Have had a chance over the past couple of days to go through the stats of the trip, come up with some highlights and think overall what has been achieved and where I go from here.
Firsty, the important stats.
Countries I drank beer in: 5 (England [ok, it was only the Guinness at Heathrow], Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Czech Republic)
Approx. number of beers drunk: 169
Number of different beers drunk: 141
Top 5 Beers: 1) Rochefort 10 (2003 Vintage), 2) Ellezelloise Hercule Stout, 3) Chimey Blauwe (2000 Vintage), 4) Achel Extra Brune, 5) Leifman's Cuvee Brut/Boon Faro
Worst Beer: Tuborg (any beer that reminds me of VB is gone), but I know Jaimi would put Abbey Des Rocs Special Noel.
Best Bar: For having both atmosphere and great beers, I can't go past 't Brugs Bertje in Brugge.
Best Beer Store: For having a good international range, Bier Spezialitaten Laden in Berlin
Best Beer based meal: Sorry, but it a tie between the Flemish stew At De Pas Partout (Brugge), and the Venison stew at Pivovarsky Dum (Prague). But if I had to choose it would be the Flemish for that first time cherry popping moment with this style of food.
Best Drinking Partner: For his tireless efforts to keep up with me and allowing himself to get broken over and over again doing so, Mr Jaimi Faulkner. In terms of my random drinking partners, is has to be Willy at Brugge.
Best Drinking Experience: Ok, so while I had some amazing beers, my best experience was actually very situational, and only on half decent beers. But it was in Instanbul with some supermarket beers sitting in the park with Brad and Seda in front of the boat they were married on 2 months ago. While the beers may have just been an accompaniment, it just goes to show, it isn't just the beer itself that makes drinking it a great experience.
Thinking of the beer journey overall, we really did get through a lot early on with the Belgium Beer Weekend Festival, and in Belgium overall. Still, there are so many more that could be tried there. For such diversity in beers, Belgium really is the place to go. To be honest, was pretty disappointed with Germany, as was hoping to be inspired more by their dark beers. However, I do have to point out that I did not do the regional touring in Germany that I did in Belgium, so realise I don't have a good grasp on it. Still, Bamberg did show itself to be an great region for beer in Germany, so I hope it is more like that overall. With no expectations of Turkey, was pleasantly surprised that I didn't find any offensive beers, and even some interesting brews being done their. Prague was interesting, especially through Pivovarsky Dum, which ran the line between novelty beers (nettle, coffee, banana, etc) and authentic blockbusters (Russion Imp. Stout). While it is awash with Pils, was glad to have found a few dark beers that tasted like real beer.
For me then, while I could just continue tasting beers and enjoying the experience, I think I need to pursue the possibility of getting involved in the making of beer. Yes, Stass and I have the little set up and do enjoy the experimentation of making beer, but I can't help think that I should attempt to do more and finally see if there is anything for me in this industry. So with my limited brewing experience, would like to try and get some experience working in a brewery. I understand that 90% of brewing is in ensuring clean equipment, and would be happy to do this to just get into that environment. Hopefully the enthusiasm I have shown through this blog would transfer well, and luckily I know I have a good work ethic as a basis. The other side of things is possibly in the serving of beers, and the potential of getting behind the bar, so also looking at doing my Responsible Service of Alcohol ticket to start that process. I think I have enough experience now with beer to be able to choose a decent selection of beers from here in Australia and maybe even overseas. As I know, my taste in beer does not correspond well with the general aussie public, but with the experimentation happening in brewing here, hopefully it shows at least the brewers are seeing the potential, and it may start filtering through to the tastebuds of the people. I would like to thank Jaimi from planting the seed of these recent thoughts, and the encouragement people here in Australia and those I have met overseas have given me over the longer beer journey I have had in my life. From Toohey's Old, to Guinness, Rouge's Chocolate Stout, Moo Brew Vintage Stout and most recently Trappist beers and lambics, there have been some pivotal moments in my beer tasting journey. Brewing with Stass and Brad, and having Stass help get this blog up and running have been other important steps for me on this path. While I haven't previously taken beer/brewing seriously as a career option and seen enough of what alcohol has done to our society to not want to take it too seriously, maybe it is time to overcome this and 'ave a go (ya mug).
So, as always, any comments you would like to add to this would be greatly appreciated. I do hope you have at least been slightly entertained by this blog and most recently the trip.
In the next couple of weeks I have a lambic beer tasting at Slowbeer, and Fed Square has another microbreweries showcase where I can see what the latest in with experimenting with beers here in Oz. Maybe I can even chat to some of the brewers to see if they need a labourer.
Well, we shall see what comes from all this. At the very least there will be more beer being tasted.
PS: I have to confess, I did have a beer on the trip home on the plane. The steward saw my belgium beer shirt so handed me a Heineken. Yeah, really brought me back down to earth after everything I had been through.
PPS: The day after I returned there was a Twoks gig so I could meet up with my friends at. Turned into a drunken event, and think finally my body rejected me and all the beers I have drunk over the past month. Lucky it did not happen while on the trip! Thanks everyone for welcoming me back.