The Best Beer In Geneva

Our friend discovered the Brasserie Des Murailles at a summer festival.  He made a strong statement and declared it to be the “best beer in Switzerland.”  After tasting it we fell in love with the brewery (brewery is brasserie in French).  Here’s why:

1. They regularly brew five varieties of beer (and additional seasonal ones). Each one is great.  They don’t make a bad one.

2. The brewer studied in Belgium.  Yeah Belgium!

3. They have continuously grown their business each year with minimal advertising.  They grew so much that they went from the tank above to the tanks below.

4. We like to tour breweries and microbreweries (and pretty much any kind of factory).  Although they are small, their old farm is one of the coolest buildings around.  It is a rustic old bar that has been retrofitted to accommodate brewing and visitors.  The best part is the setting in the countryside of Geneva with a wonderful view of the French Alps and Le Salève.  From the back, you can see the Jura. mountains.

5. Like the Belgians, they manage to pack their beer full of flavor.  Somehow, they manage to keep it light enough for the local market.  Even in during a summer heat wave, they never seem too heavy.

6. Their beers are unique and complex.

7. They are small enough to exercise strong quality control.

8. Although it isn’t technically a reason their beer is great, they are nice.  Really, really nice. You want them to succeed.  Although they love great beer, they aren’t pretentious or snobby.

9. At summer festivals, what would you rather drink Heineken, Kronenbourg 1664 or something with taste and flavor?

10. In a market like Geneva, where great unique beers are hard to come by, they are a godsend.

If you are interested in Swiss beers, check out the Ultimate Switzerland Beer Guide.  Sante! Proust!  Chin Chin!  Cheers!

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How To You And Your Mate Can Suss Out A Good London Pub

This was touristy, but fun and full of charm

Every country has pubs, cafes, bars or restaurants.  English pubs have become part of international culture and a tourist attraction in their own right.  At their best, they are a sort of communal home away from home.

We’d been dreaming about settling into a cute place on a rainy day for a pint with fish and chips.   Some of London’s pubs look as though Disney had dressed up bad sports bars to look typically English.  Here are some of the issues:

  • Mediocre mass market beer – Why was there such a lack of variety in a country that produces so many wonderful beers?  Why put Heineken on tap?   We even saw Kronnenberg 1664 on tap!  I was even disappointed with some of his cask ales.
  • The wine is rubbish – Although to be fair, I didn’t actually taste any.  They looked so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
  • Video poker machines – They kill the ambiance.  I get that this might make the owner money, but people should not be bored enough to need them for entertainment.
  • Poor service – I always ask for advice to try to taste something new and yummy.  If I am going to have one, I want it to be something I can’t have at home and very good.  Therefore, I consider knowing what you have to offer a basic part of the job.  Often, they couldn’t give advice and didn’t seem to want to engage in conversation of any sort.  Oh yeah, and a counter was sticky.  Yuck.  I think that definitely counts as bad service (and it’s very unappetizing).
How can you tell the good ones from the bad or soulless ones?  I put on my thinking cap and here’s what I came up with:
  • If they try to make it look too historic with a giant sign out front detailing it’s history, be suspicious.
  • If there is video poker, or any other highly visible electronic game, run.
  • Ditto if no one smile at or greets you.
  • If you do not hear British accents anywhere inside, exit immediately.  You would be surprised at how many contained not a single Brit (including the staff).

Even if it was a tad bit cheesy, as a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I loved the Sherlock Holmes Pub with a “recreation” of his rooms.  There were tons of veterans there having a drink after Armistice Day festivities.

Beer Tours – If You Want To Improve Yours, Just Ask Us?

We’ve had a beer or two on our day and have been on a few brewery tours. While we were in Copenhagen, we toured Carlsberg.
Carlsburg had several things going for it.  It has decent beer (sorry Heineken). It has a nice campus. It has a decent place to sit and drink your free beers.  One of the best parts of the tour was the Guinness (ironic) Book of Records certified world’s largest collection of unopened beer bottles (currently +/- 20,000). The other nice part was the history of the company and it’s role in Danish society.
Sorry, I couldn’t fit them all in. Not even close.
They have a copy of The Little Mermaid Statue. The family commissioned the one in the harbor.  You get to see a bunch of old machinery and, like the Budweiser tour, there are stables with horses (no horses in the stables on the Heineken tour).
 

Several things go into making a good tour.  We enjoy a tour and here are some easy ways to make a factory/product tour better:

  • Show funny old commercials. Even ones that the suits setting up the tour don’t think are funny.
  • Have a location with a view.  Look out over mountains, the sea, the city, even a garden. Guinness does a good job with this.  Their Gravity Bar has the best view of Dublin.
The second best part of the Guinness tour
  • Provide plenty of silly photo ops.
  • Try not to be as obvious about making it a giant commercial for your product. Yes, Guinness Tour I am talking to you. Miller, please pay attention as well.  World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, you might be a lost cause.
  • Have knowledgeable people who can actually answer questions about the product. Olde Mecklenburg, Thomas Creek and lots of American microbrews do this well.
  • If at all possible, try to show production.  We eat it up. I’m not sure if you can still do it, but you used to be able to do this at Yuengling and some of the Milwaukee breweries.