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Archive for August, 2008

Croatia

Seen from Northwestern Europe, as I tend to do, the Northern end of Croatia seems to be on the periphery of the continent. The Balkans is sort of halfway to India. Looking at the map, this is really at the crossroads of Europe, just a few hours drive from the big cities of Northern Italy, Austria or Bavaria.

And our holiday resort is the global, or at least the European, village for real. 1000? 3000? people. Some in apartments, some in more upscale villas, some in tents at the camping site.

No sandy beaches here, take your pick from pebbles or concrete. The guys collecting the fees for the sun beds are doing a roaring trade.

Nordics, Dutch, Austrians, Germans, Italians, Russians, Croatians, Czechs, Slovenians, Swiss. They come from all over, except the British Isles, Spain or Portugal.

They raise children, eat, drink and shop in dozens of languages. The locals have the big advantage of being multilingual. Croatian and Italian are both official languages here, and most adults speak a polite German, too.

It is quite all right. The water is salty and clean. The ice cream is of Italian quality at 50 cents a scoop. Great calamari and fish, fine pizzas and good coffee. The land is fertile with a rich choice of fruit, berries and vegetables.

But the noise from this European community is a bit much after midnight in the apartments without air conditioning. We get an upgrade to one of the newer villas for a decent price.

The beer?

Not very exciting. The bars around here mostly have the local lager on tap, Favorit. It is a fairly standard light lager, it will never win any contests, but is does its job after a day in the sun. There are a dozen light and dark lagers as well, some of them from the neighbouring countries. A few more can be found in the town center, but there are no shops or bars with an impressive selection.

I don’t see any pubs as such, it’s more of the Italian bar style with a focus on coffee and shots of stronger stuff. There are wine bars, too, the rest are pastry/ice cream shops and eateries on a scale from the more humble tavernas to the most prestigious restaurants with truffles and seafood.

No birra artiginale, no brew pubs. Sure, within an hours drive there are places to be found, but not here.

But there is one award – five glittering silver stars – to be handed out, to the Konzum supermarket in the Stella Maris holiday complex where we are staying. They have three bottled beers from the Carlow brewery, including a stout, and no Guinness. That is an extraordinary achievement!

I’ll go more into the most interesting beers over the coming days.

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Back on the treadmill

I had prepared a few posts with delayed publishing over the last few weeks, so the casual observer may have thought that I was here in Norway waiting for winter to arrive.

Nope.

We went to Croatia for two weeks of sun. A very convenient destination for Norway, less than three hours flight. A new country for me, with lot of things to see and do – perfect for just doing nothing, too.

So, get to the point, how was the beer? I’ll share that over the next few weeks, so you’ll just have to be patient. I can reveal that it is somewhere between Cyprus and Belgium on the beerometer.

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A potential market

I read in the Guardian that of the 10.7 billion pints of beer sunk in the UK each year, only 13 per cent are drunk by women. Coors UK plans to change that with new beers and elegant half pint glasses.

In 1970 beer was two-thirds of the drinks market as men filed out of the factory gates and into the pub, but that figure is now closer to 40 per cent.

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Max in Prague has blogged about the beers I brought him. I’m afraid they are not representative of the stuff you would find in an average Norwegian supermarket!

His blog is bilingual, and you can find the Spanish version here if you prefer that.

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