Thursday, 15 January 2009

Back from Luxembourg

Last night I spent my first night in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, at the Hotel Mercure across from the main train station. After a 5+ hour train journey to get there, immediately followed by a meeting that went on till after 7pm, there wasn’t much energy for exploring, so the gang settled on an Indian restaurant close by. The food was pretty good, but the beer was limited to Cobra or Kingfisher. Beggars can’t be choosers as they say.

Interestingly though, one of my colleagues from Lithuania (Hi Rokas!), who had spent the previous couple of days skiing in France, happened to have some Lithuanian beer with him, so as a nightcap I got to try my first Lithuanian beer, a lager going by the name of Kalnapilis Grand; one step up from a Premium beer I’m told. After the Kingfisher and Cobra this was almost a relief, and although I didn’t take notes, I can say it has a reasonably bready body with a mild bitterness. Not a taste sensation, but you could drink several in one session. I understand it is the second best-selling beer in Lithuania. I am hoping to visit there around October, so I assume I will have a guide for the Bier Weg and find out if there is a vibrant micro brewing movement there. Here’s hoping.

By the way, I found almost everything in Luxembourg to be overpriced. My colleague reckons that the presence of the European Commission there (our client in fact) means that hotels and restaurants can charge what they like, what with the guaranteed stream of customers on EC business. Even the Commission canteen we went to for lunch today was insanely priced for less than mediocre food. And I thought these guys would be eating like princes!

The camera on my phone is crap, so it wasn't worth posting the pic I took.

13 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

Funny, I don't think I saw any beggars in Luxembourg.

We get some form of Kalnapilis over here. Not tried it, though.

Thom said...

A friend brought me back 2 cans of harmless but not unpleasant lager from Luxembourg a few years back. I haven't seen any other beers from there since then.

Adeptus said...

The beggars probably all work for the Commission too, so can afford living there.

Do you remember the name of the beer Thom? Diekirch was one that seemed to be all over the place. Presumably the mass market brand.

Not sure when or if I'll be returning there.

Thom said...

I'm afraid I can't recall the names. The cans were brightly coloured; the beer forgettable.

Martynas said...

Barry,

nice to read you. Just found your blog today even though I knew IrishCraftBrewer site much earlier.

Being from Lithuania myself, I'm happy to hear that you're interested in coming to my country and exploring it's beers. You won't be disappointed if you know where to look. I hope our blog TikrasAlus (www.tikrasalus.lt) will be of some use for you. It's in Lithuanian but has some posts in English.

We'd be happy to meet you here for a chat and some good pints, so please drop us a message before arriving.

It's by coincidence that I actually found your blog while looking for Irish beer writers and brewers. We recently received an email from Lithuanian organization in Dublin, which is organizing a Lithuanian Beer Route trip. They want to take a group of Irish beer advocates around small/craft breweries, do some tastings, establish contacts and raise publicity, promoting Lithuanian beer culture and tourism in Ireland. If you would be interested, or if you could recommend some beer writers from Irish media, or brewers, please let us know. You can contact us through our blog or by email: tikrasalus /* at */ gmail /* dotcom */

Oh, and we wouldn't recommend Kalnapilis as an example of good Lithuanian beer.

Adeptus said...

Hi Martynas, and glad you found me! And I'm glad you pointed me to your blog as I'm sure it'll be very useful should I make it to Lithuania in October. In fact, I'm going to send the URL to my Lithuanian colleague right now.

He mentioned a Lithuanian Beer Route to me. Is this a regular or fixed kind of touriest trail or something? Every country should have a beer route!

I'd be always interested in visiting, and I think I can name a couple of others from Ireland who are far more adept at beer writing than I :) I'll drop you a mail later.

The Beer Nut said...

Wow! I'd be well into doing the Lithuanian Beer Route -- both Latvia and Lithuania are fairly high on my list of countries to visit.

And yes, every country, every region should have a Beer Route. The only official one I've seen is in north-east France, and it's well worth doing.

Adeptus said...

I was thinking specifically of you earlier :D

The Beer Nut said...

I hope you weren't doing anything unsavoury at the time.

Adeptus said...

I think you are confusing me with your experiences in the James May fan club.

I meant your beer-writing prowess of course. Just wondering though, Martynas, were you looking for writers for newspapers/magazines or on-line? I thnk between us and the contacts TBN and I have we could arrange both.

Thom said...

Can I come? I could be an apprentice, being only new to this game.

Martynas said...

Barry,

as far as I know there are at least two officialy organized Beer Routes. One is for Biržai region, traditional beer capital of Lithuania. There's some sightseeing, visit to a beer exposition in local museum, a feast and excursions around two breweries ("Biržų" and "Rinkuškių"). It's not exactly fixed and depending on the agency they offer slightly alternative routes.

Another one, 'Alaus kelias Kaune' (http://visit.kaunas.lt/ekskursija_detail?lang=lt&objID=3651) was recently introduced by Kaunas tourism center and includes a visit and degustation in "Kauno alus" brewery. Ryanair has Kaunas flights. You can use Google Translate to read the pages in English.

Have also a look at this site: http://www.beertourism.lt/alus.php?id=engl

Beer Nut, we (by 'we' I mean 5 TikrasAlus' contributors) are fans of your blog and you were the first on the recommendation list!

The company that is organizing this thing, expects generating publicity in all possible ways and so I think both traditional media and blog writers should be included. They asked for the list of contacts but then they will decide which and how many people they can invite. I'd be thankful if you shared some contacts.

Boak said...

Lithuania and Latvia are great places to visit. We weren't into beer the last time we went, so we weren't looking for great brews -- definitely time for another visit, I think!