What I did on my holidays, a post-script

with one comment

So, the second leg* of the Slim Cessna’s Auto Club 2011 tour of Europe came around. None of the dates were even slightly doable for me. Except the Saturday in Haarlem. Even with the time booked off work it was not financially sensible/practical. Didn’t look like it was going to happen, and I was cursing KLM to anyone willing to listen.

However, if Half Man Half Biscuit happen to announce they’re playing London the night before…suddenly the transport is from there and much more doable. Get in there!!!

So, chastened by my feeble recollection of the beers from the first leg, I took to this one determined to document each and every one for the beer-geeks among you. And, I did. however, when doing a bit of house cleaning on the iPhone at the weekend there I deleted it. I’ve spent the last two hours trying to find out it it was salvageable. It wasn’t. Sorry.

So, the train from Glasgow: Trio of Brew Dog‘s.

  • Isle of Arran Paradox; so pleased to find a store supplying this. However, it kinda lacks what it used to have. It’s like the casks it’s matured in have been used beyond their worth. Resulting in a thinner less richly satisfying beer. Oh, it’s still very good but it cannot stand up to the likes of the Dark Island (currently popping up in pubs a fair bit) any more.
  • Bitch, Please. The Islay casks make this very unfriendly. I had it flagged as more of a curate’s egg than a decent addition to the canon. But, I really enjoyed this one. Typical I develop a taste for it just as I’m finished the ones I bought. Still not for everyone.
  • Tokyo*. I really didn’t need this did I? Beautiful black cranberried beastie that she is.

London! The Bree Louise! Finally Camden Inner City Green, finally! Ah, I can see why the CAMRA types love this. A good, tasty, golden ale. Nothing too amazing. Pie and Old Rosie, much more like it.

The Euston Tap! Quickly becoming a reason to try and always head down by train. We have a few drinks here. But, of most note, is the Flying Dog Dog Schwartz. I’m becoming fascinated with this smokey, seaweed-y brew. When it’s really good it smells like wet dog. Seriously, it’s good.

To Shepherd’s Bush Empire, site of some very fond musical memories for me. HMHB are playing their little hearts out. They are as tight as ever. Unfortunately, out front all we are getting is a wall of mush. I try standing in various bits of the room. Still rubbish. I even fight my way through the throng of sweaty old men to see if you can get it any better from the monitors right up the front. I stand at the sound desk. STILL atrocious. I try to ‘engage’ the soundman in a discussion of this fact.

After being thrown out, I meet my compatriot who has already left because the sound was so bad. So, it’s not just me. And, I’m not just drunk. Back to Euston, Hardcore, Dog Schwarz, we need to get up early tomorrow. So, pizza and a nightcap bottle of Abstrakt 06. Alright, if the most underwhelming of the series so far. Much better on keg than from the bottle, but then, you are supposed to lay it down for a year or so.

Breakfast of championsCrack of dawn awake. First time on the Eurostar. We’ll get on, get settled and catch up with some zzzzzs. But, the train’s delayed. Meaning we stand about a bit. Meaning we’ve woken up a bit. It’s not too early to crack the beer, is it…

Needing to replenish stocks at Brussel-zuid we hit some mini-mart and grab some beers. I wrote them down. All I can tell you is one was cherry and halal. Yes, I know that means it had no alcohol. I wasn’t really thinking about it too straight. It was weird. The others, quite nice.

There’s more train, the hotel in a town that only exists as an industrial estate on the edge of Schipol, a bus, and Haarlem. Pretty little town. Good balance of it’s tradition and people actually living and working in the place. After getting sliughtly lost we find ourselves at , the temple to Jopen beer
Jopenkerk. We have something that might be the Hoppenbier. It’s very good.

We try to have something else ‘hoppy’ and end up with a wheat beer. Nope. Someone needs to teach me what makes a good wheat beer. The fruity stuff on Lessines (a lambic?) last year is about as close as I’ve got. And, the barman at the Paradiso explained it should have lemon mashed in the bottom of it. If someone wants to sit me down with several bottles and learn me about it, I’m game.

We try their IPA. It’s alright, if a bit too ‘belgian’. But, time to head to the very beautiful town square and meet up with out man on the ground in the Netherlands. There’s whisky, beer, chat, more beer, some other things…good times.

To the gig: It’s euphoric. Well, I am. Perhaps a little too euphoric. I keep wanting to throw myself to my knees, arms aloft. But (probably remembering how long I limped for after the last time) I manage to restrain myself. Just. Must be getting older and wiser. Or one of them, anyway.

There’s a young lad of, maybe, 10/12 there. He is having the time of his life. I wish I’d been exposed to music like this at such an age. Maybe then… Actually, bollocks to that, at that age I knew I would be wasting too much of my time with the devils music. I just wouldn’t be seeing it live for a while. Different times, there weren’t any all ages (or even 14+) gigs back then. Then he gets to join the band on stage and I’m jealous all over again, but for me in the here and now. His mum was well hot too…

There’s been a plan to return to Amsterdam to try the pub we missed last time ‘t Arendsnest. High on the euphoria (yes, that’s it) we decide to carry out this plan. We have ‘something hoppy’ and then retreat into the night. And hour or so arguing with taxi drivers and we are back at the hotel.

TOO AMERICAN TOO LOUD!Next day we decide to head straight to Brussels as early as possible. This gives me the chance to have astroll around one of those places I’d liked on a previous flying visit. It still seems ace. I must definitely come back. Then we find the Delerium Cafe, a must for all beer lovers in the city. We have, of course, a Tremens. Then a strange pink (Grapefruit flavour) thing with a killer dog on the glass. And a beer I remember as Ader Red Ale. I cannot find anything online to suggest this should be the case. It’s a powerful malty beast. Maybe the maltiest beer I’ve ever drank. I like. And, finishing with some Belgian fries for the walk to the station, I am sad to be leaving Brussels. The tour of Belgium already framing itself in my mind.

Nightmare getting on the train thanks to the UK border at that end. There’s a Grimbergen Tripel for the journey. Don’t think I see any. I doze a bit. I think. I definitely like this chunneling.

Oh, look. The sleeper leaves from Euston. Whatever can we do round here fora few hours… Goose island, Hardcore, more Dog Schwarz (really odd, I like it a lot).

Note to self: NEVER. EVER. Never, ever, get the overnight train straight up when you’ve got work in the morning. You’re too old for it. You can’t handle it any more.

*Seems there’s a third leg. They will be back Aug/Sep. In fact the very week I had planned to go to New York. A trip I had postponed from Easter because they were coming over. I hummed and hawed. I had promised the band a UK gig next time they were over. But, the New York trip won out.

PS on Thursday 20th June 2011, Half Man Half Biscuit played the Liquid Room, Edinburgh. The sound was fine, the band magnificent, and the lightshow was excellent.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

11 July 2011 at 9:47 pm

One Response

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  1. Pink Killer

    I’m told there was a Houblon by La Chouffe there too.

    And, the Jopen Wheat Beer was called Adriaan. Cue Stallone impression

    Tony Kiernan

    12 July 2011 at 6:39 am


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