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Europe Trip: Initial Thoughts

If you were following my Facebook page you would of known that I made it back safely and that I had a great time on my trip. I’m still decompressing a bit and trying to get used to my old friend, the Eastern Time Zone so I will keep this a bit brief and go into more detail in some coming posts. My wife and I did 5 countries in 10 real days (12 day total trip but 2 of them were lost to air travel). I was tiring, but very worth it, and we didn’t kill each other which is always a good sign.

Our trip began at JFK in New York City were an hour before our take-off the CNN television that I had been watching informed me that two planes narrowly missed each other. Oddly enough, I learned that a man boarded a flight in JFK without a valid boarding pass just a few days before our return. I love airport security.

Anyway, a brief overview of Europe as a whole; a lot like America with better public transportation and worse service at restaurants. We didn’t have a car on this trip, the majority of our travel was done by rail. We purchased a Eurorail pass before we left and everything about it was very simple. The trains are on time, clean, and very efficient.

On the service side of things everyone was very nice for the most part, but they do not look after you the same way as they do here in the USA. At the beginning of our trip we often found ourselves sitting and waiting for the bill for a half hour or so. In Europe it is key to waive down your server when you need something. In the countries that we went to, tip was almost always included automatically, so the servers didn’t have to work the same way as they do here. It’s a small difference really, but for someone who likes prompt service, I found myself often frustrated.

To go along with the whole food end of thing, there is no free water, water is often one of the more expensive things to order as a drink. Water always comes from a glass bottle and sits just below room temperature. On a positive note, beer was generally very inexpensive and always less than water. It feels weird sitting at home right now, looking over my dinner, and not having a beer with it. I supposed I could, but I much prefer my Turkey Hill ice tea right now.

The language barrier was not very difficult to over come. Mostly everyone in the major cities speaks English and all of the mass transportation has signs in English along with the native language. I have a lot to share about my trip, but I’m going to take a few days to get back to normal before I share. I captured a great number of images, both beer and touristy, in my travels and I will be sharing them as well. I know that Leffe (pictured above) isn’t something super special or rare, but it is a damn good beer and I enjoyed a fair bit of it on my trip. More updates to come, for now, I need to force myself to stay awake as it feels somewhere between 6:00 PM and 12:00 AM for me right now.

Wildness Brewing reminder

I might be out of the country right now, tasting some yummy Belgian, German, and Czech beer, but our friends from Thank Heaven for Beer are still in the process of raising money for their nanobrewery. If you have not already contributed please consider doing so. You can check out their page here and remember that you can donate as little as $1.

The money raising campaign goes until August 4th so that gives us a little over a month to help Mike and Nate raise the money necessary to start their dream. We as a craft beer community love supporting our local breweries, let’s help support this one as well.

Click here to donate.

My Europe Trip

Later this week I will be traveling to Europe for a two week vacation. I have always wanted to travel to Europe and when it came time to decide between a house and a fun vacation, my wife and I decided that the housing market just wasn’t stable enough. We also don’t know how long we will be in our current area, and with that type of uncertainty, Europe was an easy decision.

Smalls, my wife, wants to travel everywhere and do everything. I’m much less adventurous when it comes to travel, but Europe has always been interluding to me. Now that I’m into craft beer, Europe becomes even more interesting. I’m really looking forward to relaxing with Smalls and traveling all over the place and trying the beverages of the different countries.

We will be traveling to five countries during our trip, but only actually be staying in three of them. We will be traveling to Belgium, German, Austria, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. Austria and the Netherlands will be day trips for us. Does anyone have any tips or any beers in particular to try when I am over there? We will be in each country for 2-3 days so we aren’t going to get to travel deep into an area to explore something special. We will also be mostly sticking to the major cities of the countries that we are going to; Brussels, Munich, Prague, and Amsterdam.

I’m really excited about this trip. On a side note, I’ve written some posts ahead of time and scheduled them to come out during my time in Europe. If you leave a comment or try to contact me, chances are I’m not going to see it until early July. Please leave any suggestions for my trip, I appreciate it.

Beer moods

A post over at The Brew Club got me thinking about something I am going to call beer moods. In the post, Scott reviewed Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA and shared some thoughts about his experiences with IPAs. He said,

The Dogfish Head 60 was among my first craft beers, and quite frankly, I wasn’t ready for it at all!  As a matter of fact, I found it so much of an assault on my senses, that I wrote off the whole IPA scene until just last year.  What a shame.

The reason this caught my eye is that I was in the same boat when I first starting drinking craft beer. From my interpretation, IPAs are the beers that “hook” a lot of craft beer drinkers. I wonder why so many craft beer drinkers start with an IPA instead of ramping up to them. Why start at the extremes? An IPA is a aggressive beer with an acquired taste. Sure some people can take to them right away, but for many, they take time to appreciate.

In my own experience, I had someone who loved craft beer and guided me to learn the different beer styles. I was quickly a fan of IPAs but I really didn’t appreciate the first several that I had. There are some styles of beer that I like and crave more than others.

This is where the beer moods idea comes in. I really love hoppy beers sometime. Right now, I’m on a hoppy beer kick. But there  are other times where I don’t want anything hoppy. I want a malt forward beer or something with some spices. I seem to randomly go through these changes and I don’t understand why. Last year around this time I was on a Belgian beer kick. The strange part is that the moods kick in quickly and seriously deter me from trying the previous beer mood style.

Am I the only one who goes though these beer moods? If you do, what mood are you in now and how does it affect your beer drinking?

Our friends need some help

Our friends over at Thank Heaven for Beer have decided to take a leap of faith and open a brewery. Before they can achieve their dreams, they need some help. They have started a Kickstarter page in an attempt to raise the necessary funds to start their nanobrewery. You can check out the page for all of the information and for details on how you can help and what you can get if you do decide to help. They also have a nice video that introduces you to the idea.

If you have the chance, I would really recommend helping out these guys. Mike and Nate are two great people who have some great thoughts to share with the craft beer drinking community. On top of that, they seem like some solid brewers. If you don’t have the financial means to help them, help spread the word. One of the things I really love about the craft beer community is the real sense of community. Everyone seems to be out to help each other. When I started this blog, Mike and Nate were glad to trade links with me even though I wasn’t bringing anything to the table.

Many homebrewers have a dream of owning their own brewery, but few ever make it a reality. Help Mike and Nate achieve their dream. I am sure that you will not regret it. Once again, you can view the video and all of the information about Wilderness Brewing right HERE.