A quick shout out to all my readers! Just wanted to say a quick thank you everyone who pops in each week, shares my content and follows posts both here and on instagram. We LOVED Vienna, but this one’s a little bit short and sweet.
About 2 blocks from Naschmarkt is Muttermilch Vienna Brewery. They’re mostly a bottle shop, but they do have a small brewing operation in the back and cycle through 2 of their own brews at a time. In addition to the house brews we picked up some other regional craft to drink while we ate and strolled our way through the market.
We had to suffer through Bitta Von Tresen Pilsner first. Being in Prague – it’s nothing but all pilsners all the time: Those ones are a bit better and I don’t even like those.
Conversly, Wiener Bubbi Vienna Lager knocked it out of the park! This brew is the perfect blend of hops and malted barley to create a great lager in it’s namesake city. Can’t say enough good things about this brew.
All in all, I give Muttermilch Vienna Brewery a 6.4 out of 10. With an * because for now they really aren’t much more than just a bottle shop, and because we were 50/50 on the two beers, but I wish them all the luck in the world and hope there operation explodes in popularity for the next time I traipse through the City of Music.
“Italians drink wine every day of their lives” and for good reason. When you live in the #1 wine producing country on the planet you cant not! It almost seemed like going anywhere to drink wine would’ve been acceptable while we traipsed through different cities, and we did, but coupling that with the fact that the areas surrounding Florence put out some of the best wines in Italy make a Tuscan wine tour a no brainer. Words I live by; don’t sleep on Tom Brady (ugh), “be the change…”, tell your mom you love her, veggies are better if they taste like meat, never stick important appendages in a light socket and never skip a wine tour in a place like Napa, Bordeaux, or Tuscany.
Now, I’ll never claim to be a wine connoisseur, as I know a lot more about beer and scotch than wine, but I will claim to be an aficionado and over the course of 6 hours I didn’t have one single, solitary, bad wine. From award winning DOCG (as opposed to DOC or IGT) wines, to Super Tuscans breaking all the rules and from a prestigious castle estate to a one-man farm winery, this was one experience I’ll never forget. Again, not an expert, and I’ll let you search out the laundry list of award wining wines and their tasting notes, but here are some takeaways I thought my loyally-boozy readers might enjoy.
The first winery was Castello Sonnino- run by the Baron and Barrroness Sonnino. This place is STUNNING. As we drove up the rolling hills of the estate I thought ‘if the wine business goes belly up they could charge 100k on weddings’. They’re even listed as one of the worlds “Gucci places”. We sipped down 2017, 2018, and Reserva Mostispertoli Chiantis intermittently mixed with some incredible, home pressed, olive oil.
Next up was Poggio Caponi. This place is a little less royal wedding, but still has some pretty majestic views of the Tuscan countryside. If Castel Sonnino was the classy brother of this trio then Poggio Caponi is the Ray Donovan of the bunch; one part older brother and one part wild card. I don’t even know how old any of these places are and for authenticity’s sake I’m not going to look it up, but I could literally feel the antiquity as we walked past equipment that had already past from useful to decorative a long time ago down into a wine cellar sporting bottles as old as 1949! The day was very heavily laden with Chianti, Sangiovese, and heavy red blends, but these guys managed to sneak in a delightful Chardonnay as well.
Last, but certainly not least, I CAN NOT say enough about our last winery: Podere dell’Anselmo. This winery may not be as picturesque or as storied as the others, but this, essentially, one-man farmstead/winery run by Fabrizio absolutely blew us away. The food we had was incredible, the wines we had were amazing, and Fabrizio was a knowledgeable and comically entertaining host. As the afternoon progressed Fabrizio explained his process, toured us around the grounds, ate with us, drank with us, and by the end spontaneously broke out two wines that even our tour guide Ben hadn’t had. It was an unforgettable experience that, the next time I’m within 1000 miles of this place, I will definitely do again.
I can’t and won’t give my traditional rating on any of these locations so, I will rate all three wineries, the Grape Tours experience (go check them out), and the wines I had as a 9.9 out of 10.
Barcelona is a stunning and completely walk-able city. Not to mention, there’s tapas every 5 feet to help soak up the booze, so a dip into Garage Beer Co was an obvious must.
I don’t normally ask for a recommendation, but I was a little torn so I did. We started with Soup NEIPA and couldn’t have been happier. TONS of citra and mosaic with a nice, dense finish.
Up next was Squirrel Men west coast DIPA- I secretly got this because of the name. In college their was a homeless guy who had, what looked like, a coon-skin cap without the tail who would go around town to dorms, frats, and bars collecting cans. He was affectionately known as squirrel man instead of coon man for obvious reasons. The beer wasn’t memorable, but I’ll never forget it’s name.
The next round started with Locker porter. If I’m being honest it wasn’t bad, but I had higher hopes. It poured like sludge and smelled divine, but after each sip I just thought ‘meh’.
We saved the best for last: Airtight imperial stout with chestnuts and blueberries is a collaboration with 3 Sons Brewing and they knocked this one out of the park. Tons of mouthfeel, tons of flavor, well balanced and just overall, a great beer. I don’t normally care about things like color and lacing, but in this case, even those were good.
Airtight really helped them lock in a better rating; all in all, I give Garage Beer Co an 8.2 out of 10.
Sorry for the delay this time around! We’ve been traveling for Christmas, drinking, making big plans, etc.
As I mentioned in my previous article- it’s impossible to find breweries open on the weekends in Budapest (who keeps hours like that?!), so shout out, again, to First Craft Beer and Hedon Brewing. I walked in and felt like a kid in a candy store. Hedon presents you with a card that looks like a hotel room key, you scan it to access the taps in the back of the dining area, and go nuts. Needless to say, I tried all 20 beers they have on tap; in varying amounts, of course, but I still tried every single one. About half of the lineup was guest taps of local or regionally famous beers, but an impressive 8 Hedon brews available nonetheless. Very hedonistic don’t you think?
First up, at the advise of the barmaid to “see how it works” was Szerej stout. I still love this concept, but I felt rushed, the result? Tinny and gross. Next!
A quick trip back to the beer wall yielded Credo IPA. This IPA isn’t going to be winning any awards and might set a group of hop heads into a kerfuffle, but I enjoyed the sweet citrus and malty backbone.
Maci a meggaben pils was umm, interesting? I don’t love pilsners in general, but there’s no disputing that Czechs are the kings in that department. That being said- this wasn’t Czech. I’m not sure what it was. I didn’t hate it, but I won’t be trying to track it down again any time soon.
Uncle John milkshake IPA was probably our favorite of the night. This brew is super creamy with tons of lactose. It’s not really balanced and there’s not a lot of deeper complexity going on, but I can get behind straight forward and delicious.
Next up was Aunt Mary sour IPA. I get the feeling her and Uncle John don’t really get along anymore. Unless this is an uncommon case of opposites attack. I don’t know if it’s a brett IPA, but dry, dry, dry either way.
If not for Uncle John Indian Summer IPA would have been the favorite. This beer, IMHO, is actually really revolutionary. As it’s name suggests, this late summer/early fall brew was bursting with unique flavor blends. We picked up candy corn, marshmallows and buttery, toasted popcorn. Really well done.
Charlie Firpo Rye was another interesting take on a classic style. It started off straight rye bread as expected, but smelled sweeter than normal and finished with a clean cucumber.
For the second stout flop of the night- Katala Carno. A lot of metal and coffee beans. We dipped back for some more Uncle John and Indian Summer before we left.
All in all, two bulls eyes can’t always make up for a handful of missed shots, but combining those two great beers with this awesome bar concept and life-size connect 4 earns Hedon Brewing an 8.1 out of 10
Budapest is creepy, Budapest is quirky, and Budapest is beautiful, but for the purposes of this article Budapest is delicious! We spent the night before strolling through markets, eating our fill of langos and goulash, and drinking our fill of the cheap stuff in ruin pubs, so you know we had to track down some quality craft. Before we get to the beers- shout out to First Craft Beer and Hedon Brewery (next week) for being the ONLY breweries open in Budapest on Saturday and Sunday. To everyone else- what kind of hours are those?! In my mind- these two breweries are clearly at the top of the “burgeoning Budapest beer scene”.
We started off with a standard. Some breweries do IPAs better than others and there’s a vast variety of styles out there, but we tend to try at least one or two at each location. Evergreen IPA was really piney (duh) throughout, but surprised us with a sweet malt or caramel backbone. It’s not really well balanced- almost like two beers just blended together- still, tasty.
Next up was Double cherry. Not sure what made it a double unless it was double the cherry: There wasn’t a high abv or barrel aging involved, bit it was amazing! This brew isn’t a wheat ale with some cherry, it’s not a cherry IPA, it’s straight juice. Delicious.
Another IPA: Karaoke star was mellow with a light floral taste followed by mead-like honey qualities. It doesn’t taste it, but smelled very dank like a heavy NEIPA. Nothing to write home about, but holds it’s own.
Double cherry was so good that we gave their other fruit ale a try. Blueberry ale didn’t disappoint- this one tasted like the berries were just smashed right in the beer. Much like the cherry above- tons of puree without being too sweet. Really nice brew.
Oktoberfest gross. A sad end to a great lineup.
All in all, I give First Craft Beer and BBQ an 8.3 out of 10.
(Cesky Krumlov, Czechia)
Last month, to take a nice fall trip away, we stepped into the fairytale that is Cesky Krumlov. From a picturesque castle/chateau to quaint cobbled alleyways, this town has it all, and to top it off? A 400+-year-old brewery! The brewery has gone through some changes over the years- most recently being renamed Eggenberg Brewery, but it was originally a part of the 14th century Klaster Klarisek Monastery.
We started off making our way through .5l of each of the 3 beers available on tap, split a full roast duck with bread dumplings, and managed to snag an additional variety pack on the way out the door.
Eggenberg Light managed to be lighter and taste worse your standard pilsner. No thanks.
Svetly lezak, or light lager, is a typical Czech pilsner. Not my favorite, but managed to be better than most of the pack. Since moving here I find them all to be balanced and drinkable, which is what Czechs like, but not many follow that up with any flavor whatsoever. Eggenberg comes through well on this one.
Nefiltromany lezak, meaning unfiltered, is an interesting twist on a pilsner; think unfiltered wheat. It didn’t taste like a wheat ale, but I’d describe the addition of flavor characteristics given to the beer the same way.
Much like the Rosenberg from which he descended; Petr Vok fell a bit flat as well. They should’ve tried some noble hops (haha).
Tmavy lezak, meaning dark, is described as a German dunkel. Interestingly enough: I thought Cerny and Tmavy meant the same thing here, but they have a distinction. Cerny should be lighter and a little sweeter while tmavy is darker and maltier. This dark lager was just that: malty, slightly roasted and the perfect beer for a crisp fall evening.
Nakoureny Svihak translates to “smoked dude”. Though I initially thought this was just a goofy google translation, sure enough, this super-smokey, balanced brown ale was my favorite of the bunch. Coffee and toffee at the beginning with just a hint of salted caramel in the finish.
Eggenberg Old Czech Style wasn’t bad, but it just seemed a bit like a cross between the light and the unfiltered lagers. Maybe just how the older recipe turned out? I think we should have ended with ol’ smokey.
Their beer didn’t blow me away- I know there’s a lot of beer purists out there, but to be frank, I think modern breweries are pumping out higher quality and better-tasting brews. That being said: I wouldn’t have traded our overall Cesky Krumlov or Eggenberg Brewery experience for the world. All in all, I give the Old Cesky Krumlov Pivovar a 7.9 out of 10.
Just a stone’s throw from Prague Castle; this quaint little brewery is a must-do on any Prague sightseeing tour. They don’t offer flights or samples, so you’re going to have to down .5L each time you want to try a brew, but it’s worth it. They also have absolutely delicious, traditional Czech food.
Don’t ask me how, but we managed to go there twice in the short amount of time we’ve been in Prague, so despite the menu changing, I ended up having all of their beers.
First up was Malostrasky Lager. This classic Czech style cross between Pilsner and an amber lager is one of the best pilsners I’ve ever had. Still watery and gross. Every Czech person we’ve met: “Pilsner Urquell is literally the best beer in the world” Me: (Insert green, pukey emoji).
Next up was the house hefeweizen. It wasn’t my favorite, but I found its graininess very interesting. It wasn’t unfiltered, but they managed to pack in some body to accompany the banana and cloves.
The 3rd brew on this list I had both times we went because I loved it so much. Ruby Special is a traditional Vienna style lager and other than having a ton of caramel it offered a delicate balance between sweet and bitter. Ruby is crisp and clean and really drinkable while still maintaining flavor.
The Editor’s favorite was the Milkshake Fruit Ale and though I liked Ruby better I can’t argue with her choice. This brew is super smooth with a ton of creamy banana followed vanilla and cherry, like a pack of ’90s big league chew.
Second, to last was Mosaic IPA. I didn’t hate it, but so far, Czechs are pumpin’ out the best IPAs.
Last up was Dark Raven. Typically I like a heavy mouthfeel in my stouts, but this one packed enough flavor to make up for it. Strong coffee in the beginning, while maintaining sweet malts and dark fruits throughout. Thin but good!
All in all I give Vojanuv Dvur a 7.7 out of 10.