A few beers in the south of France

Selection of local brews in campsite supermarket

When you go on a family holiday in France and stay in one of those campsites you don’t have high hopes for the beer selection in the supermarket. Imagine my surprise to find, not one, but two local breweries on the shelves. Argelès-sur-Mer, a small seaside town is spoilt, it also boasts a rake of vineyards. So you definitely wouldn’t die of thirst.

Brasserie La Canya – taproom and brewhouse

Brasserie Cap D’Ona doesn’t seem to have a tap room on site from a quick check that I did. La Canya does though so I rented a bike and did the 5km cycle (with a steep hill) to whet my appetite. The guy there didn’t have much English and I have terrible French so I contented myself with a few beers. All very drinkable but I found the pro Ukraine American Red Ale the most interesting. I like their cartoon style labels too.

Cellier des Vignerons – local wine shop

I thought it would be rude not to try some of the local wine so I visited Cellier des Vignerons where you can try a few samples before buying. If you are very clever you can even bring bottles to fill for a couple of euros. I’m also pretty sure the bottle I paid €9 for would be a few times more expensive here due to the huge duty that we pay. Anyway, I know very little about wine so I’ll just say that I liked it!

Cap D’Ona IPA and charcuterie board

Arbor et Sens was a local restaurant which was recommended. They proudly grow their vegetables on site. This coupled with an IPA from Cap D’Ona made for a very enjoyable locavore experience.

Le Tour Du Monde en 80 Bieres

A pub near the harbour boasts a selection of beers from around the world, mostly bottles from what I gathered. Unfortunately it wasn’t open when I was in the area. I would advise checking opening times for anywhere you’re visiting in the area as many close from 12/1 to 3/4 in the afternoon.

Beers at La Fine Mousse, Argelès-sur-Mer

I contented myself with a few beers at La Fine Mousse. I’m not sure if there’s any connection with the pub of the same name in Paris. Nevertheless, it was a grand way to pass an hour and I had a couple of tasty croquettes with my beers. When returning home I was impressed to see Cap D’Ona beers on sale in the small airport café. Hopefully this will be useful to some of you if you visit Argelès-sur-Mer this summer. À votre santé!

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Mayo to Monaghan

Matt, Cillian and Mia from Mescan

Grainne Ale Festival has been running at Westport House since 2013 and it only took ten years for me to get there. (It hasn’t been on all the time, just one weekend a year like, barring certain recent events. ) It is beside Gracy’s Pizzeria and Restaurant and I think it is fair to say they’ve got it well sorted at this point with a nice sized marquee and even a covered stage for the musicians. I was happy to see Mr Whippy’s Soundsystem too, apparently he’s a regular feature. The first person I met when I arrived was Cillian from Mescan and he decided that I was going to kick off with their 8.5% Westport Extra, a Belgian Style (sure,  aren’t they all) Golden Ale. So I was off to a great start. They also had little cubes of local cheese from Dozio which really enhanced the Belgian vibes.

Conor and Marcus from Reel Deel

Last week in Mullingar Conor from Reel Deel just happened to mention their Hop Dog, brewed with fresh Mayo grown Fuggles, which was going to be pouring exclusively at this festival. Not that I needed an excuse. It was really lovely. Not fancy, just straight forward and enjoyable company, like the lads.

James from Lough Gill

A few of the lads had recommended Lough Gill’s Pain and Perfection Mango Passionfruit Pastry Sour, I went instead for their Helles Lager (pictured), as I had to work my way up to it. When I eventually was ready, I was very pleasantly surprised. It was sweet but there was balance with some refreshing bitterness too.

Michaela and Richard from Black Donkey

It was good to see Michaela and Richard from Black Donkey again. And I enjoyed a Sheep Stealer. I might have even lent a hand for a few minutes pouring. I was talking to John from Lough Measc too and finished up the afternoon with a Gin and Tonic, which made for a nice change of pace. I will definitely have to attend this festival again.

Blasta Street Kitchen Burger

Brehon Brewhouse in Monaghan were hosting a Mary Wallopers gig in their yard Sunday evening and I wasn’t going to miss that. I was happy to see Seany McCleary from Blasta Street Kitchen on the way in, it has been a few years since I was able to get stuck into one of his epic burgers. Perfect soakage material.

Mary Wallopers warming up in the cottage

I enjoyed a couple of pints of the appropriate for the occasion 3.5% Brehon Seisiún and the Lager before moving on to cans of Imagine and Stout. The lads were having a bit of trouble pouring unfortunately but we didn’t let that dampen our mood. My friend Helen, who wouldn’t be a big beer drinker enjoyed two glasses of the 10% Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Crann Beatha.

Mary Wallopers at Brehon Brewhouse

If you have not checked out The Mary Wallopers yet then you really should! Their ribald humour is tempered with some very emotive story telling. A very unique event to be sure, we were all lucky to be part of it, fair play to the good people at Brehon Brewhouse. Sláinte!

Dave and I, both of us somehow managed to spill beer on ourselves

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Mullingar Wild Beer Festival 2023

Wild Wet Westmeath. A miserable Saturday afternoon in April saw a horde of mixed fermentation beer enthusiasts gather in the somewhat unlikely spot of Mullingar. I say unlikely, because you would normally be hard pressed to find some of these unusual beers in the Irish Midlands. Thanks to Paul Varley for being brave enough to get this up and running in 2022 and putting it on again this year.

Dec Otterbank Nixon pouring Just The One

The first beer I tried was Otterbank’s Just The One, a Lambic inspired Pale Ale. He hasn’t got a coolship above in Muff *yet*! But this was a cracker as it was.

Sean Wide Street Colohan in his element

I was very much looking forward to trying Many Hands, a combined effort by Wide Street and Land and Labour. In their own words: ‘In 2020 we brewed a turbid mashed
saison which we co-pitched with both of
our mixed cultures and left it to primary
ferment and age in Chardonnay barrels
for a further 2 years where it evolved and
matured. Having spent a further year
conditioning in the bottle we are
delighted to finally release this
celebration of collaboration and
friendship which involved many hands
to brew and package. A light to
medium bodied sour ale with a complex
aroma and balanced funkiness
supported by citrus fruit notes with oak
character playing a supporting role.’ I know that’s cheating but sure look…Anyway, the beer was outstanding. And well worth the wait!

A proud Tom Land and Labour Delaney

Tom from Land and Labour has been at the mixed fermentation game for a while now and it was great to see him being awarded Best Brewery in Ireland by Beoir. Well deserved recognition. Aibreoga was the only beer I had twice on the day which was an accident, but a happy one. Apricot, tart, beautiful.

It was also great to see beers from our English and Scottish neighbours. Pastore, Little Earth Project, Burning Sky were all represented and Gareth Epochal Young made his way over from Glasgow. I was encouraging him to organise his own festival in Glasgow. It would be a good excuse to go visit!

Pic courtesy of @ jilbearr on Instagram

I was pouring Lives Well Lived, a dark sour that everyone agreed tasted almost exactly like cola cubes. And I was asked to bring a ‘normal’ beer for those in attendance who weren’t yet on the wild beer train so Slow Lives ticked that box.

Pic taken from @ YahtzeeLad on Twitter

So, the beer was great, the craic was massive and it was brilliant to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and meet some that I only know from various social media things. Well done to all concerned. Sláinte!

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Mindset on you podcast

Galway Bay Full Sail IPA tap badge

I was interviewed last week by Odran Mac Gearailt. We had a fairly rambling chat about how we first met, my career in beer and somewhat inevitably, Guinness. Here’s the link 🔗 if you’d like to have a listen: Mindset on you

Sláinte 🍻https://www.buzzsprout.com/2010368/12045728

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This means nothing to me…

A glass of dark beer beside the bottle.
Ottakringer Dunkles in Cafe Central

Vienna had waited long enough on the list of potential places to visit. I have been in Salzburg a couple of times and it was starting to get awkward. The family were keen to take in some of the famous continental markets so there was an added incentive to go. Our accommodation was quite near the Prater so of course that was the first place we visited. I asked for a Dunkles to go with my Weiner in a roll and was given a Helles and assured that they were all the same. Being hungry/thirsty/tired/in good form, I just said ‘Danke’! The next day we visited the venerable Cafe Central where I got the Dunkles I wanted. It was a very nice accompaniment to some rich beef goulash too.

A bearded man holding a beer. A copper brewhouse.
A mug of Helles in 7 Stern

Several of the good people on #BeerTwitter had recommended 7 Stern. It was a pretty traditional brew pub with a few wild card beers, I skipped the chilli and herb varieties and stuck with the Helles and Bock, both of which did exactly what I wanted them to do. I would add my recommendation to the ones I received.

Beer glasses, taps and menu
Ammutsøn Craft Beer Bar

Another recommendation that came my way was Ammutsøn Craft Beer Bar which was far more modern in every way. I think there’s a place for both in my heart. I went for The Padawan by Bierol first. I regretted ordering the 50cl almost immediately but apparently changes of mind couldn’t be accommodated. It was called an American Pale Ale but leaned heavily to the NEIPA style. At €8.90 it was the most expensive beer I had in Vienna. 30cl would have been grand. I had no misgivings about the 20cl of BFM Coing Coing, a beautiful barrel aged Saison.

A cocktail and bar exterior.
An Old Fashioned in Loos American Bar

I liked the sound of Loos American Bar and paid it a quick visit. It’s more of a cocktail bar than a beer bar so I went for a Rye Old Fashioned. I have to say that it is one of the most stylish bars I have ever visited. Be warned though, they have a strict no photos/sight seeing policy and a smart casual dress code. I’d say I just about passed muster.

A can and two bottles of beer.
A few beers from Beer Lovers

Beer Lovers is an off licence that boasts of a range of 1,500 beers. They have them divided by style and they also had a selection of matching glasses. Definitely worth a visit.

A man drinking a beer, home brewing equipment.
Next Level/Craft Beer Store, Vienna

I had tried Next Level’s beers before and met Johannes at beer festivals in Hamburg and Salzburg and a visit to their Craft Beer Store was always on the agenda when I was in Vienna. Alex, his partner in brewing was there and treated me to their very tasty dry hopped lager Front Man. He told me that during the pandemic they pivoted to a strong focus on home brewing supplies. They stock everything you could possibly want for home brewing, from equipment to ingredients. They also had a couple of fridges stocked with their own and other local beers. And a lindr pouring two of their beers. What more could you want?

An enjoyable few days were had, Vienna is a lovely city, hopefully you’ll get to visit some of these spots yourself. They break up all of the art, architecture and culture nicely. Sláinte.

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