Thursday, 1 July 2010

Cheese, Chocolate & Cuckoo Clocks

So, I draw Switzerland in the World Cup Beer Sweep, organised by fellow Tweeters BeerReviewsAndy and markdredge. That'll be easy thinks I, Switzerland, it can't be that difficult to get hold of some Swiss beer in the UK....

First port of call - the internet. Ah-ha, BeerHERE do a World Cup mixed case and there's a Swiss beer included. But hold on a minute... Do I really want to buy a case of 20 beers, when I rarely drink at home?, and anyway, isn't Hurlimann brewed in the UK by Shepherd Neame? A quick visit to Beer Genie would seem to confirm this.

Does it matter? Some would say no. I expect these are the people who would tell me that Fosters was Australian, or that I could play football for Wales because my grandmother's second cousin once spent a fortnight on holiday in Aberystwyth.

Trying a different approach, I trawl through every brewery I can find in Switzerland & email them, informing them of my task, asking if they can help.... Only four reply - and that's just to say they don't export beer to the UK.

Right, we're struggling now - but a couple of updates on Twitter later I have a bite: MelissaCole has a bottle of Swiss beer & do I want to swap something for it? Unfortunately she turns down my offer of a 4-pack of Carlsberg that has been sat in my garage for a couple of years. Women eh!, doesn't she know it's always good to keep something handy to clear the drains?

That, dear reader is why I find myself at Luton Airport early one Wednesday morning waiting for a flight to Geneva. Well I could say I had to visit my bank but that would be stretching it a bit.... Really though?, ludicrously cheap easyJet flight, there and back in a day, plus the thought that I just might bump into Alexandra Bastedo sashying around the lake (ok I may be 40 years too late for that one).

A few photo opportunities later....

and it's time to find that beer. Now, when abroad I normally avoid bars with English names like the plague.... But, walking through Place du Molard, I see 'The Lord Nelson Pub' & as I'm passing by the doorway there's a sign that reads:
'Nos bieres artisanales sont fabriquees pur malt et houblon. Fermentees et gardees dans l'establishment.'
Even with my scant knowledge of French I can transalte that as something along the lines of:
'Our craft beers are manufactured from malt and hops. Fermented and kept in the establishment.'

Now that has GOT to be worth a second look.

....and what a great place it is. If I was to own a pub, this is what I'd want. Clean, comfortable, great beer, good food, friendly staff & best of all its own brewery behind the bar. What a treat to sit eating lunch, drinking beer, watching the brewer at work.

So to the beer. With three house beers to choose from, I plumped for La Blonde (pictured). Very refreshing with more than a passing resemblence to Blue Moon - but without the poncy piece of orange floating in it!
In the interests of research I also tried L'ambree (darker, richer) and La Blanche (lighter with a slice of lemon).
Apologies about the lack of tasting notes but I like to leave that sort of thing to those that know more than me. Maybe I need an All Beer Experience so I don't leave you feeling shortchanged.

So that's my World Cup Beer Sweep story, Switzerland won't win the World Cup but I've had a day out in a great city and found a great pub.

There's more information and pictures of The Lord Nelson Pub here

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