One thing I can tell you, Europeans have no shortage of ways for you to quench your thirst. Especially if it’s alcoholic. Good wine is relatively cheap, there’s a wide variety of any alcohol made within the EU, there are more beers made just in England that I could care to count, cider is made from just about every fruit now (and probably a few animals), and there are even some non-alcoholic drinks unique to the region. Here’s a brief summary.
Let’s start chronologically: the first thing I had outside of the house. Lunch my first full day was at a pub where a month-long cider celebration was going on: different ciders each week. Ciders are just coming into their own here after being seen as a drink for teenagers for so long. Now they are drunk by businessmen, hipsters, and pretty much everyone else. They come in all sorts of flavours, not just the standard apple. Pictured here are the four we tried with lunch: apple, mixed berry, blackberry, and pear & strawberry. I also tried elderberry, pear (on its own), and other berries. This was possibly the most impressive part of the trip, in terms of drinks, for me.
Alright, English beers. The friend whom I was there visiting is on a mission to drink as many different kinds of beer as he can while there. He’s been there over a year now and is still going strong, though starting to narrow the field on English beers. It’s hard because it seems that every community has its own brewery. Take Wychwood here – we had high tea around the corner from the brewery then a pint at the pub next door (unfortunately, the brewery was closed when we went to inquire about tours). There are bitters, ales, lagers, stouts – each are well differentiated from other members of their families and from similar beers from other breweries.
Not content with their own beer, the English also import large numbers of foreign beers as well. Of course, the big names are in there, but lots of small beers come in as well, especially in beer pubs. These two are from Sweden and Cyprus (the Swedish one, Crocodile, was actually quite good). We had them in a beer haus in Glasgow.
The beer in Copenhagen (bachelor party) was only OK and pretty expensive. I mean, there was Carlsberg, but that’s available anywhere. Tuborg is the swill of kings, though Tuborg classic is decent. I remember drinking some horrible beer with the picture of an elephant on it from 7-11. Then we got to the bar and just drank shots. At least the Jager is cheap there.
Stout is fairly popular everywhere here – much more than in North America, I’d say – but no where is it as popular as Ireland. I went out one evening with Chris’s uncle and some friends of his and had to get a picture of the wee little table teetering with the effort of holding up a half-dozen pints of Guinness. Even the ladies were drinking stout! You certainly don’t see that everywhere you go.
Scotland even has its own brew for the teetotalers, children, and hung-over – Irn Bru. It’s a soda that’s made and sold in Scotland, rather like Inca Kola in Peru. It also outsells Coca Cola here, again like Inca Kola. The taste even reminded me of Inca Kola – a sweet bubble-gummy flavour. This one finished with a bitter orange flavour, however, which I wasn’t a big fan of. Still, something different.
If you’d like to see a little more of what I drank, you can check out the drinkin’ set on Flickr. A specific scotch entry is coming soon.