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Akademy 2012 Tallinn beer survey

Friday, 29 June 2012  |  richard dale

I can't say I done a lot in the past year with advancing KDE bindings, but I'm hoping to reboot my efforts here in Tallinn. An important part of getting enthusiastic about KDE again is meeting the people, and of course drinking the right beer whilest doing so. I arrived in Tallinn yesterday and so far I think it is a great venue with excellent beer and food available at reasonable prices. Maybe it isn't the most perfect place for vegetarians, but I don't think that should be a show stopper. I thought I should try and summarise my findings so far.

I started off by visiting the Bayern Bohmen Keller bar where the pre-registration event is being held today (Friday 29th). On the way I saw a lot of bars all serving the same 'Saku' beer, and couldn't see much interest in beer drinking from looking at what people were drinking on the tables of the restaurants. I asked the barmen at the Keller what Estonian beers he recommended and he suggested an 'A. Le Coq' dark beer to start which was OK but a bit flat. After that I had a 'A. Le Coq' Alexander but didn't think to much of a fairly bland Pislner style beer. After that I had a seriously impressive Czech dark larger which I'm not talking about as I want to cover Estonian stuff. I had a Herring and Potatoe salad for 2.90 euros which were superb.

I then walked along Muurivahne to the 'Drink Shop' which sells beers to ask more questions about Estonian beer. They had Karksi beer which comes in interesting bottles and appears to be one up from Saku and A. Le Coq. It looked like an excellent place to stock up with beers for a hacking session. They suggested I try the Drink Bar - I don't know if they are connected but a like easy to remember names like 'Drink' certainly.

The drink bar has a pile of interesting beers including many Enlish ones like Hopback Summer Lightning. I asked the landady about Estonian beers and she pointed me to the three draft beers they had on tap. I tried the dark lager and it was really quite good. They have a happy hour between 5:00 and 7:00 where you can get these three beers and others for 2 euros a pint.

My next stop was the Pomqu pub behind the big church off Rataskaevu. Here I found the best Estonian beer I had tried yet. It is called Pihtla and as brewed on an island 100 km away from Tallinn. It is cloudy like a wheat beer but the barmen told me that isn't wasn't actually a wheat beer and it was the particular yeast that they use. It had a beautiful taste of bananas like one of my recent favourites Delirium Nocturnum. I need say no more than I feel it compares very favourable with a Delirium. You should absolutely hunt down the Pihtla while in Estonia.

Today I found a couple of brew pubs. The first one I visited is called Brewery Olleklub at Pikk 1 in the Old Town. They have five beers they brewed themselves at a brewery outside Tallinn at a rate of 300 liters a day. I tried the dark beer and it was really excellent and second only to the Pihtla. At 7% you need to sip it slowly, but it had a wonderful flavour. I tried the 'Velvet' and that was pretty clean tasting with a slightly cloudy appearance. I feel I need to go back and spend more time at this bar. It has a tidy modern appearance with mp3s of ambiant electronic dance music playing. The food menu looked reasonable with one or two vegetarian dishes. One soup was nearly vegan apart from a dollop of yoghout which I'm sure you could ask the chef to leave out.

The second brew pub I went to, is just off the main square in the Old Town and is called 'The Beer House'. Walking in was weird. They have loads (as in seriously large numbers) of guy in lederhosen and madchen in Austrian style dresses. I went to the back of the bar where the is this Austrian theme park of what someone who has never been to Austria imagines Austria to be like. I've never been to Austria and so I was certainly taken in. Maybe they won't fool proper Germans and I look forward feedback from any Akademy Germans who visit. The numerous 'Madchens' all looked like off duty ballet dancers and very svelte, although seemingly a bit bored when they would maybe rather practising 'Swan Lake'. I'm clueless about how German barmaids should look. The highlights of the themed 'beer village' for me were and incredibly badly scuplted wooden horse and a pigeon and TV aerial on top of one of the village houses. As I drunk a Marzen Spezial and Dunkles Extra (both excellent) I pondered the meaning of what I saw around me. Was it post modern and done in a knowing way in order to make a comment about Austrian sensibilies, or was it just done by someone who didn't know anything about horse carvings? I wasn't sure. I enjoyed the 'bad' german themed music because it had lots of accordian and I'm pretty much a sucker for anything with accordians. They even did a Cajun number in German at one point.

By this time I was beginning to get a bit hungry. The food at the Beer House looked absolutely disgusting to me, with a lot of the dishes consisting of nothing but giant lumps of meat. So I though I'd try the 'Van Krahl' bar which specializes in vegetarian dishes. I had chickpea chops with mustard sauce followed be a creme brule with berries and both were excellent. For drinks I had a Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay Ale, which was a bit disappointing for me considering how much I like Bishops Finger. With the desert I had a 'Poltsamaa Tommu' vintage 2003 which is like a port made with berries and I liked it so much that I'm tempted to take back a bottle with me.

I did try to edit the Wiki to include my bar suggestions but the page seemed to be locked when I tried this morning. Anyhow I hope these comments help out with anyone at Akademy who is hunting for bar recommendations. I'm just off the the pre-regestration drink now and look forward to meeting everyone. I think we're going to have a great Akademy.