I know what you're thinking: this is not a city for lovers of beer, and in some respects you'd be correct. You won't find any cask ale here and for the most part the beer on offer is very bland and very cold, but happily the beer consumed in Barcelona, particularly in the heat of an August afternoon hits the spot nicely. You hardly find yourself drinking for gastronomic reasons, more as a means to stay alive, lest thirst and heatstroke kill you. Perhaps I'm being a little melodramatic, but ice cold beer in these conditions really does offer a revival to a body past its thermal comfort zone.
I made a trip to the Eternal City recently, in search of art and culture, good food, and of course beer. I was aware of a couple of venues from talking to ICB colleagues beforehand, but apart from that I was travelling more in hope than expectation.
The Cantillon brewery stands in one of the less salubrious parts of the city of Brussels. I approached it from the city centre along run-down streets and through a pretty ethnically diverse part of the city. It sits opposite a disused lot where I guess once stood warehouses or apartments but now is home to weeds, rubbish and the odd four-legged creature. In one way it's not the most obvious site for a brewery but I guess the area has changed a lot since it was established 100 years ago.
When you enter through the huge doors the first thing that hits you is an agreeable earthy, musty smell with a hint of stale beer. 100 years of beer seem to have soaked and permeated into every crack and crevice of the place. It's not a bad smell by any means and immediately pulls you further in to find out more.
I've been in Wiesbaden a number of times over the past several years on short vacations visiting in-laws, so when I was there this August after visiting Adeptus in Münster I decided it was high time I put forward an article for the ICB travel section. Especially since some of you may have heard of Wiesbaden recently with the Irish soccer team playing Georgia in the neighbouring city of Mainz.
Wiesbaden is a Spa town, or rather a city, with a population of over 300,000 people. Wiesbaden is the capital of the federal state of Hesse. The city sits on the northern banks of the River Rhine 30km west of Frankfurt International Airport and is in the heart of the Rheingau (Rhine district) which is famous for Rhinegau wines. Wiesbaden is a very nice place to visit if you are in the Frankfurt area or if you want a good base from which to explore the Rheingau valley that stretches from Wiesbaden to the town of Rüdesheim. The city of Wiesbaden has been famous for its thermal springs and spas since Roman times so if you are a bit worse for wear from too much beer or wine then you will have plenty of options for rest and recuperation.
I recently went to Vienna and Bratislava spending a few days in each city. Flew from Cork to Bratislava and bussed directly to Vienna. Spent two full days there seeing the sights and sampling what Vienna had to offer, then took a ferry to Bratislava on the Danube (very pleasant 75 minute trip!) and spent few days in Bratislava before returning home. I took notes on beers I encountered on my travels so here they are for your perusal!