Strong Wind Milk (Mongolia)

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A Mop in the Road

About 150 kilometers west of Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator (“UB”), the road abruptly ends in a cement blockade flanked by two arrows alerting drivers to go around. This is not a fork in the road- it’s more like a mop. Instead of discrete paths, there are criss-crossing strings of dirt trails that widen and shrink depending on the amount of recent rain and eventually peter out completely. With another 200 kilometers to go before our destination, it remains a mystery how our driver knew where to go. Even with his expertise though, our four-wheel-drive vehicle had to be towed across a river- twice.

The optimum vehicle in Mongolia is a horse.

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Vera and I found a map store in UB.

Upon arrival to Mongolia, our van had to wait for cows to get out of the way to leave Chinggis Khaan airport. Not seeing any fences, I still wonder how they keep them off the runway.

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My new riding boots, purchased at the State Department Store, marking me as a “barny” for the horse trek. I learned from one of our (15 year old) traveling companions that a barny is someone who does not know how to do something but dresses the part. Busted!

In Search of Beer

My Aussi beer traveling companion Vera (see Australia, October 2014) met me in Beijing and together we arrived in Mongolia for a two week horse trekking adventure. And, of course, we also planned to explore the imbibing culture. We found two places in UB for beer: MB Beer Plus (above left), which had a brewery on site that makes drinkable German-style lagers, and the rooftop bar of our hotel (Best Western Tuushin, above right) that served a rather flavorless mega-brewery tipple called Ghinggis Beer. We preferred the MB Plus (but wished for a more clever name) and noticed in the pub the same tension that is everywhere in UB: an identity crisis. Mongolian words in Cyrillic letters leftover from socialist occupation, but no Russians; permanent cement walls around portable gers, luxury glass and steel structures with narrow strips of manicured grass next to dilapidated cement buildings with tangled forgotten gardens. But no matter- the drink of this country is not beer, it’s airag. And we hoped to find that in the countryside.

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We discovered, to our delight, that our 14 other traveling companions who signed up for this National Geographic Adventures trip were also imbibers. They insisted on a stop for cases of wine and bottles of scotch and vodka. This in addition to the bar that NG bring along and sets up for glampers every evening.

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As we continued west, the landscape transformed. Power lines, signs, fences, and western buildings disappeared. Roaming clusters of animals- goats, horses, yaks, and even camels appeared- often in the middle of the road.

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Wind Animals

And herein lies the secret to Mongolian beverages, and Mongolia in general: the animals. They live symbiotically with the last nomadic population on Earth. If Mongolians are the land and the sky, then it is the animals that weave them together.

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Even a brief language class emphasized animals. It began with the usual hello (sain baina uu, pronounced “san ban oh”, or the shorter “san-oh” for hi) and thank you (bayar laa, pronounced “buy-air la” with a sort of rolled r, but different).

And then- consistent with the importance given to them- our handsome teacher Boynaa taught us animal names. Yak is sarlag (pronounced sar-log, with the same tricky r of “bayar laa”), goat is yama (pronounced “yamma”), sheep is honi (pronounced “hoin”), and horse- the most revered- is mori (pronounced “mer” as in mermaid, with a rolled r). Even the songs we sang around the fire at night were about horses.

 

The National Beverage

I tried my first fermented mare’s milk, airag, when we met the head lama at the Erdene Zhu monastery in Karakorum. Sipped from a bowl that is shared with others, it was room temperature and both sweet and tangy. I would realize as the weeks went on that all airag is a bit different- depending on many things: the season (this year had been particularly verdant, with animals still eating lush grass and blooming flowers where last year it had already snowed), how long ago the mare had been milked, when she foaled, and so on. Airag has terroir.

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Our first ger visit began with a lesson on yak milking- something Mongolians do every two hours. Our hostess, the lovely Ankhaa who smiles from her eyes, wore a dell that had clearly been used for this task before and was stained with milk.  As with all things related to animals, it was intentional. The aroma from prior milking helps to calm the yak as Ankhaa approaches. Smell, an animal’s keenest sense, is so important to Mongolians that they sniff instead of kiss or hug when they greet each other.

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Yak’s milk cheese hangs to dry inside the center of a ger.

The liquid of animals is part of every bit of Mongolian life. Yak milk is used in milk tea, for yogurt, butter, several kinds of cheeses, and even a distilled vodka. Slightly alcoholic mare’s milk is fermented as daily nourishment for everyone, including children. It welcomes guests, is shared by Nadaam winners (including the horse- he drinks it from a bowl held for him, has his head sprinkled with it, and then the same bowl is passed to the rider to drink from), it is offered to Shamans and the ancestors they channel, and it is part of the offerings to ancestors at ovoos (mountain top shrine-like piles). Upon climbing sacred Mandal Mountain to reach the ovoo, and leaving my evil ancestor there (as one does), I offered three ladles of airag to help seal the deal.

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Small bucket with airbag for the Mandal Mountain ovoo.

Our NG hosts were vigilant in their warnings that we did not have to drink airag as it tends to mess with western guts a bit. Some of my traveling companions did experience some worrying in their colons, but my stomach liked it just fine.

Ger Etiquette

Gers have rules. They are easy but important: Enter right foot first; do not touch the threshold; head left and walk clockwise- guests sit on the left and family on the right; never walk through the two poles in the center; no crossing legs or lacing fingers; if offered anything at least touch the bottom of the vessel in thanks; do not use the left hand for eating. Once seated, the best part begins. All sorts of things are passed for consumption, usually in threes. Tos (a sweet cross between a custard and a porridge made with yak butter), milk tea (made with yak milk), a pile of bread or hard cheese or fried dense dough- all served with sweet fresh yak cream on top similar to clotted cream only (gulp) even better, airag (handed back for a top off after each person), a snuff bottle (admire it, take some if you like, and hand if back), and vodka- just distilled before your eyes and still warm if you are lucky. I got lucky.

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Just distilled from yak’s milk and still warm: fresh vodka with breakfast.

Compared to Mongolian hosts, western “hospitality” has a long way to go. Mongolian homes are truly open- to the point that when they return to their gers from somewhere and find strangers settled inside, eating their cheese and drinking their airag, they rejoice that they could give them comfort, and then join them. This notion put many of us to shame. Imagine a whole world like that.

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When we left Ankhaa’s home, I decided to try the traditional form of departure and leaned into her neck near her thick shiny hair and inhaled deeply. She had the most beautiful rich smell of milk and mother, of land and sky. You could not bottle something this loving and sincere. You have to live it. She graciously did not remark on my own bug spray/three days without a shower odor.

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I plan to call my neighbors, strangers to me now, and invite them over for some of the Mongolian vodka I brought back. And with a nod towards Mongolia, I will discretely sniff them when they arrive.

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My horse for two weeks, the “cowly pretty” Vachement Jolie.

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Beer Crush (Philadelphia)

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It started innocently enough. There I was, walking around Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market– overwhelmed by rich food scents and visions of neon and oysters and meats of all kinds thinking that the one thing that would make all of it perfect would be a beer. But counter after food stall- soda. juice. water. No beer. Everyone seemed so happy. How could they be without beer to go with their hearty meaty lunch sandwiches? Something was missing.

And then I saw it. A few people standing in front of a row of tap handles with a bar behind them. Molly Malloy’s. I checked out the bar- no seats available. That’s when I noticed that the guy next to me was getting his beer to go.

I rubbed my eyes. Am I still in the US?

YES! More people were gathering around, so when I saw that the first beer on the crafty draft list was an “India Cream Ale” I ordered it. To go. I know I know- the plastic cup and the straw is campy. But you know what? Sometimes you gotta go with the locals.

And that’s how I met Ben.

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It was really terrific walking around the food stalls, openly, with a beer. It’s the thrill of going against the hyper-restrictive and puritanical American alcohol culture. The giant smile on my face probably spooked people more than the beer. And I caught myself nearly holding the beer in the air.

It took a few minutes for me to realize it. But the beer was fantastic.

That’s when the stalking began.

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I went back for more St. Benjamin’s, dragging other people away from the Craft Brewers Conference to try it, (all to raves and ‘thanks for showing me this!’) to the point that the bartender just brought me a pint of it when he saw me. Nothing like becoming a predictable regular within a week, especially considering all the special beery events and truly so much incredible beer everywhere in the city. But I could not stop going back for more Ben.

Simultaneously, I became obsessed with Benjamin Franklin, the man. As in, I developed a crush on man long dead.

Philly happens to have a museum devoted to him! Not surprisingly for the man often quoted as saying, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” – some of the exhibits are beer related. His tankard, his rules about work (water at work, beer later- which was new at the time. Yet his particular exhibit did not tame my ardour.) I read his autobiography.

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Part of a video at the Benjamin Franklin Museum showing colonial workers drinking beer. He liked water at work to keep a clear head. It caught on, dammit.

Can you guess where I was and what I was drinking while reading this book about tavern history in Philadelphia? (below)

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And then it hit me. What am I doing? Why visit a museum and do all this reading when St. Benjamin’s is a Philadelphia brewery- I must go there!

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The bones of the structure of Ben Franklin’s house outside of the museum. And the only sun the week of the 2016 Craft Brewers Conference.

Uber could not find it at first. Because the tasting room had only been open a week.

But suddenly- I had arrived!

I tried to calm down and sampled some of the other St. Ben beers.

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Simple, elegant, and open interior of the St. Benjamin’s tasting room. The food is good, too.

While I waited for Belgian brewer Yvan de Baets of Brasserie de la Senne– who shared my new passion and planned to join me- I met a delightful couple at the bar. They were adorable, and locals to Ben (lucky devils) and we hit it off.

Yvan arrived. We ate, drank, and bought a case of the India Cream Ale (Inca) in cans to take back to Cambridge with us. Very happy. And then one of the brewers, Christina Burris, came out to meet us. A woman! Woohoo!

She insisted we have a tour. And the adorable locals joined us. It was a memorable and unexpectedly splendid evening.

As I write this, I am enjoying an Inca in my St. Benjamin’s hoodie, smiling about the great pleasure of discovering and loving a beer that I didn’t find though a website, an app, or a recommendation. Just my taste buds and Harvey Butler luck.

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Ben and me. We get each other.

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Super Sips of 2015

Instead of picking a single best beer of 2015, I give you my favorites in the contexts of enjoying them. Partly because I was not very good about posting my sipping experiences last year (first resolution to break in 2016: post every other week!) and partly because there is no such thing as a favorite, or a best, beer. Only a favorite experience that raised the level- no matter how good the beer already was- to a higher plane. In no particular order, my list of super sips of 2015.

Best Beer in front of my Fireplace
Bog Iron Devil’s Footprint, a Mezcal barrel aged braggot.

Brian Shurtleff brewed this and gave me a bottle when I visited the brewery in Norton. It’s ridiculous. (Please excuse the adorable glass- I use it exclusively between Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

My new fireplace and a warming beer.

Best Beer Sampler
Russian River in Santa Rosa, California

I had to be in San Francisco for work, so I figured I’d just pop up to the famous Russian River Brewery. But it turns out that Santa Rosa is rather far from San Francisco. I decided to arrive early on a Sunday, and thought about renting a car- but who wants to drive after visiting a brewery? I checked into Uber- but it would have been over $200. So I asked a local- Carl Sutton of Sutton Cellars in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Fran, and he knew right away. “Take the Golden Gate 101. It drops you off a block away.” Great! On Sundays it takes over two hours. What.

It was an ordeal, especially because I did not realize that the particular Sunday I chose was Father’s Day- which meant adding a two hour wait once I arrived at the brewpub. Around the corner, I found a delightful place to wait called Third Street Aleworks. I watched my place in line with the app Russian River gave me, and happily sipped away. Good thing I did not have too much, because the sampler at Russian River has 18 – yes 18- (plus a bonus that day) tastes.

Knowing I was not likely to return, and that a bus would deliver me safely back, I ordered a second sampler. Strive to avoid regrets- that’s what I was thinking.

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Best Beer to Share with a New Friend
Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2011 at ‘t Waagstuk in Antwerp, Belgium with Claudia Asch

It was nearing the end of the 2015 ICHC (International Conference on the History of Cartography), and while I enjoyed seeing lots of old friends, I had not met any beer geeks. Until I found Claudia.

My first beer with Claudia Asch was a well-cellared gem.

There were several other wonderful beers shared in Antwerp that week with my map geek friends:


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Best Beer Brewed by a School
Cum Laude at the University in Antwerp that hosted the ICHC. It was exactly what I was craving after nearly two weeks in Europe- not too sweet, a show of hops but not over the top, refreshing. Just right. And yes, the school has a brewery!

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Best Beer Enjoyed at a Brewery
Brusseleir at Brasserie de la Senne in Brussels

I arrived in Brussels by train from London on my way to a conference in Antwerp, so technically I had another train to catch. But Yvan de Baets, brewer/owner of Brasserie de la Senne, offered a ride to Antwerp via a visit to his brewery. Who would say no? I had never heard of this beer, but one sniff sent me somewhere both familiar and nostalgic. I was walking in a blooming flower garden in England, and someone was baking scones in the distance- the finish was faint licorice.

I will not provide details of Yvan’s reaction to my description, but apparently I nailed it.

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Best Beer on a Boat- Europe
A beer Regine brought from Germany enjoyed on the deck of a houseboat in Amsterdam. Truly one of the best beers I have ever had, although I do not know or care what it was. See previous post to understand! But in truth the picture says it all.

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Best Beer on a Boat- United States
A beer shared with old friends while sailing around the San Juan islands off the coast of Bellingham, Washington. Again, I do not remember the name of the beer- but it was memorably delicious.

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Best Graduation Beer Brewed with the Graduate
Berry Stout brewed with and for McKain Webb-Lakey (with sous-brewer brother Will) to celebrate her graduation from Berklee College of Music.

When McKain’s Washington-state based parents asked me to watch out for their daughter while she was in school in Boston, I assumed they meant make sure she got a solid craft beer education. She did.

Brewing berry stout

Graduation label

Best Beer in a Hidden Restaurant
Every beer paired with the food at Luksus in Brooklyn. Get over leaving Manhattan and hop on the G train.

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Best Beer with Mom
There were two this year. A Grizzly Paw overlooking Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta and Traveler IPA at the Alibi Room in Vancouver, BC. Yay Canada! Her favorite beer was the Hibiscus Wit at the Alibi Room.

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Best Beer at a National Park Brewery
Did you know that both Jasper and Banff National Parks have on-site breweries? We liked the Rye Shwartzbier at Jasper the most.

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Best Beer in Front of Someone Else’s Fireplace
Local beer from the bottle shop in Golden, British Columbia while peeling apples for apple crisp at the buffalo ranch where we were staying.

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Even if beer isn’t your thing, you should visit this part of the world. Here is why.

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Emerald Lake

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Best Beer for Breakfast
Bell’s Golden Rye Ale at Little Goat Diner in Chicago.

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Best Birthday Beer(s)
Everything at BFM‘s annual Brassins Public in Switzerland

When your birthday falls on one of your favorite brewery’s annual open house, you should do whatever is necessary to get there, right? And when other friends decide to converge there as well- the beer just tastes better and better.

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Best Beer Surprise at the End of a Journey
BFM La Meule in Fribourg, Switzerland

After failed GPS routes and darkness descending, stumbled on a balcony bar overlooking the lovely town. I do indeed have traveler’s luck.

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Best Beer Gift 
The Cambridge Center for Adult Education has a long history of culinary and other cool culturally enriching classes. I teach several courses, including Beer & Art History- and give my students this tasting glass at the end. CCAE is a non-profit entity, and I donate my time to teach. Because I love it! Check it out.

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What were your favorite sips of 2015? Wishing you all a 2016 full of fabulous imbibing all over the world.

 

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Sensory Magnification (Amsterdam)

Amsterdam houseboat. Thanks Airbnb.

Home for a few days: Amsterdam houseboat. Thanks Airbnb.

I had initially planned to go to Amsterdam on my own. Just three days- mostly to make sure that I visited at least one new (for me) country in 2015. I wanted the experience to be special, so instead of a predictable hotel I rented a houseboat. (above) You should do this.

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I researched craft beer destinations, read about the “Nine Streets” neighborhood (where the houseboat is anchored), and bought my Van Gogh Museum ticket online. (You should also do this- although be prepared for glares from those in the line that circles the museum as you walk directly to the front- and the guards move the rope for you to enter.)

And then, I had a brilliant idea. I decided to see if my dear friend Regine could join me. She was going to miss the conference in Antwerp (see forthcoming post) for the first time since we met at the International Conference on the History of Cartography (ICHC) in Budapest in 2005. We first met after a tour of the exhibit Margaritae Cartographicae at the National Széchenyi Library. We were both inspired to order beer and watch the sunset against the parliament buildings and Danube. We’ve been friends ever since.

It was short notice, she is working on her dissertation, she has a little boy. But she still said yes!

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Sausage, cheese, and beer at t’ Arendsnest

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Much of our sipping was confined to the boat. I mean- why leave it? We had coffee and local pastries in our pajamas on the top deck in the mornings, waving at the tourist boats that passed by as if we lived there all the time. In the evenings we drank wine from the local shop or the beer she brought from her hometown of Hamburg. After exploring canal streets, shopping for flowers and tasting lavender and honey goat cheese- we accidentally stumbled on the best known craft beer bar in Amsterdam, serving only Dutch craft beer, called t’ Arendsnest (the eagle). It was around the corner from our boat.

There is a bar inside, but if you can- sit at one of the few tables outside by the water. The food menu is essentially sausages and cheeses. We loved the lavender sausage and the two year aged cheese with crystals that crunched against our teeth. Later (it was so good we returned the next day) we had the smoked, almost raw (if that’s possible) beef sausage. The great discovery, after trying many samples to find a beer she liked and finally taking a sip of my rye IPA, was that Regine is a hop head! When the super folks at t’ Arendsnest discovered this, they gave us a couple of bottles of their off-menu “homebrew” which is part of their “Fat Five” series.

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Picnic on the deck of the houseboat with hand-carried craft beer from Hamburg.

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Regine discovers she is a hop head!

 

We both brought guidebooks, and Regine’s German version had something mine did not: a section on Amsterdam’s secret gardens. Apparently these gardens are hidden behind homes and accessible only to the surrounding residents, but some of them open a door to the street on occasion and allow people to wander in. All of the ones in her book were inaccessible though. After the fourth street, just as I began to get grumpy, we found a secret passage. A Hofje! We nearly tip-toed through, not wanting to disturb the magic air.

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Other than a glass of rosé in the Miró gardens, and an espresso in a lovely rose-laden café with real candles burning on the bar and every table in the middle of the day, we had one meal off the boat. And what a meal!

Regine passed it on her walk from the train and said it looked good, and the Airbnb host listed it on his “top 10 local places”- what further recommendation did we need? We called for a reservation for an outside table only two hours before we planned to eat- and got it. Our view was better than a painting- the sun glittering on the water and dappling the trees, a perfect breeze, a lovely aroma in the air. They brought us a couple of house elderflower vermouths as an aperitif, and the perfection was sealed. But was it the eel and crawfish velouté, the fish sampler (above), the foie gras “sandwich”, the two bottles of flinty white wine we shared that made this such a spectacular meal? Of course it all helped- but in truth, the boat, the museums, the food, all the imbibing, and the magic that is Amsterdam- were intensely magnified because I shared it with my dear friend. We could have been anywhere.

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One of our strolls brought us to the Begijnhof, a well-kept garden connected to a church. Since the middle ages, single elder women (not nuns) have lived in these private homes and tended to the church and gardens. As we walked by, arm-in-arm, we paused to look at the quiet, elegant homes. Regine said, “The one with the green door.” We smiled and continued to the street, imagining our golden days in Amsterdam.

 

Evening view from the boat

Sundown from the deck of the boat.

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Alice’s Drink (London and Oxford)

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Detail of Captain John Narbrough’s 1670 manuscript map of the Magellan Straits

LONDON

I visited London with the specific purpose of crashing a map lecture by Tom Harper at the British Library. It was not the only reason, but it was up there. I also planned to interview a globe restorer who recently wrote a lovely book called Globes. To see the Indigenous Australia exhibit at the British Museum, take the Tate-to-Tate ferry, sit in a box at the Royal Opera House to watch Falstaff. I cancelled my one beer adventure days before my departure because Meantime was purchased by SABMiller.

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Top floor view at Tate Modern, where they serve The Kernel IPA

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Yet I find beer travel to be inevitable. There I was in Tate Modern‘s top floor cafe, having just strolled through a collection that I kept comparing to the new Whitney‘s assemblage, when I turned to face the counter to order my coffee. Truly- I meant to order an espresso. It was before noon and I had a full day of walking London ahead of me. And who would have guessed that a major world class museum would carry a local small batch beer? Fortunately this is happening more and more often. The bottle selections were just beyond the server’s head at eye-level. Very clever.

My inner voice- an old man I call Sid- reminded me that vacations should be enjoyed in every way. My shoulders relaxed and I smiled involuntarily and probably a bit too broadly. “I’ll have The Kernel IPA please.” Not being American, the server did not raise her eyebrow, nor did anyone else. And so my impromptu beer tour of London began.

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My device was abuzz with advice. Stuart O’Dell of Teign Cellars in Newton Abbott made a quick trip to London to point out the finer brews of Craft Beer Covent Garden (I had already discovered the original Craft Beer Clerkenwell) including Soundwave by Siren. I was not completely surprised to learn from Shaun Hill that Siren’s brewer Ryan just joined Hill Farmstead, because everything I tried of theirs was more than good- it was special. Like your first Cigar City Humidor Series IPA is special. Or Shaun’s Flora. Or Yvan De Baets’ Brusseleir Zwët IPA.

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The Rake

Over the next week my tasty tour also led me to The Rake (above) which has a wonderful summer camp feel, Jerusalem Tavern where I ended up meeting a bunch of cool women drinking St. Peter’s cask beer and supporting a sculptor’s kickstarter campaign, the Holborn Whippet where a customer kept her dog on the counter and shared her beer with him, and a vermouth bar called Mele e Pere which is reviving the culture of sipping vermouth in London and soon will carry the elixirs of Carl Sutton.

 

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O’Dell informed me that The Kernel Brewery is open only on Saturday mornings, but definitely worth a trip. I had planned to spend that day in Oxford, but decided I had time before my train. I took an Uber (my one taxi experience was an expensive and rude disaster) to a funky area called Spa Terminus. A long row of what look like industrial garages house all kinds of artisanal shops- some also points of production- such as Monmouth Coffee Company, Little Bread Pedlar, and Neal’s Yard Dairy.  It’s got a groovy feel, and the aromas will keep your nose quite happy. I wanted to move there, although I did notice a threatening number of baby strollers.

What kind of person drinks beer at 9:00am on a Saturday? (Other than a beer traveler on holiday and people buying bottles.) Apparently single dads. The only other two drinking customers plopped their kids down at the interior picnic tables, handed them gaming devices, and ordered full beers. Who am I to judge? I ordered the Table Beer, a 2.9% tasty wonder, only because I had to be able to read the train schedule to Oxford and get off at the right stop.

OXFORD

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This is a cake. No really- completely edible.

 

On the 4th of July, I donned a red, white, and blue skirt- my subtle nod of approval for the recent Supreme Court decisions and President Obama’s moving lead of Amazing Grace– and struck out to visit maps at the Bodleian Library, where CAMRA member, Charlbury Beer Festival organizer, and author of The Gough Map Nick Millea is in charge of the map collection. Being a beer person himself, he gave me great tips on where to eat (King’s Arms, where I had aged cheddar and pickle on oat bread) and drink (Turf Tavern). As I strolled into town from the train station, I went into the first bookstore I saw, found a few gifts to take home, and went to pay for them.

Me: “Wow.”

Large hairy male cashier busting out of an Alice in Wonderland costume, complete with blond wig: “I get a lot of that.”

I had accidentally discovered a party. It was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you see. And Alices were everywhere. I barely remember reading it, yet could not help but get caught up in it. No fewer than 22 venues had events, from readings and races to food fairs and a Hatter’s Cocktail Party. The lawyer in me loved “Alice’s Evidence” at The Story Museum, followed by dancing and the auction of the impossibly balanced cake above.

The trip was already worth it because of the maps and beer- stumbling on Alice’s Day made it unforgettable. In a fun yet weird science fiction sort of way.

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The Turf Tavern is a bit tricky to find. You will have to turn a corner at the end of a long passage- just like Alice- before you find the casks that say DRINK ME.

 

BACK IN LONDON

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My final beer stop was Camden Town, known for off-the-chart ridiculously delicious Helles. And for not playing well with others- but what do I know? Melissa Cole invited me- so off I went bearing beery presents from Russian River. The Helles (both filtered and unfiltered versions) was even better than I had hoped- so clean and refreshing, especially after a week of unintentional hop imbibing. (Isn’t that supposed to be an American thing?) And the company – lots of industry folks – was warm and welcoming.

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I even managed to meet a transplanted New Zealander, Stu from Yeastie Boys, who actually remembered my tweet about the beer he made with Dann and Martha of Pretty Things that I found at Hashigo Zake in Wellington. (See earlier post)

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Finding myself stuck in Gatwick airport for several hours waiting for the plane to the next leg of my trip (Amsterdam; post forthcoming) and having exhausted the Weatherspoon options, I found this quirky but surprisingly good beer at the sushi conveyor belt restaurant upstairs. It’s called Kagua. The fine print says it’s a Japanese craft beer. Brewed in Belgium. Huh? Regardless, it was terrific with the sushi. Between the sushi and the beer I could not find it in me to remain upset about my delayed flight. Very smart, Gatwick!

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And now for proof that I really did more than drink in England:

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Interior stacks at the British Library. Looks a bit like the Beinecke, eh?

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The ball attached to the Royal Opera House contains Yinka Shonibare’s fantastic ballerina- whose head is a globe made by Bellerby.

 

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Inside the British Museum

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Globe restorer Silvia Sumira in her studio.

 

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Inside the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

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