Intergalactic Brewing Company – San Diego

San Diego, California has one of the most vibrant craft beer communities in the United States right now.  Most recent counts put the number of craft breweries in San Diego county at 87, with many more on the way!

While this count includes a number of large brewers whose beers you may be able to find across the US, such as Ballast Point, Alesmith and Stone, there are also quite some small brewers who operate locally, in some cases only out of their own brewery and taproom.

One my my joys of working in San Diego for the past six months has been being able to visit these breweries.  Up through now, I’ve managed to visit 21 of the breweries found in San Diego County, and have to say, am truly grateful for the number of excellent and interesting beers I have been fortunate to try.

One of the smaller breweries I stopped at during this stay was Intergalactic Brewing Company located in the Mira Mesa area of San Diego. Intergalactic Brewing Company has been brewing in San Diego since March, 2013.  In fact, the 1-year anniversary event for their tasting room is being held on April 19, 2014.  Intergalactic’s tasting room is a little difficult to find if you’re visiting for the first time. Be sure to look for the small white sign pointing you over to their tasting room entrance located behind the brewery building.

This way to the Intergalactic Brewing Company Tasting Room

This way to the Intergalactic Brewing Company Tasting Room

Inside Intergalactic Brewing Company’s tasting room, you’ll find 12 different beers on tap.  When I visited in late November, 2013, the 12 beers we were able to sample was almost half of the breweries’ total product line through then, as they had 26 beers on their running tally of releases.  You have to enjoy their naming convention for their beers, which truly stay to theme with the brewery’s name.

Beers on Tap at Intergalactic Brewing Company

Beers on Tap at Intergalactic Brewing Company

Historical Beer List at Intergalactic Brewing Company

Historical Beer List at Intergalactic Brewing Company

I enjoyed all of the beers I tried here, especially their IPA’s.  My personal favorites from the tasting were the Andromeda IPA, That’s No Moon Triple IPA, and Black Sun Black Ale.

All 12 Beers On Tap at Intergalactic Brewing Company +3 Duplicates

All 12 Beers On Tap at Intergalactic Brewing Company (+Three Duplicates )

Intergalactic Brewing Company Red Shirt #5 Rye Saison

Intergalactic Brewing Company Red Shirt #5 Rye Saison

Intergalactic Brewing Company Spudnik

Intergalactic Brewing Company Spudnik

There’s a friendly vibe in the tasting room, and they do offer some snacks to enjoy with your beer samples.  Just be sure not to stray too far outside the confines of the tasting room, as there may be consequences.

Be sure not to stray outside of the tasting room...

Be sure not to stray outside of the tasting room…

Information on Intergalactic Brewing Company

Intergalactic Brewing Company
9835 Carroll Centre Rd
San Diego, CA 92126

(858) 750-0601

Hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 3:00 – 8:00 pm
Thursday 3:00 – 8:00 pm
Friday 3:00 – 9:00 pm
Saturday 1:00 – 7:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 – 6:00 pm

Have you come across any small breweries during your travels?  Please let us know if you have any recommendations we need to check out!

C is for Carlsberg Brewery – Copenhagen, Denmark

If you are exploring Northern Europe and happen to fancy beer, no visit to Copenhagen, Denmark would be complete without a visit to the Carlsberg Brewery.

Visit Carlsberg is located in Vesterbro, around 2km from the City Hall.  A visit gives you the opportunity to see the original Carlsberg Brewery, founded in 1847 by J.C. Jacobsen.  Your self-guided tour takes you through the old brewhouse, which houses an impressive collection of unopened beer bottles from around the world.

Carlsberg Brewery Grain Store

Carlsberg Brewery Grain Store

The sculpture garden contains selections from the Carlsberg art collection.  Here you’re find a second Little Mermaid statue, very similar to the one sitting in Copenhagen harbor.  Did you know the original Little Mermaid statue was a gift to the city of Copenhagen by the son of the founder of Carlsberg Brewery?

Little Mermaid Statue at Carlsberg Brewery

Little Mermaid Statue at Carlsberg Brewery

Little Mermaid Statue at Visit Carlsberg

Little Mermaid Statue at Visit Carlsberg

And no visit to the Carlsberg Brewery is complete without a visit to the stables, where Carlsberg equine ambassadors call home while not on their daily trip through the streets of Copenhagen.

Horse Stables at Carlsberg Brewery

Horse Stables at Carlsberg Brewery

Carlsberg Beer Wagon at Carlsberg Brewery

Carlsberg Beer Wagon at Carlsberg Brewery

At the end of the tour, you visit the Jacobsen Brewhouse and Bar where you can sample some of the products from the Carlsberg family of beers, including Carlsberg, Tuborg and Jacobsen Housebrew.

Carlsberg family of beers for tasting at Visit Carlsberg

Carlsberg family of beers for tasting at Visit Carlsberg

Visit Carlsberg is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10AM to 5PM, with the last tickets sold 30-minutes before closing, though you should allow 1.5 hours to enjoy the tour properly.  Admission is 80 DKK (Around $15 US) including the self-guided walking tour and 2 beers/soft drinks at the end.  Entrance is free with the Copenhagen Card.

Information on Carlsberg Brewery

Visit Carlsberg
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11
- or -
Bryggerhesten 1
1799 Copenhagen V.

Public transport
Bus routes:     18 or 26
5 minutes walk from the bus stop

S-Trains:         Line B & C
Enghave Station 15 minutes walk
Valby Station 15 minutes walk

This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Coming up tomorrow for Foodie Friday: D is for DimDimSum Dim Sum in Hong Kong! 

Previous Posts on the A to Z Blogging Challenge:

A is for Announcements: Updates and Where Our Tasty Travels is Headed Next

Understanding Wine Terminology: Botrytis or Noble Rot

Brews of 2013 – Brett’s Favorite New Beers

2013 was a rather busy beer year for me.  After spending most of 2009-2012 living in Asia, returning to Europe and then spending a few months in San Diego allowed me to venture back into the world of craft beers in a big way.  In total, I tried almost 700 different beers last year!  Now granted, a large number of these were small tasters in breweries in Southern California, but each of these was a unique beer for me to try for the first time.

Overall, the quality of the beers I tried in 2013 was quite good.  Of the 690 ratings, only 37 were not able to garner an “OK” rating of 3 out of 5 on my personal taste scale.  359 beers were in the 3-3.5 / 5 range, and 272 I enjoyed enough to score in the 4′s.  Only 21 different beers, from 13 different breweries managed to earn a 5 out of 5 for me.  This is 3% of all of the beers I tasted in 2013.

I expect 2014 will be a rather prolific year as well.  In fact, when I return to the Netherlands, I still have a large number of beers from the Our Tasty Travels 23-country road trip to sample. I’m looking forward to seeing if any of them stand out.

23 Countries worth of Beer

23 Countries worth of Beer

Interested in what some of my favorites of 2013 were?  Here’s a rundown of some of my top Breweries and Beers of 2013

1) AleSmith – For many, San Diego has become the capital of craft beer in America.  And, lucky for me, work has had me spending quite a bit of time in San Diego towards the end of 2013.  One of the first breweries I visited was AleSmith. Within San Diego, many of the breweries are well known for their IPA’s. AleSmith is different, as its specialties tend to run darker and heavier.  Some of my favorite beers from AleSmith were the Old Ale, Decadence, and Speedway Stout.  The top for me, however, was the Barrel Aged Speedway Stout that was released not long after I arrived in November.

Beer Sampler at AleSmith in San Diego

Beer Sampler at AleSmith in San Diego

2) Brasserie De L’Abbaye Des RocsAbbaye Des Rocs has always been one of my favorite Belgian breweries, and last year, I tried a couple of new bottlings from them, including my new all-time favorite, the Abbaye des Rocs Triple Imperiale. I look forward to finding this one again!

Brasserie De L'Abbaye Des Rocs Triple Imperiale

Brasserie De L’Abbaye Des Rocs Triple Imperiale

3) Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Another new favorite from Belgium, 3 Fonteinen is one of the kings of Belgian lambic beers, along with Cantillon.  I was lucky enough to visit 3 Fonteinen at their Open Beer Days each of the last two years, and a few of the beers I picked up there made my top list of 2013, including the Straffe Winter, Oude Kriek and the Oude Geuze Vintage (2008). I also shared a bottle of Druiven Geuze (Malvasia Rosso) during Cantillon’s Zwanze Day at Moeder Lambic which was also quite outstanding.  I have a number of bottles of Vintage Geuze and other special offerings still in my cellar, which I am very much looking forward to trying still.

3 Fonteinen Malvasia Rosso

3 Fonteinen Malvasia Rosso

Lambic Masters - Jean van Roy of Cantillon and Armand Debelder of 3 Fonteinen

Lambic Masters – Jean van Roy of Cantillon and Armand Debelder of 3 Fonteinen

4) Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon - I visited the Cantillon brewery in Brussels a number of times throughout 2013, including a visit in September for their Zwanze Day event both at the brewery and at the Moeder Lambic pub in Brussels. One of the best benefits of visiting in person is that you can often sample beers at the brewery that are not available for retail sale for take-home consumption, but only for sampling on site.  My favorite beers tasted from Cantillon in 2013 were the Lou Pepe Framboise and the Fou’ Foune 2013 (Peach Lambic) on cask. I also very much enjoyed the Fou’ Foune 2012, Zwanze 2012 as well as their normal Kriek 100% Lambic and Rosé de Gambrinus offerings.

Cantillon Selection on Draft at Zwanze Day 2013 at Moeder Lambic in Brussels

Cantillon Selection on Draft at Zwanze Day 2013 at Moeder Lambic in Brussels

5) Alpine Beer Company – Coming back to San Diego, one of the best breweries in the area isn’t in the city itself, but around 30 miles east of the city. Alpine Beer Company is in the small town of Alpine, CA, and makes some of the best IPA’s around. They also make some pretty great barbecue at their restaurant at the brewery, which makes for a fun and delicious visit.  My favorites from Alpine were the Bad Boy Imperial IPA, Pure Hoppiness Imperial IPA, Great (Barleywine), and Nelson IPA, my favorite, which unfortunately they were not selling bottles of when I was there.

Nelson IPA at Alpine Beer Company

Nelson IPA at Alpine Beer Company

6) Brouwerij De Molen – While the majority of my favorite beers from living in Europe are Belgian, there are also quite some good Dutch beers as well.  I tried a number of very excellent Dutch beers in 2013, and their craft offerings continue to improve and impress me.  The king of the Dutch craft beers for me would definitely still be De Molen, with its line of stouts (and impressive bottle shop of beers from elsewhere in Europe, and even the US.)  Its Rasputin (Disputin in the US, as they cannot use the Rasputin name due to trademark issues) and Hel & Verdoemenis Imperial Russian Stouts are both very strong offerings that I enjoyed immensely!

Brouwerij De Molen Rasputin (Disputin)

Brouwerij De Molen Rasputin (Disputin)

7) Brouwerij Rodenbach – Rodenbach will always hold a special place in my heart, as their Grand Cru is the first sour beer I tried, and turned me into a huge fan of the style, helping me to enjoy the lambic offerings of breweries like 3 Fonteinen and Cantillon.  As much as I love the Rodenbach Grand Cru, I was enamored with my first taste of their Vintage Oak Aged line, having a bottle of 2010 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No 144) near the top of my list for 2013.

Rodenbach 2010 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No 144)

Rodenbach 2010 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No 144)

8) De Struise Brouwers – Another Belgian Brewery on the list, De Struise continues to impress me with their line of beers. With favorites like the Pannepot already under the belt, I was thrilled to fall in love as well with one of their Christmas beers, Tsjeeses. Their Kabert Russian Imperial Stout was also one of my favorites of 2013.

De Struise Brouwers Tsjeeses

De Struise Brouwers Tsjeeses

9) Red Rooster – Ok, so these weren’t the absolute best beers I had all year, but these beers from Palau Brewing Company definitely earn the time and place award for 2013.  We tried these beers on a visit to Palau back in April, and not only did we enjoy the beers, we also paid a visit to the brewery where they took the time to give us a tour of their operations in the middle of their busy day.  We tried their Amber Ale, Stout, Wheat and Light, with the Wheat being my favorite, especially drinking it with lunch at the restaurant next to the brewery.

Red Rooster Beer of Palau

Red Rooster Beer of Palau

10) Rough Draft – I add Rough Draft to the list for a combination of very good beer and great people.  I was sampling beers at AleSmith with fellow bloggers, Michael and Stephanie, who were also visiting San Diego, when we started talking with another taster at the bar. Turns out he is a brewer at Rough Draft Brewing Company and had stopped over after closing the tasting room for the day.  He offered us a private tour of the brewery, where he walked us through the entire process.  He provided us with samples of their full lineup of beers, including a side-by-side sample of their Eraser IPA still maturing in the tank along with the finished product from the tap. Overall, I enjoyed all of their hoppier IPA’s the most, as well as their Freudian Sip Strong Ale and Belgian Vanilla Stout

Beer Tasting Flight at Rough Draft in San Diego

Beer Tasting Flight at Rough Draft in San Diego

11) Stone Brewing Co. – Spending a lot of time in San Diego, it’s almost impossible not to try some beers from Stone Brewing Co. And this is a very good thing.  Stone has been one of my go-to beers when there’s not much else craft on tap, and visiting the World Bistro and Garden in Escondido for dinner and some beers is a treat whenever we make the visit.  With 74 new beers created in 2013, there’s almost always something new to try each time you visit! While their core pours like Arrogant Bastard Ale and Cali-Belgique IPA are all excellent, I was most impressed with some of their more limited offerings, such as their Enjoy By IPA’s (10.25.13 and 12.13.13), Imperial Russian Stout 2010, and Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout.

Brett with Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing Company

Brett with Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing Company

12) The Bruery – Of all the breweries I visited while in San Diego in 2013, the best brewery I went to, unfortunately, wasn’t in San Diego, but around two hours north in Placentia, Orange County.  I have heard so much about The Bruery over the past couple of years, but hadn’t had much opportunity to try any of their beers.  I decided to make the drive up, and fell in love! Their line-up of sour beers helped me feel back at home with my lambics from Belgium.  I tried a number of different tastes on my visit, and all of them hit the mark.  My favorites were Bois (Bourbon Barrel Aged) Old Ale, Mash & Grind English Barleywine, Tart of Darkness (regular and with Cocao and Vanilla Beans) and most of all, Melange No. 3 and Grey Monday.  I am very much looking forward to trying their Black Tuesday in 2014!

Beer Sampler at the Bruery - Black Tuesday and Grey Monday being picked up

Beer Sampler at the Bruery – Black Tuesday and Grey Monday being picked up

13) Three Floyds Brewing Company – I managed to try two beers from Three Floyds Brewing Company of Munster, IN in 2013, and one of them was beyond a doubt my beer of the year, Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord With Vanilla Beans (2012).  I lucked into a taste of this beer while attending Zwanze Day 2013, taking part in a bottle share between my visit to the brewery and the event itself at the Moeder Lambic pub that evening. The Apocalypse Cow was also a highlight.

Three Floyds Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord With Vanilla Beans (2012)

Three Floyds Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord With Vanilla Beans (2012)

3 Fonteinen Brewery Open Beer Days in Belgium: September 5-9, 2013

From August 30 through September 3, 2012, the 3 Fonteinen Brewery near Brussels held their annual open beer days.  This is a rare opportunity to visit one of the premier brewers of the local specialty lambic beers.  The event includes free tours of the brewery in Dutch, French and English, a chance to taste some of their products, and most importantly, a chance to buy some of their special, old bottles not usually available for purchase in the shop.  You may also get a chance to meet Armand and Lydie Debelder, the owners and brewer of the 3 Fonteinen beers.

Armand Debelder finishing up a tour of 3 Fonteinen Brewery

Armand Debelder finishing up a tour of 3 Fonteinen Brewery

 

Armand Debelder's Philosophy on Making Geuze

Armand Debelder’s Philosophy on Blending Geuze

Lydie Debelder helping a customer with their special beer purchases.

Lydie Debelder helping a customer with their special beer purchases.

Available for tasting at lat year’s event were the 3 Fonteinen Lambic, Oude Geuze, Oude Kriek, and Faro as well as the Beersel Blond, Lager and Zwet.be.  I had to partake of a Faro here, as they don’t bottle this for normal sale.  The Faro seems to be usually available only in the 3 Fonteinen Restaurant located next door.  Faro is a lambic blended with caramel and candied sugar.  It retains the normal sourness of a lambic, but with a nice sweetness that makes it quite smooth.  These beers are usually short lived, only three to four weeks in the bottle, as the added sugars result in very active fermentation that could make the bottle explode!

Tasting Bar at 3 Fonteinen Open Beer Days

Tasting Bar at 3 Fonteinen Open Beer Days

The 3 Fonteinen Faro, only available at the Restaurant or during the Open Beer Days

The 3 Fonteinen Faro, only available at the Restaurant or during the Open Beer Days

3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek - Amazing color!

3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek – Amazing color!

For the bottles for purchase in the store, the following options were available:

Beers available for purchase at 3 Fonteinen Brewery

3 Fonteinen

Oude Geuze 0.375 L €2.50
Oude Geuze 0.75 L €4.45
Golden Blend Oude Geuze 0.375 L €8.00
Oude Kriek 0.375 L €3.85
Schaarbeekse Kriek 0.75L €12.00

Armand D4 2010 Limited Edition Oude Geuze 0.75 L €24 each for Autumn, Summer and Winter.
Spring is only available as part of the limited edition (500) collector’s box at €110.00

Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2011 0.75 L €7.00

Beersel

Blond 0.33 L €1.25
Lager 0.33 L €1.15
Zwet.be 0.33 L €1.75

Special Offerings during 3 Fonteinen Open Beer Days

Oude Geuze Vintage 2003 0.75 L €24.00 (max 1)
Oude Geuze Vintage 2005 0.75 L €17.00 (max 1)
Oude Geuze Vintage 2008 0.75 L €10.00 (max 6)
Oude Geuze Vintage 2008 0.375 L €6.00 (max 6)

Doesjel Vintage 2006 0.75 L  €7.00 (max 6)
Doesjel Vintage 2010 0.375 L €4.00 (max 6)

Oude Kriek 2006 0.375 L € 6.00 (max 1)
Schaarbeekse Kriek 2006 0.75 L € 20.00 (max 1)
Schaarbeekse Kriek 2008 0.75 L € 15.00 (max 6)

Straffe Winter 0.75 L € 34.00 (max 1)

Selection of 3 Fonteinen Special Beers available during the 2012 Open Beer Days

Selection of 3 Fonteinen Special Beers available during the 2012 Open Beer Days

The 2013 Open Beer Days will be held from Thursday, September 5 through Monday, September 9, 2013.  If you’re looking to pick up a few of the rare older bottles, try to get there on Thursday or Friday, as quantities are often limited and they run out of choice vintages fast!

If you’re driving to 3 Fonteinen, they’re off Exit 19 on the R0 Ring Brussels.  As you’re exiting, veer to the right to cross back under the highway and head up into Beersel (don’t go straight towards Lot).  When you hit the top of the hill with the large church, you can see the Restaurant 3 Fonteinen in the square, and the brewery in just around the corner on the main road.  Parking is free in the spots in front of the church and restaurant.

3 Fonteinen Restaurant - Beersel, Belgium

3 Fonteinen Restaurant – Beersel, Belgium

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen
Hoogstraat 2a
1650 Beersel
http://www.3fonteinen.be

Restaurant 3 Fonteinen
Herman Tierlinckplein 3
1650 Beersel
+32 (0)2  331 06 52

New Brew Thursday: Petrus Aged Red

Well, it’s been a very long time…but I believe I may have finally found it.

My least favorite beer ever? Could it be?

Tonight I stopped by my local beer bar to see if they had anything new on offer I may be interested in trying.  I saw a few new offerings on the menu, and dcided to give one a try.  Petrus Aged Red, a Flanders Oud Bruin from Brouwerij Bavik in Belgium.  This is a style I actually usually enjoy, with the Liefman’s Goudenband of this style being one of my go-to beers in a pinch.

Petrus Aged Red

Petrus Aged Red

What did I think of the Petrus Aged Red?  Think Robitussin, with a touch of Benadryl!

Why does cherry syrup have to taste so bad. And since it does, why use it???

Petrus Aged Red

Petrus Aged Red

I had decent hopes here, but they were very quickly dashed. I took one sip, and knew this beer was not for me. It smelled like a Shirley Temple. And tasted like cough syrup. Definitely not a Kriek. And not up to par with other Oud Bruins that I’ve tried.

I’ve had beers before that I hated at first but grew on me. Sour beers in general gained my respect in this manner (thank you Rodenbach Grand Cru). So I’m giving this beer a shot. I’ve been sipping at it now for over 30 minutes.

Can someone please knock over my table?

No.  The remainder of this beer, sadly, went down the drain.

Blogville by the Numbers: What We Saw, Ate and Drank in Bologna, Italy

The 2 1/2 month Blogville project in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy has now come to an end.  I was only able to attend one portion of the project while Erin went back two more times to tour Rimini and that part of Emilia Romagna. I am thankful for my time there — I had a great stay in Bologna!

We met some wonderful travel bloggers and members of the local community, and got to experience quite a diverse mix of places and sights across the region.

As Erin prepares to head back to Bologna for BlogVille 2013, here is a brief breakdown of my time at Blogville, broken down in numbers.

ONE – One Apartment at BlogVille

The BlogVille apartment was a fantastic 2 bedroom + 2 loft apartment right in the middle of Bologna, just steps away from the Piazza Maggiore.

EIGHT – Eight Different Craft Beers

Italy may be known for its wine, but we managed to try 8 different craft beers as well, with five of those coming at the Festival dei Birrai Eretici.

Beer Taps at Lortica

Beer Taps at Lortica

NINE – Nine Travel Bloggers

During our stay at BlogVille, there were 9 other travel bloggers, besides Erin and I, who stayed in or visited the BlogVille apartment.

Nicholas from ERT Tourism with some of the bloggers from our week (Erin, Michael, Bianca, and Brett)

Nicholas from ERT Tourism with some of the bloggers from our week (Erin, Michael, Bianca, and Brett)

10 – Days at BlogVille

We were to lucky to have the opportunity to spend ten great days at BlogVille in Bologna, from May 7 to May 16, 2012.

12 – Flavors of Gelato

Between the two of us, we managed to taste 12 different flavors of gelato during our stay.

One of the many gelatos we sampled during Blogville

One of the many gelatos we sampled during Blogville

14 – Ducati Riders’ Championships

Over the years, Ducati riders have won 14 Superbike and MotoGP Riders’ Championships.  Ducati’s factory and headquarters is in Bologna.

Ducati...the holy grail of motorcycles

Ducati…the holy grail of motorcycles

14 – Espresso Shots for Erin

Coffee is an integral part of any visit to Italy, and the best way to consume this in Italy is in the form of Espresso.  During our 10 days in Bologna, Erin managed to go through 14 shots of espresso in its various forms.

By far, Erin's favorite espresso was at the Ducati Factory

By far, Erin’s favorite espresso was at the Ducati Factory

29 – Operas by Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi was one of the most beloved individuals to come out of the Emilia Romagna region.  Over the course of his prolific lifetime, he composed 29 operas! During our stay in the region, we visited Verdi’s birthplace and opera halls in Parma and Busseto.

Erin and Michael checking out the opera house

Erin and Michael checking out the opera house

38 – Wines

While we won’t admit to drinking the entire bottles for ourselves, and in a few cases, we only had a single glass from bottles shared in the house, we did sample 38 different wines during our trip.

Working away with a glass of vino, the only way to write blog posts!

Working away with a glass of vino, the only way to write blog posts!

42 – Espresso Shots for Brett

If you thought Erin’s 14 shots of espresso was impressive, during our 10 days in Bologna, I managed to enjoy 42 shots of espresso.  Some of these were simple solo or double espressos from small cafes, some as part of (double) cappuccinos. More than four shots per day!

Brett was a coffee addict - whether it was an espresso or morning cappuccino, he definitely adopted the Italian lifestyle right away

Brett was a coffee addict – whether it was an espresso or morning cappuccino, he definitely adopted the Italian lifestyle right away

498 – Steps in Asinelli Tower

Perhaps the best views of the city can be seen from the top of the Asinelli Tower, the taller of the two signature leaning towers in the center of Bologna.  To get to the top, you need to navigate your way up 498 old, narrow steps.

Aren't these views worth the 458 steps?

Aren’t these views worth the 498 steps?

666 – Arches in the Portico di San Luca

A wonderful morning walk from the city center, the 3.5km covered walkway that is the Portico di San Luca leads to some of the nicest views of the countryside surrounding Bologna, including the Apennine Mountains.  The 666 arches of the Portico stretch from the Saragozza Gate to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca.

At the 658 Portico

At the 658 Portico

New Ice Monster Shaved Ice Opens in Taipei, Taiwan

A couple of weeks ago, we heard the bad news that Yongkang 15, the mango shaved ice establishment that replaced the venerable Ice Monster on Yongkang Street in 2010, had closed it’s doors.  This was quite a shock, especially considering that Taiwan was in the middle of mango season, the best time to visit for a mango shaved ice.

It turns out, the news isn’t quite as bad as it appeared!

While heading out to On Tap for some fish and chips the other night with some coworkers, I was surprised to see a huge line of people waiting for something on Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, just before the intersection with Yanji Street.  This was still a few blocks ahead of the dance clubs on Zhongxiao, and the crowd was a much more diverse mix than you’d expect for a club, so I knew it couldn’t be for that.  But what was it?

I apologize in advance for some of the photos – I was not expecting this find and only had my phone with me!

Line for Ice Monster

Lining up to get into Ice Monster

As the taxi drew closer, I saw the sign that made my day…Ice Monster is Back!

Ice Monster - a new one or reopened back in Taipei, Taiwan?

Mango Delivery at Ice Monster

Only open again since May 29, we decided to brave the line to try out the new Ice Monster after our dinner.  What better dessert could you imagine than some iconic Bao Bing and Xue Hua Bing?

Display of Ice Monster merchandise outside the shop

Display of Ice Monster merchandise outside the shop

Back after dinner to try Ice Monster in Taipei

Entry and order counter

Pineapple and Red Bean ice pops they serve up while waiting in line

Ice Monster Napkin Dispenser

Decorative glass door at Ice Monster

Counter area when you order

The line went pretty quick, we were around 30 people back and our wait was only around 20 minutes.  There were staff at the front of the line handing out the menu and taking orders in advance of your entering the shop, so that helps the line run smoother.  They also don’t let people into the shop when there are no seats available, unless you tell them you just want to order for take away, then they may let you cut into the shop while those wishing to dine in wait longer in the line.  There are around 50 total seats in the shop, so turnover is fairly quick, and being indoors, it’s much more comfortable than the old exterior seating of 15 Yongkang Street.

Fresh Fruit for the desserts

Ice Cream / Sorbet options

Interesting display tank behind the prep area

Back seating area at Ice Monster in Taipei

Main seating area at Ice Monster in Taipei

Private Seating Room at the back of Ice Monster

Private Seating Room

The Ice Monster menu has four main sections; Avalanche for the Bao Bing shaved ice, Sensation for the Xue Hua Bing snow ice, Mocktail for mixed juice drinks, and Freeze for the frozen drinks.  Many of the menu items seem to be more similar to those that were on offer at Yongkang 15, not quite back to the offerings of the original Ice Monster.

Ice Monster's Menu

Avalanche Section

Sensation menu offerings

Freeze menu options

Mocktail menu options

We ordered two Mango Avalanches for the three of us, we actually wanted one to be a Fresh Mango Sensation, but I misordered! The avalanche was a delicious mix of shaved ice with sweet condensed milk and brown sugar syrup, a mango jelly and a scoop of mango ice cream, with a heaping serving of fresh mango mixed in for good measure.

Mango Avalanche at Ice Monster in Taipei

Mango Avalanche

Mango Avalanche

I do not know why, but the staff could apparently see our enjoyment of the avalanche, and perhaps thinking this was our first / only time stopping in, they decided to sample out some other wares on us!  We were each also given a scoop of their lemon ice, a scoop of melon sorbet to share, and they even gave us a small Fresh Mango Sensation to share as well!

Scoop of Lemon Ice

Fresh Mango Sensation

The Mango Avalanche and Mango Sensation were both outstanding, but I have to say, I think the lemon ice was one of the best I’ve ever had!  This tasted exactly like the Italian ice I used to get as a kid, and I thought the only thing that could have possibly made this one any better would have been the little white paper squeeze cup I remember from my youth.  I’ll definitely order one of the lemon based items on my next visit to Ice Monster, most likely the Lemon Jasmine Tea Sensation which caught my eye.

Mango Avalanche, Mango Sensation, Lemon Ice, Melon Ice.

Ice Monster
1F., No. 297, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District
+886 2 8771 3263
http://www.ice-monster.com
Hours: Monday – Sunday / 10:30 – 23:30

Festival Dei Birrai Eretici – Craft Beer Festival in Bologna, Italy

When I think about Italy, usually great food and wine are the first things that come into my mind.  However, being the inquisitive soul that I am, I wanted to find out if there is good craft beer as well.

Last week, Erin and I were in Bologna, Italy for the BlogVille project, sharing an apartment with a great group of travel bloggers from the US (Oregon), Australia, and Venezuela.  Up until one of the last nights, my search for beer had not been very thorough. I do have to admit that I got caught up in the tradition of enjoying some of the wines of Emilia Romagna with our meals, and we’d been too tired most nights to do much in the way of going out to look for a pub to enjoy a beer in the evening. I did see a few beers around that I want to go back and try, and managed to try a couple craft beers in Ferrara at the Eco + Food Festival we attended, so I was hopeful that I’d have a chance to experience the beer culture in Bologna before we had to leave.

Apologize in advance for the lack of quality photos — Erin had the good camera with her as she was scheduled to do an interview with a local chef!

Sadly, on Monday, our initial group of six was breaking up, as Bethany and Ted from twoOregonians and Michael from Time Travel Turtle were leaving to continue on their journeys.  As Sunday was to be our last night together, and hearing there was a craft beer festival in town, we decided to head out and see what was on offer.  Michael, Bianca from Nomadiba and I wandered down to the university area of town, to where the Festival Dei Birrai Eretici was being held in a collection of pubs and cafes on the via Mascarella.

Beer Festival in Bologna, Italy (credit: BeerLab.it)

The establishments taking part in the Festival (and their offerings) were:

Lortica
Via Mascarella 26
+39 051 5876455

Beer Menu at Lortica

Beer Menu at Lortica

Beer Taps at Lortica

Beer Taps at Lortica

Birrificio Del Ducato, Roncole Verdi di Busetto (PR), Italy, Via Emilia – 4.8% Classic German Pilsener, slightly hazy blonde color. Fruity and slightly peppery. Pleasantly bitter and refreshing.

Birrificio Del Ducato, Victoria Light IPA – 3.5% American Pale Ale. Clear, light and fun-loving. Strong character given by dry hopping from American and German hops.

Birrificio Del Ducato, AFO – 5.4% American Pale Ale. For those obsessed with hops – 9 different types to get this Pale Ale with a complex and intriguing bouquet.

Birrificio Del Ducato, New Morning – 5.8% Belgian Saison style, created to celebrate the spring. Golden and slightly veiled, particularly spicy, with aroma of wildflowers, green pepper and ginger.

Vecchia Orsa, Crevalcore (BO), Italy, Saison – 5.5% Dry and refreshing Saison. Very spicy and slightly fruity bouqet.

Menaresta, Carate Brianza (MI), Italy, Flora Sambuco – 4.8% Spice/Herb/Vegetable Style, brewed with Elder Flowers. Intense, strongly characterized by the elder, fresh and fragrant, supported by a good bitter taste.

Left Hand, Longmont, Colorado, USA, Wake Up Dead Barrel-Aged – 10.2% Russian Imperial Stout exaggerated and uncompromising, peculiarly American. 12 months in barrel. Rare and not to be missed.

Ridgeway, Reading, England, Bad King John – 6% Stout, dark but not impenetrable. Tied to the ancient British traditions. The aroma and taste are dominated by liquorice and toffee.

De Ranke, Dottenijs, Belgium, XX Bitter – 6.2% The most bitter of the Belgian Ales. The explosion of noble hops in the nose, fine structure balanced by malt and Belgian spice, giving it an unmistakable rustic touch.

Hardknott, Millom, England, Cool Fusion – 4.4% Pale ale for those who love ginger spices.

Birrificio Italiano, Lurago Marinone (CO), Italy, Vùdù – 5.5% Dunkel Weizen. German style, uncompromising, spicy and refreshing, well-structured body.

Emiliano, Anzola Nell’Emilia, Italy, Forum Gallorum – 5% Inspired by the beers of Cologne.

Girardin, Sint Ulriks-Kapelle, Belgium, Black Label – 5% Geuze, A blend of lambics of different vintages. Wild and refreshing, well-carbonated with citrus notes.

Dark Star, Horsham, England, Old Chestnut – 4% Old Ale, Light in alcohol content but rich in flavor, from wood to dry fruit. Served in a cask, English to the core.

Old Chestnut Barrel

Dark Star Old Chestnet Barrel

Modo
Via Mascarella 24/b
+39 051 5871012

St. Peter’s, Bungay, England, Cream Stout – 6.5% Stout. Soft and elegant, very balanced.

Centokiodi, Bologna, Italy, Sveltina – 5% Cream Ale. The slender body makes it a very drinkable bitter beer.

Bruton, San Cassiano di Moriano (Lucca), Italy, Lilith – 5.5% American Pale Ale, Tuscan version, for strong palates.

De La Senne, Brussels, Belgium, Taras Boulba – 5% Belgian Ale, lower alcohol content, with a high bitter content.

Au Allertau, Germany, Weisse – 5% German wheat beer, straight from Bavaria. Banana and clove characterize the traditional bouquet.

Moustache
Via Mascarella 5/a

+39 051 235424

De La Senne, Zinnebir – 6% Belgian Ale, Sister of Taras Boulba, shares the bitter elegance and innovative spirit.

Brewfist, Codogno, Italy, Fear – 5.2% Sweet Stout. For those who are afraid of the dark beers. Cream and cocoa beans make for a sweet and soft palate. Romantic.

Gwatkin, Hereford, England, Golden Cider – 5% Cider in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition.

Cantina Bentivoglio
Via Mascarella 4/B
+39 051 265416

Rurale, Certosa di Pavia, Italy, Seta – 5% Blanche-style Belgian wheat beer. Clear and slightly veiled. Spiced with orange peel and coriander.

Menaresta, Felina – 7.5% Beer with a beautiful amber color, full and enveloping tones of cinnamon spice and ripe fruit.

Birrificio Italiano, Tipopils – 5.2% Classic German Pilsener. The founder of Italian pils, distinguished from its German sisters with a more slender body and more explosive aroma, herbal and peppery.

Bon Secours, Péruwelz, Belgium, Triple – 9% Golden. Dry and floral. Elegant final alcohol.

Bravo Caffe’
Via Mascarella 1
+39 051 266112

Revelation Cat/Mikkeller, Copenhagen, Denmark, Cream Ale – 5% Inspired by traditional pre-Prohibition American blonde, it breaks the boundaries of style, being more bitter and more fragrant.

Cremeria Mascarella
Via Mascarella 30
+39 051 263236

Granita of Craft Beer

Twenty-seven beers in total as part of the festival, and fourteen of them were from Italy, and none of them named Peroni!

Birrificio Del Ducato AFO

Birrificio Del Ducato AFO

I was very happy to see the high concentration of Italian craft beers as part of the festival, with more than half of the total selection coming from Italy.  And the styles of beers presented by Italian craft brewers showed a nice diversity.

Birrificio Del Ducato Via Emilia

Birrificio Del Ducato Via Emilia

Unfortunately, the Bravo Caffe’ was closed already when we arrived, so we did not get to try the Revelation Cat/Mikkeller Cream Ale.  We passed by Moustache and Cantina Bentivoglio but they were quiet and empty, and we wanted to be more in a crowd.  We found L’Ortica, where not only was there a nice mix of people, but we also managed to snag a table out on the patio where we settled in for the next few hours.

Hardknott Cool Fusion

Hardknott Cool Fusion

Over the course of the evening, I tried the Via Emilia, Cool Fusion, Old Chestnut, Flora Sambuco and Wake Up Dead.  I wanted to try a few of the other Italian beers, but two of the taps were on rotation, and neither Saison was available, the AFO available instead (which I had already tried), and the Vùdù and Forum Gallorum being off the tap in favor of the Cool Fusion.  AFO and Bad King John also found their way to the table, and I did take a small taste of the Bad King John when it arrived.

Bad King John and Old Chestnut

Bad King John and Old Chestnut

I loved the beers I did try, especially the Old Chestnut, Flora Sambuco and Cool Fusion.  The Wake Up Dead was good, but had a bit too much alcohol taste for me.  According to Bianca, this would be a great beer for marinating meat with.

Flora Sambuco and Wake Up Dead

Flora Sambuco and Wake Up Dead

Next door to L’Ortica is Modo and we discovered it was quite interesting as well — nice crowd and also a good beer selection – offering a one-two punch for a night out in Bologna. I would definitely suggest making 24 and 26 Via Mascarella your places to stop when you’re out for a beer.  And I would definitely suggest giving the Italian craft beer selections a chance, as they are quite good, and show that there is definitely a growing beer community in Italy.  Granted, not as strong as the wine community, but certainly not something to ignore for the future.

 

Preparing for Queen’s Day in Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Tonight and tomorrow will be perhaps the biggest party of the year in Eindhoven, even more crowded than Carnaval, and perhaps only rivaled by those days when the local football team wins the championship.  Last time I was in town for Queen’s Day I could hardly move, the crowds of orange so vast it took hours just to walk a few hundred meters.

The weather seems a little more threatening this year than it did that year, but the city is gearing up for quite a party nonetheless.

I took a walk through all the major squares in the center of town this afternoon to see what was being prepared for this year’s festivities.  All of the major local beers seemed to be well represented, with numerous stages and every variety of food truck to be found, representing all of the traditional options, from trucks offering selections of French Fries / Krokets / and Frikkendel, to hamburgers, bratwurst, mini egg rolls, pizza, and every other food that pairs well with the ever present beers.

I hope the rain holds off.

Stage set up in Stationsplein

Stage set up in Stationsplein

Stocked up on Red Bull

Preparing for a long night?

Bavaria Truck

Bavaria Truck

Cakes and other "baked" goods

Cakes and other "baked" goods

Grease Popcorn

Popcorn, Grease style!

Beck's stand

Beck's Beer not to be left out.

Grolsch Truck

Grolsch Truck with food stands in the background

Leompias and Tostis

Loempias and Tostis

Hamburgers and Bratwurst

From America? Hamburgers and Bradwurst

Pizza

Queen's Day Pizza - New York Style

Frituur Stand

Frituur - Frites, Kroket, Frikkendel. Yum!

Jupiler

Jupiler set up to represent Belgium

 

For more photos, check out my Google+ Album of Eindhoven Queen’s Day, 2012 Preparations

New Singapore Sling Cocktail Offerings at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar

Late last week, I found myself faced with a surprising dilemma, an unplanned four day weekend!  I knew that I had Tuesday, Feb 28 off for the 228 Memorial Day Holiday, but did not know I also had off on the Monday before it.  Realizing this only on Friday, I made a quick call to my sister in Singapore, and booked a last minute flight down for Saturday and Sunday.

As this was such a short notice visit, the plans of course revolved around the existing schedule for her and my niece, which included my niece’s Saturday afternoon art class downtown near the Singapore Art Museum.  What were we going to do for the 90 minutes while she was in her class? As the museum is located right by the Bras Basah MRT station, it didn’t take long to come to a good solution…my sister had lived in Singapore for two years, and had yet to try an original Singapore Sling from the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, where it was invented in 1915, only three blocks away!

A few short minutes later, my sister, my niece’s nanny and I had arrived at this grand colonial-style hotel and made our way up to the second floor entry for the Long Bar, and were faced with quite a crowd!  Seems Saturday afternoon may not be the best time to try to make a quick visit to the Long Bar, especially as the second floor bar was not open this day.  We could have sat at the bar or outside on the veranda, but it was only a short wait for a table, so we opted for that, and less than 10 minutes later, we had our seats.

The original plan was for a trio of original Singapore Sling cocktails, however, on taking a quick peek at the menu, we were greeted with a surprising assortment of new sling cocktails on the menu!  In addition to the classic original, the following six items now appear on the menu, all at S$26 each, the same price as an Original Singapore Sling:

  • Spring Sling – Apple Vodka, Apple Sourz, DOM, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, Pineapple & Orange Juice
  • Summer Sling – Bacardi Limon, Lychee Liqueurs, DOM, Cointreau, Mango, Lychee & Orange Juice
  • Autumn Sling – Vodka, Creme de Casis, Apple & Pineapple Juice, Monin Casis, Lemon Wedges, Blackberries
  • Winter Sling - Vanilla Vodka, Peach Schnapps, Cointreau, DOM, Pineapple Juice, Pineapple Puree
  • Tropical Sling - Bacardi, Cherry Heering, Passion Fruit Puree, Lime Juice, Cointreau, DOM, Grenadine Syrup, Champagne
  • Courtyard Sling – Gin, DOM, Lychee Liqueurs, Mango Juice, Grenadine Syrup, Ginger Beer
Sling Options at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Sling Options at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Of course, needing to experiment, we had to go for three of the new cocktails (and one original to split…for tradition’s sake, and so my sister could finally say she’s had one here).  Our orders placed, a few minutes of munching on the great Thai peanuts (and making quite a mess with the pile of shells we left on the floor), and we soon had our drinks before us.

Peanuts at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Peanuts at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

First thing to note, only the Original Singapore Sling comes in the Original Singapore Sling glass.  All others come in an unlabeled glass.  Also to note, nowhere on the menu did I see the option of ordering the Singapore Sling with the ability to keep the collector’s glass as was available in the past, but perhaps this is meant to have you visit the gift shop on the first floor where you can buy the glass and other Raffles Hotel souvenirs.

Original Singapore Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Original Singapore Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Of the non-standard slings, the Tropical Sling came out first, much faster than the others.  Not sure if this meant this was pre-made like the Original, or just easier to make.  This drink was quite tasty, but did not quite have that signature Sling taste.  Though it was quite nice, with the passion-fruit and champagne.

Tropical Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Tropical Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

The Courtyard Sling was very tasty, though perhaps a bit strong.  Again, not a very traditional taste in line with the original sling, but one I would order again.

Courtyard Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Courtyard Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

The Summer Sling tasted quite similar to the original Singapore Sling, and seemed to also be the most popular option, aside from the original, that I saw people ordering as well.  This one also took the longest to receive, not sure if it was a lost order due to it being so crowded, or just took a while to make.  Very pleasing flavors, and very easy to drink.  Perhaps dangerously so!

Summer Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Summer Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Overall, I have to say, the new Slings are rather enjoyable.  I did not see the Tiger Lily on the menu any longer, so I’m not sure if it is still an option, or if it has been totally replaced by these new offerings.  If that is the case, however, I’m happy with the new flavors on the menu.

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