Category: Thirsty Thursday

Sake It To Me

I recently went to my local, high-end alcohol shop (Bottle Apostle) to purchase some more delicious whisky to sip on at night. I just may have held out a few more days than I wanted to so that I could show up on one of their free tastings days. Okay I definitely waited to show up on a free tasting day.

Now they are primarily a wine store with free tastings on Friday afternoons … what  great way to kick off the weekend. However they also have a section in the store which is known as the Brew Testament where they have a pretty good range of local London and UK craft brews from outfits such as Kernel, Beavertown, Camden Town, Gipsy Hill, Siren and plenty of others. The smallest section of the store is dedicated to spirits although they have a nice selection of whisky, vodka and obviously gin.

About every other Saturday they will do a free tasting for something other than wine and this past weekend was sake. Now I like sake but it’s really only something I either order a nice bottle of when I’m at a fancy Japanese restaurant or bomb some shitty warm with some Kirin at a local sushi joint. It’s never really crossed my mind that this would be a nice thing to have around the house to sip on every once and awhile since a good bottle will be pretty smooth, not give you a hangover like a lot of spirits or make you feel bloated like beer can.

I was shopping for some whisky, which was my original intention of going in there in the first place, and one of the women behind the counter said that if I liked whisky I should try this sake that was fermented in an oak barrel and gave off a whisky-ish quality. I decided that was a great idea and ended up sampling all 6 offerings they had … 4 were sakes and 2 were plum wine sakes.

I did the tasting backwards from what they had intended but it still worked as I started with the heaviest … Kinpo Honjozo Sake NV from Fuyou. It’s got an ABV of 14.5% and a Rice Polishing Ratio of 70%. It’s spicy and peppery with a peaty flavour and an easy transition for whisky drinkers to really take to.

Going backwards the next one I tried was the Anaze Ginjo Sake NV from Tomio. It was the highest ABV at 15.7% but the lowest Rice Polishing Ratio at 49%. For a Ginjo it was a high polish ratio which gave it a fruity, smooth and easy drinking quality. This may have been the one closest to something I would normally do in a nicer Japanese restaurant and one of only 2 on the table that had alcohol added to it.

Next up was the one I ended up purchasing, the Hakuko Red Label Junmai Sake NV from Morikawa Brewery. It has a 15.5% ABV and 70% Rice Polishing Ratio. It was one of the smoother sakes I’ve had with an all around great nose and silky smooth taste to it. It is made in smaller quantities and the story behind the brewery may have also been a reason that drew me towards it. 2 brothers now run the small production in Japan which their family started in 1887. One does the marketing while the other is in charge of the production and each of them one have 1 assistant. They also have a river (the Norogawa) in the back of their house where the brewery is which is the source of their (soft, unfiltered and naturally delicious) water, which is a huge part of any sake. This bottle also won the 2014 International Wine Challenge gold medal in one of the sake divisions.

IMG_4843

Finally I got to the lightest one which was the Banryu Jungetsu Junmai Sake from Eiko Fuji. Again it has a 15.5% ABV and a 65% Rice Polishing Ratio. This was the lightest of all of them and the other one which also had alcohol added. It was light but fruity with notes of green apple and pear and was the one they recommended for any novice sake drinker to start with.

Next it was onto the 2 plum wine sakes which were similar to dessert wine or aperitif. The first one, Tsuyahada Umeshu NV, was also from the Morikawa Brewery. It was a cloudy liquid due to the fact that they leave some of the plum skins on to naturally sweeten the drink. I was expecting this 12% ABV to be incredibly sweet but it was not intensely and overbearing since it was natural.

The last one, and 2nd plum wine sake, was more what I was expecting from plum wine. The Mitobe Umeshu NV from Mitobe was only 10.5% ABV but much sweeter and coated the glass when you swirled it. It was silky and smooth for sure but a bit too sweet and decadent for me however it could be great after a large meal or even incorporated into a dessert.

Now the one thing I was not aware of was the Rice Polishing Ratio. Essentially a drink with a 70% RPR means that 30% of the rice husk or outer part has been stripped or peeled away leaving 70% of it to make the sake. As you can imagine from simple deduction, rice that has a lower RPR (meaning that more has been milled away) is usually more expensive since it has required a greater time of production. However this doesn’t always mean that a 40% RPR is better than a 70%, just that it’ll probably cost more.

It, like everything, is all a matter of taste and palate. I’m excited to now have both my whisky and sake at home to sip on throughout the evenings. Next time you’re at a good alcohol shop where they have knowledgeable employees, tastings or specialize in sake I suggest picking some up. It can be stored anywhere (out of direct sunlight and huge heat fluctuations) until it’s opened … then it will last at least 3-4 weeks or more in the fridge.

– Beard

You Can’t Spell Bruxelles Without Beer

But seriously, it’s impossible which is why the city, and entire country, is so incredible at brewing the nectar of the gods. This was the perfect place to take Lindsay since she is a sour beer fan when she drinks them. There were so many Gueuzes, Lambics, Krieks, etc there that we were literally in heaven.

I of course am a beer fan in general and my mood changes from one beer to the next as I like to sample and mix and match if you will. So as I did for our trip through Copenhagen, here is our list of beers we consumed while in Belgium … remember we not only did 2 nights in Bruxelles but a night in Brugge as well. I got pictures of almost all of them so “beer” with me on those however I’ve put them all at the bottom.

  • Haacht Primus Lager 5.2%
  • Haacht Mystic White 5.1%
  • Chimay Rouge 7.0%
  • Delirium Red 8.5%
  • Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge 5.5%
  • Petrus Aged Pale 7.3%
  • St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition 5.0%
  • Oud Beersel Oude Geuze Vieille 6.0%
  • Mort Subite Gueuze Lambic 4.5%
  • Bourgogne de Flandres 5.0%
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru 6.0%
  • Mort Subite Lambic Blanche 4.5%
  • Mort Subite Gueuze Sur Lie 4.5%
  • Hoegaarden Agrum Radler 2.0%
  • Westmalle Trappist Tripel 9.5%
  • Orval Trappist Ale 6.2%
  • Cantillon Gueuze 2013 5.0%
  • Cantillon Lambic 2011 Cask 5.0%
  • Cantillon Abbaye de Cureghem (2013 Zwanze) 7.0%
  • Cantillon Cuvee Bija (2014 Zwanze) 6.0%
  • Vanderghinste Oud Bruin 5.5%
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12 10.0%
  • Taras Boulba 4.5%
  • Trappist Achel 9.5%
  • Volga La Rouge 8.3%
  • Jupiler Belgian Pils 5.2%
  • De Dolle Oerbier 9.5%
  • Timmermans Oude Gueuze Limited Edition 5.5%
  • De Ranke Guldenberg 8.5%
  • Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio 5.0%
  • Vichtenaar 5.1%
  • Watou Tripel 7.5%
  • Abbot House Beer Tripel Blond 8.3%
  • La Chouffe Blond 8.0% x2
  • St. Feuillien Blond 6.0%
  • Quantelaar Dark 8.0%
  • Brugge Tripel Zomergruut Gruut 6.2%
  • Gulden Draak Strong Dark Ale 10.5%
  • Rodenbach Oud Bruin 5.2%
  • Liefmans Goudenband 8.0%

 


 

Now our trip was cut a bit short so somehow I didn’t get to try the Kwak but it’s just another reason to go back!


kwak-beer1


– Beard

 

Is The Mayor In?

Upon arriving to London we were on the hunt for a really good cocktail bar. I scoured a bunch of sites (like some of the ones I mentioned on Tuesday) and narrowed it down to a couple in our temporary housing area we lived in for the first 3 weeks which was quite close to Lindsay’s work. So after we got settled and got a couple of days under our belts we decided we deserved a good drink (or 3).

I decided to try the one which had not only popped up a few times but had actually been on my list well before moving on a recommendation from a friend. I was excited to see that it was about 2 blocks from Lindsay’s work but didn’t exactly tell her much more than the name of the place, The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town, as I knew she’d immediately be smitten since it referenced a cat.

We walked up to an all-day dining spot down an alley off Bishopsgate in the Spitalfields area called The Breakfast Club, which has multiple locations in town. When you walk in there is a large diner-style dining room with large tables and fun things hanging from the walls such as their famous “Sex, Drugs and Bacon Rolls” sign in addition to their Sega Mega Drive console.


the-breakfast-club


When you walk up to the hostess stand you of course have the option of dining in the restaurant but for access to their speakeasy (The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town) you simply need to say that you’re “here to see the mayor.” Assuming there is space in the smallish bar they will escort you through this door and down 2 flights of stairs to the secret speak.


 


As you walk down there are a few pictures lining the walls which immediately play to the cat theme and even more once you’re in the bar area. Once you’re in “the basement” the rectangular room has the bar where they whip up their concoctions directly ahead of you while the room expands to the left where you have the seating area. Both walls have benches lining them with 2 or 4 person tables and stools. There are a couple of other tables in the middle of the room as well and standing space near the bar and to the right of it with a couple of low-top tables (as opposed to the rest which are tall).

The decorations are pretty funny with some goofy pictures, stuffed moose head and plenty of things that look like old relics lining the walls and parts of the ceiling railings. While this stuff is all great let’s get down to the real reason you come here though, the drinks!

We’ve been to this fine establishment 4 times and have noticed that they routinely add and subtract drinks from the menu. While it’s good to keep things fresh and new options on the menu it’s always a bummer when you find that one drink that is absolutely incredible only to see it missing from the rotation next time you visit.

Therefore I won’t really give you any drink recommendations for this spot with the exception of 1 that has been on the menu each time we’ve been and is sort of a staple I feel. that is of course the Mezcallywagg which I got the first time I was there and was blown away. Now I normally have a rule of thumb of not drinking Bloody Mary’s after noon or so and even though it was about 6pm I decided to deviate from my rule. this was mainly due to the notation next to the drink name which read “Best Bloody Mary 2013.”

If it was named the best and the description was “Smokey & Spicy” I figured I needed to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. Now I’m also a big fan of Mezcal and Laphroaig (pretty much anything smokey and peaty) so when I read the ingredients I was also hooked as it features Mezcal, pink & black peppercorn infused tequila, lemon juice, Tabasco, thyme syrup, charred red pepper, paprika, celery salt, tomato juice & Laphroaig spray. I almost ordered a second but chose to try a different drink but I highly recommend this if you wind up there.

Here’s their current menu, which again will change slightly with some regularity so don’t get your hopes up too much for a specific cocktail but you’ll get an idea of what you’re in for.


 

COCKTAILS

SPRING BLOSSOM £10
Efflorescent, light
Orange Blossom Water (Mandarin oil), elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth, topped with champagne

RYE FIZZ £10
Fruity, delicate
Rye whisky, apricot liqueur, Crème de Mure, topped with champagne.

WHAT’S THE DILLI’O £9
Fresh, tropical, herbal
Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, pineapple juice, a dash of egg white, fresh dill.

KUMQUAT SMASH £9
Citrus, tang, sweet
Your choice of rum, vodka, gin or tequila, kumquats, red basil leafs, sugar.

BLOOD & SLANDER £9
Bitter, sweet, intense
Bourbon, Amer Picon, Campari, lemon juice, orange juice, sugar syrup, orange bitters, topped with soda.

BISH-BE-CALM £9
Soothing, sweet, smooth
Camomile infused vodka, lemon, peach liqueur, peach bitters, egg white, a dash of sugar syrup.

BEACAUSE I’M WORTH IT £10
Herbaceous, light
Kamm & Sons, gin, lemon juice, jasmin syrup, lavender bitters, egg white, lemon oil, topped with soda.

AVOCOLADA £10
Buttery, lush, tropical
Coconut rum, rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, avocado, red chilli, dark rum.

JUNGLE FEVER £10
Tropical, zesty, fruity
Agricole, rum, amaretto, Licor 43, lime juice, pineapple juice, pink grapefruit.

FRESH N UP £9
Fresh, green, bitter finish
Gin, pomegranate shrub, tonic, dash of Jerry Thomas Bitter Truth bitters.

SPICED MADARIN CAPRIOSKA £9
Spicy, lively, lush
Vodka, Napoleon mandarin, lime juice, dash of sugar syrup, red chilli.

PEAT-NUT BUTTER CUP £9
Chocolate, Peanut & Vanilla
Bourbon, Advocaat, Mozart dark chocolate, Licor 43, peanut butter, Laphroaig spray.

BERLUSCONI £9
Sour & Zesty
Aperol, gin, lemon juice, egg white & grapefruit bitters.

MEZCALLYWAGG (BEST BLOODY MARY 2013) £10
Smokey & Spicy
Mezcal, pink & black peppercorn infused tequila, lemon juice, Tabasco, thyme syrup, charred red pepper, paprika, celery salt, tomato juice & Laphroaig spray.

FRENCH REVOLUTION £9
Refined & Aromatic
Cognac, Lillet Blanc, Benedictine, black walnut bitters with an orange twist.

CHAN BANGER £9
Tangy, Zesty, Banging
Rum, apricot liqueur, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit & lime juice.

CHILLI CHILLI BANG BANG £9
Sweet & Spicy
Tequila, Amaretto, orange & lime juice with Tabasco and a sugar rim.

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE  £9
Indulgent, Chocolatey
Yellow Chartruse, egg, Cherry Heering, chocolate bitters.

HONEY I SHRUNK THE DRINK £9
Balanced, Soothing
Rum, Contreau, all spice liqueur, lemon, honey & bitters.

Beer, cider, wine and champagne also available.


Okay 1 more recommendation and I’m betting you can guess what it is based on my comment earlier about what taste notes I like … that’s right the Peat-Nut Butter Cup was pretty incredible too! Finally in addition to all of this there is some food served downstairs as well but not the full menu you can get upstairs. There are usually about 4-5 small plates for you to choose from if you want to nosh on something while you sip (or chug) your cocktails.

So next time you’re near Spitalfields, it’s after 5pm (only because that’s when the bar opens) and you have an itch for a fancy cocktail in a fun speakeasy environment go see they Mayor.

– Beard

Address: 12-16 Artillery Lane E1 7LS
Phone: 020 7078 9639 (although no reservations are taken)
Closest Tube Stop: Liverpool Street
Fun Fact: Remember to use the phrase “I’m here to see the Mayor” to gain access to the speak

Coffee Society

Okay so my first coffee shop review won’t be from London but it will at least come from the UK. While we were in Bath the other weekend I was on the hunt for a good coffee shop after having some rather average (or in my book sub par) coffee throughout the Cotswolds.

We had some brown water for breakfast and as we walking through town I mentioned I was ready for some real coffee and naturally the first thing I saw was Starbucks. So made the joke of “hey this looks like a hip new coffee shop.” Luckily no one took me seriously and kept walking … they passed the test. Now unbeknownst to me a few store fronts down from the soul-sucking and not-even-good coffee giant known as Starbucks lie a gem in the rough in Society Café.


IMG_4197society


Upon entering the small spot on the High Street I knew I had found “the one” in Bath. The board screamed artisan as they had beautiful descriptions and tasting notes for both their featured coffees of the day. Plus not only did they have tasting notes for an espresso but an espresso with milk and for the aeropress as those 3 cups will taste completely different to the trained tongue. Plus they had a good selection of loose leaf teas, single origin hot chocolates and fresh, delicious looking pastries, cakes and sandwiches.

I let Lindsay order first and she, boldly, went with a double macchiato of the Finca El Aguila from El Salvador. The tasting notes were cherry jam and dark chocolate and it was spot on! She took the first sip and made a face that said “I kind of hate this because it’s so strong” but I knew she really meant “so this is what real, good coffee tastes like.” After she downed it, with a little help from myself, she was pretty much bouncing off the wall and acting like she was on crack for a good hour or so.

My dad went with the Peruvian 69% Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate and said it was the best hot chocolate of his life. I opted to go Aeropress of the Ethiopian Wote #4 mainly due to the tasting notes of peach and black tea. Just a quick tangent on why I chose this … when I was visiting Arizona this past February I finally got to stop into Press Coffee Roasters in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had gotten some beans sent to me by my buddy Andy, who is becoming a regular in the coffee posts, and wanted to stop into the place in person. I ordered a Chemex of their Ethiopian Yiracheffe Washed on their recommendation and the fact that the tasting notes were lemon meringue black tea. It was one of the more impressive coffees I’ve tried mainly because it truly tasted like a mix of the tea and coffee but in a good way. So after sipping my cup of joe I was impressed and immediately put the spot on my list of coffee shops to visit if I’m ever back in the area as there are actually 2 of them in town.

So the two other things that make a good coffee shop, in my eyes, are of course atmosphere/ambiance (pictures, paintings, wall art, etc) and music. They had some good tunes come on in the 10 minutes we were there and, although it was quite small, they had some cool things in the shop as well.


 

society2 IMG_4194


– Beard

My Mikkeller Tasting

Yes I’m flashing back once again to København and my absolute favorite gypsy brewer, Mikkeller. As I mentioned we were luckily able to make it to 4 of his beer spots in the Danish capital and I wanted to give a beer by beer run down of all the ones we tried. As you read this just keep in mind that almost none of these were pints so we’re not complete alcoholics, we just really appreciate good beer and have a hard time stopping sometimes. So without further ado here’s the list of beers from the past trip and a few pictures we took along the way.

The first night we made it down to Mikkeller Bar which was the original spot in the city. Now 2 things I will say about this spot specifically. First I love the feel of it, you walk down about 5 steps and into the bar as you do in both the other Mikkeller spots and a lot of spots in the city due to the way it was built. There are essentially 2 small rooms inside where you can gather with some tables, unique wall art, real flame candles and of course the bar in the main room. Outside you have some picnic tables to gather when it’s nice out, again a pretty common sight in the city as they keep it super casual. Now the one thing I can’t really complain about (because I’m one of them) but this spot specifically has become a sort of Mecca for American beer geeks and specifically those from San Francisco. While it’s great meeting people from back home and talking shop with them I am more looking for the local interaction, but then again I guess so is everyone else. This time we met 2 different groups from SF and last year when we were here met more people from SF. But I digress and will get back to the matter at hand … beer:

  • Mikkeller Vesterbrosponten Sour 5.5% ABV (x2)
  • Mikkeller Citra Session IPA 4.5%
  • Mikkeller Sort Kaffe Black IPA 9.2%
  • Boon Foeder #120 2-Year Lambic 6.5%
  • Mikkeller Spontanframboos Sour 7.7% (x2)
  • Mikkeller I Beat You Double IPA 9.8%
  • Mikkeller Vesterbrown Ale 5.0%


Our next Mikkeller stop was a quick one before dinner the second night at Warpigs. As I mentioned in my earlier post this place was loud, punky and like a massive hall of beer drinking and BBQ eating. The fun thing we did see here was a tattoo artist set-up in the corner offering tattoos in between his beers … just saying that if I was going to get one I’d prefer to have an earlier session before a few IPAs are flowing through him but who knows. So while we didn’t try the BBQ here we did sample these beers:

  • Warpigs Real Estate Mongol Pale Ale 6.4%
  • Warpigs Scarf Squad Wheat Ale 5.5%
  • Mikkeller Black Temple Imperial Pilsner 6.66%
  • Mikkeller Blå Spøgelse Blueberry Sour 7.7%

 


 

Saturday night we decided to go back to the after dinner drinking routine and we ended up at Mikropolis. While I love all the different spots for their own reasons I really dig this one. Again you walk down some stairs to get in and, granted it was at nighttime, it was a dark but welcoming spot with soft, dim lights, great music playing in the background and an intimate feel to the space. This spot also features a smallish front bar room with a couple of tables, bar seating and a back room with some overflow booths. This is just one of those spots I can curl up with a good beer and stay all evening and it was a change from last year when we got there literally 5 minutes after they opened and were the first customers. The other cool thing about this place is not only do they feature their beers (and guest beers) but also some of their spirits in mixed drinks, which a member of the group tried and it was delicious:

  • Mikkeller Vendersgardesponten Ale Lambic 5.5%
  • To Øl Sur Amarillo Sour Syrlig IPA 7.5%
  • To Øl Chokodrøn Brown Ale 6.5%
  • Mikkeller U Alright? Belgian Ale 4.5%
  • Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Imperial Oatmeal Stout 10.9%
  • Green With Envy – Mikkeller Tequila, Coriander, Lime, Agave and Tabasco

 


Finally we made our way on our last full day there to Mikkeller & Friends. There’s nothing like some Sunday afternoon day drinking with amazing beers to really make you feel like you’re on vacation. The thing I love about Mikkeller & Friends is that the entire pace is painted this pale but semi-bright blueish-green colour. They also have a rather large seating area which encompasses the ample sized bar and again leads into another room with extra seating. Which they only have some small benches directly outside they have the regular park benches across the street near the park. This spot also boasts the Mikkeller Bottle Shop where you can find some glassware, clothing and a ton of bottles from Mikkeller and others that can be hard to find anywhere else. While we didn’t buy anything besides a mug this time we did some damage in the Bottle Shop last year as we stocked up for some pre-gaming beers during our trip. This year we stopped in to have one beer each and ended up staying for all of these:

  • Mikkeller Spontandryhop Citra Sour 5.5%
  • Mikkeller Green & Gold Malted IPA 7.7%
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru 2011 6.9%
  • Mikkeller Spontan Ale Sour 5.0% (x2)
  • To Øl Simple Wife Barrel Aged Sour Saison 10.0%

 

IMG_3724 IMG_3728 IMG_3732


 

So there you have our beer trip to København in August 2015 and hopefully there will be plenty more throughout the years. The next time I will have the chance to be at a Mikkeller spot will be in November in back-to-back cities as we’ll be traveling back to San Francisco where I can visit the Mikkeller Bar there and then stopping in Iceland for a few days where I can get to the new Mikkeller & Friends there before returning to London. So there will be more Mikkeller updates before the end of the year.

– Beard

Finally, A Coffee Post

As many of you know I have fallen back in love with coffee over the last few years after a long, long time without it. Quick background … I grew up on coffee, literally. My grandma used to put coffee (and a lot of milk) in my bottle when I was just a little beard. Whenever I went over there, and still go over there, they have coffee or are always offering to make a fresh pot. I drank black coffee with sugar for years then suddenly decided I was done with it. This more or less coincided with my switch to being a pescatarian back in the day as well, just a side note. I switched completely to tea (mainly Yerba Mate) and some green teas and tried to stay away from the unnaturally sweetened or grown ones.


 

yerba mate


My tea knowledge and love kept growing until I could no longer resist the booming artisanal, fancy and “brewed-with-love” coffee movement, neigh, craze sweeping the world it seemed. After some firm resistance, since I don’t like jumping on bandwagons, I finally broke down and started sipping coffee in the morning to the great joy from my buddy Andy. Thanks to coffee I feel like we reached that next level of true friendship.

Now I’ll stop here and point out right now that I absolutely am a coffee snob, I’m not hiding that fact at all. I drink 1 cup a day in the morning and, maybe a few times a week, 2 cups a day when I’m really cranking out a blog post. I avoid at all costs coffee that has been brewed for multiple people in a large pot or kettle that is being kept warm by some mechanical mechanism where I didn’t see it made immediately in front of me. If I’m going to drink coffee, I’m going to do it right (which has also become my motto for food, beer, wine, travel … really life in general). Also since I don’t need four shitty $1/£1 cups of coffee per day I’m fine with paying $4/£4 for one really good, fresh, made-with-love cup per day and equaling out.

So having said that I’ve been really into both home brewing and finding the best coffee shops in town for both beans as well as a place to grab a good cup in a place with great ambiance, music, people, culture and knowledgeable people. This is, again, where my love of research, exploration and previous concierge-brain kicks in and leads me all around town to try different coffee shops, see different styles of beans, ways of making and preparing them and talking to people. I’ll have plenty of in-depth stories on different coffee shops in both the London area, as I continue finding the great ones, and ones abroad I visit as well but this week I’ll focus on the one where I ordered my first cup of coffee back in San Francisco after coming off my hiatus. But to tide you over here is what I just got on my recent trip to the Coffee Collective in København as a little treat to bring home. Some Kieni, Mugaga Society from Nyeri, Kenya and a their large cup and saucer set. Both will be put to good use … as in right now as I’m writing this.


 

IMG_3824


 

I remember walking into the place and feeling like a foreigner in my own backyard. So much had changed in the coffee game, I was no longer the young kid on the block who knew all the hip lingo. I was somewhat lost looking at the board displaying all these different names I could barely pronounce from African and South American countries I might be able to pick out on a map. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Chemex, V60, Clever, etc. I thought it was funny to see coffee notes and flavors written down like a wine sommelier had been there and given their expert opinions. And my jaw dropped when I saw the price of a single cup of coffee. I was so young and naïve back then, when I was 28. Now at the ripe old age of 32 I’ve matured like, well, a fine bag of beans.

So after standing in line for a good 25+ minutes (while in line not wondering what to get) just to order my $4 cup of Kenyan (and of course a delicious waffle) at the Ferry Building Blue Bottle I finally got to see what all the hype was about and was hooked, literally immediately. I started researching new coffee shops to try, looking into buying some home-brew equipment and have never looked back!


blue bottle


I’ve built up a nice little collection of toys at home as I usually brew here 4-5 days per week and go out the other 2-3 days. One of the most unfortunate things about the move however is that I had to leave a few of the bigger items at home. So I am currently without my electric grinder, electric kettle, server and French Press.

However, fear not, as I did bring my V60, Aeropress, drip kettle, scale/timer and hand grinder. Also while I’ve been here I’ve invested in a Kalita Wave as a new toy and I had to pick up some shitty UK electric kettle to boil my water. I’ve still got a lot on my wish list and am always fine-tuning and trying new things to make my brews taste different be it timing, grind size, clockwise vs. counterclockwise pouring, etc. There is no wrong way to make a cup of coffee (well except for all that stuff I was explaining before about making it in bulk then keeping it warm) and I will certainly keep adding to my collection. I think that next up will a Clever, a Toddy Cold Brew set (but probably not until next summer) and, at some point, a Chemex.

Now I’ve recently been messing around with my Kalita Wave to find out my perfect brewing method, grind size, pouring technique, etc. And while I was going to post a video to show you I found 2 that I love even more from a Kalita Wave enthusiast as well as someone who takes coffee ultra-seriously. Before I left San Francisco a new coffee shop popped up in the Marina District on Union Street that I frequented at the behest of, you guessed it, Andy, who was no longer living there. Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters was arguably my go-to spot in this neighborhood and when I was searching for some tips and tricks on enhancing my Kalita Wave brewing I found this video (with epic music) as well as this more intensive video (with a true focus on the method of brewing coffee), both from the co-founder, head barista and marketing director Nicholas Cho.


 

nick cho wrecking bal


It’s so fun to make 2 cups in a combination of the Aeropress, V60 and Kalita Wave in the mornings for Lindsay and I and taste test the difference (before ruining hers by usually having to put some cream in it). You can start-up your own homebrew kit quite easily and with not too radical of an investment (under $100 for the basics of a brewer, scale/timer and grinder) for equipment that will last you a long time, add a fun new hobby which you can tweak every day and give you a chance to almost play mad scientist in your own kitchen. Don’t worry as there will be plenty of coffee shop reviews coming as I continue my “research” out here in London. But until then … What’s your favorite way to make coffee at home?!

– Beard

Mikkeller Madness

Welcome again to Thirsty Thursday. So far my rule has been that whenever I write Thursday posts I always have a beer in my hand. Sometimes I get through it in 1 beer, sometimes it takes me a few, although I’m certainly not complaining. So today I’m actually writing in anticipation of my trip back to København (Copenhagen for you Americans out there) which is one of my favorite beer cities in the world due, in large part, to Mikkeller. As always I’ll allow you to get a drink yourself first while I wait and give you a bit of a history lesson on one of, if not the best, cult gypsy craft breweries in the world (although I’ll need to clarify that a bit later too).

mikkeller

Okay now we’re ready to begin and take the first look (of many I presume) at Mikkeller. First let’s start with the name which is a combination of the 2 original dudes who started brewing, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller, back in the mid 2000s. As you can tell it’s a combo of their names although Keller has not been a part of the operation since the year after they officially founded the company in 2006. Mikkel was a math and physics teacher who had a passion for experimentation while Keller ultimately left in early 2007 to focus on his journalism and become the editor of Soundvenue and didn’t want to make brewing more than a hobby.


 


Leading up to Keller departing however they enjoyed some great and probably unexpected success looking back now. As most people do they started off as beer geeks themselves not only loving beer but wanting to experience different kinds, know why they taste the way they do and eventually how to recreate them. And by recreate I mean that literally in their case as their first attempt at beer making was to clone the IPA from one of their favorite breweries, Brøckhouse (which unfortunately closed in 2009), so they could save money as opposed to buying it at a pub. It was a great success and after sharing it with friends of their beer club while they honed the recipe, it won a blind taste test and they were off.


 

brockhouse


They kept performing more “kitchen experiments” as they called them and toying with different flavors, beer styles and entering them in homebrew competitions, where they started racking up the medals. As they continued to grow the gypsy aspect of their brewery started to take shape. And by this I mean that they didn’t have the means to, or necessarily want to, open up their own brewery to produce the amount of beer they were getting requests for. Therefore they started brewing at Ørbæk microbrewery, a tradition which continues on at other breweries today, hence the gypsy brewing style.


 

ørbæk_bryggeri_logo


In 2005 Mikkel’s twin brother, Jeppe, opened a bottle shop in town and started selling his beer to the beer geeks in town and slowly word made it to the rest of the world that something special was coming out of København which is routinely one of the happiest cities in the world. However they had 1 more big breakthrough in 2006 which would push them over the edge and into legendary status. That of course was their delicious, and thankfully still produced, Beer Geek Breakfast. Simply put they created a very solid Oatmeal Stout then added some French press coffee to it … genius!!!!


Mikkeller-Beer-Geek-Breakfast-2012-570x680


Once Keller parted ways with him in 2007 Mikkel continued his quest to add more and more new creative beers to his repertoire. Again this meant that brewing in larger quantities and in bigger spaces so he is able to brew his own beer at a number of breweries, most in the area with the most famous being Proef Brouwerij in Belgium, as well as doing a number of collaborations with other well-known craft brewers from all over the world. He obviously has made some special one-off, house beers which can only be found at amazing restaurants as well, such as noma to name one, on occasion. He’s got too many beers to count anymore but distributes them to 40 countries so if you’re lucky and do some snooping around you should be able to find some in your area. Just a side note as well, obviously it’s an imported beer so don’t let the price tag deter you … pick up 2-3 to start and see what you think. I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed if you come in with an open mind and palate.

I’ll be posting pictures and a review of the beers I had while on my weekend Mikkeller bender and keep an eye out for a restaurant review from here as well in the coming weeks! Now get out there and find yourselves some gypsy beer!!

– Beard

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