A birthday to remember!

Well the Olympics is over but what a fortnight it was! If you are anything like me, you will have been glued to the Olympics at every spare moment! At work, I’ve discovered the very best reason to have an internet browser with tabs. I have absolutely no idea how I passed the time in the dark days before the games came to London! What a memorable week to hit a milestone birthday! Last Monday I hit the big 3-0 and I really don’t mind if you know that since I still get asked for ID (so there!). We had meant to get tickets for the Olympics on that day but

Birthday beer time!

weren’t lucky enough. Since we’d heard London was actually not too manic we decided to venture up there to spend the day generally wandering round and soaking up the atmosphere. In a dramatic but very fitting diversion from the usual coffee train-beer, I had been keeping a special birthday beverage to one side. Æther Blæc 28 (7.7%ABV) is Hardknott‘s phenomenal Stout Beer aged in barrels which had been used to distill Inchgower Whisky way back in the year I was born. Out of all the barrel-aged stouts I have tried, this stands out as one of the best, if not the best. Well-balanced, rich, dark fruits, bitter and hypnotic depths of complexity. So far I’ve had two of the 420 bottles made. I will count myself very lucky if I get another!

The Æther Blæc set me up for a crazy awesome day combing the streets of London in search of the painted Wenlock statues dotted around the city – there’s apparently 80 in total! Since this was hungry work, I had the ideal excuse to try out Tonkotsu the new ramen bar in Soho which I’d heard about from various beery sources on Twitter and had pretty much the best ramen ever! The mains on the menu consist of only two pork ramen and one vegetarian but they excel at what they do! I have never raved about hard-boiled eggs so much – you will not regret ordering extra! The reason it’s popular with beer fans, of course, is its rather enviable and fairly-priced beers from local breweries Beavertown & The Kernel, as well as Brewdog. I went for a Beavertown Smog Rocket (5.4%ABV) which was a deliciously smokey porter and the OH went for their impressively hop-tastic IPA, 8 Ball (6.2%ABV).

More Wenlock-spotting called for more thirst-quenching beer. Just my luck then that The Cask had a ‘Meet the Brewer’ event with Red Willow brewery! What a fantastic place to watch as Jason Kenny took another Team GB gold in the mens sprint, an event I became a little obsessed with. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to let out a cheer as he crossed the line. I drank halves so I could try as many as possible and I can pretty honestly say that I didn’t have one bad one but the stand outs were the liquorice black IPA SoullesS (7.2%ABV) and sweet but smokey and incredibly drinkable porter, Smokeless (5.7%ABV). Unfortunately, the day had to come to an end early as I had to be at work the next day so to round off a rather lovely birthday we got a lovely pudding to take on the train. The perfect pudding? A cakey, figgy Vanilla Tree Dubbel (7.5%) by Westbrook Brewing Co. Only another two working days until we’re back in London for the Great British Beer Festival and seeing the Olympics for real.

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