Henrys Tavern, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

Another night, another bar full of wall to wall TVs showing a feast of sports. You certainly don’t need to miss any sporting action if you want to go out to eat in Denver. It’s everywhere.

Henry’s is a small chain which originated in Portland, but it was hard to tell it apart from Yard House, where we went last night. Not quite so many beers on tap, but still a decent selection, and a similar menu with the usual selection of burgers, tacos, pizzas, fish’n’chips and stir fries.

If I see a BBQ chicken pizza then I’m likely to have it, and that was the case here, BBQ marinated chicken, applewood smoked bacon and “sharp” cheddar (which didn’t lacerate my mouth).

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Another local beer to go with it, Upslope lager, malty with a crisp finish, brewed up the road in Boulder.

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Nothing remarkable about this place, but a perfectly pleasant place for a pizza and a pint (actual volume of pint may vary, because Americans have a smaller gallon, so if you have 1/8th of a gallon here it’s 473ml instead of 568ml). Oh, and there’s sport. World series again tonight.

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Great Divide barrel bar, 35th Street, Denver, October 2018

The past!

If there’s one thing better than a brewery tap with a great selection of beers, it’s a brewery tap with a great selection of beers that’s playing a great selection of 1990s Americana, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Only a short stroll away from my previous refreshment stop, and I was soon settled in at a table here, and off to the bar for my next tasting flight. I asked one of the friendly bar staff for a few recommendations and picked some of my own, to sit back and enjoy on this wonderfully lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Let’s run through them from left to right.

Colette Farmhouse Ale, a 7.3% saison, had a subtle fruity note and there was a slight wheatiness to it. A nice starter to go with some Counting Crows on the jukebox (well, I think they call it Spotify nowadays).

Strawberry Rhubarb, a fruity sour with mellow fruitfulness and a nice touch of rhubarb, one of my favourite vegetables to feature in a beer.

Fresh Hop (2018) is this season’s freshest beer, brewed with “wet” whole cone hops from the Pacific north west, to give something that’s a little malty with light hoppiness. I think we’d moved on to Hootie & The Blowfish at this point.

Hazy IPA does exactly what it says on the tin, full of hazy hoppiness and a nice bitterness. A decent NEIPA that puts some of the others that I’ve had recently to shame.

It was a lovely drop, but I think it’s fair to say that I saved the best for last, in the form of Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale. Sticking an old ale into whisk(e)y barrels produces wonderful results, a beautiful maltiness in this grand old ale.

A great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon, relaxed and with a very chilled vibe. If you want to stretch your legs then there are tours every hour from 2-6 at weekends. There’s a food truck parked outside if you get peckish. Oh, and they love yetis.

Yard House, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

The day job has brought me to Denver for a week. My first international solo trip which is hopefully going to be very rewarding. My research has told me that Denver is a city of beer, so I will be putting that to the test over the next few days, before getting down to some long American conference days (first session 7:30am, last session a networking event lasting until 10pm). There will be city exploration before then. And not so much humble bragging…

It’s a very convenient city from my first impressions. A train from the airport costs $9, and takes you to the heart of “downtown”. Although tonight, there was a replacement bus service for the last leg of the journey, on an absolutely roasting hot bus. It felt like a very British welcome, what could be more British than those three words “replacement bus service”?

After that, there’s a free bus that runs up and down 16th Street “The Mall” all day. When your hotel is on 15th Street, that’s very convenient. So, arrive at hotel, check in, find that the bill that was supposed to be pre-paid hasn’t been, sort that out (or so you think), and then go out for something to eat.

After strolling down 16th Street for a little while, my dining companion and I chose Yard House. This may have had something to do with its tagline “World’s largest selection of draft beer”. A bold claim indeed. I counted 108. That’s pretty good going.

It’s almost the same as the number of TV screens in here. It’s a Saturday night, and it’s wall to wall sports. NFL, NBA, College Football and the World Series of Rounders (lazy English derision of Baseball). Turn your head a few degrees and you can watch a different game every time, although only one audio stream is available (World Series tonight).

On to that beer then. How do you choose from 108? For me it was a choice of familiar favourite styles, and a dry hopped pale ale from Boulder Beer Company called Hazed & Infused won the day. Delightfully hoppy, easy drinking and fresh flavour. Enough to liven up the taste buds after 19 hours awake.

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Next up, some dinner. I’ve already eaten four meals and some snacks in this elongated day, but you have to adjust your body to a new timezone, so having another dinner is a nice way of doing that. Fried chicken is a popular dish on this continent, and I do love it when it’s done right, so I was drawn to it on the menu.

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A tasty, juicy piece of chicken, nice and crisp on the outside and served with creamed corn (not something I think I’ve had before), bbq beans (meh), spinach mashed potatoes and bourbon gravy.

The photos are a bit rubbish because this was one of those occasions where explaining the whole concept of The MOFAD was not on the agenda, so a quick snap was all that there was time for. Sadly there wasn’t time for more beer, because it was time for bed. There’s always tomorrow.

There’s definitely tomorrow.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

PS – the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Boston Red Sox 3 – 2, in what turned out to be their only victory in the series.

Centro Lounge, Loughborough, July 2018

Yes, it’s Centro Lounge time. Which must mean that it’s cinema night, time to catch up with another of those summer blockbusters that we’ve missed out on so far.

I’ve written about Centro Lounge more than enough times, so let’s just move on to dinner tonight. A new addition to the menu, the New York Deli burger, a burger topped with pastrami, emmental, gherkins, tomato, lettuce and wholegrain mustard mayo, served in a brioche bun with slaw and fries. It is so new to the menu, that they don’t quite know how to make it properly yet, as evidenced by the photo which shows the gherkins arriving on a separate plate as an afterthought. A decent enough burger which will probably improve when they’ve had more practice at cooking it.

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Once again, no beer to report on, as they haven’t raised their game in this area.

Tonight’s film was Jurassic World, which was good fun nonsense. Much like The Lost World, which was an average sequel to a better first film. Entertaining with plenty of “shut up, that would never have happened” moments.

Brewdog, Camden, June 2018 #3

Back again for some more food and football before I have to go back to the hotel and sit some mock exam papers before tomorrow afternoon’s two and a half hour exam. Oh how I’m looking forward to that.

I was pretty certain that if I chose any other pub to watch the England match, it would be absolutely rammed, and probably with some fans that I wouldn’t fancy watching football with. So I’ve returned to my World Cup safe space for some more interesting beers and a bite to eat. Beers first.

First up tonight was Gose  from Hi-Wire Brewing, a 4.2% sour with mild tartness and a subtle saltiness.

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Also accompanying dinner was Tepache  from The Wild Beer Co. I was looking forward to this one. Tepache is a traditional Mexican soft drink made from spontaneously fermented pineapples flavoured with spices. A beer version of that sounded most interesting, but there was just a very slight hint of pineapple, and a sort of cinnamon flavour lurking. Thought this one might be amazing but sadly not.

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Tonight’s burger was Cluck Norris, sesame and poppy seeded brioche bun, southern fried chicken, avocado, red onion, cajun mayo & coriander. A decent bit of fried chicken.

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That’s the end of my Camden Brewdog adventures for now. It’s still about the best bet for a decent beer around here, only Caps and Taps a little way to the north is better, and they have limited opening hours and no food, but I will get there one day.

For the record I should probably note that a much changed England side lost 1-0 to Belgium but progress to the next round to play Colombia.

Brewdog, Camden, June 2018

Brewdog continue to court controversy and divide opinion around the country. Whatever they do, they manage to put a foot wrong somewhere along the way, and pretend that they hadn’t really thought something through completely, when they probably knew that they would get loads of publicity from whatever the stunt was (Pink IPA is probably the latest in a long line of these).

(Edit : August 2018’s “beer porn” was another new low for Brodog. It’s getting harder to continue supporting them, and it might soon be time to call it a day.)

There was a time a few years ago when they were an oasis in a desert of terrible mass market beer. But that time has passed, and there are now many oases around, whilst the quality of some BD products seems to have dwindled. This year’s launch of Fanzine is a bit of a case in point. A very convenient idea (three cans of beer delivered every few weeks) which was supposed to be “for the beer geeks”. However, some of the things have been so utterly dull that they could have been produced by any faceless brewing megacorp. The “small batch English IPA – retro IPA” from last month was as bad as Greene King IPA. How is that possible?

All that said, I will often go into a Brewdog bar if there’s one nearby, as there are likely to be some well kept guest beers on, as well as a few interesting Brewdog ones which might be worth a try.

Tonight, alongside the second half of Colombia vs. Poland, that guest beer was Shika from Wild Beer, a decent pilsner and a perfectly good football pint. No time for any more tonight as I have to be up bright and early in the morning to begin a week of brain melting training.

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Craft Beer Co, Islington, May 2018

A pleasant day in London town. Once again, I was looking out for somewhere to grab a beer and something to eat before heading for the train home. I was pretty certain that the beer would be good after visiting another of their bars this year, so it was worth taking a chance on the food.

On to that beer. First up Jessamine from Thornbridge, a jasmine and orange ale with Wiillamette hops. The jasmine comes through and a touch of pithiness from the orange. Interesting. Also making appearance tonight was Windle, another Thornbridge beer. This was clean and smooth with a lemon note somewhere in the background.

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Dinner was a chicken burger, aka posh KFC, aka The Southern Bell, which comprises of a spicy butter fried chicken breast, guacamole, iceberg lettuce (boo!), tomato, chipotle mayo and rosemary fries.

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As posh chicken burgers go, it was pretty good. This is a pleasant old school pub with a modern attitude to beer and food. Given that’s it’s only around a 15 minute walk from St Pancras, I suspect I shall find myself here again this year.