expanded due to popular demand, into a larger unit in Leeds and another venue in Ilkley. It has a regularly changing selection of beers – as soon as one beer on one tap runs out, they just substitute in another.

To eat

Food options include a formidable brunch offering, with items like the ‘Chorizo Monsieur’ toasted sandwich made with chorizo and cheddar bechamel; or Hot smoked Bath Chaps with poached eggs and bearnaise sauce served on toasted sourdough.

There’s a strong selection of sharing boards, too, including: the Mariscos Board, with Smoked Mackerel Fillets, Griddled Octopus, Boquerones and Salt Cod Pâté; and the French Board, with Noir de Bigorre ham, Jésus du Pays Basque and seasonal French cheeses. Just for something to munch, there’s a choice of traditional pub snacks such as pork scratchings, crisps and almonds as well as more modern nibbles, including cornichons, biltong and griddled Botifarra sausage.

To drink

As for thirst-quenchers at Friends of Ham, the regularly changing squad of beers includes:

Huyghe Delirium Red Cherry Beer (ABV: 8.5%),
Wylam & Yeastie Boys WXY2 IPA (ABV: 7%),
Nordic Lean Bretted Purple IPA (ABV: 7.4%),
Wild Beer Billionaire Imperial Miso Stout (ABV: 10%),
Evil Twin Biscotti Break Imperial Stout (ABV: 11%),
The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout (ABV: 9.5%).

Details

4-8 New Station St, Leeds LS1 5DL, UK
0113 242 0275
friendsofham.co.uk

3. Dukes Brew And Que, London

This 18th century pub, in De Beauvoir Town near Haggerston, is the first brewing site and former tap house for Beavertown Brewery, until they expanded and moved to Tottenham Hale.

As such, the supply of Beavertown beers on tap or in cans is ample, and often includes: Black Betty Black IPA (ABV: 7.4%), Double Chin IPA (ABV: 8.5%), Heavy Water Imperial Stout (ABV: 9.8%) and their imperial coffee stout collaboration with Caravan, called Spresso (ABV: 9.5%).

To eat

The food is smoky and meaty, to reflect the owner’s love for an authentic American BBQ. Meat choices include Pork Spare Ribs, smoked over hickory and apple-cherry wood, or the 10oz Flat Iron steak.

Burgers are sprinkled liberally with wordplay and include the Cluckin’ Ell, a panko-crumbed, deep-fried chicken thigh; the Onikle Sam, a pork patty with crispy bacon, cheese and apricot chutney; Big Bowser The Beef Wowser, with two beef patties topped with American cheese, bacon and onions; and The Landslider, with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and coleslaw.

To drink

Wash it down with of the local Beavertown brews or another of these imperial beers that feature either all the time or very regularly:

Burning Sky Devil’s Rest (ABV: 7%)
Stone Ruination DIPA (ABV: 8.5%)
Pressure Drop Syd Strongs (ABV: 7.1%)
Bryggeriet Vestfyen Frejdahl Roulv 750ml (ABV: 9%)
Siren Primal Cut Imperial Porter (ABV: 8.8%)
Tool Black Ball Porter (ABV: 8%)

Details

33 Downham Rd, De Beauvoir Town, London N1 5AA
020 3006 0795
dukesbrewandque.com

4. Port Street Beer House, Manchester

In Manchester’s lively and upmarket Northern Quarter is this watering hole, which serves “craft beers from here, there and everywhere” with an impressive seven taps and 18 eighteen draft lines. They host regular tasting sessions and tap takeovers by by guest breweries – recent events have featured heavy-hitters in the world of craft beer like Brighton Bier, Wiper and True, so stay tuned for more.

To eat

The food here is now brought to you by the busy chaps at Beehive Food, purveyors of pies and scotch eggs also based in Manchester. The current choice includes Goat’s Cheese and Red Pepper Pie; Bramley Apple Pork Pie; a ‘Manchester Egg’ (which is a traditional Scotch egg but with black pudding instead of pork meat); a Breakfast Egg (a Scotch egg with the best bits of a full English breakfast inside), and the vegetarian Falafel Egg.

To drink

The types of imperial beers on offer include, among many:

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon (ABV: 12.5%),
LoverBeer Beerbera ABV: (8%),
North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout (ABV: 9%),
Northern Monk Frate Nero Imperial Stout (ABV: 9.5%),
Weird Beard Sadako Heaven Hill BA (ABV: 9.2%), and
Westbrook Mexican Cake (ABV: 10.5%).

Details

39-41 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ, UK
o161 237 9949
portstreetbeerhouse.co.uk

5. Junkyard, Nottingham

Near Fletcher Gate lies this 140-capacity North California-inspired bottle shop and pour house. There are 15 taps serving beers from across Europe and the US, and the American drinking culture of the Growler – 3.2-pint jugs that were used transport beer in the 1980s – are warmly embraced. Anyone who buys a Growler and fills it at Junkyard’s taps will receive 25% off the tap price each time, plus exclusive offers.

To eat

A growler is also what your stomach will be when you see their menu of surprisingly nutritious ‘junk food’. Brunch options, include: Huevos Rancheros, with eggs, chorizo and salsa; Steak & Eggs served with potato and savoy cabbage hash; and Breakfast Waffles with streaky bacon, eggs, maple syrup.

For something perhaps a little more suited to dinner, the international menu also offers Short Rib Noodle Bowl with braised short rib in a ginger broth, rice noodles; Squash & Roast Corn Chili with cumin rice, the Kilpin Burger with salami, mozzarella and charred pepper sauce; and the Chicken Taco, with panko-coated chicken breast, guacamole and chipotle sauce.

To drink

On a very regular basis, the all-important selection of beers includes the below, as well as many more:

Hoptopia IPA (ABV: 8%)
Scuttlebutt Hoptopia (ABV: 8%)
Siren Amigos Britainicos (ABV: 7.4%)
Buxton Yellow Belly (ABV: 11%)
Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break (ABV:  11.5%)
Northern Monk Malt (ABV: 9%)

Details

12 Bridlesmith Walk, Nottingham NG1 2FZ
0115 950 1758
junkbars.com

What’s your favourite?

We know that there are plenty of other venues around the UK, let alone around the world, that could have made it onto this list – perhaps we’ll do a Part 2 of this series very soon. In the meantime, what are your favourite places for a great bite to eat and an imperial beer to pair it with?

Let us know on Facebook or Twitter. Cheers!

4 of our favourite Imperial Stouts from CBR17

It’s tough job, walking around, tasting lots of beer and talking to brewers – but someone has to do it. The Imperial Beer Club team has been researching the great and the good imperial stouts at this year’s Craft Beer Rising festival, which has just finished at the Old Truman Brewery on London’s famous Brick Lane.

We’ve come a decision on our favourites; find them below – but there will no doubt be a few that you enjoyed too, so please feel free to let us know via Twitter Facebook Instagram below (so we can try to add it to a delivery box some time soon!).

So, in no particular order:

1. Hawkshead Brewery – Tiramisu Imperial Stout (ABV: 10%)

So we said in no particular order but this, for us, is the standout stout of the festival. It’s a collaboration between Hawkshead and Cigar City Brewery, based in Tampa Bay, Florida, and takes inspiration from the classic Italian dessert, tiramisu.

Naturally, it’s a robust imperial stout with strong hints of espresso and mocha – it uses coffee grains which are roasted by Mr Duffin’s Coffee.

A tip of the cap to Imperial Beer Club Founder Member Josh for the recommendation!

Tiramisu Imperial Stout by Hawkshead Brewery

2. Founders Brewery – Breakfast Stout (ABV: 8.3%)

Another coffee-focused stout, this is our kind of breakfast: a nose of oats and dark chocolate, and of course that espresso hit from the two different types of coffee beans.

The head on this defies the laws of physics: a long-lasting, creamy froth in a vibrant ruby red colour that just doesn’t fade.

Founders Brewery Breakfast Stout

3. Twisted Barrel – I Was Made For Lovin’ Imperial Stout (ABV: 8%)

Another unmissable beer at Craft Beer Rising and perhaps the most dangerously drinkable of the lot, the higher ABV is hidden behind layers upon layers of roasted malt, sweet vanilla and creamy chocolate. It’s blended with seven different malts and aged on vanilla pods and cocoa nibs.

Twisted Barrel Ale

4. Drygate – Double Orinoco Breakfast Stout (ABV: 8.6%)

Photo from Drygate’s launch announcement on Twitter

Only launched in December, the recipe concept behind this breakfast as simple as it is intriguing: ‘double chocolate, double vanilla, double coffee’.  As such, the aroma is full of dark chocolate, rich coffee and roast malts and the taste also brings in vanilla and caramel.

Drygate Brewery

What were your favorites from CBR ’17?

With over 700 beers and ciders at Craft Beer Rising 2017, we’re sure that there were a few hidden gems that eluded us. Tell us what you found, and why you liked it, on social media (Twitter Facebook / Instagram) and we’ll be sure to research the brewery and see if we can include one of their beers in our monthly subscription box.

Cheers!

Interested in joining the club?

Members receive a box of high-strength small batch beers, specially chosen by us and averaging 8% ABV or more. To discover more about joining Imperial Beer Club, click here.