To San Diego, Como, San Sebastián, Copenhagen and Swanley via a micro pub in Sidcup!

The first Beer School at the Hopper’s Hut Micropub – Sidcup

As I crashed back down to earth after a chocolate fuelled Easter weekend I felt a little guilty as what I should have been doing was going for a long run. Instead I was going to the pub.
The pub in question is the Hopper’s Hut, a micro pub in Sidcup, Kent. 

My reason for going to the Hopper’s Hut however was exciting as I had been asked to host a Beer School, the theme – World Beers.

After weeks of perusing beer lists the line up was concluded and so ran like this:

First off we went state side with Lomaland Saison from Modern Times Brewery based in San Diego, California. Named after a utopian community Modern Times also sell coffee, brew one off and special beers and have a tasting room where events are held – I particularly like the sound of the ‘Smoketastic Voyage and Tie Dye party’ being held tomorrow!

Saison which means season in French was historically brewed in Belgium by farmers in the winter months. This provided work in what was otherwise a quiet season in farming plus it provided beer not so much for commercial sale but for the workers to enjoy during the following summer. 

Lomaland is straw coloured and has a funky sour nose. Notes of pears and tart make this a fruity little number which went down well with the Beer School attendees.

Next we went to Italy. Not a country renowned for beer but with a long brewing history going back thousands of years Italian beers shouldn’t be overlooked. See my blog from November 2015 ‘Ferrari, Pasta, Chianti, Fabio Cannavaro…-when you think of Italy , beer isn’t normally what springs to mind’.

We had chosen Tipopils, a Pilsner from Birrificio Italiano. I often bore anyone who will listen about the virtues of lagers – I am sad to say members of my own family still refuse to drink lager thinking it all taste like fizzy mass produced rubbish. But as you may know Pilsner is a long established beer style first brewed in the middle ages in the city of Pilsen, western Bohemia, in the Czech Republic.

Pilsner – or in a lot of cases imitations of it account for 95% of global beer consumption and it’s not hard to see why. Poor imitations aside, Pilsner is clean cut, fresh, floral and soooo drinkable. It’s refreshing and perfect with so many foods; spicy foods, seafood, light cheeses, I could go on.  

Staying in Europe we then went to Northern Spain, or the Basque region to be precise with Basqueland Brewing Project’s Arraun Amber Ale. 

The Basqueland Brewing Project was set up by some American guys who are based in San Sebastián – arhhh San Sebastián! One of my favourite places where I am off to again this summer. It has it all, breathtaking beaches, great shopping, amazing food and an exciting beer scene- if you want to know more see my blog ‘Beer tourism abroad’ although as this was written in 2014 things have moved on since. 

Arraun has the most amazingly fresh hop nose. Once you tuck in however this is a lovely malty ale with notes of burnt toffee. Comments from the other drinkers were interesting with one guy saying he could taste rose petals and someone else agreeing with the inclusion of leather in the brewery’s own tasting notes. This just goes to show how differently we can experience beer!

Arraun Amber is a great ale and I will be seeking out this and more from Basqueland when I next visit San Sebastián.

Next we headed north to the colder climes of Copenhagen for the warming Mikkeller Porter. This will warm your cockles on a cold Scandinavian night at 8% abv. A wonderful porter with an inviting nose of treacle and notes of tobacco. This was extremely popular, even with those not normally Porter drinkers. I wished I could have had more!

Finally we returned home, not just to the UK but to nearby Swanley with Brew Buddies English Hop IPA.  

I wouldn’t normally select an English IPA after such a full-on Porter but I had a sneaky suspicion that some conscientious pupils would be staying on after class so thought this would head them in the right direction when they next went to the bar! 

A great IPA to finish on. Brew Buddies beers are unfined which means they are not filtered with isinglass – fish bladders. This leads to cloudy flavoursome beers which have the added advantage of being vegan friendly.   This IPA was a crowd pleaser all right.

Thanks to all the ‘pupils’ who attended the Beer School last night. If you’d like to study any of the beers mentioned above, the Hopper’s Hut have a good supply and also sell them to take out – oh lucky people of Sidcup, you have the beer world at your feet it seems!

Watch this space for news of future beers schools.



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